Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/139

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


 

CHAPTER V

THE ADVENTURES OF DAVID WOODARD, CHIEF MATE

LONG before the art of Joseph Conrad created Lord Jim to follow the star of his romantic destiny to the somber, misty coast of Patusan, an American sailor lived and dared amazingly among the sullen people of those same mysterious islands of the Far East. He was of the race of mariners whose ships were first to display the Stars and Stripes in those far-distant waters and to challenge the powerful monopolies of the British and Dutch East India companies. Only seven years earlier, in fact, the American ship Empress of China had ventured on the pioneering voyage to Canton. The seas still swarmed with pirates and every merchantman carried a heavy battery of guns and a crew which knew to use them. Amid such conditions were trained the sailors who were to man the Constitution and the other matchless frigates of 1812.

The American ship Enterprise sailed from Batavia for Manila on the twentieth of January, 1793, and laid a course to pass through the Straits of

107