Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/275

This page needs to be proofread.
235
THE ROARING DAYS OF PIRACY

from the hold into which they had been flung, killed Nutt and Phillip and their officers, tossed the rest of the rascals down below, and sailed into Boston Harbor, where their cargo of pirates speedily furnished another entertainment for the populace that trooped to the row of gibbets on the flats of the town. The old sea-chronicles of New England are filled with episodes of these misfortunes, encounters, and escapes until the marvel grows that the seamen of those quaint brigs, ketches, and scows could be persuaded to set out from port at all. The appalling risk became a habit, no doubt, just as the people of to-day dare to use the modern highway on which automobiles slay many more victims than ever the pirates made to walk the plank.

The experience of an unlucky master mariner in that era of the best-known and most successful pirates may serve to convey a realization of the gamble with fortune which overshadowed every trading voyage when the perils of the deep were so cruel and so manifold. And it is easy to comprehend why the bills of lading included this petition, "And so God send the good sloop to her desired port in safety. Amen."

In the year of 1718 the Bird galley sailed from England in command of Captain Snelgrave to find a cargo of slaves on the coast of Sierra Leone.