Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/277

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English vessels. Captain Snelgrave eyed these unpleasant visitors with suspicion, but hoped they might be on the same errand as himself. At eight o'clock in the evening, however, he heard the measured thump of oars and descried the shadow of an approaching boat. The first mate was ordered to muster and arm twenty men on deck in readiness to repel boarders. The second mate hailed the boat and was answered; "The ship Two Friends of Barbadoes., Captain Elliott." This failed to satisfy the master of the Bird galley, and he shouted to the boat to sheer off and keep clear.

A volley of musket-balls was the reply from the boat, and the first mate of the Bird was told to return the fire. His men stood idle, however, and it transpired that he cherished secret ambitions of being a pirate himself and had won over several of the crew. This was extremely embarrassing for Captain Snelgrave, who was compelled to witness the marauders scramble unresisted up the side of his vessel. The leader of the pirates was in a particularly nasty temper because the mate had been ordered to open fire, and he poked a pistol into the captain's face and pulled trigger. As quick as he was courageous, the skipper knocked the weapon aside, and was promptly felled with the butt of it. Dodging along the deck, the pirate boatswain