There, the Ballista was on a collision course with Captain Mike's fleet, breathing out threats and slaughter. Against her, Mike sent the Franklin, fresh out of the builder's yard. The American ship got into position first, and her captain roared, "FIRE!" The four-masted Ballista suddenly became a one-masted popgun. Captain Paul decided that turning for home and repairs was his best move. But the Franklin's skipper, in a brilliant maneuver, put his ship between the Ballista and the Bloody Jewel and dismasted both of them.
What Mike did next continues to puzzle naval scholars. The Franklin had one cannon yet unfired. Both of Paul's ships were at his mercy. He fully intended to tow the Bloody Jewel home and claim her cargo, but the Ballista had no gold and wasn't worth keeping. Why didn't he finish her off? Was it a rare moment of mercy on the high seas? Or were the seeds of a plan hatching in Captain Mike's bald head? No one knows for sure.
Another fight broke out on the other side of the bay. The Superbe was in position to steal an island's treasure out from under the Concord's nose, but Captain Richard never could pass up a fight. He gave battle instead, and in two mighty blasts, the Concord went from ship, to derelict, to sunken wreck. The Superbe then turned, ignoring the island and its gold, and headed across the bay. He felt a certain kinship to Captain Paul, and was eager to help him against Captain Mike.
The Algiers, Paul's last undamaged ship, made it home with its treasure, which wasn't as much as he'd hoped. He turned back to the island he'd just visited for some more gold, hoping the battle would last long enough to get his fort into play. The Caesar took advantage of Captain Richard's distraction to loot the island that the Superbe had ignored. The Franklin took the Bloody Jewel in tow, and Captain Mike's other two ships raced towards her with one goal: to get between her and the Superbe, which was closing fast and looking very angry.
The little Chesapeake took the hulk of the Ballista in tow, hoping to distract the much bigger French ship. It was a brave gesture, and an effective one, but costly; at least the Chesapeake didn't suffer long. But she held off the Superbe for one vital turn, which Mike's flagship used to laboriously haul into firing position.
Again the Franklin's deadly guns roared, knocking down three of the Superbe's five masts. The Carolina added to the confusion by ramming and boarding the Frenchman, and while this did no harm, it kept the Superbe's gunners' eyes off the Franklin. Two masts later, the Carolina was having second thoughts about picking on ships bigger than herself.
Captain Dave saw Mike's intentions and sent the Caesar racing to block the Franklin's route home. The Baionnette did likewise, but was far too slow to get there in time. The Superbe, unnerved by her damage, sheered off for home. But the Carolina rammed her again, and this time, her boarding party sought out and killed the Frenchman's captain. The Superbe's gunners avenged him by smashing the Carolina's last mast, then turned away from the fighting to take the Ballista in tow.
The Julius Caesar almost made it in time. But the Franklin's crew exulted, "Ha! Your pig fiancee' is too late!" as they sailed into port with their prize bobbing behind them. The Bloody Jewel's cargo made the difference. If Captain Paul had gotten it home, he probably would have won; had the ship been sunk, Captain Dave would have come out on top. But it was Captain Mike, a strict teetotaller, who reaped the benefits of a load of rum and was crowned the Pirate King.
The key factors in the battle were the deadly cannons in the Franklin and the Superbe, and the sacrifice of Mike's smaller ships to let the Franklin escape with her prize. The speed of Captain Dave's fleet could have been decisive, had he found more valuable treasures. Captain Richard may not have been in the running, gold-wise, but he sank or dismasted three ships, and probably had the most fun. Captain Paul would have fared better if his nearest neighbor had been Captain Dave instead of Captain Mike.
FYI: Captain Paul and Captain Richard are brothers, and sons of Captain Dave. I'm Captain Mike, and since the winners write the history books, here we are.
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