A VOYAGE ON A GOLD-LADEN GALLEON
 THE days that ensued were so filled with horrors that I would rather pass them by, were
they not so important in the unfolding of this narrative; but they formed links in the
chain that connected us once more with the pirates, whom we had hoped forever gone from
our sight. How we lived I know not, and especially how the senorita survived the horrid
sights that met her gaze on every hand. As much as possible, Eli and I kept her in the
background, while we went among the dead and gave them Christian burial. Not many people
were left alive, though a few had hidden in the forest behind the town and some had
survived their wounds.
 The governor of the fort we found dead amongst a heap of slain, he having paid the price
for his mistake in allowing the buccaneers to approach the walls of the fort without
training his guns upon them. As we afterward learned from one of his soldiers who survived
the attack, he perceived his error when Morgan brought up the maidens to place the
scaling-ladders against the walls, and, rather than survive such a shameful deed, he
fought until cut down. If he had not been slain by the enemy, the soldier said, he would
have fallen upon his own sword, for there was naught else to do after having (though
perforce) fired upon his own countrywomen. He was a noble soul, and in the great
accounting hereafter, to which all must come, he will doubtless fare well as compared with
such as Morgan and Mansvelt, whose souls were stained with innocent blood.
The buccaneers had departed, but not until they had, as they thought, put every living
thing in Porto Bello to the sword. They even killed
 the cattle and horses in the fields; they razed the walls of the fort, and sailed away,
bearing immense treasure; but whither they had gone we knew not; only Eli surmised, from
what he had overheard on our voyage hither, that they would steer for the isle of
Catalina, or perchance for Chagres, whence the isthmus might be crossed and the rich city
of Panama invested. But we were to ascertain soon whither they had sailed, and to find
that it was not to either of the destinations we had supposed probable. They had left no
vessel afloat in the harbor, having scuttled and sunk all they took not away with them, so
we were in a quandary as to how we might escape this pestilential spot.
A way was provided, but it was not the one we would have chosen had the matter been left
to us. Nearly a week after we had sailed forth from the chapel, where we had been
consigned, as the buccaneers imagined, to a dreadful death, we were gladdened by the sight
of a sail on the western horizon. Having been for days engaged
 in burying the dead and succoring the wounded (in which occupation the senorita had proved
a veritable angel of mercy, toiling night and day without a murmur and enduring incredible
privations), we were gladdened, I say, e'en though the sail might have been one pertaining
to a pirate ship.
God worketh in a most wonderful way to further the designs of those who trust in Him. It
proved that the approaching sail was a Spanish galleon, one of a fleet which had set out
from the isthmus for Spain, but, becoming crippled through an accident to its rudder, it
had turned about and sought succor at Porto Bello. As it loomed larger and larger, the
hope in our hearts grew stronger, for we knew, as soon as we saw the flag of Spain, that
we had naught to fear. We gathered at the landing-place of the port, and there waved ever
and anon a large white flag, in order that the master of the galleon might be made aware
that there were friends ashore. For, seeing no boats in the harbor or
 fishing along the shore, as would have been natural, and, moreover, seeing the fort in
ruins, he would have been suspicious, and perhaps have sheered off and left the port
"It won't do to let her get away," said Eli, waving the white banner vigorously. "We don't
want to stay in this here hole any longer 'n we can help. For, what with the lack of
living comp'ny and the many dead that it has been impossible for us to bury, there's no
knowing what might happen. We'll all get fever, anyhow, if we stay here another week, I 'm
conceiting. Ah, there she heaves to; she's sending a boat overboard; now the men are
tumbling into it; now they're rowing this way. Hurray! guess, we'll be rescood this time,
though I misdoubt what they'll do to me when they find out I 'm a buccaneer."
"But why should they find it out?" asked the senorita. "I shall not tell, nor will Senor
Humphrey, I am very sure."
"Of course not," I answered with warmth,
 "And so far as that goes, I 'm just as much of a buccaneer as Eli is, though not quite so
long at the business. But he's going to swear off; aren't you, Eli, and not be a buccaneer
"If the good Lord 'll let me," answered the old buccaneer. "But my intentions don't seem
to amount to much, for I've sworn off more 'n forty times in the past twenty years, and
something or other's always turned up to yank me back ag'in into the ranks. Now, ma'am,
and Hump, you hear me say 't, I'll foreswear the buccaneer's calling if the Lord will only
let me; but, you also hear me say 't, something 'll happen to prevent me from escaping
from the clutches of bully Morgan and Monseer Mansvelt. It does seem's though they had a
grip on every man that's once in their service that couldn't be shooken. Now, here comes a
boat from a Don's great galleon, and we jwesoom that 't will take us to Spain, or else
some other Spanish possession; but, mark my words, I b'lieve 't
 will bear us right back ag'in into the buccaneer's jaws. Sorry to seem so doleful, ma'am,
but them's my sentiments, and I can't give out no other."
"I would like to get back to Spain," said the senorita, thoughtfully; "but first I wish to
see my papa and my sister, and take them with me. Do you think, Senor Humphrey, that the
captain of the galleon might be prevailed upon to call with us at Tortuga, even if just
for an hour, to take them away? It seems that my heart will break with all the dread
doings of the past weeks and this uncertainty."
