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mounted, behind good earthen banks, are quite equal to
several times their number on board ship. Notwithstand
ing the success of the first shot of the pirates, this truth
soon became sufficiently apparent, and the vessels found
themselves getting the worst of it. The governor, him
self, or Captain Betts pointed every gun that was fired in
the battery, and they seldom failed to make their marks on
the hulls of the enemy. On the other hand, the shot of the
shipping was either buried in the mounds of the battery,
or passed over its low parapets. Not a man was hurt
ashore, at the end of an hour's struggle, with the excep-



420 THE CRATER;

tion of the Kannaka first wounded, while seven of th
pirates were actually killed, and near twenty wounded.

Had the combat continued in the manner in which it
was commenced, the result would have been a speedy and
signal triumph in favour of the colony. But, by this time,
the pirate admiral became convinced that he had gone the
wrong way to work, and that he must have recourse to
some management, in order to prevail against such stub
born foes. Neither of the vessels was anchored, but all
kept under way, manoeuvring about in front of the battery,
but one brig hauled out of the line to the northward, and
making a stretch or two clear of the line of fire, she came
down on the north end of the battery, in a position to rake
it. Now, this battery had been constructed for plain,
straightforward cannonading in front, with no embrasures
to command the roads on either flank. Curtains of earth
had been thrown up on the flanks, to protect the men, it
is true, but this passive sort of resistance could do very
little good in a protracted contest. While this particular
brig was gaining that favourable position, the ship and the
other brig fell off to leeward, and were soon at so long a
shot, as to be out of harm's way. This was throwing the
battery entirely out of the combat, as to anything aggres
sive, and compelled a prompt decision on the part of the
colonists. No sooner did the nearest brig open her fire,
and that within short canister range, than the ship and her
consort hauled in again on the southern flank of the bat
tery, the smallest vessel leading, and feeling her way with
the lead. Perceiving the utter uselessness of remaining,
and the great danger he ran of being cut off, the governor
now commenced a retreat to his boats. This movement
was not without danger, one colonist being killed in effect
ing it, and two more of the Kannakas wounded. It suc
ceeded, notwithstanding, and the whole party got off to
the Anne and Martha.

This retreat, of course, left the island and the battery
at the mercy of the pirates. The latter landed, set fire to
the buildings, blew up the magazine, dismounted the guns,
and did all the other damage to the place that could be
accomplished in the course of a short visit. They then
went on board their vessels, again, and began to beat up



OH, VULCAN'S PEAK. 421

into the Western Passage, following the colonists who pre
ceded them, keeping just out of gun-shot.

The Western Passage was somewhat crooked, and dif
ferent reaches were of very frequent occurrence. This
sometimes aided a vessel in ascending, or going to wind
ward, and sometimes offered obstacles. As there were
many other passages, so many false channels, some of
which were culs-de-sacs, it was quite possible for one igno
rant of the true direction to miss his way ; and this cir
cumstance suggested to the governor an expedient which
was highly approved of by his friend and counsellor, cap
tain Betts, when it was laid before that plain, but expe
rienced, seaman. There was one false passage, about a
league within the group, which led off to the northward,
and far from all the settlements, that offered several in
ducements to enter it. In the first place, it had more of
the appearance of a main channel, at its point of junction,
than the main channel itself, and might easily be mistaken
for it ; then, it turned right into the wind's eye, after beat
ing up it for a league ; and at the end of a long reach that
ran due-south-east, it narrowed so much as to render it
questionable whether the Anne and Martha could pass be
tween the rocks, into a wide bay beyond. This bay was
the true cul-de-sac, having no other outlet or inlet than the
narrow pass just mentioned ; though it was very large, was
dotted with islands, and reached quite to the vicinity of
Loam Island, or within a mile, or two, of the Reef.

