|Chapter Title||THE PIRATE'S HOME.|
|Newspaper Title||The Macleay Chronicle (Kempsey, NSW : 1899 - 1952)|
|Trove Title||The Last of the Pirates; Or Doom Driven. A Romance of the End of Ocean Outlawry|
The Last of the Pirates; DOOM XftSfcX-VXIXISr.
iw A. Romance x-f the End of Ocean Outlawry.* -
Bv Col. Prentiss Imgraham, Author of ' Merle the Mutineer,' &e., &c.
S,e CHAPTER I. '7:'-/y'..-'-::. : TiHE PIRATE'S HOME. :
i\'V-' . y^IfLY a short half-century ago * -; If pirate flag floated over the _ *-'? ocean, an outlaw craft sped from sea to sea, her decks shadowed under the sable ensign with its hideous ' emblem, lhe 'skull and cross bones.' It is of the daring man who raised
that pirate nag, his wild, strange life of romance, that I now write, building my story upon facts that came to me through looking over a mass of time worn letters found in a. deserted ? mansion, crumbling to ruin, that stands upon the lovely -shores of the V; / -Chesapeake. 'There is a history to yonder old mansion,' said my planter friend, whom I was visiting at his home in Maryland. . We were driving out one afternoon, and had driven into an estate to reach a hill that gave us a grand view of the Chesapeake and its shores. He pointed as he spoke to an old brick-mansion that stood in a little vale a few hundred yards from the shore. - . ?. The hills about it were clad with heavy timber, and it seemed to be almost hiding away from observation The sunset shadows were already upon the vale, and gloom rested upon the old house and all about it. Deserted for years, it was crumbling to decay, its shutters hanging in the winfl, its root moss-grown, and the yard and gravel-way overgrown with weeds, rank grass and bushes.
No. I.— No land was to be sun — no sail was in sight.
,' And what is its history?' I asked, interested in the old homestead, which in its day had been a grand one, no doubt. ' It was the home of a pirate,' answered my friend. r 'A pirate in these matter-of-fact days ?' I asked. ' He was known as ' The Last of the Pirates,' and the time of his piracies was back among the thirties, you must know.' ' Tell me of him,' I requested, with deeper interest. * ' There is little that I can tell, other than that he inherited the estate, and went there to live, coming from no one knew where, for he was thought to be dead.
flj-'He had had some love affair, i believe ; a duel followed, he de camped, and it was years after before he returned. . ' I remember seeing him often, for I was a boy then, and he certainly lived in grand style, and yet purposely exiled himself, fot he would receive no visitors. ' One night he disappeared, servants and all, and yonder house has never been occupied since. Soon after his disappearance it came out that he was a pirate chief, and no .one has heard of him from that day. That is all I can tell you.' I thanked my friend and mentally determined to visit the Pirate's Home. Several days after I rode over on horseback, and went upon a tour of discovery from cellar to. garret, of the desolate abode, for I bad a lantern with me. / Desertion, dust, decay we're upon all, for the house had been left furnished when its pirate master had so hastily departed., In one roum, the owner's, was an oaken desk, and going through it I came upon the time-stained papers I have mentioned. Instantly 1 became deeply interested, for among those old letters and docu ments was a vessel's log, and I learned strange secrets therelrom. Those secrets I now make known in the pages of my romance cm ' Cnptain Corti,' only suppressing real names and the situation of cxaci scenes, for many still live who met and knew well the man who was called ' The Last of the Pirates.'
CHAPTER II. THE WAIF. The grey dawn broke over the sea and revealed a small boat drifting about at the mercy of the waves. No land was to be seen — no sail was in sight ; only that frail boat, driven by the wind, beaten by the waves, yet still floating on its way. [See Picture 1.] In it were three persons. One of these lay in the stern, so motionless, so wan, that it could be seen that death had set its seal upon her lips for ever.
