William Leeds

My name is William Leeds.
Occupation, pirate. Retired.
Don’t hear too much about retired pirates, do ye?
Aren’t that many of us.
Most of us wind up hanging in a compromised position from some yardarm,
or perhaps swinging from a big oak in front of a courthouse.
Or stabbed through the entrails by a cutlass,
Or cut through the throat by a dagger,
Or stabbed in the back by a dirk,
Or made to dance on a plank at the point of a sword, only to finish our tarantellas in bed with the sharks.
Then there’s the scurvy, the malaria, the yellow fever- just a sample of the myriad diseases and plagues a pirate can pick up in foreign ports.
Not counting the diseases one can pick up in foreign beds.
And not counting diseases one can pick up on one’s own ships.
A pirate’s life is rarely a long one.
My old friend Captain Kidd, he was hung for murder and piracy, and his body was tarred and displayed in a cage over the Thames.
It was a bad bit, that stint with Kidd. We actually started out intending to capture pirate ships. At least that’s what Kidd told the authorities.
Let me tell you, here was our mission*:
First, to go chase pirates -- men who would rather die than surrender.
We are to travel in one tiny ship manned with a desperate crew, some of whom... are former pirates.
Our ship's articles do not allow Kidd to punish his crew, except by vote of the entire crew.
Once we round the Cape of Good Hope, we will find no welcome ports of call- except pirate ports.
On the immense Indian Ocean, we must find some of the European pirate ships, many of them carrying relatives and friends of the crew, and engage them in battle. Do ye blame us for turning pirate?
Do ye blame us for attacking British merchantmen?
Wouldn’t ye, under the circumstances, do the same?
Kidd called New York his home port, he did. He had some powerful friends there. But I was from Middletown, down the road, right here in the midlands of New Jersey.
I served on Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley, and I made it back to New Jersey.
So thankful was I, and so eager to expiate my crimes, that I donated most of my loot to my local church. That’s right-- the rector of Christ Church in Middletown gets his salary from the proceeds of pirate loot.
And they seem quite proud of it, too. Up until the 1940s, the church held a carnival to honor me and old Captain Kidd.
Aye, but the church didn’t get all my treasure!
Here’s a map--- do with it what you will!
And remember me: William Leeds, pirate. Retired.