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376 THE DEATH OF J. ATKINS, OF Taunton. [1. Whicken
Supposing her to be a Jamaica sloop, for she had our King's Jack (arms) and ancient (colours); we hailed them.
Whose answer was “From Jamaica.”
So coming to anchor by their side, they laid us aboard with two canoes, full of Spaniards, all armed as pirates, and carried us aboard their sloop, stripped us naked, and put us down in their hold : having nothing to lay our naked bodies upon but their ballast stones, or atop of their water cask.
The provisions they allowed us were coarse and short : about half a pint of Indian corn a day for a man, for nine days together.
The place where they carried us is called St. Jago, a Spanish town upon Cuba.
We remained in this condition above six months. When they went to sea, we were carried as their slaves; to pump ship, wash their clothes, and beat corn in great wooden mortars; with Negroes, with naked swords, always standing by as overseers : so that our hands have been bladdered, and so sore that we could hardly hold anything. When at home, our business was to row the canoe up two leagues into the country ; full of jars, to fetch water, which we were forced to carry upon our naked backs a great way, to fill them; sometimes, into the woods to cut wood, barefooted and barelegged, with neither a shirt to our back, nor a hat to our head, but only a rag sufficient to cover our nakedness. Our provisions, as I told you before, were Indian corn boiled in water; but a larger share than the first.
About the latter end of October (1687], we were divided : myself with three more were put on board a small bark, the rest of my companions remained aboard the sloop; both vessels being bound down to leeward of Cape [de] Cruz; having information of a Dutch trader that lay there, before a small town, called Byan.
In which voyage, we were all taken very sick in the ague, as well Spaniards as English ; which reduced us to a deplorable condition, having nothing to yield us any comfort.
In this distemper, died one of our companions, JeremIAH ATKINS, of Taunton. During his sickness, they were very cruel to him; not suffering us to carry him down into the hold, but made him lie day and night upon the deck. All we could do for him, was to cover him with the bark of a J. Whicker. 7 THE SPANIARDS ATTACK TWO SHIPS. 377
cabbage tree, to keep the sun from him by day, and the dew by night. In this languishing condition, he lay about a week; and then died. When dead, they threw him overboard, letting him float astern; without using any means to sink him, as is usual.
Returning back again for St. Jago, without their expected prize; myself and one more of our companions were taken again from on board the bark, and put aboard the sloop; and two others of our English were put aboard the bark, which took its departure from us at Cape [de] Cruz aforesaid, bound for Cartagena, a Spanish town upon the main continent.
In five days, we arrived at our port of St Jago, where we lay about a month.
Having careened our sloop, we put to sea again, bound for the north side of Hispaniola, to take Frenchmen.
Turning up to windward of Cuba, we met with a Jamaica sloop bound for the Wrack. The Spaniard commanded him to hoist out his canoe, and come aboard : which he refusing, went his
way. Having weathered Cape Myceze [Maysi], which is the eastward point of Cuba, we stood along shore, bound for a small town, called Barracco (Baracoa), where in two days we arrived.
We lay there till the latter end of October, (1687), at which place our sloop drave ashore, and struck off about fourteen feet of her false keel : but after a great deal of trouble, we got her off again. At this place, they got two hogs; and a quantity of plantains, a sort of food that grow upon trees, and are made use of instead of bread, among the inhabitants in the West Indies.
We then proceeded in our voyage for Hispaniola, and fell in with a place called the Mould. Off which place, we saw two sail : an English vessel that came from Jamaica, bound for New York; and a French sloop bound for Petty Guavas, a French town to leeward, on the north side of the said Hispaniola.
Having a fresh gale, we came up with the Englishman, brought him by the lee, commanded the Captain with four of his men aboard, and put twelve Spaniards aboard his ship.
Then chasing the Frenchman, we came up with him, about an hour after night. The Frenchman stood it out 378
How WHICKER'S COMPANY WERE FREED.
and fought us, making a stout resistance; although they had not above seven or eight men, and of the Spaniards, there were thirty-five men, eight guns, six patteroes, and every man his small arms. The French making such a bold resistance kept them off till such time as they had an opportunity to run their sloop aground in the Mould, in the dark; by which means they saved their lives : otherwise they had been all dead men, as the Spaniards swore if they took them.
In the next morning, we ran into the Mould, and brought out their sloop; and put about ten men aboard : bringing both prizes away for St. Jago.
From the English Captain, they took £900 in money, and plundered him of all he had, save a suit of clothes that he wore: and but waited the Governor's (of St. Jago) motion, to make a prize of the ship. Which would have been done, had not the Spanish Governor received advice of the Duke of Albemarle's arrival at Jamaica.
Upon which news, the Governor paid the English Captain £600 of his money back again, and sent him away to Jamaica; and all the English prisoners, that would go with him, were freed by his consent.
By this time, arrived the bark in which were the other three of our companions; who were very glad to hear of our and their redemption.
We embarked once again free men together, by GOD's grace, bound for Jamaica : where we safely arrived about the latter end of March (1688).
So separating ourselves, we endeavoured in the best manner we could, to get passage for England, our native country, desiring GOD Almighty to deliver us, and all our dear countrymen Protestants, from the barbarous cruelty of the Spaniards and Papists.