It was a beautiful face, for all that the eyes were sunken, and a look of anguish rested Upon it, even after death. ? ...«.' It was the face^ of a woman of twenty-eight perhaps, and the form, though emaciated, was still shapely in every, outline. ? ?''',. ' She was clad In a dress of costly texture, which had -been gracefully arranged about her form by some loving hand, and upon her heart, peacefully folded, lay her beautiful hands. In the bow of the boat were two others— one a negress, and the other a boy of five who Jay in her arms asleep. The face of the negress was haggard in the extreme, and her hand trembled. as she passed it lovingly over the chestnut curls of the.little sleeper. 1 Oh, Heaven ha' marcy 'pon us !' broke from the lips of the negress ; and she gazed over the waters as the day dawned. ' No Ian' in sight — not a wessel near us ! Poor chile 1 I knows he has got ter die, for there is the last drop o' water, here is the last biscuit. I am almost gone myself, but I promised poor dead missy I'd save her chile, and I'll not touch that water and biscuit if I die for it.' Soon the little boy awoke, and looking up into the face of the negress he smiled while he asked in a low tone : 'Is mamma 'wake yet, Mam' Silla ?' ' No, chile — she still sleepin.' ' How long she sleeps ! Can I kiss my mamma, Mam' Silla?' ' Yes, chile, but don't say nothin' to her. The boy crept softly aft, while the old negress rocked her body to and fro and wrung her hands in bitter anguish of soul. ' Pu' chile ! He little dream sht can't be waked up ontil Gabriel sound his trump.' The boy crept to his mother's side, and, bending over her, imprinted, a kiss upon her forehead. Then be came forward, and said in his childish way : ' I didn't wake mamma — did I, Mam' Silla?' 1 No, chile.' ? Oh, I'm so hungry !' ' Here, chile, eat this nice bisouii and drink this water.' , As she spoke the noble woman gVve to the child the last drop of water, the last morsel of food, while she was starving to death herself.
She turned her head away as he ate it, and then, as she saw the last crumb gone, the last drop swallowed, from her lips broke a cry of anpuish which she could not suppress, and she fell lorward on her face and burst into tears. The boy tried to comfort her, and at last her moaning ceased, and, holding him in her arms, she said, faintly : ' Let us go to sleep, chile.1 The boy obeyed, arid soon sank to sleep, while she lay back against the boat's side and closed her eyes. Had they been open they would have seen the rising sun glance upon a white sail. Above the horizon, rising higher and higher, appeared a vessel, and her course lay straight towards the drifting boat. It was a schooner, rakish in build, carrying a vast spread of canvas, and her decks were armed. There were scars upon the hull and spars, and the sails were patched, as though the vessel had been in more than one hot action. Upon her decks were some three score men, wearing white pants, blue shirts, and red-sculled caps; and a hard-looking set of humanity they were. ^
No 2. — ' Ho, aloft inert ! ' he suddenly called out to the man in the maintop.
Aft a man paced to and fro the quarter-deck, with the air of one who was monarch of all he surveyed. His face was darkly bronzed, stern, and strongly marked, His beard and hair were iron-grey, and his eyes black and piercing. He wore a black uniform trimmed with silver lace ; at his side hung a heavy cutlass, and in his sash were a pair of gold-mounted pistols. 1 Ho, aloft there 1' he suddenly railed out to the man in the maintop. [See Picture 8.] ' Ay, ay, sir.' ' 1 Are you blind, sir, that you don't see yonder object upon the waters, dead ahead.' - Boat ho !' rang out the man at this
rebuke, for the captain bad discovered the boat ere the look-put had sighted it. -'Well, sir, what do you make it out?1 A drifting boat, sir, and it has occupants,' 'All right. Keep your eyes open in future. Helmsman, bring her up half a point to run alongside of yonder ?boat'.; ? ? ?' - :??-.?? -? ?'/'? ::~.. The helmsman obeyed, and half an hour .after the 'boat was alongside of the schooner. .. ' Are they dead ?' asked the captain, ? as he glanced over into the boat in an indifferent way. 'The lady is, sir, and also tbe negress. The negress seems to be .-.till Warm, but the little- boy is fast asleep.'
No. j. — The boy smiled as he was handed up to the cipain.
The captain now caught a good view of the dead, upturned faces of the two women, and a groan escaped him, while from bis lips came the slow-spoken words : 'It is she! Hand those bodies upon deck, and do it' tenderly. Give me the boy.' The men in the boat obeyed, and the boy smiled as he was handed up to the captain. [See Picture 3.^ * ' Now we will have something to eat, won't we?' said the child. ' But mamma, and Mam' Silla, too, are fast asleep.'
The captain made no reply, but carried the child into the cabin and ordered lood to be got for him at once. Then, to the amazement of his crew, their stern commander ordered the bodies of the mother and the negress also to be taken into bis cabin, and it was done. What it meant the crew did not know ; but that night, when the little boy had been put to bed, the schooner was brought to, the bodies were sewn up in hammocks, and weighted with heavy shot, and four men carried them 'on deck,
No. 4 — The bodies were lowered into the sea amid a silence that was intense.
' All hands above to attend burial !' The order was obeyed, and the crew mustered amidships. Caps off !' broke from the lips cf the si cm commander. Promptly the men obeyed, and then, with no word of ceremony, the bodies were lowered into the sea amid a silence that was most intense. [See I icttire 4] ' Get the schooner undei way again, and on the morrow hoist no flag above her decks !' ordered the captain, as he turned and went back to his cabin, the crew wondering strangely at the change in their commander. To Be Continued.