Friday, November 16, 2007

Random Pirate Fact

In the summer of 1938, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater did a superb adaptation of Treasure Island for radio. In his introduction to the story, Welles provides a succinct explanation of why pirates are cool:

“We calculate that no decent, law-abiding citizen is immune to pirates. There are cowboys and Indians. There are gangsters and G-men. But these delights are inconstant, like the short skirt. I don’t care how young you are: nothing charms—nothing ingratiates—nothing wins like a one-legged, double-barreled buccaneer with earrings, a handkerchief on his head and a knife in his teeth.”

So, in appreciation of the simple fact that pirate are indeed really cool, here is a Random Pirate Fact for today:

Pierre Le Grand ("Peter the Great"--his real name is unknown) was a Frenchman who, around 1620, took 28 men out into the Caribbean in a small boat, determined to make a go at piracy regardless of his lack of a real ship.

They'd been at sea awhile, with food running short and the boat in bad shape, when they finally spotted a large Spanish galleon. Le Grand decided to board her. His men swore an oath to fight to the death, but Le Grand drilled a hole in the bottom of the boat regardless. They would have to win or die.

They came up to the ship in the dark and climbed aboard, each man armed with a cutlass and a pistol. They caught the captain and some others in a cabin, playing cards. Some of the crew tried to defend the gun room, but were quickly killed. The ship was quickly in the hands of the pirates.

Le Grand kept enough Spaniards aboard to work the ship, put the rest ashore and sailed for France. Peter Le Grand's career as a pirate was short, but very successful.

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