Page images

up with us : upon which we fired a gun without a shot, to intimate that they should bring to ; and we put out a flag of truce, as a signal for parley; but they kept crowding after us, till they came within Mot : upon this we took in our white flag, they having made no answer to it, hung out the red flag, and fired at them with shot : Notwithstanding this, they came on till they were near enough to call to them with a speaking trumpet, which we had on board; so we called to them, and bade them keep off at their peril.

It was all one, they crowded after us, and endeavoured to come under our stern, so to board us on our quarter : Upon which, seeing they were refolute for mischief, and depended upon the strength that followed them, I ordered to bring the ship to, so that they lay upon our broadside, when immediately we fired five guns at them ; one of them had been levelled so true, as to carry away the stern of the hindermost boat, and bring them to the necessity of taking down their fail, and running all to the head of the boat to keep her from sinking ; so she lay by, and had enough of it; but seeing the foremost boat still crowd on after us, we made ready to fire at her in particular.

While this was doing, one of the three boats that was behind, being forwarder than the other two, made


to the boat which we had disabled, to relieve her, and we could afterwards see her take out the men: we called again to the foremost boat, and offered a truce to parley again, and to know what was her business with us; but had no answer : only the crowded close under our stern. Upon this our


gunner, who was a very dexterous fellow, run out his two chace guns, and fired at her ; but the shot missing, the men in the boat shouted, waved their caps, and came on; but the gunner, getting quickly ready again, fired among them a second time; one shot of which, though it missed the boat itself, yet fell in among the men, and we could easily fee had done a great deal of mischief among them ; but we, taking no notice of that, weared the ship again, and brought our quarter to bear upon them; and, firing three guns more, we found the boat was split almost to pieces ; in particular, her rudder, and a piece of her stern, were shot quite away; so they handed their fail immediately, and were in great disorder : but, to compleat their misfortune, our gunner let fly two guns at them again; where he hit them we could not tell, but we found the boat was finking, and some of the men already in the water :Upon this I immediately manned out our pinnace, which we had kept close by our side, with orders to pick up some of the men, if they could, and save them from drowning, and imediately to come on board with them ; because we saw the rest of the boats began to come up.

Our men in the pinnace followed their orders, and took up three men ; one of which was just drowning, and it was a good while before we could recover him. As soon as they were on board, we crowded all the fail we could make, and stood farther out to fea; and we found, that when the other three boats came up to the first two, they gave over their chace.

Being thus delivered from a danger, which tho' I knew not the reason of it, yet seemed to be much greater than I apprehended, I took care that we should change our course, and not let any one imagine whither we were going ; so we stood out to sea eastward, quite out of the course of all European ships, whether they were bound to China, or any where else; within the commerce of the European nations.

When we were now at sea, we began to consult with the two seamen, and enquire first, what the meaning of all this should be? The Dutchman let us into the secret of it at once; telling us, that the fellow that sold us the ship, as we said, was no more than a thief that had run away with her. Then he told us how the captain, whose name too he mentioned, though I do not remember it now, was treacherously murdered by the natives on the coast of Malacca, with three of his men; and that he, this Dutchman, and four more, got into the woods, where they wandered about a great while; till at length, he, in particular, in a miraculous manner, made his escape, and swam off to a Dutch ship, which failing near the shore, in its way from China, had sent their boat on shore for fresh water; that he durft not come to that part of the shore where the boat was, but made shift in the night to take in the water farther off, and swimming a great while, at last the fhip's boat took him up.

He then told us, that he went to Batavia, where two of the seamen belonging to the ship had arrived, having deserted the rest in their travels ; and gave an account, that the fellow who had run away with the ship, fold her at Bengal to a set of pirates, which Vol. II.



were gone a cruising in her; and that they had already taken an English ship, and two Dutch ships, very richly laden.

This latter part we found to concern us directly; and though we knew it to be false, yet, as my partner said very well, if we had fallen into their hands, and they had such a prepossession against us beforehand, it had been in vain for us to have defended ourselves, or to hope for any good quarters at their hands; especially considering that our accusers had been our judges, and that we could have expected nothing from them but what rage would have dictated, and ungoverned passion have executed; and therefore it was his opinion, we should go directly back to Bengal, from whence we came, without putting in at any port whatever ; because there we could give an account of ourselves, and could


where we were when the ship put in, whom we bought her of, and the like; and, which was more than all the rest, if we were put to the necessity of bringing it before the proper judges, we should be sure to have some justice; and not be hanged first, and judged afterwards.

I was some time of my partner's opinion; but after a little more serious thinking, I told him, I thought it was a very great hazard for us to attempt returning to Bengal, for that we were on the wrong fide of the straits of Malacca ; and that if the alarm was given, we should be sure to be way-laid on every side, as well by the Dutch of Batavia, as the English elsewhere; that if we should be taken, as it were, running away, we should even condemn ourselves, and there would want no more evidence to


destroy us. I also asked the English failor's opinion, who said, he was of my mind, and that we should certainly be taken.

This danger a little startled my partner, and all the ship's company; and we immediately resolved to go away to the coast of Tonquin, and so on to China

; and from thence pursuing the first design, as to trade, find some way or other to dispose of the ship, and come back in some of the vessels of the country, such as we could get. This was approved of as the best method for our security; and accordingly we steered away N. N. E. keeping above fifty leagues off from the usual course to the eastward. This, however, put us to some inconveniencies

; for first the winds, when we came to that distance from the shore, seemed to be more steadily against us, blowing almost trade, as we call it, from the east and E. N. E. so that we were a long while upon our voyage ; and we were but ill provided with victuals for so long a run; and, which was still worse, there was some danger, that those English and Dutch ships, whose boats pursued us, whereof some were bound that way, might be got in before us; and if not, some other ship, bound to China, might have information of us from them, and pursue us with the same vigour.

I must confess, I was now very uneasy, and thought myself, including the late escape from the long-boats, to have been in the most dangerous condition that ever I was in through all my past life ; for, whatever ill circumstances I had been in, I was never pursued for a thief before; nor had I ever done any thing



« PreviousContinue »