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Title: Kate Bonnet - The Romance of a Pirate's Daughter
Author: Stockton, Frank Richard, 1834-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kate Bonnet - The Romance of a Pirate's Daughter" ***

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KATE BONNET

The Romance of a Pirate's Daughter

by

FRANK R. STOCKTON

Illustrated by A. J. Keller and H. S. Potter



[Illustration: "Oh, Kate!" said Dickory, "you should have seen that
wonderful pirate fight." (See page 350.)]



[Illustration]



New York
D. Appleton and Company
1902
Copyright, 1901, 1903
By D. Appleton and Company
All rights reserved
February, 1902



CONTENTS

CHAPTER

      I.  TWO YOUNG PEOPLE, A SHIP, AND A FISH

     II.  A FRUIT-BASKET AND A FRIEND

    III.  THE TWO CLOCKS

     IV.  ON THE QUARTER-DECK

      V.  AN UNSUCCESSFUL ERRAND

     VI.  A PAIR OF SHOES AND STOCKINGS

    VII.  KATE PLANS

   VIII.  BEN GREENWAY IS CONVINCED THAT BONNET IS A PIRATE

     IX.  DICKORY SETS FORTH

      X.  CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER VINCE

     XI.  BAD WEATHER

    XII.  FACE TO FACE

   XIII.  CAPTAIN BONNET GOES TO CHURCH

    XIV.  A GIRL TO THE FRONT

     XV.  THE GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA

    XVI.  A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE

   XVII.  AN ORNAMENTED BEARD

  XVIII.  I HAVE NO RIGHT; I AM A PIRATE

    XIX.  THE NEW FIRST LIEUTENANT

     XX.  ONE NORTH, ONE SOUTH

    XXI.  A PROJECTED MARRIAGE

   XXII.  BLADE TO BLADE

  XXIII.  THE ADDRESS OF THE LETTER

   XXIV.  BELIZE

    XXV. WISE MR. DELAPLAINE

   XXVI. DICKORY STRETCHES HIS LEGS

  XXVII. A GIRL WHO LAUGHED

 XXVIII. LUCILLA'S SHIP

   XXIX. CAPTAIN ICHABOD

    XXX. DAME CHARTER MAKES A FRIEND

   XXXI. MR. DELAPLAINE LEADS A BOARDING PARTY

  XXXII. THE DELIVERY OF THE LETTER

 XXXIII. BLACKBEARD GIVES GREENWAY SOME DIFFICULT WORK

  XXXIV. CAPTAIN THOMAS OF THE ROYAL JAMES

   XXXV. A CHAPTER OF HAPPENINGS

  XXXVI. THE TIDE DECIDES

 XXXVII. BONNET AND GREENWAY PART COMPANY

XXXVIII. AGAIN DICKORY WAS THERE

  XXXIX. THE BLESSINGS WHICH COME FROM THE DEATH OF THE WICKED

     XL. CAPTAIN ICHABOD PUTS THE CASE



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGE

"Oh, Kate!" said Dickory, "you should have seen that wonderful pirate
fight" _Frontispiece_

"If you talk to me like that I will cut you down where you stand!" 46

"He is my father!" said Kate 124

"Haste ye! haste ye," cried Dickory, "they will leave you behind" 155

"Take that," he feebly said, "and swear that it shall be delivered" 241

Kate and her father in the warehouse 260

Lucilla rescues Dickory 337

In an instant Dickory was there 403



KATE BONNET



CHAPTER I

TWO YOUNG PEOPLE, A SHIP, AND A FISH


The month was September and the place was in the neighbourhood of
Bridgetown, in the island of Barbadoes. The seventeenth century was not
seventeen years old, but the girl who walked slowly down to the river
bank was three years its senior. She carried a fishing-rod and line, and
her name was Kate Bonnet. She was a bright-faced, quick-moving young
person, and apparently did not expect to catch many fish, for she had no
basket in which to carry away her finny prizes. Nor, apparently, did she
have any bait, except that which was upon her hook and which had been
affixed there by one of the servants at her home, not far away. In fact,
Mistress Kate was too nicely dressed and her gloves were too clean to
have much to do with fish or bait, but she seated herself on a little
rock in a shady spot not far from the water and threw forth her line.
Then she gazed about her; a little up the river and a good deal down the
river.

It was truly a pleasant scene which lay before her eyes. Not half a mile
away was the bridge which gave this English settlement its name, and
beyond the river were woods and cultivated fields, with here and there a
little bit of smoke, for it was growing late in the afternoon, when
smoke meant supper. Beyond all this the land rose from the lower ground
near the river and the sea, in terrace after terrace, until the upper
stretches of its woodlands showed clear against the evening sky.

But Mistress Kate Bonnet now gazed steadily down the stream, beyond the
town and the bridge, and paid no more attention to the scenery than the
scenery did to her, although one was quite as beautiful as the other.

There was a bunch of white flowers in the hat of the young girl; not a
very large one, and not a very small one, but of such a size as might be
easily seen from the bridge, had any one happened to be crossing about
that time. And, in fact, as the wearer of the hat and the white flowers
still continued to gaze at the bridge, she saw some one come out upon it
with a quick, buoyant step, and then she saw him stop and gaze steadily
up the river. At this she turned her head, and her eyes went out over
the beautiful landscape and the wide terraces rising above each other
towards the sky.

It is astonishing how soon after this a young man, dressed in a brown
suit, and very pleasant to look upon, came rapidly walking along the
river bank. This was Master Martin Newcombe, a young Englishman, not two
years from his native land, and now a prosperous farmer on the other
side of the river.

It often happened that Master Newcombe, at the close of his agricultural
labours, would put on a good suit of clothes and ride over the bridge to
the town, to attend to business or to social duties, as the case might
be. But, sometimes, not willing to encumber himself with a horse, he
walked over the bridge and strolled or hurried along the river bank.
This was one of the times in which he hurried. He had been caught by the
vision of the bunch of white flowers in the hat of the girl who was
seated on the rock in the shade.

As Master Newcombe stepped near, his spirits rose, as they had not
always risen, as he approached Mistress Kate, for he perceived that,
although she held the handle of her rod in her hand, the other end of it
was lying on the ground, not very far away from the bait and the hook
which, it was very plain, had not been in the water at all. She must
have been thinking of something else besides fishing, he thought. But he
did not dare to go on with that sort of thinking in the way he would
have liked to do it. He had not too great a belief in himself, though he
was very much in love with Kate Bonnet.

"Is this the best time of day for fishing, Master Newcombe?" she said,
without rising or offering him her hand. "For my part, I don't believe
it is."

He smiled as he threw his hat upon the ground. "Let me put your line a
little farther out." And so saying, he took the rod from her hand and
stepped between her and the bait, which must have been now quite hot
from lying so long in a bit of sunshine. He rearranged the bait and
threw the line far out into the river. Then he gave her the rod again.
He seated himself on the ground near-by.

"This is the second time I have been over the bridge to-day," he said,
"and this morning, very early, I saw, for the first time, your father's
ship, which was lying below the town. It is a fine vessel, so far as I
can judge, being a landsman."

"Yes," said she, "and I have been on board of her and have gone all over
her, and have seen many things which are queer and strange to me. But
the strangest thing about her, to my mind, being a landswoman, is, that
she should belong to my father. There are many things which he has not,
which it would be easy to believe he would like to have, but that a
ship, with sails and anchors and hatchways, should be one of these
things, it is hard to imagine."

Young Newcombe thought it was impossible to imagine, but he expressed
himself discreetly.

"It must be that he is going to engage in trade," he said; "has he not
told you of his intentions?"

"Not much," said she. "He says he is going to cruise about among the
islands, and when I asked him if he would take me, he laughed, and
answered that he might do so, but that I must never say a word of it to
Madam Bonnet, for if she heard of it she might change his plans."

The wicked young man found himself almost wishing that the somewhat
bad-tempered Madam Bonnet might hear of and change any plan which might
take her husband's daughter from this town, especially in a vessel; for
vessels were always terribly tardy when any one was waiting for their
return. And, besides, it often happened that vessels never came back at
all.

"I shall take a little trip with him even if we don't go far; it would
be ridiculous for my father to own a ship, and for me never to sail in
her."

"That would not be so bad," said Master Martin, feeling that a short
absence might be endured. Moreover, if a little pleasure trip were to be
made, it was reasonable enough to suppose that other people, not
belonging to the Bonnet family, might be asked to sail as guests.

"What my father expects to trade in," said she contemplatively gazing
before her, "I am sure I do not know. It cannot be horses or cattle, for
he has not enough of them to make such a venture profitable. And as to
sugar-cane, or anything from his farm, I am sure he has a good enough
market here for all he has to sell. Certainly he does not produce enough
to make it necessary for him to buy a ship in order to carry them away."

"It is opined," said Martin, "by the people of the town, that Major
Bonnet intends to become a commercial man, and to carry away to the
other islands, and perhaps to the old country itself, the goods of other
people."

"Now that would be fine!" said Mistress Kate, her eyes sparkling, "for I
should then surely go with him, and would see the world, and perhaps
London." And her face flushed with the prospect.

Martin's face did not flush. "But if your father's ship sailed on a long
voyage," he said, with a suspicion of apprehension, "he would not sail
with her; he would send her under the charge of others."

The girl shook her head. "When she sails," said she, "he sails in her.
If you had heard him talking as I have heard him, you would not doubt
that. And if he sails, I sail."

Martin's soul grew quite sad. There were very good reasons to believe
that this dear girl might sail away from Bridgetown, and from him. She
might come back to the town, but she might not come back to him.

"Mistress Kate," said he, looking very earnestly at her, "do you know
that such speech as this makes my heart sink? You know I love you, I
have told you so before. If you were to sail away, I care not to what
port, this world would be a black place for me."

"That is like a lover," she exclaimed a little pertly; "it is like them
all, every man of them. They must have what they want, and they must
have it, no matter who else may suffer."

He rose and stood by her.

"But I don't want you to suffer," he said. "Do you think it would be
suffering to live with one who loved you, who would spend his whole life
in making you happy, who would look upon you as the chief thing in the
world, and have no other ambition than to make himself worthy of you?"

She looked up at him with a little smile.

"That would, doubtless, be all very pleasant for you," she said, "and in
order that you might be pleased, you would have her give up so much.
That is the way with men! Now, here am I, born in the very end of the
last century, and having had, consequently, no good out of that, and
with but seventeen years in this century, and most of it passed in
girlhood and in school; and now, when the world might open before me for
a little, here you come along and tell me all that you would like to
have, and that you would like me to give up."

"But you should not think," said he, and that was all he said, for at
that moment Kate Bonnet felt a little jerk at the end of her line, and
then a good strong pull.

"I have a fish!" she cried, and sprang to her feet. Then, with a swoop,
she threw into the midst of the weeds and wild flowers a struggling fish
which Martin hastened to take from the hook.

"A fine fellow!" he cried, "and he has arrived just in time to make a
dainty dish for your supper."

"Ah, no!" she said, winding the line about her rod; "if I were to take
that fish to the house, it would sorely disturb Madam Bonnet. She would
object to my catching it; she would object to having it prepared for the
table; she would object to having it eaten, when she had arranged that
we should eat something else. No, I will give it to you, Master
Newcombe; I suppose in your house you can cook and eat what you please."

"Yes," said he; "but how delightful it would be if we could eat it
together."

"Meaning," said she, "that I should never eat other fish than those from
this river. No, sir; that may not be. I have a notion that the first
foreign fish I shall eat will be found in the island of Jamaica, for my
father said, that possibly he might first take a trip there, where lives
my mother's brother, whom we have not seen for a long time. But, as I
told you before, nobody must know this. And now I must go to my supper,
and you must take yours home with you."

"And I am sure it will be the sweetest fish," he said, "that was ever
caught in all these waters. But I beg, before you go, you will promise
me one thing."

"Promise you!" said she, quite loftily.

"Yes," he answered; "tell me that, no matter where you go, you will not
leave Bridgetown without letting me know of it?"

"I will not, indeed," said she; "and if it is to Jamaica we go, perhaps
my father--but no, I don't believe he will do that. He will be too much
wrapped up in his ship to want for company to whom he must attend and
talk."

"Ah! there would be no need of that!" said Newcombe, with a lover's
smile.

She smiled back at him.

"Good-night!" she said, "and see to it that you eat your fish to-night
while it is so fresh." Then she ran up the winding path to her home.

He stood and looked after her until she had disappeared among the
shrubbery, after which he walked away.

"I should have said more than I did," he reflected; "seldom have I had
so good a chance to speak and urge my case. It was that confounded ship.
Her mind is all for that and not for me."



CHAPTER II

A FRUIT-BASKET AND A FRIEND


Major Stede Bonnet, the father of Kate, whose mother had died when the
child was but a year old, was a middle-aged Englishman of a fair estate,
in the island of Barbadoes. He had been an officer in the army, was well
educated and intelligent, and now, in vigorous middle life, had become a
confirmed country gentleman. His herds and his crops were, to him, the
principal things on earth, with the exception of his daughter; for,
although he had married for the second time, there were a good many
things which he valued more than his wife. And it had therefore
occasioned a good deal of surprise, and more or less small talk among
his neighbours, that Major Bonnet should want to buy a ship. But he had
been a soldier in his youth, and soldiers are very apt to change their
manner of living, and so, if Major Bonnet had grown tired of his farm
and had determined to go into commercial enterprises, it was not,
perhaps, a very amazing thing that a military man who had turned planter
should now turn to be something else.

Madam Bonnet had heard of the ship, although she had not been told
anything about her step-daughter taking a trip in her, and if she had
heard she might not have objected. She had regarded, in an apparently
careless manner, her husband's desire to navigate the sea; for, no
matter to what point he might happen to sail, his ship would take him
away from Barbadoes, and that would very well suit her. She was getting
tired of Major Bonnet. She did not believe he had ever been a very good
soldier; she was positively sure that he was not a good farmer; and she
had the strongest kind of doubt as to his ability as a commercial man.
But as this new business would free her from him, at least for a time,
she was well content; and, although she should feel herself somewhat
handicapped by the presence of Kate, she did not intend to allow that
young lady to interfere with her plans and purposes during the absence
of the head of the house. So she went her way, saying nothing derisive
about the nautical life, except what she considered it necessary for her
to do, in order to maintain her superior position in the household.

Major Bonnet was now very much engaged and a good deal disturbed, for he
found that projected sailing, even in one's own craft, is not always
smooth sailing. He was putting his vessel in excellent order, and was
fitting her out generously in the way of stores and all manner of
nautical needfuls, not forgetting the guns necessary for defence in
these somewhat disordered times, and his latest endeavours were towards
the shipping of a suitable crew. Seafaring men were not scarce in the
port of Bridgetown, but Major Bonnet, now entitled to be called
"Captain," was very particular about his crew, and it took him a long
time to collect suitable men.

As he was most truly a landsman, knowing nothing about the sea or the
various intricate methods of navigating a vessel thereupon, he was
compelled to secure a real captain--one who would be able to take charge
of the vessel and crew, and who would do, and have done, in a thoroughly
seamanlike manner, what his nominal skipper should desire and ordain.

This absolutely necessary personage had been secured almost as soon as
the vessel had been purchased, before any of the rest of the crew had
signed ship's articles; and it was under his general supervision that
the storing and equipment had been carried on. His name was Sam Loftus.
He was a big man with a great readiness of speech. There were, perhaps,
some things he could not do, but there seemed to be nothing that he was
not able to talk about. As has been said, the rest of the crew came in
slowly, but they did come, and Major Bonnet told his daughter that when
he had secured four more men, it was his intention to leave port.

"And sail for Jamaica?" she exclaimed.

"Oh, yes," he said, with an affectionate smile, "and I will leave you
with your Uncle Delaplaine, where you can stay while I make some little
cruises here and there."

"And so I am really to go?" she exclaimed, her eyes sparkling.

"Really to go," said he.

"And what may I pack up?" she asked, thinking of her step-mother.

"Not much," he said, "not much. We will be able to find at Spanish Town
something braver in the way of apparel than anything you now possess. It
will be some days before we sail, and I shall have quietly conveyed on
board such belongings as you need."

She was very happy, and she laughed.

"Yours will be an easily laden ship," said she, "for you take in with
you no great store of goods for traffic. But I suppose you design to
pick up your cargo among the islands where you cruise, and at a less
cost, perchance, than it could be procured here?"

"Yes, yes," he said; "you have hit it fairly, my little girl, you have
hit it fairly."

New annoyances now began to beset Major Bonnet. What his daughter had
remarked in pleasantry, the people of the town began to talk about
unpleasantly. Here was a good-sized craft about to set sail, with little
or no cargo, but with a crew apparently much larger than her
requirements, but not yet large enough for the desires of her owner. To
be sure, as Major Bonnet did not know anything about ships, he was bound
to do something odd when he bought one and set forth to sail upon her,
but there were some odd things which ought to be looked into; and there
were people who advised that the attention of the colonial authorities
should be drawn to this ship of their farmer townsman. Major Bonnet had
such a high reputation as a good citizen, that there were few people who
thought it worth while to trouble themselves about his new business
venture, but a good many disagreeable things came to the ears of Sam
Loftus, who reported them to his employer, and it was agreed between
them that it would be wise for them to sail as soon as they could, even
if they did not wait for the few men they had considered to be needed.

Early upon a cloudy afternoon, Major Bonnet and his daughter went out in
a small boat to look at his vessel, the Sarah Williams, which was then
lying a short distance below the town.

"Now, Kate," said the good Major Bonnet, when they were on board, "I
have fitted up a little room for you below, which I think you will find
comfortable enough during the voyage to Jamaica. I will take you with
me when I return to the house, and then you can make up a little package
of clothes which it will be easy to convey to the river bank when the
time shall come for you to depart. I cannot now say just when that time
will arrive; it may be in the daytime or it may be at night, but it will
be soon, and I will give you good notice, and I will come up the river
for you in a boat. But now I am very busy, and I will leave you to
become acquainted with the Sarah Williams, which, for a few days, will
be your home. I shall be obliged to row over to the town for, perhaps,
half an hour, but Ben Greenway will be here to attend to anything you
need until I return."

Ben Greenway was a Scotchman, who had for a long time been Major
Bonnet's most trusted servant. He was a good farmer, was apt at
carpenter work, and knew a good deal about masonry. A few months ago,
any one living in that region would have been likely to say, if the
subject had been brought up, that without Ben Greenway Major Bonnet
could not get along at all, not even for a day, for he depended upon him
in so many ways. And yet, now the master of the estate was about to
depart, for nobody knew how long, and leave his faithful servant behind.
The reason he gave was, that Ben could not be spared from the farm; but
people in general, and Ben in particular, thought this very poor
reasoning. Any sort of business which made it necessary for Major
Bonnet to separate himself from Ben Greenway was a very poor business,
and should not be entered upon.

The deck of the Sarah Williams presented a lively scene as Kate stood
upon the little quarter-deck and gazed forward. The sailors were walking
about and sitting about, smoking, talking, or coiling things away. There
were people from the shore with baskets containing fruit and other wares
for sale, and all stirring and new and very interesting to Miss Kate as
she stood, with her ribbons flying in the river breeze.

"Who is that young fellow?" she said to Ben Greenway, who was standing
by her, "the one with the big basket? It seems to me I have seen him
before."

"Oh, ay!" said Ben, "he has been on the farm. That is Dickory Charter,
whose father was drowned out fishing a few years ago. He is a good lad,
an' boards all ships comin' in or goin' out to sell his wares, for his
mither leans on him now, having no ither."

The youth, who seemed to feel that he was being talked about, now walked
aft, and held up his basket. He was a handsome youngster, lightly clad
and barefooted; and, although not yet full grown, of a strong and active
build. Kate beckoned to him, and bought an orange.

"An' how is your mither, Dickory?" said Ben.

"Right well, I thank you," said he, and gazed at Kate, who was biting a
hole in her orange.

Then, as he turned and went away, having no reason to expect to sell
anything more, Kate remarked to Ben: "That is truly a fine-looking young
fellow. He walks with such strength and ease, like a deer or a cat."

"That comes from no' wearin' shoes," said Ben; "but as for me, I would
like better to wear shoes an' walk mair stiffly."

Now there came aft a sailor, who touched his cap and told Ben Greenway
that he was wanted below to superintend the stowing some cases of the
captain's liquors. So Kate, left to herself, began to think about what
she should pack into her little bundle. She would make it very small,
for the fewer things she took with her the more she would buy at Spanish
Town. But the contents of her package did not require much thought, and
she soon became a little tired staying there by herself, and therefore
she was glad to see young Dickory, with his orange-basket, walking aft.

"I don't want any more oranges," she said, when he was near enough, "but
perhaps you may have other fruit?"

He came up to her and put down his basket. "I have bananas, but perhaps
you don't like them?"

"Oh, yes, I do!" she answered.

But, without offering to show her the fruit, Dickory continued:
"There's one thing I don't like, and that's the men on board your ship."

"What do you mean?" she asked, amazed.

"Speak lower," he said; and, as he spoke, he bethought himself that it
might be well to hold out towards her a couple of bananas.

"They're a bad, hard lot of men," he said. "I heard that from more than
one person. You ought not to stay on this ship."

"And what do you know about it, Mr. Impudence?" she asked, with brows
uplifted. "I suppose my father knows what is good for me."

"But he is not here," said Dickory.

Kate looked steadfastly at him. He did not seem as ruddy as he had been.
And then she looked out upon the forward deck, and the thought came to
her that when she had first noticed these men it had seemed to her that
they were, indeed, a rough, hard lot. Kate Bonnet was a brave girl, but
without knowing why she felt a little frightened.

"Your name is Dickory, isn't it?" she said.

He looked up quickly, for it pleased him to hear her use his name.
"Indeed it is," he answered.

"Well, Dickory," said she, "I wish you would go and find Ben Greenway. I
should like to have him with me until my father comes back."

He turned, and then stopped for an instant. He said in a clear voice: "I
will go and get the shilling changed." And then he hurried away.

He was gone a long time, and Kate could not understand it. Surely the
Sarah Williams was not so big a ship that it would take all this time to
look for Ben Greenway. But he did come back, and his face seemed even
less ruddy than when she had last seen it. He came up close to her, and
began handling his fruit.

"I don't want to frighten you," he said, "but I must tell you about
things. I could not find Ben Greenway, and I asked one of the men about
him, feigning that he owed me for some fruit, and the man looked at
another man and laughed, and said that he had been sent for in a hurry,
and had gone ashore in a boat."

"I cannot believe that," said Kate; "he would not go away and leave me."

Dickory could not believe it either, and could offer no explanation.

Kate now looked anxiously over the water towards the town, but no father
was to be seen.

"Now let me tell you what I found out," said Dickory, "you must know it.
These men are wicked robbers. I slipped quietly among them to find out
something, with my shilling in my hand, ready to ask somebody to change,
if I was noticed."

"Well, what next?" laying her hand on his arm.

"Oh, don't do that!" he said quickly; "better take hold of a banana. I
spied that Big Sam, who is sailing-master, and a black-headed fellow
taking their ease behind some boxes, smoking, and I listened with all
sharpness. And Sam, he said to the other one--not in these words, but in
language not fit for you to hear--what he would like to do would be to
get off on the next tide. And when the other fellow asked him why he
didn't go then and leave the fool--meaning your father--to go back to
his farm, Big Sam answered, with a good many curses, that if he could do
it he would drop down the river that very minute and wait at the bar
until the water was high enough to cross, but that it was impossible
because they must not sail until your father had brought his cash-box on
board. It would be stupid to sail without that cash-box."

"Dickory," said she, "I am frightened; I want to go on shore, and I want
to see my father and tell him all these things."

"But there is no boat," said Dickory; "every boat has left the ship."

"But you have one," said she, looking over the side.

"It is a poor little canoe," he answered, "and I am afraid they would
not let me take you away, I having no orders to do so."

Kate was about to open her mouth to make an indignant reply, when he
exclaimed, "But here comes a boat from the town; perhaps it is your
father!"

She sprang to the rail. "No, it is not," she exclaimed; "it holds but
one man, who rows."

She stood, without a word, watching the approaching boat, Dickory doing
the same, but keeping himself out of the general view. The boat came
alongside and the oarsman handed up a note, which was presently brought
to Kate by Big Sam, young Dickory Charter having in the meantime slipped
below with his basket.

"A note from your father, Mistress Bonnet," said the sailing-master. And
as she read it he stood and looked upon her.

"My father tells me," said Kate, speaking decidedly but quietly, "that
he will come on board very soon, but I do not wish to wait for him. I
will go back to the town. I have affairs which make it necessary for me
to return immediately. Tell the man who brought the note that I will go
back with him."

Big Sam raised his eyebrows and his face assumed a look of trouble.

"It grieves me greatly, Mistress Bonnet," he said, "but the man has
gone. He was ordered not to wait here."

"Shout after him!" cried Kate; "call him back!"

Sam stepped to the rail and looked over the water. "He is too far away,"
he said, "but I will try." And then he shouted, but the man paid no
attention, and kept on rowing to shore.

"I thought it was too far," he said, "but your father will be back
soon; he sent that message to me. And now, fair mistress, what can we do
for you? Shall it be that we send you some supper? Or, as your cabin is
ready, would you prefer to step down to it and wait there for your
father?"

"No," said she, "I will wait here for my father. I want nothing."

So, with a bow he strode away, and presently Dickory came back. She drew
near to him and whispered. "Dickory," she said, "what shall I do? Shall
I scream and wave my handkerchief? Perhaps they may see and hear me from
the town."

"No," said Dickory, "I would not do that. The night is coming on, and
the sky is cloudy. And besides, if you make a noise, those fellows might
do something."

"Oh, Dickory, what shall I do?"

"You must wait for your father," he said; "he must be here soon, and the
moment you see him, call to him and make him take you to shore. You
should both of you get away from this vessel as soon as you can."

For a moment the girl reflected. "Dickory," said she, "I wish you would
take a message for me to Master Martin Newcombe. He may be able to get
here to me even before my father arrives."

Dickory Charter knew Mr. Newcombe, and he had heard what many people had
talked about, that he was courting Major Bonnet's daughter. The day
before Dickory would not have cared who the young planter was courting,
but this evening, even to his own surprise, he cared very much. He was
intensely interested in Kate, and he did not desire to help Martin
Newcombe to take an interest in her. Besides, he spoke honestly as he
said: "And who would there be to take care of you? No, indeed, I will
not leave you."

"Then row to the town," said she, "and have a boat sent for me."

He shook his head. "No," he said, "I will not leave you."

Her eyes flashed. "You should do what you are commanded to do!" and in
her excitement she almost forgot to whisper.

He shook his head and left her.



CHAPTER III

THE TWO CLOCKS


It was already beginning to grow dark. She sat, and she sat; she waited,
and she waited; and at last she wept, but very quietly. Her father did
not come; Ben Greenway was not there; and even that Charter boy had
gone. A man came aft to her; a mild-faced, elderly man, with further
offers of refreshment and an invitation to go below out of the night
air. But she would have nothing; and as she sadly waited and gently
wept, it began to grow truly dark. Presently, as she sat, one arm
leaning on the rail, she heard a voice close to her ear, and she gave a
great start.

"It is only Dickory," whispered the voice.

Then she put her head near him and was glad enough to have put her arms
around his neck.

"I have heard a great deal more," whispered Dickory; "these men are
dreadful. They do not know what keeps your father, although they have
suspicions which I could not make out; but if he does not come on board
by ten o'clock they will sail without him, and without his cash-box."

"And what of me?" she almost cried, "what of me?"

"They will take you with them," said he; "that's the only thing for them
to do. But don't be frightened, don't tremble. You must leave this
vessel."

"But how?" she said.

"Oh! I will attend to that," he answered, "if you will listen to me and
do everything I tell you. We can't go until it is dark, but while it is
light enough for you to see things I will show you what you must do.
Now, look down over the side of the vessel."

She leaned over and looked down. He was apparently clinging to the side
with his head barely reaching the top of the rail.

"Do you see this bit of ledge I am standing on?" he asked. "Could you
get out and stand on this, holding to this piece of rope as I do?"

"Yes," said she, "I could do that."

"Then, still holding to the rope, could you lower yourself down from the
ledge and hang to it with your hands?"

"And drop into your boat?" said she. "Yes, I could do that."

"No," said he, "not drop into my boat. It would kill you if you fell
into the boat. You must drop into the water."

She shuddered, and felt like screaming.

"But it will be easy to drop into the water; you can't hurt yourself,
and I shall be there. My boat will be anchored close by, and we can
easily reach it."

"Drop into the water!" said poor Kate.

"But I will be there, you know," said Dickory.

She looked down upon the ledge, and then she looked below it to the
water, which was idly flapping against the side of the vessel.

"Is it the only way?" said she.

"It is the only way," he answered, speaking very earnestly. "You must
not wait for your father; from what I hear, I fear he has been detained
against his will. By nine o'clock it will be dark enough."

"And what must I do?" she said, feeling cold as she spoke.

"Listen to every word," he answered. "This is what you must do. You know
the sound of the bell in the tower of the new church?"

"Oh, yes," said she, "I hear it often."

"And you will not confound it with the bell in the old church?"

"Oh, no!" said she; "it is very different, and generally they strike far
apart."

"Yes," said he, "the old one strikes first; and when you hear it, it
will be quite dark, and you can slip over the rail and stand on this
ledge, as I am doing; then keep fast hold of this rope and you can slip
farther down and sit on the ledge and wait until the clock of the new
church begins to strike nine. Then you must get off the ledge and hang
by your two hands. When you hear the last stroke of nine, you must let
go and drop. I shall be there."

"But if you shouldn't be there, Dickory? Couldn't you whistle, couldn't
you call gently?"

"No," said Dickory; "if I did that, their sharp ears would hear and
lanterns would be flashed on us, and perhaps things would be cast down
upon us. That would be the quickest way of getting rid of you."

"But, Dickory," she said, after a moment's silence, "it is terrible
about my father and Ben Greenway. Why don't they come back? What's the
matter with them?"

He hesitated a little before answering.

"From what I heard, I think there is some trouble on shore, and that's
the reason why your father has not come for you as soon as he expected.
But he thinks you safe with Ben Greenway. Now what we have to do is to
get away from this vessel; and then if she sails and leaves your father
and Ben Greenway, it will be a good thing. These fellows are rascals,
and no honest person should have to do with them. But now I must get
out of sight, or somebody will come and spoil everything."

Big Sam did come aft and told Kate he thought she would come to injury
sitting out in the night air. But she would not listen to him, and only
asked him what time of night it was. He told her that it was not far
from nine, and that she would see her father very soon, and then he left
her.

"It would have been a terrible thing if he had come at nine," she said
to herself. Then she sat very still waiting for the sound of the old
clock.

Dickory Charter had not told Miss Kate Bonnet all that he had heard when
he was stealthily wandering about the ship. He had slipped down into the
chains near a port-hole, on the other side of which Big Sam and the
black-haired man were taking supper, and he heard a great deal of talk.
Among other things he heard a bit of conversation which, when expurgated
of its oaths and unpleasant expressions, was like this:

"You are sure you can trust the men?" said Black-hair.

"Oh, yes!" replied the other, "they're all right."

"Then why don't you go now? At any time officers may be rowing out here
to search the vessel."

"And well they might. For what needs an old farmer with an empty
vessel, a crew of seventy men, and ten guns? He is in trouble, you may
wager your life on that, or he would be coming to see about his girl."

"And what will you do about her?"

"Oh, she'll not be in the way," answered Big Sam with a laugh. "If he
doesn't take her off before I sail, that's his business. If I am obliged
to leave port without his cash-box, I will marry his daughter and become
his son-in-law--I don't doubt we can find a parson among all the rascals
on board--then, perhaps, he will think it his duty to send me drafts to
the different ports I touch at."

At this good joke, both of them laughed.

"But I don't want to go without his cash-box," continued Big Sam, "and I
will wait until high-tide, which will be about ten o'clock. It would be
unsafe to miss that, for I must not be here to-morrow morning. But the
long-boat will be here soon. I told Roger to wait until half-past nine,
and then to come aboard with old Bonnet or without him, if he didn't
show himself by that time."

"But, after all," said the black-haired man, "the main thing is, will
the men stand by you?"

"You needn't fear them," said the other with an aggravated oath, "I know
every rascal of them."

"Now, then," said Dickory Charter to himself as he slipped out of the
chains, "she goes overboard, if I have to pitch her over."

Nothing had he heard about Ben Greenway. He did not believe that the
Scotchman had deserted his young mistress; even had he been sent for to
go on shore in haste, would he leave without speaking to her. More than
that, he would most likely have taken her with him.

But Dickory could not afford to give much thought to Ben Greenway.
Although a good friend to both himself and his mother, he was not to be
considered when the safety of Mistress Kate Bonnet was in question.

The minutes moved slowly, very slowly indeed, as Kate sat, listening for
the sound of the old clock, and at the same time listening for the sound
of approaching footsteps.

It was now so dark that she could not have seen anybody without a light,
but she could hear as if she had possessed the ears of a cat.

She had ceased to expect her father. She was sure he had been detained
on shore; how, she knew not. But she did know he was not coming.

Presently the old clock struck, one, two--In a moment she was climbing
over the rail. In the darkness she missed the heavy bit of rope which
Dickory had showed her, but feeling about she clutched it and let
herself down to the ledge below. Her nerves were quite firm now. It was
necessary to be so very particular to follow Dickory's directions to
the letter, that her nerves were obliged to be firm. She slipped still
farther down and sat sideways upon the narrow ledge. So narrow that if
the vessel had rolled she could not have remained upon it.

There she waited.

Then there came, sharper and clearer out of the darkness in the
direction of the town, the first stroke of nine o'clock from the tower
of the new church. Before the second stroke had sounded she was hanging
by her two hands from the ledge. She hung at her full length; she put
her feet together; she hoped that she would go down smoothly and make no
splash. Three--four--five--six--seven--eight--nine--and she let her
fingers slip from the ledge. Down she went, into the darkness and into
the water, not knowing where one ended and the other began. Her eyes
were closed, but they might as well have been open; there was nothing
for her to see in all that blackness. Down she went, as if it were to
the very bottom of black air and black water. And then, suddenly she
felt an arm around her.

Dickory was there!

She felt herself rising, and Dickory was rising, still with his arm
around her. In a moment her head was in the air, and she could breathe.
Now she felt that he was swimming, with one arm and both legs.
Instinctively she tried to help him, for she had learned to swim. They
went on a dozen strokes or more, with much labour, until they touched
something hard.

"My boat," said Dickory, in the lowest of whispers; "take hold of it."

Kate did so, and he moved from her. She knew that he was clambering into
the boat, although she could not see or hear him. Soon he took hold of
her under her arms, and he lifted with the strength of a young lion, yet
so slowly, so warily, that not a drop of water could be heard dripping
from her garments. And when she was drawn up high enough to help
herself, he pulled her in, still warily and slowly. Then he slipped to
the bow and cast off the rope with which the canoe had been anchored. It
was his only rope, but he could not risk the danger of pulling up the
bit of rock to which the other end of it was fastened. Then, with a
paddle, worked as silently as if it had been handled by an Indian, the
canoe moved away, farther and farther, into the darkness.

"Is all well with you?" said Dickory, thinking he might now safely
murmur a few words.

"All well," she murmured back, "except that this is the most
uncomfortable boat I ever sat in!"

"I expect you are on my orange basket," he said; "perhaps you can move
it a little."

Now he paddled more strongly, and then he stopped.

"Where shall I take you, Mistress Bonnet?" he asked, a little louder
than he had dared to speak before.

Kate heaved a sigh before she answered; she had been saying her prayers.

"I don't know, you brave Dickory," she answered, "but it seems to me
that you can't see to take me anywhere. Everything is just as black as
pitch, one way or another."

"But I know the river," he said, "with light or without it. I have gone
home on nights as black as this. Will you go to the town?"

"I would not know where to go to there," she answered, "and in such a
plight."

"Then to your home," said he. "But that will be a long row, and you must
be very cold."

She shuddered, but not with cold. If her father had been at home it
would have been all right, but her step-mother would be there, and that
would not be all right. She would not know what to say to her.

"Oh, Dickory," she said, "I don't know where to go."

"I know where you can go," he said, beginning to paddle vigorously, "I
will take you to my mother. She will take care of you to-night and give
you dry clothes, and to-morrow you may go where you will."



CHAPTER IV

ON THE QUARTER-DECK


As the time approached when Big Sam intended to take the Sarah Williams
out of port, it seemed really necessary that Mistress Kate Bonnet should
descend from the exposed quarterdeck and seek shelter from the night air
in the captain's cabin or in her own room; and, as she had treated him
so curtly at his last interview with her, he sent the elderly man with
the mild countenance to tell her that she really must go below, for that
he, Big Sam, felt answerable to her father for her health and comfort.
But when the elderly man and his lantern reached the quarter-deck, there
was no Mistress Kate there, and, during the rapid search which ensued,
there was no Mistress Kate to be found on the vessel.

Big Sam was very much disturbed; she must have jumped overboard. But
what a wild young woman to do that upon such little provocation, for
how should she know that he was about to run away with her father's
vessel!

"This is a bad business," he said to the black-haired man, "and who
would have thought it?"

"I see not that," said Black Paul, "nor why you should trouble yourself
about her. She is gone, and you are well rid of her. Had she stayed
aboard with us, every ship in the colony might have been cruising after
us before to-morrow's sun had gone down."

But this did not quiet the cowardly soul of Big Sam.

"Now I shall tell you," said he, "exactly what happened. A little before
dark she went ashore in a boat which was then leaving the ship. I
allowed her to do this because she was very much in earnest about it,
and talked sharply, and also because I thought the town was the best
place for her, since it was growing late and her father did not seem to
be coming. Now, if the old man comes on board, that's what happened; but
if he does not come on board, the devil and the fishes know what
happened, and they may talk about it if they like. But if any man says
anything to old Bonnet except as I have ordered, then the fishes shall
have another feast."

"And now, what I have to say to you," said Black Paul, "is, that you
should get away from here without waiting for the tide. If one of these
rascals drops overboard and swims ashore, he may get a good reward for
news of the murder committed on this vessel, and there isn't any reason
to think, so far as I know, that the Sarah Williams can sail any faster
than two or three other vessels now in the harbour."

"There's sense in all that," said Big Sam as he walked forward. But he
suddenly stopped, hearing, not very far away, the sound of oars.

Now began the body and soul of Big Sam to tremble. If the officers of
the law, having disposed of Captain Bonnet, had now come to the ship, he
had no sufficient tale to tell them about the disappearance of Mistress
Kate Bonnet; nor could he resist. For why should the crew obey his
orders? They had not yet agreed to receive him as their captain, and, so
far, they had done nothing to set themselves against the authorities. It
was a bad case for Big Sam.

But now the ship was hailed, and the voice which hailed it was that of
Captain Bonnet. And the soul of Big Sam upheaved itself.

In a few minutes Bonnet was on board, with a big box and the crew of the
long-boat. Speaking rapidly, he explained to Big Sam the situation of
affairs. The authorities of the port had indeed sadly interfered with
him. They had heard reports about the unladen vessel and the big crew;
and, although they felt loath to detain and to examine a
fellow-townsman, hitherto of good report, they did detain him and they
did examine him, and they would have gone immediately to the ship had
it not been so dark.

But under the circumstances they contented themselves with the assurance
of the respectable Mr. Bonnet that he would appear before them the next
morning and give them every opportunity of examining his most
respectable ship. Having done this, they retired to their beds, and the
respectable Bonnet immediately boarded his vessel.

"Now," cried Captain Bonnet, "where is my daughter? I hope that Ben
Greenway has caused her to retire to shelter?"

"Your daughter!" exclaimed Big Sam, before any one else could speak,
"she is not here. It was still early twilight when she told me she would
wait no longer, and desired to be sent ashore in a boat. This request,
of course, I immediately granted, feeling bound thereto, as she was your
daughter, and that I was, in a measure, under her orders."

Captain Bonnet stood, knitting his brows.

"Well, well!" he presently cried, with an air of relief, "it is better
so. Her home is the best place for her, as matters have turned out. And
now," said he, turning to Big Sam, "call the men together and set them
to quick work. Pull up your anchors and do whatever else is necessary to
free the ship; then let us away. We must be far out of sight of this
island before to-morrow's sunrise."

As Big Sam passed Black Paul he winked and whispered: "The old fool is
doing exactly what I would have done if he hadn't come aboard. This
suits my plan as if he were trying his best to please me."

In a very short time the cable was slipped, for Big Sam had no notion of
betraying the departure of the vessel by the creaking of a capstan; and,
with the hoisting of a few sails and no light aboard except the shaded
lamp at the binnacle, the Sarah Williams moved down the river and out
upon the sea.

"And when are you going to take the command in your hands?" asked Black
Paul of Big Sam.

"To-morrow, some time," was the answer, "but I must first go around
among the men and let them know what's coming."

"And how about Ben Greenway? Has the old man asked for him yet?"

"No," said the other; "he thinks, of course, that the Scotchman has gone
ashore with the young woman. What else could he do, being a faithful
servant? To-morrow I shall set Greenway free and let him tell his own
tale to his master. But I shall tell my tale first, and then he can
speak or not speak, as he chooses; it will make no difference one way or
another."

Soon after dawn the next morning Captain Bonnet was out of his hammock
and upon deck. He looked about him and saw nothing but sea, sea, sea.

Big Sam approached him. "I forgot to tell you," said he, "that yesterday
I shut up that Scotchman of yours, for, from his conduct, I thought that
he had some particular reason for wanting to go on shore; and, fearing
that if he did so he would talk about this vessel, and so make worse the
trouble I was sure you were in, I shut him up as a matter of precaution
and forgot to mention him to you last night."

"You stupid blockhead!" roared Mr. Bonnet, "how like an ass you have
acted! Not for a bag of gold would I have taken Ben Greenway on this
cruise; and not for a dozen bags would I have deprived my family of his
care and service. You ought to be thrown into the sea! Ben Greenway
here! Of all men in the world, Ben Greenway here!"

"I only thought to do you a service," said Big Sam.

"Service!" shouted the angry Bonnet. But as it was of no use to say
anything more upon this subject, he ordered the sailing-master to send
to him, first, Ben Greenway, and then to summon to him, no matter where
they might be or what they might be doing, the whole crew.

The other, surprised at this order, objected that all of the men could
not leave their posts, but Bonnet overruled him.

"Send me the whole of them, every man jack. The fellow at the wheel
will remain here and steer. As for the rest, the ship will take care of
itself for a space."

"What can that old fool of a farmer intend to do?" said Big Sam, as he
went away; "he is like a child with a toy, and wants to see his crew in
a bunch."

Presently came Ben Greenway in a smothered rage.

"An' I suppose, sir," said he without salutation, "that ye have gi'en
orders about the care o' the cows and the lot o' poultry that I engaged
to send to the town to-day?"

"Don't mention cows or poultry to me!" cried Bonnet. "I am a more angry
man than you are, Ben Greenway, and as soon as I have time to attend to
it, I shall look into this matter of your shutting up, and shall come
down upon the wrongdoers like sheeted lightning."

"What a fearful rage ye're in, Master Bonnet," said Ben. "I never saw
the like o' it. If ye're really angrier than I am, I willna revile;
leavin' it to ye to do the revilin' wha are so much better qualified.
An' so it wasna accident that I was shut up in the ship's pantry,
leavin' Mistress Kate to gang hame by hersel', an' to come out this
mornin' findin' the ship at sea an' ye in command?"

"Say no more, Ben," cried Bonnet. "I am more sorry to see you here than
if you were any other man I know in this world. But I cannot put you
off now, nor can I talk further about it, being very much pressed with
other matters. Now here comes my crew."

Ben Greenway retired a little, leaning against the rail.

"An' this is his crew?" he muttered; "a lot o' unkempt wild beasts, it
strikes me. Mayhap he has gathered them togither to convert their souls,
an' he is about to preach his first sermon to them."

Now all the mariners of the Sarah Williams were assembled aft and
Captain Bonnet was standing on his quarter-deck, looking out upon them.
He was dressed in a naval uniform, to which was added a broad red sash.
In his belt were two pairs of big pistols, and a stout sword hung by his
side. He folded his arms; he knitted his brows, and he gazed fiercely
about to see if any one were absent, although if any one had been absent
he would not have known it. His eyes flashed, his cheeks were flushed,
and it was plain enough to all that he had something important to say.

"My men," he cried, in a stalwart voice which no one there had ever
heard him use before, "my men, look upon me and you will not see what
you expect to see! Here is no planter, no dealer in horses and fat
cattle, no grower of sugar-cane! Instead of that," he yelled, drawing
his sword and flourishing it above his head, "instead of that I am
pirate Bonnet, the new terror of the sea! You, my men, my brave men,
you are not the crew of the good merchantman, the Sarah Williams, you
are pirates all. You are the pirate crew of the pirate ship Revenge.
That is now the name of this vessel on which you sail, and you are all
pirates, who henceforth shall sail her.

"Now look aloft, every man of you, and you will see a skull and bones,
under which you sail, under which you fight, under which you gain great
riches in coins, in golden bars, and in fine goods fit for kings and
queens!"

As he spoke, every rascal raised his eyes aloft, and there, sure enough,
floated the black flag with the skull and bones--the terrible "Jolly
Roger" of the Spanish Main, and which Bonnet himself had hoisted before
he called together his crew.

For the most part the men were astounded, and looked blankly the one
upon the other. They knew they had been shipped to sail upon some
illegal cruise, and that they were to be paid high wages by the wealthy
Bonnet; but that this worthy farmer should be their pirate captain had
never entered their minds, they naturally supposing that their future
commander would not care to show himself at Barbadoes, and that he would
be taken on board at some other port.

As for Big Sam, he was more than astounded--he was stupefied. He had
well known the character of the ship from the time that Bonnet had
taken him into his service, and he it was who had mainly managed the
fitting-up of the vessel and the shipping of her crew. He did not know
whom Bonnet intended to command the ship, but from the very beginning he
had intended to command her himself. But he had been too late. He had
not gone among the men as he had expected to do soon after setting sail,
and here this country bumpkin had taken the wind out of his sails and
had boldly announced that he himself was the captain of the pirate ship
Revenge.

The men now began to talk among themselves; and as Bonnet still stood,
his sword clutched in his hand and his chest heaving with the excitement
of his own speech, there arose from the crew a cheer. Some of them had
known a little about Stede Bonnet and some of them scarcely anything at
all, except that he was able to pay them good wages. Now he had told
them that he was a pirate captain, and each of them knew that he himself
was a pirate, or was waiting for the chance to become one.

And so they cheered, and their captain's chest heaved higher, and the
soul of the luckless Big Sam collapsed, for he knew that after that
cheer there was no chance for him; at least, not now.

"Now go, my boys," shouted Bonnet, "back to your places, every one of
you, and fall to your duty; and in honour of that black flag which
floats above you, each one of you shall drink a glass of grog."

With another shout the crew hurried forward, and Stede Bonnet stood upon
the quarter-deck, the pirate captain of the pirate ship Revenge.

And now stepped up to his master that good Presbyterian, Ben Greenway.

"An' ye call yoursel' a pirate, sir?" said he, "an' ye go forth upon the
sea to murder an' to rob an' to prepare your soul for hell?"

Mr. Bonnet winked a little.

"You speak strongly, Ben," said he, "but that might have been expected
from a man of your fashion of thinking. But let me tell you again, my
good Ben Greenway, that I was no party to your being on this vessel.
Even now, when my soul swells within me with the pride of knowing that I
am a sovereign of the seas and that I owe no allegiance to any man or
any government and that my will is my law and is the law of every man
upon this vessel--even now, Ben Greenway, it grieves me to know that you
are here with me. But the first chance I get I shall set you ashore and
have you sent home. Thou art not cut out for a pirate, and as no other
canst thou sail with me."

Ben Greenway looked at him steadfastly.

"Master Stede Bonnet," said he, "ye are no more fit to be a bloody
pirate than I am. Ye oversee your plantation weel, although I hae often
been persuaded that ye knew no' as much as ye think ye do. Ye provide
weel for your family, although ye tak' no' the pleasure therein ye might
hae ta'en had ye been content wi' ane wife, as the Holy Scriptures tell
us is enough for ony mon, an' ye hae sufficient judgment to tak' the
advice o' a judgmatical mon about your lands an' your herds; but when it
comes to your ca'in' yoursel' a pirate captain, it is enough to make a
deceased person chuckle by the absurdity o' it."

