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Roshow Bezone Jr.
[pseudonym of W. H. Macy]

Ballou's Monthly Magazine
Vol. 75, No. 6 (Jun 1892)
pp. 457-460


by roshow bezone, jr.

      Some years ago, before it was as well known as it is at the present time, as a noted summer resort, there lived on the eastern shore of Mt. Desert, which is a large island off the coast of Maine, an old fisherman by the name of Jedediah Spinnet, who owned a schooner of some hundred tons burden, in which he, together with four stout sons, was wont to go about once a year to the Grand Banks for the purpose of catching codfish. The old man had five things, upon the peculiar merits of which he loved to boast -- his schooner and his four sons. The first had seen her sixth year, and was a stout, well-built craft, but as for beauty or remarkable speed, she could not be said to possess much of either qualities. The four sons, however, were all that their father represented them to be, and no one ever doubted his word, when he said that their like was not to be found for fifty miles around. The oldest was thirty-two, while the youngest had just completed his twenty-sixth year, and they answered to the names of Seth, Andrew, John and Samuel.

      One bright morning in early spring, Captain Spinnet was sitting upon the bottom of a small skiff which had been keeled up on the beach, earnestly engaged in smoking an old pipe, and congratulating himself on his possession of the schooner, which lay at anchor about a cable's length from the shore, when he was aroused by the approach of a stranger. The new comer was a man of about fifty years of age, very good looking, and withal one whose appearance betokened a man of wealth.

      "Good-morning, sir!" said he, as he came up to the spot where the old fisherman was sitting.

      "Same to you, sir!" answered Spinnet, removing the pipe from his mouth, and at the same time enveloping his head in a cloud of smoke.

      "Can you inform me where I can find Captain Spinnet?" asked the stranger.

      "Well, you needn't go any further, for I reckon I'm the only Captain Spinnet in this quarter."

      "Ah, I'm glad of that, for I feared you might have gone to sea."

      "If you'd a' come a day later, I guess you would 'ave found me gone."

      "Then I'm just in time."

      "P'raps so," laconically replied the fisherman, as he gave another whiff at the old pipe.

      "You have been recommended to me as a man who might be trusted."

      "I never get trusted, stranger. I'm one o' those kind as pays for everything on the nail."

      "Ah, you misunderstood me," said the new comer, with a smile. "I alluded to your faithfulness when placed in charge of an important trust."

      "That's it, eh! Then 'f 'u'll find a man that says Jed Spinnet ain't as honest as a hard silver dollar, I'd like to see him!" and the old man's fist came down with a tremendous thump upon the bottom of the boat.

      "I don't doubt it in the least," replied the stranger; "and now I'll tell you what I want of you. I have a large quantity of goods not far from here, which I wish to have carried to Havana. Do you think you could find the way there?"

      "Just give me a true chart, an' I reckon I can put Betsy Jenkins through anywhere."

      "Who is Betsy Jenkins?" asked the strapger, while another smile played around his mouth.

      "Do you see that schooner out there?"


      "Well, that's Betsy Jenkins," replied the old fisherman, as he cast a look of pride at his favorite craft.

      "Then, would you be willing to put Betsy through to Havana?"

      "That depends al-tewgather 'pon circumstances, stranger."

      "The business is honest, the cargo is light, and the pay shall be good. You must have it on board before the week is out, and get off as soon as possible."

      "You say the cargo is light -- might I ask what it is?"

      "I said it was light, because there is but little of it; but what there is in iron machinery for putting up steam engines on the


sugar plantations. The vessel in which it was shipped from Liverpool was cast away near Gouldsborough, and now I must find some other conveyance."

      In less than an hour it was settled that the Betsy Jenkins should be "put through" to Havana, and all the preliminaries were satisfactorily arranged to that effect. Captain Spinnet got his sons on board the schooner, hove up the anchor, and started for the place where the cargo laid, taking the owner, Mr. Morton, along with him. All hands set to work with a will, and in two days everything was safe and snug in the fisherman's hold, all ready for a start. Mr. Morton did not accompany his goods, as be had business to attend to in New York, and so Captain Spinnet and his sons received all the necessary instructions, and then set sail for their destination.

