Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/54

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lamented most deeply his own situation, for he was one of those men whose early good impressions were not entirely effaced. He told me that those who had taken me were no better than pirates and their end would be the halter, but he added, with peculiar emotion, "I will never be hung as a pirate," showing me a bottle of laudanum which he had found in my medicine chest and saying, "If we are overtaken, this shall cheat the hangman before we are condemned."

Another day's cruise to the eastward and the trim, taut little Exertion suffered the melancholy fate of shipwreck, not bravely in a gale, but mishandled and wantonly gutted by her captors. First she stranded on a bar while making in for a secluded creek, and was floated after throwing overboard the deck-load of shocks for making sugar-barrels. Then her sails were stripped, the rigging cut to pieces, and the masts chopped over the side lest they be sighted from seaward. After that the pirates hewed gaps in the deck and bulwarks in order to loot the rest of the cargo more easily, and the staunch schooner was left to bleach her bones on the Cuban coast.

The amiable Nikola found himself in trouble because of his friendly feeling for Captain Lincoln. The Spanish sailors tied him to a tree and were about to shoot him as a soft-hearted traitor who was guilty of unprofessional conduct, but a courageous