"Ben Greenway," exclaimed Major Bonnet, "I don't like your manner of
speech."

"O' course ye don't," cried Ben; "an' I didna expect ye to like it; but
it is the solemn truth for a' that."

"I don't want any of your solemn truths," said Bonnet, "and as soon as I
get a chance I am going to send you home to your barnyard and your
cows."

"No' so fast, Master Bonnet, no' so fast," answered Ben. "I hae ta'en
care o' ye for mony years; I hae kept ye out o' mony a bad scrape both
in buyin' an' sellin', an' I am sure ye never wanted takin' care o' mair
than ye do now; an' I'm just here to tell ye that I am no' goin' back to
Barbadoes till ye do, an' that I am goin' to stand by ye through your
bad luck and through your good luck, in your sin an' in your
repentance."

[Illustration: "If you talk to me like that I will cut you down where
you stand!"]

"Ben Greenway," cried Captain Bonnet, as he waved his sword in the
air, "if you talk to me like that I will cut you down where you stand!
You forget that you are not talking to a country gentleman, but to a
pirate, a pirate of the seas!"

Ben grinned, but seeing the temper his master was in, thought it wise to
retire.



CHAPTER V

AN UNSUCCESSFUL ERRAND


For what seemed a very long time to Kate Bonnet, Dickory Charter paddled
bravely through the darkness. She was relieved of the terror and the
uncertainty which had fallen upon her during the past few hours, and she
was grateful to the brave young fellow who had delivered her from the
danger of sailing out upon the sea with a crew of wicked scoundrels who
were about to steal her father's ship, and her heart should have beaten
high with gratitude and joy, but it did not. She was very cold, and she
knew not whither young Dickory was taking her. She did not believe that
in all that darkness he could possibly know where he was going; at any
moment that dreadful ship might loom up before them, and lights might be
flashed down upon them. But all of a sudden the canoe scraped, grounded,
and stopped.

"What is that?" she cried.

"It is our beach," said Dickory, and almost at that moment there came a
call from the darkness beyond.

"Dickory!" cried a woman's voice, "is that you?"

"It is my mother," said the boy; "she has heard the scraping of my
keel."

Then he shouted back, "It is Dickory; please show me a light, mother!"

Jumping out, Dickory pulled the canoe high up the shelving shore, and
then he helped Kate to get out. It was not an easy job, for she could
see nothing and floundered terribly; but he seemed to like it, and half
led, half carried her over a considerable space of uneven ground, until
he came to the door of a small house, where stood an elderly woman with
a lantern.

"Dickory! Dickory!" shouted the woman, "what is that you are bringing
home? Is it a great fish?"

"It is a young woman," said the boy, "but she is as wet as a fish."

"Woman!" cried good Dame Charter. "What mean you, Dickory, is she dead?"

"Not dead, Mother Charter," said Kate, who now stood, unassisted, in the
light of the lantern, "but in woeful case, and more like to startle you
than if I were the biggest fish. I am Mistress Kate Bonnet, just out of
the river between here and the town. No, I will not enter your house, I
am not fit; I will stand here and tell my tale."

"Dickory!" shouted Dame Charter, "take the lantern and run to the
kitchen cabin, where ye'll make a fire quickly."

Away ran Dickory, and standing in the darkness, Kate Bonnet told her
tale. It was not a very satisfactory tale, for there was a great part of
it which Kate herself did not understand, but it sufficed at present for
the good dame, who had known the girl when she was small, and who was
soon busily engaged in warming her by her fire, refreshing her with
food, and in fortifying her against the effects of her cold bath by a
generous glass of rum, made, the good woman earnestly asserted, from
sugar-cane grown on Master Bonnet's plantation.

Early the next morning came Dickory from the kitchen, where he had made
a fire (before that he had been catching some fish), and on a rude bench
by the house door he saw Kate Bonnet. When he perceived her he laughed;
but as she also laughed, it was plain she was not offended.

This pretty girl was dressed in a large blue gown, belonging to the
stout Dame Charter, and which was quite as much of a gown as she had any
possible need for. Her head was bare, for she had lost her hat, and she
wore neither shoes nor stockings, those articles of apparel having been
so shrunken by immersion as to make it impossible for her to get them
on.

"Thy mother is a good woman," said Kate, "and I am so glad you did not
take me to the town. I don't wonder you gaze at me; I must look like a
fright."

Dickory made no answer, but by the way in which he regarded her, she
knew that he saw nothing frightful in her face.

"You have been very good to me," said she, rising and making a step
towards him, but suddenly stopping on account of her bare feet, "and I
wish I could tell you how thankful I am to you. You are truly a brave
boy, Dickory; the bravest I have ever known."

His brows contracted. "Why do you call me a boy?" he interrupted. "I am
nineteen years old, and you are not much more than that."

She laughed, and her white teeth made him ready to fall down and worship
her.

"You have done as much," said she, "as any man could do, and more."

Then she held out her hand, and he came and took it.

"Truly you are a man," she said, and looking steadfastly into his face,
she added, "how very, very much I owe you!"

He didn't say anything at all, this Dickory; just stood and looked at
her. As many a one has been before, he was more grateful for the danger
out of which he had plucked the fair young woman than she was thankful
for the deliverance.

Just then Dame Charter called them to breakfast. When they were at the
table, they talked of what was to be done next; and as, above everything
else, Miss Kate desired to know where her father was and why he hadn't
come aboard the Sarah Williams, Dickory offered to go to the town for
news.

"I hate to ask too much, after all you have done," said the girl, "but
after you have seen my father and told him everything, for he must be in
sore trouble, would you mind rowing to our house and bringing me some
clothes? Madam Bonnet will understand what I need; and she too will want
to know what has become of me."

"Of course I will do that," cried Dickory, grateful for the chance to do
her service.

"And if you happen to see Mr. Newcombe in the town, will you tell him
where I am?"

Now Dickory gave no signs of gratitude for a chance to do her service,
but his mother spoke quickly enough.

"Of course he will tell Master Newcombe," said she, "and anybody else
you wish should know."

In ten minutes Dickory was in his canoe, paddling to the town. When he
was out of the little inlet, on the shore of which lay his mother's
cottage, he looked far up and down the broad river, but he could see
nothing of the good ship Sarah Williams.

"I am glad they have gone," said Dickory to himself, "and may they never
come back again. It is a pity that Major Bonnet should lose his ship,
but as things have turned out, it is better for him to lose it than to
have it."

When he had fastened his canoe to a little pier in the town with a rope
which he borrowed, having now none of his own, Dickory soon heard
strange news. The man who owned the rope told him that Major Bonnet had
gone off in his vessel, which had sailed out of the harbour in the
night, showing no light. And, although many people had talked of this
strange proceeding, nobody knew whether he had gone of his own free will
or against it.

"Of course it was against his will," cried Dickory. "The ship was
stolen, and they have stolen him with it. The wretches! The beasts!" And
then he went up into the town.

Some men were talking at the door of a baker's shop, and the baker
himself, a stout young man, came out.

"Oh, yes," said he, "we know now what it means. The good Major Bonnet
has gone off pirating; he thinks he can make more money that way than by
attending to his plantation. The townspeople suspected him last night,
and now they know what he is."

At this moment Master Dickory jumped upon the baker, and both went
down. When Dickory got up, the baker remained where he was, and it was
plain enough to everybody that the nerves and muscles of even a vigorous
young man were greatly weakened by the confined occupation of a baker.

Dickory now went further to ask more, and he soon heard enough. The
respectable Major Bonnet had gone away in his own ship with a savage
crew, far beyond the needs of the vessel, and if he had not gone
pirating, what had he gone for? And to this question Dickory replied
every time: "He went because he was taken away." He would not give up
his faith in Kate Bonnet's father.

"And Greenway," the people said. "Why should they take him? He is of no
good on a ship."

On this, Dickory's heart fell further. He had been troubled about the
Scotchman, but had tried not to think of him.

"The scoundrels have stolen them both, with the vessel," he said; and as
he spoke his soul rose upward at the thought of what he had done for
Kate; and as that had been done, what mattered it after all what had
happened to other people?

Five minutes afterward a man came running through the town with the news
that old Bonnet's daughter, Miss Kate, had also gone away in the ship.
She was not at home; she was not in the town.

"That settles it!" said some people. "The black-hearted rascal! He has
gone of his own accord, and he has taken Greenway and his fair young
daughter with him."

"And what do you think of that!" said some to the doubter Dickory.

"I don't believe a word of it!" said he; and not wishing on his own
responsibility to tell what he knew of Mistress Kate Bonnet, he rowed up
the river towards the Bonnet plantation to carry her message. On his
way, whom should he see, hurrying along the road by the river bank
coming towards the town and looking hot and worried, but Mr. Martin
Newcombe. At the sight of the boat he stopped.

"Ho! young man," he cried, "you are from the town; has anything fresh
been heard about Major Bonnet and his daughter?"

Now here was the best and easiest opportunity of doing the third thing
which Kate had asked him to do; but his heart did not bound to do it. He
sat and looked at the man on the river bank.

"Don't you hear me?" cried Newcombe. "Has anybody heard further from the
Bonnets?"

Dickory still sat motionless, gazing at Newcombe. He didn't want to tell
this man anything. He didn't want to have anything to do with him. He
hesitated, but he could not forget the third thing he had been asked to
do, and who had asked him to do it. Whatever happened, he must be loyal
to her and her wishes, and so he said, with but little animation in his
voice, "Major Bonnet's daughter did not go with him."

Instantly came a great cry from the shore. "Where is she? Where is she?
Come closer to land and tell me everything!"

This was too much! Dickory did not like the tone of the man on shore,
who had no right to command him in that fashion.

"I have no time to stop now," said he; "I am carrying a message to Madam
Bonnet."

And so he paddled away, somewhat nearer the middle of the river.

Martin Newcombe was wild; he ran and he bounded on his way to the Bonnet
house; he called and he shouted to Dickory, but apparently that young
person was too far away to hear him. When the canoe touched the shore,
almost at the spot where the fair Kate had been fishing with a hook
lying in the sun, Newcombe was already there.

"Tell me," he cried, "tell me about Miss Kate Bonnet! What has befallen
her? If she did not go with her father, where is she now?"

"I have come," said Dickory sturdily, as he fastened his boat with the
borrowed rope, "with a message for Madam Bonnet, and I cannot talk with
anybody until I have delivered it."

Madam Bonnet saw the two persons hurrying towards her house, and she
came out in a fine fury to meet them.

"Have you heard from my runaway husband," she cried, "and from his
daughter? I am ashamed to hear news of them, but I suppose I am in duty
bound to listen."

Dickory did not hesitate now to tell what he knew, or at least part of
it.

"Your daughter--" said he.

"She is not my daughter," cried the lady; "thank Heaven I am spared that
disgrace. And from what hiding-place does she and her sire send me a
message?"

Dickory's face flushed.

"I bring no message from a hiding-place," he said, "nor any from your
husband. He went to sea in his ship, but Mistress Kate Bonnet left the
vessel before it sailed, and her clothes having been injured by water,
she sent me for what a young lady in her station might need, supposing
rightly that you would know what that might be."

"Indeed I do!" cried Madam Bonnet. "What she needs are the clouts of a
fish-girl, and a stick to her back besides."

"Madam!" cried Newcombe, but she heeded him not; she was growing more
angry.

"A fine creature she is," exclaimed the lady, "to run away from my
house in this fashion, and treat me with such contumely, and then to
order me to send her her fine clothes to deck herself for the eyes of
strangers!"

"But, young man," cried Newcombe, "where is she? Tell that without
further delay. Where is she?"

"I don't care where she is!" interrupted Madam Bonnet. "It matters not
to me whether she is in the town, or sitting waiting for her finery on
the bridge. If she didn't go with her father (cowardly sneak that he
is), that gives her less reason to stay away all night from her home,
and send her orders to me in the morning. No, I will have none of that!
If my husband's daughter wants anything of me, let her come here and ask
for it, first giving me the reason of her shameful conduct."

"Madam!" cried Newcombe, "I cannot listen to such speech, such--"

"Then stop your ears with your thumbs," she exclaimed, "and you will not
hear it."

Then turning to Dickory: "Now, go you, and tell the young woman who sent
you here she must come in sackcloth and ashes, if she can get them, and
she must tell me her tale and her father's tale, without a lie mixed up
in them; and when she has done this, and has humbly asked my pardon for
the foul affront she has put upon me, then it will be time enough to
talk of fine clothes and fripperies."

Newcombe now expostulated with much temper, but Dickory gave him little
chance to speak.

"I carry no such message as that," he said. "Do you truly mean that you
deny the young lady the apparel she needs, and that I am to tell her
that?"

"Get away from here!" cried Madam Bonnet, with her face in a blaze. "I
send her no message at all; and if she comes here on her knees, I shall
spurn her, if it suit me."

If Dickory had waited a little he might have heard more, but he did not
wait; he quickly turned, and away he went in his boat. And away went
Martin Newcombe after him. But as the younger man was barefooted, the
other one could not keep up with him, and the canoe was pushed off
before he reached the water's edge.

"Stop, you young rascal!" cried Newcombe. "Where is Kate Bonnet? Stop!
and tell me where she is!"

Troubled as he was at the tale he was going to tell, Dickory laughed
aloud, and he paddled down the river as few in that region had ever
paddled before.

Madam Bonnet went into her house, and if she had met a maid-servant, it
might have been bad for that poor woman. She was not troubled about
Kate. She knew the young man to be Dickory Charter, and she was quite
sure that her step-daughter was in his mother's cottage. Why she
happened to be there, and what had become of the recreant Bonnet, the
equally recreant young woman could come and tell her whenever she saw
fit.



CHAPTER VI

A PAIR OF SHOES AND STOCKINGS


The tide was running down, and Dickory made a swift passage to the town.
Seeing on the pier the man from whom he had borrowed the rope, he
stopped to return him his property, and thinking that the good people of
the town should know that, no matter what had befallen Major Bonnet, his
daughter had not gone with him and was safe among friends, he mentioned
these facts to the man, but with very few details, being in a hurry to
return with his message.

Before he turned into the inlet, Dickory was called from the shore, and
to his surprise he saw his mother standing on the bank in front of a
mass of bushes, which concealed her from her house.

"Come here, Dickory," she said, "and tell me what you have heard?"

Her son told his doleful tale.

"I fear me, mother," he said, "that Major Bonnet's ship has gone on
some secret and bad business, and that he is mixed up in it. Else why
did he desert his daughter? And if he intended to take her with him,
that was worse."

"I don't know, Dickory," said good Dame Charter reflectively; "we must
not be too quick to believe harm of our fellow-beings. It does look bad,
as the townspeople thought, that Major Bonnet should own such a ship
with such a strange crew, but he is a man who knows his own business,
and may have had good reason for what he has done. He might have been
sailing out to some foreign part to bring back a rich cargo, and needed
stout men to defend it from the pirates that he might meet with on the
seas."

"But his daughter, mother," said Dickory; "how could he have left her as
he did? That was shameful, and even you must admit it."

"Not so fast, Dickory," said she; "there are other ways of looking at
things than the way in which we look at them. He had intended to take
Mistress Kate on a little trip; she told me that herself. And most
likely, having changed his mind on account of the suspicions in the
town, he sent word to her to return to her home, which message she did
not get."

Dickory considered.

"Yes, mother," he said, "it might have been that way, but I don't
believe that he went of his own accord, and I don't believe that he
would take Ben Greenway with him. I think, mother, that they were both
stolen with the ship."

"That might be," said his mother, "but we have no right to take such a
view of it, and to impart it to his daughter. If he went away of his own
accord, everything will doubtless be made right, and we shall know his
reasons for what he has done. It is not for us to make up our minds that
Major Bonnet and good Ben Greenway have been carried off by wicked men,
for this would be sad indeed for that fair girl to believe. So remember,
Dickory, that it is our duty always to think the best of everything. And
now I will go through the underbrush to the house, and when you get
there yourself you must tell your story as if you had not told it to
me."

Before Dickory had reached his mother's cottage Mistress Kate Bonnet
came running to meet him, and she did not seem to be the same girl he
had left that morning. Her clothes had been dried and smoothed; even her
hat, which had been found in the boat, had been made shapely and
wearable, and its ribbons floated in the breeze. Dickory glanced at her
feet, and as he did so, a thrill of strange delight ran through him. He
saw his own Sunday shoes, with silver buckles, and he caught a glimpse
of a pair of brown stockings, which he knew went always with those
shoes.

"I am quite myself again," she said, noticing his wide eyes, "and your
mother has been good enough to lend me a pair of your shoes and
stockings. Mine are so utterly ruined, and I could not walk barefooted."

Dickory was so filled with pride that this fair being could wear his
shoes, and that she was wearing them, that he could only mumble some
stupid words about being so glad to serve her. And she, wise girl, said
nothing about the quantities of soft cotton-wool which Dame Charter had
been obliged to stuff into the toes before they would stay upon the
small feet they covered.

"But my father," cried Kate, "what of him? Where is he?"

Now Dame Charter was with them, her eyes hard fixed upon her son.

Dickory, mindful of those eyes, told her what he had to tell, saying as
little as possible about Major Bonnet--because, of course, all that he
knew about him was mere hearsay--but dilating with much vigour upon the
shameful conduct of Madam Bonnet; for the young lady ought surely to
know what sort of a woman her father's wife really was, and what she
might expect if she should return to her house. He could have said even
more about the interview with the angry woman, but his mother's eyes
were upon him.

Kate heard everything without a word, and then she burst into tears.

"My father," she sobbed, "carried away, or gone away, and one is as bad
as the other!"

"Dickory," said Dame Charter, "go cut some wood; there is none ready
for the kitchen."

Dickory went away, not sorry, for he did not know how to deport himself
with a young lady whose heart was so sorely tried. He might have
discovered a way, if he had been allowed to do so; but that would not
have been possible with his mother present. But, in spite of her sorrow,
his heart sang to him that she was wearing his shoes and stockings! Then
he cheerfully brought down his axe upon the wood for the dinner's
cooking.

Dame Charter led the weeping girl to the bench, and they talked long
together. There was no optimist in all the British colonies, nor for
that matter in those belonging to France or Spain, or even to the Dutch,
who was a more conscientious follower of her creed than Dame Charter.
She sat by Kate and she talked to her until the girl stopped sobbing and
began to see for herself that her father knew his own business, and that
he had most certainly sent her a message to go on shore, which had not
been delivered.

As to poor Ben Greenway, the good woman was greatly relieved that her
son had not mentioned him, and she took care not to do it herself. She
did not wish to strain her optimism. Kate, having so much else upon her
mind, never thought of this good man.

When Dickory came back, he first looked to see if Kate still wore his
shoes and stockings, and then he began to ask what there was that he
might now do. He would go again to the town if he might be of use. But
Kate had no errand for him there. Dickory had told her how he had been
with Mr. Newcombe at her home, and therefore there was no need of her
sending him another message.

"I don't know where to go or where to send," she said simply; "I am
lost, and that is all of it."

"Oh, no," cried Dame Charter, "not that! You are with good friends, and
here you can stay just as long as you like."

"Indeed she can!" said Dickory, as if he were making a response in
church.

His mother looked at him and said nothing. And then she took Kate out
into a little grove behind the house to see if she could find some ripe
oranges.

It was a fair property, although not large, which belonged to the Widow
Charter. Her husband had been a thriving man, although a little inclined
to speculations in trade which were entirely out of his line, and when
he met his death in the sea he left her nothing but her home and some
inconsiderable land about it. Dickory had been going to a grammar-school
in the town, and was considered a fair scholar, but with his father's
death all that stopped, and the boy was obliged to go to work to do what
he could for his mother. And ever since he had been doing what he
could, without regard to appearances, thinking only of the money.

But on Sunday, when he rowed his mother to church, he wore good clothes,
being especially proud of his buckled shoes and his long brown hose,
which were always of good quality.

They were eating dinner when oars were heard on the river, and in a
moment a boat swung around into the inlet. In the stern sat Master
Martin Newcombe, and two men were rowing.

Now Dickory Charter swore in his heart, although he was not accustomed
to any sort of blasphemy; and as Miss Kate gazed eagerly through the
open window, our young friend narrowly scrutinized her face to see if
she were glad or not. She was glad, that was plain enough, and he went
out sullenly to receive the arriving interloper.

When they were all standing on the shore, Kate did not think it worth
while to ask Master Newcombe how he happened to know where she was. But
the young man waited for no questions; he went on to tell his story.
When he related that it was a man fishing on a pier who had told him
that young Mistress Kate Bonnet was stopping with Dame Charter, Kate
wondered greatly, for as Dickory had met Master Newcombe, what need had
there been for the latter to ask questions about her of a stranger? But
she said nothing. And Dickory growled in his soul that he had ever
spoken to the man on the pier, except to thank him for the rope he had
borrowed.

Martin Newcombe's story went on, and he told that, having been extremely
angered by the conduct and words of Madam Bonnet, he had gone into the
town and made inquiries, hoping to hear something of the whereabouts of
Mistress Kate. And, having done so, by means of the very obliging person
on the pier, he had determined that the daughter of Major Bonnet should
have her rights; and he had gone to his own lawyer, who assured him that
being a person of recognised respectability, possessing property, he was
fully authorized, knowing the wishes of Mistress Kate Bonnet, to go to
her step-mother and demand that those wishes be complied with; and if
this very reasonable request should be denied, then the lawyer would
take up the matter himself, and would see to it that reasonable raiment
and the necessities of a young lady should not be withheld from her.

With these instructions, Newcombe had gone to Madam Bonnet and had found
that much disturbed lady in a state of partial collapse, which had
followed her passion of the morning, and who had declared that nothing
in the world would please her better than to get rid of her husband's
daughter and never see her again. And if the creature needed clothes or
anything else which belonged to her, a maid should pack them up, and
anybody who pleased might take them to any place, provided she heard no
more about them or their owner.

In all this she spoke most truthfully, for she hated her step-daughter,
both because she was a fine young woman and much regarded by her father,
and because she had certain rights to the estate of said father, which
his present wife did not wish to recognise, or even to think about. So
Martin Newcombe was perfectly welcome to take away such things as would
render it unnecessary for the girl to now return to the home in which
she had been born. Martin had brought the box, and here he was.

It was not long before Newcombe and the lady of his love were walking
away through the little plantation, in order that they might speak by
themselves. Dickory looked after them and frowned, but he bravely
comforted himself by thinking that he had been the one into whose arms
she had dropped, through the blackness of the night and the blackness of
the water, knowing in her heart that he would be there ready for her,
and also by the thought that it was his shoes and stockings that she
wore. Dame Charter saw this frown on her son's face, but she did not
guess the thoughts which were in his mind.



CHAPTER VII

KATE PLANS


It was nearly an hour before Kate and Mr. Newcombe returned, and when
they came back they did not look happy. Dickory observed their sad
visages, but the sight did not make him sad. Kate took Dame Charter by
the hand and led her to the bench.

"You have been so kind to me," she said, "that I have almost come to
look upon you as a mother, even though I have known you such a little
while, and I want to tell you what I have been talking about, and what I
think I am going to do."

Mr. Newcombe now stood by, and Dickory also. His mother was not quite
sure that this was the right place for him, but as he had already done
so much for the young lady, there was, perhaps, no reason why he should
be debarred from hearing what she had to say.

"This gentleman," said Kate, indicating Martin Newcombe, "sympathizes
with me very greatly in my present unfortunate position: having no home
to which I can go, and having no relative belonging to this island but
my father, who is sailing upon the seas, I know not where; and
therefore, in his great kindness, has offered to marry me and to take me
to his home, which thereafter would be my home, and in which I should
have all comforts and rights."

Now Dickory's face was like the sky before a shower. His mother saw it
out of the corner of her eye, but the others did not look at him.

"This was very kind and very good," continued Kate.

"Not at all, not at all," interrupted Master Newcombe, "except that it
was kind and good to myself; for there is nothing in this world which
you need and want as much as I need and want you."

At this Dickory's brow grew darker.

"I believe all you say," said Kate, "for I am sure you are an honest and
a true man, but, as I told you, I cannot marry you; for, even had I made
up my mind on the subject, which I have not, I could not marry any one
at such a time as this, not knowing my father's will upon the subject or
where he is."

The sun broke out on Dickory's countenance without a shower; his mother
noticed the change.

"But as I must do something," Kate went on, "a plan came to me while Mr.
Newcombe was talking to me, and I have been thinking of it ever since,
and now, as I speak, I am becoming fully determined in regard to it;
that is, if I can carry it out. It often happens," she said, with a
faint smile, "that when people ask advice they become more and more
strengthened in their own opinion. My opinion, and I may say my plan, is
this: When my father told me he was going away in his ship, he agreed to
take me with him on a little voyage, leaving me with my mother's brother
at the island of Jamaica, not far from Spanish Town. In purposing this
he thought, no doubt, that it would be far better for me to be with my
own blood, if his voyage should be long, rather than to live with one
who is no relative of mine, and does not wish to act like one. This,
then, being my father's intention, which he was prevented, by reasons
which I know not of, from carrying out, I shall carry it out myself with
all possible dispatch, and go to my uncle in Jamaica by the earliest
vessel which sails from this port. Not only as this is my natural refuge
in my trouble, but as my father intended to go there when he thought of
having me with him, it may be a part of his plan to go there any way,
even though I be not with him; and so I may see him, and all may be
well."

Clouds now settled heavily on the faces of each of the young men, and
even the ordinarily bright sky of Dame Charter became somewhat overcast;
although, in her heart, she did not believe that anybody in this world
could have devised a better plan, under the circumstances, than this
forsaken Mistress Kate Bonnet.

"Now there is my plan," said Kate, with something of cheerfulness in her
voice, "if it so be I can carry it out. Do either of you know," glancing
at the young men impartially, but apparently not noticing the bad
weather, "if in a reasonable time a vessel will leave here for Jamaica?"

Dickory knew well, but he would not answer; Kate had no right to put
such a thing upon him. Newcombe, however, did not hesitate. "It is very
hard for me to say," he made reply, "but there is a merchantman, the
King and Queen, which sails from here in three days for Jamaica. I know
this, for I send some goods; and I wish, Mistress Bonnet, that I could
say something against your sailing in her, but I cannot; for, since you
will not let me take care of you, your uncle is surely the best one in
the world to do it; and as to the vessel, I know she is a safe one."

"But you could not go sailing away in any vessel by yourself," cried
Dame Charter, "no matter how safe she may be."

"Oh, no!" cried Kate; "and the more we talk about our plan the more
fully it reveals itself to me in all its various parts. I am going to
ask you to go with me, my dear Dame Charter," and as she spoke she
seized both of the hands of the other. "I have funds of my own which
are invested in the town, and I can afford the expense. Surely, my good
friend, you will not let me go forth alone, and all unused to travel?
Leaving me safely with my uncle, you could return when the ship came
back to Bridgetown."

Dame Charter turned upon the girl a look of kind compassion, but at the
same time she knit her brows.

"Right glad would I be to do that for you," she said, "but I cannot go
away and leave my son, who has only me."

"Take him with you," cried Kate. "Two women travelling to unknown shores
might readily need a protector, and if not, there are so many things
which he might do. Think of it, my dear Dame Charter; to my uncle's home
in Jamaica is the only place to which I can go, and if you do not go
with me, how can I go there?"

Dame Charter now shed tears, but they were the tears of one good woman
feeling for the misfortunes of another.

"I will go with you, my dear young lady," she said, "and I will not
leave you until you are in your uncle's care. And, as to my boy here--"

Now Dickory spoke from out of the blazing noontide of his countenance.

"Oh, I will go!" he cried. "I do so greatly want to see Jamaica."

Without being noticed, his mother took him by the hand; she did not
know what he might be tempted to say next.

Mr. Newcombe stood very doleful. And well he might; for if his lady-love
went away in this fashion, there was good reason to suppose that he
might never see her again. But Kate said no word to comfort him--for how
could she in this company?--and began to talk rapidly about her
preparations.

"I suppose until the ship shall sail I may stay with you?" addressing
Dame Charter.

"Stay here?" exclaimed the good dame. "Of course you can stay here. We
are like one family now, and we will all go on board ship together."

Kate walked to the boat with Mr. Newcombe, he having offered to
undertake her business in town and at her father's house, and to see the
owners of the King and Queen in regard to passage.

Dickory stood radiant, speaking to no one. Master Martin Newcombe was
the lover of Mistress Kate Bonnet, but he, Dickory, was going with her
to Jamaica!

The following days fled rapidly. Long-visaged Martin Newcombe, whose
labours in behalf of his lady were truly labours of love, as their
object was to help her to go where his eyes could no longer feast upon
her, and from which place her voice would no longer reach him, went,
with a bitter taste in his mouth, to visit Madam Bonnet, to endeavour
to persuade her to deliver to her step-daughter such further belongings
as that young lady was in need of.

That forsaken person was found to be only too glad to comply with this
request, hoping earnestly that neither the property nor its owner should
ever again be seen by her. She was in high spirits, believing that she
was a much better manager of the plantation than her eccentric husband
had ever been, and she had already engaged a man to take the place of
Ben Greenway, who had been a sore trouble to her these many years. She
was buoyed up and cheered by the belief that the changes she was making
would be permanent, and that she would live and die the owner of the
plantation. She alone, in all Bridgetown and vicinity, had no doubts
whatever in regard to her husband's sailing from Barbadoes in his own
ship, and with a redundancy of rascality below its decks. The
respectability and good reputation of Major Bonnet did not blind her
eyes. She had heard him talk about the humdrum life on shore and the
reckless glories of the brave buccaneers, but she had never replied to
these remarks, fearing that she might feel obliged to object to them,
and she did not tell him how, in late years, she had heard him talk in
his sleep about standing, with brandished sword, on the deck of a pirate
ship. It was her dream, that his dreams might all come true.

So Kate's baggage was put on board the King and Queen, a very humble
vessel considering her sounding name, and Dame Charter's few belongings
were conveyed to the vessel in Dickory's canoe, the cottage being left
in charge of a poor and well-pleased neighbour.

When the day came for sailing, our friends, with not a few of the
townspeople, were gathered upon the deck, where Kate at first looked
about for Dickory, not recognising at the moment the well-dressed young
fellow who had taken his place. His Sunday costume became him well, and
he was so bravely decked out in the matter of shoes and stockings that
Kate did not recognise him.

To every one Mistress Kate Bonnet made clear that she was going to her
uncle's house in Jamaica, where she expected to meet her father; and
many were the good wishes bestowed upon her. When the time drew near
when the anchor should be heaved, Kate withdrew to one side with Mr.
Newcombe. "You must believe," said she kindly, "that everything between
us is just as it was when we used to sit on the shady bank and look out
over the ripples of the river. There will be waves instead of ripples
for us to look over now, but there will be no change either the one way
or the other."

Then they shook hands fervently; more than that would have been
unwarrantable.

The King and Queen dropped down the stream, and Master Newcombe stood
sadly on the pier, while Kate Bonnet waved her handkerchief to him and
to her friends. Dame Charter sat and smiled at the town she was leaving
and at the long stretches of the river before her. She knew not to what
future she was going, but her heart was uplifted at the thought that a
new life was opening before her son. In her little cottage and in her
little fields there was no future for him, and now to what future might
he not be sailing!

As for Dickory, he knew no more of his future than the sea-birds knew
what was going to happen to them; he cared no more for his future than
the clouds cared whether they were moving east or west. His life was
like the sparkling air in which he moved and breathed. He stood upon the
deck of the vessel, with the wind filling the sails above, while at a
little distance stood Kate Bonnet, her ribbons floating in the breeze.
He would have been glad to sing aloud, but he knew that that would not
be proper in the presence of the ladies and the captain. And so he let
his heart do his singing, which was not heard, except by himself.



CHAPTER VIII

BEN GREENWAY IS CONVINCED THAT BONNET IS A PIRATE


"But how in the name o' common sense did ye ever think o' becomin' a
pirate, Master Bonnet?" said Ben Greenway as they stood together. "Ye're
so little fitted for a wicked life."

"Out upon you, Ben Greenway!" exclaimed the captain, beginning to stride
up and down the little quarter-deck. "I will let you know, that when the
time comes for it, I can be as wicked as anybody."

"I doubt that," said Ben sturdily. "Would ye cut down an' murder the
innocent? Would ye drive them upon an unsteady plank an' make them walk
into the sea? Could ye raise thy great sword upon the widow an' the
orphan?"

"No more of this disloyal speech," shouted Bonnet, "or I will put you
upon a wavering plank and make you walk into the sea."

Now Greenway laughed.

"An' if ye did," he said, "ye would next jump upon the plank yoursel'
an' slide swiftly into the waves, that ye might save your old friend an'
servant, knowin' he canna swim."

"Ben Greenway," said Bonnet, folding his arms and knitting his brows, "I
will not suffer such speech from you. I would sooner have on board a
Presbyterian parson."

"An' a happier fate couldna befall ye," said Ben, "for ye need a parson
mair than ony mon I know."

Bonnet looked at him for a moment.

"You think so?" said he.

"Indeed I do," said Ben, with unction.

"There now," cried Bonnet, "I told you, Ben, that I could be wicked upon
occasion, and now you have acknowledged it. Upon my word, I can be
wickeder than common, as you shall see when good fortune helps us to
overhaul a prize."

The Revenge had been at sea for about a week and all had gone well,
except she had taken no prizes. The crew had been obedient and fairly
orderly, and if they made fun of their farmer-captain behind his back,
they showed no disrespect when his eyes were upon them. The fact was
that the most of them had a very great respect for him as the capitalist
of the ship's company.

Big Sam had early begun to sound the temper of the men, but they had
not cared to listen to him. Good fare they had and generous treatment,
and the less they thought of Bonnet as a navigator and commander, the
more they thought of his promises of rich spoils to be fairly divided
with them when they should capture a Spanish galleon or any well-laden
merchantman bound for the marts of Europe. In fact, when such good luck
should befall them, they would greatly prefer to find themselves serving
under Bonnet than under Big Sam. The latter was known as a greedy
scoundrel, who would take much and give little, being inclined,
moreover, to cheat his shipmates out of even that little if the chance
came to him. Even Black Paul, who was an old comrade of Big Sam--the two
having done much wickedness together--paid no heed to his present
treasons.

"Let the old fool alone," he said; "we fare well, and our lives are
easy, having three men to do the work of one. So say I, let us sail on
and make merry with his good rum; his money-chest is heavy yet."

"That's what I'm thinking of," said the sailing-master. "Why should I be
coursing about here looking for prizes with that chest within reach of
my very arm whenever I choose it?"

Black Paul grinned and said to himself: "It is your arm, old Sam, that I
am afraid of." Then aloud: "No, let him go. Let us profit by our good
treatment as long as it lasts, and then we will talk about the
money-box."

Thus Big Sam found that his time had not arrived, and he swore in his
soul that his old shipmate would some day rue that he had not earlier
stood by him in his treacherous schemes.

So all went on without open discontent, and Bonnet, having sailed
northward for some days, set his course to the southeast, with some
hundred and fifty eyes wide open for the sight of a heavy-sailing
merchantman.

One morning they sighted a brig sailing southward, but as she was of no
great size and not going in the right direction to make it probable that
she carried a cargo worth their while, they turned westward and ran
towards Cuba. Had Captain Bonnet known that his daughter was on the brig
which he thus disdained, his mind would have been far different; but as
it was, not knowing anything more than he could see, and not
understanding much of that, he kept his westerly course, and on the next
day the lookout sighted a good-sized merchantman bearing eastward.

Now bounded every heart upon the swiftly coursing vessel of the
planter-pirate. There were men there who had shared in the taking of
many a prize; who had shared in the blood and the cruelty and the booty;
and their brawny forms trembled with the old excitement, of the
sea-chase; but no man's blood ran more swiftly, no man's eyes glared
more fiercely, than those of Captain Bonnet as he strapped on his
pistols and felt of his sword-hilt.

"Ah, ye needna glare so!" said Ben Greenway, close at his side. "Ye are
no pirate, an' ye canna make yoursel' believe ye are ane, an' that ye
shall see when the guns begin to roar an' the sword-blades flash. Better
get below an' let ane o' these hairy scoundrels descend into hell in
your place."

Captain Bonnet turned with rage upon Ben Greenway, but the latter,
having spoken his mind and given his advice, had retired.

Now came Big Sam. "'Tis an English brig," he said, "most likely from
Jamaica, homeward bound; she should be a good prize."

Bonnet winced a little at this. He would have preferred to begin his
career of piracy by capturing some foreign vessel, leaving English
prizes for the future, when he should have become better used to his new
employment. But sensitiveness does not do for pirates, and in a moment
he had recovered himself and was as bold and bloody-minded as he had
been when he first saw the now rapidly approaching vessel. All nations
were alike to him now, and he belonged to none.

"Fire some guns at her," he shouted to Big Sam, "and run up the Jolly
Roger; let the rascals see what we are."

The rascals saw. Down came their flag, and presently their vessel was
steered into the wind and lay to.

"Shall we board her?" cried Big Sam.

"Ay, board her!" shouted back the infuriated Bonnet. "Run the Revenge
alongside, get out your grappling-irons, and let every man with sword
and pistols bound upon her deck."

The merchantman now lay without headway, gently rolling on the sea. Down
came the sails of the Revenge, while her motion grew slower and slower
as she approached her victim. Had Captain Bonnet been truly sailing the
Revenge, he would have run by with sails all set, for not a thought had
he for the management of his own vessel, so intent he was upon the
capture of the other. But fortunately Big Sam knew what was necessary to
be done in a nautical manoeuvre of this kind, and his men did not all
stand ready with their swords in their hands to bound upon the deck of
the merchantman. But there were enough of Pirate Bonnet's crew crowded
alongside the rail of the vessel to inspire terror in any peaceable
merchantman. And this one, although it had several carronades and other
guns upon her deck, showed no disposition to use them, the odds against
her being far too great.

At the very head of the long line of ruffians upon the deck of the
Revenge stood Ben Greenway; and, although he held no sword and wore no
pistol, his eyes flashed as brightly as any glimmering blade in the
whole ship's company.

The two vessels were now drawing very near to each other. Men with
grappling-irons stood ready to throw them, and the bow of the
well-steered pirate had almost touched the side of the merchantman,
when, with a bound, of which no one would have considered him capable,
the good Ben Greenway jumped upon the rail and sprang down upon the deck
of the other vessel. This was a hazardous feat, and if the Scotchman had
known more about nautical matters he would not have essayed it before
the two vessels had been fastened together. Ignorance made him fearless,
and he alighted in safety on the deck of the merchantman at the very
instant when the two vessels, having touched, separated themselves from
each other for the space of a yard or two.

There was a general shout from the deck of the pirate at this
performance of Ben Greenway. Nobody could understand it. Captain Bonnet
stood and yelled.

"What are you about, Ben Greenway? Have you gone mad? Without sword or
pistol, you'll be--"

The astonished Bonnet did not finish his sentence, for his power of
speech left him when he saw Ben Greenway hurry up to the captain of the
merchantman, who was standing unarmed, with his crew about him, and
warmly shake that dumfounded skipper by the hand. In their surprise at
what they beheld the pirates had not thrown their grapnels at the proper
moment, and now the two vessels had drifted still farther apart.

Presently Ben Greenway came hurrying to the side of the merchantman,
dragging its captain by the hand.

"Master Bonnet! Master Bonnet!" he cried; "this is your old friend,
Abner Marchand, o' our town; an' this is his good ship the Amanda. I
knew her when I first caught sight o' her figure-head, havin' seen it so
often at her pier at Bridgetown. An' so, now that ye know wha it is that
ye hae inadvertently captured, ye may ca' off your men an' bid them
sheathe their frightful cutlasses."

At this, a roar arose from the pirates, who, having thrown some of their
grappling-irons over the gunwale of the merchantman, were now pulling
hard upon them to bring the two vessels together, and Captain Bonnet
shouted back at Ben: "What are you talking about, you drivelling idiot;
haven't you told Mr. Marchand that I am a pirate?"

"Indeed I hae no'," cried Ben, "for I don't believe ye are are; at
least, no' to your friends an' neebours."

To this Bonnet made a violent reply, but it was not heard. The two
vessels had now touched and the crowd of yelling pirates had leaped upon
the deck of the Amanda. Bonnet was not far behind his men, and, sword
in hand, he rushed towards the spot where stood the merchant captain
with his crew hustling together behind him. As there was no resistance,
there was so far no fighting, and the pirates were tumbling over each
other in their haste to get below and find out what sort of a cargo was
carried by this easy prize.

Captain Marchand held out his hand. "Good-day to you, friend Bonnet," he
said. "I had hoped that you would be one of the first friends I should
meet when I reached port at Bridgetown, but I little thought to meet you
before I got there."

Bonnet was a little embarrassed by the peculiarity of the situation, but
his heart was true to his new career.

"Friend Marchand," he said, "I see that you do not understand the state
of affairs, and Ben Greenway there should have told you the moment he
met you. I am no longer a planter of Barbadoes; I am a pirate of the
sea, and the Jolly Roger floats above my ship. I belong to no nation; my
hand is against all the world. You and your ship have been captured by
me and my men, and your cargo is my prize. Now, what have you got on
board, where do you hail from, and whither are you bound?"

Captain Marchand looked at him fixedly.

"I sailed from London with a cargo of domestic goods for Kingston;
thence, having disposed of most of my cargo, I am on my way to
Bridgetown, where I hope to sell the remainder."

"Your goods will never reach Bridgetown," cried Bonnet; "they belong now
to my men and me."

"What!" cried Ben Greenway, "ye speak wi'out sense or reason. Hae ye
forgotten that this is Mr. Abner Marchand, your fellow-vestryman an'
your senior warden? An' to him do ye talk o' takin' awa' his goods an'
legal chattels?"

Bonnet looked at Greenway with indignation and contempt.

"Now listen to me," he yelled. "To the devil with the vestry and da--"
the Scotchman's eyes and mouth were so rounded with horror that Bonnet
stopped and changed his form of expression--"confound the senior warden.
I am the pirate Bonnet, and regard not the Church of England."

"Nor your friends?" interpolated Ben.

"Nor friends nor any man," shouted Bonnet.

"Abner Marchand, I am sorry that your vessel should be the first one to
fall into my power, but that has happened, and there is no help for it.
My men are below ransacking your hold for the goods and treasure it may
contain. When your cargo, or what we want of it, is safe upon my ship, I
shall burn your vessel, and you and your men must walk the plank."

At this dreadful statement, Ben Greenway staggered backward in
speechless dismay.

"Yes," cried Bonnet, "that shall I do, for there is naught else I can
do. And then you shall see, you doubting Greenway, whether I am a pirate
or no."

To all this Captain Marchand said not a word. But at this moment a
woman's scream was heard from below, and then there was another scream
from another woman. Captain Marchand started.

"Your men have wandered into my cabin," he exclaimed, "and they have
frightened my passengers. Shall I go and bring them up, Major Bonnet?
They will be better here."

"Ay, ay!" cried the pirate captain, surprised that there should be
female passengers on board, and Marchand, followed by Ben Greenway,
disappeared below.

"Confound women passengers," said Bonnet to himself; "that is truly a
bit of bad luck."

In a few minutes Marchand was back, bringing with him a middle-aged and
somewhat pudgy woman, very pale; a younger woman of exceeding plainness,
and sobbing steadfastly; and also an elderly man, evidently an invalid,
and wearing a long dressing-gown.

"These," said Captain Marchand, "are Master and Madam Ballinger and
daughter, of York in England, who have been sojourning in Jamaica for
the health of the gentleman, but are now sailing with me to Barbadoes,
hoping the air of our good island may be more salubrious for the lungs."

Captain Bonnet had never been in the habit of speaking loudly before
ladies, but he now felt that he must stand by his character.

"You cannot have heard," he almost shouted, "that I am the pirate
Bonnet, and that your vessel is now my prize."

At this the two ladies began to scream vigorously, and the form of the
gentleman trembled to such a degree that his cane beat a tattoo upon the
deck.

"Yes," continued Bonnet, "when my men have stripped this ship of its
valuables I shall burn her to the water's edge, and, having removed you
to my vessel, I shall shortly make you walk the plank."

Here the younger lady began to stiffen herself out as if she were about
to faint in the arms of Captain Marchand, who had suddenly seized her;
but her great curiosity to hear more kept her still conscious. Mrs.
Ballinger grew very red in the face.

"That cannot be," she cried; "you may do what you please with our
belongings and with Captain Marchand's ship, but my husband is too sick
a man to walk a plank. You have not noticed, perchance, that his legs
are so feeble that he could scarce mount from the cabin to the deck. It
would be impossible for him to walk a plank; and as for my daughter and
myself, we know nothing about such a thing, and could not, out of sheer
ignorance."

For a moment a shadow of perplexity fell upon Captain Bonnet's face. He
could readily perceive that the infirm Mr. Ballinger could not walk a
plank, or even mount one, unless some one went with him to assist him,
and as to his wife, she was evidently a termagant; and, having sailed
his ship and floated his Jolly Roger in order to get rid of one
termagant, he was greatly annoyed at being brought thus, face to face,
with another. He stood for a moment silent. The old gentleman looked as
if he would like to go down to his cabin and cover up his head with his
blanket until all this commotion should be over; the daughter sobbed as
she gazed about her, taking in every point of this most novel situation;
and the mother, with dilated nostrils, still glared.

In the midst of all this varying disturbance Captain Marchand stood
quiet and unmoved, apparently paying no attention to any one except his
old neighbour and fellow-vestryman, Stede Bonnet, upon whose face his
eyes were steadily fixed.

Ben Greenway now approached the pirate captain and led him aside.

"Let your men make awa' wi' the cargo as they please--I doubt if it be
more than odds an' ends, for such are the goods they bring to
Bridgetown--an' let them cast off an' go their way, an' ye an' I will
return to Bridgetown in the Amanda an' a' may yet be weel, this bit o'
folly bein' forgotten."

It might have been supposed that Bonnet would have retaliated upon the
Scotchman for thus advising him, in the very moment of triumph, to give
up his piratical career and to go home quietly to his plantation, but,
instead of that, he paused for a moment's reflection.

"Ben Greenway," said he, "there is good sense in what you say. In truth,
I cannot bring myself to put to death my old friend and neighbour and
his helpless passengers. As for the ship, it will do me no more good
burned than unburned. And there is another thing, Ben Greenway, which I
would fain do, and it just came into my mind. I will write a letter to
my wife and one to my daughter Kate. There is much which I wish them to
know and which I have not yet been able to communicate. I will allow the
Amanda to go on her way and I will send these two letters by her
captain. They shall be ready presently, and you, Ben, stand by these
people and see that no harm comes to them."

At this moment there were loud shouts and laughter from below, and
Captain Marchand came forward.

"Friend Bonnet," he said, "your men have discovered my store of spirits;
in a short time they will be drunk, and it will then be unsafe for
these, my passengers. Bid them, I pray you, to convey the liquors
aboard your ship."

"Well said!" cried Bonnet. "I would not lose those spirits." And,
stepping forward, he spoke to Big Sam, who had just appeared on deck,
and ordered the casks to be conveyed on board the Revenge.

The latter laughed, but said: "Ay, ay, sir!"

Returning to Captain Marchand, Bonnet said: "I will now step on board my
ship and write some letters, which I shall ask you to take to Bridgetown
with you. I shall be ready by the time the rest of your cargo is
removed."

"Oh, don't do that!" cried Ben; "there is surely pen an' paper here,
close to your hand. Go down to Captain Marchand's cabin an' write your
letters."

"No, no," cried Bonnet, "I have my own conveniences." And with that he
leaped on board the Revenge.

"That's a chance gone," said Ben Greenway to Captain Marchand, "a good
chance gone. If we could hae kept him on board here an' down in your
cabin, I might hae passed the word to that big miscreant, the
sailing-master, to cast off an' get awa' wi' that wretched crowd. The
scoundrels will be glad to steal the ship, an' it will be the salvation
o' Master Bonnet if they do it."

"If that's the case," said Captain Marchand, "why should we resort to
trickery? If his men want his ship and don't want him, why can't we
seize him when he comes on board with his letters, and then let his men
know that they are free to go to the devil in any way they please? Then
we can convey Major Bonnet to his home, to repentance, perhaps, and a
better life."

