Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/55

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THE SCHOONER EXERTION

French pirate surged into the picture with several men of his own opinion, and remarked that when the shooting began there would be other targets besides Nikola. This convinced the mob that it might be healthier to let the Scotchman alone.

The captain and crew of the Exertion were threatened and ill used, but there seemed to be no intention of making them walk the plank or hewing them down with cutlasses. What to do with them was a problem rather perplexing, which was proof that the trade of piracy had fallen from its former estate. These were thrifty freebooters, however, and the business was capably organized. There were even traces of the efficiency management which was to become the religion of the twentieth century. The pirates' largest boat was manned by a crew which discarded some of its weapons, combed its whiskers, even washed its faces, and set off for the port of Principe in charge of the terrifying Bolidar.

The boat carried letters to a merchant by the name of Dominico who acted as the commercial agent of the industrious pirates and sold their plunder for them. A representative of his was kept on board the wicked schooner and went to sea with her, presumably to make sure of honest dealings, a sensible precaution in the case of such slippery gentry. The whole arrangement was most repre-