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Oceania (Restieaux) - Stories of Bully Hayes and Others

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Bully Hayes was rightly regarded as the Last of the Buccaneers. He was a merciless blackguard who could be very charming if he so chose. He was either a saint or a demon as the whim moved him or the circumstances dictated. The following recollections of Bully Hayes are the work of Alfred Restieaux. They were published in 1935 in Julian Dana's book Gods Who Die - the narrator is George Westbrook.  


Alfred Restieaux, whom I came to know so well at Funafuti in 1883, told me many tales of the Last of the Buccaneers. Restieaux was a forced passenger on board the Leonora during one of her filibustering expeditions. While the brig was lying at anchor in Milli lagoon, the Marshall Islands, Hayes was in a fearful temper about a certain Captain Pitman. Pitman had cleared out with the Neva, a vessel Bully was interested in, and had gone to Honolulu. Hayes found it impossible to follow Pitman at the time and later told Restieaux the reason. Here is the yarn, Bully Hayes' own words, as he told it to Restieaux:

"A few years ago I was sailing out of 'Frisco with a miscellaneous cargo for Papeete and the Marquesas. On my way down I called at one of the smaller ports of the Hawaiian Islands and did a bit of smuggling. I made about fifteen hundred dollars out of the deal. There would have been no trouble and no one the wiser but for a rascally Portugee I had a row with. He turned informer and a Customs Officer of the Hawaiian Government was sent across the mountains to intercept me.

"Just as I was about to clear, the Customs Official, aided by three local constables, came aboard. He seized the vessel and told me I was under arrest. I was in a bad way; some former business deals of mine in Hawaii had made me a muchly wanted man. But I made the best of it and was most polite to His Hawaiian Majesty's official.

"At first he insisted I must accompany him back across the mountains at once. I remonstrated.

"Look here, Mr. Officer," I said, 'don't you think it's too late to start on such a journey tonight? I am a very poor horseman and a very heavy man, as you can see. It will almost kill me to ride over such a difficult trail in the darkness. It looks, also, as if we were going to have some dirty weather. See those black clouds gathering over the mountain tops? Come, it will be all the same if you stay the night. We can take the brig round in the morning.'

"Just then the storm burst. Thunder crashed and lightning lit up the sky.

"It looked like a lucky thing for me. 'You see I was right,' I told them. 'It would be madness to try that hill trail tonight.'

"At that moment, as though to clinch my argument, a streak of vivid lightning seemed to strike the brig and the thunder volleyed about us as if we were in battle. That display settled the argument. His Majesty's Customs Officer decided to stay on board with his men all night.

"This decision gave me an added chance to escape and I ordered the steward to prepare a feast with plenty of liquid refreshments in evidence. Everything was a bit stiff at the beginning; the officer and his companions were very much on their dignity. But after a while my guests began to thaw out under the warming glow of good food and plenty to drink.

"I pretended to get very tight myself but I was never more sober in my life; the same went for the mate and a friend of mine I had on board as a passenger. We certainly had to do plenty of acting to make the party a success.

"To make the Hawaiians forget I was their prisoner and the ship under seizure, I plied them with wines and even a fine brand of Canadian whiskey--very much overproof. You know I can be jolly good company when it suits me. Well, I told them all sorts of droll stories, sang, and even danced for their amusement.

"The result of the Canadian whiskey was soon apparent. Just before collapsing, my chief guest of honor staggered over to me and said: 'Cap'n Hays-hic-you're a-hic-damned-hic-fine feller.' Tears of comradeship ran down his cheeks and he began to sing 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.'

"His aides knocked off their drunken dancing to join in. Half way through the song they dropped off into drunken slumber. Shipwreck itself could not have wakened them. My plan had worked. At daybreak my friends were still dead to the world. I had disarmed them as soon as they went to sleep. The captain was manned and we started stripping the anchor. In a few minutes we were under way with all sails set, running before a spanking wind. As soon as I was clear of the harbor I kicked my guests into wakefulness and informed them sorrowfully that the best of friends must part.

"But," said the bleary-eyed officer, 'we are going round with you in the brig as you promised.'

"'Going where?' I asked.

"'To the port of entry to see the Controller of Customs, of course. Do not forget you are my prisoner and the ship under seizure.'

"'Why, you're dreaming, man. I have finished my business here and am bound for Tahiti. If you want passage I'll be glad of your company but you must settle in advance.'

"It would have done you good to see the thunderstruck look on that official's face! Realizing he was trapped, he began to curse and threaten to use force.

