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CHAPTER II

HOW THE SCHOONER EXERTION FELL AMONG THIEVES

THIS is the story of a very shabby set of rascals who wrecked and plundered an honest little merchant vessel a hundred years ago and disgraced the profession of piracy. In truth, even in the heyday of the black flag and the Spanish Main, most pirates were no better than salt-water burglars who would rather run than fight. The glamour of romance has been kinder to them than they deserved. Their vocation had fallen to a low ebb indeed in the early part of the nineteenth century, when they still infested the storied waters of the Caribbean and struggled along, in some instances, on earnings no larger than those of a minister or school-teacher of to-day. Ambitious young men had ceased to follow piracy as a career. The distinguished leaders had long since vanished, most of them properly hanged in chains, and it was no longer possible to become a William Kidd, a Captain Ned England, or a Charles Vane.

The schooner Exertion, Captain Barnabas Lincoln, sailed from Boston, bound to Trinidad, Cuba, on November 13, 1821, with a crew consisting of

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