"That's good," said Ben, "but no' to punishment. Ye an' I could testify
that his head is turned, but that, when kindness to a neebour is
concerned, his heart is all right."

"Ay, ay," said the captain, "I could swear to that. And now we must act
together. When I put my hand on him, you do the same, and give him no
chance to use his sword or pistols."

The captain of the pirates sat down in his well-furnished little room to
write his letters, and the noise and confusion on deck, the swearing and
the singing and the shouting to be heard everywhere, did not seem to
disturb him in the least. He was a man whose mind could thoroughly
engage itself with but one thing at a time, and the fact that his men
were at work sacking the merchantman did not in the least divert his
thoughts from his pen and paper.

So he quietly wrote to his wife that he had embraced a pirate's life,
that he never expected to become a planter again, and that he left to
her the enjoyment and management of his estate in Barbadoes. He hoped
that, his absence having now relieved her of her principal reason for
discontent with her lot, she would become happy and satisfied, and
would allow those about her to be the same. He expected to send Ben
Greenway back to her to help take care of her affairs, but if she should
need further advice he advised her to speak to Master Newcombe.

The letter to his daughter was different; it was very affectionate. He
assured her of his sorrow at not being able to take her with him and to
leave her at Jamaica, and he urged her at the earliest possible moment
to go to her uncle and to remain there until she heard from him or saw
him--the latter being probable, as he intended to visit Jamaica as soon
as he could, even in disguise if this method were necessary. He alluded
to the glorious career upon which he was entering, and in which he
expected some day to make a great name for himself, of which he hoped
she would be proud.

When these letters were finished Bonnet hurried to the side of the
vessel and looked upon the deck of the Amanda.

Captain Marchand and Greenway had been waiting in anxious expectation
for the return of Bonnet, and wondering how in the world a man could
bring his mind to write letters at such a time as this.

"Take these letters, Ben," he said, leaning over the rail, "and give
them to Captain Marchand."

Ben Greenway at first declined to take the letters which Bonnet held out
to him, but the latter now threw them at his feet on the deck, and,
running forward, he soon found himself in a violent and disorderly
crowd, who did not seem to regard him at all; booty and drink were all
they cared for. Presently came Big Sam, giving orders and thrusting the
men before him. He had not been drinking, and was in full possession of
his crafty senses.

"Throw off the grapnels," exclaimed Big Sam, "and get up the foresel!"
And then he perceived Bonnet. With a scowl upon his face Big Sam
muttered: "I thought you were on the merchantman, but no matter. Shove
her off, I say, or I'll break your heads."

The grapnels were loosened; the few men who were on duty shoved
desperately; the foresail went up, and the two vessels began to
separate. But they were not a foot apart when, with a great rush and
scramble, Ben Greenway left the merchantman and tumbled himself on board
the Revenge.

Bonnet rushed up to him. "You scoundrel! You rascal, Ben Greenway, what
do you mean? I intended you to go back to Bridgetown on that brig. Can I
never get rid of you?"

"No' till ye give up piratin'," said Ben with a grin. "Ye may split open
my head, an' throw overboard my corpse, but my live body stays here as
long as ye do."

With a savage growl Bonnet turned away from his faithful adherent.
Things were getting very serious now and he could waste no time on
personal quarrels. Great holes and splits had been discovered in the
heads of the barrels of spirits, and the precious liquor was running
over the decks. This was the work of the sagacious Big Sam, who had the
strongest desire to get away from the Amanda before the pirate crew
became so drunk that they could not manage the vessel. He was a deep
man, that Big Sam, and at this moment, although he said nothing about
it, he considered himself the captain of the pirate ship which he
sailed.

For a time Bonnet hurried about, not knowing what to do. Some of the men
were quarrelling about the booty; others trying to catch the rum as it
flowed from the barrels; others howling out of pure devilishness, and no
one paying him any respect whatever. Big Sam was giving orders; a few
sober men were obeying him, and Captain Stede Bonnet, with his faithful
servant, Ben Greenway, seemed to be entirely out of place amid this
horrible tumult.

"I told ye," said Ben, "ye had better stayed on board that merchantman
an' gone back like a Christian to your ain hame an' family. It will be
no safe place for ye, or for me neither, when that black-hearted
scoundrel o' a Big Sam gets time to attend to ye."

"Black-hearted?" inquired Bonnet, but without any surprise in his voice.

"Ay," said Ben, "if there's onything blacker than his heart, only Satan
himsel' ever looked at it. It was to be sailin' this ship on his own
account that he's had in his villainous soul ever since he came on
board; an' I can tell ye, Master Bonnet, that it won't be long now
before he's doin' it. I had me eye on him when he was on board the
Amanda, an' I saw that the scoundrel was goin' to separate the ships."

"That was my will," said Bonnet, "although I did not order it."

Ben gave a little grunt. "Ay," said he, "hopin' to leave me behind just
as he was hopin' to leave ye behind. But neither o' ye got your wills,
an' it'll be the de'il that'll have a hand in the next leavin' behind
that's likely to be done."

Bonnet made no reply to these remarks, having suddenly spied Black Paul.

"Look here," said he, stepping up to that sombre-hued personage, "can
you sail a ship?"

The other looked at Bonnet in astonishment. "I should say so," said he.
"I have commanded vessels before now."

"Here then," said Bonnet, "I want a sailing-master. I am not satisfied
with this Big Sam. I am no navigator myself, but I want a better man
than that fellow to sail my ship for me."

Black Paul looked hard at him but made no answer.

"He thinks he is sailing the ship for himself," said Bonnet, "and it
would be a bad day for you men if he did."

"That indeed would it," said Black Paul; "a close-fisted scoundrel, as I
know him to be."

"Quick then," said Bonnet; "now you're my sailing-master; and after
this, when we divide the prizes, you take the same share that I do. As
to these goods from the Amanda, I will have no part at all; I give them
all to you and the rest, divided according to rule.

"Go you now among the men, and speak first to such as have taken the
least liquor; let them know that it was Big Sam that broke in the
hogsheads, which, but for that, would have been sold and divided. Go
quickly and get about you a half-dozen good fellows."

"Ye're gettin' wickeder and wickeder," said Ben when Black Paul had
hurried away; "the de'il himsel' couldna hae taught ye a craftier trick
than that. Weel ye kenned that that black fellow would fain serve under
a free-handed fool than a stingy knave. Ay, sir, your education's
progressin'!"

At this moment Big Sam came hurrying by. Not wishing to excite
suspicion, Bonnet addressed him a question, but instead of answering the
burly pirate swore at him. "I'll attend to your business," said he, "as
soon as I have my sails set; then I'll give you two leather-headed
landsmen all the hoisting and lowering you'll ever ask for." Then with
another explosion of oaths he passed on.

Bonnet and Ben stood waiting with much impatience and anxiety, but
presently came Black Paul with a party of brawny pirates following him.

"Come now," said Bonnet, walking boldly aft towards Big Sam, who was
still cursing and swearing right and left. Bonnet stepped up to him and
touched him on the arm. "Look ye," said he, "you're no longer
sailing-master on this ship; I don't like your ways or your fashions.
Step forward, then, and go to the fo'castle where you belong; this good
mariner," pointing to Black Paul, "will take your place and sail the
Revenge."

Big Sam turned and stood astounded, staring at Bonnet. He spoke no word,
but his face grew dark and his great eyebrows were drawn together. His
mouth was half open, as if he were about to yell or swear. Then suddenly
his right hand fell upon the hilt of his cutlass, and the great blade
flashed in the air. He gave one bound towards Bonnet, and in the same
second the cutlass came down like a stroke of lightning. But Bonnet had
been a soldier and had learned how to use his sword; the cutlass was
caught on his quick blade and turned aside. At this moment Black Paul
sprung at Big Sam and seized him by the sword arm, while another fellow,
taking his cue, grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Now some of you fellows," shouted Bonnet, "seize him by the legs and
heave him overboard!"

This order was obeyed almost as soon as it was given; four burly
pirates rushed Big Sam to the bulwarks, and with a great heave
sent him headforemost over the rail. In the next instant he had
disappeared--gone, passed out of human sight or knowledge.

"Now then, Mr. Paul--not knowing your other name--"

"Which it is Bittern," said the other.

"You are now sailing-master of this ship; and when things are
straightened out a bit you can come below and sign articles with me."

"Ay, ay, sir," said Black Paul, and calling to the men he gave orders
that they go on with the setting of the main-topsail.

"Now, truly," said Ben, "I believe that ye're a pirate."

Bonnet looked at him much pleased. "I told you so, my good Ben. I knew
that the time would come when you would acknowledge that I am a true
pirate; after this, you cannot doubt it any more."

"Never again, Master Bonnet," said Ben Greenway, gravely shaking his
head, "never again!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The brig Amanda, with full sails and an empty hold, bent her course
eastward to the island of Barbadoes, and the next morning, when the
drunken sailors on board the Revenge were able to look about them and
consider things, they found their vessel speeding towards the coast of
Cuba, and sailed by Black Paul Bittern.



CHAPTER IX

DICKORY SETS FORTH


Mr. Felix Delaplaine, merchant and planter of Spanish Town, the capital
of Jamaica, occupied a commodious house in the suburbs of the town,
twelve miles up the river from Kingston, the seaport, which
establishment was somewhat remarkable from the fact that there were no
women in the family. Madam Delaplaine had been dead for several years,
and as her husband's fortune had steadily thriven, he now found himself
possessor of a home in which he could be as independent and as
comfortable as if he had been the president and sole member of a club.

Being of a genial disposition and disposed to look most favourably upon
his possessions and surrounding conditions, Mr. Delaplaine had come to
be of the opinion that his lot in life was one in which improvement was
not to be expected and scarcely to be desired. He had been perfectly
happy with his wife, and had no desire to marry another, who could not
possibly equal her; and, having no children, he continually thanked his
happy stars that he was free from the troubles and anxieties which were
so often brought upon fathers by their sons and their daughters.

Into this quiet and self-satisfied life came, one morning, a great
surprise in the shape of a beautiful young woman, who entered his office
in Spanish Town, and who stated to him that she was the daughter of his
only sister, and that she had come to live with him. There was an
elderly dame and a young man in company with the beautiful visitor, but
Mr. Delaplaine took no note of them. With his niece's hands in his own,
gazing into the face so like that young face in whose company he had
grown from childhood to manhood, Mr. Delaplaine saw in a flash, that
since the death of his wife until that moment he had never had the least
reason to be content with the world or to be satisfied with his lot.
This was his sister's child come to live with him!

When Mr. Delaplaine sufficiently recovered his ordinary good sense to
understand that there were other things in this world besides the lovely
niece who had so suddenly appeared before him, he remembered that she
had a father, and many questions were asked and answered; and he was
told who Dame Charter was, and why her son came with her. Then the uncle
and the niece walked into the garden, and there talked of Major Bonnet.
Little did Kate know upon this subject, and nothing could her uncle tell
her; but in many and tender words she was assured that this was her home
as long as she chose to live in it, and that it was the most fortunate
thing in the world that Dame Charter had come with her and could stay
with her. Had this not been so, where could he have found such a
guardian angel, such a chaperon, for this tender niece? As for the young
man, it was such rare good luck that he had been able to accompany the
two ladies and give them his protection. He was just the person, Mr.
Delaplaine believed, who would be invaluable to him either on the
plantation or in his counting-house. In any case, here was their home;
and here, too, was the home of his brother-in-law, Bonnet, whenever he
chose to give up his strange fancy for the sea. It was not now to be
thought of that Kate or her father, or either one of them, should go
back to Barbadoes to live with the impossible Madam Bonnet.

If her father's vessel were in the harbour and he were here with them,
or even if she had had good tidings from him, Kate Bonnet would have
been a very happy girl, for her present abode was vastly different from
any home she had ever known. Her uncle's house on the highlands beyond
the town lay in a region of cooler breezes and more bracing air than
that of Barbadoes. Books and music and the general air of refinement
recalled her early life with her mother, and with the exception of the
anxiety about her father, there were no clouds in the bright blue skies
of Kate Bonnet. But this anxiety was a cloud, and it was spreading.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Amanda moved away from the side of the pirate vessel Revenge
she hoisted all sail, and got away over the sea as fast as the
prevailing wind could take her. When she passed the bar below Bridgetown
and came to anchor, Captain Marchand immediately lowered a boat and was
rowed up the river to the recent residence of Major Stede Bonnet, and
there he delivered two letters--one to the wife of that gentleman, and
the other for his daughter. Then the captain rowed back and went into
the town, where he annoyed and nearly distracted the citizens by giving
them the most cautious and expurgated account of the considerate and
friendly manner in which the Amanda had been relieved of her cargo by
his old friend and fellow-vestryman, Major Bonnet.

Captain Marchand had been greatly impressed by the many things which Ben
Greenway had said about his master's present most astounding freak, and
hoping in his heart that repentance and a suitable reparation might soon
give this hitherto estimable man an opportunity to return to his former
place in society, he said as little as he could against the name and
fame of this once respected fellow-citizen. When he communicated with
the English owners of his now departed cargo, he would know what to say
to them, but here, safe in harbour with his vessel and his passengers,
he preferred to wait for a time before entirely blackening the character
of the man who had allowed him to come here. Like the faithful Ben
Greenway, he did not yet believe in Stede Bonnet's piracy.

Madam Bonnet read her letter and did not like it. In fact, she thought
it shameful. Then she opened and read the letter to her step-daughter.
This she did not like either, and she put it away in a drawer; she would
have nothing to do with the transmission of such an epistle as this.
Most abominable when contrasted with the scurrilous screed he had
written to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

Day after day passed on, and Kate Bonnet arose each morning feeling less
happy than on the day before. But at last a letter came, brought by a
French vessel which had touched at Barbadoes. This letter was to Kate
from Martin Newcombe. It was a love-letter, a very earnest, ardent
love-letter, but it did not make the young girl happy, for it told her
very little about her father. The heart of the lover was so tender that
he would say nothing to his lady which might give her needless pain. He
had heard what Captain Marchand had told and he had not understood it,
and could only half believe it. Kate must know far more about all this
painful business than he did, for her father's letter would tell her all
he wished her to know. Therefore, why should he discuss that most
distressing and perplexing subject, which he knew so little about and
which she knew all about. So he merely touched upon Major Bonnet and his
vessel, and hoped that she might soon write to him and tell him what she
cared for him to know, what she cared for him to tell to the people of
Bridgetown, and what she wished to repose confidentially to his honour.
But whatever she chose to say to him or not to say to him, he would have
her remember that his heart belonged to her, and ever would belong, no
matter what might happen or what might be said for good or for bad, on
the sea or the land, by friends or enemies.

This was a rarely good love-letter, but it plunged Kate into the deepest
woe, and Dickory saw this first of all. He had brought the letter, and
for the second time he saw tears in her eyes. The absence of news of
Major Bonnet was soon known to the rest of the family, and then there
were other tears. It was perfectly plain, even to Dame Charter, that
things had been said in Bridgetown which Mr. Newcombe had not cared to
write.

"No, Dame Charter," said Kate, "I cannot talk to you about it. My uncle
has already spoken words of comfort, but neither you nor he know more
than I do, and I must now think a little for myself, if I can."

So saying, she walked out into the grounds to a spot at a little
distance where Dickory stood, reflectively gazing out over the
landscape.

"Dickory," said the girl, "my mind is filled with horrible doubts. I
have heard of the talk in Bridgetown before we left, and now here is
this letter from Mr. Newcombe from which I cannot fail to see that there
must have been other talk that he considerately refrains from telling
me."

"He should not have written such a letter," exclaimed Dickory hotly; "he
might have known it would have set you to suspecting things."

"You don't know what you are talking about, you foolish boy," said she;
"it is a very proper letter about things you don't understand."

She stepped a little closer to him as if she feared some one might hear
her. "Dickory," said she, "he did not put that thing into my mind; it
was there already. That was a dreadful ship, Dickory, and it was filled
with dreadful men. If he had not intended to go with them he would not
have put himself into their power, and if he had not intended to be long
away he would not have planned to leave me here with my uncle."

"You ought not to think such a thing as that for one minute," cried
Dickory. "I would not think so about my mother, no matter what
happened!"

She smiled slightly as she answered. "I would my father were a mother,
and then I need not think such things. But, Dickory, if he had but
written to me! And in all this time he might have written, knowing how I
must feel."

Dickory stood silent, his bosom heaving. Suddenly he turned sharply
towards her. "Of course he has written," said he, "but how could his
letter come to you? We know not where he has sailed, and besides, who
could have told him you had already gone to your uncle? But the people
at Bridgetown must know things. I believe that he has written there."

"Why do you believe that?" she asked eagerly, with one hand on his arm.

"I think it," said Dickory, his cheeks a little ruddier in their
brownness, "because there is more known there than Master Newcombe chose
to put into his letter. If he has not written, how should they know
more?"

She now looked straight into his eyes, and as he returned the gaze he
could see in her pupils his head and his straw hat, with the clear sky
beyond.

"Dickory," she said, "if he wrote to anybody he also wrote to me, and
that letter is still there."

"That is what I believe," said he, "and I have been believing it."

"Then why didn't you say so to me, you wretched boy?" cried Kate. "You
ought to have known how that would have comforted me. If I could only
think he has surely written, my heart would bound, no matter what his
letter told; but to be utterly dropped, that I cannot bear."

"You have not been dropped," he exclaimed, "and you shall know it. Kate,
I am going--"

"Nay, nay," she exclaimed, "you must not call me that!"

"But you call me Dickory," he said.

"True, but you are so much younger."

"Younger!" he exclaimed in a tone of contempt, not for the speaker but
for the word she had spoken. "Eleven months!"

She laughed a little laugh; her nature was so full of it that even now
she could not keep it back.

"You must have been making careful computation," she said, "but it does
not matter; you must not call me Kate, and I shall keep on calling you
Dickory; I could not help it. Now, where is it you were about to say you
were going?"

"If you think me old enough," said he, "I am going to Barbadoes in the
King and Queen. She sails to-morrow. I shall find out about everything,
and I shall get your letter, then I shall come back and bring it to
you."

"Dickory!" she exclaimed, and her eyes glowed.

There was silence for some moments, and then he spoke, for it was
necessary for him to say something, although he would have been
perfectly content to stand there speechless, so long as her eyes still
glowed.

"If I don't go," said he, "it may be long before you hear from him;
having written, he will wait for an answer."

She thought of no difficulties, no delays, no dangers. "How happy you
have made me, Dickory!" she said. "It is this dreadful ignorance, these
fearful doubts of which I ought to be ashamed. But if I get his letter,
if I know he has not deserted me!"

"You shall get it," he cried, "and you shall know."

"Dickory," said she, "you said that exactly as you spoke when you told
me that if I let myself drop into the darkness, you would be there."

"And you shall find me there now," said he; "always, if you need me, you
shall find me there!"

Dame Charter had been standing and watching this interview, her foolish
motherly heart filled with the brightest, most unreasonable dreams. And
why should she not dream, even if she knew her dreams would never come
true? In a few short weeks that Dickory boy had grown to be a man, and
what should not be dreamed about a man!

As Kate ran by the open door towards her uncle's apartments, Dame
Charter rose up, surprised.

"What have you been saying to her, Dickory?" she exclaimed. "Do you know
something we have not heard? Have you been giving her news of her
father?"

"No," said the son, who had so lately been a boy, "I have no news to
give her, but I am going to get news for her."

She looked at him in amazement; then she exclaimed: "You!"

"Yes," he said, "there is no one else. And besides I would not want any
one else to do it. I am going to Bridgetown in the brig which brought us
here; it is a little sail, and when I get there I will find out
everything. No matter what has happened, it will break her heart to
think that her father deserted her without a word. I don't believe he
did it, and I shall go and find out."

"But, Dickory," she said, with anxious, upraised face, "how can you get
back? Do you know of any vessel that will be sailing this way?"

He laughed.

"Get back? If I go alone, dear mother, you may be sure I shall soon get
back. Craft of all kinds sail one way or another, and there are many
ways in which I can get back not thought of in ordinary passage. When
any kind of a vessel sails from Jamaica, I can get on board of her,
whether she takes passengers or not. I can sleep on a bale of goods or
on the bare deck; I can work with the crew, if need be. Oh! you need not
doubt that I shall speedily come back."

They talked long together, this mother and this son, and it was her
golden dreams for him that made her invoke Heaven's blessings upon him
and tell him to go. She knew, too, that it was wise for her to tell him
to go and to bless him, for it would have been impossible to withstand
him, so set was he in his purpose.

"I tell you, Dame Charter," said Mr. Delaplaine an hour later, "this son
of yours should be a great credit and pride to you, and he will be, I
stake my word upon it."

"He is now," said the good woman quietly.

"I have been pondering in my brain," said he, "what I should do to
relieve my niece of this burden of anxiety which is weighing upon her. I
could see no way, for letters would be of no use, not knowing where to
send them, and it would be dreary, indeed, to sit and wait and sigh and
dream bad dreams until chance throws some light upon this grievous
business, and here steps up this young fellow and settles the whole
matter. When he comes back, Dame Charter, I shall do well for him; I
shall put him in my counting-house, for, although doubtless he would
fain live his young life in the fields and under the open sky, he will
find the counting-house lies on the road to fortune, and good fortune he
deserves."

If that loving mother could have composed this speech for Master
Delaplaine to make she could not have suited it better to her desires.

When the King and Queen was nearly ready to sail, Dickory Charter,
having been detained by Mr. Delaplaine, who wished the young man to
travel as one of importance and plentiful resources, hurried to the
house to take his final instructions from Mistress Kate Bonnet, in whose
service he was now setting forth. It might have been supposed by some
that no further instructions were necessary, but how could Dickory know
that? He was right. Kate met him before he reached the house.

"I am so glad to see you again before you sail," she said. "One thing
was forgotten: You may see my father; his cruise may be over and he may
be, even now, preparing for me to come back to Bridgetown. If this be
so, urge him rather to come here. I had not thought of your seeing him,
Dickory, and I did not write to him, but you will know what to say. You
have heard that woman talk of me, and you well know I cannot go back to
my old home."

"Oh, I will say all that!" he exclaimed. "It will be the same thing as
if you had written him a long letter. And now I must run back, for the
boat is ready to take me down the river to the port."

"Dickory," said she, and she put out her hand--he had never held that
hand before--"you are so true, Dickory, you are so noble; you are
going--" it was in her mind to say "you are going as my knight-errant,"
but she deemed that unsuitable, and she changed it to--"you are going to
do so much for me."

She stopped for a moment, and then she said: "You know I told you you
should not call me Kate, being so much younger; but, as you are so much
younger, you may kiss me if you like."

"Like!"



CHAPTER X

CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER VINCE


It was truly surprising to see the change which came over the spirits of
our young Kate Bonnet when she heard that the King and Queen had sailed
from Kingston port. She was gay, she was talkative, she sang songs, she
skipped in the paths of the garden. One might have supposed she was so
happy to get rid of the young man on the brig which had sailed away. And
yet, the news she might hear when that young man came back was likely to
be far worse than any misgivings which had entered her mind. Kate's high
spirits delighted her uncle. This child of his sister had grown more
lovely than even her mother had ever been.

Now came days of delight which Kate had never dreamed of. She had not
known that there were such shops in Spanish Town, which, although a
youngish town, had already drawn to itself the fashion and the needs of
fashion of that prosperous colony. With Dame Charter, and often also
with her uncle in company, this bright young girl hovered over fair
fabrics which were spread before her; circled about jewels, gems, and
feathers, and revelled in tender colours as would a butterfly among the
blossoms, dipping and tasting as she flew.

There were some fine folk in Spanish Town, and with this pleasant
society of the capital Mr. Delaplaine renewed his previous intercourse
and Kate soon learned the pleasures of a colonial social circle, whose
attractions, brought from afar, had been warmed into a more cheerful
glow in this bright West Indian atmosphere.

To add to the brilliancy of the new life into which Kate now entered,
there came into the port an English corvette--the Badger--for refitting.
From this welcome man-of-war there flitted up the river to Spanish Town
gallant officers, young and older; and in their flitting they flitted
into the drawing-room of the rich merchant Delaplaine, and there were
some of them who soon found that there were no drawing-rooms in all the
town where they could talk with, walk with, and perchance dance with
such a fine girl as Mistress Kate Bonnet.

Kate greatly fancied gallant partners, whether for walking or talking or
dancing, and among such, those which came from the corvette in the
harbour pleased her most.

Those were not bright days for Dame Charter. Do what she would, her
optimism was growing dim, and what helped to dim it was Kate's gaiety.
It did not comfort her at all when Kate told her that she was so
light-hearted because she knew that Dickory would bring her good news.

"Truly, too many fine young men here," thought Dame Charter, "while
Dickory is away, and all of them together are not worth a curl on his
head."

But, although her dreams were dimmed, she did not cease dreaming. A
stout-hearted woman was Dickory's mother.

But it was not long before there were other people thereabout who began
to feel that their prospects for present enjoyment were beginning to
look a little dim, for Captain Christopher Vince, having met Mistress
Kate Bonnet at an entertainment at the Governor's house, was greatly
struck by this young lady. Each officer of the Badger who saw their
captain in company with the fair one to whom their gallant attentions
had been so freely offered, now felt that in love as well as in
accordance with the regulations of the service, he must give place to
his captain. Moreover, when that captain took upon himself, the very
next day, to call at the residence of Mr. Delaplaine, and repeated the
visit upon the next day and the following, the crestfallen young fellows
were compelled to acknowledge that there were other houses in the town
where it might be better worth their while to spend their leisure hours.

Captain Vince was not a man to be lightly interfered with, whether he
happened to be engaged in the affairs of Mars or Cupid. He was of a
resolute mind, and of a person more than usually agreeable to the female
eye. He was about forty years of age, of an excellent English family,
and with good expectations. He considered himself an admirable judge of
women, but he had never met one who so thoroughly satisfied his
aesthetic taste as this fair niece of the merchant Delaplaine. She had
beauty, she had wit, she had culture, and the fair fabrics of Spanish
Town shops gave to her attractions a setting which would have amazed and
entranced Master Newcombe or our good Dickory. The soul of Captain Vince
was fired, and each time he met Kate and talked with her the fire grew
brighter.

He had never considered himself a marrying man, but that was because he
had never met any one he had cared to marry. Now things were changed.
Here was a girl he had known but for a few days, and already, in his
imagination, he had placed her in the drawing-rooms of the English home
he hoped soon to inherit, more beautiful and even more like a princess
than any noble dame who was likely to frequent those rooms. In fancy he
had seen her by his side, walking through the shaded alleys of his grand
old gardens; he had looked proudly upon her as she stood by him in the
assemblages of the great; in fact, he had fallen suddenly and absolutely
in love with her. When he was away from her he could not quite
understand this condition of things, but when he was with her again he
understood it all. He loved her because it was absolutely impossible for
him to do anything else.

Naturally, Captain Vince was very agreeable to Mistress Kate, for she
had never seen such a handsome man, taking into consideration his
uniform and his bearing, and had never talked with one who knew so well
what to say and how to say it. Comparing him with the young officers who
had been so fond of making their way to her uncle's house, she was glad
that they had ceased to be such frequent visitors.

The soul of Mr. Delaplaine was agitated by the admiration of his niece
which Captain Vince took no trouble to conceal. The worthy merchant
would gladly have kept Kate with him for years and years if she would
have been content to stay, but this could not be expected; and if she
married, from what other quarter could come such a brilliant match as
this? What his brother-in-law might think about it he did not care; if
Kate should choose to wed the captain, such an eccentric and
untrustworthy person should not be permitted to interfere with the
destiny that now appeared to open before his daughter. These thoughts
were not so idle as might have been supposed, for the captain had
already said things to the merchant, in which the circumstances of the
former were made plain and his hopes foreshadowed. If the captain were
not prepared to leave the service, this rich merchant thought, why
should not he make it possible for him to do so, for the sake of his
dear niece?

With these high ambitions in his mind, the happily agitated Mr.
Delaplaine did not hesitate to say some playful words to Kate concerning
the captain of the Badger; and these having been received quietly, he
was emboldened to go on and say some other words more serious.

Then Kate looked at him very steadfastly and remarked: "But, uncle, you
have forgotten Master Newcombe."

The good Delaplaine made no answer, for his emotions made it impossible
for him to do so, but, rising, he went out, and at a little distance
from the house he damned Master Newcombe.

Days passed on and the captain's attentions did not wane. Mr.
Delaplaine, who was a man of honour expecting it in others, made up his
mind that something decisive must soon be said; while Kate began greatly
to fear that something decisive might soon be said. She was in a
difficult position. She was not engaged to Martin Newcombe, but had
believed she might be. The whole affair involved a question which she
did not want to consider. And still the captain came every day,
generally in the afternoon or evening.

But one morning he made his appearance, coming to the house quite
abruptly.

"I am glad to find you by yourself," said he, "for I have some awkward
news."

Kate looked at him surprised.

"I have just been ordered on duty," he continued, "and the order is most
unwelcome. A brig came in last night and brought letters, and the
Governor sent for me this morning. I have just left him. The cruise I am
about to take may not be a long one, but I cannot leave port without
coming here to you and speaking to you of something which is nearer to
my heart than any thought of service, or in fact of anything else."

"Speaking to my uncle, you mean," said Kate, now much disturbed, for she
saw in the captain's eyes what he wished to talk of.

"Away with uncles!" he exclaimed; "we can speak with them by-and-bye;
now my words are for you. You may think me hasty, but we gentlemen
serving the king cannot afford to wait; and so, without other pause, I
say, sweet Mistress Kate, I love you, better than I have ever loved
woman; better than I can ever love another. Nay, do not answer; I must
tell you everything before you reply." And to the pale girl he spoke of
his family, his prospects, and his hopes. In the warmest colours he laid
before her the life and love he would give her. Then he went quickly on:
"This is but a little matter which is given to my charge, and it may not
engage me long; I am going out in search of a pirate, and I shall make
short work of him. The shorter, having such good reason to get quickly
back.

"In fact, he is not a real pirate anyway, being but a country gentleman
tiring of his rural life and liking better to rob, burn, and murder on
the high seas. He has already done so much damage, that if his evil
career be not soon put an end to good people will be afraid to voyage in
these waters. So I am to sail in haste after this fellow Bonnet; but
before--"

Kate's face had grown so white that it seemed to recede from her great
eyes. "He is my father," said she, "but I had not heard until now that
he is a pirate!"

The captain started from his chair. "What!" he cried, "your father? Yes,
I see. It did not strike me until this instant that the names are the
same."

Kate rose, and as she spoke her voice was not full and clear as it was
wont to be. "He is my father," she said, "but he sailed away without
telling me his errand; but now that I know everything, I must--" If she
had intended to say she must go, she changed her mind, and even came
closer to the still astounded captain. "You say that you will make short
work of his vessel; do you mean that you will destroy it, and will you
kill him?"


[Illustration: "He is my father!" said Kate.]

Captain Vince looked down upon her, his face filled with the liveliest
emotions. "My dear young lady," he said, and then he stopped as if
not knowing what words to use. But as he looked into her eyes fixed
upon his own and waiting for his answer, his love for her took
possession of him and banished all else. "Kill him," he exclaimed,
"never! He shall be as safe in my hands as if he were walking in his own
fields. Kill your father, dearest? Loving you as I do, that would be
impossible. I may take the rascals who are with him, I may string them
up to the yard-arm, or I may sink their pirate ship with all of them in
it, but your father shall be safe. Trust me for that; he shall come to
no harm from me."

She stepped a little way from him, and some of her colour came back. For
some moments she looked at him without speaking, as if she did not
exactly comprehend what he had said.

"Yes, my dear," he continued, "I must crush out that piratical crew, for
such is my duty as well as my wish, but your father I shall take under
my protection; so have no fear about him, I beg you. With his ship and
his gang of scoundrels taken away from him, he can no longer be a
pirate, and you and I will determine what we shall do with him."

"You mean," said Kate, speaking slowly, "that for my sake you will
shield my father from the punishment which will be dealt out to his
companions?"

He smiled, and his face beamed upon her. "What blessed words," he
exclaimed. "Yes, for your sake, for your sweet, dear sake I will do
anything; and as for this matter, I assure you there are so many ways--"

"You mean," she interrupted, "that for my sake you will break your oath
of office, that you will be a traitor to your service and your king?
That for my sake you will favour the fortunes of a pirate whom you are
sent out to destroy? Mean it if you please, but you will not do it. I
love my father, and would fain do anything to save him and myself from
this great calamity, but I tell you, sir, that for my sake no man shall
do himself dishonour!"

Without power to say another word, nor to keep back for another second
the anguish which raged within her, she fled like a bird and was gone.

The captain stretched out his arms as if he would seize her; he rushed
to the door through which she had passed, but she was gone. He followed
her, shouting to the startled servants who came; he swore, and demanded
to see their mistress; he rushed through rooms and corridors, and even
made as if he would mount the stairs. Presently a woman came to him, and
told him that under no circumstances could Mistress Bonnet now be seen.

But he would not leave the house. He called for writing materials, but
in an instant threw down the pen. Again he called a servant and sent a
message, which was of no avail. Dame Charter would have gone down to
him, but Kate was in her arms. For several minutes the furious officer
stood by the chair in which Kate had been sitting; he could not
comprehend the fact that this girl had discarded and had scorned him.
And yet her scorn had not in the least dampened the violence of his
love. As she stood and spoke her last bitter words, the grandeur of her
beauty had made him speechless to defend himself.

He seized his hat and rushed from the house; hot, and with blazing eyes,
he appeared in the counting-room of Mr. Delaplaine, and there, to that
astounded merchant, he told, with brutal cruelty, of his orders to
destroy the pirate Bonnet, his niece's father; and then he related the
details of his interview with that niece herself.

Mr. Delaplaine's countenance, at first shocked and pained, grew
gradually sterner and colder. Presently he spoke. "I will hear no more
such words, Captain Vince," he said, "regarding the members of my
family. You say my niece knows not what fortune she trifles with; I
think she does. And when she told you she would not accept the offer of
your dishonour, I commend her every word."

Captain Vince frowned black as night, and clapped his hand to his
sword-hilt; but the pale merchant made no movement of defence, and the
captain, striking his clinched fist against the table, dashed from the
room. Before he reached his ship he had sworn a solemn oath: he vowed
that he would follow that pirate ship; he would kill, burn, destroy,
annihilate, but out of the storm and the fire he would pick unharmed the
father of the girl who had entranced him and had spurned him. He laughed
savagely as he thought of it. With that dolt of a father in his hands, a
man wearing always around his neck the hangman's noose, he would hold
the card which would give him the game. What Mistress Kate Bonnet might
say or do; what she might like or might not like; what her ideas about
honour might be or might not be, it would be a very different thing when
he, her imperious lover, should hold the end of that noose in his hand.
She might weep, she might rave, but come what would, she was the man's
daughter, and she would be Lady Vince.

So he went on board the Badger, and he cursed and he commanded and he
raged; and his officers and his men, when the hurried violence of his
commands gave them a chance to speak to each other, muttered that they
pitied that pirate and his crew when the Badger came up with them.

Clouds settled down upon the home of Mr. Delaplaine. There were no
visitors, there was no music, there seemed to be no sunshine. The
beautiful fabrics, the jewels, and the feathers were seen no more. It
was Kate of the broken heart who wandered under the trees and among the
blossoms, and knew not that there existed such things as cooling shade
and sweet fragrance. She could not be comforted, for, although her uncle
told her that he had had information that her father's ship had sailed
northward, and that it was, therefore, likely that the corvette would
not overtake him, she could not forget that, whatever of good or evil
befell that father, he was a pirate, and he had deserted her.

So they said but little, the uncle and the niece, who sorrowed quietly.

Dame Charter was in a strange state of mind. During the frequent visits
of Captain Vince she had been apprehensive and troubled, and her only
comfort was that the Badger had merely touched at this port to refit,
and that she must soon sail away and take with her her captain. The good
woman had begun to expect and to hope for the return of Dickory, but
later she had blessed her stars that he was not there. He was a fiery
boy, her brave son, but it would have been a terrible thing for him to
become involved with an officer in the navy, a man with a long, keen
sword.

Now that the captain had raged himself away from the Delaplaine house
her spirits rose, and her great fear was that the corvette might not
leave port before the brig came in. If Dickory should hear of the things
that captain had said--but she banished such thoughts from her mind, she
could not bear them.

After some days the corvette sailed, and the Governor spoke well of the
diligence and ardour which had urged Captain Vince to so quickly set out
upon his path of duty.

"When Dickory comes back," said Dame Charter to Kate, "he may bring some
news to cheer your poor heart, things get so twisted in the telling."

Kate shook her head. "Dickory cannot tell me anything now," she said,
"that I care to know, knowing so much. My father is a pirate, and a
king's ship has gone out to destroy him, and what could Dickory tell me
that would cheer me?"

But Dame Charter's optimism was beginning to take heart again and to
spread its wings.

"Ah, my dear, you don't know what good things do in this life
continually crop up. A letter from your father, possibly withheld by
that wicked Madam Bonnet--which is what Dickory and I both think--or
some good words from the town that your father has sold his ship, and is
on his way home. Nobody knows what good news that Dickory may bring with
him."

The poor girl actually smiled. She was young, and in the heart of youth
there is always room for some good news, or for the hope of them.

But the smile vanished altogether when she went to her room and wrote a
letter to Martin Newcombe. In this letter, which was a long one, she
told her lover how troubled she had been. That she had nothing now to
ask him about the bad news he had, in his kindness, forborne to tell
her, and that when he saw Dickory Charter he might say to him from her
that there was no need to make any further inquiries about her father;
she knew enough, and far too much--more, most likely, than any one in
Bridgetown knew. Then she told him of Captain Vince and the dreadful
errand of the corvette Badger.

Having done this, Kate became as brave as any captain of a British
man-of-war, and she told her lover that he must think no more of her; it
was not for him to pay court to the daughter of a pirate. And so, she
blessed him and bade him farewell.

When she had signed and sealed this letter she felt as if she had torn
out a chapter of her young life and thrown it upon the fire.



CHAPTER XI

BAD WEATHER


When Dickory Charter sailed away from the island of Jamaica, his reason,
had it been called upon, would have told him that he had a good stout
brig under him on which there were people and ropes and sails and
something to eat and drink. But in those moments of paradise he did not
trouble his reason very much, and lived in an atmosphere of joy which he
did not attempt to analyze, but was content to breathe as if it had been
the common air about him. He was going away from every one he loved, and
yet never before had he been so happy in going to any one he loved. He
cared to talk to no one on board, but in company with his joy he stood
and gazed westward out over the sea.

He was but little younger than she was, and yet that difference, so
slight, had lifted him from things of earth and had placed him in that
paradise where he now dwelt.

So passed on the hours, so rolled the waves, and so moved the King and
Queen before the favouring breeze.

It was on the second day out that the breeze began to be less favouring,
and there were signs of a storm; and, in spite of his preoccupied
condition, Dickory was obliged to notice the hurried talk of the
officers about him, he occupying a point of vantage on the quarter-deck.
Presently he turned and asked of some one if there was likelihood of bad
weather. The mate, to whom he had spoken, said somewhat unpleasantly,
"Bad weather enough, I take it, as we may all soon know; but it is not
wind or rain. There is bad weather for you! Do you see that?"

Dickory looked, and saw far away, but still distinct, a vessel under
full sail with a little black spot floating high above it.

He turned to the man for explanation. "And what is that?" he said.

"It is a pirate ship," said the other, his face hardening as he spoke,
"and it will soon be firing at us to heave to."

At that moment there was a flash at the bow of the approaching vessel, a
little smoke, and then the report of a cannon came over the water.

Without further delay, the captain and crew of the King and Queen went
to work and hove to their brig.

Young Dickory Charter also hove to. He did not know exactly why, but his
dream stopped sailing over a sea of delight. They stood motionless,
their sails flapping in the wind.

"Pirates!" he thought to himself, cold shivers running through him, "is
this brig to be taken? Am I to be taken? Am I not to go to Barbadoes, to
Bridgetown, her home? Am I not to take her back the good news which will
make her happy? Are these things possible?"

He stared over the water, he saw the swiftly approaching vessel, he
could distinguish the skull and bones upon the black flag which flew
above her.

These things were possible, and his heart fell; but it was not with
fear. Dickory Charter was as bold a fellow as ever stood on the deck in
a sea fight, but his heart fell at the thought that he might not be
going to her old home, and that he might not sail back with good news to
her.

As the swift-sailing pirate ship sped on, Ben Greenway came aft to
Captain Bonnet, and a grievous grin was on the Scotchman's face.

"Good greetin's to ye, Master Bonnet," said he, "ye're truly good to
your old friends an' neebours an' pass them not by, even when your
pockets are burstin' wi' Spanish gold."

A minute before this Captain Stede Bonnet had been in a very pleasant
state of mind. It was only two days ago that he had captured a Spanish
ship, from which he got great gain, including considerable stores of
gold. Everything of value had been secured, the tall galleon had been
burned, and its crew had been marooned on a barren spot on the coast of
San Domingo. The spoils had been divided, at least every man knew what
his share was to be, and the officers and the crew of the Revenge were
in a well-contented state of mind. In fact, Captain Bonnet would not
have sailed after a little brig, certainly unsuited to carry costly
cargo, had it not been that his piratical principle made it appear to
him a point of conscience to prey upon all mercantile craft, little or
big, which might come in his way. Thus it was, that he was sailing
merrily after the King and Queen, when Ben Greenway came to him with his
disturbing words.

"What mean you?" cried Bonnet. "Know you that vessel?"

"Ay, weel," said Ben, "it is the King and Queen, bound, doubtless, for
Bridgetown. I tell ye, Master Bonnet, that it was a great deal o'
trouble an' expense ye put yersel' to when ye went into your present
line o' business on this ship. Ye could have stayed at hame, where she
is owned, an' wi' these fine fellows that ye have gathered thegither, ye
might have robbed your neebours right an' left wi'out the trouble o'
goin' to sea."

"Ben Greenway," roared the captain, "I will have no more of this. Is it
not enough for me to be annoyed and worried by these everlasting ships
of Bridgetown, which keep sailing across my bows, no matter in what
direction I go, without hearing your jeers and sneers regarding the
matter? I tell you, Ben Greenway, I will not have it. I will not suffer
these paltry vessels, filled, perhaps, with the grocers and cloth
dealers from my own town, to interfere thus with the bold career that I
have chosen. I tell you, Ben Greenway, I'll make an example of this one.
I am a pirate, and I will let them know it--these fellows in their
floating shops. It will be a fair and easy thing to sink this tub
without more ado. I'd rather meet three Spanish ships, even had they
naught aboard, than one of these righteous craft commanded by my most
respectable friends and neighbours."

Black Paul, the sailing-master, had approached and had heard the greater
part of these remarks.

"Better board her and see what she carries," said he, "before we sink
her. The men have been talking about her and, many of them, favour not
the trouble of marooning those on board of her. So, say most of us,
let's get what we can from her, and then quickly rid ourselves of her
one way or another."

"'Tis well!" cried Bonnet, "we can riddle her hull and sink her."

"Wi' the neebours on board?" asked Greenway.

Captain Bonnet scowled blackly.

"Ben Greenway," he shouted, "it would serve you right if I tied you
hand and foot and bundled you on board that brig, after we have stripped
her, if haply she have anything on board we care for."

"An' then sink her?" asked the Scotchman.

"Ay, sink her!" replied Bonnet. "Thus would I rid myself of a man who
vexes me every moment that I lay my eyes on him, and, moreover, it would
please you; for you would die in the midst of those friends and
neighbours you have such a high regard for. That would put an end to
your cackle, and there would be no gossip in the town about it."

The sailing-master now came aft. The vessel had been put about and was
slowly approaching the brig. "Shall we make fast?" asked Black Paul. "If
we do we shall have to be quick about it; the sea is rising, and that
clumsy hulk may do us damage."

For a moment Captain Bonnet hesitated, he was beginning to learn
something of the risks and dangers of a nautical life, and here was real
danger if the two vessels ran nearer each other. Suddenly he turned and
glared at Greenway. "Make fast!" he cried savagely, "make fast! if it be
only for a minute."

"Do ye think in your heart," asked the Scotchman grimly, "that ye're
pirate enough for that?"



CHAPTER XII

FACE TO FACE


With her head to the wind the pirate vessel Revenge bore down slowly
upon the King and Queen, now lying to and awaiting her. The stiff breeze
was growing stiffer and the sea was rising. The experienced eye of Paul
Bittern, the sailing-master of the pirate, now told him that it would be
dangerous to approach the brig near enough to make fast to her, even for
the minute which Captain Bonnet craved--the minute which would have been
long enough for a couple of sturdy fellows to toss on board the prize
that exasperating human indictment, Ben Greenway.

"We cannot do it," shouted Black Paul to Bonnet, "we shall run too near
her as it is. Shall we let fly at short range and riddle her hull?"

Captain Bonnet did not immediately answer; the situation puzzled him. He
wanted very much to put the Scotchman on board the brig, and after that
he did not care what happened. But before he could speak, there appeared
on the rail of the King and Queen, holding fast to a shroud, the figure
of a young man, who put his hand to his mouth and hailed:

"Throw me a line! Throw me a line!"

Such an extraordinary request at such a time naturally amazed the
pirates, and they stood staring, as they crowded along the side of their
vessel.

"If you are not going to board her," shouted Dickory again, "throw me a
line!"

Filled with curiosity to know what this strange proceeding meant, Black
Paul ordered that a line be thrown, and, in a moment, a tall fellow
seized a coil of light rope and hurled it through the air in the
direction of the brig; but the rope fell short, and the outer end of it
disappeared beneath the water. Now the spirit of Black Paul was up. If
the fellow on the brig wanted a line he wanted to come aboard, and if he
wanted to come aboard, he should do so. So he seized a heavier coil and,
swinging it around his head, sent it, with tremendous force, towards
Dickory, who made a wild grab at it and caught it.

Although a comparatively light line, it was a long one, and the slack of
it was now in the water, so that Dickory had to pull hard upon it before
he could grasp enough of it to pass around his body. He had scarcely
done this, and had made a knot in it, before a lurch of the brig brought
a strain on the rope, and he was incontinently jerked overboard.

The crew of the merchantman, who had not had time to comprehend what the
young fellow was about to do, would have grasped him had he remained on
the rail a moment longer, but now he was gone into the sea, and, working
vigorously with his legs and arms, was endeavouring to keep his head
above water while the pirates at the other end of the rope pulled him
swiftly towards their vessel.

Great was the excitement on board the Revenge. Why should a man from a
merchantman endeavour, alone, to board a vessel which flew the Jolly
Roger? Did he wish to join the crew? Had they been ill-treating him on
board the brig? Was he a criminal endeavouring to escape from the
officers of the law? It was impossible to answer any of these questions,
and so the swarthy rascals pulled so hard and so steadily upon the line
that the knot in it, which Dickory had not tied properly, became a
slipknot, and the poor fellow's breath was nearly squeezed out of him as
he was hauled over the rough water. When he reached the vessel's side
there was something said about lowering a ladder, but the men who were
hauling on the line were in a hurry to satisfy their curiosity, so up
came Dickory straight from the water to the rail, and that proceeding
so increased the squeezing that the poor fellow fell upon the deck
scarcely able to gasp. When the rope was loosened the half-drowned and
almost breathless Dickory raised himself and gave two or three deep
breaths, but he could not speak, despite the fact that a dozen rough
voices were asking him who he was and what he wanted.

With the water pouring from him in streams, and his breath coming from
him in puffs, he looked about him with great earnestness.

Suddenly a man rushed through the crowd of pirates and stooped to look
at the person who had so strangely come aboard. Then he gave a shout.
"It is Dickory Charter," he cried, "Dickory Charter, the son o' old Dame
Charter! Ye Dickory! an' how in the name o' all that's blessed did ye
come here? Master Bonnet! Master Bonnet!" he shouted to the captain, who
now stood by, "it is young Dickory Charter, of Bridgetown. He was on
board this vessel before we sailed, wi' Mistress Kate an' me. The last
time I saw her he was wi' her."

"What!" exclaimed Bonnet, "with my daughter?"

"Ay, ay!" said Greenway, "it must have been a little before she went on
shore."

