Just because you’re the captain doesn’t mean everyone respects you as one. Had to learn that pretty early on in this whole business of piracy. While me and forty or so of the crew decided to give chase to a brigantine from Rhode Island loaded with provisions, one of the crew, a young, but rather hot-headed Irishman called Walter Kennedy, was left with the Royal Rover at Devil’s Islands. What a mistake that proved to be.
The capture of the brigantine from Rhode Island proved to be a failure: the weather was against us from the start, having turned rather unfavorable, and after giving chase for a while with no hope of overtakin’ the ship, me and the boys decided to return to the Royal Rover, only to discover that there was no Royal Rover. That wretched devil Kennedy had disappeared with not only the Rover, but with a good part of the crew and our loot!
It would be an understatement to say I was maddeningly furious. Absolutely furious. The only consolation that I had was that apparently, the fool Kennedy and his crew ended up in Scotland somehow, and his crew’s loud and obnoxious drunkenness soon gave them away to be pirates. Drunkenness and unruly behavior, I’m tellin’ you: it’s a dangerous and harmful habit…Anyways, Kennedy would eventually hang along with the rest of the treacherous devils. I would’ve preferred to kill him myself, but at least he got what was comin’ for him.
I did learn something from Kennedy’s treachery that day. Two things actually. Along with never again allowing an Irishman to join my crew, some rules needed to be established and strictly, and I mean STRICTLY enforced. Plus, I was still new to this whole piracy business. I figured I had to establish myself as the true commander somehow and show Davis’ crew that I meant business. My code that I compiled together was as follows:
I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.
II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment.
III. No person to game at cards or dice for money.
IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.
V. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.
VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death.
VII. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.
VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.
IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.
X. The Captain and Quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.
XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour.
After they were written up, the entire crew was ordered to swear to uphold these articles, and to swear it upon none other than the Holy Bible. Looking back on that day, I admit that the use of the scriptures seemed a bit strange. After all, we were already breakin’ goodness knows how many of God’s laws by committing acts of piracy, so why bother swearin’ on the Holy Word at all? Well, after experiencing something like Kennedy’s treachery, you couldn’t be too careful. I couldn’t afford to have more examples of such disobedience from my crew.