Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/280

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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

spared. Now occurred one of those romantic incidents which the novelist would hesitate to invent as stretching the probabilities, but in these ancient narratives of the sea things were set down as they actually happened. This is how the story was written in 1724:

 
Soon after the captain was on board the pirate ship, a tall man, well armed, came up to him and told him his name was Jack Griffin, one of his old school-fellows. Upon Captain Snelgrave appearing not to recollect him, he mentioned many pranks of their youth together. He said he was forced into the pirate service while chief mate of a British vessel and was later compelled to act as master of one of the pirate ships. His crew he described as most atrocious miscreants. This Jack Griffin, a bold and ready man, promised to watch over the captain's safety, as the pirates would soon be worse intoxicated with the liquors on board their prize.

Griffin now obtained a bowl of punch and led the way to the cabin, where a carpet was spread to sit upon, as the pirate ship was always kept clear for action. They sat down cross-legged, and Cocklyn, the chief captain, drank Snelgrave's health, saying his crew had spoken well of him. A hammock was slung for Captain Snelgrave at night, by the intercession of Griffin, but the pirates lay rough, as they styled it, because their vessel, as already observed, was always cleared for action.

Griffin, true to his promise of guarding his old school-fellow while asleep, kept near the captain's hammock, sword in hand, to protect him from insults. Towards morning, while the pirates were carousing on deck, the