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THE STORY OF TWO WOMEN PIRATES
 THE history of the world gives us many instances of women who have taken the parts of men, almost always
acquitting themselves with as much credit as if they had really belonged to the male sex, and, in our modern
days, these instances are becoming more frequent than ever before. Joan of Arc put on a suit of armor and
bravely led an army, and there have been many other fighting women who made a reputation for themselves; but
it is very seldom that we hear of a woman who became a pirate. There were, however, two women pirates who made
themselves very well known on our coast.
The most famous of these women pirates was named Mary Reed. Her father was an English captain of a trading
vessel, and her mother sailed with him. This mother had had an elder child, a son, and she also had a
mother-in-law in England from whom she expected great things for her little boy. But the boy died, and Mrs.
 afraid that her mother-in-law would not be willing to leave any property to a girl, determined to play a
little trick, and make believe that her second child was also a boy.
Consequently, as soon as the little girl, who, from her birth had been called Mary by her father and mother,
was old enough to leave off baby clothes, she put on boy's clothes, and when the family returned to England a
nice little boy appeared before his grandmother; but all this deception amounted to nothing, for the old lady
died without leaving anything to the pretended boy. Mary's mother believed that her child would get along
better in the world as a boy than she would as a girl, and therefore she still dressed her in masculine
clothes, and put her out to service as a foot-boy, or one of those youngsters who now go by the name of
But Mary did not fancy blacking boots and running errands. She was very well satisfied to be a boy, but she
wanted to live the kind of a boy's life which would please her fancy, and as she thought life on the ocean
wave would suit her very well, she ran away from her employer's house and enlisted on board a man-of-war as a
After a short time, Mary found that the ocean was not all that she expected it to be, and when she had grown
up so that she looked like a good strapping fellow, she ran away from the man-of-war when
 it was in an English port, and went to Flanders, and there she thought she would try something new, and see
whether or not she would like a soldier's life better than that of a sailor. She enlisted in a regiment of
foot, and in the course of time she became a very good soldier and took part in several battles, firing her
musket and charging with her bayonet as well as any of the men beside her.
But there is a great deal of hard work connected with infantry service, and although she was eager for the
excitement of battle with the exhilarating smell of powder and the cheering shouts of her fellow-soldiers,
Mary did not fancy tramping on long marches, carrying her heavy musket and knapsack. She got herself changed
into a regiment of cavalry, and here, mounted upon a horse, with the encumbrances she disliked to carry
comfortably strapped behind her, Mary felt much more at ease, and much better satisfied. But she was not
destined to achieve fame as a dashing cavalry man with foaming steed and flashing sabre. One of her comrades
was a very prepossessing young fellow, and Mary fell in love with him, and when she told him she was not
really a cavalry man but a cavalry woman, he returned her affection, and the two agreed that they would quit
the army, and set up domestic life as quiet civilians. They were married, and went into the tavern-keeping
business. They were both
 fond of horses, and did not wish to sever all connection with the method of life they had just given up, and
so they called their little inn the Three Horse Shoes, and were always glad when any one of their customers
came riding up to their stables, instead of simply walking in their door.
But this domestic life did not last very long. Mary's husband died, and, not wishing to keep a tavern by
herself, she again put on the dress of a man and enlisted as a soldier. But her military experience did not
satisfy her, and after all she believed that she liked the sea better than the land, and again she shipped as
a sailor on a vessel bound for the West Indies.
Now Mary's desire for change and variety seemed likely to be fully satisfied. The ship was taken by English
pirates, and as she was English and looked as if she would make a good freebooter, they compelled her to join
them, and thus it was that she got her first idea of a pirate's life. When this company disbanded, she went to
New Providence and enlisted on a privateer, but, as was very common on such vessels commissioned to perform
acts of legal piracy, the crew soon determined that illegal piracy was much preferable, so they hoisted the
black flag, and began to scourge the seas.
Mary Reed was now a regular pirate, with a cutlass, pistol, and every outward appearance of a
dar-  ing sea-robber, except that she wore no bristling beard, but as her face was sunburned and seamed by the
weather, she looked mannish enough to frighten the senses out of any unfortunate trader on whose deck she
bounded in company with her shouting, hairy-faced companions. It is told of her that she did not fancy the
life of a pirate, but she seemed to believe in the principle of whatever is worth doing is worth doing well;
she was as ready with her cutlass and her pistol as any other ocean bandit.
But although Mary was a daring pirate, she was also a woman, and again she fell in love. A very pleasant and
agreeable sailor was taken prisoner by the crew of her ship, and Mary concluded that she would take him as her
portion of the spoils. Consequently, at the first port they touched she became again a woman and married him,
and as they had no other present method of livelihood he remained with her on her ship. Mary and her husband
had no real love for a pirate's life, and they determined to give it up as soon as possible, but the chance to
do so did not arrive. Mary had a very high regard for her new husband, who was a quiet, amiable man, and not
at all suited to his present life, and as he had become a pirate for the love of her, she did everything she
could to make life easy for him.
