After pirates plundered ships, they could not exactly stash their loot in a bank. Keeping treasure was almost as difficult as finding it. Most just spent their gold on women and rum as quickly as possible. But a few preferred to bury their treasure or hide it in caves on remote islands around the world. Because of the dangers that pirates faced – combat, disease, the hangman’s noose – quite a few never made it back to those hiding places. All they left behind were cryptic maps, rumors, and legends.
Hector Maguire, a well born gentleman from Drogheda, arrived to the New World to regain the wealth his family lost during Cromwell’s cruel Irish campaign. He traveled from port to port gathering intelligence on the movement of British ships, which he sold both to London insurance brokers and to pirates. In the taverns of Port Royal and Nassau, Hector was famous for being able to out-drink even the toughest sailors, and drunken sailors told many interesting tales. Hector took it all in. When his comrades were ready to boast about their adventures and swap stories of hidden treasures, he memorized the details and transferred them later to vellum maps. According to legends he had six maps concealed in a
box with a compass rose carved on the top and a secret locking mechanism that none could open.
One day in Nassau, when a somewhat inept and unpopular pirate ship captain refused to pay Hector a debt he was owed, Hector proposed to the crew that they toss their captain in the bay and sail off with himself in command. He promised richer rewards than his predecessor had delivered. The crew agreed, and they sailed southeast. "What is our destination?" they asked. I don’t know, hector replied, but each day he studied his maps, and studied the horizon with his spyglass. Each night he studied the stars with his sextant. The crew thought he was possibly mad, but they trusted him anyway.
At last, they arrived at a mysterious island, with tangled forests on rugged limestone peaks and no signs of habitation. . They anchored and every man went ashore, since all were curious and none would suffer to be left behind. They climbed through the jungle and searched along the cliff-tops for a tree with the jaw of a monkey nailed to the trunk. Finding it at last, with the day’s light almost done, they lowered a hundred-foot rope ladder over the edge and climbed down to the mouth of a cave. Four hundred feet of dark, twisting passages led at last to a spacious chamber piled so high with silver and gold that a single torch was sufficient to light the whole space. The men slept that night on beds of gold, since it was too dark by then to descend the cliff. In succeeding days, each filled his sea chest with gold, and still most of the treasure remained.
They thought it prudent to slip away by night when a Royal Navy frigate was spotted passing the other side of the island. Hector had the ship put in at Barbados to buy a load of molasses – a disguise of sorts. Then they sailed to Baltimore and Hector disembarked, leaving the ship to the crew as his thanks. He changed his name, and the rest of his days are lost to history.
The pirates, drunk not only with rum but with visions of gold, sailed back toward the island to retrieve the rest of the treasure. The ship was never heard of again, but some say that in April, on moonless Caribbean nights, sailors occasionally see a pirate ship in the distance that shines so bright that it seems to have captured both sun and moon as booty.