Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/73

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main

Along in the year 1722 thirteen vessels were riding at anchor in front of the good town of Marblehead. Into the harbor sailed a strange craft. “Who is she?” say the townsfolk, for the coming of a new vessel was no small matter in those days.

Who the strangers were was not long a matter of doubt. Up goes the black flag, and the skull and crossbones to the fore.

“’Tis the bloody Low,” say one and all; and straightway all was flutter and commotion, as in a duck pond when a hawk pitches and strikes in the midst.

It was a glorious thing for our captain, for here were thirteen Yankee crafts at one and the same time. So he took what he wanted, and then sailed away, and it was many a day before Marblehead forgot that visit.

Some time after this he and his consort fell foul of an English sloop of war, the Greyhound, whereby they were so roughly handled that Low was glad enough to slip away, leaving his consort and her crew behind him, as a sop to the powers of law and order. And lucky for them if no worse fate awaited them than to walk the dreadful plank with a bandage around the blinded eyes and a rope around the elbows. So the consort was taken, and the crew tried and hanged in chains, and Low sailed off in as pretty a bit of rage as ever a pirate fell into.

The end of this worthy is lost in the fogs of the past: some say that he died of a yellow fever down in New Orleans; it was not at the end of a hempen cord, more’s the pity.

Here fittingly with our strictly American pirates should stand Major Stede Bonnet along with the rest. But in truth he was only a poor half-and-half fellow of his kind, and even after his hand was fairly turned to the business he had undertaken, a qualm of conscience would now and then come across him, and he would make vast promises to forswear his evil courses.

However, he jogged along in his course of piracy snugly enough until he fell foul of the gallant Colonel Rhett, off Charleston Harbor,