John Bessac spent very few days in Santander. Just enough time to rest up and book a place on a schooner to Bordeaux.
John could hardly wait to set his brother Baptiste. So much had taken place since the day that John had left everything in Montvalant behind. There was much to talk about.
Seamen were a tight knit group so John asked everyone, including the captain, if they knew of his brother Baptiste and what ship he may be on. No one seemed to have ever heard of a Baptiste Bessac. John became concerned about his situation. He reread Baptiste’s letter several times to make sure that he had not overlooked some word that may change the interpretation of what Baptiste had said.
No sooner had the schooner docked when John leaped off and started making inquiries about Baptiste.
John finally ran across a sailor who seemed to know something about Baptiste.
“Oh, you mean Bessac the Pirate?” said the sailor.
“No, he is not a Pirate. He is a merchant” answered John.
The sailor responded “Well, if you go down to dock four you will find ‘The Letter of Marque’ tied up there. I have heard that Baptiste the Pirate is on board.”
John decided there was no point in correcting the ignorant sailor again.
“Even so, there may be another Baptiste Bessac in this world and he may be a pirate” John thought.
John found dock four and a ship there was named “The Letter of Marque.”
“Ahoy” called John in his best new-found seaman’s vernacular. “Is there a Baptiste Bessac aboard?”
No sooner had he finished his words when his brother’s head popped up over the gunwale. Simultaneously both brothers were overcome by the biggest smiles that either had in the last year. Each of them ran towards the boarding plank; John on the dock and Baptiste on the boat. On that narrow board they hugged each other with deep feeling. Their eyes became a little misty. They both turned their heads and hoped that the other had not noticed.
“Come up and let me show you our enterprise” said Baptiste.
Several men were busy securing canons on the deck and powder below.
“Why all the arms?” asked John.
Baptiste’s answer verified the supposedly ignorant sailor’s words “Oh, you have heard of Bessac the alleged Pirate?”
Baptiste informed John that he and a few other gentlemen had received a letter of marque from the king. The letter gave them a commission to make reprisals on British vessels and cargos. The letter also gave indemnification for any injuries or losses that they may suffer while in the course of their duties.
John was now satisfied that his brother was not a “pirate” but rather a “privateer.” They would be supporting the American cause with the approval of the king. As always, French and British animosity continued.
John was so close to Montvalant that he gave thought to visiting his family. However, Baptiste informed him that they were about to set sail. There was not enough time for a visit.
John considered this dangerous future that he was about to embark upon. Knowing that he had to make amends he sat down and wrote a letter.
To his father he wrote a deep apology and asked for his blessing, forgiveness and all the derelictions of duty that he had made. To his mother he tried to write his love for her. But alas, only a few lines could be completed before he completely broke down. Even those few lines could hardly be read due to the tear stains that fell upon the wet ink.
The privateer “Letter Of Marque” was ready for her dangerous mission. John, fueled with his natural enthusiasm, was aboard.
The brothers Bessac and the Letter of Marque sailed out of the Port of Bordeaux in the early summer months of 1779.