The main question was whether the schooner and the
sloop could pass through the opening which communicated
between the reach and the bay. If not, they must inevi
tably fall into the hands of the pirates, should they enter
the false channel, and be followed in. Then, even admit
ting that the Anne and Martha got through the narrow
passage, should the pirates follow them in their boats,
there would be very little probability of their escaping ;
though they might elude their pursuers for a time among
the islands. Captain Betts was of opinion that the two
vessels could get through, and was strongly in faveur of
endeavouring to lead the enemy off the true course to the
Reef, by entangling them in this cul-de-sac. If nothing
but delay was gained, delay would be something. It was
36



422 THE CRATER;

always an advantage to the assailed to have time to reeovei
from their first alarm, and to complete their arrangements.
The governor listened to his friend's arguments with fa
vour, but he sent the Neshamony on direct to the Reef,
with a letter to Pennock, acquainting that functionary
with the state of things, the intended plan, and a request
that a twelve-pounder, that was mounted on a travelling
carriage, might be put on board the boat, and sent to a
landing, whence it might easily be dragged by hand to the
narrow passage so often mentioned. This done, he took
the way into the false channel himself.

The governor, as a matter of course, kept at a safe dis
tance ahead of the pirates in the Anne and the Martha.
This he was enabled to do quite easily, since fore-and-aft
vessels make much quicker tacks than those that are
square-rigged. As respects water, there was enough of
that almost everywhere ; it being rather a peculiarity of the
group, that nearly every one of its passages had good chan
nels and bold shores. There was one shoal, however, and
that of some extent, in the long reach of the false channel
named ; and when the governor resolved to venture in
there, it was not without the hope of leading the pirate
ship on it. The water on this shoal was about sixteen
feet deep, and there was scarce a hope of either of the
brigs fetching up on it; but, could the ship be enticed
there, and did she only strike with good way on her, and
on a falling tide, her berth might be made very uncom
fortable. Although this hope appeared faintly in the back
ground of the governor's project, his principal expectation
was that of being able to decoy the strangers into a cul-de-
sac, and to embarrass them with delays and losses. As
soon as the Neshamony was out of sight, the Anne and
Martha, therefore, accompanied by the other boats, stood
into the false channel, and went off to the northward mer
rily, with a leading wind. When the enemy reached the
point, they did not hesitate to follow, actually setting stud
ding sails in their eagerness not to be left too far behind.
It is probable, that Waally was of but little service to his
allies just then, for, after all, the knowledge of that chief
was limited to a very imperfect acquaintance with such
channels as would admit of the passage of even canoes.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 423

The distances were by no means trifling in these crooked
passages. By the true channel, it was rather more than
seven and twenty miles from the western roads to the
Reef; but, it was fully tea more by this false channel,
even deducting the half league where there was no passage
at all, or the bottom of the bag. Now, it required time to
beat up such a distance, and the sun was setting when the
governor reached the shoal already mentioned, about which
he kept working for some time, in the hope of enticing the
ship on it in the dark. But the pirates were too wary to
be misled, in this fashion. The light no sooner left them
than they took in all their canvas and anchored. It is pro
bable, that they believed themselves on their certain way
to the Reef, and felt indisposed to risk anything by ad
venturing in the obscurity. Both parties, consequently,
prepared to pass the night at their anchors. The Anne
and Martha were now within less than a mile of the all-
important passage, through which they were to make their
escape, if they escaped at all. The opportunity of ascer
taining the fact was not to be neglected, and it was no
sooner so dark as to veil his movements than the governor
went on board the Martha, which was a vessel of more
beam than the Anne, and beat her up to the rocks, in
order to make a trial of its capacity. It was just possible
to take the sloop through in several places ; but, in one
spot, the rocks came too near together to admit of her
being hauled between them. The circumstances would
not allow of delay, and to work everybody went, with such
implements as offered, to pick away the rock and to open
a passage. By midnight, this was done; and the Martha
was carried through into the bay beyond. Here she stood
off a short distance and anchored. The governor went
back to his own craft and moved her about a mile, being
apprehensive of a boat attack in the darkness, should he
remain where he was. This precaution was timely, for,
in the morning, after day had dawned, no less than seven
boats were seen pulling down to the pirates, which had, no
doubt, been looking for the schooner and the sloop in vain.
The governor got great credit for this piece of manage
ment ; more even than might have been expected, the vul
gar usually bestowing their applause on acts of a glittering



424 THE CRATER;

character, rather than on those which denote calculation
and forethought.

