48 Hours a Day
Chapter 118 - Black Sail XXIII
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Zhang Heng transferred the saber from his injured right hand to his left, and then blocked his opponent’s two consecutive lances while taking two steps backwards. When the sailor fighting Zhang Heng saw that his enemy was weary from the prolonged scrimmage, he was very pleased. He stopped advancing and plunged his sword towards Zhang Heng’s chest. It was straightforward attack, without any chicanery, purely relying on strength as an advantage.
Now, instead of dodging the sword, Zhang Heng welcomed it. Both weapons clashed, and the sailor of the navy ship felt a massive force come at him, forcing his arm to swing open. As shock registered on the man’s face, Zhang Heng’s saber found the sailor’s neck.
Zhang Heng muttered under his breath, “It’s over.”
The terrified sailor dropped his weapon and surrendered.
Zhang Heng looked around him and saw that the battle on the deck was coming to an end. A few stubborn guards who were still putting up a fight were forced into a corner—their defeat was only a matter of time. Only the captain of the ship was holding fort in the captain’s cabin. However, his subduing was only a matter of time as well.
This was already their third battle over a short period of two months. While they had won each of them, they had also suffered serious losses. Owen had even started to replenish the workforce with prisoners.
During this era, naval sailors were treated poorly. Take the Royal Navy for example, whose one month’s salary was only around one pound, which was also equivalent to half of the pay of river gate guards, and only about a quarter of that of a carpenter’s wages. To boot, before the money even reached the sailors’ pocket, the paymaster general and navy officer of the ship would take a portion from it. To make matters worse, the salaries were not paid out on a regular basis. One of the most bizarre incidents was of a cruiser in the Far East waters—the crew was only paid once in twenty-two years. In the end, the navy even refused to pay the sum that was owed.
Even when they were ashore, these sailors had it hard. When the warship returned to the port for repairs, the officers were only paid half their salary whereas the lower level sailors were not paid at all, leaving them high and dry. But that was not the worst part. Sometimes, worried that their men would run away, the navy would even forbid the sailors from getting back to shore. Before arriving at the port, the sailors would be transferred to other battleships, and their wages would put on hold.
Compared to them, the treatment that the pirates received was heaven. When there was money, they ‘earned’ it together, and when there was meat, they ate together. There were rarely any incidents of the captain deducting the crew members’ income.
Zhang Heng had been in this game for almost nine months now. In the beginning, he had joined Sea Lion for the sole reason of survival. Later on, however, because of the main mission, he was forced to join the pirate world. Now he had a deeper understanding of the Nassau and the pirates living above. Many of the things had to perceive through the historical background of that time. It was not for no reason that the pirates in the 17th and 18th century were rampant.
At the beginning of the age of exploration, it was difficult to distinguish between explorers, colonists, and pirates, and as Europe became entangled in war in a bid to compete for sea power, the notorious looting permit was born—which also opened Pandora’s box. All these thing—a modern-day person would find inconceivable.
Suppose, in this era, you were a businessman transporting goods to be sold in the colonies and was robbed during the journey by people from another country. There would be no legal, diplomatic means for you to return to your country. Generally, most countries would issue you a looting permit, encouraging you to take back what you had lost from others.
On top of that, many wealthy businessmen and nobles would also sponsor skilled captains by helping them get private looting permits which allowed them to loot on the sea, so that they could have a share of the stolen goods. The advantage of doing this was that they were able to severely damage the sea power of other countries. At the same time, they could have an unofficial navy added to their fleet without having to increase their national budget. Should the war start, these private looting ships would also join the battle.
If you plunder enough, you may even be summoned to the palace, or be knighted, accredited as the country’s hero. Henry Morgan was the best example. He was the Pirate King of the Caribbean from 1665 to 1670, and later on moved on to become the governor of Jamaica.
In fact, it was not just the common folks. In order to earn extra money, to make up for the wages they were not paid, sailors of the royal fleet would often go out looting. There were even managers in charge of cashing out spoils at the port. Of course, at the end of the day, most of the money they make would, eventually, still end up in the officer’s pocket. The low-ranked sailors would only get a meager portion of it.
Frazer once told Zhang Hen, back in the tavern: “Do you know what’s the difference between us and those guys? They have looting permit and we don’t. That’s why we are pirates who are despised and they are the heroes. This is how the world works.”
Zhang Heng put away his saber. A loud explosion rippled under his feet, signaling that the final territory of the ship had been breached. The captain of the navy supply ship was dead, and the remaining sailors surrendered their weapons and themselves. The doctor on board busied himself tending to injured men, while the record keeper made an inventory of the cargo in the cabin.
The pirates had also suffered many casualties, which was also why no one wanted to lock horns with the navy. Even though it was just a supply ship, her firepower was impressive. The price they had paid to rob a navy supply ship was far greater than the profit they gained. In fact, it was pitiful.
The Sea Lion lost a total of seventeen men in that battle, and many were wounded. Miraculously, however, that did not thwart the crew’s morale—especially when the helmsman Orff presented a piece of blood-stained map before them. The pirates responded in excitement and cheer.
“Gentlemen, there is no doubt that we are finally another step closer to our ultimate goal!” The helmsman shouted triumphantly.
According to him, Kidd’s treasure was hidden on a no man’s island in the Caribbean. He had supposedly drawn a treasure map before he died, which was eventually divided into six parts and had fallen into the hands of those who participated in the arrest and trial. Now, the Sea Lion was on a mission to collect all the pieces of the treasure map. Counting today’s piece, they had already gotten four of them.
Owen walked up to the helmsman and said, “Mr. Orff, may I speak with you for a moment?”
The latter nodded and the both of them walked to the back of the ship.
The pirate leader had a worried look on his face. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve lost quite a few men.”
Orff nodded. “So, how did the recruitment go?”
“You know we can’t keep using these guys to fill up the vacancies, right? They are the navy, after all. If we recruit too many of them at one time, they might slit our throats when we’re sleeping.”
“What do you suggest then?”
“We’re been out here for two and a half months. I suggest that we go back to Nassau to replenish our supplies,” Owen answered.
Orff looked at Owen in the eyes, and then after a while, said, “I don’t want to keep this from you. But if word gets out about us finding the treasure, it’ll stir up a lot of unnecessary troubles. But I will make sure to relay your suggestion to the captain.”