The maiden looked so wan, and withal gazed so beseechingly into my eyes, that I fain would
have given my life to serve her. But she knew that I would honestly divulge my opinion,
even if it were adverse to her desires. So I told her that even were it possible for the
master of the Spanish ship to change his course and sail northwardly to Tortuga, it would
hardly be discreet for him to do so, peradventure he might meet up
 with the pirate fleet. Still, we would consult him, and anyway ask him to bear us from
"But I do not want to leave unless I can go to my papa and my sister," declared the
senorita. And I know that if I can lay the matter before the captain of the galleon, and
provided he be a true son of Spain, he will even run the risk of his life to accomplish my
desires. As for moneywealth—I can reward him by vastly more than the worth of his
vessel, for my papa would not regard any price for my return to him, as he has treasures
untold at his castle in Andalusia."
"True, my lady," I rejoined; "and I trust the captain will be open to argument, and sooth,
thou knowest that both Eli and myself would consider no risk too great if we might
accomplish thy desires. I was merely telling of the objections that might be raised, in
order that thou mightest not he disappointed."
"Thou art a true friend, Senor Humphrey,
 for thou dost not mislead one; still, let me hope for the best until the worst is known."
Meanwhile the boat approached to land and came within hail. A gallant looking man in
uniform sat at the helm, and a sturdy company of musqueteers held their arms ready at
command while the sailors rowed to shore. Eli and I hastened to aid in drawing the boat
upon the sands, and the man at the helm lost no time in leaping ashore and interrogating
us as to the cause of the desolation on every hand. He did not at first see the senorita,
for she had held herself aloof; but as he spake Spanish, of which our understanding was
but meagre, she came to the rescue from behind a wall where she had hidden herself, and
appeared before us. At the sound of her musical voice, speaking to him in the liquid
accents of his native tongue, the captain started violently, and, doffing his hat, bowed
low as he said:
"Methought I heard an angel, now my eyes tell me that I heard aright."
 He was an old man with gray beard and mustachios, and he moreover had the bearing of a
gentleman, so I felt that his exaggerated style of speech was not intended for mere
flattery, but proceeded from custom.
"No angel, senor capitan," replied our lovely maiden, "but a countrywoman of yours in
distress. I am the daughter of Count Pasquale de los Remedios, who with my sister is now a
prisoner at Tortuga. I and my friends here are survivors of a recent attack upon Porto
Bello by those same buccaneers, who have departed leaving it desolate, as you may see,
The captain bowed again, this time nearly touching the ground with his forehead. "I am
your servant, senorita. Much as I mourn to discover a daughter of the famous Count
Pasquale in distress, I thank my stars and fortune that it has fallen to me to be the
humble means of her rescue. Senorita, I and my ship, and all my men, are at your disposal.
Tell your servant what he can do, and he will at once
 move heaven and earth to perform that service for the lovely daughter of the great and
mighty Count Pasquale."
The captain concluded this pretty speech with another bow, sweeping the ground with his
chapeau, and placed his hand on his heart as an earnest of his good intentions.
Our senorita could hardly repress a smile, despite the gravity of the occasion, yet she
replied most sweetly: "Senor capitan, you do me great honor. I knew, of course, that any
gallant sailor flying the flag of Spain would hold his service at the command of a maiden
in distress; and, senor, I am in such dire straits that I must ask a favor of you and your
men—a favor which my father will requite with the half of his estates. It is
this—to take me to the isle of Tortuga, there to rescue my father and my sister from
the peril they are in. Thence you may take us whither you like, whither your duty carries
you; but I trust it will be to Spain."
 The captain's face, as the senorita unfolded her request, was indeed a study. As it
developed that she wished him to take her to Tortuga, which he, of course, knew as a den
of buccaneers, the deadly foes of all honest mariners, and especially of his nationality,
his countenance became almost livid at the thought. When she had concluded, his confusion
was most pitiful, for he had indeed no desire to proceed to Tortuga, neither wished he,
hardly dared he, to deny the request of a fair Spanish woman, and particularly the
daughter of a powerful noble like the Count de los Remedios, e'en though he were then a
prisoner. He was descended from one of Spain's most ancient families and allied with some
of the greatest grandees of Sevilla and Granada.
"Most noble senorita, your desire is—should be—my law; but—but, fairest
daughter of my native land, I—that is, my owners—have a king's ransom
concealed in the hold of yonder galleon; that is, we have gold from the Peruvian
 mines beyond a million in value; and, moreover, one-fifth of it belongs by right of law to
his majesty the king. Hence, O most worthy daughter of my country's most noble son, I dare
not put my vessel in jeopardy, even for your sake. It is not that I would not lay down my
very life for you; and of this mind, were I to speak to them, would be all my men, to the
last one. We do not fear the bucaniers, but we fear the king's displeasure, senorita. Even
at this moment I am far too near the pirates' rendezvous, forced to come here through
stress of circumstances."
The senorita's lips curled with scorn, and she flashed a look at the captain which caused
him to shrink into himself like the head of a tortoise within its shell. But she said
naught more than this: "Where, then, senor, can you take us? For we must go hence."
"I came here in search of a shipwright," he hastened to explain, "to repair a damaged
rudder; but as all are, as you say, either dead or
 departed, I must sail for the next available port, which, so far as I know, is Maracaibo.
There, doubtless, we shall find a Spanish frigate, with the commander of which I will use
my good offices to have you taken to Tortuga."
"A thousand thanks, senor capitan; but we will trouble you only to take us hence. It may
as well be Maracaibo, perhaps, as any, other port, and we will trust to fortune for
meeting there a commander who is not afraid of the buccaneers!"
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics