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The Penang Pirate and, The Lost Pinnace   By:

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The Penang Pirate, by John Conroy Hutcheson This is a fairly short book, consisting of two short stories.

The first of these, "The Penang Pirate", describes how the Captain of the "Hankow Lin", suspecting that there might be a piratical attack on his vessel on her return voyage from Canton to Australia, lays plans to spoil the pirates' fun. As a result of this the attacking pirate vessel is soundly beaten, but there were some interesting events and confrontations before they actually met the pirate schooner.

The second story is "The Lost Pinnace". HMS London is cruising the East Coast of Africa in search of any slaver dhows. One of these is met with and deleted, so the London, a midshipman with knowledge of the local language having overheard that there is a second slaver not far away, sets off in search of a further conquest.

It was the custom at that time for a ship's pinnace to be left behind under the command of a junior officer whenever the warship left the station on a chase. No junior officer being available the pinnace is left with the bosun in command.

All is well for a time, but there is a severe storm, and the pinnace is lost, several miles from the Madagascar shore. Some of the crew are lost, but the remainder, including the bosun, who is telling the tale years later to a friend back in England, reach the shore. Their journey to the capital of Madagascar is very difficult and dangerous, but most of them get there in the end. NH






"Aye, aye, bo!"

"Guess this'll be a rum v'yage, mate."

"Why, old shellback?"

"'Cause I can't make out why we are wasting our time here, with the cargo all aboard and the wind fair."

"Don't you fret yourself about that, Jem Backstay. The skipper knows what he's a doing, and has got a heap o' 'sponsibility on them shoulders o' his'n a fine ship and a valuable cargo to get home safe to old h'England with a short crew, and a lot o' murderin', blood suckin' pirates all over the h'Indian seas!"

"Pirates, Bill!"

"Ay, pirates! I spoke plain enough, didn't I? But you needn't shiver in your skin like one of them white livered Lascars we've got aboard in place of honest sailors, worse luck! You needn't have no cause to fear for the number o' your mess, bo; the cap'en God bless him! will see us safe through, you may be sure."

"Right you are, Bill; you know the old man better nor I, and I s'pose he's taking cautions like?"

"No fear, mate. He's got his head screwed on right enough, my bo."

"And that's the reason, p'raps, he'd that long palaver with the admiral's flagship afore we come up the river?"

"Ay," said Bill sententiously; "may be so."

"Well, Bill, if so be there's pirates about, they might do a'most as they likes wi' us, for I don't think there are three cutlasses aboard, and ne'er a musket as I can see, and only powder enough to fire off that little popgun there to summons a pilot."

"Aye," answered the other nonchalantly.

The Hankow Lin was lying in the Pearl River, off Whampoa, some twelve miles below Canton, to which anchorage all sailing vessels having business at this port of the Celestial Empire are restricted by the mandarins, only steamers being permitted to ascend the reaches of the river to the city proper and anchor in front of Shah Mien, the English settlement.

The vessel had shipped all her tea and silk, which formed a valuable cargo; and, with her anchor hove short, so that she seemed to ride just over it, and her topsails loose all handy to let fall and sheet home, she appeared ready to start at a moment's notice on her homeward voyage down the ugly Canton River and across the pathless Indian seas and the miles of weary ocean journey that lay between her and her final destination, "the tight little island," with its now historical "streak of silver sea," supposed to guard it from Continental invasion... Continue reading book >>

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