I voyaged in the English ship without mishap so long as we sailed upon uncharted seas, but when we entered home waters we kept a sharp look-out for pirates and free-booters, who at this time took toll from all whom they encountered. Off the coast of Africa we exchanged signals with passing vessels, from whom we learnt that pirates had been sighted in close proximity, and one morning we noticed two schooners bearing down upon us. As the wind was in favour of the pirates, for such we judged them to be, we could not hope to outrun them, our ship being foul after her long voyage, so the men were mustered and made ready for action.
While these preparations were on foot I could not help admiring the cool and fearless manner in which the English sailors set about their work. There was no hurry or confusion in their methods. Each man knew his duty, and was ready to do it.
With shouts and yells from the pirates on board of her, one of the schooners now ranged alongside, and the grappling irons were hove athwart our bulwarks. I sent a shower of grape from the gun, of which I had charge, upon the deck of the schooner, killing four of the pirates and wounding others, but this failed to stop the boarding party, who now swarmed upon us. The fight became general, and, led by Captain Bland, we engaged the robbers with such goodwill that we had almost succeeded in driving them over the side when the second schooner came up, and a fresh horde of ruffians joined in the attack. Retreating aft, we again made a stand, though it was evident that, in the end, we must be overpowered, outnumbered, as we were, three to one.
Still we continued to fight on with no thought of surrender, for we knew that capture would mean death by walking the plank. Four of the English on our side were killed, besides seven or eight of those of other nationalities, whilst many were wounded. The decks were slippery with blood, and a gathering mist made it impossible to ascertain the extent of our losses. Captain Bland now placed himself beside me, and together we held the pirates at bay.
“This can’t last, Van Bu,” he said, “and I am resolved that my ship shall not fall into the hands of these scoundrels.”
“What can you do?” I answered, without pausing in my defence.
“I’ll fire the magazine sooner than let them take her,” replied Bland. “Keep them in check for a while and we’ll sink together.”
With these words he sprang to the hatchway while I continued to fight on, expecting every moment to be blown with all hands into eternity.
I had given up hope, and the suspense of awaiting the expected catastrophe was so acute that I had almost made up my mind to throw myself overboard and take my chance with the sharks, when two square sails emerged out of the smoke, and the hull of a man-o’-war, with a wide spread of canvas, ranged alongside, while a number of English man-o’-war’s men, led by an officer, sprang upon our decks. At the sight of the King’s men the pirates flung themselves headlong aboard their schooners, and endeavoured to make off, but they were soon captured and brought back, to be afterwards tried and hanged at the yard-arm.