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Origin of Francis L'Ollonais, and beginning of his robberies.

FRANCIS L'OLLONAIS was a native of that territory in France which is called Les Sables d'Ollone, or the Sands of Ollone. In his youth he was transported to the Caribbee Islands, in quality of a servant or slave, according to the custom of France and other countries; of which we have already spoken in the first part of this book. Being out of his time, when he had obtained his freedom, he came to the Isle of Hispaniola. Here he placed himself for some while among the hunters, before he began his robberies against the Spaniards; whereof I shall make mention at present, until his unfortunate death.

At first he made two or three voyages in quality of a common mariner, wherein he behaved himself so courageously as to deserve the favour and esteem of the Governor of Tortuga, who was then Monsieur de la Place. Insomuch that this gentleman gave him a ship, and made him captain thereof, to the intent he might seek his fortune. This Dame shewed herself very favourable to him at the beginning, for in a short while he pillaged great riches. But, withal, his cruelties against the Spaniards were such that the very fame of them made him known through the whole Indies. For which reason the Spaniards, in his time, whensoever they were attacked by sea, would choose rather to die or sink fighting than surrender, knowing they should have no mercy nor quarter at his hands. But as Fortune is seldom constant, so after some time she turned her back upon him. The beginning of whose disasters was, that in a huge storm he lost his ship upon the coasts of Campeche. The men were all saved; but coming upon dry land, the Spaniards pursued them, and killed the greatest part of them, wounding also L’Ollonais, their captain. Not knowing how to escape, he thought to save his life by a stratagem. Hereupon he took several handfuls of sand and mingled them with the blood of his own wounds, with which he besmeared his face and other parts of his body. Then hiding himself dextrously among the dead, he continued there till the Spaniards had quitted the field.

After they were gone, he retired into the woods, and bound up his wounds as well as he could. These being by the help of Nature pretty well healed, he took his way to the city of Campeche, having perfectly disguised himself in Spanish habit. Here he spoke with certain slaves, to whom he promised their liberty, in case they would obey him and trust in his conduct. They accepted his promises, and stealing one night a canoe from one of their masters, they went to sea with the Pirate. The Spaniards in the meanwhile had made prisoner several of his companions, whom they kept in close dungeons in the city, while L’Ollonais went about the town and saw all that passed. These were often asked by the Spaniards, "What is become of your Captain?" to whom they constantly answered, "He is dead." With which news the Spaniards were hugely gladdened, and made great demonstrations of joy, kindling bonfires, and, like those that knew nothing to the contrary, giving thanks to God Almighty for their deliverance from such a cruel Pirate. L’Ollonais, having seen these joys for his death, made haste to escape with the slaves above-mentioned, and came safe to Tortuga, the common place of refuge of all sorts of wickedness, and the seminary, as it were, of all manner of Pirates and thieves. Though now his fortune was but low, yet he failed not of means to get another ship, which with craft and subtlety he obtained, and in it one and twenty persons. Being well provided with arms and other necessaries, he set forth towards the Isle of Cuba, on the South side whereof lies a small village, which is called De los Cayos. The inhabitants of this town drive a great trade in tobacco, sugar and hides; and all in boats, as not being able to make use of ships by reason of the little depth of that sea.

L’Ollonais was greatly persuaded he should get here some considerable prey; but by the good fortune of some fishermen who saw him, and the mercy of the Almighty, they escaped his tyrannical hands. For the inhabitants of the town of Cayos dispatched immediately a messenger overland to Havana, complaining to the Governor that L’Ollonais was come to destroy them, with two canoes. The Governor could very hardly be persuaded of the truth of this story, seeing he had received letters from Campeche that he was dead. Notwithstanding, at the importunity of the petitioners he sent a ship to their relief, with ten guns and fourscore and ten persons, well armed; giving them withal this express command: They should not return unto his presence without having totally destroyed those Pirates. To this effect he gave them also a negro, who might serve them for a hangman; his orders being that They should immediately hang every one of the said Pirates, excepting L’Ollonais their Captain, whom they should wring alive to Havana. This ship arrived at Cayos; of whose coming the Pirates were advertised beforehand; and, instead of flying, went to seek the said vessel in the river Estera, where she rode at anchor. The Pirates apprehended some fishermen, and forced them, by night, to shew the entry of the port, hoping soon to obtain a greater vessel than their two canoes, and thereby to mend their fortune. They arrived, after two o'clock in the morning, very near the ship. And the watch on board the ship asking them: Whence they came, and if they had seen any Pirates abroad, they caused one of the prisoners to answer: They had seen no Pirates, nor anything else. Which answer brought them into persuasion that they were fled away, having heard of their coming.

But they experienced very soon the contrary; for about break of day the Pirates began to assault the vessel on both sides with their two canoes. This attack they performed with such vigour that, although the Spaniards behaved themselves as they ought and made as good defence as they could, shooting against them likewise some great guns, yet they were forced to surrender, after being beaten by the Pirates, with swords in hand, down under the hatches. Hence L’Ollonais commanded them to be brought up one by one, and in this order caused their heads to be struck off. Among the rest came up the negro, designed to be the Pirates' executioner by the Governor of Havana. This fellow implored mercy at his hands very dolefully, desiring not to be killed, and telling L’Ollonais he was constituted hangman of that ship; and that, in case he would spare him, he would tell him faithfully all that he should desire to know. L’Ollonais made him confess as many things as he thought fit to ask him; and, having done, commanded him to be murdered with the rest. Thus he cruelly and barbarously put them all to death, reserving of the whole number only one alive, whom he sent back to the Governor of Havana, with this message given him in writing: I shall never henceforward give quarter to any Spaniard whatsoever; and I have great hopes I shall execute on your own person the very same punishment I have done upon ii:em you sent against me. Thus I have retaliated the kindness you deigned to me and my companions. The Governor was much troubled to understand these sad and withal insolent news; which occasioned him to swear, in the presence of many, he would never grant quarter to any Pirate that should fall into his hands. But the citizens of Havana desired him not to persist in the execution of that rash and rigorous oath, seeing the Pirates would certainly take occasion thence to do the same; and they had an hundred times more opportunity of revenge than lie: that, being necessitated to get their livelihood by fishery, they should hereafter always be in danger of losing their lives. By these reasons he was persuaded to bridle his anger, and remit the severity of his oath aforementioned.

Now L’Ollonais had got himself a good ship, but withal very few provisions and people in it. Hereupon, to secure both the one and the other, he resolved to use his customary means of cruizing from one port to another. This he did for some while, till at last not being able to procure anything, he determined to go to the port of Maracaibo. Here he took by surprize a ship that was laden with plate and other merchandize, being outward bound to buy cacao-nuts. With these prizes he returned to Tortuga, where he was received with no small joy by the inhabitants, they congratulating his happy success and their own private interest. He continued not long there, but pitched upon new designs of equipping a whole fleet, sufficient to transport five hundred men, with all other necessaries. With these preparations he resolved to go to the Spanish dominions, and pillage both cities, towns and villages, and finally take Maracaibo itself. For this purpose, he knew the Island of Tortuga would afford him many resolute and courageous men, very fit for such enterprizes. Besides that, he had in his service several prisoners, who were exactly acquainted with the ways and places he designed upon.

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