Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/59

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THE SCHOONER EXERTION

shrewd trader who made money for his owners, he was also a fighting seaman of such proved mettle that he had been given command of privateers which cruised off the coasts of the colonies and harried the French in the West Indies. His excellent reputation and character are attested by official documents.

How Captain Kidd, sent out to catch pirates, was convicted of turning pirate himself rather than sail home empty-handed is another story. Fate has played strange tricks with the memory of this seventeenth-century seafarer who never cut a throat or scuttled a ship, and who was hanged at Execution Dock for the excessively unromantic crime of cracking the skull of his mutinous gunner with a wooden bucket.

Poor Captain Barnabas Lincoln of Boston, having lost his schooner and cargo, was righteously indignant at discovering how the infamous business was carried on. Said he:

 

I was informed by a line from Nikola that the pirates had a man on board, a native of Principe, who in the garb of a sailor was a partner with Dominico, but I could not get sight of him. This lets us a little into the plan by which this atrocious system has been conducted. Mer- chants having partners on board of these pirates! Thus pirates at sea and robbers on land are associated to destroy the peaceful trader.