Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/294

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
254
LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

Guinea coast in the year of 1721. Pirates overtook his sloop off the Cape Verd Islands, and at first treated him rather good-humoredly, as he was a man of spirit and could hold his own when the bottle was passed. The pirate captain took a fancy to him and had a mind to let him resume his voyage, but unluckily the health of the "Old Pretender," James III, was proposed at table, and Captain Roberts, who was no Jacobite, roundly refused to drink such a damnable toast. He did not purpose to bend his sentiments to suit the fancy of any pirates that ever sailed unhung. One of them was for shooting him through the head, but to the others it seemed more entertaining to put him aboard his own vessel without provisions, water, or sails, and to kidnap his crew as well, and let him drift out to sea. Captain Roberts listened to the discussion and had nothing more to say. He would drink the health of a king of his own choosing if it cost him his skin, and that was the end of it.

The old chronicler who preserved the tale of this stubborn sea-dog took occasion to moralize in this fashion:

 
That men of the most abandoned characters should so far forget what humanity is due their fellow men, as to expose any one to almost certain destruction, merely on account of a foolish toast, may excite the astonishment of