"I laughed at him. 'Don't irritate your host of the night, my good fellow. You've had a good time aboard this boat -- heard good stories, listened to good music and had a skinful of better liquor than you ever tasted in your life before. Just be civil and get into your boat. If you don't, by the Holy Moses, I'll throw you over the side!'

"He looked around. The land was fast disappearing; we had run straight out with a stiff breeze and were already twelve miles off shore. Wind and current were against them and they had no sails to their small craft.

"With many a black look they tumbled into their boat. As soon as they were clear they began to bawl curses. But hard words break no bones and hold no man captor. I wished them farewell and a pleasant trip, then I collected the crew on the poop and called for three hearty cheers.

"As their craft bobbed away from us, the cook, a Tongan half-caste, got out his concertina and began to play 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow'. We bellowed this fond goodby at the tops of our voices.

"That's how I finished my last Hawaiian business deal. Much as I would like to follow the Neva to Honolulu and get hold of that bastard Pitman, it's altogether too dangerous at the present time," concluded Hayes regretfully.


At another time, my friend Alfred Restieaux, whom I have mentioned so often, told me the following yarn in regard to his association with Hayes. I pass it on to you in Restieaux's own words:

"In the early Seventies Bully landed me on Pingalap to purchase coconut oil until his return. He sailed for Samoa and was absent about nine months. He told me if I ran short of provisions or trade, I could buy some from any passing vessel. His last words were: 'All you have to do is give an order on me payable three months after date; anyone will give you what you want. I am well known and anyone will cash orders on me. But don't sell any of the oil - for any reason.'

"After three months on Pingalap I found myself not only short on trade but sorely in need of the common necessities of life. Luckily at this time a Sydney trader was 'off and on' the island and I went aboard her.

"The Captain was very cordial and told me to pick out all I wanted. In all innocence I picked out almost two hundred dollars' worth of provisions such as tea, coffee, flour and sugar. After this I lunched with the friendly Captain and had a most enjoyable meal.

"When the time for my departure came I presented the order on Hayes. Never have I seen a man in such a rage. You could have heard him a mile. 'This is the third time I've been asked to accept orders on that --- scoundrel!' howled the skipper. 'First Derfern on Onotoa, then Bill Blanchard on Muggin -- and now you! Are you a damned fool or do you rate me one?'

"Then the burly Captain picked me up and flung me down his gangway into my canoe. Somewhat bruised and utterly astonished, I paddled slowly ashore. I was pretty downhearted and not feeling very friendly toward either Hayes or the violent skipper.

"To my surprise I met the Captain on the beach ahead of me. He said he was sorry he lost his temper but for the moment he thought I was trying to put one over on him. To prove his regret, he had brought me a small quantity of provisions, a bundle of newspapers, and a bottle of whiskey. It was from the friendly - and violent - skipper of the Sydney trader that I first learned of Bully Hayes' reputation in the South Seas.

"The next vessel that turned up off Pingalap was the Morning Star, the American Mission brigantine, with the Rev. Sturgess on board as visiting missionary from Ponape. He tried his level best to land a native preacher but the devil-priests were too strong for him. He warned the natives that the notorious blackbirder brig Carl was somewhere near the island, saying she was nothing more than a slave-ship. Sturgess warned them especially against boarding any vessel recruiting labor for Fiji or Queensland.

"True to the Rev. Sturgess' prediction, the next craft to arrive off the island was the infamous Carl of Melbourne. Dr. Murray and a Mr. Mount came on shore. They bought some things from the natives, made a great show of friendship and tried to entice some of them aboard. Thanks to Sturgess' warning, none of the islanders would go near the craft.

"The boat that had brought the two visitors ashore drifted away and they stayed on the island two or three days. During this period they were perfectly civil to me though they must have been certain I had told the islanders not to board the brigantine. Still, they had no luck and sailed on the fourth day.

"Some two months later a topsail schooner came off the island. I thought I'd pay her a visit and see if there was anyone I knew aboard her. After going over the rail I was greeted in a friendly manner and casually asked them the ship's name.

"'Daphne', said one of the crew carelessly before he was ordered to shut up.

"I asked if they were trading and was informed they were on a labor cruise. Then I remarked they had come to a bad place since the brig Carl had tried the same thing two months before and been unsuccessful.

"There's no harm in trying," said the Captain, and shrugged 'Is there any food to be bought from the natives?'

"'Why, yes, plenty of ducks - taro and breadfruit, too, now the season is in. If you wait till morning you might get a turtle or two.'