As the day advanced the pirates re-commenced their
operations. The delay, however, had given the colonists
a great advantage. There had been time to communicate
with the Reef, and to receive the gun sent for. It had
greatly encouraged the people up at the town, to hear that
their enemies were in the false channel; and they re
doubled their efforts, as one multiplies his blows on a re
treating enemy. Pennock sent the governor most encou
raging reports, and gave him to understand that he had
ordered nearly all the men in from the out-posts, leaving
just enough to have a look-out, and to keep the Kannakas
in order. As it was now understood that the attack must
be on the capital, there was every reason for taking this
course.

All the vessels were soon under way again. The pirates
missed the Martha, which they rightly enough supposed
had gone ahead. They were evidently a good deal puzzled
about the channel, but supposed it must be somewhere to
windward. In the mean time, the governor kept the Anne
manoeuvring around the shoal, in the hope of luring the ship
on it. Nor was he without rational hopes of success, for
the brigs separated, one going close to each side of the
sound, to look for the outlet, while the ship kept beating
up directly in its centre, making a sinuous course towards
the schooner, which was always near the shallow water.
At length the governor was fully rewarded for his temerity ;
the admiral had made a stretch that carried him laterally
past the lee side cf the shoal, and when he went about, he
looked directly for the Anne, which was standing back
and forth near its weather margin. Here the governor
held on, until he had the satisfaction of seeing the ship
just verging on the weather side of the shoal, when he up
helm, and stood off to leeward, as if intending to pass out
of the cul-de-sac by the way he had entered, giving his
pursuers the slip. This bold mano3uvre took the pirate
admiral by surprise, and being in the vessel that was much
the nearest to the Anne, he up helm, and was plumped on
the shoal with strong way on him, in less than five minutes !
The instant the governor saw this, he hauled his wind and



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 425

beat back again, passing the broadside of the ship with
perfect impunity, her people being too much occupied with
their own situation, to think of their guns, or of molesting
him.

The strange ship had run aground within half a mile of
the spot where the twelve-pounder was planted, and that
gun now opened on her with great effect. She lay quar
tering to this new enemy, and the range was no sooner
obtained, than every shot hulled her. The governor now
landed, and went to work seriously, first ordering the Anne
carried through the pass, to place her beyond the reach of
the brigs. A forge happened to be in the Anne, to make
some repairs to her iron work, and this forge, a small one
it was true, was taken ashore, and an attempt was made to
heat some shot in it. The shot had been put into the forge
an hour or two before, but a fair trial was not made until
the whole apparatus was landed. For the next hour the
efforts of both sides were unremitted. One of the brigs
went to the assistance of the admiral, while the other en
deavoured to silence the gun, which was too securely
placed, however, to mind her broadsides. One shot hulling
her, soon drove her to leeward ; after which, all the atten
tion of the pirates was bestowed on their ship.

The admiral, beyond all doubt, was very awkwardly
placed. He had the whole width of the shoal to leeward
of him, could only get off by working directly in the face
of the fire, and had gone on with seven knots way on his
ship. The bottom was a soft mud ; and the colonists knew
that nothing but anchors laid to windward, with a heavy
strain and a good deal of lightening, would ever take that
vessel out of her soft berth. Of this fact the pirates them
selves soon began to be convinced, for they were seen
pumping out their water. As for the brigs, they were by
no means well handled. Instead of closing with the bat
tery, and silencing the gun, as they might have done, they
kept aloof, and even rendered less assistance to the ship
than was in their power. In point of fact, they were in
confusion, and manifested that want of order and submis
sion to authority, as well as self-devotion, that would have
been shown among men in an honest service : guilt para
lyzed their efforts, rendering them timid and distrustful.
36*



426 THE CRATER;

After near two hours of cannonading, during which the
colonists had done the pirates a good deal of damage, and
the pirates literally had not injured the colonists at all, the
governor was ready with his hot shot, which he had brought
to something more than a red heat. The gun was loaded
with great care, and fired, after having been deliberately
pointed by the governor himself. The ship was hulled,
and a trifling explosion followed on board. That shot
materially added to the confusion among the pirates, and
it was immediately followed by another, which struck, also.
It was now so apparent that confusion prevailed among
the pirates, that the governor would not take the time
necessary to put in the other hot shot, but he loaded and
fired as fast as he could, in the ordinary way.

