took them. All was fair in the enemy's waters, and the Speedwell began to look for ships to plunder. He snapped up two small ones, and then captured the Saint Firmin, a three-hundred-ton merchant vessel with a valuable cargo. A flag of truce came out from the nearest port with proposals of ransom, and a Jesuit priest, as a messenger, begged the captain to restore to him ten great silver candlesticks which had been left as a legacy to the convent. The bargaining came to naught, and the booty was sold to the crew at an auction "before the mast," after which the ship was burned.
The Speedwell next captured the town of Payta and put the torch to it after the governor had refused to contribute ten thousand pieces of eight. While the crew was ashore, a heavily armed ship came sailing in, and the flag at her yard proclaimed that a Spanish admiral was in command. In the privateer were left only the sailing-master, Mr. Coldsea, and nine men; but they served the guns with so much energy that the admiral cleared for action and reckoned he had met up with a tough antagonist. While they were banging away at each other. Captain Shelvocke was hustling his men into the boats and pulling off from shore; but before they had reached their own ship, the Spanish admiral had ranged within pistol-shot and was let-