The Spanish captain stood on deck, scanning the horizon. His first mate spoke truly. They had been at sea too long. Stilling his spyglass, he focused. And smiled. A ship lay in easy reach. They could come upon her before she made Boston harbor. He gave the order and his men swung into furious activity.
Bearing down on the passenger ship, the captain’s heart pounded. He could see the men scurrying around the ship, helpless. The women disappeared below deck. “Leave no one alive,” he ordered. He wanted no witnesses at his hanging, if he were ever caught for pirating.
Shouting, screaming, crying—all chaos broke loose when they boarded. Overrun, and facing certain death, the captives fell quiet. The captain raised his sword above the vanquished ship’s leader, but stopped his downward thrust when a baby’s loud wail broke the silence.
“Bring me the child,” he ordered the hostage captain, who returned from down below with a newborn baby girl. Distracted from his destructive intent, the captain ordered. “Who is the mother?”
The woman, still trembling from childbirth had climbed her way above board to save her child. “Don’t harm her, she’s mine,” she pleaded.
The captain’s hard eyes softened when the child quieted in his arms. “Si, she is. And I will not harm her--if you obey my orders.”
Fearful, the woman nodded. “What sir?”
“Name the child Mary, after my mother who died this year, and I will let her, and everyone else live.”
The mother fell to her knees and reached for the child. “Yes, sir. As you say.”
Whispering to his first mate, the captain handed the child back to her mother. “There is one more thing.” The hostages waited, holding their breath. Soon, the first mate returned with a large parcel and handed it to the captain, who removed the wrapping and exposed a roll of glorious sea green silk brocade. “When she marries, she will wear a dress made from this fabric.” The mother nodded, vigorously this time.
Tense looks of disbelief stared at him from both crews. “Back to the ship,” he ordered his men. Once they pushed off, he watched a crowd surround the woman. Now he would have to deal with his own men, lest they think he had grown a soft heart.
The baby was named Mary, wore the silk on her wedding day, and bore five children. Though this much of the story is true, the legend expanded, and now includes the pirate returning to wed the widow Mary, and Mary haunting their house.
Read more about Ocean Born Mary.
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