"Good. We'll do it,' said the skipper.

"After dinner I went ashore with two men in the ship's boat. One was a Mr. Sinclair; the name of the other I did not catch.

"When we beached Sinclair asked the King about the purchase of some food. The King assured him there was plenty to be had for the brig's crew.

"Sinclair asked them to take the food on board. The King shook his head and said the ship was tabu; the crew must bring the trade ashore and take the produce aboard themselves.

"During this palaver a few young natives, one of the King's sons among them, put off in a canoe to approach the brig and do some trading on their own. They were invited below but refused the invitation. Then the crew tried force. The islanders jumped overboard and escaped, all but one man.

"This poor native was struggling with the Captain when the cook cut him down with an axe - at least so the natives said. He never returned.

"I was seated in my house with Sinclair and his companion when we heard a great commotion among the islanders. My two guests leaped up, pulled out their revolvers, and rushed into the open. Seeing a great band of natives approaching, the two white men rushed to their boat and started for the ship.

"Not knowing the cause of the row I had followed the pair out; the King and some others caught me and forced me back inside.

"'No good ship - he kill man.' said the King. They made me sit down. The King was on one side of me, his brother on another, and an old woman in front me, in truth, I was wedged in by the whole harem of the King and his brother, more than thirty of them. They were packed so tightly about me that I nearly suffocated. The friendly monarch and his party were resisting those hot-heads on the outside of the circle who were trying to break through and kill me. At the same time other islanders were looting my things - not much, but all I had in the world.

"When the row was over - the men in the brig's boat got away - the natives calmed down and saw I was not to blame for the sins of the blackbirders. The young men had been at fault for disobeying the King and breaking the tabu. In a way, I had laid myself open to suspicion by going aboard and returning in the ship's boat but they soon realized my innocence.

"Some of the men who swam ashore had been badly cut up with knives and belaying pins; I did all I could to doctor their wounds and used up all the pain-killer I had on hand. The next day the natives returned all my trade they had stolen.

"After that dust-up I got on better with the natives than ever and we were better friends than before. When Hayes returned I told him of the Sydney trader episode and demanded hotly if he had thought such a row would happen when he told me to suggest such a thing as offer his personal order.

"All the rascal did was laugh in my face and offer me a drink."


Some time later I heard the brig Carl was caught and the murderers on board her tried in Melbourne. The Daphne, a hardwood ship built of Indian teak, was afterwards in the hands of the D. H. P. G., the big German firm of Samoa. She visited my trading station on Funafuti in 1883. Her next voyage took her to Niuafou in the Tongan Group, and she was never heard of again.

The blackbirders became so bold that eventually the government of Fiji and the Australian Colonies would not allow a vessel to operate without an authorized Labor Agent on board to see that the natives were properly recruited. It was also the Agent's duty to see that the islanders were safely returned to their own home at the expiration of their labor terms. There had been many incidents where natives were landed on the wrong island at the end of their servitude, and the result had been that many were robbed and murdered by a hostile people.

Besides being outwitted by the King of Apamama (now Abemama), Bully Hayes was to be badly taken in by our old friend Black Tom. Mr. Alvord, who knew both the men well, gave me an account of this later incident. I have already mentioned the time that Black Tom stole Alvord's pig.


Bully Hayes owned a house quite close to Black Tom's in Apia. The freebooter was usually away but his wife remained in Samoa. One morning Mrs. Hayes missed some fowls and immediately suspected her black neighbor of being aware what had become of them. Around sallied the indignant lady and found Tom stuffing feathers into a pillow-slip. Mrs. Hayes was not a big woman but she owned a sharp tongue; she rounded on Tom in her best style.

He, in turn, denied all knowledge of the missing chickens.

"Everything dat is missed on dis beach is always blamed to Black Tom," he said mournfully, pausing in the business of feather stuffing. "What'll you do when Black Tom die? Who you blame then, eh?"

"You thieving nigger! There won't be any stealing on this beach when you go where all black niggers go!"

This was a bit too thick for Tom; he lost his temper and supplied the lowest terms in his extensive vocabulary to the entire white race and the Hayes tribe in particular. Mrs. Hayes raged like a tigress but she was no match for Black Tom. She left for home faster than she had come but she made a parting - and a telling - shot: "My husband will be back in a few days, you ugly black devil, and he'll attend to you!"

