put ashore on a desert isle, as a sailor, under pretense of having committed
some great crime." Thus our good Noah Webster gives us the dry bones,
the anatomy, upon which the imagination may construct a specimen to suit
itself. It is thence that the marooners took their name, for marooning
was one of their most effective instruments of punishment or revenge.
If a pirate broke one of the many rules which governed the particular
band to which he belonged, he was marooned; did a captain defend his ship
to such a degree as to be unpleasant to the pirates attacking it, he was
marooned; even the pirate captain himself, if he displeased his followers
by the severity of his rule, was in danger of having the same punishment
visited upon him which he had perhaps more than once visited upon another.
The process of marooning was as simple as terrible. A suitable place was
chosen (generally some desert isle as far removed as possible from the
pathway of commerce), and the condemned man was rowed from the ship to
the beach. Out he was bundled upon the sand spit; a gun, a half dozen
bullets, a few pinches of powder, and a bottle of water were chucked ashore
after him, and away rowed the boat's crew back to the ship, leaving the
poor wretch alone to rave away his life in madness, or to sit sunken in
his gloomy despair till death mercifully released him from torment. It
rarely if ever happened that anything was known of him after having been
marooned. A boat's crew from some vessel, sailing by chance that way,
might perhaps find a few chalky bones bleaching upon the white sand in
the garish glare of the sunlight, but that was all. And such were marooners.