Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter III >> Page 28

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 28 SOUTHWARD Ho !

no remedy. After a twenty-four hours' captivity, the offenders
were permitted to go free, with an injunction to ' sin no more'
in the way of oysters. It needed no such injunction with many
of the party. The terrors which the poor fellows had undergone
probably cured them of their tastes, if not their cupidity, and
we may fancy them going off, mournfully singing
" So we'll go no more an-oystering So late into the night."
This, in little, is the history of the war, which, as I have said,
deserves to be chronicled for the future in Homeric verse.
Here one of our fellow-passengers put in :
The history of the wars between the tribes of Gotham and
Jersey, which you have given, has its parallels in other states.
I was on a visit to what is called in Virginia, The Eastern
Shore,' where they give you just such a narrative, and where
the oyster-beds are similarly harassed by irresponsible marau-
ding parties, most of whom are Pennsylvanians. The commerce
of this region is chiefly in oysters. In all the bays you behold
at anchor a suspicious sort of vessel�looking for all the world
like the low, long, black-looking craft of the Spanish fLibustier.
From some of the stories told of these vessels, they are really not
a whit better than they should be ; and their pursuits are held
to be almost as illegitimate as those of the ancient buccaneers
of Nassau and New Providence. They wage an insatiate war
upon one class, the most inoffensive of all the natives of the
Eastern Shore. Their most innocent name is ` pungo'� a sort
of schooner, hailing mostly from Manhattan and Massachusetts.
They prey upon the Virginia oyster banks, ostensibly under the
forms of law. By contract, they procure the ordinary ' raccoon
oyster'�the meanest of the tribe�an innocent in a perfect
state of nature totally uneducated, at a shilling (York) per
bushel. These are carried off in large quantities to the bays
and harbors of Pennsylvania, New York, and places farther
east, and placed in nurseries, where good heed is taken to their
ease, growth, and physical development, until they are fitted to
take their places at table, to the satisfaction of appreciative
guests. For the better oysters, taken from deep water, and
worthy of the immediate attention of the public, the `pungos'
pay three shillings. In the cities farther north they are retailed