“Aye Matey, ye ready?” Anne asks her friend and crew-mate, Mary.
In reply, Anne sees Mary grasp her pirate cutlass. Anne herself is more than ready, brandishing pistols in both hands. Her dagger is tucked safely in her waistband.
Anne approves Mary’s clothes. Like her, she is back in men’s khaki pants and a shirt. While Anne tucks her red hair in a tri-cornered hat, Mary is wearing a bandana.
Then Anne notices Mary’s frown. She understands why. The rest of the crew is hiding under the deck even at a time like this – out cold from their merry-making!
“Blimey Captain, arrgh!” she scorns her husband, “Come up, you cowards, and fight like men.”
But neither the captain nor the crew ever joins them in their fight with the Governor’s men.
Have you guessed who Anne Bonny and Mary Read are? And what were they doing on a ship in a stormy night like this? Why, they were two of the most infamous pirates of all times. Women pirates, really? After all didn’t the ‘Pirate Code of Conduct’ strictly forbid the women on ships? Yes, women pirates were rare. Still, a few like Anne, braved all odds and proved themselves in this male-dominated occupation.
Anne never was a captain herself, but the pirate crew of ‘The Revenge’ respected her as one. She joined the crew in 1719 after marrying their captain, Calico Rackham. Soon she became a feared pirate herself. She led several daring sea-robberies off the coast of Jamaica.
A year later, the crew is celebrating their latest booty, pillaged from a Spanish merchant ship.
“Splice the Mainbrace!” they cheer, unaware of their imminent arrest.
When their ship is attacked, only Anne and Mary are awake to defend it. They fight bravely but are outnumbered. The entire crew is captured.
Wrong deeds never pay, and the pirates are brought to trial. Fitting punishment is given to all including the women. Their buccaneering (buhk-uh-neer-ing) days are finally over. Yet their stories have inspired many adventure novels and movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
Want to Pirate-speak?
Avast – Stop
Pirate cutlass – A heavy curved sword
To splice the mainbrace – Have a drink (or several)
Hang the jib – To look ill-tempered
Shiver me timbers – I am so surprised
Deadlights – Yer eyes, lad!
Booty – Goods seized
Hornswaggle – To cheat
Jolly Roger – A black flag bearing white skull and crossbones.