The Pirate's Daughter
There was a man who loved his daughter, and as such loving fathers do, wanted her to be most happy. The problem was a simple one, she wished to marry; and she being very beautiful would surely have no difficulty in finding a husband—no difficulty were it not for the fact that this loving father was a pirate, the captain of a black-flagged ship that sailed the Caribbean preying on merchantmen from every land.
Although the father was himself a buccaneer, he would not accept a scurvied sea dog for a son-in-law. His daughter, he knew in his heart, deserved more. He wanted her to marry well. And, having his lost his own wife overboard some years before—she having run off with a merchant who was being held for ransom—the pirate knew his daughter too might run away rather than spending a lifetime priming cannon and pining for love.
The captain was a brave man. He did not quail at battle nor fear death, but the thought of losing his daughter was more than he could bear. So great was his concern that he contemplated surrender. He would sail close enough to the coast of England or some other land of decent suitors and in the middle of the night steal off with the girl, throw himself on the mercy of the courts, and be content in the knowledge that his beautiful daughter would then be free to find her man.
That would be a plan; he could at least spend the later years of his life waiting for his daughter and his grandchildren to visit him in prison; for to prison he would surely be sent. He would be sent, that was, if he turned over the treasure which his pirating had earned. Without the treasure, he was quite sure the learned justices of any land would consign him to the gallows. After all, without wealth he was just—and he knew what the word might mean—just a pirate, and pirates neither expected nor deserved justice in this world. From the gibbet there would be no visits, no lovely grandchildren to dangle on his knee.
On the other hand, if he were to try to take the treasure with him, his own crew would unquestionably turn on him. Not only would he be killed, but he dreaded the thought of what might happen to his daughter, especially as there was not a man aboard who did not from time to time drool in her direction.
Faced with this dilemma, the captain anguished, thought, reflected, schemed, and even prayed. In the end, he resolved to find a likely lad, one bright, handsome, and to his daughter’s taste. He would take this young man as an apprentice, teach him the pirating trade, and make him—with the aide of his daughter’s marriage bed—his heir. Of course the young man would have to prove willing, but he knew that fortune had wooed many a man and that a great dowry would bait the hook.
An advertisement was sent through agents around the world. Three photographs were supplied: one the beautiful young woman, a second of chests of treasure hidden in a cave, and the third? Why the pirate ship herself.
At the appointed hour and place a large number of suitors presented themselves. Of course each was sworn upon his holy book and the hilt of his sword that he was no agent of any government or police. With security thus arranged, the captain and his daughter arrived and quickly discarded those men who were not comely, lacked the necessary physical attributes of strength and athleticism, and of course those who, although now on land, still showed the ravishes of le mal de mer. For all this culling, the number was still substantial.
A question was then proposed, and each man responded privately. The question: The three photographs were displayed, the same as had been sent abroad. Each man was asked which had moved him most and why. At the end only one man remained, a true and noble pretender to the captain’s legacy.
“Why the ship,” he had replied. “A beautiful woman no matter how she’s loved will still grow old. Treasure is grand, but one can always find another prize. But a ship with which to seek all that one desires, ah, that is happiness enough for life.”
This story is told among the pirate race. The man who loves his ship the most of all will be the master of his trade.
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