      The schooner had a fair wind, and she went walking along in a right merry mood, at the rate of six and seven knots, nothing of importance occurring until one morning just after Sam had cleared away the breakfast things. (Sam was the youngest, and be had to do these sort of things.) Well, just as Sam had got the last tin pan cleanly washed and stowed away in the locker, he happened to cast his eyes out at the cabin window, and as the schooner's stern rose upon the top of a heavy sea, the flutter of a white sail caught his attention off upon the starboard quarter, and hastening on deck he made known his discovery. In less than half an hour the stranger was made out to be a topmast schooner, coming directly down upon them. The down-easter was heading S. S. W., and had the wind from the northward and westward, while the stranger was coming down, wing-and-wind, right before it. Now, there was nothing very astonishing about seeing a strange schooner in those latitudes, but still Captain Spinnet could not help feeling that under existing circumstances there might be danger abroad. Had the sail in question been discovered ahead or astern, or had she even been making in for the coast, nothing would have been thought of it; but as it was, the old fisherman could only think that he was the sole object of the fellow's course.

      "Seth," said the old man, turning to his eldest son, who had the helm, "that chap's after us, an' no mistake!"

      "S'pose'n we luff a bit, an' see."

      "Try it."

      The fisherman's head was brought three points nearer to the wind, and in a few moments afterwards the stranger's main-boom was swung over, she, too, varying her course in proportion.

      "That settles it," said Captain Spinnet. Now, my boys, that feller's a pirate!"

      "A pirate?" interrogated the four sons, while a slight blanch appeared upon their cheeks.

      "Yes," returned the old man. "I've been in these waters before, an' I know somethin' about those chaps. If that'd been an honest craft, they wouldn't 'a dogged us in such a fashion, for it's the same one I saw last night. Now, if he'd been on any particular course, he wouldn't a' been there, for, you see, he can sail twice as fast as we can, an' he ought to a' been out of sight long 'fore this."

      "Then, what are we to do, dad?" asked Seth, as he brought the schooner once more upon her true coarse.

      "We must wait an' see what he's a goin' to do, first," coolly replied the old man, at the same time raising the glass to his eye. "There, just look at her," continued the captain, as he handed the glass to Andrew.

      "Full of men, by thunder!" exclaimed the latter, as his eye caught the heads of some twenty or thirty ill-looking chaps, who were crowded around the pursuer's bows.

      Whatever may have been the doubts that existed in the minds of our Yankees, they were all put to rest in a short time by the very agreeable whizzing of an eighteen-pound shot just under the stern.

      "That means for us to heave to," remarked the old man.

      "Then, I guess we'd better do it – hadn't we?" said Seth.

      "Of course."

      Accordingly the Betsy Jenkins was brought up into the wind, and her main-boom hauled over to windward.

      "Now, boys," said the old man, as soon as the schooner came to a stand," all we can do is to be as cool as possible, and trust to fortune. There is no way to escape that I can see now, but perhaps if we are civil, they will take such stuff as they want, and then let us go. At any rate, there is no use in crying about it, for it can't be helped. Now, get your pistols and see that they are surely loaded, and have your knives ready, but be sure and hide them so that the pirates shall see no show of resistance."


      In a few moments all the arms which the schooner afforded, with the exception of one or two old muskets, were secured about the persons of our down-easters, and they quietly awaited the coming of the schooner.

      "One word more, boys," said the old man, just as the pirate came round under the stern. "Now, watch every movement I make, an' be ready to jump the moment I speak."

      As Captain Spinnet ceased speaking, the pirate luffed up under the fisherman's lee quarter, and in a moment more the latter's deck was graced by the presence of a dozen as savage-looking mortals as eyes ever rested on.

      "Are you the captain of this vessel?" asked the leader of the boarders, as he approached the old man.

      "Yes, sir."

      "What is your cargo?"

      "Machinery for steam ingines."

      "Nothing else?" asked the pirate.

      At this moment Captain Spinnet's eye caught what looked like a sail off to the southward and eastward, but not a sign betrayed the discovery, and while a brilliant idea shot through his mind, he hesitatingly replied: "Well, there is a leetle somethin' else."

      "Ha? – and what is it?"

      "Why, sir, p'raps I hadn't ought to tell," said Spinnet, counterfeiting the most extreme pertubation. "You see, 'twas given to me as a sort of trust, an' 'twouldn't be right for me to give it up. You can take anything else you please, for I s'pose I can't help myself."

