Decatur and the Pirates
NEARLY a hundred years have passed since the ship
The people of
Our country had trouble with the pirates. This trouble brought on a
war. Our ships were sent to fight against
One of the ships fighting against the pirates was called the
The pirates got the "Philadelphia" ready to go to sea. They loaded her cannons. They meant to slip out past our ships of war. Then they would take a great many smaller American ships.
But the Americans laid a plan to burn the "Philadelphia." It was a
The Americans had taken a little vessel from the pirates. She was of the kind that is called a ketch. She had sails. She also had long oars. When there was no wind to sail with, the sailors could row her with the oars.
This little ketch was sent one night to burn the "Philadelphia." The
captain of this boat was
They came near to the "Philadelphia." It was about ten o'clock at night. The pirates called to them. The pilot of the ketch told them that he was from Mal-ta. He told them that he had come to sell things to the people of Tripoli. He said that the ketch had lost her anchor. He asked them to let him tie her to the big ship till morning.
The pirates sent out a rope to them. But when the ketch came nearer, the pirates saw that they had been fooled. They cried out, "Americans, Americans!"
Then the Americans lying down took hold of the rope and pulled with all their might, and drew the ketch close to the ship. They were so close, that the ship's cannons were over their heads. The pirates could not fire at them.
The men who had been lying still now rose up. There were eighty of them. In a minute they were scram-bling up the sides of the big ship. Some went in one way, some another. They did not shoot. They fought with swords and pikes, or short spears.
Soon they drove the pirates to one side of the ship. Then they could hear the pirates jumping over into the water. In a few minutes the pirates had all gone.
But the Americans could not stay long. They must burn the ship before the pirates on the shore should find out what they were doing.
They had brought a lot of kin-dling on the ketch. They built fires in all parts of the ship. The fire ran so fast, that some of the men had trouble to get off the ship.
When the Americans got back on the ketch, they could not untie the rope that held the ketch to the ship. The big ship was bursting into flames. The ketch would soon take fire.
They took swords and hacked the big rope in two. Then they pushed hard to get away from the fire. The ketch began to move. The sailors took the large oars and rowed. They were soon safe from the fire.
All this they had done without any noise. But, now that they had got away, they looked back. The fire was shooting up toward the sky. The men stopped rowing, and they gave three cheers. They were so glad, that they could not help it.
By this time the pirates on shore had waked up. They began to fire great cannon balls at the little ketch. One of the balls went through her sails. Ah! how the sailors rowed!
The whole sky was now lighted up by the fire. The pirates' cannons were thundering. The cannon balls were splashing the water all round the ketch. But the Americans got away. At last they were safe in their own ships.