Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/48

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Joshua Brackett, mate; David Warren, cook; and Thomas Young, George Reed, and Francis De Suze as able seamen. There was nothing in the cargo to tempt a self-respecting pirate; no pieces of eight or doubloons or jewels, but flour, beef, pork, lard, butter, fish, onions, potatoes, apples, hams, furniture, and shooks with a total invoiced value of eight thousand dollars. In this doleful modern era of the high cost of living, such a cargo would, of course persuade almost any honest householder to turn pirate if he thought there was a fighting chance of stowing all these valuables in his cellar.

The Exertion jogged along without incident for a five weeks' passage, which brought her close to Cape Cruz and the end of the run, when a strange sail swept out of a channel among the sandy Cuban keys, with sweeps out and a deck filled with men. There were forty of them, unkempt, bewhiskered, and they appeared to be so many walking arsenals of muskets, blunderbusses, cutlasses, pistols, and dirks. Their schooner mounted two carronades, and flew a blue-and-white flag of the Republic of Mexico, which was a device popular among sea-rovers who were no better than they should be. It permitted liberty of action, something like a New Jersey charter which corporations have found elastic in times more recent.