In less than a quarter of an hour after the first hot shot
was fired, smoke poured out of the admiral's main-deck
ports ; and, two minutes later, it was succeeded by flames.

From that moment the result of the conflict was no
longer doubtful. The pirates, among whom great confu
sion prevailed, even previously to this disaster, now lost all
subordination, and it was soon seen that each man worked
for himself, striving to save as much as he could of his ill-
gotten plunder. The governor understood the state of the
enemy, and, though prudence could scarcely justify his
course, he determined to press him to the utmost. The
Anne and Martha were both brought back through the
pass, and the twelve-pounder was taken on board the
former, there being room to fight it between her masts.
As soon as this was done, the two craft bore down on the
brigs, which were, by this time, a league to leeward of the
burning ship, their commanders having carried them there
to avoid the effects of the expected explosion. The admiral
and his crew saved themselves in the boats, abandoning
nearly all their property, and losing a good many men.
Indeed, when the last boat left the ship, there were several
of her people below, so far overcome by liquor, as to be
totally helpless. These men were abandoned too, as were
all the wounded, including Waally, who had lost an arm
by the fire of the battery.

Neither did the governor like the idea of passing very
near the ship, which had now been burning fully an hour.



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 427

In going to leeward, he gave her a berth, and it was well
he did, for she blew up while the Anne and Martha, as it
was, were considerably within a quarter of a mile of her.
The colonists ever afterwards considered an incident con
nected with this explosion, as a sort of Providential mani
festation of the favour of Heaven. The Mattha was nearest
to the ship, at the instant of her final disaster, and very
many fragmenjs were thrown around her ; a few even on
her decks. Among the last was a human body, which was
cast a great distance in the air, and fell, like a heavy clod,
across the gunwale of the sloop. This proved to be; the
body of Waally, one of the arms having been cut away by
a shot, three hours before ! Thus perished a constant and
most wily enemy of the colony, and who had, more than
once, brought it to the verge of destruction, by his cupidity
and artifices.

From this moment, the pirates thought little of anything
but of effecting their retreat, and of getting out into open
water again. The governor saw this, and pressed them
hard. The twelve-pounder opened on the nearest brig, aa
soon as her shot would tell ; and even the Martha's swivel
was heard, like the bark of a cur that joins in the clamour
when a strange dog is set upon by the pack of a village.
The colonists on shore flew into the settlements, to let it
be known that the enemy was retreating, when every dwell
ing poured out its inmates in pursuit. Even the females
now appeared in arms ; there being no such incentive to
patriotism, on occasions of the kind, as the cry that the
battle has been won. Those whom it might have been
hard to get within the sound of a gun, a few hours before,
now became valiant, and pressed into the van, which bore
a very different aspect, before a retreating foe, from that
which it presented on their advance.

In losing Waally, the strangers lost the only person
among them who had any pretension to be thought a pilot.
He knew very little of the channels to the Reef, at the
best, though he had been there thrice ; but, now he was
gone, no one left among them knew anything about them
at all. Under all the circumstances, therefore, it is not
surprising that the admiral should think more of extricating
bis two brigs from the narrow waters, than of pursuing hii