Next morning the Leonora rounded Matautu Point coming into Apia Harbor. Hayes was returning from one of his lawless raids in the Western Pacific. The cruise had not gone well and the master of the ship was in a vile temper. His mood was not improved by the news Mrs. Hayes had told him immediately after he entered his home. "That damned nigger!" he howled. "I'll teach him to use insulting language to my wife!" Seizing an ugly-looking Marshall Island club, he tore off to interview Tom.

"Welcome back to Apia, Captain Hayes! Mighty glad to see you looking so well." The darkie was beaming all over his black face. Tom held out his hand.

"Keep your filthy paws to yourself, you bloody ---- bastard!" yelled Hayes. For a full minute Bully blistered the air with his curses. Tom merely stood still with a smug smile and rubbed his hands together.

This was too much for Hayes. He flourished his club in a long arc over the bar-counter. One row of battles crashed into bits. Tom continued to grin, as though the enraged Hayes was doing a few tricks to amuse him. There were many bottles on the shelves labeled whiskey, rum, gin, brandy, and wine -- anything a thirsty wayfarer of the sea might call for. Actually, they were all dummies filled with water with the exception of those containing "blue ruin" Hamburg gin.

Hayes smashed them all, under the impression they were the real thing. Nothing escaped his fury. Next he knocked clock, glasses and decanters off the counter with one sweep. Above his head he noticed a newly-imported chandelier hung with four suspended lamps. This treasure was the pride of Tom's rascally heart, had been recently landed by the German firm of John Ceaesar and Godeffroy and cost the sum of sixty Chili dollars. With one last swing Hayes raised his weapon and the prized chandelier crashed to the floor. Still Tom said no word, only grinned his maddening grin.

His feelings amply relieved, Bully went home, ate a hearty supper and went to bed. In the morning Hayes was presented by the Consul with a bill sworn to by Tomasi Uliuli - Black Tom's native name. All the items were listed - so much for stock, clock, decanters, glasses, lamps, chandelier, and loss of business.

Bully raved like a madman. "What the bloody hell to you think I am?" He could be heard blocks. "Not a cent will the ---- skunk get out of me!"

"But," said the Consul patiently, "do you admit destroying the property?"

"You're damn right I admit it! Under great provocation - with that bloody buck blackguard grinning at me!"

"That has nothing to do with the case, Captain Hayes. You must pay the man. His business is at a complete standstill and the sooner you settle up the less it will be."

"I'll see the ---- bastard in hell first," growled Bully, and rushed off to consult the only lawyer on the beach. This lawyer was a lanky American who had seen better days. Hayes found him in Bill Henry's saloon, bracing the bar, as was his custom. After having been fee-ed with a bottle of luke-warm beer, the limb of the law assured the angry Captain that the Consul's order was not to be ignored and that the Leonora was liable to seizure if he did not pay at once.

Hayes was yet unconvinced. In hopes of a more favourable view in the matter he bought another bottle of Norwegian pale ale for his informant. But the expenditure was in vain. The lawyer, who was now reeling about and trying to steady himself against the bar-counter, delivered himself of further wisdom. "Take my advice-hic-Cap'n. You go see the ol' nigger an' come to terms with 'm."

The Hayes temper went off again like a sky-rocket. He suddenly picked up the lawyer, carried him outside, and dumped him down on a heap of broken bottles.

A few days later Hayes was ready for sea. He called on the Consul and found that the official could not be bluffed. With ill-grace and muttering vengeance, Bully Hayes paid up. The Last of the Buccaneers left Apia Harbor cursing Black Tom, the Consul and the entire place.

Tom re-opened in grand style, the rows of bright bottles on the shelves were more numerous than ever -- and not dummies this time. The Hamburg "blue ruin" was re-christened the "Bully" brand and became the most popular drink in Apia.


In conclusion, it seems a shame to turn the cold, unsentimental eye of history on Bully Hayes. The romantic raiment given him was altered to fit by Louis Becke, trimmed by the vivid mind of J. F. Archibald of the "Bulletin," and given the correct swagger cut by Rolf Boldrewood and Albert Dorrington.

Thus the man has become a legendary rascal of various pleasing accomplishments and sundry hellish tendencies. It would be better to leave him thus. . . . I should not have you see his fat face filled with terror, his wheedling voice shrilling up to the tropic blue, his brow moist with the sweat of losing battle. I should not let you see Peter Radeck the Hollander, belaying-pin in hand, his usually placid blue eyes flecked with fury, struggling with a shrieking coward on a rolling ship's deck. I should not let you visualize this scene as Bully Hayes' last moment. . . .

Kiribati and Bully Hayes
Alfred Restieaux
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