"Young man!" cried Bonnet, stooping towards Dickory, "when did you last
see my daughter? Do you know anything of her?"

The young man opened his mouth, but he could not yet do much in the way
of speaking, but he managed to gasp, "I come from her, I am bringing you
a message."

"A message from Kate!" shouted Bonnet, now in a state of wild
excitement. "Here you, Greenway, lift up the other arm, and we will take
him to my cabin. Quick, man! Quick, man! he must have some spirits and
dry clothes. Make haste now! A message from my daughter!"

"If that's so," said Greenway, as he and Bonnet hurried the young man
aft, "ye'd better no' be in too great haste to get his message out o'
him or ye'll kill him wi' pure recklessness."

Bonnet took the advice, and before many minutes Dickory was in dry
clothes and feeling the inspiriting influence of a glass of good old
rum. Now came Black Paul, wanting to know if he should sink the brig and
be done with her, for they couldn't lie by in such weather.

"Don't you fire on that ship!" yelled Bonnet, "don't you dare it! For
all I know, my daughter may be on board of her."

At this Dickory shook his head. "No," said he, "she is not on board."

"Then let her go," cried Bonnet, "I have no time to fool with the
beggarly hulk. Let her go! I have other business here. And now, sir,"
addressing Dickory, "what of my daughter? You have got your breath now,
tell me quickly! What is your message from her? When did you sail from
Bridgetown? Did she expect me to overhaul that brig? How in the name of
all the devils could she expect that?"

"Come, come now, Master Bonnet!" exclaimed the Scotchman, "ye are
talkin' o' your daughter, the good an' beautiful Mistress Kate, an' no
matter whether ye are a pirate or no, ye must keep a guard on your
tongue. An' if ye think she knew where to find ye, ye must consider her
an angel an' no' to be spoken o' in the same breath as de'ils."

"I didn't sail from Bridgetown," said Dickory, "and your daughter is not
there. I come from Jamaica, where she now is, and was bound to
Bridgetown to seek news of you, hoping that you had returned there."

"Which, if he had," said Ben, who found it very difficult to keep quiet,
"ye would hae been under the necessity o' givin' your message to his
bones hangin' in chains."

Bonnet looked savagely at Ben, but he had no time even to curse.

"Jamaica!" he cried, "how did she get there? Tell me quickly, sir--tell
me quickly! Do you hear?"

Dickory was now quite recovered and he told his story, not too quickly,
and with much attention to details. Even the account of the unusual
manner in which he and Kate had disembarked from the pirate vessel was
given without curtailment, nor with any attention to the approving
grunts of Ben Greenway. When he came to speak of the letter which Mr.
Newcombe had written her, and which had thrown her into such despair on
account of its shortcomings, Captain Bonnet burst into a fury of
execration.

"And she never got my letter?" he cried, "and knew not what had happened
to me. It is that wife of mine, that cruel wild-cat! I sent the letter
to my house, thinking, of course, it would find my daughter there. For
where else should she be?"

"An' a maist extraordinary wise mon ye were to do that," said Ben
Greenway, "for ye might hae known, if ye had ever thought o' it at all,
that the place where your wife was, was the place where your daughter
couldna be, an' ye no' wi' her. If ye had spoke to me about it, it would
hae gone to Mr. Newcombe, an' then ye'd hae known that she'd be sure to
get it."

At this a slight cloud passed over Dickory's face, and, in spite of the
misfortunes which had followed upon the non-delivery of her father's
letter, he could not help congratulating himself that it had not been
sent to the care of that man Newcombe. He had not had time to formulate
the reasons why this proceeding would have been so distasteful to him,
but he wanted Martin Newcombe to have nothing to do with the good or bad
fortune of Mistress Kate, whose champion he had become and whose father
he had found, and to whom he was now talking, face to face.

The three talked for a long time, during which Black Paul had put the
vessel about upon her former course, and was sailing swiftly to the
north. As Dickory went on, Bonnet ceased to curse, but, over and over,
blessed his brother-in-law, as a good man and one of the few worthy to
take into his charge the good and beautiful. Stede Bonnet had always
been very fond of his daughter, and, now, as it became known to him into
what desperate and direful condition his reckless conduct had thrown
her, he loved her more and more, and grieved greatly for the troubles he
had brought upon her.

"But it'll be all right now," he cried, "she's with her good uncle, who
will show her the most gracious kindness, both for her mother's sake and
for her own; and I will see to it that she be not too heavy a charge
upon him."

"As for ye, Dickory," exclaimed Greenway, "ye're a brave boy an' will
yet come to be an' honour to yer mither's declining years an' to the
memory o' your father. But how did ye ever come to think o' boardin'
this nest o' sea-de'ils, an' at such risk to your life?"

"I did it," said Dickory simply, "because Mistress Kate's father was
here, and I was bound to come to him wherever I should find him, for
that was my main errand. They told me on the brig that it was Captain
Bonnet's ship that was overhauling us, and I vowed that as soon as she
boarded us I would seek him out and give him her message; and when I
heard that the sea was getting too heavy for you to board us, I
determined to come on board if I could get hold of a line."

"Young man," cried Bonnet, rising to his full height and swelling his
chest, "I bestow upon you a father's blessing. More than that"--and as
he spoke he pulled open a drawer of a small locker--"here's a bag of
gold pieces, and when you take my answer you shall have another like
it."

But Dickory did not reach out his hand for the money, nor did he say a
word.

"Don't be afraid," cried Bonnet. "If you have any religious scruples, I
will tell you that this gold I did not get by piracy. It is part of my
private fortune, and came as honestly to me as I now give it to you."

But Dickory did not reach out his hand.

Now up spoke Ben Greenway: "Look ye, boy," said he, "as long as there's
a chance left o' gettin' honest gold on board this vessel, I pray ye,
seize it, an' if ye're afraid o' this gold, thinkin' it may be smeared
wi' the blood o' fathers an' the tears o' mithers, I'll tell ye ane
thing, an' that is, that Master Bonnet hasna got to be so much o' a
pirate that he willna tell the truth. So I'll tak' the money for ye,
Dickory, an' I'll keep it till ye're ready to tak' it to your mither;
an' I hope that will be soon."



CHAPTER XIII

CAPTAIN BONNET GOES TO CHURCH


The pirate vessel Revenge was now bound to the coast of the Carolinas
and Virginia, and perhaps even farther north, if her wicked fortune
should favour her. The growing commerce of the colonies offered great
prizes in those days to the piratical cruisers which swarmed up and down
the Atlantic coast. To lie over for a time off the coast of Charles Town
was Captain Bonnet's immediate object, and to get there as soon as
possible was almost a necessity.

The crew of desperate scoundrels whom he had gathered together had
discovered that their captain knew nothing of navigation or the
management of a ship, and there were many of them who believed that if
Black Paul had chosen to turn the vessel's bows to the coast of South
America, Bonnet would not have known that they were not sailing
northward. Thus they had lost all respect for him, and their conduct was
kept within bounds only by the cruel punishments which he inflicted for
disobedience or general bad conduct, and which were rendered possible by
the dissensions and bad feelings among the men themselves; one clique or
faction being always ready to help punish another. Consequently, the
landsman pirate would speedily have been tossed overboard and the
command given to another, had it not been that the men were not at all
united in their opinions as to who that other should be.

There was also another very good reason for Bonnet's continuance in
authority; he was a good divider, and, so far, had been a good provider.
If he should continue to take prizes, and to give each man under him his
fair share of the plunder, the men were likely to stand by him until
some good reason came for their changing their minds. So with floggings
and irons, on deck and below, and with fair winds filling the sails
above, the Revenge kept on her way; and, in spite of the curses and
quarrels and threats which polluted the air through which the stout ship
sailed, there was always good-natured companionship wherever the
captain, Dickory, and Ben Greenway found themselves together. There
seemed to be no end to the questions which Bonnet asked about his
daughter, and when he had asked them all he began over again, and
Dickory made answer, as he had done before.

The young fellow was growing very anxious at this northern voyage, and
when he asked questions they always related to the probability of his
getting back to Jamaica with news from the father of Mistress Kate
Bonnet. The captain encouraged the hopes of an early return, and vowed
to Dickory that he would send him to Spanish Town with a letter to his
daughter just as soon as an opportunity should show itself.

When the Revenge reached the mouth of Charles Town harbour she stationed
herself there, and in four days captured three well-laden merchantmen;
two bound outward, and one going in from England.

Thus all went well, and with willing hands to man her yards and a
proudly strutting captain on her quarter-deck, the pirate ship renewed
her northward course, and spread terror and made prizes even as far as
the New England coast; and if Dickory had had any doubts that the late
reputable planter of Bridgetown had now become a veritable pirate he had
many opportunities of setting himself right. Bonnet seemed to be growing
proud of his newly acquired taste for rapacity and cruelty. Merchantmen
were recklessly robbed and burned, their crews and passengers, even
babes and women, being set on shore in some desolate spot, to perish or
survive, the pirate cared not which, and if resistance were offered,
bloody massacres or heartless drownings were almost sure to follow, and,
as his men coveted spoils and delighted in cruelty, he satisfied them to
their heart's content.

"I tell you, Dickory Charter," said he, one day, "when you see my
daughter I want you to make her understand that I am a real pirate, and
not playing at the business. She's a brave girl, my daughter Kate, and
what I do, she would have me do well and not half-heartedly, to make her
ashamed of me. And then, there is my brother-in-law, Delaplaine. I don't
believe that he had a very high opinion of me when I was a plain farmer
and planter, and I want him to think better of me now. A bold, fearless
pirate cannot be looked upon with disrespect."

Dickory groaned in his heart that this man was the father of Kate.

Turning southward, rounding the cape of Delaware, the Revenge ran up the
bay, seeking some spot where she might take in water, casting anchor
before a little town on the coast of New Jersey. Here, while some of the
men were taking in water, others of the crew were allowed to go on
shore, their captain swearing to them that if they were guilty of any
disorder they should suffer for it. "On my vessel," he swore, "I am a
pirate, but when I go on shore I am a gentleman, and every one in my
service shall behave himself as a gentleman. I beg of you to remember
that."

Agreeable to this principle, Captain Bonnet arrayed himself in a fine
suit of clothes, and without arms, excepting a genteel sword, and
carrying a cane, he landed with Ben Greenway and Dickory, and proceeded
to indulge himself in a promenade up the main street of the town.

The citizens of the place, terrified and amazed at this bold conduct of
a vessel fearlessly flying a black flag with the skull and bones, could
do nothing but await their fate. The women and children, and many of the
men, hid themselves in garrets and cellars, and those of the people who
were obliged to remain visible trembled and prayed, but Captain Stede
Bonnet walked boldly up the right-hand side of the main street waving
his cane in the air as he spoke to the people, assuring them that he and
his men came on an errand of business, seeking nothing but some fresh
water and an opportunity to stretch their legs on solid ground.

"If you have meat and drink," he cried, "bestow it freely upon my men,
tired of the unsavoury food on shipboard, and if they transgress the
laws of hospitality then I, their captain, shall be your avenger; we
want none of your goods or money, having enough in our well-laden vessel
to satisfy all your necessities, if ye have them, and to feel it not."

The men strolled along the street, swarmed into the two little taverns,
soon making away with their small stores of ale and spirits, and
accepting everything eatable offered them by the shivering citizens; but
as to violence there was none, for every man of the rascally crew bore
enmity against most of the others, and held himself ready for a chance
to report a shipmate or to break his head.

Black Paul was a powerful aid in the preservation of order among the
disorderly. Conflicts between factions of the crew were greatly feared
by him, for the schemes which happy chance had caused to now revolve
themselves in his master mind would have been sadly interfered with by
want of concord among the men of the Revenge.

Captain Bonnet, followed at a short distance by Dickory and Ben, was
interested in everything he saw. A man of intelligence and considerable
reading, it pleased him to note the peculiarities of the people of a
country which he had never visited. The houses, the shops, and even the
attire of the citizens, were novel and well worthy of his observation.
He looked over garden walls, he gazed out upon the fields which were
visible from the upper end of the street, and when he saw a man who was
able to command his speech he asked him questions.

There was a little church, standing back from the thoroughfare, its door
wide open, and this was an instant attraction to the pirate captain, who
opened the gate of the yard and walked up to it.

"That I should ever again see Master Stede Bonnet goin' into a church
was something I didna dream o', Dickory," said Ben Greenway, "it will
be a meeracle, an' I doubt if he dares to pass the door wi' his sins an'
his plunders on his head."

But Captain Bonnet did pass the door, reverentially removing his hat, if
not his crimes, as he entered. In but few ways it resembled the houses
of worship to which he had been accustomed in his earlier days, and he
gazed eagerly from side to side as he slowly walked up the central
aisle. Dickory was about to follow him, but he was suddenly jerked back
by the Scotchman, who forcibly drew him away from the door.

"Look ye," whispered Ben, speaking quickly, under great excitement,
"look ye, Dickory, Heaven has sent us our chance. He's in there safe an'
sound, an' the good angels will keep his mind occupied. I'll quietly
close the door an' turn the key, then I'll slip around to the back, an'
if there be anither door there, I'll stop it some way, if it be not
already locked. Now, Dickory boy, make your heels fly! I noticed, before
we got here, that some o' the men were makin' their way to the boats;
dash ye amang them, Dickory, an' tell them that the day they've been
longin' for, ever since they set foot on the vessel, has now come. Their
captain is a prisoner, an' they are free to hurry on board their vessel
an' carry awa wi' them a' their vile plunder."

"What!" exclaimed Dickory, speaking so earnestly that the Scotchman
pulled him farther away from the church, "do you mean that you would
leave Captain Bonnet here by himself, in a foreign town?"

"No' a bit o' it," said Ben, "I'll stay wi' him an' so will you. Now
run, Dickory!"

"Ben!" exclaimed the other, "you don't know what you are talking about!
Captain Bonnet would be seized and tried as a pirate. His blood would be
on your head, Ben!"

"I canna talk about that now," said Ben impatiently, "ye think too much
o' the man's body, Dickory, an' I am considerin' his soul."

"And I am considering his daughter," said Dickory fearlessly; "do you
suppose I am going to help to have her father hanged?" and with these
words he made a movement towards the door.

The eager Scotchman seized him. "Dickory, bethink yoursel'," said he. "I
don't want to hang him, I want to save him, body an' soul. We will get
him awa' from here after the ship has gone, he will be helpless then, he
canna be a pirate a minute longer, an' he will give up an' do what I
tell him. We can leave before there is ony talk o' trial or hangin'.
Run, Dickory, run! Ye're sinfully losin' time. Think o' his soul,
Dickory; it's his only chance!"

With a great jerk Dickory freed himself from the grasp of the Scotchman.

"It is Kate Bonnet I am thinking of!" he exclaimed, and with that he
bolted into the church.

The captain was examining the little pulpit. "Haste ye! haste ye!"
cried Dickory, "your men are all hurrying to the boats, they will leave
you behind if they can; that's what they are after."

[Illustration: "Haste ye! haste ye," cried Dickory, "they will leave you
behind."]

Bonnet turned quickly. He took in the situation in a second. With a few
bounds he was out of the church, nearly overturning Ben Greenway as he
passed him. Without a word he ran down the street, his cane thrown away,
and his drawn sword in his hand.

Dickory's warning had not come a minute too soon; one boat full of men
was pulling towards the ship, and others were hurrying in the direction
of an empty boat which awaited them at the pier. Bonnet, with Dickory
close at his heels, ran with a most amazing rapidity, while Greenway
followed at a little distance, scarcely able to maintain the speed.

"What means this?" cried Bonnet, now no longer a gentleman, but a savage
pirate, and as he spoke he thrust aside two of the men who were about to
get into the boat, and jumped in himself. "What means this?" he
thundered.

Black Paul answered quietly: "I was getting the men on board," he said,
"so as to save time, and I was coming back for you."

Bonnet glared at his sailing-master, but he did not swear at him, he was
too useful a man, but in his heart he vowed that he would never trust
Paul Bittern again, and that as soon as he could he would get rid of
him.

But when he reached the ship, three men out of each boat's crew,
selected at random to represent the rest, were tied up and flogged, the
blows being well laid on by scoundrels very eager to be brutal, even to
their own shipmates.

"Ah! Dickory, Dickory," cried Ben Greenway, as they were sailing down
the bay, "ye have loaded your soul wi' sin this day; I fear ye'll never
rise from under it. Whatever vile deeds that Major Bonnet may henceforth
be guilty o' ye'll be responsible for them a', Dickory, for every ane o'
them."

"He's bad enough, Ben," said the other, "and it's many a wicked deed he
may do yet, but I am going to carry news of him to his daughter if I
can; and what's more, I am not going to stay behind and be hanged, even
if it is in such good company as Major Bonnet and you, Ben Greenway."

Whatever should happen on the rest of that voyage; whether the
well-intentioned treachery of Ben Greenway, or the secret villainies of
the crew, should prevail; whether disaster or success should come to the
planter pirate, Dickory Charter resolved in his soul that a message from
her father should go to Kate Bonnet, and that he should carry it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The spirits of Dickory rose very much as the bow of the Revenge was
pointed southward. Every mile that the pirate vessel sailed brought him
nearer to the delivery of his message--a message which, while it told of
her father's wicked career, still told her of his safety and of his
steadfast affection for her. Indirectly, the bringing of such a message,
and the story of how the bearer brought it, might have another effect,
which, although he had no right to expect, was never absent from
Dickory's soul. This ardent young lover did not believe in Master Martin
Newcombe. He had no good reason for not believing in him, but his want
of faith did not depend upon reason. If lovers reasoned too much, it
would be a sad world for many of them.

When the Revenge stopped in her progress towards the heavenly Island of
Jamaica, or at least that island which was the abode of an angel, and
anchored off Charles Town harbour, South Carolina, Dickory fumed and
talked impatiently to his friend Ben Greenway. Why a man, even though he
were a pirate, and therefore of an avaricious nature, should want more
booty, when his vessel was already crowded with valuable goods, he could
not imagine.

But Ben Greenway could very easily imagine. "When the spirit o' sin is
upon ye," said the Scotchman, "the more an' more wicked ye're likely to
be; an' ye must no' forget, Dickory, that every new crime he commits,
an' a' the property he steals, an' a' the unfortunate people he maroons,
will hae to be answered for by ye, Dickory, when the time comes for ye
to stand up an' say what ye hae got to say about your ain sins. If ye
had stood by me an' helped to cut him short in his nefarious career, he
might now be beginnin' a new life in some small coastin' vessel bound
for Barbadoes."

Dickory gave an impatient kick at the mast near which he was standing.
"It would have been more likely," said he, "that before this he would
have begun a new life on the gallows with you and me alongside of him,
and how do you suppose you would have got rid of the sin on your soul
when you thought of his orphan daughter in Jamaica?"

"Your thoughts are too much on that daughter," snapped Greenway, "an'
no' enough on her father's soul."

"I am tired of her father's soul," said Dickory. "I wonder what new
piece of mischief they are going to do here; there are no ships to be
robbed?"

Dickory did not know very much, or care very much about the sea and its
commerce, and some ships to be robbed soon made their appearance. One
was a large merchantman, with a full cargo, and the other was a bark,
northward bound, in ballast. The acquisition of the latter vessel put a
new idea into Captain Bonnet's head. The Revenge was already overloaded,
and he determined to take the bark as a tender to relieve him of a
portion of his cargo and to make herself useful in the business of
marooning and such troublesome duties.

Being now commander of two vessels, which might in time increase to a
little fleet, Captain Bonnet's ideas of his own importance as a terror
of the sea increased rapidly. On the Revenge he was more despotic and
severe than ever before, while the villain who had been chosen to
command the tender, because he had a fair knowledge of navigation, was
informed that if he kept the bark more than a mile from the flag-ship,
he would be sunk with the vessel and all on board. The loss of the bark
and some men would be nothing compared to the maintenance of discipline,
quoth the planter pirate.

Bonnet's ambition rose still higher and higher. He was not content with
being a relentless pirate, bloody if need be, but he longed for
recognition, for a position among his fellow-terrors of the sea, which
should be worthy of a truly wicked reputation. A pirate bold, he would
consort with pirates bold. So he set sail for the Gulf of Honduras, then
a great rendezvous for piratical craft of many nations. If the father of
Kate Bonnet had captured and burned a dozen ships, and had forced every
sailor and passenger thereupon to walk a plank, he would not have sinned
more deeply in the eyes, of Dickory Charter than he did by thus
ruthlessly, inhumanly, hard-heartedly, and altogether shamefully
ignoring and pitilessly passing by that island on which dwelt an angel,
his own daughter.

But Bonnet declared to the young man that it would now be dangerous for
him and his ship to approach the harbour of Kingston, generally the
resort of British men-of-war, but in the waters of Honduras he could not
fail to find some quiet merchant ship by which he could send a message
to his daughter. Ay! and in which--and the pirate's eye glistened with
parental joy as this thought came into his mind--he might, disguised as
a plain gentleman, make a visit to Mistress Kate and to his good
brother-in-law, Delaplaine.

So Dickory was now to be satisfied, and even to admit that there might
be some good common sense in these remarks of that most uncommon pirate,
Captain Bonnet.

So the Revenge, with her tender, sailed southward, through the fair
West-Indian waters and by the fair West-Indian isles, to join herself to
the piratical fleet generally to be found in the waters of Honduras.



CHAPTER XIV

A GIRL TO THE FRONT


The days were getting very long at Spanish Town, although there were no
more hours of sunlight than was usual at the season; and even the
optimism of Dame Charter was scarcely able to brighten her own soul,
much less that of Kate Bonnet, who had almost forgotten what it was to
be optimistic. Poor Mr. Delaplaine, whose life had begun to cheer up
wonderfully since the arrival of his niece and her triumphant entry into
the society of the town, became more gloomy than he had been since the
months which followed the death of his wife. Over and over did he wish
that his brother-in-law Bonnet had long since been shut up in some place
where his eccentricities could do no harm to his fellow-creatures,
especially to his most lovely daughter.

Mistress Kate Bonnet was not a girl to sit quietly under the tremendous
strain which bore upon her after the departure of the Badger. How could
she be contented or even quiet at any moment, when at that moment that
heartless Captain Vince might have his sword raised above the head of
her unfortunate father?

"Uncle," she said, "I cannot bear it any longer, I must do something."

"But, my dear," he asked, looking down upon her with infinite affection,
"what can you do? We are here upon an immovable island, and your father
and Captain Vince are sailing upon the sea, nobody knows where."

"I thought about it all last night," said Kate, "and this is what I will
do. I will go to the Governor; I will tell him all about my father. I do
not think it will be wrong even to tell him why I think his mind has
become unsettled, for if that woman in Bridgetown has behaved wickedly,
her wickedness should be known. Then I will ask him to give me written
authority to take my father wherever I may find him, and to bring him
here, where it shall be decided what shall be done with him; and I am
sure the decision will be that he must be treated as a man whose mind is
not right, and who should be put somewhere where he can have nothing to
do with ships."

This was all quite childish to Mr. Delaplaine, but for Kate's dear sake
he treated her scheme seriously.

"But tell me, my dear," said he, "how are you going to find your father,
and in what way can you bring him back here with you?"

"The first thing to do," said Kate, "is to hire a ship; I know that my
little property will yield me money enough for that. As for bringing him
back, that's for me to do. With my arms around his neck he cannot be a
pirate captain. And think of it, uncle! If my arms are not soon around
his neck, it may be the hangman's rope which will be there. That is, if
he is not killed by that revengeful Captain Vince."

Mr. Delaplaine was troubled far more than he had yet been. His sorrowing
niece believed that there was something which might be done for her
father, but he, her practical uncle, did not believe that anything could
be done. And, even if this were possible, he did not wish to do it. If,
by some unheard-of miracle, his niece should be enabled to carry out her
scheme, she could not go alone, and thoughts of sailing upon the sea,
and the dangers from pirates, storms, and wrecks, were very terrible to
the quiet merchant. He could not encourage this night-born scheme of his
niece.

"But there is one thing I can do," cried Kate, "and I must do it this
very day. I must go to the Governor's house, and I pray you, uncle, that
you will go with me. I must tell him about my father. I must make him do
something which shall keep that Captain Vince from sailing after him
and killing him. How I wish I had thought of all this before. But it did
not come to me."

It was not half an hour after that when Kate and her uncle entered the
grounds of the Governor's mansion.



CHAPTER XV

THE GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA


The Governor of Jamaica was much interested in the visit of Kate Bonnet,
whom he saw alone in a room adjoining the public apartments. He had met
her two or three times before, and had been forced to admit that the
young girls of Barbadoes must be pretty and piquant in an extraordinary
degree, and he had not wondered that his friend, Captain Vince, should
have spoken of her in such an enthusiastic manner.

But now she was different. Her sorrow had given her dignity and had
added to her beauty. She quickly told her tale, and he started upright
in his chair as he heard it.

"Do you mean," he exclaimed, "that that pirate, after whom I sent the
Badger, is your father? It amazes me! The similarity of names did not
strike me; I never imagined any connection between you and the captain
of that pirate ship."

"That's what Captain Vince said when I last saw him," remarked Kate.

"It must have astounded him to know it," exclaimed the Governor, "and I
wonder, knowing it, that he consented to obey my orders; and had I been
in his place I would have preferred to be dismissed from the service
rather than to sail after your father and to destroy him. If I had known
what I know now, my orders to Captain Vince would have been very
different from what they were. I would have told him to capture your
father, and to bring him here to me. It cannot be that he is in his
right mind!"

Now Kate was weeping; the terrible words "destroy him," and the
assurance that if she had thought sooner of appealing to the Governor,
much misery, or at least the thought of misery, might have been spared
her, so affected her that she could not control herself.

The Governor did not attempt to console her. Her sorrow was natural, and
it was her right.

When she looked up again she spoke about what she had come to ask him
for; the authority to bring back her father wherever she might find him,
and to defend him from the attacks of all persons, whoever they might
be, until she reached Jamaica. And then she told him how she would seek
for her father on every sea.

The Governor sat and pondered. The father of such a girl should be saved
from the terrible fate awaiting him, if the thing could possibly be
done. And yet, what a difficult, almost hopeless thing it was to do. To
find a pirate, a fierce and bloody pirate, and bring him back unharmed
to his daughter's arms and to reasonable restraint.

He spoke earnestly. "What you propose," he said, "you cannot do. It
would be impossible for you to find your father; and if you did, no
matter who might be with you, and no matter how successful you might be
with him, his crew would not let him go. But there is one thing which
might be done. The Badger will report at different stations, and her
course and present cruising ground might be discovered. Thus I might
send a despatch to Captain Vince, ordering him not to harm your father,
but to take him prisoner, and to bring him here to be dealt with."

Kate sprang to her feet.

"An order to Captain Vince!" she exclaimed, "an order to withhold his
hand from my father? Ah, sir, your goodness is great, this is far more
than I had dared to expect! When I last saw Captain Vince he left me in
a great rage, but, knowing that he would respect your order, I would
dare his rage. If his revengeful hand should be withheld from my father
I would fear nothing."

"I beg you to be seated," said the Governor, "and let me assure you,
that in offering to send this order to Captain Vince I do not in the
least expect you to take it. But there is one thing I do not
understand. Why should the captain have left you in a great rage?
Perhaps I have not a right to ask this, but it seems to me to have some
bearing upon his alacrity in setting forth in pursuit of the Revenge."

"I fear," said Kate, "that this may be true; I do not deem it improper
for me to say to you, sir, that Captain Vince made me an offer of
marriage, and that in order to induce me to accept it he offered, should
he come up with the Revenge, to spare my father and to let him go free,
visiting the punishment he was sent to inflict upon the rest of the
people in the ship."

"I am surprised," said the Governor, "to hear you say that; such an
action would have been direct disobedience to his orders. It would have
been disloyalty, which not even the possession of your fair hand could
justify. And you refused his offer?"

"That did I," said Kate, her face flushing at the recollection of the
unpleasant interview with the captain; "I cared not for him, and even
had I, I would not have consented to wed a man who offered me his
dishonour as a bribe for doing so. Not even for my father's life would I
become the bride of such a one!"

"Well spoken, Mistress Bonnet," exclaimed the Governor, "your heart,
though a tender, is a stout one. But this you tell me of Captain Vince
is very bad; he is a vindictive man and will have what he wants, even
without regard to the means by which he may get it. I am glad to know
what you have told me, Mistress Bonnet, and if I had known it betimes I
would not have sent, in pursuit of your father, a man whose anger had
been excited against his daughter. But now I shall despatch orders to
Captain Vince which shall be very exact and peremptory. After he has
received them he will not dare to harm your father, and would cause him
to be brought here as I command."

"From my heart I thank you, sir," cried Kate, "give me the orders and I
will take them, or I will--"

"Nay, nay," said the Governor, "such offices are not for you, but I will
give the matter my present attention. On any day a vessel may enter the
port with news of the Badger, and on any day a vessel may clear from
Kingston, possibly for Bridgetown, where I imagine the Badger will first
touch. Rely upon me, my dear young lady, my order shall go to Captain
Vince by the very earliest opportunity."

Kate rose and thanked him warmly. "This is much to do, your Excellency,
for one poor girl," she said.

"It is but little to do," said the Governor, "and that girl be
yourself."

With that he rose, offered Kate his arm, and conducted her to her uncle.

When Mr. Delaplaine was made acquainted with the result of the
interview, both his gratitude and surprise were great. He comprehended
far better than Kate could the extent of the favour which the Governor
had offered to bestow. It was, indeed, extraordinary to commute what was
really a sentence of death against a notorious and dangerous pirate for
the sake of a beautiful and pleading woman. An ambitious idea shot
through the merchant's brain. The Governor was a widower; he had met
Kate before. Was there any other lady on the island better fitted to
preside over the gubernatorial household? But, although a man of high
position could not wed the daughter of a pirate, a pirate, evidently of
an unsound mind, could be adjudged demented, as he truly was, and thus
the shadow of his crime be lifted from him. This was a great deal to
think in a very short time, but the good merchant did it, and the
fervour of his thankfulness was greatly increased by his rapid
reflections.

As they were on their way home Kate's eyes were bright, and her step
lighter than it had been of late. "Now, uncle," said she, "you know we
shall not wait for any chance ship which may take the Governor's
despatch. We shall engage a swift vessel ourselves, by which the orders
may be carried. And, uncle, when that ship sails I must go in her."

"You!" cried Mr. Delaplaine, "you go in search of the Badger and Captain
Vince? That can never--"

"But remember, uncle," cried Kate, "it is just as likely that I shall
meet my father's ship as any other, and then we can snap our fingers at
all orders and all captains. My father shall be brought here and the
good Governor will make him safe, and free him, as he best knows how,
from the terrible straits into which his disturbed reason has led him."

Her uncle would not darken Kate's bright hopes, ill-founded though he
thought them. To look into those sparkling eyes again was a joy of which
he would not deprive himself, if he could help it.

"Suppose he should capture our vessel," she exclaimed; "what a grand
thing it would be for him, all unknowing, to spring upon our deck and
instantly be captured by me. After that, there would be no more pirate's
life for him!"

When Dame Charter heard what had happened at the Governor's house and
had listened to the recital of Kate's glowing schemes, her eyes did not
immediately glisten with joy.

"If you go, Mistress Kate," said she, "in search of your father or that
wicked Captain Vince, I go with you, but I cannot go without my Dickory.
It is full time to expect his return, although, as he was to depend upon
so many chances before he could come back, his absence may, with good
reason, continue longer, and I could not have him come back and find
his mother gone, no man knows where. For in such a quest, what man
could know?"

"Oh, Dickory will be here soon!" cried Kate; "any ship which comes
sailing towards the harbour may bring him."

The Governor of Jamaica was a man of great experience, and with a fairly
clear insight into the ways of the wicked. When Kate and her uncle had
left him and he paced the floor, with the memory of the beautiful eyes
of the pirate's daughter as they had been uplifted to his own, he felt
assured that he could see rightly into the designs of the unscrupulous
Captain Vince. Of what avail would it be for him to kill the father of
the girl who had rejected him? It would be an atrocious but temporary
triumph scarcely to be considered. But to capture that father; to
disregard the laws of the service and the orders of his superiors, which
he had already proposed to do; to communicate with Kate and to hold up
before her terror-stricken eyes the life of her father, to be ended in
horror or enjoyed in peace as she might decide--that would be Vince, as
the Governor knew him.

The Governor knew well his man, and those were the designs and
intentions of Captain Christopher Vince of his Majesty's corvette the
Badger.



CHAPTER XVI

A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE


Proudly sailed the Revenge and her attendant bark into the waters of
Honduras Gulf, and proudly stood Captain Stede Bonnet upon his
quarter-deck, dressed in a handsome uniform which might have been that
of a captain or admiral in the royal navy; one hand caressed his ornate
sword-hilt, while the other was thrust into the bosom of his
gilt-embroidered coat. A newly fashioned Jolly Roger, in which the
background was very black and the skull and cross-bones ghastly white,
flew from his masthead.

As night came on there could be seen, twinkling far away upon the
horizon, a beacon light, which in those days was kept burning for the
benefit of the piratical craft which made a rendezvous of the waters off
Belize, then the commercial centre for the vessels of the "free
companions." Having supposed, in his unnautical mind, that his entrance
into the Gulf of Honduras meant the end of his present voyage, and not
wishing to lower his own feeling of importance by asking too many
questions of his inferiors, Captain Bonnet had bedecked himself a day
too soon, and there were some jeers and sneers among his crew when he
descended to his cabin to take off his fine clothes. But his
self-complacency was well armoured, and he did not hear the jokes of
which he was the subject, especially by the little clique of which Black
Paul was the centre. But the sailing-master knew his business, and the
Revenge was safely, though slowly, sailed among the coral-reefs and
islands until she dropped anchor off Belize. Early in the morning the
now dignified and pompous Captain Bonnet, of that terror of the seas,
the pirate craft Revenge, again arrayed himself in a manner befitting
his position, and stationed himself on the quarter-deck, where he might
be seen by the eyes of all the crews of the other pirate vessels
anchored about them and by the glasses of their officers.

Apart from a general desire to show himself in the ranks of his
fellow-pirates and to receive from them the respect which was due to a
man of his capabilities and general merits, Stede Bonnet had a
particular reason for his visit to this port and for surrounding himself
with all the pomp and circumstance of high piratical rank. He had been
informed that a great man, a hero and chief among his fellows--in fact,
the dean of the piratical faculty, and known as "Blackbeard," the most
desperate and reckless of all the pirates of the day--was now here.

To meet this most important sea-robber and to receive from him the hand
of fellowship had been Bonnet's desire and ambition since he had heard
that it was possible.

The morning was advanced and the Revenge was rolling easily at her
anchorage, but Bonnet was somewhat uncertain as to the next step he
ought to take. He wanted to see Blackbeard as soon as possible, but it
would certainly be a breach of etiquette entirely inconsistent with his
present position for him to go to see him. He was the latest comer, and
thought it was the part of Blackbeard to make the first visit.

Paul Bittern now came aft. "The men are getting very restless," he said;
"they want to go on shore. They'd all go if I'd let 'em."

Captain Bonnet gave his sailing-master a lofty glare.

"If I should let them, you mean, sir. I am sorry I cannot break you of
the habit of forgetting that I command this ship. Well, sir, you may
tell them that they cannot go. I am expecting a visit from the renowned
Blackbeard, now in this port, and I wish to welcome him with all respect
and a full crew."

Black Paul smiled disagreeably. "I will tell you, sir, that you cannot
keep these men on board much longer with the town of Belize within a
row of half a mile. They've been at sea too long for that. There'll be
a mutiny, sir, if I go forward with that message of yours. It will be
prudent to let some of them go ashore now and others later in the day. I
will go in the first boat and see to it that the men come back with me.
And, by the way, it would not be a bad thing if I touch at Blackbeard's
vessel and inform him that you are here; I don't suppose he knows the
Revenge, nor her captain neither."

"I doubt that, Bittern," said Bonnet, "I doubt it very much. I assure
you that I am known from one end of this coast to the other, and Captain
Blackbeard is not an ignorant man. So you can go ashore and take some of
the men, stopping at Blackbeard's ship. And, by the way, I want you to
go by that bark of ours and give her the old black Roger I used to fly.
I forgot to send it to her, and a man might as well not own and command
two vessels if he get not the credit of it."

When Black Paul had gone to execute his orders, Ben Greenway heaved a
heavy sigh. "Now I begin to fear, Master Bonnet, that the day o' your
salvation has really gone by. When ye not only murder an' rob upon the
high seas, but keep consort with other murderers an' robbers, then I
fear ye are indeed lost. But I shall stand by ye, Master Bonnet, I shall
stand by ye; an' if, ever I find there is the least bit o' ye to be
snatched from the flames, I'll snatch it!"

"I don't like that sort of talk, Ben Greenway," cried Bonnet,
"especially at this time when my soul swells with content at the success
which has crowned my undertakings. This Blackbeard is a valiant man and
a great one, but it is my belief that when we have sat down to compare
our notes, it will be found that I have captured as many cargoes, burned
as many ships, and marooned as many people in my last cruise as he has."

"So I suppose," said Ben, "that ye think ye hae achieved the right to
sink deeper into hell than he can ever hope to do?"

Bonnet made no answer, but turned away. The Scotchman was becoming more
and more odious to him every day, but he would not quarrel on this most
auspicious morning. He must keep his mind unruffled and his head high.
He had his own plans about Greenway: he was not far from Barbadoes, and
when he left the harbour of Belize it would be of advantage to his peace
of mind as well as to the comfort of a faithful old servant if he should
anchor for a little while in the river below the town and put Ben
Greenway on shore.

Ben gave no further reason for quarrelling. He was greatly dejected, but
he had sworn to himself to stand by his old master, no matter what might
happen, and when he took an oath he meant what he swore.

Dickory Charter was in much worse case than Ben Greenway. He was not
much of a geographical scholar, but he knew that the Gulf of Honduras
was not really very far from the Island of Jamaica, where dwelt, waited,
and watched Mistress Kate Bonnet and his mother. If he had known that
during the voyage down from the Atlantic coast the Revenge had sailed
through the Windward Passage, running in some of her long tacks within
less than a day's sail of Jamaica, he would have chafed, fumed, and
fretted even more than he did now.

"Captain Bonnet," he cried, "if you could but let me go on shore, I
might surely find some vessel bound to Kingston, or to any place upon
the Island of Jamaica, from which spot I could make my way on foot, even
if it were on the opposite end. Thus I could take messages and letters
from you to your daughter and Mr. Delaplaine, and ease the minds both of
them and my mother, all of whom must now be in most doleful plight, not
knowing anything about you or hearing anything from me, and this for so
long a time; then you could remain here with no feelings of haste until
you had disposed of your cargoes and had finished your business."

Captain Bonnet stood loftily with a smile of benignity upon his face.
"It is a clever plan," said he, "and you are a good fellow, Dickory, but
your scheme, though well intentioned, is unsound. I have too much regard
for you to trust you in any vessel sailing from Belize to Kingston,
where there are often naval vessels. Going from this port, you would be
as likely to be strung up to the yard-arm as to be allowed to go ashore.
Be patient then, my good fellow; when my affairs are settled here, the
Revenge may run up to the coast of Jamaica, where you may be put off at
some quiet spot, and all may happen as you have planned, my good
Dickory. Even now I am writing a letter, hoping for some such
opportunity of sending it to my daughter."

Dickory sighed in despair. It might take a month or more before Kate's
father could settle his affairs, and how long, how long it had been
since his soul had been reaching itself out towards Kate and his mother!

When the sailing-master set out in the long-boat, crowded with men, he
stopped at the bark but did not go too near for fear that some of the
crew might jump into his already overloaded boat.

"You are to run up this rag," cried Black Paul to Clip, the fellow in
command; and so saying, he handed up the old Jolly Roger on the blade of
an oar. "Our noble admiral fears that if you do not that you may be
captured by some of these good vessels lying hereabout."

Clip roared out with a laugh: "I will attend to the capture as soon as I
get out of reach of his guns, which he will not dare to use here, I take
it. But I want you to know and him to know that we're not goin' to stay
on board and in sight of the town. If you go ashore, so go we."

"Stay where ye are till orders come to ye," shouted Black Paul, "if ye
want to keep the cat off your backs!" And as he rowed away the men on
the bark gave him a cheer and proceeded to lower two boats.

From nearly every pirate ship in the anchorage the proceedings of the
newly arrived vessels had been watched. No one wanted to board them or
in any way to interfere with them until it was found out what they
intended to do. The Revenge was a stranger in that harbour, although her
fame was known on not a few pirate decks; but if she came to Belize to
fraternize with the other pirate vessels there gathered together, why
didn't she do it? No idea of importance and dignity, which his position
imposed upon Captain Stede Bonnet, entered their piratical minds. When
the long-boat put forth from the Revenge, a good deal of interest was
excited in the anchored vessels. The great Blackbeard himself stood high
upon his deck and surveyed the strangers through a glass.

The men in the sailing-master's boat rowed steadily towards Blackbeard's
vessel. Bittern knew it well, for he had seen it before, and had even
had the honour, so to speak, of having served for a short time under the
master pirate of that day.

As soon as the boat was near enough Blackbeard hailed it in a
tremendous voice and ordered the stranger to pull up and make fast. This
being done, a rope ladder was lowered and Bittern mounted to the deck,
being assisted in his passage over the side by a tremendous pull given
by Blackbeard.

The great pirate seemed to be in high good spirits, and very glad to see
his visitor. Blackbeard was a large man, wide and heavy, and the first
impression conveyed by his personality was that of hair and swarthiness.
An untrimmed black beard lay upon his chest, and his long hair hung in
masses from under his slouched hat; his eyes were dark and sparkling,
and gleamed like beacon lights from out a midnight sky; the sleeves of
his shirt were rolled up, and his arms seemed almost as hairy as his
head; two pairs of pistols were stuck into his belt, and a great cutlass
was conveniently tucked up by his side.

"Ho, ho!" he cried, "Black Paul! And where do you come from, and what
are you doing here? And what is the name of that vessel with the
brand-new Roger? Has she just gone into the business, that she decks
herself out so fine? Come now, sit here and have some brandy and tell me
what is the meaning of these two vessels coming into the harbour, and
what you have to do with them."

Bittern was delighted to know that his old commander remembered him, and
was ready enough to talk with him, for that was the errand he had come
upon.

"But, captain," said he, "I am afraid to wander away from the gunwale,
for if I have not my eye upon them, my men will be rowing to the town
before I know it. They are mad to be on shore."

Blackbeard made no answer; he stepped to the side of the vessel and
looked over. "Let go!" he shouted to the man who held the boat's rope,
"and you rascals row out a dozen strokes from my vessel and keep your
boat there; and if you move an oar towards the town I will sink you!"
With that he ordered two small guns to be trained upon the boat.

The boat's crew did not hesitate one second in obeying these orders.
They knew by whom they were given, and there was no man in the great
body of free companions who would disobey an order given by Blackbeard.
They rowed to the position assigned them and sat quietly looking into
the mouths of the two cannon which were pointed towards them.

"Now then," said Blackbeard, turning to Bittern, "I think they'll stay
there till they get some other order."

Between frequent sips at the cup of brandy Bittern told the story of the
Revenge, and Blackbeard listened with many an oath and many a pound upon
his massive knee by his mighty fist.

"Oh, I have heard of him," he cried, "I have heard of him! He has
played the devil along the Atlantic coast. He must he a great fellow
this--what did you say his name was?"

"Bonnet," said the other.

Blackbeard laughed. "That suits him well; he must have clapped his name
over the eyes of many a merchant captain! Where did he sail before he
hoisted the Jolly Roger?"

At this Bittern laughed. "He never sailed anywhere, he is no seaman; and
if he were not rich enough to pay others to do his navigatin' for him he
would have run his vessel upon the first sand-bar on his way from
Bridgetown to the sea. But he pays some good mariner to sail his
Revenge, and he now pays me. I am, in fact, the captain of his vessel."

"You mean," cried Blackbeard, "that he knows nothing of navigation?"

"Not a whit," replied the other; "he doesn't know the backstays from the
taffrail. It was only yesterday that he thought he was already in the
port of Belize, and dressed himself up like a fighting-cock to meet
you."

"To meet me?" roared Blackbeard; "what does he want to meet me for, and
why don't he come and do it instead of sending you?"

"Not he," said Bittern. "He is a great man, if not a sailor; he knows
what is politeness on shipboard, and as he is the last comer you must be
the first caller. He is all dressed up now, hoping that you will row
over to the Revenge as soon as you know that he is its commander."

The hairy pirate leaned back and laughed in loud explosions.

"He is a rare man, truly," he exclaimed, "this Captain Nightcap of
yours--"

"Bonnet," interrupted Bittern.

"Well, one is as good as the other," cried Blackbeard, "and he be well
clothed if it be of the right colour. And you started out with him to
sail his ship, you rascal? That's a piece of impudence almost as great
as his own."

Bittern did not much like this speech, and wanted to explain that since
he had served under Blackbeard he had commanded vessels himself, but he
restrained himself and told how Sam Loftus had been tumbled overboard
for running afoul his captain, and how he had been appointed to his
place.

Now Blackbeard laughed again, with a great pound upon his knee. "He is a
man after my own heart," he shouted, "be he sailor or no sailor, this
nightcap commander of yours. I know I shall love him!" And springing to
his feet and uttering a resounding oath, he swore that he would visit
his new brother that afternoon.

"Now, away with you!" cried Blackbeard, "and tell Sir Nightcap--"

"Bonnet," interrupted Bittern.

"Well, Bonnet, or Cap, it matters not to me. Row straight back to your
ship, and let him know that I shall be there and shall expect to be
received with admiral's honours."

Bittern looked somewhat embarrassed. "But, captain," he said, "my men
are on their way to the town, and I fear me they will rebel if I tell
them they cannot now go there."

In saying this the sailing-master spoke not only for his men, but for
himself. He was very anxious to go ashore; he had business there; he
wanted to see who were in the place, and what was going on before Bonnet
should go to the town.

"What!" cried Blackbeard, putting his head down like a charging bull. "I
order you to row back to your vessel and take my message; and if you do
it not I will sink you all in a bunch! Into your boat, sir, and waste
not another minute. If you are not able to command your men, I will keep
you here and give them a coxswain who can."

Without another word, Bittern scuffled over the side, and, his boat
being brought up, he dropped into it.

"Now, men," he said, "I have a message from Captain Blackbeard to the
Revenge; bend to it as I steer that way."

"Give my pious regards to your Sir Nightcap," shouted Blackbeard. And
then, in a still higher tone, he yelled to them that if they disobeyed
their coxswain and turned their bow shoreward he would sink them all to
the unsounded depths of Hades. Without a protest the men pulled
vigorously towards the Revenge, while Black Paul, considering it a new
affront to be called "coxswain" when he was in reality captain,
earnestly sent Blackbeard to the same regions to which he had just
referred.



CHAPTER XVII

AN ORNAMENTED BEARD


It was about the middle of the afternoon when a large boat, well filled,
was seen approaching the Revenge from Blackbeard's vessel. As soon as it
had become known that this chief of all pirates of that day, this Edward
Thatch of England, was really coming on board the Revenge, not one word
was uttered among the crew on the subject of going ashore, although they
had been long at sea. The shore could wait when Blackbeard was coming.
Even to look upon this doughty desperado would be an honour and a joy to
the brawny scoundrels who made up the crew of the Revenge.

It might have been supposed that everything upon Captain Bonnet's vessel
had been made ready for the expected advent of Blackbeard, but nothing
seemed good enough, nothing seemed as effectively placed and arranged as
it might have been; and with execrations and commands, Bonnet hurried
here and there, making everything, if possible, more ship-shape than it
had been before.

"Stay you two in the background," he said to Ben Greenway and Dickory;
"you are both landsmen, and you don't count in a ceremony such as this
is going to be. Station your men as I told you, Bittern, and man the
yards when it is time."

Captain Bonnet, in his brave uniform and wearing a cocked hat with a
feather, his hand upon his sword-hilt, stood up tall and stately. When
the boat was made fast and the great pirate's head appeared above the
rail, six cannon roared a welcome and Bonnet stepped forward, hand
extended and hat uplifted.

The instant Blackbeard's feet touched the deck he drew from their
holsters a pair of pistols and fired them in the air.

