The Dutch

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My father did not care for religion.

By 1607, my father had returned to the western world.

He made his way to the Netherlands, where he joined the Dutch armies as they fought against the Hapsburgs and Catholicism. It did not matter to him that the Dutch were Protestants. It did not matter that the Hapsburgs were Catholics. All that mattered was who was paying him more.

My father became skilled in the use of firearms at that time, more a testament to his obstinance than anything else.

For ten years, my father fought for the Dutch. He mastered the rough firearms of the time, and he learned how best to sail a ship and weather a storm on the open seas. He learned the finer points of the cannon, and he became knowledgeable in Greek and Latin, languages which would serve him well later in life.

At the end of the decade, he was aboard a Dutch privateer that found itself in a fierce battle with an English ship for a fat Spanish prize. The Spanish ship sank with all hands and her gold, and that set the fight into a fever pitch. By the time everything was finished, my father alone stood on the blood-soaked deck of the privateer. His Dutch comrades were dead around him, and there were a fair amount of English sailors breathing their last on the ship as well.

When the Englishmen attacked again, confident in their ability to kill one man, my father stood his ground. Three of the Englishmen were dead within moments.

Twice more, the sailors attacked, and each time they lost men.

My father records that the next man to approach him was the English captain. The man, according to my father, approached him weaponless and with arms outspread. The captain then offered my father a berth on his ship.

‘When I asked the captain what coin he offered,’ my father wrote, ‘the man responded, What coin will you have? I named my price, and he gave it.’

My father helped set fire to the Dutch privateer, taking only his weapons from the ship. He would, as far as the Dutch were concerned, be as dead as those he had sailed with.

Vanishing into the ranks of another army, like killing, was an easy task.

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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