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Authors: Michele Torrey

Voyage of Plunder

BOOK: Voyage of Plunder
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For more than forty years,
Yearling has been the leading name
in classic and award-winning literature
for young readers.

Yearling books feature children's
favorite authors and characters,
providing dynamic stories of adventure,
humor, history, mystery, and fantasy.

Trust Yearling paperbacks to entertain,
inspire, and promote the love of reading
in all children.

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Being the true story of my, Daniel Markham s,
capture by pirates, of my misadventures
in distant parts of the world,
and fínally, of my falling into wicked ways,
for which I suffered deadfully.

As told to
MICHELE TORREY

My sincere thanks once again to Ron Wanttaja for his assistance with all things nautical. His eagle eye and suggestions helped make the manuscript “shipshape.” All opinions expressed in this book are solely mine. If there are any remaining errors, whether nautical or otherwise, they remain my responsibility alone, as to write a story of this nature it is often necessary to perform a balancing act between “fact” and “fiction.”

To Carl
for walks in the snow
and middles

Come, all you brave boys, whose courage is bold
Will you venture- with me? I'll glut you with gold.
Make haste unto Corona: a Ship you will find
Thats called the FANCY, will pleasure your mind.

Captain Every is in her, and calls her his own;
He will box her about boys, before he has done.
French, Spaniard and Portuguese, the heathen likewise,
He has made a war with them until that he dies.


“A Copy of Verses,
Composed by Pirate Captain Henry Every”
(1696)

here are few men in this world who can say they have seen their father die twice. God's truth, I might be the only one.

Mine is not a pretty tale, but it begs telling nonetheless. It begins when I was three years old, after my mother died.

When the men started coming to our home …

They slipped in and out like ghosts, shadows dancing from wall to wall. They
talked in low whispers with my father. If the weather was warm, I would lie in my bed and listen to the whispers. For me, it was a comforting sound, like the water in Boston Harbor as it caresses the shore. But if the weather was cold, wintry, I would cry when left alone, my tears turning to ice, the heat from the warming pan long gone. One of the men would scoop me up, blankets and all, and carry me to sit before the roaring fire.

My favorite was Josiah Black. Ofttimes he sat me on his lap as I alternately turned my gaze from Josiah to the fire and back to Josiah again, pulling my blanket close. Josiah was tall. His skin was pale, his nose strong and sharp, his hair black and shining as a crow's feathers. His eyes were like wells of ink, and he smelled of tobacco and rum. It fast became my favorite smell.

On these nights, my father would finally say, “Do you not think Daniel should go to bed? Tis past the midnight hour.”

Puffing contentedly on his long pipe, Josiah would reply, “There will be time for sleep later. Let the boy stay.”

When I was seven years old, too big to be sitting on anyone's lap, Josiah Black took me to a hanging. I'd never seen a pirate hanged before.

There were three of them. I knew they were evil men— wicked to the core, doomed, for I'd heard it at the meetinghouse the Sunday last. I clenched Josiah's hand and watched the pirates kick the empty air, wondering if they could already see the gaping jaws of hell and the everlasting lake of fire.

When finally they hung still, and after I was done staring, I tugged on Josiah's hand. “I'm hungry.”

But he seemed not to remember I was there, instead staring at the bodies that spun slowly on their ropes. His grip on my hand was like iron, his face hard.

We stood there a long time before Josiah said, “Come, Daniel, my boy,” and we went home to a meal of codfish chowder, bread,
cheese, quince tarts, and ale. Josiah watched me as I ate, saying to my father, “Hanging brings out the hunger in Daniel.”

There were other men besides Josiah, of course, men who stirred the shadows, whispering among themselves, sometimes peering anxiously out the window at a gathering storm. But by morning, like as not, none remained except myself, my father, and our few servants. The walls were silent. The men were gone. We were alone again.

The air outside my coverlet was often freezing. After my father would awaken me, he'd press me to his bosom, tickle my nose, and tell me to rise and shine like a good lad. Then I would race to the kitchen hearth to sit in the chair at the chimney side, my feet scorched by the snapping fire, my front sizzling, my back shivering. And I would open my hand to inspect a trinket one of the men had given me the night before. A carved piece of ivory. A fancy coin. A tooth of gold. A pearl. A child's ring.

I had many such treasures.

Somehow I believed life would carry on so. That although the years would pass, nothing would change—the nights always filled with whispers, with ghosts, the mornings filled with treasure.

But all things change.

It began at the meetinghouse one Sunday in the form of a woman named Faith. The year was 1694, and I was twelve years of age. Faith was just a few years older than me. Sixteen, I think. On this day, I sat with the other boys on the gallery stairs. It was November, and I could see my breath. My hands and feet had frozen into lumps. But I dared not stamp my feet nor rub my hands together. If I did, I could be sure of a sharp rap on the head from the watchful deacon, whose duty it was to rap boys on the head. So I just breathed hard and watched the clouds of breath from all of us boys, like fog in the harbor.

BOOK: Voyage of Plunder
8.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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