John Paul Jones: Man of Action

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Twenty Months of Dakness

An orphan's curse would drag to hell A spirit from on high; But oh! more horrible than that Is a curse in a dead man's eye.


I

WHEN the solitary young horseman rode away from Rockley Bay, it was with his chin upon his breast. Tobago had again proved itself to be his isle of misfortune. It was natural for him to wish to be quit of it forever; and so it is surmised that he rode southward across the island, reached the water, and there hired a boat to ferry him over the fifteen miles of sea to Trinidad, the nearest land. Trinidad, being in Spanish hands, offered an obvious refuge from possible pursuers from British territory. But his successful escape probably gave him only momentary relief. There can be no question about the tortures which danced in his dark-tinged mind, his colorful imagination, after the killing of the sailor aboard the Betsey. He afterwards described it to friends as an accident, and always referred to it as "the misfortune of my life." For a sinewy man of the sea, accustomed to the hardships of the deck from boyhood, John Paul Jones remained throughout his life strangely sensitive and affectible. He exulted in battle, as became one of Highland corpuscles, but he had no genuine taste for bloodshed, and he sometimes went to curious lengths to avoid a personal combat. Your man of action is often like that; for every intense moment he pays in hours

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