 She even went so far as to fight a duel in his place, one of the crew having insulted him, probably thinking
him a milksop who would not resent an affront. But the latent courage of Mary's husband instantly blazed up,
and he challenged the insulter to a duel. Although Mary thought her husband was brave enough to fight anybody,
she thought that perhaps, in some ways, he was a milksop and did not understand the use of arms nearly as well
as she did. Therefore, she made him stay on board the ship while she went to a little island near where they
were anchored and fought the duel with sword and pistol. The man pirate and the woman pirate now went savagely
to work, and it was not long before the man pirate lay dead upon the sand, while Mary returned to an admiring
crew and a grateful husband.
During her piratical career Mary fell in with another woman pirate, Anne Bonny, by name, and these women,
being perhaps the only two of their kind, became close friends. Anne came of a good family. She was the
daughter of an Irish lawyer, who went to Carolina and became a planter, and there the little girl grew up.
When her mother died she kept the house, but her disposition was very much more masculine than feminine. She
was very quick-tempered and easily enraged, and it is told of her that when an Englishwoman, who was working
 a servant in her father's house, had irritated Anne by some carelessness or impertinence, that hot-tempered
young woman sprang upon her and stabbed her with a carving-knife.
It is not surprising that Anne soon showed a dislike for the humdrum life on a plantation, and meeting with a
young sailor, who owned nothing in the world but the becoming clothes he wore, she married him. Thereupon her
father, who seems to have been as hot-headed as his daughter, promptly turned her out of doors. The fiery Anne
was glad enough to adopt her husband's life, and she went to sea with him, sailing to New Providence. There
she was thrown into an entirely new circle of society. Pirates were in the habit of congregating at this
place, and Anne was greatly delighted with the company of these daring, dashing sea-robbers, of whose exploits
she had so often heard. The more she associated with the pirates, the less she cared for the plain, stupid
sailors, who were content with the merchant service, and she finally deserted her husband and married a
Captain Rackham, one of the most attractive and dashing pirates of the day.
Anne went on board the ship of her pirate husband, and as she was sure his profession would exactly suit her
wild and impetuous nature, she determined also to become a pirate. She put on man's clothes, girded to her
side a cutlass, and hung
 pistols in her belt. During many voyages Anne sailed with Captain Rackham, and wherever there was pirate's
work to do, she was on deck to do it. At last the gallant captain came to grief. He was captured and condemned
to death. Now there was an opportunity for Anne's nature to assert itself, and it did, but it was a very
different sort of nature from that of Mary Reed. Just before his execution Anne was admitted to see her
husband, but instead of offering to do anything that might comfort him or palliate his dreadful misfortune,
she simply stood and contemptuously glared at him. She was sorry, she said, to see him in such a predicament,
but she told him plainly that if he had had the courage to fight like a man, he would not then be waiting to
be hung like a dog, and with that she walked away and left him.
On the occasion when Captain Rackham had been captured, Mary Reed and her husband were on board his ship, and
there was, perhaps, some reason for Anne's denunciation of the cowardice of Captain Rackham. As has been said,
the two women were good friends and great fighters, and when they found the vessel engaged in a fight with a
man-of-war, they stood together upon the deck and boldly fought, although the rest of the crew, and even the
captain himself, were so discouraged by the heavy fire which was brought to bear on them, that they had
retreated to the hold.
 Mary and Anne were so disgusted at this exhibition of cowardice, that they rushed to the hatchways and shouted
to their dastardly companions to come up and help defend the ship, and when their entreaties were disregarded
they were so enraged that they fired down into the hold, killing one of the frightened pirates and wounding
several others. But their ship was taken, and Mary and Anne, in company with all the pirates who had been left
alive, were put in irons and carried to England.
When she was in prison, Mary declared that she and her husband had firmly intended to give up piracy and
become private citizens. But when she was put on trial, the accounts of her deeds had a great deal more effect
than her words upon her judges, and she was condemned to be executed. She was saved, however, from this fate
by a fever of which she died soon after her conviction.
The impetuous Anne was also condemned, but the course of justice is often very curious and difficult to
understand, and this hard-hearted and sanguinary woman was reprieved and finally pardoned. Whether or not she
continued to disport herself as a man we do not know, but it is certain that she was the last of the female
There are a great many things which women can do as well as men, and there are many professions and lines of
work from which they have been long
 debarred, and for which they are most admirably adapted, but it seems to me that piracy is not one of them. It
is said that a woman's nature is apt to carry her too far, and I have never heard of any man pirate who would
allow himself to become so enraged against the cowardice of his companions that he would deliberately fire
down into the hold of a vessel containing his wife and a crowd of his former associates.