THE DEALINGS OF CAPTAIN SHARKEY
_and Other Tales of Pirates_
BY A. CONAN DOYLE
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1905, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1913,
1914, 1918, 1919,
BY A. CONAN DOYLE
BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
BY ASSOCIATED SUNDAY MAGAZINES, INC.
BY THE MCCLURE COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1900, 1902,
BY THE S. S. MCCLURE COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TALES OF PIRATES
I CAPTAIN SHARKEY: HOW THE GOVERNOR OF SAINT KITT'S CAME HOME
II THE DEALINGS OF CAPTAIN SHARKEY WITH STEPHEN CRADDOCK
III THE BLIGHTING OF SHARKEY
IV HOW COPLEY BANKS SLEW CAPTAIN SHARKEY
V THE "SLAPPING SAL"
VI A PIRATE OF THE LAND (ONE CROWDED HOUR)
TALES OF BLUE WATER
VII THE STRIPED CHEST
VIII THE CAPTAIN OF THE "POLESTAR"
IX THE FIEND OF THE COOPERAGE
X JELLAND'S VOYAGE
XI J. HABAKUK JEPHSON'S STATEMENT
XII THAT LITTLE SQUARE BOX
THE DEALINGS OF CAPTAIN SHARKEY
_and Other Stories of Pirates_
TALES OF PIRATES
CAPTAIN SHARKEY: HOW THE GOVERNOR OF SAINT KITT'S CAME HOME
When the great wars of the Spanish Succession had been brought to an end
by the Treaty of Utrecht, the vast number of privateers which had been
fitted out by the contending parties found their occupation
took to the more peaceful
but less lucrative ways of ordinary commerce,
others were absorbed into the fishing-fleets, and a few of the more
reckless hoisted the Jolly Rodger at the mizzen and the bloody
the main, declaring a private war upon their own account
whole human race.
With mixed crews, recruited from every nation they scoured the seas,
to careen in some lonely
inlet, or putting in
for a debauch at some outlaying port, where they dazzled the inhabitants
by their lavishness and horrified them by their brutalities.
On the Coromandel Coast, at Madagascar, in the African waters, and above
all in the West Indian and American seas, the pirates were a constant
menace. With an insolentluxury
they would regulate
by the comfort of the seasons, harrying New England in the summer and
dropping south again to the tropical
islands in the winter.
They were the more to be dreaded because they had none of that
discipline and restraint
which made their predecessors, the Buccaneers,
and respectable. These Ishmaels of the sea rendered an
account to no man, and treated their prisoners according to the drunken
whim of the moment. Flashes of grotesquegenerosity
longer stretches of inconceivable ferocity, and the skipper
into their hands might find himself dismissed with his cargo, after
serving as boon companion
in some hideous
debauch, or might sit at his
cabin table with his own nose and his lips served up with pepper
salt in front of him. It took a stout seaman
in those days to ply his
calling in the Caribbean Gulf.
Such a man was Captain John Scarrow, of the ship _Morning Star_, and yet
he breathed a long sigh of relief
when he heard the splash
and swung at his moorings within a hundred yards of the
guns of the citadel
of Basseterre. St. Kitt's was his final port of
call, and early next morning his bowsprit would be pointed
England. He had had enough of those robber-haunted seas. Ever since he
had left Maracaibo upon the Main, with his full lading of sugar and red
pepper, he had winced at every topsail which glimmered over the violet
edge of the tropical
sea. He had coasted up the Windward Islands,
touching here and there, and assailed continually
by stories of villainy
Captain Sharkey, of the 20-gun pirate
barque, _Happy Delivery_, had
passed down the coast, and had littered it with gutted vessels and with
murdered men. Dreadful anecdotes were current of his grim pleasantries
and of his inflexible ferocity. From the Bahamas to the Main his
coal-black barque, with the ambiguous name, had been freighted with
death and many things which are worse than death. So nervous
Scarrow, with his new full-rigged ship and her full and valuable
that he struck out to the west as far as Bird's Island to be out of the
usual track of commerce. And yet even in those solitary
waters he had
to shake off sinister
traces of Captain Sharkey.
One morning they had raised a single skiff adrift upon the face of the
ocean. Its only occupant
was a delirious seaman, who yelled hoarsely
they hoisted him aboard, and showed a dried-up tongue like a black and
at the back of his mouth. Water and nursing soon
transformed him into the strongest and smartest sailor on the ship. He
was from Marblehead, in New England, it seemed, and was the sole
survivor of a schooner
which had been scuttled by the dreadful
For a week Hiram Evanson, for that was his name, had been adrift beneath
sun. Sharkey had ordered the mangled remains of his late
captain to be thrown into the boat, "as provisions for the voyage," but
had at once committed them to the deep, lest the temptation
should be more than he could bear. He had lived upon his own huge frame,
until, at the last moment, the _Morning Star_ had found him in that
madness which is the precursor of such a death. It was no bad find for
Captain Scarrow, for, with a short-handed crew, such a seaman
big New Englander was a prize worth having. He vowed that he was the
only man whom Captain Sharkey had ever placed under an obligation.
Now that they lay under the guns of Basseterre, all danger from the
pirate was at an end, and yet the thought of him lay heavily upon the
seaman's mind as he watched the agent's boat shooting out from the
"I'll lay you a wager, Morgan," said he to the first mate, "that the
agent will speak of Sharkey in the first hundred words that pass his
"Well, captain, I'll have you a silver dollar, and chance it," said the
rough old Bristol man beside him.
The negro rowers shot the boat alongside, and the linen-clad steersman
sprang up the ladder.
"Welcome, Captain Scarrow!" he cried. "Have you heard about Sharkey?"
The captain grinned at the mate.
"What devilry has he been up to now?" he asked.
"Devilry! You've not heard, then! Why, we've got him safe under lock and
key here at Basseterre. He was tried last Wednesday, and he is to be
hanged to-morrow morning."
Captain and mate gave a shout of joy, which an instant
later was taken
up by the crew. Discipline was forgotten as they scrambled up through
the break of the poop to hear the news. The New Englander was in the
front of them with a radiant
face turned up to heaven, for he came of
the Puritan stock.
"Sharkey to be hanged!" he cried. "You don't know, Master Agent, if they
lack a hangman, do you?"
"Stand back!" cried the mate, whose outraged sense of discipline
even stronger than his interest at the news. "I'll pay that dollar,
Captain Scarrow, with the lightest heart that ever I paid a wager yet.
How came the villain
to be taken?"
"Why, as to that, he became more than his own comrades could abide, and
they took such a horror
of him that they would not have him on the ship.
So they marooned him upon the Little Mangles to the south of the
Mysteriosa Bank, and there he was found by a Portobello trader, who
brought him in. There was talk of sending him to Jamaica to be tried,
but our good little governor, Sir Charles Ewan, would not hear of it.
'He's my meat,' said he, 'and I claim the cooking of it.' If you can
stay till to-morrow morning at ten, you'll see the joint swinging."
"I wish I could," said the captain, wistfully, "but I am sadly behind
time now. I should start with the evening tide."
"That you can't do," said the agent with decision. "The Governor is
going back with you."
"Yes. He's had a dispatch
from Government to return without delay. The
fly-boat that brought it has gone on to Virginia. So Sir Charles has
for you, as I told him you were due before the rains."
"Well, well!" cried the captain, in some perplexity, "I'm a plain
seaman, and I don't know much of governors and baronets and their ways.
I don't remember that I ever so much as spoke to one. But if it's in
King George's service, and he asks a cast in the _Morning Star_ as far
as London, I'll do what I can for him. There's my own cabin he can have
and welcome. As to the cooking, it's lobscouse and salmagundy six days
in the week; but he can bring his own cook aboard
with him if he thinks
too rough for his taste."
"You need not trouble your mind, Captain Scarrow," said the agent. "Sir
Charles is in weak health just now, only clear of a quartan ague, and it
is likely he will keep his cabin most of the voyage. Dr. Larousse said
that he would have sunk had the hanging
of Sharkey not put fresh life
into him. He has a great spirit in him, though, and you must not blame
him if he is somewhat short in his speech."
"He may say what he likes and do what he likes so long as he does not
come athwart my hawse when I am working
the ship," said the captain. "He
is Governor of St. Kitt's, but I am Governor of the _Morning Star_. And,
by his leave, I must weigh with the first tide, for I owe a duty to my
employer, just as he does to King George."
"He can scarce
be ready to-night, for he has many things to set in order
before he leaves."
"The early morning tide, then."
"Very good. I shall send his things aboard
to-night, and he will follow
them to-morrow early if I can prevail
upon him to leave St. Kitt's
Sharkey do the rogue's hornpipe. His own orders were
instant, so it may be that he will come at once. It is likely that Dr.
Larousse may attend him upon the journey."
Left to themselves, the captain and mate made the best preparations
which they could for their illustrious
passenger. The largest cabin was
turned out and adorned in his honour, and orders were given by which
barrels of fruit and some cases of wine should be brought off to vary
the plain food of an ocean-going trader. In the evening the Governor's
baggage began to arrive--great ironbound ant-proof trunks, and official
tin packing-cases, with other strange-shaped packages, which suggested
the cocked hat or the sword within. And then there came a note, with a
upon the big red seal, to say that Sir Charles Ewan made
his compliments to Captain Scarrow, and that he hoped to be with him in
the morning as early as his duties and his infirmities would permit.
He was as good as his word, for the first grey of dawn had hardly begun
into pink when he was brought alongside, and climbed with some
difficulty up the ladder. The captain had heard that the Governor was an
eccentric, but he was hardly prepared for the curious figure who came
down his quarter-deck, his steps supported by a thick
bamboo cane. He wore a Ramillies wig, all twisted into little tails like
a poodle's coat, and cut so low across the brow that the large green
glasses which covered his eyes looked as if they were hung from it. A
fierce beak of a nose, very long and very thin, cut the air in front of
him. His ague had caused him to swathe his throat
and chin with a broad
linen cravat, and he wore a loose damask
powdering-gown secured by a
cord round the waist. As he advanced
he carried his masterful nose high
in the air, but his head turned slowly from side to side in the helpless
manner of the purblind, and he called in a high, querulous voice for the
"You have my things?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir Charles."
"Have you wine aboard?"
"I have ordered five cases, sir."
"There is a keg of Trinidad."
"You play a hand at piquet?"
"Passably well, sir."
"Then up anchor, and to sea!"
There was a fresh westerly wind, so by the time the sun was fairly
through the morning haze, the ship was hull down from the islands. The
decrepit Governor still limped the deck, with one guiding hand upon the
"You are on Government service now, Captain," said he. "They are
counting the days till I come to Westminster, I promise you. Have you
all that she will carry?"
"Every inch, Sir Charles."
"Keep her so if you blow the sails out of her. I fear, Captain Scarrow,
that you will find a blind and broken man a poor companion
"I am honoured in enjoying your Excellency's society," said the Captain.
"But I am sorry that your eyes should be so afflicted."
"Yes, indeed. It is the cursed glare of the sun on the white streets of
Basseterre which has gone far to burn them out."
"I had heard also that you had been plagued by a quartan ague."
"Yes; I have had a pyrexy, which has reduced me much."
"We had set aside a cabin for your surgeon."
"Ah, the rascal! There was no budging him, for he has a snug business
amongst the merchants. But hark!"
He raised his ring-covered hand in the air. From far astern there came
the low deep thunder
"It is from the island!" cried the captain in astonishment. "Can it be a
signal for us to put back?"
The Governor laughed.
"You have heard that Sharkey, the pirate, is to be hanged this morning.
I ordered the batteries to salute
when the rascal
was kicking his last,
so that I might know of it out at sea. There's an end of Sharkey!"
"There's an end of Sharkey!" cried the captain; and the crew took up the
cry as they gathered in little knots upon the deck and stared back at
the low, purple
line of the vanishing land.
It was a cheering omen for their start across the Western Ocean, and the
invalid Governor found himself a popular man on board, for it was
generally understood that but for his insistence
upon an immediate trial
and sentence, the villain
might have played upon some more venal judge
and so escaped. At dinner that day Sir Charles gave many anecdotes of
the deceased pirate; and so affable was he, and so skilful in adapting
his conversation to men of lower degree, that captain, mate, and
Governor smoked their long pipes and drank their claret as three good