THE year of 1718 seems very dim and far away, but the tall lad who sauntereddown to the harbor of Charles Town, South Carolina, on a fine, bright morning,was much like the youngsters of this generation. His clothes were quite differentit is true, and he lived in a queer, rough world, but he detested grammar andarithmetic and loved adventure, and would have made a sturdy tackle for aodern high-school football team. He wore a peaked straw hat of Indian weave,a linen shirt open at the throat, short breeches with silver buckles at the kneesand a flint-lock pistol hung from his leather beltHe passed by scattered houses and stores which were mere log huts loopholedfor defense, with shutters and doors of hewn plank heavy enough to stopmusket ball. The unpaved lanes wandered between mud holes in which pigswallowed enjoyably. Negro slaves, half-naked and bearing heavy burdeabbered the dialects of the African jungle from which they had been kidnappeda few months before. Yemassee Indians clad in tanned deer-skins bartered withthe merchants and hid their hatred of the English. Jovial, hard-riding gentlemengalloped in from the indigo plantations and dismounted at the tavern to drink andgamble and fight duels at the smallest excuse.Young jack Cockrell paid scant heed to these accustomed sights but walkeds far as the wharf built of palmetto piling. The wide harbor and the sea thatflashed beyond the outer bar were ruffled by a piping breeze out of the northeast.The only vessel at anchor was a heavily sparred brig whose bulwarks were highenough to hide the rows of cannon behind the closed ports.The lad gazed at the shapely brig with a lively curiosity, as if here wasomething really interesting. Presently a boat splashed into the water and wastied alongside the vessel while a dozen of the crew tumbled in to sprawl uponthe thwarts and shove the oars into the thole-pins. An erect, graceful man in ared coat and a great beaver hat roared a command from the stern-sheets and thepinnace pulled in the direction of the wharfPirates, to be sure! "said Jack Cockrell to himself, without a sign of alarmTis Captain Stede Bonnet and his Royal James. I know the ship. I saw herwhen she came in leaking last October and was careened on the beach atSullivans Island. A rich voyage this time, for the brig rides deep

The coast of South Carolina swarmed with pirates two hundred years agoand they cared not a rap for the law. Indeed, some of these rascals lived onfriendly terms with the people of the small settlements and swaggered ashore tosquander the broad gold pieces and merchandise stolen from honest tradingvessels. You must not blame the South Carolina colonists too harshly becausethey sometimes welcomed the visiting pirates instead of clapping them in jail.Charles Town was a village at the edge of a wildeness filled with hostileIndians By sea it stood in fear of attack by the Spaniards of Florida and Havana.There were almost no crops for food and among the population were manyrunaways from England, loafers and vagabonds who hated the sight of work.The pirates helped them fight their enemies and did a thriving trade in goodsthat were sorely needed. Respectable citizens grumbled and one high officialwas removed in disgrace because he encouraged the pirates to make CharlesTown their headquarters, but there was no general outcry unless the sea-rovershappened to molest English ships outside the harbor.It was Captain Stede Bonnet himself who steered the pinnace and cursed hissweating sailors in a deep voice which went echoing across the bay. He made abrave figure in his scarlet coat, with the brass guard of his naked cutlass winkingin the sun. His boat's crew had been mustered from many climes and racesseveral strapping Englishmen, a wiry, spluttering little Frenchman, a swarthyPortuguese with gold rings in his ears. a brace of stolid Norwegians and twothree coal black negroes from BarbadoesThey were well armed, every weapon burnished clean of rust and ready forinstant use. Some wore tarnished, sea-stained finery looted from hapless prizes, abrocaded waistcoat, a pair of tasseled jack-boots, a plumed hat, a ruffled capeThe heads of several were bound around with knotted kerchiefs on which darkstains showed, -marks of a brawl aboard the brig or a fight with another ship.Soon a second boat moved away from the royal James and many peopledrifted toward the wharf to see the pirates come ashore, but they left plenty ofroom when the captain scrambled up the weedy ladder and told his men tofollow him. Charles town felt little dread of stede bonnet himself he knewhow to conduct himself as a gentleman and the story was well known -how hehad been a major in the British army and a man of wealth and refinement. Hehad left his home in Barbadoes to follow the trade of piracy because he couldn'tget along with his wife, so the rumor ran. At any rate, he seemed oddly out ofplace among the dirty rogues who sailed under the black flag

He looked more the soldier than the sailor as he strode along the wharf, hislean, dark visage both grim and melancholy, his chin clean shaven, hismustachio carefully cropped. There were respectful greetings from the crowd ofidlers and a gray-haired seaman all warped with rheumatism spoke up louderthan the restGood morrow to ye, Cap'n Bonnet! I be old Sam Griscom that sailed bos'nwith you on a marchant voyage out of Liverpool. An now you are a finegentleman of fortune, with moidores and pieces of eight to fling at the gals, arhere I be. a sheer hulk on the beachIt cheers me to run athwart a true old shipmate. A slant of ill fortune, eham Griscom? You are too old and crippled to sail in the Royal James. Here, anda blessing with the giftco The pirate skipper rammed a hand in his pocket and flung a shower of goldoins at the derelict seaman while the crowd cheered the generous deed. It waseasy to guess why Stede Bonnet was something of a hero in Charles Town. Hepassed on and turned into the street. Most of his ruffians were at his heels butone of the younger of them delayed to pay his compliments to a pretty girlwhose manner was sweet and shy and gentle. She had remained aloof from thecrowd, having some errand of her own at the wharf, and evidently hoped to beunobserved. Jack Cockrell had failed to notice her, absorbed as he was in gazinghis fill of Captain Stede Bonnet.The girl resented the young pirate's gallantry and would have fled, but henimbly blocked her path. Just then Jack Cockrell happened to glance that wayand his anger flamed hot. He was about to run after Captain Bonnet and beg himto interfere but the maids distress was too urgent. Her blackguardly admirer wastrying to slip his arm around her trim waist while he laughingly demanded a kissfrom those fair lips. She evaded him and screamed for helpThere were lusty townsmen among those who beheld the scene but theysheepishly stood in their tracks and were afraid to punish the insolent pirate withhis dirk and pistols. He was much taller and heavier than Jack Cockrell, the ladof seventeen, who came of gentlefolk and was unused to brawls with weaponsBut the youngster hesitated no more than an instant, although his own pistollacked a flint and was carried for shot

Previous article And so the doughty skipperas for...
Next article FMA: 5 Ways Edward Elric Is an...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here