"Now then," he shouted, "we are even, salute for salute, for my pistols
are more than equal to the cannon of any other man. How goes it with
you, Sir Nightcap--Bonnet, I mean?" And with that he clasped the hand
reached out to him in a bone-crushing grasp.

His fingers aching and his brain astonished, Bonnet could not comprehend
what sort of a man it was who stood before him. With hair purposely
dishevelled; with his hat more slouched than usual; with his beard
divided into tails, each tied with a different-coloured ribbon; with
half a dozen pistols strung across his breast; with other pistols and a
knife or two stuck into his belt; with his great sword by his side, and
his eyes gleaming brighter than ever and a general expression, both in
face and figure, of an aggressive impudence, Blackbeard stood on his
stout legs, clothed in rough red stockings, and gazed about him. But the
captain of the Revenge did not forget his manners. He welcomed
Blackbeard with all courtesy and besought him to enter his poor cabin.

Blackbeard laughed. "Poor cabin, say you? But I'll tell you this one
thing, my valiant Captain Cap; you have not a poor vessel, not a poor
vessel, I swear that to you, my brave captain, I swear that!"

Then, with no attention to Bonnet's invitation, Captain Blackbeard
strolled about the deck, examining everything, cursing this and praising
that, and followed by Captain Bonnet, Black Paul, and a crowd of
admiring pirates.

Ben Greenway bowed his head and groaned. "I doubt if Master Bonnet will
ever go to the de'il as I feared he would, for now has the de'il come to
him. Oh, Dickory, Dickory! this master o' mine was a worthy mon an' a
good ane when I first came to him, an' a' that I hae I owe to him, for I
was in sad case, Dickory, very sad case; but now that he has Apollyon
for his teacher, he'll cease to know righteousness altogither."

Dickory was angry and out of spirits. "He is a vile poltroon, this
master of yours," said he, "consorting with these bloody pirates and
leaving his daughter to pine away her days and nights within a little
sail of him, while he struts about at the heel of a dirty freebooter
dressed like a monkey! He doesn't deserve the daughter he possesses. Oh,
that I could find a ship that would take me back to Jamaica! And I would
take you too, Ben Greenway, for it is a foul shame that a good man
should spend his days in such vile company."

Ben shook his head. "I'll stand by Master Bonnet," he said, "until the
day comes when I shall bid him fareweel at the door o' hell. I can go no
farther than that, Dickory, no farther than that!"

From forecastle to quarter-deck, from bowsprit to taffrail, Blackbeard
scrutinized the Revenge.

"What mean you, dog?" he said to Bittern, Bonnet being at a little
distance; "you tell me he is no mariner. This is a brave ship and well
appointed."

"Ay, ay," said the sailing-master, "it has the neatness of his kitchen
or his storehouses; but if his cables were coiled on his yard-arms or
his anchor hung up to dry upon the main shrouds, he would not know that
anything was wrong. It was Big Sam Loftus who fitted out the Revenge,
and I myself have kept everything in good order and ship-shape ever
since I took command."

"Command!" growled Blackbeard. "For a charge of powder I would knock in
the side of your head for speaking with such disrespect of the brave Sir
Nightcap."

The supper in the cabin of the Revenge was a better meal than the
voracious Blackbeard had partaken of for many a year, if indeed he had
ever sat down to such a sumptuous repast. Before him was food and drink
fit for a stout and hungry sea-faring man, and there were wines and
dainties which would have had fit place upon the table of a gentleman.

Blackbeard was in high spirits and tossed off cup after cup and glass
after glass of the choicest wine and the most fiery spirits. He clapped
his well-mannered host upon the back as he shouted some fragment of a
wild sea-song.

"And who is this?" he cried, as they rose from the table and he first
caught sight of Ben Greenway. "Is this your chaplain? He looks as
sanctimonious as an empty rum cask. And that baby boy there, what do you
keep him for? Are they for sale? I would like to buy the boy and let him
keep my accounts. I warrant he has enough arithmetic in his head to
divide the prize-moneys among the men."

"He is no slave," said Bonnet; "he came to this vessel to bring me a
message from my daughter, but he is an ill-bred stripling, and can
neither read nor write."

"Then let's kill him!" cried Blackbeard, and drawing his pistol he sent
a bullet about two inches above Dickory's head.

At this the men who had gathered themselves at every available point set
up a cheer. Never before had they beheld such a magnificent and reckless
miscreant.

Dickory did not start or move, but he turned very pale, and then he
reddened and his eyes flashed. Blackbeard swore at him a great
approbative oath. "A brave boy!" he cried, "and fit to carry messages if
for nothing else. And what is this nonsense about a daughter?" said he
to Bonnet. "We abide no such creatures in the ranks of the free
companions; we drown them like kittens before we hoist the Jolly Roger."

When Blackbeard's boat left the ship's side the departing chieftain
fired his pistols in the air as long as their charges lasted, while the
motley desperadoes of the Revenge gave him many a parting yell. Then all
the boats of the Revenge were lowered, and every man who could crowd
into them left their ship for the shore. Black Paul tried to restrain
them, for he feared to leave the Revenge too weakly manned, she having
such a valuable cargo; but his orders and shouts were of no avail, and
despairing of stopping them the sailing-master went with them; and as
they pulled wildly towards the town the men of one boat shouted to
another, and that one to another, "Hurrah for our captain, the brave Sir
Nightcap! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

"The dirty Satan!" exclaimed Dickory, as he gazed after Blackbeard's
boat. "I would kill him if I could."

"Say not so, Dickory," said Captain Bonnet, speaking gravely. "That
great pirate is not a man of breeding, and he speaks with disesteem
alike of friend and enemy, but he is the famous Blackbeard, and we must
treat him with honour although he pays us none."

"I had deemed," said Greenway calmly, "that ye were goin' to be the
maist unholy sinner that ever blackened this fair earth; but not only
did ye tell a pious lie for the sake o' good Dickory, but, compared wi'
that monstrosity, ye are a saint graved in marble, Master Bonnet, a
white and shapely saint."

       *       *       *       *       *

Blackbeard's boat was not rowed to his vessel, but his men pulled
steadily shoreward.

With the wild crew of the Revenge, fresh from sea and their appetites
whetted for jovial riot, and with Blackbeard, his war-paint on, to lead
them into every turbulent excess, there were wild times in the town of
Belize that night.



CHAPTER XVIII

I HAVE NO RIGHT; I AM A PIRATE


As has been made plain, Captain Bonnet of the Revenge was a punctilious
man when the rules of society were concerned, be that society official,
high-toned, or piratical. Thus it was a positive duty, in his mind, to
return Blackbeard's visit on the next day, but until afternoon he was
not able to do so on account of the difficulty of getting a sober and
decently behaved boat's crew who should row him over.

Black Paul, the sailing-master, had returned to his vessel early in the
morning, feeling the necessity of keeping watch over the cargo, but most
of the men came over much later, while some of them did not come at all.

Bonnet was greatly inclined to punish with an unwonted severity this
breach of rules, but Black Paul assured him that it was always the
custom for the crew of a newly arrived vessel to go ashore and have a
good time, and that if they were denied this privilege they would be
sure to mutiny, and he might be left without any crew at all. Bonnet
grumbled and swore, but, as he was aware there were several things
concerning a nautical life with which he was not familiar, he determined
to let pass this trespass.

Dressed in his finest clothes, and even better than the day before, he
was followed into the boat by Ben Greenway, who vowed his captain should
never travel without his chaplain, who, if his words were considered,
would be the most valuable officer on the vessel.

"Come, then, Greenway," said Bonnet; "you have troubled me so much on my
own vessel that now, perchance, you may be able to do me some service on
that of another. Anyway, I should like to have at least one decent
person in my train, who, an you come not, will be wholly missing. And
Dickory may come too, if he like it."

But Dickory did not like it. He hated the big black pirate, and cared
not if he should never see him again, so he stayed behind.

When Bonnet mounted to the deck of Blackbeard's vessel he found there a
very different pirate captain from the one who had called upon him the
day before. There were no tails to the great black beard, there were few
pistols visible, and Captain Bonnet's host received him with a certain
salt-soaked, sun-browned, hairy, and brawny hospitality which did not
sit badly upon him. There was meat, there was drink, and then the two
captains and Greenway walked gravely over the vessel, followed by a
hundred eyes, and before long by many a coarse and jeering laugh which
Bonnet supposed were directed at sturdy Ben Greenway, deeming it quite
natural, though improper, that the derision of these rough fellows
should be excited by the appearance among them of a prim and sedate
Scotch Presbyterian.

But that crew of miscreants had all heard of the derisive title which
had been given to Bonnet, and now they saw without the slightest
difficulty how little he knew of the various nautical points to which
Blackbeard continually called his attention.

The vessel was dirty, it was ill-appointed; there was an air of reckless
disorder which showed itself everywhere; but, apart from his evident
distaste for dirt and griminess, the captain of the Revenge seemed to be
very well satisfied with everything he saw. When he passed a small gun
pointed across the deck, and with a nightcap hung upon a capstan bar
thrust into its muzzle, there was such a great laugh that Bonnet looked
around to see what the imprudent Greenway might be doing.

Many were the nautical points to which Blackbeard called his guest's
attention and many the questions the grim pirate asked, but in almost
all cases of the kind the tall gentleman with the cocked hat replied
that he generally left those things to his sailing-master, being so
much occupied with matters of more import.

Although he found no fault and made no criticisms, Bonnet was very much
disgusted. Such a disorderly vessel, such an apparently lawless crew,
excited his most severe mental strictures; and, although the great
Blackbeard was to-day a very well-behaved person, Bonnet could not
understand how a famous and successful captain should permit his vessel
and his crew to get into such an unseamanlike and disgraceful condition.
On board the Revenge, as his sailing-master had remarked, there was the
neatness of his kitchen and his store-houses; and, although he did not
always know what to do with the nautical appliances which surrounded
him, he knew how to make them look in good order. But he made few
remarks, favourable or otherwise, and held himself loftier than before,
with an air as if he might have been an admiral entire instead of
resembling one only in clothes, and with ceremonious and even
condescending politeness followed his host wherever he was led, above
decks or below.

Ben Greenway had gone with his master about the ship with much of the
air of one who accompanies a good friend to the place of execution.
Regardless of gibes or insults, whether they were directed at Bonnet or
himself, he turned his face neither to the right nor to the left, and
apparently regarded nothing that he heard. But while endeavouring to
listen as little as possible to what was going on around him, he heard a
great deal; but, strange to say, the railing and scurrility of the
pirates did not appear to have a depressing influence upon his mind. In
fact, he seemed in somewhat better spirits than when he came on board.

"Whatever he may do, whatever he may say, an' whatever he may swear,"
said the Scotchman to himself, "he is no' like ane of these. Try as he
may, he canna descend so low into the blackness o' evil as these sons o'
perdition. Although he has done evil beyond a poor mortal's computation,
he walks like a king amang them. Even that Blackbeard, striving to be
decent for an hour or two, knows a superior when he meets him."

When they had finished the tour of the vessel, Blackbeard conducted his
guest to his own cabin and invited him to be seated by a little table.
Bonnet sat down, placing his high-plumed cocked hat upon the bench
beside him. He did not want anything more to eat or to drink, and he
was, in fact, quite ready to take his leave. The vessel had not pleased
him and had given him an idea of the true pirate's life which he had
never had before. On the Revenge he mingled little with the crew,
scarcely ever below decks, and his own quarters were as neat and
commodious as if they were on a fine vessel carrying distinguished
passengers. Dirt and disorder, if they existed, were at least not
visible to him.

But, although he had no desire ever to make another visit to the ship of
the great Blackbeard, he would remember his position and be polite and
considerate now that he was here. Moreover, the savage desperado of the
day before, dressed like a monkey and howling like an Indian, seemed now
to be endeavouring to soften himself a little and to lay aside some of
his savage eccentricities in honour of the captain of that fine ship,
the Revenge. So, clothed in a calm dignity, Bonnet waited to hear what
his host had further to say.

Blackbeard seated himself on the other side of the table, on which he
rested his massive arms. Behind him Ben Greenway stood in the doorway.
For a few moments Blackbeard sat and gazed at Bonnet, and then he said:
"Look ye, Stede Bonnet, do you know you are now as much out of place as
a red herring would be at the top of the mainmast?"

Bonnet flushed. "I fear, Captain Blackbeard," he said, "I very much fear
me that you are right; this is no place for me. I have paid my respects
to you, and now, if you please, I will take my leave. I have not been
gratified by the conduct of your crew, but I did not expect that their
captain would address me in such discourteous words." And with this he
reached out his hand for his hat.

Blackbeard brought down his hand heavily upon the table.

"Sit where you are!" he exclaimed. "I have that to say to you which you
shall hear whether you like my vessel, my crew, or me. You are no
sailor, Stede Bonnet of Bridgetown, and you don't belong to the free
companions, who are all good men and true and can sail the ships they
command. You are a defrauder and a cheat; you are nothing but a
landsman, a plough-tail sugar-planter!"

At this insult Bonnet rose to his feet and his hand went to his sword.

"Sit down!" roared Blackbeard; "an you do not listen to me, I'll cut off
this parley and your head together. Sit down, sir."

Bonnet sat down, pale now and trembling with rage. He was not a coward,
but on board this ship he must give heed to the words of the desperado
who commanded it.

"You have no right," continued Blackbeard, "to strut about on the
quarter-deck of that fine vessel, the Revenge; you have no right to
hoist above you the Jolly Roger, and you have no right to lie right and
left and tell people you are a pirate. A pirate, forsooth! you are no
pirate. A pirate is a sailor, and you are no sailor! You are no better
than a blind man led by a dog: if the dog breaks away from him he is
lost, and if the sailing-masters you pick up one after another break
away from you, you are lost. It is a cursed shame, Stede Bonnet, and it
shall be no longer. At this moment, by my own right and for the sake of
every man who sails under the Jolly Roger, I take away from you the
command of the Revenge."

Now Bonnet could not refrain from springing to his feet. "Take from me
the Revenge!" he cried, "my own vessel, bought with my own money! And
how say you I am not a pirate? From Massachusetts down the coast into
these very waters I have preyed upon commerce, I have taken prizes, I
have burned ships, I have made my name a terror."

Now his voice grew stronger and his tones more angry.

"Not a pirate!" he cried. "Go ask the galleons and the merchantmen I
have stripped and burned; go ask their crews, now wandering in misery
upon desert shores, if they be not already dead. And by what right, I
ask, do you come to such an one as I am and declare that, having put me
in the position of a prisoner on your ship, you will take away my own?"

Blackbeard gazed at him with half-closed eyes, a malicious smile upon
his face.

"I have no right," he said; "I need no right; _I_ am a pirate!"

At these words Bonnet's legs weakened under him, and he sank down upon
the bench. As he did so he glanced at Ben Greenway as if he were the
only person on earth to whom he could look for help, but to his
amazement he saw before him a face almost jubilant, and beheld the
Scotchman, his eyes uplifted and his hands clasped as if in thankful
prayer.



CHAPTER XIX

THE NEW FIRST LIEUTENANT


When the boat of the Revenge was pulled back to that vessel Bonnet did
not go in it; it was Blackbeard who sat in the stern and held the
tiller, while one of his own men sat by him.

When Blackbeard stepped on deck he announced, much to the delight of the
crew and the consternation of Paul Bittern, that the Revenge now
belonged to him, and that all the crew who were fit to be kept on board
such a fine vessel would be retained, and that he himself, for the
present at least, would take command of the ship, would haul down that
brand-new bit of woman's work at the masthead and fly in its place his
own black, ragged Jolly Roger, dreaded wherever seen upon the sea. At
this a shout went up from the crew; the heart of every scoundrel among
them swelled with joy at the idea of sailing, fighting, and pillaging
under the bloody Blackbeard.

But the sailing-master stood aghast. He had known very well what was
going to happen; he had talked it all over in the town with Blackbeard;
he had drunk in fiery brandy to the success of the scheme, and he had
believed without a doubt that he was to command the Revenge when Bonnet
should be deposed. And now where was he? Where did he stand?

Trembling a little, he approached Blackbeard. "And as for me," he asked;
"am I to command your old vessel?"

"You!" roared Blackbeard, making as if he would jump upon him; "you! You
may fall to and bend your back with the others in the forecastle, or you
can jump overboard if you like. My quarter-master, Richards, now
commands my old vessel. Presently I shall go over and settle things on
that bark, but first I shall step down into the cabin and see what rare
good things Sir Nightcap, the sugar-planter, has prepared for me."

With this he went below, followed by the man he had brought with him.

It was Dickory, half dazed by what he had heard, who now stepped up to
Paul Bittern. The latter, his countenance blacker than it had ever been
before, first scowled at him, but in a moment the ferocity left his
glance.

"Oho!" he said, "here's a pretty pickle for me and you, as well as for
Bonnet and the Scotchman!"

"Do you suppose," exclaimed Dickory, "that what he says is true? That
he has stolen this ship from Captain Bonnet, and that he has taken it
for his own?"

"Suppose!" sneered the other, "I know it. He has stolen from me as well
as from Bonnet. I should have commanded this ship, and I had made all my
plans to do it when I got here."

"Then you are as great a rascal," said Dickory, "as that vile pirate
down below."

"Just as great," said Bittern, "the only difference being that he has
won everything while I have lost everything."

"What are we to do!" asked Dickory. "I cannot stay here, and I am sure
you will not want to. Now, while he is below, can we not slip overboard
and swim ashore? I am sure I could do it."

Black Paul grinned grimly. "But where should we swim to?" he said. "On
the coast of Honduras there is no safety for a man who flees from
Blackbeard. But keep your tongue close; he is coming."

The moment Blackbeard put his foot upon the deck he began to roar out
his general orders.

"I go over to the bark," he said, "and shall put my mate here in charge
of her. After that I go to my own vessel, and when I have settled
matters there I will return to this fine ship, where I shall strut about
the quarter-deck and live like a prince at sea. Now look ye, youngster,
what is your name?"

"Charter," replied Dickory grimly.

"Well then, Charter," the pirate continued, "I shall leave you in charge
of this vessel until I come back, which will be before dark."

"Me!" exclaimed Dickory in amazement.

"Yes, you," said the pirate. "I am sure you don't know anything about a
ship any more than your master did, but he got on very well, and so may
you. And now, remember, your head shall pay for it if everything is not
the same when I come back as it is now."

Thereupon this man of piratical business was rowed to the bark, quite
satisfied that he left behind him no one who would have the power to
tamper with his interests. He knew the crew, having bound most of them
to him on the preceding night, and he trusted every one of them to obey
the man he had set over them and no other. As Dickory would have no
orders to give, there would be no need of obedience, and Black Paul
would have no chance to interfere with anything.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Bonnet had been left by Blackbeard--who, having said all he had to
say, hurried up the companion-way to attend to the rest of his
plans--the stately naval officer who had so recently occupied the bench
by the table shrunk into a frightened farmer, gazing blankly at Ben
Greenway.

"Think you, Ben," he said in half a voice, "that this is one of that
man's jokes! I have heard that he has a fearful taste for horrid
jokes."

The Scotchman shook his head. "Joke! Master Bonnet," he exclaimed, "it
is no joke. He has ta'en your ship from ye; he has ta'en from ye your
sword, your pistols, an' your wicked black flag, an' he has made evil
impossible to ye. He has ta'en from ye the shame an' the wretched
wickedness o' bein' a pirate. Think o' that, Master Bonnet, ye are no
longer a pirate. That most devilish o' all demons has presarved the rest
o' your life from the dishonour an' the infamy which ye were labourin'
to heap upon it. Ye are a poor mon now, Master Bonnet; that Beelzebub
will strip from ye everything ye had, all your riches shall be his. Ye
can no longer afford to be a pirate; ye will be compelled to be an
honest mon. An' I tell ye that my soul lifteth itsel' in thanksgivin'
an' my heart is happier than it has been since that fearsome day when ye
went on board your vessel at Bridgetown."

"Ben," said Bonnet, "it is hard and it is cruel, that in this, the time
of my great trouble, you turn upon me. I have been robbed; I have been
ruined; my life is of no more use to me, and you, Ben Greenway, revile
me while that I am prostrate."

"Revile!" said the Scotchman. "I glory, I rejoice! Ye hae been
converted, ye hae been changed, ye hae been snatched from the jaws o'
hell. Moreover, Master Bonnet, my soul was rejoiced even before that
master de'il came to set ye free from your toils. To look upon ye an'
see that, although ye called yoursel' a pirate, ye were no like ane o'
these black-hearted cut-throats. Ye were never as wicked, Master Bonnet,
as ye said ye were!"

"You are mistaken," groaned Bonnet; "I tell you, Ben Greenway, you are
mistaken; I am just as wicked as I ever was. And I was very wicked, as
you should admit, knowing what I have done. Oh, Ben, Ben! Is it true
that I shall never go on board my good ship again?"

And with this he spread his arms upon the table and laid his head upon
them. He felt as if his career was ended and his heart broken. Ben
Greenway said no more to comfort him, but at that moment he himself was
the happiest man on the Caribbean Sea. He seated himself in the little
dirty cabin, and his soul saw visions. He saw his master, deprived of
all his belongings, and with them of every taint of piracy, and put on
shore, accompanied, of course, by his faithful servant. He saw a ship
sail, perhaps soon, perhaps later, for Jamaica; he saw the blithe
Mistress Kate, her soul no longer sorrowing for an erring father, come
on board that vessel and sail with him for good old Bridgetown. He saw
everything explained, everything forgotten. He saw before the dear old
family a life of happiness--perhaps he saw the funeral of Madam
Bonnet--and, better than all, he saw the pirate dead, the good man
revived again.

To be sure, he did not see Dickory Charter returning to his old home
with his mother, for he could not know what Blackbeard was going to do
with that young fellow; but as Dickory had thought of him when he had
escaped with Kate from the Revenge, so thought he now of Dickory. There
were so many other important things which bore upon the situation that
he was not able even to consider the young fellow.

It did not take very long for a man of practical devilishness, such as
Blackbeard was, to finish the business which had called him away, and he
soon reappeared in the cabin.

"Ho there! good Sir Nightcap--an I may freely call you that since now I
own you, uniform, cocked hat, title, and everything else--don't cry
yourself to sleep like a baby when its toys are taken away from it, but
wake up. I have a bit of liking for you, and I believe that that is
because you are clean. Not having that virtue myself, I admire it the
more in others, and I thank you from my inmost soul--wherever that may
be--for having provided such comely quarters and such fair
accommodations for me while I shall please to sail the Revenge. But I
shall not condemn you to idleness and cankering thoughts, my bold
blusterer, my terror of the sea, my harrier of the coast, my flaunter of
the Jolly Roger washed clean in the tub with soap; I shall give you
work to do which shall better suit you than the troublesome trade you've
been trying to learn. You write well and read, I know that, my good Sir
Nightcap; and, moreover, you are a fair hand at figures. I have great
work before me in landing and selling the fine cargoes you have brought
me, and in counting and dividing the treasure you have locked in your
iron-bound chests. And you shall attend to all that, my reformed
cutthroat, my regenerated sea-robber. You shall have a room of your own,
where you can take off that brave uniform and where you can do your work
and keep your accounts and so shall be happier than you ever were
before, feeling that you are in your right place."

To all this Stede Bonnet did not answer a word; he did not even raise
his head.

"And now for you, my chaplain," said Blackbeard, suddenly turning toward
Ben Greenway, "what would you like? Would it suit you better to go
overboard or to conduct prayers for my pious crew?"

"I would stay wi' my master," said the Scotchman quietly.

The pirate looked steadily at Greenway. "Oho!" said he, "you are a
sturdy fellow, and have a mind to speak from. Being so stiff yourself,
you may be able to stiffen a little this rag of a master of yours and
help him to understand the work he has to do, which he will bravely do,
I ween, when he finds that to be my clerk is his career. Ha! ha! Sir
Nightcap, the pirate of the pen and ink!"

Deeply sunk these words into Stede Bonnet's heart, but he made no sign.

When Blackbeard went back to the Revenge he took with him all of his own
effects which he cared for, and he also took the ex-pirate's uniform,
cocked hat, and sword. "I may have use for them," he said, "and my clerk
can wear common clothes like common people."

When her new commander reached the Revenge, Dickory immediately
approached him and earnestly besought him that he might be sent to join
Captain Bonnet and Ben Greenway. "They are my friends," said Dickory,
"and I have none here, and I have brought a message to Captain Bonnet
from his daughter, and it is urgently necessary that I return with one
from him to her. I must instantly endeavour to find a ship which is
bound for Jamaica and sail upon her. I have nothing to do with this
ship, having come on board of her simply to carry my message, and it
behooves me that I return quickly to those who sent me, else injury may
come of it."

"I like your speech, my boy, I like your speech!" cried Blackbeard, and
he roared out a big laugh. "'Urgently necessary' you must do this, you
must do that. It is so long since I have heard such words that they come
to me like wine from a cool vault."

At this Dickory flushed hot, but he shut his mouth.

"You are a brave fellow," cried Blackbeard, "and above the common, you
are above the common. There is that in your eye that could never be seen
in the eye of a sugar-planter. You will make a good pirate."

"Pirate!" cried Dickory, losing all sense of prudence. "I would sooner
be a wild beast in the forest than to be a pirate!"

Blackbeard laughed loudly. "A good fellow, a brave fellow!" he cried.
"No man who has not the soul of a pirate within him could stand on his
legs and speak those words to me. Sail to Jamaica to carry messages to
girls? Never! You shall stay with me, you shall be a pirate. You shall
be the head of all the pirates when I give up the business and take to
sugar-planting. Ha! ha! When I take to sugar-planting and merrily make
my own good rum!"

Dickory was dismayed. "But, Captain Blackbeard," he said, with more
deference than before, "I cannot."

"Cannot!" shouted the pirate, "you lie, you can. Say not cannot to me;
you can do anything I tell you, and do it you shall. And now I am going
to put you in your place, and see that you hold it and fill it. An if
you please me not, you carry no more messages in this world, nor receive
them. Charter, I now make you the first officer of the Revenge under me.
You cannot be mate because you know nothing of sailing a ship, and
besides no mate nor any quarter-master is worthy to array himself as I
shall array you. I make you first lieutenant, and you shall wear the
uniform and the cocked hat which Sir Nightcap hath no further use for."

With that he went forward to speak to some of the men, leaving Dickory
standing speechless, with the expression of an infuriated idiot. Black
Paul stepped up to him.

"How now, youngster," said the ex-sailing-master, "first officer, eh? If
you look sharp, you may find yourself in fine feather."

"No, I will not," answered Dickory. "I will have nothing to do with this
black pirate; I will not serve under him, I will not take charge of
anything for him. I am ashamed to talk with him, to be on the same ship
with him. I serve good people, the best and noblest in the world, and I
will not enter any service under him."

"Hold ye, hold ye!" said Black Paul, "you will not serve the good people
you speak of by going overboard with a bullet in your head; think of
that, youngster. It is a poor way of helping your friends by quitting
the world and leaving them in the lurch."

At this moment Blackbeard returned, and when he saw Bittern he roared at
him: "Out of that, you sea-cat, and if I see you again speaking to my
lieutenant, I'll slash your ears for you. In the next boat which leaves
this ship I shall send you to one of the others; I will have no
sneaking schemer on board the Revenge. Get ye for'ad, get ye for'ad, or
I shall help ye with my cutlass!"

And the man who had safely brought two good ships, richly laden, into
the harbour of Belize, and who had given Blackbeard the information
which made him understand the character of Captain Bonnet and how easy
it would be to take possession of his person and his vessels, and who
had done everything in his power to enable the black-hearted pirate to
secure to himself Bonnet's property and crews, and who had only asked in
return an actual command where before he had commanded in fact though
not in name, fled away from the false confederate to whom he had just
given wealth and increased prestige.

The last words of the unfortunate Bittern sunk quickly and deeply into
the heart of Dickory. If he should really go overboard with a bullet in
his brain, farewell to Kate Bonnet, farewell to his mother! He was yet a
very young man, and it had been but a little while since he had been
wandering barefooted over the ships at Bridgetown, selling the fruit of
his mother's little farm. Since that he had loved and lived so long that
he could not calculate the period, and now he was a man and stood
trembling at the point where he was to decide to begin life as a pirate
or end everything. Before Blackbeard had turned his lowering visage
from his retreating benefactor, Dickory had decided that, whatever might
happen, he would not of his own free-will leave life and fair Kate
Bonnet.

"And so you are to be my first lieutenant," said Blackbeard, his face
relaxing. "I am glad of that. There was nothing needed on this ship but
a decent man. I have put one on my old vessel, and if there were another
to be found in the Gulf of Honduras, I'd clap him on that goodly bark.
Now, sir, down to your berth, and don your naval finery. You're always
to wear it; you're not fit to wear the clothes of a real sailor, and I
have no landsman's toggery on this ship."

Dickory bowed--he could not speak--and went below. When next he appeared
on deck he wore the ex-Captain Bonnet's uniform and the tall plumed hat.

"It is for Kate's sweet sake," he said to himself as he mounted the
companion-way; "for her sake I'd wear anything, I'd do anything, if only
I may see her again."

When the new first lieutenant showed himself upon the quarter-deck there
was a general howl from the crew, and peal after peal of derisive
laughter rent the air.

Then Blackbeard stepped quietly forward and ordered eight of the jeerers
to be strung up and flogged.

"I would like you all to remember," said the master pirate, "that when I
appoint an officer on this ship, there is to be no sneering at him nor
any want of respect, and it strikes me that I shall not have to say
anything more on the subject--to this precious crew, at any rate."

The next day lively times began on board the two rich prizes which the
pirate Blackbeard had lately taken. There had been scarcely more hard
work and excitement, cursing and swearing when the rich freight had been
taken from the merchantmen which had originally carried it. Poor
Bonnet's pen worked hard at lists and calculations, for Blackbeard was a
practical man, and not disposed to loose and liberal dealings with
either his men or the tradefolk ashore.

At times the troubled and harassed mind of the former captain of the
Revenge would have given way under the strain had not Ben Greenway
stayed bravely by him; who, although a slow accountant, was sure, and a
great help to one who, in these times of hurry and flurry, was extremely
rapid and equally uncertain. Blackbeard was everywhere, anxious to
complete the unloading and disposal of his goods before the weather
changed; but, wherever he went, he remembered that upon the quarter-deck
of his fine new ship, the Revenge, there was one who, knowing nothing of
nautical matters, was above all suspicion of nautical interferences, and
who, although having no authority, represented the most powerful
nautical commander in all those seas.



CHAPTER XX

ONE NORTH, ONE SOUTH


If our dear Kate Bonnet had really imagined, in her inexperienced mind,
that it would be a matter of days, and perhaps weeks, to procure a
vessel in which she, with her uncle and good Dame Charter, could sail
forth to save her father, she was wonderfully mistaken. Not a
free-footed vessel of any class came into the harbour of Kingston.
Sloops and barks and ships in general arrived and departed, but they
were all bound by one contract or another, and were not free to sail
away, here and there, for a short time or a long time, at the word of a
maiden's will.

Mr. Delaplaine was a rich man, but he was a prudent one, and he had not
the money to waste in wild rewards, even if there had been an
opportunity for him to offer them. Kate was disconcerted, disappointed,
and greatly cast down.

The vengeful Badger was scouring the seas in search of her father,
commissioned to destroy him, and eager in his hot passion to do it; and
here was she, with a respite for that father, if only she were able to
carry it.

Day after day Kate waited for notice of a craft, not only one which
might bring Dickory back but one which might carry her away.

The optimism of Dame Charter would not now bear her up, the load which
had been put upon it was too big. Everything about her was melancholy
and depressed, and Dickory had not come back. So many things had
happened since he went away, and so many days had passed, and she had
entirely exhausted her plentiful stock of very good reasons why her son
had not been able to return to her.

The Governor was very kind; frequently he came to the Delaplaine
mansion, and always he brought assurances that, although he had not
heard anything from Captain Vince, there was every reason to suppose
that before long he would find some way to send him his commands that
Captain Bonnet should not be injured, but should be brought back safely
to Jamaica.

And then Kate would say, with tears in her eyes: "But, your Excellency,
we cannot wait for that; we must go, we must deliver ourselves your
message to the captain of the Badger. Who else will do it? And we cannot
trust to chance; while we are trusting and hoping, my father may die."

At such moments Mr. Delaplaine would sometimes say in his heart, not
daring to breathe such thoughts aloud, "And what could be better than
that he should die and be done with it? He is a thorn in the side of the
young, the good, and the beautiful, and as long as he lives that thorn
will rankle."

Moreover, not only did the good merchant harbour such a wicked thought,
but Dame Charter thought something of the very same kind, though
differently expressed. If he had never been born, she would say to
herself, how much better it would have been; but then the thought would
come crowding in, how bad that would have been for Dickory and for the
plans she was making for him.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, this anxiety, this foreboding,
almost this despair, there came a sunburst which lighted up the souls of
these three good people, which made their eyes sparkle and their hearts
swell with thankfulness. This happiness came in the shape of a letter
from Martin Newcombe.

The letter was a long one and told many things. The first part of it
Kate read to herself and kept to herself, for in burning words it
assured her that he loved her and would always love her, and that no
misfortune of her own nor wrongdoings of others could prevent him from
offering her his most ardent and unchangeable affection. Moreover, he
begged and implored her to accept that affection, to accept it now that
it might belong to her forever. Happiness, he said, seemed opening
before her; he implored her to allow him to share that happiness with
her. The rest of the letter was read most jubilantly aloud. It told of
news which had come to Newcombe from Honduras Gulf: great news,
wonderful news, which would make the heart sing. Major Bonnet was at
Belize. He had given up all connection with piracy and was now engaged
in mercantile pursuits. This was positively true, for the person who had
sent the news to Bridgetown had seen Major Bonnet and had talked to him,
and had been informed by him that he had given up his ship and was now
an accountant and commission agent doing business at that place.

The sender of this great news also stated that Ben Greenway was with
Major Bonnet, working as his assistant--and here Dame Charter sat
open-mouthed and her heart nearly stopped beating--young Dickory Charter
had also been in the port and had gone away, but was expected ere long
to return.

Kate stood on her tip-toes and waved the letter over her head.

"To Belize, my dear uncle, to Belize! If we cannot get there any other
way we must go in a boat with oars. We must fly, we must not wait.
Perhaps he is seeking in disguise to escape the vengeance of the wicked
Vince; but that matters not; we know where he is; we must fly, uncle,
we must fly!"

The opportunities for figurative flying were not wanting. There were no
vessels in the port which might be engaged for an indeterminate voyage
in pursuit of a British man-of-war, but there was a goodly sloop about
to sail in ballast for Belize. Before sunset three passages were engaged
upon this sloop.

Kate sat long into the night, her letter in her hand. Here was a lover
who loved her; a lover who had just sent to her not only love, but life;
a lover who had no intention of leaving her because of her overshadowing
sorrow, but who had lifted that sorrow and had come to her again. Ay
more, she knew that if the sorrow had not been lifted he would have come
to her again.

The Governor of Jamaica was a man of hearty sympathies, and these worked
so strongly in him that when Kate and her uncle came to bring him the
good news, he kissed her and vowed that he had not heard anything so
cheering for many a year.

"I have been greatly afraid of that Vince," he said. "Although I did not
mention it, I have been greatly afraid of him; he is a terrible fellow
when he is crossed, and so hot-headed that it is easy to cross him.
There were so many chances of his catching your father and so few
chances of my orders catching him. But it is all right now; you will be
able to reach your father before Vince can possibly get to him, even
should he be able to do him injury in his present position. Your father,
my dear, must have been as mad as a March hare to embark upon a career
of a pirate when all the time his heart was really turned to ways of
peace, to planting, to mercantile pursuits, to domestic joys."

Here, now, was to be a voyage of conquest. No matter what his plans
were; no matter what he said; no matter what he might lose, or how he
might suffer by being taken into captivity and being carried away, Major
Stede Bonnet, late of Bridgetown and still later connected with some
erratic voyages upon the high seas, was to be taken prisoner by his
daughter and carried away to Spanish Town, where the actions of his
disordered mind were to be condoned and where he would be safe from all
vengeful Vinces and from all temptations of the flaunting skull and
bones.

It was a bright morning when, with a fair wind upon her starboard bow,
the sloop Belinda, bearing the jubilant three, sailed southward on her
course to the coast of Honduras; and it was upon that same morning that
the good ship Revenge, bearing the pirate Blackbeard and his handsomely
uniformed lieutenant, sailed northward, the same fair wind upon her port
bow.



CHAPTER XXI

A PROJECTED MARRIAGE


Strange as it may appear, Dickory Charter was not a very unhappy young
fellow as he stood in his fine uniform on the quarter-deck of the
Revenge, the fresh breeze ruffling his brown curls when he lifted his
heavy cocked hat.

True, he was leaving behind him his friends, Captain Bonnet and Ben
Greenway, with whom the wayward Blackbeard would allow no word of
leave-taking; true, he was going, he knew not where, and in the power of
a man noted the new world over for his savage eccentricities; and true,
he might soon be sailing, hour by hour, farther and farther away from
the island on which dwelt the angel Kate--that angel Kate and his
mother. But none of these considerations could keep down the glad
feeling that he was going, that he was moving. Moreover, in answer to
one of his impassioned appeals to be set ashore at Jamaica, Blackbeard
had said to him that if he should get tired of him he did not see, at
that moment, any reason why he should not put him on board some
convenient vessel and have him landed at Kingston.

Dickory did not believe very much in the black-bearded pirate, with his
wild tricks and inhuman high spirits, but Jamaica lay to the east, and
he was going eastward.

Incited, perhaps, by the possession of a fine ship, manned by a crew
picked from his old vessel and from the men who had formed the crew of
the Revenge, Blackbeard was in better spirits than was his wont, and so
far as his nature would allow he treated Dickory with fair good-humour.
But no matter what happened, his unrestrained imagination never failed
him. Having taken the fancy to see Dickory always in full uniform, he
allowed him to assume no other clothes; he was always in naval
full-dress and cocked hat, and his duties were those of a private
secretary.

"The only shrewd thing I ever knew your Sir Nightcap to do," he said,
"was to tell me you could not read nor write. He spoke so glibly that I
believed him. Had it not been so I should have sent you to the town to
help with the shore end of my affairs, and then you would have been
there still and I should have had no admiral to write my log and
straighten my accounts."

Sometimes, in his quieter moods, when there was no provocation to send
pistol-balls between two sailors quietly conversing, or to perform some
other demoniac trick, Blackbeard would talk to Dickory and ask all
manner of questions, some of which the young man answered, while some he
tried not to answer. Thus it was that the pirate found out a great deal
more about Dickory's life, hope, and sorrows than the young fellow
imagined that he made known. He discovered that Dickory was greatly
interested in Bonnet's daughter, and wished above all other things in
this world to get to her and to be with her.

This was a little out of the common run of things among the brotherhood;
it was their fashion to forget, so far as they were able, the family
ties which already belonged to them, and to make no plans for any future
ties of that sort which they might be able to make. Such a thing amused
the generally rampant Blackbeard, but if this Dickory boy whom they had
on board really did wish to marry some one, the idea came into the
crafty mind of Blackbeard that he would like to attend to that marrying
himself. It pleased him to have a finger in every pie, and now here was
a pie in the fingering of which he might take a novel interest.

This renowned desperado, this bloody cutthroat, this merciless pirate
possessed a home--a quiet little English home on the Cornwall coast,
where the cheerful woods and fields stretched down almost in reach of
the sullen sea. Here dwelt his wife, quiet Mistress Thatch, and here his
brawny daughter. Seldom a word came to this rural home from the father,
burning and robbing, sinking and slaying out upon the western seas. But
from the stores of pelf which so often slipped so easily into his great
arms, and which so often slipped just as easily out of them, came now
and then something to help the brawn grow upon his daughter's bones and
to ease the labours of his wife.

Eliza Thatch bore no resemblance to a houri; her hair was red, her face
was freckled; she had enough teeth left to do good eating with when she
had a chance, and her step shook the timbers of her little home.

Her father had heard from her a little while ago by a letter she had had
conveyed to Belize. His parental feelings, notwithstanding he had told
Bonnet he knew no such sentiments, were stirred. When he had finished
her letter he would have been well pleased to burn a vessel and make a
dozen passengers walk the plank as a memorial to his girl. But this not
being convenient, it had come to him that he would marry the wench to
the gaily bedecked young fellow he had captured, and it filled his
reckless heart with a wild delight. He drew his cutlass, and with a
great oath he drove the heavy blade into the top of the table, and he
swore by this mark that his grand plan should be carried out.

He would sail over to England; this would be a happy chance, for his
vessel was unladen and ready for any adventure. He would drop anchor in
the quiet cove he knew of; he would go ashore by night; he would be at
home again. To be at home again made him shout with profane laughter,
the little home he remembered would be so ridiculous to him now. He
would see again his poor little trembling wife--she must be gray by
now--and he was sure that she would tremble more than ever she did when
she heard the great sea oaths which he was accustomed to pour forth now.
And his daughter, she must be a strapping wench by this time; he was
sure she could stand a slap on the back which would kill her mother.

Yes, there should be a wedding, a fine wedding, and good old rum should
water the earth. And he would detail a boat's crew of jolly good fellows
from the Revenge to help make things uproarious. This Charter boy and
Eliza should have a house of their own, with plenty of money--he had
more funds in hand than ever in his life before--and his respectable
son-in-law should go to London and deposit his fortune in a bank. It
would be royal fun to think of him and Eliza highly respectable and with
money in the bank. A quart of the best rum could scarcely have made
Blackbeard more hilarious than did this glorious notion. He danced among
his crew; he singed beards; he whacked with capstan bars; he pushed men
down hatchways; he was in lordly spirits, and his crew expected some
great adventure, some startling piece of deviltry.

Of course he did not keep his great design from Dickory--it was too
glorious, too transcendent. He took his young admiral into his cabin and
laid before him his dazzling future.

Dickory sat speechless, almost breathless. As he listened he could feel
himself turn cold. Had any one else been talking to him in this strain
he would have shouted with laughter, but people did not laugh at
Blackbeard.

When the pirate had said all and was gazing triumphantly at poor
Dickory, the young man gasped a word in answer; he could not accept this
awful fate without as much as a wave of the hand in protest.

"But, sir," said he, "if--"

Blackbeard's face grew black; he bent his head and lowered upon the pale
Dickory, then, with a tremendous blow, he brought down his fist upon the
table.

"If Eliza will not have you," he roared; "if that girl will not take you
when I offer you to her; if she or her mother as much as winks an
eyelash in disobedience of my commands, I will take them by the hair of
their heads and I will throw them into the sea. If she will not have
you," he repeated, roaring as if he were shouting through a speaking
trumpet in a storm, "if I thought that, youngster, I would burn the
house with both of them in it, and the rum I had bought to make a jolly
wedding should be poured on the timbers to make them blaze. Let no
notions like that enter your mind, my boy. If she disobeys me, I will
cook her and you shall eat her. Disobey me!" And he swore at such a rate
that he panted for fresh air and mounted to the deck.

It was not a time for Dickory to make remarks indicating his disapproval
of the proposed arrangement.

As the Revenge sailed on over sunny seas or under lowering clouds,
Dickory was no stranger to the binnacle, and the compass always told him
that they were sailing eastward. He had once asked Blackbeard where they
now were by the chart, but that gracious gentleman of the midnight beard
had given him oaths for answers, and had told him that if the captain
knew where the ship was on any particular hour or minute nobody else on
that ship need trouble his head about it. But at last the course of the
Revenge was changed a little, and she sailed northward. Then Dickory
spoke with one of the mildest of the mates upon the subject of their
progress, and the man made known to him that they were now about
half-way through the Windward passage. Dickory started back. He knew
something of the geography of those seas.

"Why, then," he cried, "we have passed Jamaica!"

"Of course we have," said the man, and if it had not been for Dickory's
uniform he would have sworn at him.



CHAPTER XXII

BLADE TO BLADE


When the corvette Badger sailed from Jamaica she moved among the islands
of the Caribbean Sea as if she had been a modern vessel propelled by a
steam-engine. That which represented a steam-engine in this case was the
fiery brain of Captain Christopher Vince of his Majesty's navy. More
than winds, more than currents, this brain made its power felt upon the
course and progress of the vessel.

Calling at every port where information might possibly be gained,
hailing every sloop or ship or fishing-smack which might have sighted
the pirate ship Revenge, with a constant lookout for a black flag,
Captain Vince kept his engine steadily at work.

But it was not in pursuit of a ship that the swift keel of the Badger
cut through the sea, this way and that, now on a long course, now
doubling back again, like a hound fancying he has got the scent of a
hare, then raging wildly when he finds the scent is false; it was in
pursuit of a woman that every sail was spread, that the lookout swept
the sea, and that the hot brain of the captain worked steadily and hard.
This English man-of-war was on a cruise to make Kate Bonnet the bride of
its captain. The heart of this naval lover was very steady; it was fixed
in its purpose, nothing could turn it aside. Vince's plans were
well-digested; he knew what he wanted to do, he knew how he was going to
do it.

In the first place he would capture the man Bonnet; all the details of
the action were arranged to that end; then, with Kate's father as his
prisoner, he would be master of the situation.

There was nothing noble about this craftily elaborated design; but,
then, there was nothing noble about Captain Vince. He was a strong hater
and a strong lover, and whether he hated or loved, nothing, good or bad,
must stand in his way. With the life or death, the misery or the
happiness of the father in his hands, he knew that he need but beckon to
the daughter. She might come slowly, but she would come. She was a grand
woman, but she was a woman; she might resist the warm plea of love, but
she could not resist the cold commands of that cruel figure of death who
stood behind the lover.

Captain Bonnet was returning from his visit to the New England coast,
picking up bits of profit here and there as fortune befell him, when
Captain Vince first heard that the Revenge had gone northward. The news
was circumstantial and straightforward, and was not to be doubted. Vince
raged upon his quarter-deck when he found out how he had been wasting
time. Northward now was pointed the bow of the Badger, and the vengeful
Vince felt as if his prey was already in his hands. If Bonnet had sailed
up the Atlantic coast he was bound to sail down again. It might be a
long cruise, there might be impatient waitings at the mouths of coves
and rivers where the pirates were accustomed to take refuge or refit,
but the light of the eyes of Kate Bonnet were worth the longest pursuit
or the most impatient waiting.

So, steadily sailed the corvette Badger up the long Atlantic coast, and
she passed the capes of the Delaware while Captain Bonnet was examining
the queer pulpit in the little bay-side town where his ship had stopped
to take in water.

At the various ports of the northern coast where the Revenge had sailed
back and forth outside, the Badger boldly entered, and the tales she
heard soon turned her back again to sail southward down the long
Atlantic coast. But the heart of Christopher Vince never failed. The
vision of Kate Bonnet as he had seen her, standing with glorious eyes
denouncing him; as he should see her when, with bowed head and proffered
hand, she came to him; as all should see her when, in her clear-cut
beauty, she stood beside him in his ancestral home, never left him.

Off the port of Charles Town, South Carolina, the Badger lay and waited,
and soon, from an outgoing bark, the news came to Captain Vince that
several weeks before the pirate Bonnet of the Revenge had taken an
English ship as she was entering port, and had then sailed southward.
Southward now sailed the Badger, and, as there was but little wind,
Captain Vince swore with an unremitting diligence.

It was a quiet morning and the Badger was nearing the straits of Florida
when a sail was reported almost due south.

Up came Captain Vince with his glass, and after a long, long look, and
another, and another, during which the two vessels came slowly nearer
and nearer each other, the captain turned to his first officer and said
quietly: "She flies the skull and bones. She's the first of those
hellish pirates that we have yet met on this most unlucky cruise."

"If we could send her, with her crew on board, ten times to the bottom,"
said the other, "she would not pay us what her vile fraternity has cost
us. But these pirate craft know well the difference between a Spanish
galleon and a British man-of-war, and they will always give us a wide
berth."

"But this one will not," said the captain.

Then again he looked long and earnestly through his glass. "Send aft
the three men who know the Revenge," said he.

Presently the men came aft, and one by one they went aloft, and soon
came the report, vouched for by each of them:

"The sail ahead is the pirate Revenge."