      "You are an honest old codger, at any rate," said the pirate; "but if you would live ten minutes longer, just tell me what you've got on board, and exactly where it lays."

      The sight of a cocked pistol brought the old man to his senses, and in a deprecating tone, he uttered: –

      "Don't kill me, sir! – don't! I'll tell you all. We have got forty thousand silver dollars nailed up in boxes, an' stowed away under some of the boxes just for'ard o' the cabin bulkhead, but Mr. Defoe didn't suspect that anybody would have thought of looking for it here."

      "Perhaps not," chuckled the pirate, while his eyes sparkled with delight. And then turning to his own vessel, he ordered all but three of his men to jump on board the Yankee.

      In a few moments the pirate had taken off the hatches, and in their haste to get at the "silver dollars," they forgot all else. But not so with Spinnet; he had his wits at work, and no sooner had the last of the villains disappeared below the hatchway, than he turned to his boys.

      "Now, boys, for your lives! Seth, you clap your knife across the fore-throat and peak halyards; an' you, John, cut the main. Be quick, now, an' the moment you've done it, jump aboard the pirate! Andrew and Sam, you cast off the pirate's grapplings,an' then you jump – then we'll walk into them three chaps aboard that clipper. Now for it!"

      No sooner were the last words out of the old man's mouth, than his sons did exactly as they had been directed. The fore and main halyards were cut, and the two grapplings cast off at the same instant, and as the heavy gaffs came rattling down, our five heroes leaped on board the pirate. The moment the clipper felt her liberty, her head swung off, and before the astonished buccaneers could gain the deck of the fisherman, their own vessel was half a cable's length to leeward, sweeping gracefully away before the wind, while the three men who had been left in charge were easily secured.

      "Halloo, there!" shouted Captain Spinnet, as the luckless pirates crowded around the lee gangway of their prize, "when you find them ere silver dollars, just let us know, will you?"

      Half a dozen pistol shots was all the answer the old man got, but they did him no harm, and crowding on all sail, he made for the vessel he had discovered, which lay dead to leeward of him, and which he now made out to be a large ship. The clipper cut through the water like a dolphin, and in a remarkably short space of time, Spinnet luffed up under the ship's stern, and explained all that had happened. The ship proved to be an East Indiaman, bound for Charleston, having, all told, thirty men on board, twenty of whom at once jumped into the clipper, and offered their services in helping take the pirates.

      Before dark Captain Spinnet was once more within hailing distance of his own vessel, and raising a trumpet to his mouth, he shouted: –

      "Schooner ahoy! Will you quietly surrender yourselves prisoners, if we come aboard?"


      "Come and try it!" returned the pirate captain, as he brandished his cutlass in a very threatening manner, which seemed to indicate that he would fight to the last.

      But that was his last moment, for Seth was crouched below the bulwarks, taking deliberate aim along the barrel of a heavy rifle, and as the bloody villain was in the act of turning to his men, the sharp crack of Seth Spinnet weapon rang its fatal death peal, and the next moment the pirate captain fell back into the arms of his men with a brace of bullets through his heart.

      "Now," shouted the old man, as he levelled the long pivot gun, and seized a lighted match, " I'll give you just five minutes to make up your minds in, an' if you don't surrender, I'll blow every bloody one of you into the other world!"

      The death of their captain, and withal the sight of the pointed pivot gun – the peculiar properties of which they knew full well – brought the pirates to their senses, and they immediately threw down their weapons, and agreed to give themselves up.

      In two days from that time Captain Spinnet delivered his cargo safely in Havana, gave the pirates into the hands of the civil authorities, and delivered the clipper up to the government, in return for which be received a sum of money sufficient for an independence during the remainder of his life, as well as a very handsome medal from the governor.

      The old man has since passed away from earth, but if any of our readers should ever chance to land upon Mt. Desert, some of the boys may still be found there, and from them you can learn all the particulars of "Captain Spinnet's Adventure with the Pirates."


Author: Roshow Bezone Jr. (pseud.)
Title: Captain Spinnet's Adventure.
Publication: Ballou's Monthly Magazine.
Vol/No/Date: Vol 75, No. 6 (Jun 1892)
Pages: 457-460.