Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/49

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THE SCHOONER EXERTION

Captain Lincoln hove the Exertion to and hoped for the best, having only five men and seven muskets with which to repel boarders. The United States was at peace with Mexico and Spain, and he tried to believe, as he tells us, that "the republican flag indicated both honor and friendship from those who wore it." Alas! it was soon discovered that these were common pirates, for they sent a boat aboard in charge of the first lieutenant, Bolidar, with six or eight Spaniards, "armed with as many of the aforementioned weapons as they could well sling about their bodies." The Exertion was ordered to follow the other schooner, the Mexican by name, and the two vessels came to anchor off Cay Largo, about thirty leagues from Trinidad.

There one of the pirates, the sailing-master, who called himself Nikola, remained in the Exertion to examine the captain's papers. This forbidding person was, in fact, a Scotchman, as his speech readily disclosed, and he was curiously out of place among the dirty crew of Spanish renegades. In him the unlucky skipper of the Exertion had found a friend, of whom he said:

 
This Nikola had a countenance rather pleasing, although his beard and mustachios had a frightful appearance,—his face, apparently full of anxiety, indicated something in my favor. He gave me back my papers, say-