Now all redness left the face of Captain Vince. He was as pale as if he
had been afraid that the pirate ship would capture him, but every man on
his vessel knew that there was no fear in the soul or the body of the
captain of the Badger. Quickly came his orders, clear and sharp;
everything had been gone over before, but everything was gone over
again. The corvette was to bear down upon the pirate, her cannon--great
guns for those days, and which could soon have disabled, if they had not
sunk, the smaller vessel--were muzzled and told to hold their peace. The
man-of-war was to bear down upon the pirate and to capture her by
boarding. There was to be no broadside, no timber-splitting cannon
balls.

The wind was light and in favour of the corvette, and slowly the two
vessels diminished the few miles between them; but there was enough wind
to show the royal colours on the Badger.

"He is a bold fellow, that pirate," said some of the naval men, "and he
will wait and fight us."

"He will wait and fight us," said some of the others, "because he
cannot get away; in this wind he is at our mercy."

Captain Vince stood and gazed over the water, sometimes with his glass
and sometimes without it. Here now was the end of his fuming, his
raging, his long and untiring search. All the anxious weariness of long
voyaging, all the impatience of watching, all the irritation of waiting
had gone. The notorious vessel in which the father of Kate Bonnet had
made himself a terror and a scourge was now almost within his reach. The
beneficent vessel by which the father of Kate Bonnet should give to him
his life's desire was so near to him that he could have sent a musket
ball into her had he chosen to fire. It was so near to him that he could
now, with his glass, read the word "Revenge" on her bow. His brows were
knit, his jaws were set tight, his muscles hardened themselves with
energy.

Again the orders were passed, that when the men of the corvette boarded
the pirate they were to cut down the rascals without mercy, and not one
of them was to draw sword or pistol against the pirate captain. He would
be attended to by their commander.

Vince knew the story of Stede Bonnet; he knew that early in life he had
been in the army, and that it was likely that he understood the handling
of a sword. But he knew also that he himself was one of the best
swordsmen in the royal navy. He yearned to cross blades with the man
whose blood should not be shed, whose life should be preserved
throughout the combat as if he were a friend and not a foe, who should
surrender to him his sword and give to him his daughter.

"They're a brave lot, those bloody rascals," said one of the men of the
Badger.

"They've a fool of a captain," said another; "he knows not the
difference between a British man-of-war and a Spanish galleon, but we
shall teach him that."

Slowly they came together, the Revenge and the Badger, the bow of one
pointed east and the bow of the other to the west; from neither vessel
there came a word; the low waves could be heard flapping against their
sides. Suddenly there rang out from the man-of-war the order to make
fast. The grapnels flew over the bulwarks of the pirate, and in a moment
the two vessels were as one. Then, with a great shout, the men of the
Badger leaped and hurled themselves upon the deck of the Revenge, and
upon that deck and from behind bulwarks there rose, yelling and howling
and roaring, the picked men of two pirate crews, quick, furious, and
strong as tigers, the hate of man in their eyes and the love of blood in
their hearts. Like a wave of massacre they threw themselves against the
drilled masses of the Badger's crew, and with yells and oaths and curses
and cries the battle raged.

With a sudden dash the captain of the man-of-war plunged through the
ranks of the combatants and stood upon the middle of the deck; his quick
eyes shot here and there; wherever he might be, he sought the captain of
the pirate ship. In an instant a huge man bounded aft and made one long
step towards him. Vast in chest and shoulder, and with mighty limbs,
fiery-eyed, hairy, horribly fantastic, Blackbeard stood, with great head
lowered for the charge.

"A sugar-planter?" was the swift thought of Vince.

"Are you the captain of this ship?" he shouted.

"I am!" cried the other, and with a curse like bursting thunder the
pirate came on and his blade crossed that of Captain Vince.

Forward and amidships surged the general fight: men plunged, swords
fell, blood flowed, feet slipped upon the deck, and roars of blasphemy
and pain rose above the noise of battle. But farther aft the two
captains, in a space by themselves, cut, thrust, and trampled, whirling
around each other, dashing from this side and that, ever with keen eyes
firmly fixed, ever with strong arms whirling down and upward; now one
man felt the keen cut of steel and now the other. The blood ran upon
rich uniform or stained rough cloth and leather. It was a fight as if
between a lioness and a tigress, their dead cubs near-by.

As most men in the navy knew, Captain Vince was a most dangerous
swordsman. In duel or in warfare, no man yet had been able to stand
before him. With skilled arm and eye and with every muscle of his body
trained, his sword sought a vital spot in his opponent. There was no
thought now in the mind of Vince about disarming the pirate and taking
him prisoner; this terrible wild beast, this hairy monster must be
killed or he himself must die. Through the whirl and clash and hot
breath of battle he had been amazed that Kate Bonnet's father should be
a man like this.

The pirate, his eyes now shrunken into his head, where they glowed like
coals, his breath steaming like a volcano, and his tremendous muscles
supple and quick as those of a cat, met his antagonist at every point,
and with every lunge and thrust and cut forced him to guard.

Now Vince shut himself in his armour of trained defence; this bounding
lion must be killed, but the death-stroke must be cunningly delivered,
and until, in his hot rage, the pirate should forget his guard Vince
must shield himself.

Never had the great Blackbeard met so keen a swordsman; he howled with
rage to see the English captain still vigorous, agile, warding every
stroke. Blackbeard was now a wild beast of the sea: he fought to kill,
for naught else, not even his own life. With a yell he threw himself
upon Captain Vince, whose sword passed quick as lightning through the
brawny masses of his left shoulder. With one quick step, the pirate
pressed closer to Vince, thus holding the imprisoned blade, which stuck
out behind his body, and with a tremendous blow of his right fist, in
which he held the heavy brazen hilt of his sword, he dashed his enemy
backward to the ground. The fall drew the blade from the shoulder of
Blackbeard, whose great right arm went up, whose sword hissed in the air
and then came down upon the prostrate Vince. Another stroke and the
English captain lay insensible and still.

With the scream of a maddened Indian, Blackbeard sprung into the air,
and when his feet touched the deck he danced. He would have hewn his
victim into pieces, he would have scattered him over the decks, but
there was no time for such recreations. Forward the battle raged with
tremendous fury, and into the midst of it dashed Blackbeard.

From the companion-way leading to the captain's cabin there now appeared
a pale young face. It was that of Dickory Charter, who had been ordered
by Blackbeard, before the two vessels came together, to shut himself in
the cabin and to keep out of the broil, swearing that if he made himself
unfit to present to Eliza he would toss his disfigured body into the
sea. Entirely unarmed and having no place in the fight, Dickory had
obeyed, but the spirit of a young man which burned within him led him
to behold the greater part of the conflict between Blackbeard and the
English captain. Being a young man, he had shut his eyes at the end of
it, but when the pirate had left he came forth quietly. The fight raged
forward, and here he was alone with the fallen figure on the deck.

As Dickory stood gazing downward in awe--in all his life he had never
seen a corpse--the man he had supposed dead opened his eyes for a moment
and gazed with dull intelligence, and then he gasped for rum. Dickory
was quickly beside him with a tumbler of spirits and water, which,
raising the fallen man's head, he gave him. In a few moments the eyes of
Captain Vince opened wider, and he stared at the young man in naval
uniform who stood above him. "Who are you?" he said in a low voice, but
distinct, "an English officer?"

"No," said Dickory, "I am no officer and no pirate; I am forced to wear
these clothes."

And then, his natural and selfish instincts pushing themselves before
anything else, Dickory went on: "Oh, sir, if your men conquer these
pirates will you take me--" but as he spoke he saw that the wounded man
was not listening to him; his half-closed eyes turned towards him and he
whispered:

"More spirits!"

[Illustration: "Take that," he feebly said, "and swear that it shall be
delivered."]

Dickory dashed into the cabin, half-filled a tumbler with rum and gave
it to Vince. Presently his eyes recovered something of their natural
glow, and with contracted brow he fixed them upon the stream of blood
which was running from him over the deck.

Suddenly he spoke sharply: "Young fellow," he said, "some paper and a
pen, a pencil, anything. Quick!"

Dickory looked at him in amazement for a moment and then he ran into the
cabin, soon returning with a sheet of paper and an English pencil.

The eyes of Captain Vince were now very bright, and a nervous strength
came into his body. He raised himself upon his elbow, he clutched at the
paper, and clapping it upon the deck began to write. Quickly his pencil
moved; already he was feeling that his rum-given strength was leaving
him, but several pages he wrote, and then he signed his name. Folding
the sheet he stopped for a moment, feeling that he could do no more;
but, gathering together his strength in one convulsive motion, he
addressed the letter.

"Take that," he feebly said, "and swear ... that it shall be ...
delivered."

"I swear," said Dickory, as on his knees he took the blood-smeared
letter. He hastily slipped it into the breast of his coat, and then he
was barely able to move quick enough to keep the Englishman's head from
striking the deck.

"How now!" sounded a harsh growl at his ear. "Get you into your cabin
or you will be hurt. It is not time yet for the fleecing of corpses! I
am choking for a glass of brandy. Get in and stay there!"

In another minute Blackbeard, refreshed, was running aft, the cut
through his shoulder bleeding, but entirely forgotten.

There was no fighting now upon the deck of the Revenge; the conflict
raged, but it had been transferred to the Badger. The sailors of the
man-of-war had fought valiantly and stoutly, even impetuously, but their
enemies--picked men from two pirate crews--had fought like wire-muscled
devils. Ablaze with fury they had cut down the Badger's men, piling them
upon their own fallen comrades; they had followed the brave fellows with
oaths, cutlasses, and pistols as, little at a time and fighting all the
while, they slowly clambered back into their own ship. The pirates had
thrown their grapnels over the bulwarks of the man-of-war; they had
followed, cut by cut, shot by shot, until they now stood upon the
Badger, fighting with the same fury that they had just fought upon the
blood-soaked Revenge. Blackbeard was not yet with them--whatever
happened, Blackbeard must be refreshed--but now he sprang into the
enemy's ship--that fine British man-of-war, the corvette Badger, which
had so bravely sailed down upon his ship to capture her--and led the
carnage.

They were tough men, those British seamen, tough in heart, tough in
arms and body; they fought above decks and they fought below, and they
laid many a pirate scoundrel dead; but they had met a foe which was too
strong for them--a pack of brawny, hairy desperadoes, picked from two
pirate crews. The first officer now commanding, panting, bleeding, and
torn, groaned as he saw that his men could fight no longer, and he
surrendered the Badger to the pirates.

The great Blackbeard yelled with delight. When had any other captain
sailing under the Jolly Roger captured a British man-of-war, a
first-class corvette of the royal navy? His frenzied joy was so intense
that he was on the point of cutting down the officer who was offering
him his sword, but he withheld his hand.

"Go, somebody, and fetch me a glass of his Majesty's rum," he cried,
"and I will drink to his perdition!"

The door of a locker was smashed, the spirits were brought, and the
great Blackbeard was again refreshed.

Standing on the quarter-deck where but an hour or two before Captain
Christopher Vince had stood commanding his fine corvette as she sailed
down upon her pirate enemy, Blackbeard had brought before him all the
survivors of the Badger's crew.

"Well, you're a lot of damnable knaves," said he, "and you have cost me
many a good man this day. But my crew will now be short-handed, and if
any or all of you will turn pirate and ship with me, I will let bygones
pass; but, if any of you choose not that, overboard you go. I will have
no unwilling rascals in my crew."

All but one of the men of the Badger, downcast, wounded, panting with
thirst and loving life, agreed to become pirates and to ship on board
the Revenge.

The first mate would not break his oath of allegiance to the king, and
he went overboard.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE ADDRESS OF THE LETTER


There was hard and ghastly work that day when the Revenge was cleared
after action, and there was lively and interesting work on board the
Badger when Blackbeard and his officers went over the captured vessel to
discover what new possessions they had won.

At first Blackbeard had thought to establish himself upon the corvette
and abandon the Revenge. It would have been such a grand thing to
scourge the seas in a British man-of-war with the Jolly Roger floating
over her. But this would have been too dangerous; the combined naval
force of England in American waters would have been united to put down
such presumption. So the wary pirate curbed his ambition.

Everything portable and valuable was stripped from the Badger--her guns
would have been taken had it been practicable to ship them to the
Revenge in a rising sea--and then she was scuttled, fired, and cast
off, and with her dead on board she passed out of commission in the
royal navy.

During the turmoil, the horror and the bringing aboard of pillage,
Dickory Charter had kept close below deck, his face in his hands and his
heart almost broken. It is so easy for young hearts to almost break.

When he had seen the British ship come sailing down upon them, hope had
sprung up brightly in his heart; now there was a chance of his escaping
from this hell of the waves. When the Revenge should be taken he would
rush to the British captain, or any one in authority, and tell his tale.
It would be believed, he doubted not; even his uniform would help to
prove he was no pirate; he would be taken away, he would reach Jamaica;
he would see Kate; he would carry to her the great news of her father.
After that his life could take care of itself.

But now the blackness of darkness was over everything. Those who were to
have been his friends had vanished, the ship which was to have given him
a new life had disappeared forever. He was on board the pirate ship,
bound for the shores of England--horrible shores to him--bound to the
shores of England and to Blackbeard's Eliza!

He was not a fool, this Dickory; he had no unwarrantable and romantic
fears that in these enlightened days one man could say to another, "Go
you, and marry the woman I have chosen for you." There was nothing silly
or cowardly about him, but he knew Blackbeard.

Not one ray of hope thrust itself through his hands into his brain. Hope
had gone, gone to the bottom, and he was on his storm-tossed way to the
waters of another continent.

But in the midst of his despair Dickory never thought of freeing
himself, by a sudden bound, of the world and his woes. So long as Kate
should live he must live, even if it were to prove to himself, and to
himself only, how faithful to her he could be.

It was dark when men came tumbling below, throwing themselves into
hammocks and bunks, and Dickory prepared to turn in. If sleep should
come and without dreams, it would be greater gain than bags of gold. As
he took off his coat, the letter of the English captain dropped from his
breast. Until then he had forgotten it, but now he remembered it as a
sacred trust. The dull light of the lantern barely enabled him to
discern objects about him, but he stuck the letter into a crack in the
woodwork where in the morning he would see it and take proper care of
it.

Soon sleep came, but not without dreams. He dreamed that he was rowing
Kate on the river at Bridgetown, and that she told him in a low sweet
voice, with a smile on her lips and her eyes tenderly upturned, that
she would like to row thus with him forever.

Early in the morning, through an open port-hole, the light of the
eastern sun stole into this abode of darkness and sin and threw itself
upon the red-stained letter sticking in the crack of the woodwork.
Presently Dickory opened his eyes, and the first thing they fell upon
was that letter. On the side of the folded sheet he could see the
superscription, boldly but irregularly written: "Miss Kate Bonnet,
Kingston, Ja."

Dickory sat upright, his eyes hard-fixed and burning. How long he sat he
knew not. How long his brain burned inwardly, as his eyes burned
outwardly, he knew not. The noise of the watch going on deck roused him,
and in a moment he had the letter in his hands.

All that day Dickory Charter was worth nothing to anybody. Blackbeard
swore at him and pushed him aside. The young fellow could not even count
the doubloons in a bag.

"Go to!" cried the pirate, blacker and more fantastically horrible than
ever, for his bare left shoulder was bound with a scarf of silk and his
great arm was streaked and bedabbled with his blood, "you are the most
cursed coward I have met with in all my days at sea. So frightened out
of your wits by a lively brush as that of yesterday! Too scared to count
gold! Never saw I that before. One might be too scared to pray, but to
count gold! Ha! ha!" and the bold pirate laughed a merry roar. He was
in good spirits; he had captured and sunk an English man-of-war; sunk
her with her English ensign floating above her. How it would have
overjoyed him if all the ships, little and big, that plied the Spanish
Main could have seen him sink that man-of-war. He was a merry man that
morning, the great Blackbeard, triumphant in victory, glowing with the
king's brandy, and with so little pain from that cut in his shoulder
that he could waste no thought upon it.

"But Eliza will like it well," continued the merry pirate; "she will
lead you with a string, be you bold or craven, and the less you pull at
it the easier it will be for my brave girl. Ah! she will dance with joy
when I tell her what a frightened rabbit of a husband it is that I give
her. Now get away somewhere, and let your face rid itself of its
paleness; and should you find a dead man lying where he has been
overlooked, come and tell me and I will have him put aside. You must not
be frightened any more or Eliza may find that you have not left even the
spirit of a rabbit."

All day Dickory sat silent, his misery pinned into the breast of his
coat. "Miss Kate Bonnet, Kingston, Ja."--and this on a letter written in
the dying moments of an English captain, a high and mighty captain who
must have loved as few men love, to write that letter, his life's blood
running over the paper as he wrote. And could a man love thus if he
were not loved? That was the terrible question.

Sometimes his mind became quiet enough for him to think coherently, then
it was easy enough for him to understand everything. Kate had been a
long time in Jamaica; she had met many people; she had met this man,
this noble, handsome man. Dickory had watched him with glowing
admiration as he stood up before Blackbeard, fighting like the champion
of all good against the hairy monster who struck his blows for all that
was base and wicked.

How Dickory's young heart had gone out in sympathy and fellowship
towards the brave English captain! How he had hoped that the next of his
quick, sharp lunges might slit the black heart of the pirate! How he had
almost wept when the noble Englishman went down! And now it made him
shudder to think his heart had stood side by side with the heart of
Kate's lover! He had sworn to deliver the letter of that lover, and he
would do it. More cruel than the bloodiest pirate was the fate that
forced him thus to bear the death-warrant of his own young life.



CHAPTER XXIV

BELIZE


There were not many captains of merchantmen in the early part of the
eighteenth century who cared to sail into the Gulf of Honduras, that
body of water being such a favourite resort of pirates.

But no such fears troubled the mind of the skipper of the brig Belinda,
which was now making the best of her way towards the port of Belize. She
was a sturdy vessel and carried no prejudices. Sometimes she was laden
with goods bought from the pirates and destined to be sold to honest
people; and, again, she carried commodities purchased from those who
were their legal owners and intended for the use of the bold rascals who
sailed under the Jolly Roger. Then, as now, it was impossible for
thieves to steal all the commodities they desired; some things must be
bought. Thus, serving the pirates as well as honest traders, the sloop
Belinda feared not to sail the Gulf of Honduras or to cast anchor by the
town of Belize.

As the good ship approached her port Kate Bonnet kept steadfastly on
deck during most of the daylight, her eyes searching the surface of the
water for something which looked like her father's ship, the Revenge.
True, Mr. Newcombe had written her that Major Bonnet had given up piracy
and was now engaged in commercial business in the town, but still, if
she should see the Revenge, the sight would be of absorbing interest to
her. She was a girl of quick observation and good memory, but the town
came in view and she had seen no vessel which reminded her of the
Revenge.

As soon as the anchor was dropped, Kate wished to go on shore, but her
uncle would not hear of that. He must know something definite before he
trusted Kate or himself in such a lawless town as Belize. The captain,
who was going ashore, could make inquiries, and Kate must wait.

In a little room at the back of a large, low storehouse, not far from
the pier, sat Stede Bonnet and his faithful friend and servitor, Ben
Greenway. The storehouse was crowded with goods of almost every
imaginable description, and even the room back of it contained an
overflow of bales, boxes, and barrels. At a small table near a window
sat the Scotchman and Bonnet, the latter reading from some roughly
written lists descriptions and quantities of goods, the value of each
item being estimated by the canny Scotchman, who set down the figures
upon another list. Presently Bonnet put down his papers and heaved a
heavy sigh, which sigh seemed to harmonize very well with his general
appearance. He carried no longer upon him the countenance of the bold
officer who, in uniform and flowing feather, trod the quarter-deck of
the Revenge, but bore the expression of a man who knew adversity, yet
was not able to humble himself under it. He was bent and borne down,
although not yet broken. Had he been broken he could better have
accommodated himself to his present case. His clothes were those of the
common class of civilian, and there was that about him which indicated
that he cared no more for neatness or good looks.

"Ben Greenway," he said, "this is too much! Now have I reached the depth
in my sorrow at which all my strength leaves me. I cannot read these
lists."

The Scotchman looked up. "Is there no' light enow!" he asked.

"Light!" said Bonnet; "there is no light anywhere; all is murkiness and
gloom. The goods which you have been lately estimating are all my own,
taken from my own ship by that arch traitor and chief devil, Blackbeard.
I have read the names of them to you and I have remembered many of them
and I have not weakened, but now comes a task which is too great for me.
These things which follow were all intended for my daughter Kate. Silks
and satins and cloth of gold, ribbons and fine linen, laces and
ornaments, all these I selected for my dear daughter, and by day and by
night I have thought of her apparelled in fine raiment, more richly
dressed than any lady in Barbadoes. My daughter, my beautiful, my proud
Kate! And now what has it all come to? All these are gone, basely stolen
from me by that Blackbeard."

Ben Greenway looked up. "Wha stole from ye," he said, "what ye had
already stolen from its rightful owners. An' think ye," he continued,
"that your honest daughter Kate would deign to array hersel' in stolen
goods, no matter how rich they might happen to be! An' think ye she
could hold up her head if the good people o' Bridgetown could point at
her an' say, 'Look at the thief's daughter; how fine she is!' An' think
ye that Mr. Martin Newcombe would tak' into his house an' hame a wife
wha hadna come honestly by her clothes! I tell ye, Master Bonnet, that
ye should exalt your soul in thankfulness that ye are no longer a
dishonest mon, an' that whatever raiment your daughter may now wear, no'
a sleeve or button o' it was purloined an' stolen by her father."

"Ben Greenway," exclaimed Bonnet, striking his hand upon the table, "you
will drive me so mad that I cannot read writing! These things are bad
enough, and you need not make them worse."

"Bless Heaven," said the Scotchman, "your conscience is wakin', an' the
time may come, if it is kept workin', when ye will forget your plunder
an' your blude, your wicked vanity, your cruelty an' your dishonesty,
an' mak' yoursel' worthy o' a good daughter an' a quiet hame. An' more
than that, I will tak' leave to add, o' the faithful services o' a
steadfast friend."

"I cannot forget them, Ben," said Bonnet, speaking without anger. "The
more you talk about my sins the more I long to do them all over again;
the more you say about my vanity and pride, the more I yearn to wear my
uniform and wave my naked sword. Ay, to bring it down with blood upon
its blade. I am very wicked, Greenway; you never would admit it and you
do not admit it now, but I am wicked, and I could prove it to you if
fortune would give me opportunity." And Captain Bonnet sat up very
straight in his chair and his eyes flashed as they very often had
flashed as he trod the deck of the Revenge.

At this moment there was a knock at the door and the captain of the
Belinda came in.

"Good-day, sir!" said that burly seaman. "And this is Captain Bonnet, I
am sure, for I have seen him before, though garbed in another fashion,
and I come to bring you news. I have just arrived at this port in my
sloop, and I bring with me from Kingston your daughter, Mistress Kate
Bonnet, her uncle, Mr. Delaplaine, and a good dame named Charter."

Stede Bonnet turned pale as he had never turned pale before.

"My daughter!" he gasped. "My daughter Kate?"

"Yes," said the captain; "she is on my ship, yearning and moaning to see
you."

"From Kingston?" murmured Bonnet.

"Yes," said the other, "and on fire to see you since she heard you were
here."

"Master Bonnet," exclaimed Ben Greenway, rising, "we must hasten to that
vessel; perhaps this good captain will now tak' us there in his boat."

Bonnet fixed his eyes upon the floor. "Ben Greenway," he said, "I
cannot. How I have longed to see my daughter, and how, time and again
and time and again, I have pictured our meeting! I have seen her throw
herself into the arms of that noble officer, her father; I have heard
her, bathed in filial tears, forgive me everything because of the proud
joy with which she looked on me and knew I was her father. Greenway, I
cannot go; I have dropped too low, and I am ashamed to meet her."

"Ashamed that ye are honest?" cried the Scotchman. "Ashamed that sin nae
longer besets ye, an' that ye are lifted above the thief an' the
cutpurse! Master Bonnet, Master Bonnet, in good truth I am ashamed o'
ye."

"Very well," said the captain of the Belinda, "I have no time to waste;
if you will not go to her, she e'en must come to you. I will send my
boat for her and the others, and you shall wait for them here."

"I will not wait!" exclaimed Bonnet. "I don't dare to look into her
eyes. Behold these clothes, consider my mean employment. Shall I abash
myself before my daughter?"

"Master Bonnet," exclaimed Greenway, hastily stepping to the doorway
through which the captain had departed, "ye shallna tie yoursel' to the
skirts o' the de'il; ye shallna run awa' an' hide yoursel' from your
daughter wha seeks, in tears an' groans, for her unworthy father. Sit
down, Master Bonnet, an' wait here until your good daughter comes."

The Belinda's captain had intended to send his boat back to his vessel,
but now he determined to take her himself. This was such a strange
situation that it might need explanation.

Kate screamed when he made known his errand. "What!" she cried, "my
father in the town, and did he not come back with you? Is he sick? Is he
wounded? Is he in chains?"

"And my Dickory," cried Dame Charter, "was he not there? Has he not yet
returned to the town? It must now be a long time since he went away."

"I know not anything more than I have told you," said the captain. "And
if Mr. Delaplaine and the two ladies will get into my boat, I will
quickly take you to the town and show you where you may find Captain
Bonnet and learn all you wish to know."

"And Dickory," cried Dame Charter, "my son Dickory! Did they give you no
news of him?"

"Come along, come along," said the captain, "my men are waiting in the
boat. I asked no questions, but in ten minutes you can ask a hundred if
you like."

When the little party reached the town it attracted a great deal of
attention from the rough roisterers who were strolling about or gambling
in shady places. When the captain of the Belinda mentioned, here and
there, that these newcomers were the family of Blackbeard's factor, who
now had charge of that pirate's interests in the town, no one dared to
treat the elderly gentleman, the pretty young lady, or the rotund dame
with the slightest disrespect. The name of the great pirate was a safe
protection even when he who bore it was leagues and leagues away.

At the door of the storehouse Ben Greenway stood waiting. He would have
hurried down to the pier had it not been that he was afraid to leave
Bonnet; afraid that this shamefaced ex-pirate would have hurried away to
hide himself from his daughter and his friends. Kate, running forward,
grasped the Scotchman by both hands.

"And where is he?" she cried.

"He is in there," said Ben, pointing through the storeroom to the open
door at the back. In an instant she was gone.

"And Dickory?" cried Dame Charter. "Oh, Ben Greenway, tell me of my
boy."

They went inside and Greenway told everything he knew, which was very
much, although it was not enough to comfort the poor mother's heart, who
could not readily believe that because Dickory had sailed away with a
great and powerful pirate, that eminent man would be sure to bring him
back in safety; but as Greenway really believed this, his words made
some impression on the good dame's heart. She could see some reason to
believe that Blackbeard, having now so much property in the town, might
make a short cruise this time, and that any day the Revenge, with her
dear son on board, might come sailing into port.

With his face buried in his folded arms, which rested on the table,
Stede Bonnet received his daughter. At first she did not recognise him,
never having seen him in such mean apparel; but when he raised his head,
she knew her father. Closing the door behind her, she folded him in her
arms. After a little, leaving the window, they sat together upon a bale
of goods, which happened to be a rug from the Orient, of wondrous
richness, which Bonnet had reserved for the floor of his daughter's
room.

"Never, my dear," he said, "did I dream you would see me in such
plight. I blush that you should look at me."

"Blush!" she exclaimed, her own cheeks reddening, "and you an honest man
and no longer a freebooter and rover of the sea? My heart swells with
pride to think that your life is so changed."

Bonnet sadly shook his head.

"Ah!" he said, "you don't know, you cannot understand what I feel.
Kate," he exclaimed with sudden energy, "I was a man among men; a chief
over many. I was powerful, I was obeyed on every side. I looked the bold
captain that I was; my brave uniform and my sword betokened the rank I
held. And, Kate, you can never know the pride and exultation with which
I stood upon my quarter-deck and scanned the sea, master of all that
might come within my vision. How my heart would swell and my blood run
wild when I beheld in the distance a proud ship, her sails all spread,
her colours flying, heavily laden, hastening onward to her port. How I
would stretch out my arm to that proud ship and say: 'Let down those
sails, drop all those flaunting flags, for you are mine; I am greater
than your captain or your king! If I give the command, down you go to
the bottom with all your people, all your goods, all your banners and
emblazonments, down to the bottom, never to be seen again!'"

[Illustration: Kate and her father in the warehouse.]

Kate shuddered and began to cry. "Oh, father!" she exclaimed, "don't
say that. Surely you never did such things as that?"

"No," said he, speaking more quietly, "not just like that, but I could
have done it all had it pleased me, and it was this sense of power that
made my heart beat so proudly. I took no life, Kate, if it could be
helped, and when I had stripped a ship of her goods, I put her people
upon shore before I burned her."

Kate bowed her head in her hands. "And of all this you are proud, my
father, you are proud of it!"

"Indeed am I, daughter," said he; "and had you seen me in my glory you
would have been proud of me. Perhaps yet--"

In an instant she had clapped her hand over his mouth. "You shall not
say it!" she exclaimed. "I have seized upon you and I shall hold you. No
more freebooter's life for you; no more blood, no more fire. I shall
take you away with me. Not to Bridgetown, for there is no happiness for
either of us there, but to Spanish Town. There, with my uncle, we shall
all be happy together. You will forget the sea and its ships; you will
again wander over your fields, and I shall be with you. You shall watch
the waving crops; you shall ride with me, as you used to ride, to view
your vast herds of cattle--those splendid creatures, their great heads
uplifted, their nostrils to the breeze."

"Truly, my Kate," said Bonnet, "that was a great sight; there were no
cattle finer on the island than were mine."

"And so shall they be again, my father," said Kate, her arms around his
neck.

It was then that Ben Greenway knocked upon the door.

Stede Bonnet's mind had been so much excited by what he had been talking
about that he saluted his brother-in-law and Dame Charter without once
thinking of his clothes. They looked upon him as if he were some unknown
foreigner, a person entirely removed from their customary sphere.

"Was this the once respectable Stede Bonnet?" asked Dame Charter to
herself. "Did such a man marry my sister!" thought Mr. Delaplaine. They
might have been surprised had they met him as a pirate, but his
appearance as a pirate's clerk amazed them.

Towards the end of the day Mr. Delaplaine and his party returned to the
Belinda, for there was no fit place for them to lodge in the town.
Although urged by all, Stede Bonnet would not accompany them. When
persuasion had been exhausted, Ben Greenway promised Kate that he would
be responsible for her father's appearance the next day, feeling safe in
so doing; for, even should Bonnet's shame return, there was no likely
way in which he could avoid his friends.



CHAPTER XXV

WISE MR. DELAPLAINE


Early in the next forenoon Kate and her companions prepared to make
another visit to the town. Naturally she wanted to be with her father as
much as possible and to exert upon him such influences as might make him
forget, in a degree, the so-called glories of his pirate life and return
with her and her uncle to Spanish Town, where, she believed, this
misguided man might yet surrender himself to the rural joys of other
days. Nay, more, he and she might hope for still further happiness in a
Jamaica home, for Madam Bonnet would not be there.

As she came up from below, impatient to depart, Kate noticed, getting
over the side, a gentleman who had just arrived in a small boat. He was
tall and good-looking, and very handsomely attired in a rich suit such
as was worn at that day by French and Spanish noblemen. A sword with an
elaborate hilt was by his side, and on his head a high cocked hat. There
was fine lace at his wrists and bosom, and he wore silk stockings, and
silver buckles on his shoes.

Kate started at meeting here a stranger, and in such an elaborate
attire. She had read of the rich dress of men of rank in Europe, but her
eyes had never fallen upon such a costume. The gentleman advanced
quickly towards her, holding out his hand. She shrank back. "What did it
mean?"

Then in a second she saw her father's face. This fine gentleman, this
dignified and graceful man, was indeed Stede Bonnet.

He had been so thoroughly ashamed of his mean attire on the preceding
day that he had determined not again to meet his daughter and Mr.
Delaplaine in such vulgar guise. So, from the resources of the
storehouses he had drawn forth a superb suit of clothes sent westward
for the governor of one of the French colonies. He excused himself for
taking it from Blackbeard's treasure-house, not only on account of the
demands of the emergency, but because he himself had taken it before
from a merchantman.

"Father!" cried Kate, "what has happened to you? I never saw such a fine
gentleman."

Bonnet smiled with complacency, and removed his cocked hat.

"I always endeavour, my dear," said he, "to dress myself according to my
station. Yesterday, not expecting to see you, I was in a sad plight. I
would have preferred you to meet me in my naval uniform, but as that is
now, to say the least, inconvenient, and as I reside on shore in the
capacity of a merchant or business man, I attire myself to suit my
present condition. Ah! my good brother-in-law, I am glad to see you. I
may remark," he added, graciously shaking hands with Dame Charter, "that
I left my faithful Scotchman in our storehouse in the town, it being
necessary for some one to attend to our possessions there. Otherwise I
should have brought him with me, my good Dame Charter, for I am sure you
would have found his company acceptable. He is a faithful man and an
honest one, although I am bound to say that if he were less of a
Presbyterian and more of a man of the world his conversation might
sometimes be more agreeable."

Mr. Delaplaine regarded with much earnestness and no little pleasure his
transformed brother-in-law. Hope for the future now filled his heart. If
this crack-brained sugar-planter had really recovered from his mania for
piracy and had a fancy for legitimate business, his new station might be
better for him than any he had yet known. Sugar-planting was all well
enough and suitable to any gentleman, provided Madam Bonnet were not
taken with it. She would drive any man from the paths of reason unless
he possessed an uncommonly strong brain, and he did not believe that
such a brain was possessed by his brother-in-law Bonnet. The good Mr.
Delaplaine rubbed his hands together in his satisfaction. Such a
gentleman as this would be welcome in his counting-house, even if he did
but little; his very appearance would reflect credit upon the
establishment. Dame Charter kept in the background; she had never been
accustomed to associate with the aristocracy, but she did not forget
that a cat may look at a king, and her eyes were very good.

"There were always little cracks in his skull," she said to herself. "My
husband used to tell me that. Major Bonnet is quick at changing from one
thing to another, and it needs sharp wits to follow him."

After a time Major Bonnet proposed a row upon the harbour--he had
brought a large boat, with four oarsmen, for this purpose. Mr.
Delaplaine objected a little to this, fearing the presence of so many
pirate vessels, but Bonnet loftily set aside such puerile objections.

"I am the business representative of the great Blackbeard," he said,
"the most powerful pirate in the world. You are safer here than in any
other port on the American coast."

When they were out upon the water, moving against the gentle breeze,
Bonnet disclosed the object of his excursion. "I am going to take you,"
said he, "to visit some of the noted pirate ships which are anchored in
this harbour. There are vessels here which are quite famous, and
commanded by renowned Brethren of the Coast. I think you will all be
greatly interested in these, and under my convoy you need fear no
danger."

Dame Charter and Kate screamed in their fright, and Mr. Delaplaine
turned pale. "Visit pirate ships!" he cried. "Rather I would have
supposed that you would keep away from them as far as you could. For
myself, I would have them a hundred miles distant if it were possible."

Bonnet laughed loftily. "It will be visits of ceremony that we shall
pay, and with all due ceremony shall we be received. Pull out to that
vessel!" he said to the oarsmen. Then, turning to the others, he
remarked: "That sloop is the Dripping Blade, commanded by Captain Sorby,
whose name strikes terror throughout the Spanish Main. Ay! and in other
parts of the ocean, I can assure you, for he has sailed northward nearly
as far as I have, but he has not yet rivalled me. I know him, having
done business with him on shore. He is a most portentous person, as you
will soon see."

"Oh, father!" cried Kate, "don't take us there; it will kill us just to
look upon such dreadful pirates. I pray you turn the boat!"

"Oh! if Dickory were here," gasped Dame Charter, "he would turn the boat
himself; he would never allow me to be taken among those awful
wretches."

Mr. Delaplaine said nothing. It was too late to expostulate, but he
trembled as he sat.

"I cannot turn back, my dear," said Bonnet, "even if I would, for the
great Sorby is now on deck, and looking at us as we approach."

As the boat drew up by the side of the Dripping Blade the renowned Sorby
looked down over the side. He was a red-headed man; his long hair and
beard dyed yellow in some places by the sun. He was grievous to look
upon, and like to create in the mind of an imaginative person the image
of a sun-burned devil on a holiday.

"Good-day to you! Good-day, Sir Bonnet," cried the pirate captain; "come
on board, come on board, all of you, wife, daughter, father, if such
they be! We'll let down ladders and I shall feast you finely."

"Nay, nay, good Captain Sorby," replied Bonnet, with courteous dignity,
"my family and I have just stopped to pay you our respects. They have
all heard of your great prowess, for I have told them. They may never
have a chance again to look upon another of your fame."

"Heaven grant it!" said Dame Charter in her heart. "If I get out of
this, I stay upon dry land forever."

"I grieve that my poor ship be not honoured by your ladies," said Sorby,
"but I admit that her decks are scarcely fit for the reception of such
company. It is but to-day that we have found time to cleanse her deck
from the stain and disorder of our last fight, having lately come into
harbour. That was a great fight, Sir Bonnet; we lay low and let the
fellows board us, but not one of them went back again. Ha! ha! Not one
of them went back again, good ladies."

Every pirate face on board that ill-conditioned sloop now glared over
her rail, their eyes fixed upon the goodly company in the little boat,
their horrid hair and beards stained and matted--it would have been hard
to tell by what.

"Oh, father, father!" panted Kate, "please row away. What if they should
now jump down upon us?"

"Good-day, good-day, my brave Captain Sorby," said Bonnet, "we must e'en
row away; we have other craft to visit, but would first do honour to you
and your bold crew."

Captain Sorby lifted high his great bespattered hat, and every grinning
demon of the crew waved hat or rag or pail or cutlass and set up a
discordant yell in honour of their departing visitors.

"Oh! go not to another, father," pleaded Kate, her pale face in tears;
"visit no more of them, I pray you!"

"Ay, truly, keep away from them," said Mr. Delaplaine. "I am no coward,
but I vow to you that I shall die of fright if I come close to another
of those floating hells."

"And these," said Kate to herself, her eyes fixed out over the sea,
"these are his friends, his companions, the wretches of whom he is so
proud."

"There are no more vessels like that in port," said Bonnet; "that's the
most celebrated sloop. Those we shall now call upon are commanded by men
of milder mien; some of them you could not tell from plain merchantmen
were you not informed of their illustrious careers."

"If you go near another pirate ship," cried Dame Charter, "I shall jump
overboard; I cannot help it."

"Row back to the Belinda, brother-in-law," said Mr. Delaplaine in a
strong, hard voice; "your tour of pleasure is not fit for tender-hearted
women, nor, I grant it, for gentlemen of my station."

"There are other ships whose captains I know," said Bonnet, "and where
you would have been well received; but if your nerves are not strong
enough for the courtesies I have to offer, we will return to the
Belinda."

When safe again on board their vessel, after the sudden termination of
their projected tour of calls on pirates, Kate took her father aside and
entered into earnest conversation with him, while Mr. Delaplaine, much
ruffled in his temper, although in general of a most mild disposition,
said aside to Dame Charter: "He is as mad as a March hare. What other
parent on this earth would convey his fair young daughter into the
society of these vile wild beasts, which in his eyes are valiant
heroes? We must get him back with us, Dame Charter, we must get him
back. And if he cannot be constrained by love and goodwill to a decent
and a Christian life, we must shut him up. And if his daughter weeps and
raves, we must e'en stiffen our determination and shut him up. It shall
be my purpose now to hasten the return of the brig. There's room enough
for all, and he and the Scotchman must go back with us. The Governor
shall deal with him; and, whether it be on my estate or behind strong
bars, he shall spend the rest of his days upon the island of Jamaica,
and so know the sea no more."

He was very much roused, this good merchant, and when he was roused he
was not slow to act.

The captain of the Belinda was very willing to make a profitable voyage
back to Jamaica, but his vessel must be well laden before he could do
this. Goods enough there were at Belize for that purpose, for
Blackbeard's supplies were all for sale, and his chief clerk, Bonnet,
had the selling of them. So, all parties being like-minded, the Belinda
soon began to take on goods for Kingston.

Stede Bonnet superintended everything. He was a good man of business,
and knew how to direct people who might be under him. There was a great
stir at the storehouse, and, almost blithely, Ben Greenway worked day
and night to make out invoices and to prepare goods for shipment.

Bonnet wore no more the clothes in which his daughter had first seen him
after so long and drear a parting. On deck or on shore, in storehouse or
on the streets of Belize, he was the fine gentleman with the silk
stockings and the tall cocked hat.

One day, a fellow, fresh from his bottle, forgetting the respect which
was due to fine clothes and to Blackbeard's factor, called out to
Bonnet: "What now, Sir Nightcap, how call you that thing you have on
your head?"

In an instant a sword was whipped from its scabbard and a practised hand
sent its blade through the arm of the jester, who presently fell
backward. Bonnet wiped his sword upon the fellow's sleeve and, advising
him to get up and try to learn some manners, coolly walked away.

After that fine clothes were not much laughed at in Belize, for even the
most disrespectful ruffians desired not the thrust of a quick blade nor
the ill-will of that most irascible pirate, Blackbeard.

A few days before it was expected that the Belinda would be ready to
sail Bonnet came on board, his mind full of an important matter. Calling
Mr. Delaplaine and Kate aside, he said: "I have been thinking a great
deal lately about my Scotchman, Ben Greenway. In the first place, he is
greatly needed here, for many of Blackbeard's goods will remain in the
storehouse, and there should be some competent person to take care of
them and to sell them should opportunity offer. Besides that, he is a
great annoyance to me, and I have long been trying to get rid of him.
When I left Bridgetown I had not intended to take him with me, and his
presence on board my ship was a mere accident. Since then he has made
himself very disagreeable."

"What!" cried Kate, "would you be willing that we should all sail away
and leave poor Ben Greenway in this place by himself among these cruel
pirates?"

"He'll represent Blackbeard," said Bonnet, "and no one will harm him.
And, moreover, this enforced stay may be of the greatest benefit to him.
He has a good head for business, and he may establish himself here in a
very profitable fashion and go back to Barbadoes, if he so desires, in
comfortable circumstances. All we have to do is to slip our anchor and
sail away at some moment when he is busy in the town. I will leave ample
instructions for him and he shall have money."

"Father, it would be shameful!" said Kate.

Mr. Delaplaine said nothing; he was too angry to speak, but he made up
his mind that Ben Greenway should be apprised of Bonnet's intentions of
running away from him and that such a wicked design should be thwarted.
This brother-in-law of his was a worse man than he had thought him; he
was capable of being false even to his best friend. He might be mad as a
March hare, but, truly, he was also as sly and crafty as a fox in any
month in the year.

Wise Mr. Delaplaine!

The very next morning there came a letter from Stede Bonnet to his
daughter Kate, in which he told her that it was absolutely impossible
for him to return to the humdrum and stupid life of sugar-planting and
cattle-raising. Having tasted the glories of a pirate's career, he could
never again be contented with plain country pursuits. So he was off and
away, the bounding sea beneath him and the brave Jolly Roger floating
over his head. He would not tell his dear daughter where he was gone or
what he intended to do, for she would be happier if she did not know. He
sent her his warmest love, and desired to be most kindly remembered to
her uncle and to Dame Charter. He would make it his business that a
correspondence should be maintained between him and his dear Kate, and
he hoped from time to time to send her presents which would help her to
know how constantly he loved her. He concluded by admitting that what he
had said about Ben Greenway was merely a blind to turn their suspicions
from his intended departure. If his good brother-in-law, out of kindness
to the Scotchman, had brought him to the Belinda and had insisted on
keeping him there, it would have made his, Bonnet's, secret departure a
great deal easier.

Kate had never fainted in her life, but when she had finished this
letter she went down flat on her back.

Leaving his niece to the good offices of Dame Charter, Mr. Delaplaine,
breathing hotly, went ashore, accompanied by the captain. When they
reached the storehouse they found it locked, with the key in the custody
of a shop-keeper near-by. They soon heard what had happened to
Blackbeard's business agent. He had gone off in a piratical vessel,
which had sailed for somewhere, in the middle of the night; and,
moreover, it was believed that the Scotchman who worked for him had gone
with him, for he had been seen running towards the water, and afterward
taking his place among the oarsmen in a boat which went out to the
departing vessel.

"May that unholy vessel be sunk as soon as it reaches the open sea!" was
the deadly desire which came from the heart of Mr. Delaplaine. But the
wish had not formed itself into words before the good merchant recanted.
"I totally forgot that faithful Scotchman," he sighed.



CHAPTER XXVI

DICKORY STRETCHES HIS LEGS


There were jolly times on board the swift ship Revenge as she sped
through the straits of Florida on her way up the Atlantic coast. The
skies were bright, the wind was fair, and the warm waters of the Gulf
Stream helped to carry her bravely on her way. But young Dickory
Charter, with the blood-stained letter of Captain Vince tucked away in
the lining of his coat, ate so little, tossed about so much in his
berth, turned so pale and spoke so seldom, that the bold Captain
Blackbeard declared that he should have some medicine.

"I shall not let my fine lieutenant suffer for want of drugs," he cried,
"and when I reach Charles Town I shall send ashore a boat and procure
some; and if the citizens disturb or interfere with my brave fellows,
I'll bombard the town. There will be medicine to take on one side or the
other, I swear." And loud and ready were the oaths he swore.

A pirate who carries with him an intended son-in-law is not likely, if
he be of Blackbeard's turn of mind, to suffer all his family plans to be
ruined for the want of a few drugs.

When Dickory heard what the captain had to say on this subject his heart
shrank within him. He had never taken medicine and he had never seen
Blackbeard's daughter, but the one seemed to him almost as bad as the
other, and the thought of the cool waves beneath him became more
attractive than ever before. But that thought was quickly banished, for
he had a duty before him, and not until that was performed could he take
leave of this world, once so bright to him.

An island with palm-trees slowly rose on the horizon, and off this
island it was that, after a good deal of tacking and close-hauling, the
Revenge lay to to take in water. Far better water than that which had
been brought from Belize.

"Do you want to go ashore in the boat, boy?" said Blackbeard, really
mindful of the health of this projected member of his family. "It may
help your appetite to use your legs."

Dickory did not care to go anywhere, but he had hardly said so when a
revulsion of feeling came upon him, and turning away so that his face
might not be noticed, he said he thought the land air might do him good.
While the men were at work carrying their pails from the well-known
spring to the water-barrels in the boat, Dickory strolled about to view
the scenery, for it could never have been expected that a first
lieutenant in uniform should help to carry water. At first the scenery
did not appear to be very interesting, and Dickory wandered slowly from
here to there, then sat down under a tree. Presently he rose and went to
another tree, a little farther away from the boat and the men at the
spring. Here he quietly took off his shoes and his stockings, and,
having nothing else to do, made a little bundle of them, listlessly
tying them to his belt; then he rose and walked away somewhat brisker,
but not in the direction of the boat. He did not hurry, but even stopped
sometimes to look at things, but he still walked a little briskly, and
always away from the boat. He had been so used, this child of outdoor
life, to going about the world barefooted, that it was no wonder that he
walked briskly, being relieved of his encumbering shoes and stockings.

After a time he heard a shout behind him, and turning saw three men of
the boat's crew upon a little eminence, calling to him. Then he moved
more quickly, always away from the boat, and with his head turned he saw
the men running towards him, and their shouts became louder and wilder.
Then he set off on a good run, and presently heard a pistol shot. This
he knew was to frighten him and make him stop, but he ran the faster and
soon turned the corner of a bit of woods. Then he was away at the top of
his speed, making for a jungle of foliage not a quarter of a mile
before him. Shouts he heard, and more shots, but he caught sight of no
pursuers. Urged on even as they were by the fear of returning to the
ship without Dickory, they could not expect to match, in their heavy
boots, the stag-like speed of this barefooted bounder.

After a time Dickory stopped running, for his path, always straight
away, so far as he could judge, from the landing-place, became very
difficult. In the forest there were streams, sometimes narrow and
sometimes wide, and how deep he knew not, so that now he jumped, now he
walked on fallen trees. Sometimes he crossed water and marsh by swinging
himself from the limbs of one tree to those of another. This was hard
work for a young gentleman in a naval uniform and cocked hat, but it had
to be done; and when the hat was knocked off it was picked up again,
with its feathers dripping.

