Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pirate Wednesday - Captain Pease

This week's pirate book excerpt is a little bit different. I've got a section from the introduction of my book instead of a full entry on one person. This is taken from a larger bit that talks about the romantic relationships of pirates. I like this anecdote, obviously, because it is funny and surprising, and it shows that not all pirates were swashbuckling bloodthirsty cutthroats, nor were all womanizers tall dark and handsome. Men are not always as they seem.

The only other pirate I know of who took a "wife" to sea with him was Captain Pease, who flourished in a half-hearted way--half-hearted in the piratical, but not the matrimonial sense--in the middle of the nineteenth century.

A certain settler in New Zealand in the "early days" describes a visit he paid to Captain Pease and his family on board that pirate's handy little schooner, lying at anchor in a quiet cove at that island.

On stepping aboard, the guest was warmly welcomed by a short, red-faced man, bald of head and rotund in figure, of about fifty-five years of age. His appearance suggested a successful grocer rather than a pirate. On the deck were seated two ladies, one nearing middle age, the other young and undoubtedly pretty. At the feet of these ladies sprawled several small children. Captain Pease proceeded to introduce his guest to these as Mrs. Pease No. 1 and Mrs. Pease No. 2. The ladies continued their sewing while a conversation took place on various subjects. Presently, taking out his watch, the pirate turned to the younger lady, observing that it was nearing teatime. Mrs. Pease No. 2, laying down her sewing, went to the cabin, from which the rattle of teacups and the hiss of a boiling kettle were soon heard. Tea being announced as ready, the party entered the cabin, Mrs. Pease senior taking the place at the head of the table and pouring out the tea while the younger Mrs. Pease very prettily handed round the cups and bread and butter, the guest particularly noticing with what respect and thoughtfulness she looked after the wants of the elder Mrs. Pease.

As a pirate Captain Pease was second or even third rate, confining his daring to seizing small unarmed native craft, or robbing the stores of lonely white traders on out-of-the-way atolls. But as a married man he showed himself to be a master; matrimony was his strong suit, domesticity his trump card. He gave one valuable hint to his guest, which was this: "Never take more than two wives with you on a voyage, _and choose 'em with care_."

One is apt to disassociate serious matrimony, and still less responsible paternity, with the calling of piracy, but with Captain Pease this was far from being the case. Every one of his wives--for he had others on shore--contributed her mite, or two, to the growing family, and the Captain really could not say which of his offspring he was most proud of. It seems at first strange that a man of Captain Pease's appearance, figure, and settled habits, almost humdrum, should have been such an undoubted success with the ladies; but that he was a success there can be no doubt. Perhaps his calling had a good deal to do with this attraction he had for them.

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