There was much suffering on the island of Nantucket during the Revolutionary War, as the residents were unable to pursue their usual whaling industry. Also they were liable to plunder from privateers who could only gain access to their one harbor while the wind was from the west; and on several occasions they had been prevented from entering by persistent easterly winds.
But now Providence seemed to have forsaken the residents, for a vessel flying English colors anchored where she could command the town with her guns. A boat was seen to put off from her and many of the inhabitants were gathered on the wharf in anxious expectation.
As an officer stepped ashore William Rotch, a prominent Quaker, offered him his hand and said, "I would like thee to come to my house." This was a different reception from what had been expected; but supposing him to be a loyalist, the officer went, it being near noon.
William said, "I would like thee to take dinner with me." After it was over, the officer, feeling that he must be about the business he was sent on, said, "I came here for plunder and I would like you to tell me, as a friend, how and where I had better begin." William said, "I don't know any better place for thee to begin than here at my house, for I am better able to bear the loss than anyone else." Looking at him curiously, the officer inquired "Are there any more men like you on this island?" "Yes," came the answer, "there are many better men than I am here."
The officer, perplexed, said, "I should like to see some of them." "Well, I will introduce thee to some of our leading citizens."
Going into a store he said, "This man distributed 400 barrels of flour among the poor of the island last winter." After talking a while the officer was taken to another store and told of something similar that man had done. On leaving, the officer extended his hand to William saying, "Farewell." He put off to the ship, she weighed anchor and that was the last they saw of her.
-- reported by Howard T. Jones