Dickory was going somewhere, although he knew not whither, and he had
solemn business to perform which he had sworn to do, and therefore he
must have fit clothes to wear, not only in which to travel but in which
to present himself suitably when he should accomplish his mission. All
these things Dickory thought of, and he picked up his cocked hat
whenever it dropped. He would have been very hungry had he not bethought
himself to fill his pockets with biscuits before he left the vessel. And
as to fresh water, there was no lack of that.



CHAPTER XXVII

A GIRL WHO LAUGHED


It was towards nightfall of the day on which Dickory had escaped from
the pirates at the spring that he found himself on a piece of high
ground in an open place in the forest, and here he determined to spend
the night. With his dirk he cut a quantity of palmetto leaves and made
himself a very comfortable bed, on which he was soon asleep, fearing no
pirates.

In the morning he rose early from his green couch, ate the few biscuits
which were left in his pockets, and, putting on his shoes and stockings,
started forth upon, what might have been supposed to be, an aimless
tramp.

But it was not aimless. Dickory had a most wholesome dread of that
indomitable apostle of cruelty and wickedness, the pirate Blackbeard. He
believed that it would be quite possible for that savage being to tie up
his beard in tails, to blacken his face with powder, to hang more
pistols from his belt and around his neck, and swear that the Revenge
should never leave her anchorage until her first lieutenant had been
captured and brought back to her. So he had an aim, and that was to get
away as far as possible from the spot where he had landed on the island.

He did not believe that his pursuers, if there were any upon his track,
could have travelled in the night, for it had been pitchy black; and, as
he now had a good start of them, he thought he might go so far that they
would give up the search. Then he hoped to be able to keep himself alive
until he was reasonably sure that the Revenge had hoisted anchor and
sailed away, when it was his purpose to make his way back to the spring
and wait for some other vessel which would take him away.

With his shoes on he travelled more easily, although not so swiftly, and
after an hour of very rough walking he heard a sound which made him stop
instantly and listen. At first he thought it might be the wind in the
trees, but soon his practised ear told him that it was the sound of the
surf upon the beach. Without the slightest hesitation, he made his way
as quickly as possible towards the sound of the sea.

In less than half an hour he found himself upon a stretch of sand which
extended from the forest to the sea, and upon which the waves were
throwing themselves in long, crested lines. With a cry of joy he ran out
upon the beach, and with outstretched arms he welcomed the sea as if it
had been an old and well-tried friend.

But Dickory's gratitude and joy had nothing to found itself upon. The
sea might far better have been his enemy than his friend, for if he had
thought about it, the sandy beach would have been the road by which a
portion of the pirate's men would have marched to cut off his flight, or
they would have accomplished the same end in boats.

But Dickory thought of no enemy and his heart was cheered. He pressed on
along the beach. The walking was so much better now that he made good
progress, and the sun had not reached its zenith when he found himself
on the shore of a small stream which came down from some higher land in
the interior and here poured itself into the sea. He walked some
distance by this stream, in order to get some water which might be free
from brackishness, and then, with very little trouble, he crossed it.
Before him was a knoll of moderate height, and covered with low foliage.
Mounting this, he found that he had an extended view over the interior
of the island. In the background there stretched a wide savanna, and at
the distance of about half a mile he saw, very near a little cluster of
trees, a thin column of smoke. His eyes rounded and he stared and
stared. He now perceived, from behind the leaves, the end of a thatched
roof.

"People!" Dickory exclaimed, and his heart beat fast with joy. Why his
heart should be joyful he could not have told himself except that there
was no earthly reason to believe that the persons who were making that
fire near that thatched-roof house were pirates. To go to this house,
whatever it might be, to take his chances there instead of remaining
alone in the wide forest, was our young man's instant determination. But
before he started there was something else he thought of. He took off
his coat, and with a bunch of leaves he brushed it. Then he arranged the
plumes of his hat and brushed some mud from them, gave himself a general
shake, and was ready to make a start. All this by a fugitive pursued by
savage pirates on a desert island! But Dickory was a young man, and he
wore the uniform of a naval officer.

After a brisk walk, which was somewhat longer than he had supposed it
would be, Dickory reached the house behind the trees. At a short
distance burned the fire whose smoke he had seen. Over the fire hung an
iron pot. Oh, blessed pot! A gentle breeze blew from the fire towards
Dickory, and from the heavenly odour which was borne upon it he knew
that something good to eat was cooking in that pot.

A man came quickly from behind the house. He was tall, with a beard a
little gray, and his scanty attire was of the most nondescript fashion.
With amazement upon his face, he spoke to Dickory in English.

"What, sir," he cried, "has a man-of-war touched at this island?"

Dickory could not help smiling, for the man's countenance told him how
he had been utterly astounded, and even stupefied, by the sight of a
gentleman in naval uniform in the interior of that island, an almost
desert region.

"No man-of-war has touched here," said Dickory, "and I don't belong to
one. I wear these clothes because I am compelled to do so, having no
others. Yesterday afternoon I escaped from some pirates who stopped for
water, and since leaving them I have made my way to this spot."

The man stepped forth quickly and stretched out his hand.

"Bless you! Bless you!" he cried. "You are the first human being, other
than my family, that I have seen for two years."

A little girl now came from behind the house, and when her eyes fell
upon Dickory and his cocked hat she screamed with terror and ran
indoors. A woman appeared at the door, evidently the man's wife. She had
a pleasant face, but her clothes riveted Dickory's attention. It would
be impossible to describe them even if one were gazing upon them. It
will be enough to say that they covered her. Her amazement more than
equalled that of her husband; she stood and stared, but could not speak.

"From the spring at the end of the island," cried the man, "to this
house since yesterday afternoon! I have always supposed that no one
could get here from the spring by land. I call that way impassable. You
are safe here, sir, I am sure. Pirates would not follow very far through
those forests and morasses; they would be afraid they would never get
back to their ship. But I will find out for certain if you have reason,
sir, to fear pursuit by boat or otherwise."

And then, stepping around to the other end of the house, he called,
"Lucilla!"

"You are hungry, sir," said the woman; "presently you shall share our
meal, which is almost cooked."

Now the man returned.

"This is not a time for questions, sir," he said, "either from you or
from us. You must eat and you must rest, then we can talk. We shall not
any of us apologize for our appearance, and you will not expect it when
you have heard our story. But I can assure you, sir, that we do not look
nearly so strange to you as you appear to us. Never before, sir, did I
see in this climate, and on shore, a man attired in such fashion."

Dickory smiled. "I will tell you the tale of it," he said, "when we have
eaten; I admit that I am famished."

The man was now called away, and when he returned he said to Dickory:
"Fear nothing, sir; your ship is no longer at the anchorage by the
spring. She has sailed away, wisely concluding, I suppose, that pursuit
of you would be folly, and even madness."

The dinner was an exceedingly plain one, spread upon a rude table under
a tree. The little girl, who had overcome her fear of "the soldier" as
she considered him, made one of the party.

During the meal Dickory briefly told his story, confining it to a mere
statement of his escape from the pirates.

"Blackbeard!" exclaimed the man. "Truly you did well to get away from
him, no matter into what forests you plunged or upon what desert island
you lost yourself. At any moment he might have turned upon you and cut
you to pieces to amuse himself. I have heard the most horrible stories
of Blackbeard."

"He treated me very well," said Dickory, "but I know from his own words
that he reserved me for a most horrible fate."

"What!" exclaimed the man, "and he told you? He is indeed a demon!"

"Yes," said Dickory, "he said over and over again that he was going to
take me to England to marry me to his daughter."

At this the wife could not refrain from a smile. "Matrimony is not
generally considered a horrible fate," said she; "perhaps his daughter
may be a most comely and estimable young person. Girls do not always
resemble their fathers."

"Do not mention it," exclaimed Dickory, with a shudder; "that was one
reason that I ran away; I preferred any danger from man or beast to that
he was taking me to."

"He is engaged to be married," thought the woman; "it is easy enough to
see that."

"Now tell me your story, I pray you," said Dickory. "But first, I would
like very much to know how you found out that Blackbeard's ship was not
at her anchorage?"

"That's a simple thing," said the man. "Of course you did not observe,
for you could not, that from its eastern point where lies the spring,
this island stretches in a long curve to the south, reaching northward
again about this spot. Consequently, there is a little bay to the east
of us, across which we can see the anchoring ground of such ships as may
stop here for water. Your way around the land curve of the island was a
long one, but the distance straight across the bay is but a few miles.
Upon a hill not far from here there is a very tall tree, which overtops
all the other trees, and to the upper branches of this tree my daughter,
who is a great climber, frequently ascends with a small glass, and is
thus able to report if there is a vessel at the anchorage."

"What!" exclaimed Dickory, "that little girl?"

"Oh, no!" said the man; "it is my other daughter, who is a grown young
woman."

"She is not here now," said the mother. And this piece of unnecessary
information was given in tones which might indicate that the young lady
had stepped around to visit a neighbour.

"It is important," said the man, "that I should know if vessels have
anchored here, for if they be merchantmen I sometimes do business with
them."

"Business!" said Dickory. "That sounds extremely odd. Pray tell me how
you came to be here."

"My name is Mander," said the other, "and about two years ago I was on
my way from England to Barbadoes, where, with my wife and two girls, I
expected to settle. We were captured by a pirate ship and marooned upon
this island. I will say, to the pirate captain's credit, that he was a
good sort of man considering his profession. He sailed across the bay on
purpose to find a suitable place to land us, and he left with us some
necessary articles, such as axes and tools, kitchen utensils, and a gun
with some ammunition. Then he sailed away, leaving us here, and here we
have since lived. Under the circumstances, we have no right to complain,
for had we been taken by an ordinary pirate it is likely that our bones
would now be lying at the bottom of the ocean.

"Here I have worked hard and have made myself a home, such as it is.
There are wild cattle upon the distant savannas, and I trap game and
birds, cultivate the soil to a certain extent, and if we had clothes I
might say we would be in better circumstances than many a respectable
family in England. Sometimes when a merchantman anchors here and I have
hides or anything else which we can barter for things we need, I row
over the bay in a canoe which I have made, and have thus very much
bettered our condition. But in no case have I been able to provide my
family with suitable clothes."

"Why did you not get some of these merchant ships to carry you away?"
asked Dickory.

The man shook his head. "There is no place," he said sadly, "to which I
can in reason ask a ship to carry me and my family. We have no money, no
property whatever. In any other place I would be far poorer than I am
here. My children are not uneducated; my wife and I have done our best
for them in that respect, and we have some books with us. So, as you
see, it would be rash in me to leave a home which, rude as it is,
shelters and supports my family, to go as paupers and strangers to some
other land."

The wife heaved a sigh. "But poor Lucilla!" she said. "It is dreadful
that she should be forced to grow up here."

"Lucilla?" asked Dickory.

"Yes, sir," she said, "my eldest daughter. But she is not here now."

Dickory thought that it was somewhat odd that he should be again
informed of a fact which he knew very well, but he made no remarks upon
the subject.

Still wearing his cocked hat--for he had nothing else with which to
shield his head from the sun--and with his uniform coat on, for he had
not yet an opportunity of ripping from it the letter he carried, and
this he would not part from--Dickory roamed about the little settlement.
Mander was an industrious and thrifty man. His garden, his buildings,
and his surroundings showed that.

Walking past a clump of low bushes, Dickory was startled by a laugh--a
hearty laugh--the laugh of a girl. Looking quickly around, he saw,
peering above the tops of the bushes, the face of the girl who had
laughed.

"It is too funny!" she said, as his eyes fell upon her. "I never saw
anything so funny in all my life. A man in regimentals in this weather
and upon a desert island. You look as if you had marched faster than
your army, and that you had lost it in the forest."

Dickory smiled. "You ought not to laugh at me," he said, "for these
clothes are really a great misfortune. If I could change them for
something cool I should be more than delighted."

"You might take off your heavy coat," said she; "you need not be on
parade here. And instead of that awful hat, I can make you one of long
grass. Do you see the one I have on? Isn't that a good hat? I have one
nearly finished which I am making for my father; you may have that."

Dickory would most gladly have taken off his coat if, without
observation, he could have transferred his sacred letter to some other
part of his clothes, but he must wait for that. He accepted instantly,
however, the offer of the hat.

"You seem to know all about me," he said; "did you hear me tell my
story?"

"Every word of it," said she, "and it is the queerest story I ever
heard. Think of a pirate carrying a man away to marry him to his
daughter!"

"But why don't you come from behind that bush and talk to me?"

"I can't do it," said she, "I am dressed funnier than you are. Now I am
going to make your hat." And in an instant she had departed.

Dickory now strolled on, and when he returned he seated himself in the
shade near the house. The letter of Captain Vince was taken from his
coat-lining and secured in one of his breeches pockets; his heavy coat
and waistcoat lay upon the ground beside him, with the cocked hat placed
upon them. As he leaned back against the tree and inhaled the fragrant
breeze which came to him from the forest, Dickory was a more cheerful
young man than he had been for many, many days. He thought of this
himself, and wondered how a man, carrying with him his sentence of
lifelong misery, could lean against a tree and take pleasure in
anything, be it a hospitable welcome, a sense of freedom from danger, a
fragrant breeze, or the face of a pretty girl behind a bush. But these
things did please him; he could not help it. And when presently came
Mrs. Mander, bringing him a light grass hat fresh from the
manufacturer's hands, he took it and put it on with more evident
pleasure than the occasion seemed to demand.

"Your daughter is truly an artist," said Dickory.

"She does many things well," said the mother, "because necessity compels
her and all of us to learn to work in various ways."

"Can I not thank her?" said Dickory.

"No," the mother answered, "she is not here now."

Dickory had begun to hate that self-evident statement.

"She's looking out for ships; her pride is a little touched that she
missed Blackbeard's vessel yesterday."

"Perhaps," said Dickory, with a movement as if he would like to make a
step in the direction of some tall tree upon a hill.

"No," said Mrs. Mander, "I cannot ask you to join my daughter. I am
compelled to state that her dress is not a suitable one in which to
appear before a stranger."

"Excuse me," said Dickory; "and I beg, madam, that you will convey to
her my thanks for making me such an excellent hat."

A little later Mander joined Dickory. "I am sorry, sir," said he, "that
I am not able to present you to my daughter Lucilla. It is a great grief
to us that her attire compels her to deny herself other company than
that of her family. I really believe, sir, that it is Lucilla's
deprivations on this island which form at present my principal
discontent with my situation. But we all enjoy good health, we have
enough to eat, and shelter over us, and should not complain."

As soon as he was at liberty to do so, Dickory walked by the hedge of
low bushes, and there, above it, was the bright face, with the pretty
grass hat.

"I was waiting for you," said she. "I wanted to see how that hat fitted,
and I think it does nicely. And I wanted to tell you that I have been
looking out for ships, but have not seen one. I don't mean by that that
I want you to go away almost as soon as you have come, but of course, if
a merchant ship should anchor here, it would be dreadful for you not to
know."

"I am not sure," said Dickory gallantly, "that I am in a hurry for a
ship. It is truly very pleasant here."

"What makes it pleasant?" said the girl.

Dickory hesitated for a moment. "The breeze from the forest," said he.

She laughed. "It is charming," she said, "but there are so many places
where there is just as good a breeze, or perhaps better. How I would
like to go to some one of them! To me this island is lonely and doleful.
Every time I look over the sea for a ship I hope that one will come that
can carry us away."

"Then," said Dickory, "I wish a ship would come to-morrow and take us
all away together."

She shook her head. "As my father told you," said she, "we have no place
to go to."

Dickory thought a good deal about the sad condition of the family of
this worthy marooner. He thought of it even after he had stretched
himself for the night upon the bed of palmetto leaves beneath the tree
against which he had leaned when he wondered how he could be so cheerful
under the shadow of the sad fate which was before him.



CHAPTER XXVIII

LUCILLA'S SHIP


As soon as Dickory had left off his cocked hat and his gold-embroidered
coat, the little girl Lena had ceased to be afraid of him, and the next
morning she came to him, seated lonely--for this was a busy
household--and asked him if he would like to take a walk. So, hand in
hand, they wandered away. Presently they entered a path which led
through the woods.

"This is the way my sister goes to her lookout tree," said the little
girl. "Would you like to see that tree?"

"Oh, yes!" said Dickory, and he spoke the truth.

"She goes up to the very top," said Lena, "to look for ships. I would
never do that; I'd rather never see a ship than to climb to the top of
such a tree. I'll show it to you in a minute; we're almost there."

At a little distance from the rest of the forest and upon a bluff which
overlooked a stretch of lowland, and beyond that the bay, stood a tall
tree with spreading branches and heavy foliage.

"Up in the top of that is where she sits," said the child, "and spies
out for ships. That's what she's doing now. Don't you see her up there?"

"Your sister in the tree!" exclaimed Dickory. And his first impulse was
to retire, for it had been made quite plain to him that he was not
expected to present himself to the young lady of the house, should she
be on the ground or in the air. But he did not retire. A voice came to
him from the tree-top, and as he looked upward he saw the same bright
face which had greeted him over the top of the bushes. Below it was a
great bunch of heavy leaves.

"So you have come to call on me, have you?" said the lady in the tree.
"I am glad to see you, but I'm sorry that I cannot ask you to come
upstairs. I am not receiving."

"He could not come up if he wanted to," said Lena; "he couldn't climb a
tree like that."

"And he doesn't want to," cried the nymph of the bay-tree. "I have been
up here all the morning," said she, "looking for ships, but not one have
I seen."

"Isn't that a tiresome occupation?" asked Dickory.

"Not altogether," she said. "The branches up here make a very nice seat,
and I nearly always bring a book with me. You will wonder how we get
books, but we had a few with us when we were marooned, and since that my
father has always asked for books when he has an opportunity of trading
off his hides. But I have read them all over and over again, and if it
were not for the ships which I expect to come here and anchor, I am
afraid I should grow melancholy."

"What sort of ships do you look for?" asked Dickory, who was gazing
upward with so much interest that he felt a little pain in the back of
his neck, and who could not help thinking of a framed engraving which
hung in his mother's little parlour, and which represented some angels
composed of nothing but heads and wings. He saw no wings under the head
of the charming young creature in the tree, but there was no reason
which he could perceive why she should not be an angel marooned upon a
West Indian island.

"There are a great many of them," said she, "and they're all alike in
one way--they never come. But there's one of them in particular which I
look for and look for and look for, and which I believe that some day I
shall really see. I have thought about that ship so often and I have
dreamed about it so often that I almost know it must come."

"Is it an English ship?" asked Dickory, speaking with some effort, for
he found that the girl's voice came down much more readily than his
went up.

"I don't know," said she, "but I suppose it must be, for otherwise I
should not understand what the people on board should say to me. It is a
large ship, strong and able to defend itself against any pirates. It is
laden with all sorts of useful and valuable things, and among these are
a great many trunks and boxes filled with different kinds of clothes.
Also, there's a great deal of money kept in a box by itself, and is in
charge of an agent who is bringing it out to my father, supposing him to
be now settled in Barbadoes. This money is generally a legacy for my
father from a distant relative who has recently died. On this ship there
are so many delightful things that I cannot even begin to mention them."

"And where is it going to?" asked Dickory.

"That I don't know exactly. Sometimes I think that it is going to the
island of Barbadoes, where we originally intended to settle; but then I
imagine that there is some pleasanter place than Barbadoes, and if
that's the case the ship is going there."

"There can be no pleasanter place than Barbadoes," cried Dickory. "I
come from that island, where I was born; there is no land more lovely in
all the West Indies."

"You come from Barbadoes?" cried the girl, "and it really is a pleasant
island?"

"Most truly it is," said he, "and the great dream of my life is to get
back there." Then he stopped. Was it really the dream of his life to get
back there? That would depend upon several things.

"If, then, you tell me the truth, my ship is bound for Barbadoes. And if
she should go, would you like to go there with us?"

Dickory hesitated. "Not directly," said he. "I would first touch at
Jamaica."

For some moments there was no answer from the tree-top, and then came
the question: "Is it a girl who lives there?"

"Yes," said Dickory unguardedly, "but also I have a mother in Jamaica."

"Indeed," said she, "a mother! Well, we might stop there and take the
mother with us to Barbadoes. Would the girl want to go too?"

Dickory bent his head. "Alas!" said he, "I do not know."

Then spoke the little Lena. "I would not bother about any particular
place to go to," said she. "I'd be so glad to go anywhere that isn't
here. But it is not a real ship, you know."

"I don't think I will take you," called down Lucilla. "I don't want too
many passengers, especially women I don't know. But I often think there
will be a gentleman passenger--one who really wants to go to Barbadoes
and nowhere else. Sometimes he is one kind of a gentleman and sometimes
another, but he is never a soldier or a sailor, but rather one who
loves to stay at home. And now, sir, I think I must take my glass and
try to pick out a ship from among the spots on the far distant waves."

"Come on," said Lena, "do you like to fish! Because if you do, I can
take you to a good place."

The rest of the day Dickory spent with Mr. Mander and his wife, who were
intelligent and pleasant people. They talked of their travels, their
misfortunes and their blessings, and Dickory yearned to pour out his
soul to them, but he could not do so. His woes did not belong to himself
alone; they were not for the ears of strangers. He made up his mind what
he would do. Until the morrow he would stay as a visitor with these most
hospitable people, then he would ask for work. He would collect
firewood, he would hunt, he would fish, he would do anything. And here
he would support himself until there came some merchant ship bound
southward which would carry him away. If the Mander family were anyway
embarrassed or annoyed by his presence here, he would make a camp at a
little distance and live there by himself. Perhaps the lady of the tree
would kindly send him word if the ship he was looking for should come.

It was about the middle of the afternoon, and Lena had dropped asleep
beneath the tree where Dickory and her parents were conversing, when
suddenly there rushed upon the little group a most surprising figure.
At the first flash of thought Dickory supposed that a boy from the skies
had dropped among them, but in an instant he recognised the face he had
seen above the bushes. It was Lucilla, the daughter of the house! Upon
her head was a little straw hat, and she wore a loose tunic and a pair
of sailor's trousers, which had been cut off and were short enough to
show that her feet and ankles were bare. Around her waist she had a belt
of skins, from which dangled a string of crimson sea-beans. Her eyes
were wide open, her face was pale, and she was trembling with
excitement.

"What do you think!" she cried, not caring who was there or who might
look at her. "There's a ship at the spring, and there's a boat rowing
across the bay. A boat with four men in it!"

All started to their feet.

"A boat," cried Mander, "with four men in it? Run, my dear, to the cave;
press into its depths as far as you can. There is nothing there to be
afraid of, and no matter how frightened you are, press into its most
distant depths. You, sir, will remain with me, or would you rather
escape? If it is a pirate ship, it may be Blackbeard who has returned."

"Not so," cried Lucilla, "it is a merchant vessel, and they are making
straight for the mouth of our stream."

"I will stay here with you," said Dickory, "and stand by you, unless I
may help your family seek the cave you speak of."

"No, no," said Mander, "they don't need you, and if you will do so we
will go down to the beach and meet these men; that will be better than
to have them search for us. They will know that people live here, for my
canoe is drawn up on the beach."

"Is this safe?" cried Dickory; "would it not be better for you to go
with your family and hide with them? I will meet the men in the boat."

"No, no," said Mander; "if their vessel is no pirate, I do not fear
them. But I will not have them here."

Now, after Mander had embraced his family, they hurried away in tears,
the girl Lucilla casting not one glance at Dickory. Impressed by the
impulse that it was the proper thing to do, Dickory put on his coat and
waistcoat and clapped upon his head his high cocked hat. Then he rapidly
followed Mander to the beach, which they reached before the boat touched
the sand.

When the man in the stern of the boat, which was now almost within
hailing distance, saw the two figures run down upon the beach, he spoke
to the oarsmen and they all stopped and looked around. The stop was
occasioned by the sight of Dickory in his uniform; and this, under the
circumstances, was enough to stop any boat's crew. Then they fell to
again and pulled ashore. When the boat was beached one of its occupants,
a roughly dressed man, sprang ashore and walked cautiously towards
Mander; then he gave a great shout.

"Heigho, heigho!" he cried, "and Mander, this is you!"

Then there was great hand-shaking and many words.

"Excuse me, sir," said the man, raising his hat to Dickory, "it is now
more than two years since I have seen my friend here, when he was
marooned by pirates. We were all on the same merchantman, but the pirate
took me along, being short of hands. I got away at last, sir" (all the
time addressing Dickory instead of Mander, this being respect to his
rank), "and shipping on board that brig, sir, I begged it of the captain
that he would drop anchor here and take in water, although I cannot say
it was needed, and give me a chance to land and see if my old friend be
yet alive. I knew the spot, having well noted it when Mander and his
family were marooned."

"And this is Lucilla's ship," said Dickory to himself. But to the sailor
he said: "This is a great day for your friend and his family. But you
must not lift your hat to me, for I am no officer."

For a long time, at least it seemed so to Dickory, who wanted to run to
the cave and tell the good news, they all stood together on the sands
and talked and shook hands and laughed and were truly thankful, the men
who had come in the boat as much so as those who were found on the
island. It was agreed, and there was no discussion on this point, that
the Mander family should be carried away in the brig, which was an
English vessel bound for Jamaica, but the happy Mander would not ask any
of the boat's crew to visit him at his home. Instead, he besought them
to return to their vessel and bring back some clothes for women, if any
such should be included in her cargo.

"My family," said he, "are not in fit condition to venture themselves
among well-clad people. They are, indeed, more like savages than am I
myself."

"I doubt," said Mander's friend, "if the ship carries goods of that
description, but perhaps the captain might let you have a bale of cotton
cloth, although I suppose--" and here he looked a little embarrassed.

"Oh, we can buy it," cried Dickory, taking some pieces of gold from his
pocket, being coin with which Blackbeard had furnished him, swearing
that his first lieutenant could not feel like a true officer without
money in his pocket; "take this and fetch the cloth if nothing better
can be had."

"Thank you," cried Mander; "my wife and daughters can soon fashion it
into shape."

"And," added Dickory, reflecting a little and remembering the general
hues of Lucilla's face, "if there be choice in colours, let the cloth be
pink."

When Mander and Dickory reached the house they did not stop, but hurried
on towards the cave, both of them together, for each thought only of the
great joy they were taking with them.

"Come out! Come out!" shouted Mander, as he ran, and before they reached
the cave its shuddering inmates had hurried into the light. When the
cries and the tears and the embraces were over, Lucilla first looked at
Dickory. She started, her face flushed, and she was about to draw back;
then she stopped, and advancing held out her hand.

"It cannot be helped," she said; "anyway, you have seen me before, and I
suppose it doesn't matter. I'm a sailor boy, and have to own up to it. I
did hope you would think of me as a young lady, but we are all so happy
now that that doesn't matter. Oh, father!" she cried, "it can't be; we
are not fit to be saved; we must perish here in our wretched rags."

"Not so," cried Dickory, with a bow; "I've already bought you a gown,
and I hope it is pink."

As they all hurried away, the tale of the hoped-for clothes was told;
and although Mrs. Mander wondered how gowns were to be made while a
merchantman waited, she said nothing of her doubts, and they all ran
gleefully. Lucilla and Dickory being the fleetest led the others, and
Dickory said: "Now that I have seen you thus, I shall be almost sorry if
that ship can furnish you with common clothes, what you wear becomes you
so."

"Oho!" cried Lucilla, "that's fine flattery, sir; but I am glad you said
it, for that speech has made me feel more like a woman than I have felt
since I first put on this sailor's toggery."

In the afternoon the boat returned, Mander and Dickory watching on the
beach. When it grounded, Davids, Mander's friend, jumped on shore,
bearing in his arms a pile of great coarse sacks. These he threw upon
the sand and, handing to Dickory the gold pieces he had given him, said:
"The captain sends word that he has no time to look over any goods to
give or to sell, but he sends these sacks, out of which the women can
fashion themselves gowns, and so come aboard. Then the ship shall be
searched for stuffs which will suit their purposes and which they can
make at their leisure."

It was towards the close of the afternoon that all of the Mander family
and Dickory came down to the boat which was waiting for them.

"Do you know," said Dickory, as he and Lucilla stood together on the
sand, "that in that gown of gray, with the white sleeves, and the red
cord around your waist, you please me better than even you did when you
wore your sailor garb?"

"And what matters it, sir, whether I please you or not?"



CHAPTER XXIX

CAPTAIN ICHABOD


Kate Bonnet was indeed in a sad case. She had sailed from Kingston with
high hopes and a gay heart, and before she left she had written to
Master Martin Newcombe to express her joy that her father had given up
his unlawful calling and to say how she was going to sail after him,
fold him in her forgiving arms, and bring him back to Jamaica, where she
and her uncle would see to it that his past sins were forgiven on
account of his irresponsible mind, and where, for the rest of his life,
he would tread the paths of peace and probity. In this letter she had
not yielded to the earnest entreaty which was really the object and soul
of Master Newcombe's epistle. Many kind things she said to so kind a
friend, but to his offer to make her the queen of his life she made no
answer. She knew she was his very queen, but she would not yet consent
to be invested with the royal robes and with the crown.

And when she had reached Belize, how proudly happy she had been! She
had seen her father, no longer an outlaw, honest though in mean
condition, earning his bread by honourable labour. Then, with a still
greater pride, she had seen him clad as a noble gentleman and bearing
himself with dignity and high complacence. What a figure he would have
made among the fine folks who were her uncle's friends in Kingston and
in Spanish Town!

But all this was over now. With his own hand he had told her that once
again she was a pirate's daughter. She went below to her cabin, where,
with wet cheeks, Dame Charter attended her.

Mr. Delaplaine was angry, intensely angry. Such a shameful, wicked trick
had never before been played upon a loving daughter. There were no words
in which to express his most justifiable wrath. Again he went to the
town to learn more, but there was nothing more to learn except that some
people said they had reason to believe that Bonnet had gone to follow
Blackbeard. From things they had heard they supposed that the vessel
which had sailed away in the night had gone to offer herself as consort
to the Revenge; to rob and burn in the company of that notorious ship.

There was no satisfaction in this news for the heart of the good
merchant, and when he returned to the brig and sought his niece's cabin
he had no words with which to cheer her. All he could do was to tell her
the little he had learned and to listen to her supplications.

"Oh, uncle," she exclaimed, "we must follow him, we must take him, we
must hold him! I care not where he is, even if it be in the company of
the dreadful Blackbeard! We must take him, we must hold him, and this
time we must carry him away, no matter whether he will or not. I believe
there must be some spark of feeling, even in the heart of a bloody
pirate, which will make him understand a daughter's love for her father,
and he will let me have mine. Oh, uncle! we were very wrong. When he was
here with us we should have taken him then; we should have shut him up;
we should have sailed with him to Kingston."

All this was very depressing to the soul of Kate's loving uncle, for how
was he to sail after her father and take him and hold him and carry him
away? He went away to talk to the captain of the Belinda, but that tall
seaman shook his head. His vessel was not ready yet to sail, being much
delayed by the flight of Bonnet. And, moreover, he vowed that, although
he was as bold a seaman as any, he would never consent to set out upon
such an errand as the following of Blackbeard. It was terrifying enough
to be in the same bay with him, even though he were engaged in business
with the pirate, for no one knew what strange freak might at any time
suggest itself to the soul of that most bloody roisterer; but as to
following him, it was like walking into an alligator's jaws. He would
take his passengers back to Kingston, but he could not sail upon any
wild cruises, nor could he leave Belize immediately.

But Kate took no notice of all this when her uncle had told it to her.
She did not wish to go back to Jamaica; she did not wish to wait at
Belize. It was the clamorous longing of her heart to go after her father
and to find him wherever he might be, and she did not care to consider
anything else.

Dame Charter added also her supplications. Her boy was with Blackbeard,
and she wished to follow the pirate's ship. Even if she should never see
Major Bonnet--whom she loathed and despised, though never saying so--she
would find her Dickory. She, too, believed that there must be some spark
of feeling even in a bloody pirate's heart which would make him
understand the love of a mother for her son, and he would let her have
her boy.

Mr. Delaplaine sat brooding on the deck. The righteous anger kindled by
the conduct of his brother-in-law, and his grief for the poor stricken
women, sobbing in the cabin, combined together to throw him into the
most dolorous state of mind, which was aggravated by the knowledge that
he could do nothing except to wait until the Belinda sailed back to
Jamaica and to go to Jamaica in her.

As the unhappy merchant sat thus, his face buried in his hands, a small
boat came alongside and a passenger mounted to the deck. This person,
after asking a few questions, approached Mr. Delaplaine.

"I have come, sir, to see you," he said. "I am Captain Ichabod of the
sloop Restless."

Mr. Delaplaine looked up in surprise. "That is a pirate ship," said he.

"Yes," said the other, "I'm a pirate."

The newcomer was a tall young man, with long dark hair and with
well-made features and a certain diffidence in his manner which did not
befit his calling.

Mr. Delaplaine rose. This was his first private interview with a
professional sea-robber, and he did not know exactly how to demean
himself; but as his visitor's manner was quiet, and as he came on board
alone, it was not to be supposed that his intentions were offensive.

"And you wish to see me, sir?" said he.

"Yes," said Captain Ichabod, "I thought I'd come over and talk to you. I
don't know you, bedad, but I know all about you, and I saw you and your
family when you came to town to visit that old fox, bedad, that
sugar-planter that Captain Blackbeard used to call Sir Nightcap. Not a
bad joke, either, bedad. I have heard of a good many dirty, mean things
that people in my line of business have done, but, bedad, I never did
hear of any captain who was dirty and mean to his own family. Fine
people, too, who came out to do the right thing by him, after he had
been cleaned out, bedad, by one of his 'Brothers of the Coast.' A rare
sort of brother, bedad, don't you say so?"

"You are right, sir," said Mr. Delaplaine, "in what you say of the wild
conduct of my brother-in-law Bonnet. It pleases me, sir, to know that
you condemn it."

"Condemn! I should say so, bedad," answered Captain Ichabod; "and I came
over here to say to you--that is, just to mention, not knowing, of
course, what you'd think about it, bedad--that I'm goin' to start on a
cruise to-morrow. That is, as soon as I can get in my water and some
stores, bedad--water anyway. And if you and your ladies might happen to
fancy it, bedad, I'd be glad to take you along. I've heard that you're
in a bad case here, the captain of this brig being unable or quite
unwilling to take you where you want to go."

"But where are you going, sir?" in great surprise.

"Anywhere," said Captain Ichabod, "anywhere you'd like to go. I'm
starting out on a cruise, and a cruise with me means anywhere. And my
opinion is, sir, that if you want to come up with that crack-brained
sugar-planter, you'd better follow Blackbeard; and the best place to
find him will be on the Carolina coast; that's his favourite
hunting-ground, bedad, and I expect the sugar-planter is with him by
this time."

"But will not that be dangerous, sir?" asked Mr. Delaplaine.

"Oh, no," said the other. "I know Blackbeard, and we have played many a
game together. You and your family need not have anything to do with it.
I'll board the Revenge, and you may wager, bedad, that I'll bring Sir
Nightcap back to you by the ear."

"But there's another," said Delaplaine; "there's a young man belonging
to my party--"

"Oh, yes, I know," said the other, "the young fellow Blackbeard took
away with him. Clapped a cocked hat on him, bedad! That was a good joke!
I will bring him too. One old man, one young man--I'll fetch 'em both.
Then I'll take you all where you want to go to. That is, as near as I
can get to it, bedad. Now, you tell your ladies about this, and I'll
have my sloop cleaned up a bit, and as soon as I can get my water on
board I'm ready to hoist anchor."

"But look you, sir," exclaimed Mr. Delaplaine, "this is a very important
matter, and cannot be decided so quickly."

"Oh, don't mention it, don't mention it," said Captain Ichabod; "just
you tell your ladies all about it, and I'll be ready to sail almost any
time to-morrow."

"But, sir--" cried the merchant.

"Very good," said the pirate captain, "you talk it over. I'm going to
the town now and I'll row out to you this afternoon and get your
instructions."

And with this he got over the side.

Mr. Delaplaine said nothing of this visit, but waited on deck until the
captain came on board, and then many were the questions he asked about
the pirate Ichabod.

"Well, well!" the captain exclaimed, "that's just like him; he's a rare
one. Ichabod is not his name, of course, and I'm told he belongs to a
good English family--a younger son, and having taken his inheritance, he
invested it in a sloop and turned pirate. He has had some pretty good
fortune, I hear, in that line, but it hasn't profited him much, for he
is a terrible gambler, and all that he makes by his prizes he loses at
cards, so he is nearly always poor. Blackbeard sometimes helps him, so I
have heard--which he ought to do, for the old pirate has won bags of
money from him--but he is known as a good fellow, and to be trusted. I
have heard of his sailing a long way back to Belize to pay a gambling
debt he owed, he having captured a merchantman in the meantime."

"Very honourable, indeed," remarked Mr. Delaplaine.

"As pirates go, a white crow," said the other. "Now, sir, if you and
your ladies want to go to Blackbeard, and a rare desire is that, I
swear, you cannot do better than let Captain Ichabod take you. You will
be safe, I am sure of that, and there is every reason to think he will
find his man."

When Mr. Delaplaine went below with his extraordinary news, Dame Charter
turned pale and screamed.

"Sail in a pirate ship?" she cried. "I've seen the men belonging to one
of them, and as to going on board and sailing with them, I'd rather die
just where I am."

To the good Dame's astonishment and that of Mr. Delaplaine, Kate spoke
up very promptly. "But you cannot die here, Dame Charter; and if you
ever want to see your son again you have got to go to him. Which is also
the case with me and my father. And, as there is no other way for us to
go, I say, let us accept this man's offer if he be what my uncle thinks
he is. After all, it might be as safe for us on board his ship as to be
on a merchantman and be captured by pirates, which would be likely
enough in those regions where we are obliged to go; and so I say let us
see the man, and if he don't frighten us too much let us sail with him
and get my father and Dickory."

"It would be a terrible danger, a terrible danger," said Mr. Delaplaine.

"But, uncle," urged Kate, "everything is a terrible danger in the search
we're upon; let us then choose a danger that we know something about,
and which may serve our needs, rather than one of which we're ignorant
and which cannot possibly be of any good to us."

It was actually the fact that the little party in the cabin had not
finished talking over this most momentous subject before they were
informed that Captain Ichabod was on deck. Up they went, Dame Charter
ready to faint. But she did not do so. When she saw the visitor she
thought it could not be the pirate captain, but some one whom he had
sent in his place. He was more soberly dressed than when he first came
on board, and his manners were even milder. The mind of Kate Bonnet was
so worked up by the trouble that had come upon her that she felt very
much as she did when she hung over the side of her father's vessel at
Bridgetown, ready to drop into the darkness and the water when the
signal should sound. She had an object now, as she had had then, and
again she must risk everything. On her second look at Captain Ichabod,
which embarrassed him very much, she was ready to trust him.

"Dame Charter," she whispered, "we must do it or never see them again."

So, when they had talked about it for a quarter of an hour, it was
agreed that they would sail with Captain Ichabod.

When the sloop Restless made ready to sail the next day there was a
fine flurry in the harbour. Nothing of the kind had ever before happened
there. Two ladies and a most respectable old gentleman sailing away
under the skull and cross-bones! That was altogether new in the
Caribbean Sea. To those who talked to him about his quixotic expedition,
Captain Ichabod swore--and at times, as many men knew, he was a great
hand at being in earnest--that if he carried not his passengers through
their troubles and to a place of safety, the Restless, and all on board
of her, should mount to the skies in a thousand bits. Although this
alternative would not have been very comforting to said passengers if
they had known of it, it came from Captain Ichabod's heart, and showed
what sort of a man he was.

Old Captain Sorby came to the Restless in a boat, and having previously
washed one hand, came on board and bade them all good-bye with great
earnestness.

"You will catch him," said he to Kate, "and my advice to you is, when
you get him, hang him. That's the only way to keep him out of mischief.
But as you are his daughter, you may not like to string him up, so I say
put irons on him. If you don't he'll be playin' you some other wild
trick. He is not fit for a pirate, anyway, and he ought to be taken back
to his calves and his chickens."

Kate did not resent this language; she even smiled, a little sadly. She
had a great work before her, and she could not mind trifles.

None of the other pirates came on board, for they were afraid of Sorby,
and when that great man had made the round of the decks and had given
Captain Ichabod some bits of advice, he got down into his boat. The
anchor was weighed, the sails hoisted, and, amid shouts and cheers from
a dozen small boats containing some of the most terrible and bloody
sea-robbers who had ever infested the face of the waters, the Restless
sailed away: the only pirate ship which had, perhaps, ever left port
followed by blessings and goodwill; goodwill, although the words which
expressed it were curses and the men who waved their hats were
blasphemers and cut-throats.

Away sailed our gentle and most respectable party, with the Jolly Roger
floating boldly high above them. Kate, looking skyward, noticed this and
took courage to bewail the fact to Captain Ichabod.

He smiled. "While we're in sight of my Brethren of the Coast," he said,
"our skull and bones must wave, but when we're well out at sea we will
run up an English flag, if it please you."



CHAPTER XXX

DAME CHARTER MAKES A FRIEND


Captain Ichabod was in high feather. He whistled, he sang, and he kept
his men cleaning things. All that he could do for the comfort of his
passengers he did, even going so far as to drop as many of his "bedads"
as possible. Whenever he had an opportunity, and these came frequently,
he talked to Mr. Delaplaine, addressing a word or two to Kate if he
thought she looked gracious. For the first day or two Dame Charter kept
below. She was afraid of the men, and did not even want to look at them
if she could help it.

"But the good woman's all wrong," said Captain Ichabod to Mr.
Delaplaine; "my men would not hurt her. They're not the most tremendous
kind of pirates, anyway, for I could not afford that sort. I have often
thought that I could make more profitable voyages if I had a savager lot
of men. I'll tell you, sir, we once tried to board a big Spanish
galleon, and the beastly foreigners beat us off, bedad, and we had a
hard time of it gettin' away. There are three or four good fellows in
the crew, tough old rascals who came with the sloop when I bought her,
but most of my men are but poor knaves, and not to be afraid of."

This comfort Mr. Delaplaine kept to himself, and on the second day out,
the food which was served to them being most wretchedly cooked, Dame
Charter ventured into the galley to see if she could do anything in the
way of improvement.

"I think you may eat this," she said, when she returned to Kate, "but I
don't think that anything on board is fit for you. When I went to the
kitchen, I came near dropping dead right in the doorway; that cook,
Mistress Kate, is the most terrible creature of all the pirates that
ever were born. His eyes are blistering green and his beard is all
twisted into points, with the ends stuck fast with blood, which has
never been washed off. He roars like a lion, with shining teeth, but he
speaks very fair, Mistress Kate; you would be amazed to hear how fair he
speaks. He told me, and every word he said set my teeth on edge with its
grating, that he wanted to know how I liked the meals cooked; that he
would do it right if there were things on board to do it with. Which
there are not, Mistress Kate. And when he was beatin' up that batter for
me and I asked him if he was not tired workin' so hard, he pulled up
his sleeve and showed me his arm, which was like a horse's leg, all
covered with hair, and asked me if I thought it was likely he could tear
himself with a spoon. I'm sure he would give us better food if he could,
for he leaned over and whispered to me, like a gust of wind coming in
through the door, that the captain was in a very hard case, having
lately lost everything he had at the gaming-table, and therefore had not
the money to store the ship as he would have done."

"Oh, don't talk about that, Dame Charter," said Kate; "if we can get
enough to eat, no matter what it is, we must be satisfied and think only
of our great joy in sailing to my father and to your Dickory."

That afternoon Captain Ichabod found Kate by herself on deck, and he
made bold to sit down by her; and before he knew what he was about, he
was telling her his whole story. She listened carefully to what he said.
He touched but lightly upon his wickednesses, although they were plain
enough to any listener of sense, and bemoaned his fearful passion for
gaming, which was sure to bring him to misery one day or another.

"When I have staked my vessel and have lost it," said he, "then there
will be an end of me."

"But why don't you sell your vessel before you lose it," said Kate, "and
become a farmer?"

His eyes brightened. "I never thought of that," said he. "Bedad--excuse
me, Miss--some day when I've got a little together and can pay my men
I'll sell this sloop and buy a farm, bedad--I beg your pardon,
Miss--I'll buy a farm."

Kate smiled, but it was easy to see that Captain Ichabod was in earnest.

The next day Captain Ichabod came to Mr. Delaplaine and took him to one
side. "I want to speak to you," he said, "about a bit of business."

"You may have noticed, sir, that we are somewhat short of provisions,
and the way of it is this. The night before we sailed, hoping to make a
bold stroke at the card-table and thereby fit out my vessel in a manner
suitable to the entertainment of a gentleman and ladies, I lost every
penny I had. I did hope that our provisions would last us a few days
longer, but I am disappointed, sir. That cook of mine, who is a
soft-hearted fellow, his neck always ready for the heel of a woman, has
thrown overboard even the few stores we had left for you, the good Dame
Charter having told him they were not fit to eat. And more, sir, even my
men are grumbling. So I thought I would speak to you and explain that it
would be necessary for us to overhaul a merchantman and replenish our
food supply. It can be done very quietly, sir, and I don't think that
even the ladies need be disturbed."

Mr. Delaplaine stared in amazement. "Do you mean to say," he exclaimed,
"that you want me to consent to your committing piracy for our benefit?"

"Yes, sir," answered the captain, "that's what I suppose you would call
it; but that's my business."

"Now, sir, I wish you to know that I am a Christian and a gentleman,"
said Mr. Delaplaine.

"That's all very true, bedad," said Captain Ichabod, "but you're also
another thing; you're a human being, and you must eat."

"This is terrible," exclaimed the merchant, "that at my time of life I
should consent to a felony at sea, and to profit by it. I cannot bear to
think of the wickedness and the disgrace of it."

"Most respected sir," said Ichabod, "if the fellows behave themselves
properly and don't offer to fight us, then there'll be no wickedness,
bedad. I can make a good enough show of men to frighten any ordinary
merchant crew so that not a blow need be struck. And that is what I
expect to do, sir. I would not have any disturbance before ladies, you
may be sure of that, bedad. We bear down upon a vessel; we order her to
surrender; we take what we want, and we let her go. Truly, there's no
wickedness in that! And as for the disgrace, we can all better bear that
than starve."

Mr. Delaplaine looked at the pirate without a word. He could not
comprehend how a man with such a frank and honest face could thus avow
his dishonest principles. But as he gazed and wondered the thought of a
scheme flashed across the mind of the merchant, a thoroughly
business-like scheme. This bold young pirate captain might seize upon
such supplies as they were in need of, but he, Felix Delaplaine, of
Spanish Town, Jamaica, would pay for them. Thus might their necessities
be relieved and their consciences kept clean. But he said nothing of
this to Ichabod; the pirate might deem such a proceeding unprofessional
and interpose some objection. Payment would be the merchant's part of
the business, and he would attend to it himself. A look of resignation
now came over Mr. Delaplaine's face.

"Captain," said he, "I must yield to your reason; it is absolutely
necessary that we shall not starve."

Ichabod's face shone and he held out his hand. "Bedad, sir," he cried,
"I honour you as a bold gentleman and a kind one. I will instantly lay
my course somewhat to the eastward, and I promise you, sir, it will not
be long before we run across some of these merchant fellows. I beg you,
sir, speak to your ladies and tell them that there will be no unpleasant
commotion; we may draw our swords and make a fierce show, but, bedad, I
don't believe there'll be any fighting. We shall want so little--for I
would not attempt to take a regular prize with ladies on board--that
the fellows will surely deliver what we demand, the quicker to make an
end of it."

"If you are perfectly sure," said Mr. Delaplaine, "that you can restrain
your men from violence, I would like to be a member of your boarding
party; it would be a rare experience for me."

Now Captain Ichabod fairly shouted with delight.

"Bravo! Bravo!" he exclaimed; "I didn't dream, sir, that you were a man
of such a noble spirit. You shall go with us, sir. Your presence will
aid greatly in making our hoped-for capture a most orderly affair; no
one can look upon you, bedad, without knowing that you are a high-minded
and honourable man, and would not take a box or case from any one if you
did not need it. Now, sir, we shall put about, and by good fortune we
may soon sight a merchantman. Even if it be but a coastwise trader, it
may serve our purpose."

Mr. Delaplaine, with something of a smile upon his sedate face, hurried
to Kate, who was upon the quarter-deck.