428 THE CRATER;

original plan of conquest. It was not difficult to find his
way back by the road he had come ; and that road he tra
velled as fast as a leading breeze would carry him along it.
But retreat, as it now appeared, was not the only difficulty
with which this freebooter had to contend. It happened
that no kind^feeling existed between the admiral and the
officers of thVlargest of the brigs. So far had their ani
mosity extended, that the admiral had deemed it expedient
to take a large sum of money, which ha'd fallen to the
share of the vessel in question, out of that brig, and keep
it on board the ship, as a guaranty that they would not run
away with their craft. This proceeding had not strength
ened the bond between the parties ; and nothing had kept
down the strife but the expectation of the large amount of
plunder that was to be obtained from the colony. That
hope was now disappointed ; and, the whole time the two
vessels were retiring before the Anne and the Martha,
preparations were making on board one of the brigs to
reclaim this ill-gotten treasure, and on board the other to
retain it. By a species of freemasonry peculiar to their
pursuits, the respective crews were aware of each other's
designs ; and when they issued nearly abreast out of the
passage, into the inner bay of the Western Roads, one
passed to the southward of the island, and the other to the
northward; the Anne and Martha keeping close in their
wakes.

As the two vessels cleared the island and got into open
water, the struggle commenced in earnest ; the disaffected
brig firing into the admiral. The broadside was returned,
and the two vessels gradually neared each other, until the
canopies of smoke which accompanied their respective
movements became one. The combat now raged, and with
a savage warmth, for hours; both brigs running off the land
under short canvas. At length the firing ceased, and the
smoke so far cleared away as to enable the governor to
take a look at the damages done. In this respect, there
was little to choose; each vessel having suffered, and seem
ingly each about as much as the other. After consuming
an hour or two in repairing damages, the combat was re
newed ; when the two colony craft, seeing no prospects of
its soon terminating, and being now several leagues to lee*



OR, VULCAN'S PEAK. 429

ward of the group, hauled up for the roads again. The
brigs continued their fight, always running off before the
wind, and went out of sight, canopied by smoke, long after
the reports of their guns had become inaudible. This was
the last the governor ever saw or heard of these dangerous
enemies.



CHAPTEE XXIX.

VOX POPCI.I, VOX DEI.

Venerable Axiom.

AFTER this unlooked-for termination of what the colo
nists called the ' Pirate-War,' the colony enjoyed a long
period of peace and prosperity. The whaling business
was carried on with great success, and many connected
with it actually got rich. Among these was the governor,
who, in addition to his other means, soon found himself in
possession of more money than he could profitably dispose
of in that young colony. By his orders, no less than one
hundred thousand dollars were invested in his name, in
the United States six per cents, his friends in America
being empowered to draw the dividends, and, after using
a due proportion in the way of commissions, to re-invest
the remainder to his credit.

Nature did quite as much as art, in bringing on the
colony; the bounty of God, as the industry of man. It is
our duty, however, to allow that the colonists did not so
regard the matter. A great change came over their feel
ings, after the success of the ' Pirate-War,' inducing them
to take a more exalted view of themselves and their con
dition than had been their wont. The ancient humility
seemed suddenly to disappear; and in its place a vain
glorious estimate of themselves and of their prowess arose
among the people. The word " people," too, was in
everybody's mouth, as if the colonists themselves had
made those lovely islands, endowed them with fertility,



430 THE CRATER;

and rendered them what they were now fast becoming-
scenes of the most exquisite rural beauty, as well as gra
naries of abundance. By this time, the palm-tree covered
more or less of every island ; and the orange, lime, shad
dock and other similar plants, filled the air with the fra
grance of their flowers, or rendered it bright with the
golden hues of their fruits. In short, everything adapted
to the climate was flourishing in the plantations, and plenty
reigned even in the humblest dwelling.

This was a perilous condition for the healthful humility
of human beings. Two dangers beset them ; both co
loured and magnified by a common tendency. One waa
that of dropping into luxurious idleness the certain pre
cursor, in such a climate, of sensual indulgences; and the
other was that of " waxing fat, and kicking." The ten
dency common to both, was to place self before God, and
not only to believe that they merited all they received, but
that they actually created a good share of it.

Of luxurious idleness, it was perhaps too soon to dread
its worst fruits. The men and women retained too many
of their early habits and impressions to drop easily into
such a chasm ; on the contrary, they rather looked forward
to producing results greater than any which had yet at
tended their exertions. An exaggerated view of self, how



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWorks (Volume 29) → online text (page 39 of 42)