Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/435

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387
SEAMEN LONG IN EXILE

the emperor put a spoke in the wheel by refusing to let the privateersmen go until that matter of the old debt was canceled. The British ambassador sent a naval officer to England for more money, and there was another delay, which annoyed the Moorish governor of Tetuan. A squadron of British men-of-war, under Commodore Keppel, rode at anchor in the harbor, but their guns were silent while the ambassador was arrested, his property seized, and his secretary thrown into a dungeon pit twenty feet deep, where the playful Moors dropped dead cats and dogs and stones on him. It could scarcely be said that Britannia rules the waves that washed the shores of Morocco.

Commodore Keppel pledged his word that the old account should be squared, although it was well known that the British Government had already paid it once, and the ambassador gave a promissory note for the whole amount. Finally the claims were settled to the satisfaction of the Emperor of Morocco, and the survivors of the privateer were put aboard H. M. S. Sea-Horse. "They ran into the water as deep as the waist, each thinking himself happiest that he could get in the boat first."

Fifty-seven of them had lived to gain their freedom after four years of slavery. Their sad story ended more happily than might have been expected,