"My dear, we are about to introduce a little variety into our dull
lives. As soon as we can overhaul a merchantman we shall commit a
piracy. But don't turn pale; I have arranged it all."

"You!" exclaimed the wide-eyed Kate.

"Yes," said her uncle, and he told his tale.

"And remember this, my dear," he added; "if we cannot pay, we do not
eat. I shall be as relentless as the bloody Blackbeard; if they take not
my money, I shall swear to Ichabod that we touch not their goods."

"And are you sure," she said, "that there will be no bloodshed?"

"I vouch for that," said he, "for I shall lead the boarding party."

She took him by both hands. "Why," she said, "it need be no more than
laying in goods from a store-house; and I cannot but be glad, dear
uncle, for I am so very, very hungry."

Now Dame Charter came running and puffing. "Do you know," she cried,
"that there is to be a piracy? The word has just been passed and the
cook told me. There is to be no bloodshed, and the other ship will not
be burned and the people will not be made to walk a plank. The captain
has given those orders, and he is very firm, swearing, I am told, much
more than is his wont. It is dreadful, it is awful just to think about,
but the provisions are gone, and it is absolutely necessary to do
something, and it will really be very exciting. The cook tells me he
will put me in a good place where I cannot be hurt and where I shall see
everything. And, Mistress Kate and Master Delaplaine, I dare say he can
take care of you too."

Kate looked at her uncle as if to ask if she might tell the good woman
what sort of a piracy this was to be, but he shook his head. It would
not do to interfere any more than was necessary with the regular
progress of events. The captain came up, excited. "Even now, bedad," he
cried, "there are two sails in sight--one far north, and the other to
the eastward, beating up this way. This one we shall make for. We have
the wind with us, which is a good thing, for the Restless is a bad
sailer and has lost many a prize through that fault. And now, Miss," he
said, addressing Kate, "I shall have to ask your leave to take down that
English flag and run up our Jolly Roger. It will be necessary, for if
the fellows fear not our long guns, they may change their course and get
away from us."

"That will be right," said Kate; "if we're going to be pirates, we might
as well be pirates out and out."

Captain Ichabod glowed with delight. "What a girl this was, and what an
uncle!"

It was not long, for the Restless had a fair wind, before the sail to
the eastward came fully into sight. She was, in good truth, a
merchantman, and not a large one. Dame Charter, very much excited,
wondered what she would have on board.

"The cook tells me," said she to Kate, "that sometimes ships from the
other side of the ocean carry the most astonishing and beautiful
things."

"But we shall not see these things," said Kate, "even if that ship
carries them. We shall take but food, and shall not unnecessarily
despoil them of that. We may be pirates, but we shall not be wicked."

"It is hard to see the difference," said Dame Charter, with a sigh, "but
we must eat. The cook tells me that they have made peaceful prizes
before now. This they do when they want some particular thing, such as
food or money, and care not for the trouble of stripping the ship,
putting all on board to death, and then setting her on fire. The cook
never does any boarding himself, so he says, but he stands on the deck
here, armed with his great axe, which likes him better than a cutlass,
and no matter what happens, he defends his kitchen."

"From his looks," said Kate, "I should imagine him to be the fiercest
fighter among them all."

"But that is not so," said Dame Charter; "he tells me that he is of a
very peaceable mind and would never engage in any broils or fights if he
could help it. Look! look!" she cried, "they're running out their long
brass guns; and do you see that other ship, how her sails are fluttering
in the wind? And there, that little spot at the top of her mast; that's
her flag, and it is coming down! Down, down it comes, and I must run to
the cook and ask him what will happen next."



CHAPTER XXXI

MR. DELAPLAINE LEADS A BOARDING PARTY


Steadily southward sailed the brig Black Swan which bore upon its decks
the happy Mander family and our poor friend Dickory, carrying with him
his lifelong destiny in the shape of the blood-stained letter from
Captain Vince.

The sackcloth draperies of Lucilla, with the red cord lightly tied about
them, had given place to a very ordinary gown fashioned by her mother
and herself, which added so few charms to her young face and sparkling
eyes that Dickory often thought that he wished there were some bushes on
deck so that she might stand behind them and let him see only her face,
as he had seen it when first he met her. But he saw the pretty face a
great deal, for Lucilla was very anxious to know things, and asked many
questions about Barbadoes, and also asked if there was any probability
that the brig would go straight on to that lovely island without
bothering to stop at Jamaica. It was during such talks as this that
Dickory forgot, when he did forget, the blood-stained letter that he
carried with him always.

Our young friend still wore the naval uniform, although in coming on the
brig he had changed it for some rough sailor's clothes. But Lucilla had
besought him to be again a brave lieutenant.

They sailed and they sailed, and there was but little wind, and that
from the south and against them. But Lucilla did not complain at their
slow progress. The slowest vessel in the world was preferable just now
to a desert island which never moved.

Davids was at the wheel and Mander stood near him. These old friends had
not yet finished talking about what had happened in the days since they
had seen each other. Mrs. Mander sat, not far away, still making
clothes, and the little Lena was helping her in her childlike way.
Lucilla and Dickory were still talking about Barbadoes. There never was
a girl who wanted to know so much about an island as that girl wanted to
know about Barbadoes.

Suddenly there was a shout from above.

"What's that?" asked Mander.

"A sail," said Davids, peering out over the sea but able to see nothing.
Lucilla and Dickory did not cease talking. At that moment Lucilla did
not care greatly about sails, there was so much to be said about
Barbadoes.

There was a good deal of talking forward, and after a while the captain
walked to the quarter-deck. He was a gruff man and his face was
troubled.

"I am sorry to say," he growled, "that the ship we have sighted is a
pirate; she flies the black flag."

Now there was no more talk about Barbadoes, or what had happened to old
friends, and the sewing dropped on the deck. Those poor Manders were
chilled to the soul. Were they again to be taken by pirates?

"Captain," cried Mander, "what can we do, can we run away from them?"

"We could not run away from their guns," growled the captain, "and there
is nothing to do. They intend to take this brig, and that's the reason
they have run up their skull and bones. They are bearing directly down
upon us with a fair wind; they will be firing a gun presently, and then
I shall lay to and wait for them."

Mander stepped towards Dickory and Lucilla; his voice was husky as he
said: "We cannot expect, my dear, that we shall again be captured by
forbearing pirates. I shall kill my wife and little daughter rather than
they shall fall into the bloody hands of ordinary pirates, and to you,
sir, I will commit the care of my Lucilla. If this vessel is delivered
over to a horde of savages, I pray you, plunge your dirk into her
heart."

"Yes," said Lucilla, clinging to the arm of Dickory, "if those fierce
pirates shall attack us, we will die together."

Dickory shook his head. In an awful moment such as this he could hold
out no illusions. "No," said he, "I cannot die with you; I have a duty
before me, and until it is accomplished I cannot willingly give up my
life. I must rather be even a pirate's slave than that. But I will
accept your father's charge; should there be need, I will kill you."

"Thank you very much," said Lucilla coolly.

To the surprise of the people on the Black Swan there came no shot from
the approaching pirate; but as she still bore down upon them, running
before the wind, the captain of the brig lay to and lowered his flag.
Submission now was all there was before them. No man on the brig took up
arms, nor did the crew form themselves into any show of resistance; that
would have but made matters worse.

As the pirate vessel came on, nearer and nearer, a great number of men
could be seen stretched along her deck, and some brass cannon were
visible trained upon the unfortunate brig.

But, to the surprise of the captain of the Black Swan, and of nearly
everybody on board of her, the pirate did not run down upon her to make
fast and board. Instead of that, she put about into the wind and lay to
less than a quarter of a mile away. Then two boats were lowered and
filled with men, who rowed towards the brig.

"They have special reasons for our capture," said the captain to those
who were crowding about him; "he may be well laden now with plunder, and
comes to us for our gold and silver. Or it may be that he merely wants
the brig. If that be so, he can quickly rid himself of us."

That was a cruel speech when women had to hear it, but the captain was a
rough fellow.

The boats came on as quietly as if they were about to land at a
neighbouring pier. Dickory and Lucilla cautiously peeped over the rail,
Dickory without his hat, and Lucilla, hiding herself, all but a part of
her face, behind him; the Manders crouched together on the deck, the
father with glaring eyes and a knife in his hand. The crew stood, with
their hats removed and their chins lowered, waiting for what might
happen next.

Up to this time Dickory had shown no signs of fear, although his mind
was terribly tossed and disturbed; for, whatever might happen to him, it
possibly would be the end of that mission which was now the only object
of his life. But he grated his teeth together and awaited his fate.

But now, as the boats came nearer, he began to tremble, and gradually
his knees shook under him.

"I would not have believed that he was such a coward as that," thought
Lucilla.

The boats neared the ship and were soon made fast; every help was
offered by the crew of the brig, and not a sign of resistance was shown.
The leader of the pirates mounted to the deck, followed by the greater
part of his men.

For a moment Captain Ichabod glanced about him, and then, addressing the
captain of the brig, he said: "This is all very well. I am glad to see
that you have sense enough to take things as you find them, and not to
stir up a fracas and make trouble. I overhauled you that I might lay in
a stock of provisions, and some wine and spirits besides, having no
desire, if you treat us rightly, to despoil you further. So, we shall
have no more words about it, bedad, and if you will set your men to work
to get on deck such stores as my quarter-master here may demand of you,
we shall get through this business quickly. In the meantime, lower two
or three boats, so that your men can row the goods over to my vessel."

The captain of the Black Swan simply bowed his head and turned away to
obey orders, while Captain Ichabod stepped a little aft and began to
survey the captured vessel. As soon as his back was turned, the captain
of the brig was approached by a very respectable elderly gentleman,
apparently not engaged either in the mercantile marine or in piratical
pursuits, who stopped him and said: "Sir, my name is Felix Delaplaine,
merchant, of Spanish Town, Jamaica. I am, against my will, engaged in
this piratical attack upon your vessel, but I wish to assure you
privately that I will not consent to have you robbed of your property,
and that, although some of your provisions may be taken by these
pirates, I here promise, as an honourable gentleman, to pay you the full
value of all that they seize upon."

The captain of the Black Swan had no opportunity to make an answer to
this most extraordinary statement, for at that moment a naval officer,
shouting at the top of his voice, came rushing towards the respectable
gentleman who had just been making such honourable proposals. Almost at
the same moment there was a great shout from Captain Ichabod, who,
drawing his cutlass from its sheath, raised the glittering blade and
dashed in pursuit of the naval gentleman.

"Hold there! Hold there!" cried the pirate. "Don't you touch him; don't
you lay your hand upon him!"

But Ichabod was not quick enough. Dickory, swift as a stag, stretched
out both his arms and threw them around the neck of the amazed Mr.
Delaplaine.

Now the pirate Ichabod reached the two; his great sword went high in
air, and was about to descend upon the naval person, whoever he was,
who had made such an unprovoked attack upon his honoured passenger,
when his arm was caught by some one from behind. Turning, with a great
curse, his eyes fell upon the face of a young girl.

[Illustration: Lucilla rescues Dickory.]

"Oh, don't kill him! Don't kill him!" she cried, "he will hurt nobody;
he is only hugging the old gentleman."

Captain Ichabod looked from the girl to the two men, who were actually
embracing each other. Dickory's back was towards him, but the face of
Mr. Delaplaine fairly glowed with delight.

"Oho!" said Ichabod, turning to Lucilla, "and what does this mean,
bedad?"

"I don't know," she answered, "but the gentleman in the uniform is a
good man. Perhaps the other one is his father."

"To my eyes," said Captain Ichabod, "this is a most fearsome mix."

The Mander family, and nearly everybody else on board, crowded about the
little group, gazing with all their eyes but asking no questions.

"Captain Ichabod," exclaimed Mr. Delaplaine, holding Dickory by the
hand, "this is one of the two persons you were taking us to find. This
is Dickory Charter, the son of good Dame Charter, now on your vessel. He
went away with Blackbeard, and we were in search of him."

"Oho!" cried Captain Ichabod, "by my life I believe it. That's the
young fellow that Blackbeard dressed up in a cocked hat and took away
with him."

"I am the same person, sir," said Dickory.

"So far so good," said Captain Ichabod. "I am very glad that I did not
bring down my cutlass on you, which I should have done, bedad, had it
not been for this young woman."

Now up spoke Mr. Delaplaine. "We have found you, Dickory," he cried,
"but what can you tell us of Major Bonnet?"

"Ay, ay," added Captain Ichabod, "there's another one we're after;
where's the runaway Sir Nightcap?"

"Alas!" said Dickory, "I do not know. I escaped from Blackbeard, and
since that day have heard nothing. I had supposed that Captain Bonnet
was in your company, Mr. Delaplaine."

Now the captain of the Black Swan pushed himself forward. "Is it Captain
Bonnet, lately of the pirate ship Revenge, that you're talking about?"
he asked. "If so, I may tell you something of him. I am lately from
Charles Town, and the talk there was that Blackbeard was lying outside
the harbour in Stede Bonnet's old vessel, and that Bonnet had lately
joined him. I did not venture out of port until I had had certain news
that these pirates had sailed northward. They had two or three ships,
and the talk was that they were bound to the Virginias, and perhaps
still farther north. They were fitted out for a long cruise."

"Gone again!" exclaimed Mr. Delaplaine in a hoarse voice. "Gone again!"

Captain Ichabod's face grew clouded.

"Gone north of Charles Town," he exclaimed, "that's bad, bedad, that's
very bad. You are sure he did not sail southward?" he asked of the
captain of the brig.

That gruff mariner was in a strange state of mind. He had just been
captured by a pirate, and in the next moment had made, what might be a
very profitable sale, to a respectable merchant, of the goods the pirate
was about to take from him. Moreover, the said pirate seemed to be in
the employ of said merchant, and altogether, things seemed to him to be
in as fearsome a mix as they had seemed to Captain Ichabod, but he
brought his mind down to the question he had been asked.

"No doubt about that," said he; "there were some of his men in the
town--for they are afraid of nobody--and they were not backward in
talking."

"That upsets things badly," said Captain Ichabod, without unclouding his
brow. "With my slow vessel and my empty purse, bedad, I don't see how I
am ever goin' to catch Blackbeard if he has gone north. Finding
Blackbeard would have been a handful of trumps to me, but the game seems
to be up, bedad."

The captain of the brig and Ichabod's quarter-master went away to
attend to the transfer of the needed goods to the Restless. Mander, with
his wife and little daughter, were standing together gazing with
amazement at the strange pirates who had come aboard, while Lucilla
stepped up to Dickory, who stood silent, with his eyes on the deck.

"Can you tell me what this means?" said she.

For a moment he did not answer, and then he said: "I don't know
everything myself, but I must presently go on board that vessel."

"What!" exclaimed Lucilla, stepping back. "Is she there?"

"Yes," said Dickory.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE DELIVERY OF THE LETTER


The sea was smooth and the wind light, and the transfer of provisions
from the Black Swan to the pirate sloop, which two ships now lay as near
each other as safety would permit, was accomplished quietly.

During the progress of the transfer Captain Ichabod's boat was rowed
back to his ship, and its arrival was watched with great interest by
everybody on board that pirate sloop. Kate and Dame Charter, as well as
all the men who stood looking over the rail, were amazed to see a naval
officer accompanying the captain and Mr. Delaplaine on their return. But
that amazement was greatly increased when that officer, as soon as he
set foot upon the deck, removed his hat and made directly for Dame
Charter, who, with a scream loud enough to frighten the fishes, enfolded
him in her arms and straightway fainted. It was like a son coming up out
of the sea, sure enough, as she afterward stated. Kate, recognising
Dickory, hurried to him with a scream of her own and both hands
outstretched, but the young fellow, who seemed greatly distressed at the
unconscious condition of his mother, did not greet Mistress Bonnet with
the enthusiastic delight which might have been expected under the
circumstances. He seemed troubled and embarrassed, which, perhaps, was
not surprising, for never before had he seen his mother faint.

Kate was about to offer some assistance, but as the good Dame now showed
signs of returning consciousness, she thought it would be better to
leave the two together, and in a state of amazement she was hurrying to
her uncle when Dickory rose from the side of his mother and stopped her.

"I have a letter for you," he said, in a husky voice.

"A letter?" she cried, "from my father?"

"No," said he, "from Captain Vince." And he handed her the blood-stained
missive.

Kate turned pale and stared at him; here was horrible mystery. The
thought flashed through the young girl's mind that the wicked captain
had killed her father and had written to tell her so.

"Is my father dead?" she gasped.

"Not that I know of," said Dickory.

"Where is he?" she cried.

"I do not know," was the answer.

She stood, holding the letter, while Dickory returned to his mother.
Mr. Delaplaine saw her standing thus, pale and shocked, but he did not
hasten to her. He had sad things to say to her, for his practical mind
told him that it would not be possible to continue the search for her
father, he having put himself out of the reach of Captain Ichabod and
his inefficient sloop. If Dickory had said anything about her father
which had so cast her down, how much harder would it be for him when he
had to tell her the whole truth.


But Kate did not wait for further speech from anybody. She gave a great
start, and then rushed down the companion-way to her cabin. There, with
her door shut, she opened the letter. This was the letter, written in
lead pencil, in an irregular but bold hand, with some letters partly
dimmed where the paper had been damp:

     "At the very end of my life I write to you that you have escaped
     the fiercest love that ever a man had for a woman. I shall carry
     this love with me to hell, if it may be, but you have escaped it.
     This escape is a blessing, and now that I cannot help it I give it
     to you. Had I lived, I should have shed the blood of every one whom
     you loved to gain you and you would have cursed me. So love me now
     for dying.

                               "Yours, anywhere and always,
                                       CHRISTOPHER VINCE."


Kate put down the letter and some colour came into her face; she bowed
her head in thankful prayer.

"He is dead," she said, "and now he cannot harm my father." That was the
only thought she had regarding this hot-brained and infatuated lover. He
was dead, her father was safe from him. How he died, how Dickory came to
bring the letter, how anything had happened that had happened except the
death of Captain Vince, did not at this moment concern her. Not until
now had she known how the fear of the vengeful captain of the Badger had
constantly been with her.

Over and over again Dickory told his tale to his mother. She interrupted
him so much with her embraces that he could not explain things clearly
to her, but she did not care, she had him with her. He was with her, and
she had fast hold of him, and she would never let him go again. What
mattered it what sort of clothes he wore, or where he had escaped
from--a family on a desert island or from a pirate crew? She had him,
and her happiness knew no bounds. Dickory was perfectly willing to stay
with her and to talk to her. He did not care to be with anybody else,
not even with Mistress Kate, who had taken so much interest in him all
the time he had been away; though, of course, not so much interest as
his own dear mother.

Then the good Dame Charter, being greatly recovered and so happy, began
to talk of herself. Slipping in a disjointed way over her various
experiences, she told her dear boy, in strictest confidence, that she
was very much disappointed in the way pirates took ships. She thought it
was going to be something very exciting that she would remember to the
end of her days, and wake up in the middle of the night and scream when
she thought of it, but it was nothing of the kind; not a shot was fired,
not a drop of blood shed; there was not even a shout or a yell or a
scream for mercy. It was all like going into the pantry to get the flour
and the sugar. She was all the time waiting for something to happen, and
nothing ever did. Dickory smiled, but it was like watered milk.

"I do not understand such piracy," he said, "but supposed, dear mother,
that these pirates had taken that ship in the usual way, I being on
board."

At this he was clasped so tightly to his mother's breast that he could
say no more.

The boats plied steadily between the two vessels, and on one of the
trips Mr. Delaplaine went over to the brig on business, and also glad to
escape for a little the dreaded interview which must soon come between
himself and his niece.

"Now, sir," said the merchant to the captain of the brig, "you will make
a bill against me for the provisions which are being taken to that
pirate, but I hope you have reserved a sufficient store of food for
your own maintenance until you reach a port, and that of myself and two
women who wish to sail with you, craving most earnestly that you will
land us in Jamaica or in some place convenient of access to that
island."

"Which I can do," said the captain, "for I am bound to Kingston; and as
to subsistence, shall have plenty."

On the brig Mr. Delaplaine found Captain Ichabod, who had come over to
superintend operations, and who was now talking to the pretty girl who
had seized him by the arm when he was about to slay the naval officer.

"I would talk with you, captain," said the merchant, "on a matter of
immediate import." And he led the pirate away from the pretty girl.

The matter to be discussed was, indeed, of deep import.

"I am loath to say it, sir," said Mr. Delaplaine, "when I think of the
hospitality and most exceptional kindness with which you have treated me
and my niece, and for which we shall feel grateful all our lives, but I
think you will agree with me that it would be useless for us to pursue
the search after that most reprehensible person, my brother-in-law,
Bonnet. There can be no doubt, I believe, that he and Blackbeard have
left the vicinity of Charles Town, and have gone, we know not where."

"No doubt of that, bedad," said Ichabod, knitting his brows as he
spoke; "if Blackbeard had been outside the harbour, this brig would not
have been here."

"And, therefore, sir," continued Mr. Delaplaine, "I have judged it to be
wise, and indeed necessary, for us to part company with you, sir, and to
take passage on this brig, which, by a most fortunate chance, is bound
for Kingston. My niece, I know, will be greatly disappointed by this
course of events, but we have no choice but to fall in with them."

"I don't like to agree with you," said the captain, "but, bedad, I am
bound to do it. I am disappointed myself, sir, but I have been
disappointed so often that I suppose I ought to be used to it. If I had
caught up with Blackbeard I should have been all right, and after I had
settled your affairs--and I know I could have done that--I think I would
have joined him. But all I can do now is to hammer along at the
business, take prizes in the usual way, and wait for Blackbeard to come
south again, and then I'll either sell out or join him."

"It is a great pity, sir," said Mr. Delaplaine, "a great pity--"

"Yes, it is," interrupted Ichabod, "it's a very great pity, sir, a very
great pity. If I had known more about ships when I bought the Restless I
would have had a faster craft, and by this time I might have been a man
of comfortable means. But that sloop over there, bedad, is so slow,
that many a time, sir, I have seen a fat merchantman sail away from her
and leave us, in spite of our guns, cursing and swearing, miles behind.
I am sorry to have you leave me, sir, and with your ladies; but, as you
say, here's your chance to get home, and I don't know when I could give
you another."

Mr. Delaplaine replied courteously and gratefully, and by the next boat
he went back to the Restless. Captain Ichabod, his brow still clouded by
the approaching separation, walked over to Lucilla and continued his
conversation with her about the island of Barbadoes, a subject of which
he knew very little and she nothing.

When Kate returned to the deck she found Dickory alone, Dame Charter
having gone to talk to the cook about the wonderful things which had
happened, of which she knew very little and he nothing at all.

"Dickory," said Kate, "I want to talk to you, and that quickly. I have
heard nothing of what has happened to you. How did you get possession of
the letter you brought me, and what do you know of Captain Vince?"

"I can tell you nothing," he said, without looking at her, "until you
tell me what I ought to know about Captain Vince." And as he said this
he could not help wondering in his heart that there were no signs of
grief about her.

"Ought to know?" she repeated, regarding him earnestly. "Well, you and I
have been always good friends, and I will tell you." And then she told
him the story of the captain of the Badger; of his love-making and of
his commission to sail upon the sea and destroy the pirate ship Revenge,
and all on board of her.

"And now," she said, as she concluded, "I think it would be well for you
to read this letter." And she handed him the missive he had carried so
long and with such pain. He read the bold, uneven lines, and then he
turned and looked upon her, his face shining like the morning sky.

"Then you have never loved him?" he gasped.

"Why should I?" said Kate.

In spite of the fact that there were a great many people on board that
pirate sloop who might see him; in spite of the fact that there were
people in boats plying upon the water who might notice his actions,
Dickory fell upon his knees before Kate, and, seizing her hand, he
pressed it to his lips.

"Why should I?" said Kate, quietly drawing her hand from him, "for I
have a devoted lover already--Master Martin Newcombe, of Barbadoes."

Dickory, repulsed, rose to his feet, but his face did not lose its glow.
He had heard so much about Martin Newcombe that he had ceased to mind
him.

"To think of it!" he cried, "to think how I stood and watched him
fight; how I admired and marvelled at his wonderful strength and skill,
his fine figure, and his flashing eye! How my soul went out to him, how
I longed that he might kill that scoundrel Blackbeard! And all the time
he was your enemy, he was my enemy, he was a viler wretch than even the
bloody pirate who killed him. Oh, Kate, Kate! if I had but known."

"Miss Kate, if you please," said the girl. "And it is well, Dickory, you
did not know, for then you might have jumped upon him and stuck him in
the back, and that would have been dishonourable."

"He thought," said Dickory, not in the least abashed by his reproof,
"that the Revenge was commanded by your father, for he sprang upon the
deck, shouting for the captain, and when he saw Blackbeard I heard him
exclaim in surprise, 'A sugar-planter!'"

"And he would have killed my father?" said Kate, turning pale at the
thought.

"Yes," replied Dickory, "he would have killed any man except the great
Blackbeard. And to think of it! I stood there watching them, and wishing
that vile Englishman the victory. Oh, Kate! you should have seen that
wonderful pirate fight. No man could have stood before him." Then, with
sparkling eyes and waving arms, he told her of the combat. When he had
finished, the souls of these two young people were united in an
overpowering admiration, almost reverence, for the prowess and strength
of the wicked and bloody pirate who had slain the captain of the Badger.

When Mr. Delaplaine came on board, Kate, who had been waiting, took him
aside.

"Uncle," she exclaimed, "I have great news. Captain Vince is dead. At
last he came up with the Revenge, but instead of finding my father in
command he found Blackbeard, who killed him. Now my father is safe!"

The good man scarcely knew what to say to this bright-faced girl, whose
father's safety was all the world to her. If he had heard that his
worthless and wicked brother-in-law had been killed, it would have been
trouble and sorrow for the present, but it would have been peace for the
future. But he was a Christian gentleman and a loving uncle, and he
banished this thought from his heart. He listened to Kate as she rapidly
went on talking, but he did not hear her; his mind was busy with the
news he had to tell her--the news that she must give up her loving
search and go back with him to Spanish Town.

"And now, uncle," said Kate, "there's another thing I want to say to
you. Since this great grief has been lifted from my soul, since I know
that no wrathful and vindictive captain of a man-of-war is scouring the
seas, armed with authority to kill my father and savage for his life, I
feel that it is not right for me to put other people who are so good to
me to sad discomfort and great expense to try to follow my father into
regions far away, and to us almost unknown.

"Some day he will come back into this part of the world, and I hope he
may return disheartened and weary of his present mode of life, and then
I may have a better chance of winning him back to the domestic life he
used to love so much. But he is safe, uncle, and that is everything now,
and so I came to say to you that I think it would be well for us to
relieve this kind Captain Ichabod from the charges and labours he has
taken upon himself for our sakes and, if it be possible, engage that
ship yonder to take us back to Jamaica; she was sailing in that
direction, and her captain might be induced to touch at Kingston. This
is what I have been thinking about, dear uncle, and do you not agree
with me?"

High rose the spirits of the good Mr. Delaplaine; banished was all the
overhanging blackness of his dreaded interview with Kate. The sky was
bright, her soul was singing songs of joy and thankfulness, and his soul
might join her. He never appreciated better than now the blessings which
might be shed upon humanity by the death of a bad man. His mind even
gambolled a little in his relief.

"But, Kate," he said, "if we leave that kind Captain Ichabod, and he be
not restrained by our presence, then, my dear, he will return to his
former evil ways, and his next captures will not be like this one, but
like ordinary piracies, sinful in every way."

"Uncle," said Kate, looking up into his face, "it is too much to ask of
one young girl to undertake the responsibilities of two pirates; I hope
some day to be of benefit to my poor father, but when it comes to
Captain Ichabod, kind as he has been, I am afraid I will have to let him
go and manage the affairs of his soul for himself."

Her uncle smiled upon her. Now that he was to go back to his home and
take this dear girl with him, he was ready to smile at almost anything.
That he thought one pirate much better worth saving than the other, and
that his choice did not agree with that of his niece, was not for him
even to think about at such a happy moment. It was not long after this
conversation that the largest boat belonging to the Restless was rowed
over to the brig, and in it sat, not only Kate, Dame Charter, and
Dickory, but Captain Ichabod, who would accompany his guests to take
proper leave of them. The crew of the pirate sloop crowded themselves
along her sides, and even mounted into her shrouds, waving their hats
and shouting as the boat moved away. The cook was the loudest shouter,
and his ragged hat waved highest. And, as Dame Charter shook her
handkerchief above her head and gazed back at her savage friend, there
was a moisture in her eyes. Up to this moment she never would have
believed that she would have grieved to depart from a pirate vessel and
to leave behind a pirate cook.

Lucilla watched carefully the newcomers as they ascended to the deck of
the Black Swan. "That is the girl," she said to herself, "and I am not
surprised."

A little later she remarked to Captain Ichabod, who sat by her: "Are
they mother and daughter, those two?"

"Oh, no," said he. "Mistress Bonnet is too fine a lady and too beautiful
to be daughter to that old woman, who is her attendant and the mother of
the young fellow in the cocked hat."

"Too fine and beautiful!" repeated Lucilla.

"I greatly grieve to leave you all," continued the young pirate captain,
"although some of you I have known so short a time. It will be very
lonely when I sail away with none to speak to save the bloody dogs I
command, who may yet throttle me. And it is to Barbadoes you go to
settle with your family?"

"That is our destination," said Lucilla, "but I know not if we shall
find the money to settle there; we were taken by pirates and lost
everything."

Now the captain of the brig came up to Ichabod and informed him that the
goods he demanded had been delivered on board his vessel, and that the
brig was ready to sail. It was the time for leave-taking, but Ichabod
was tardy. Presently he approached Kate, and drew her to one side.

"Dear lady," he said, and his voice was hesitating, while a slight flush
of embarrassment appeared on his face, "you may have thought, dear
lady," he repeated, "you may have thought that so fair a being as
yourself should have attracted during the days we have sailed
together--may have attracted, bedad, I mean--the declared admiration
even of a fellow like myself, we being so much together; but I had heard
your story, fair lady, and of the courtship paid you by Captain Vince of
the corvette Badger--whose family I knew in England--and, acknowledging
his superior claims, I constantly refrained, though not without great
effort (I must say that much for myself, fair lady), from--from--"

"Addressing me, I suppose you mean," said Kate. "What you say, kind
captain, redounds to your honour, and I thank you for your noble
consideration, but I feel bound to tell you that there was never
anything between me and Captain Vince, and he is now dead."

The young pirate stepped back suddenly and opened wide his eyes. "What!"
he exclaimed, "and all the time you were--"

"Not free," she interrupted with a smile, "for I have a lover on the
island of Barbadoes."

"Barbadoes," repeated Captain Ichabod, and he bade Kate a most
courteous farewell.

All the good-byes had been said and good wishes had been wished, when,
just as he was about to descend to his boat, Captain Ichabod turned to
Lucilla. "And it is truly to Barbadoes you go?" he asked.

"Yes," said she, "I think we shall certainly do that."

Now his face flushed. "And do you care for that fellow in the cocked
hat?"

Here was a cruel situation for poor Lucilla. She must lie or lose two
men. She might lose them anyway, but she would not do it of her own free
will, and so she lied.

"Not a whit!" said Lucilla.

The eyes of Ichabod brightened as he went down the side of the brig.



CHAPTER XXXIII

BLACKBEARD GIVES GREENWAY SOME DIFFICULT WORK


The great pirate Blackbeard, inactive and taking his ease, was seated on
the quarter-deck of his fine vessel, on which he had lately done some
sharp work off the harbour of Charles Town. He was now commanding a
small fleet. Besides the ship on which he sailed, he had two other
vessels, well manned and well laden with supplies from his recent
captures. Satisfied with conquest, he was sailing northward to one of
his favourite resorts on the North Carolina coast.

To this conquering hero now came Ben Greenway, the Scotchman, touching
his hat.

"And what do you want?" cried the burly pirate. "Haven't they given you
your prize-money yet, or isn't it enough?"

"Prize-money!" exclaimed Greenway. "I hae none o' it, nor will I hae
any. What money I hae--an' it is but little--came to me fairly."

"Oho!" cried Blackbeard, "and you have money then, have you? Is it
enough to make it worth my while to take it?"

"Ye can count it an' see, whenever ye like," said Ben. "But it isna
money that I came to talk to ye about. I came to ask ye, at the first
convenient season, to put me on board that ship out there, that I may be
in my rightful place by the side o' Master Bonnet."

"And what good are you to him, or he to you," asked the pirate, with a
fine long oath, "that I should put myself to that much trouble?"

"I have the responsibeelity o' his soul on my hands," said Ben, "an'
since we left Charles Town I hae not seen him, he bein' on ane ship an'
I on anither."

"And very well that is too," said Blackbeard, "for I like each of you
better separate. And now look ye, me kirk bird, you have not done very
well with your 'responsibeelities' so far, and you might as well make up
your mind to stop trying to convert that sneak of a Nightcap and take up
the business of converting me. I'm in great need of it, I can tell you."

"You!" cried Ben.

"I tell you, yes," shouted Blackbeard, "it is I, myself, that I am
talking about. I want to be converted from the evil of my ways, and I
have made up my mind that you shall do it. You are a good and a pious
man, and it is not often that I get hold of one of that kind; or, if I
do, I slice off his head before I discover his quality."

"I fear me," said the truthful Scotchman, "that the job is beyond my
abeelity."

"Not a bit of it, not a bit of it," shouted the pirate. "I am fifty
times easier to work upon than that Nightcap man of yours, and a hundred
times better worth the trouble. I put no trust in that downfaced farmer.
When he shouts loudest for the black flag he is most likely to go into
priestly orders, and the better is he reformed the quicker is he to rob
and murder. He is of the kind the devil wants, but it is of no use for
any one to show him the way there, he is well able to find it for
himself. But it is different with me, you canny Scotchman, it is
different with me. I am an open-handed and an open-mouthed scoundrel,
and I never pretended to be anything else. When you begin reforming me
you will find your work half done."

The Scotchman shook his head. "I fear me--" he said.

"No, you don't fear yourself," cried Blackbeard, "and I won't have it; I
don't want any of that lazy piety on board my vessel. If you don't
reform me, and do it rightly, I'll slice off both your ears."

At this moment a man came aft, carrying a great tankard of mixed drink.
Blackbeard took it and held it in his hand.

"Now then, you balking chaplain," he cried, "here's a chance for you to
begin. What would you have me do? Drain off this great mug and go
slashing among my crew, or hurl it, mug and all--"

"Nay, nay," cried Greenway, "but rather give half o' it to me; then will
it no' disturb your brain, an' mine will be comforted."

"Heigho!" cried Blackbeard. "Truly you are a better chaplain than I
thought you. Drain half this mug and then, by all the powers of heaven
and hell, you shall convert me. Now, look ye," said the pirate, when the
mug was empty, "and hear what a brave repentance I have already begun. I
am tired, my gay gardener, of all these piracies; I have had enough of
them. Even now, my spoils and prizes are greater than I can manage, and
why should I strive to make them more? I told you of my young
lieutenant, who ran away and who gave his carcass to the birds of prey
rather than sail with me and marry my strapping daughter. I liked that
fellow, Greenway, and if he had known what was well for him there might
be some reason for me to keep on piling up goods and money, but there's
cursed little reason for it now. I have merchandise of value at Belize
and much more of it in these ships, besides money from Charles Town
which ought to last an honest gentleman for the rest of his days."

"Ay," said Ben, "but an honest gentleman is sparing of his
expenditures."

"And you think I am not that kind of a man, do you?" shouted the
pirate. "But let me tell you this. I am sailing now for Topsail Inlet,
on the North Carolina coast, and I am going to run in there, disperse
this fleet, sell my goods, and--"

"Be hanged?" interpolated Greenway in surprise.

"Not a bit of it, you croaking crow!" roared the pirate. "Not a bit of
it. Don't you know, you dull-head, that our good King George has issued
a proclamation to the Brethren of the Coast to come in and behave
themselves like honest citizens and receive their pardon? I have done
that once, and so I know all about it; but I backslid, showing that my
conversion was badly done."

"It must hae been a poor hand that did the job for ye," said Greenway,
"for truly the conversion washed off in the first rain."

The pirate laughed a great laugh. "The fact is," he said, "I did the
work myself, and knowing nothing about it made a bad botch of it, but
this time it will be different. I am going to give the matter into your
hands, and I shall expect you to do it well. If I become not an honest
gentleman this time you shall pay for it, first with your ears and then
with your head."

"An' ye're goin' to keep me by ye?" said Greenway, with an expression
not of the best.

"Truly so," said Blackbeard. "I shall make you my clerk as long as I am
a pirate, for I have much writing and figuring work to be done, and
after that you shall be my chaplain. And whether or not your work will
be easier than it is now, it is not for me to say."

The Scotchman was about to make an exclamation which might not have been
complimentary, but he restrained himself.

"An' Master Bonnet?" he asked. "If ye go out o' piracy he may go too,
and take the oath."

"Of course he may," cried the pirate, "and of course he shall; I will
see to that myself. Then I will give him back his ship, for I don't want
it, and let him become an honest merchant."

"Give him back his ship!" exclaimed Greenway, his countenance downcast.
"That will be puttin' into his hands the means o' beginnin' again a life
o' sin. I pray ye, don't do that."

Blackbeard leaned back and laughed. "I swear that I thought it would be
one of the very first steps in conversion for me to give back to the
fellow the ship which is his own and which I have taken from him. But
fear not, my noble pirate's clerk; he is not the man that I am; he is a
vile coward, and when he has taken the oath he will be afraid to break
it. Moreover--"

"And if, with that ship," said Greenway, his eyes beginning to sparkle,
"he become an honest merchant--"

"I don't trust him," said Blackbeard; "he is a knave and a sharper, and
there is no truth in him. But when you have settled up my business, my
clerk, and have gotten me well converted, I will send you away with him,
and you shall take up again the responsibility of his soul."

The Scotchman clapped his horny hands together. "And once I get him back
to Bridgetown, I will burn his cursed ship!"

"Heigho!" cried Blackbeard, "and that will be your way of converting
him? You know your business, my royal chaplain, you know it well." And
with that he gave Greenway a tremendous slap on the back which would
have dashed to the deck an ordinary man, but Ben Greenway was a
Scotchman, tough as a yew-tree.



CHAPTER XXXIV

CAPTAIN THOMAS OF THE ROYAL JAMES


When Blackbeard's little fleet anchored in Topsail Inlet, Stede Bonnet,
who had not been informed of the intentions of the pirate, was a good
deal puzzled. Since joining Blackbeard's fleet in the vessel which came
up from Belize, Bonnet had considered himself very shabbily treated, and
his reasons for that opinion were not bad. During the engagements off
Charles Town his services had not been required and his opinion had not
been consulted, Blackbeard having no use for the one and no respect for
the other. The pirate captain had taken a fancy to Ben Greenway, while
his contempt for the Scotchman's master increased day by day; and it was
for this reason that Greenway had been taken on board the flag-ship,
while Bonnet remained on one of the smaller vessels.

Bonnet was in a discontented and somewhat sulky mood, but when
Blackbeard's full plans were made known to him and he found that he
might again resume command of his own vessel, the Revenge, if he chose
to do so, his eyes began to sparkle once more.

Ben Greenway soon resumed his former position with Bonnet, for it did
not take Blackbeard very long to settle up his affairs, and in a very
short time he became tired of the work of conversion; or, to speak more
correctly, of the bore of talking about it. Bonnet was glad to have the
Scotchman back again, although he never ceased to declare his desire to
get rid of this faithful friend and helper; for, when the Revenge again
came into his hands, there were many things to be done, and few people
to help him do it.

"It will be merchandise an' fair trade this time," said Ben, "an' ye'll
find it no' so easy as your piracies, though safer. An' when ye're off
to see the Governor an' hae got your pardon, it'll be a happy day,
Master Bonnet, for ye an' for your daughter, an' for your brother-in-law
an' everybody in Bridgetown wha either knew ye or respected ye."

"No more of that," cried Bonnet. "I did not say I was going to
Bridgetown, or that I wanted anybody there to respect me. It is my
purpose to fit out the Revenge as a privateer and get a commission to
sail in her in the war between Spain and the Allies. This will be much
more to my taste, Ben Greenway, than trading in sugar and hides."

Greenway was very grave.

"There is so little difference," said he, "between a privateer an' a
pirate that it is a great strain on a common mind to keep them separate;
but a commission from the king is better than a commission from the
de'il, an' we'll hope there won't be much o' a war after all is said an'
done."

There was not much intercourse between Blackbeard and Bonnet at Topsail
Inlet. The pirate was on very good terms with the authorities at that
place, who for their own sakes cared not much to interfere with him, and
Bonnet had his own work in hand and industriously engaged in it. He went
to Bath and got his pardon; he procured a clearance for St. Thomas,
where he freely announced his intention to take out a commission as
privateer, and he fitted out his vessel as best he could. Of men he had
not many, but when he left the inlet he sailed down to an island on the
coast, where Blackbeard, having had too many men on his return from
Charles Town, had marooned a large number of the sailors belonging to
his different crews, finding this the easiest way of getting rid of
them. Bonnet took these men on board with the avowed intention of taking
them to St. Thomas, and then he set sail upon the high seas as free and
untrammelled as a fish-hawk sweeping over the surface of a harbour with
clearance papers tied to his leg.

Stede Bonnet had changed very much since he last trod the quarter-deck
of the Revenge as her captain. He was not so important to look at, and
he put on fewer airs of authority, but he issued a great many more
commands. In fact, he had learned much about a sailor's life, of
navigation and the management of a vessel, and was far better able to
command a ship than he had ever been before. He had had a long rest from
the position of a pirate captain, and he had not failed to take
advantage of the lessons which had been involuntarily given him by the
veteran scoundrels who had held him in contempt. He was now, to a great
extent, sailing-master as well as captain of the Revenge; but Ben
Greenway, who was much given to that sort of thing, undertook to offer
Bonnet some advice in regard to his course.

"I am no sailor," said he, "but I ken a chart when I see it, an' it is
my opeenion that there is no need o' your sailin' so far to the east
before ye turn about southward. There is naething much stickin' out from
the coast between here an' St. Thomas."

Bonnet looked at the Scotchman with lofty contempt.

"Perhaps you can tell me," said he, "what there is stickin' out from the
coast between here and Ocracoke Inlet, where you yourself told me that
Blackbeard had gone with the one sloop he kept for himself?"

"Blackbeard!" shouted the Scotchman, "an' what in the de'il have ye got
to do wi' Blackbeard?"

"Do with that infernal dog?" cried Bonnet, "I have everything to do with
him before I do aught with anybody or anything besides. He stole from me
my possessions, he degraded me from my position, he made me a
laughing-stock to my men, and he even made me blush and bow my head with
shame before my daughter and my brother-in-law, two people in whose
sight I would have stood up grander and bolder than before any others in
the world. He took away from me my sword and he gave me instead a
wretched pen; he made me nothing where I had been everything. He even
ceased to consider me any more than if I had been the dirty deck under
his feet. And then, when he had done with my property and could get no
more good out of it, he cast it to me in charity as a man would toss a
penny to a beggar. Before I sail anywhere else, Ben Greenway," continued
Bonnet, "I sail for Ocracoke Inlet, and when I sight Blackbeard's
miserable little sloop I shall pour broadside after broadside into her
until I sink his wretched craft with his bedizened carcass on board of
it."

"But wi' your men stand by ye?" cried Greenway. "Ye're neither a pirate
nor a vessel o' war to enter into a business like that."

Bonnet swore one of his greatest oaths. "There is no business nor war
for me, Ben Greenway," he cried, "until I have taught that insolent
Blackbeard what manner of man I am."

Ben Greenway was very much disheartened. "If Blackbeard should sink the
Revenge instead of Master Bonnet sinking him," he said to himself, "and
would be kind enough to maroon my old master an' me, it might be the
best for everybody after all. Master Bonnet is vera humble-minded an'
complacent when bad fortune comes upon him, an' it is my opeenion that
on a desert island I could weel manage him for the good o' his soul."

But there were no vessels sunk on that cruise. Blackbeard had gone,
nobody knew where, and after a time Bonnet gave up the search for his
old enemy and turned his bow southward. Now Ben Greenway's countenance
gleamed once more.

"It'll be a glad day at Spanish Town when Mistress Kate shall get my
letter."

"And what have you been writing to her?" cried Bonnet.

"I told her," said Ben Greenway, "how at last ye hae come to your right
mind, an' how ye are a true servant o' the king, wi' your pardon in your
pocket an' your commission waitin' for ye at St. Thomas, an' that,
whatever else ye may do at sea, there'll be no more black flag floatin'
over your head, nor a see-saw plank wobblin' under the feet o' onybody
else. The days o' your piracies are over, an' ye're an honest mon once
more."

"You wrote her that?" said Bonnet, with a frown.

"Ay," said Greenway, "an' I left it in the care o' a good mon, whose
ship is weel on its way to Kingston by this day."

That afternoon Captain Bonnet called all his men together and addressed
them.

He made a very good speech, a better one than that delivered when he
first took real command of the Revenge after sailing out of the river at
Bridgetown, and it was listened to with respectful and earnest interest.
In brief manner he explained to all on board that he had thrown to the
winds all idea of merchandising or privateering; that his pardon and his
ship's clearance were of no value to him except he should happen to get
into some uncomfortable predicament with the law; that he had no idea of
sailing towards St. Thomas, but intended to proceed up the coast to burn
and steal and rob and slay wherever he might find it convenient to do
so; that he had brought the greater part of his crew from the desert
island where Blackbeard had left them because he knew that they were
stout and reckless fellows, just the sort of men he wanted for the
piratical cruise he was about to begin; and that, in order to mislead
any government authorities who by land or sea might seek to interfere
with him, he had changed the name of the good old Revenge to the Royal
James, while its captain, once Stede Bonnet, was now to be known on
board and everywhere else as Captain Thomas, with nothing against him.
He concluded by saying that all that had been done on that ship from the
time she first hoisted the black flag until the present moment was
nothing at all compared to the fire and the blood and the booty which
should follow in the wake of that gallant vessel, the Royal James,
commanded by Captain Thomas.

The men looked at each other, but did not say much. They were all
pirates, although few of them had regularly started out on a piratical
career, and there was nothing new to them in this sort of piratical
dishonour. In the little cruise after Blackbeard their new captain had
shown himself to be a good man, ready with his oaths and very certain
about what he wanted done. So, whenever Stede Bonnet chose to run up the
Jolly Roger, he might do it for all they cared.

Poor Ben Greenway sat apart, his head bowed upon his hands.

"You seem to be in a bad case, old Ben," said Bonnet, gazing down upon
him, "but you throw yourself into needless trouble. As soon as I lay
hold of some craft which I am willing shall go away with a sound hull, I
will put you on board of her and let you go back to the farm. I will
keep you no longer among these wicked people, Ben Greenway, and in this
wicked place."

Ben shook his head. "I started wi' ye an' I stay wi' ye," said he, "an'
I'll follow ye to the vera gates o' hell, but farther than that, Master
Bonnet, I willna go; at the gates o' hell I leave ye!"



CHAPTER XXXV

A CHAPTER OF HAPPENINGS


For happiness with a flaw in it, it was a very fair happiness which now
hung over the Delaplaine home near Spanish Town. Kate Bonnet's father
was still a pirate, but there was no Captain Vince in hot pursuit of
him, seeking his blood. Kate could sing with the birds and laugh with
Dickory whenever she thought of the death of the wicked enemy. This was
not, it may be thought, a proper joy for a young maiden's heart, but it
came to Kate whether she would or not; the change was so great from the
fear which had possessed her before.

The old home life began again, although it was a very quiet life.
Dickory went into Mr. Delaplaine's counting-house, but it was hard for
the young man to doff the naval uniform which had been bestowed upon him
by Blackbeard, for he knew he looked very well in it, and everybody else
thought so and told him so; but it could not be helped, and with all
convenient speed he discarded his cocked hat and all the rest of it,
and clothed himself in the simple garb of a merchant's clerk, although
it might be said, that in all the West Indies, at that day, there was no
clerk so good-looking as was Dickory. Dame Charter was so thankful that
her boy had come safely through all his troubles, so proud of him, and
so eminently well satisfied with his present position, that she asked
nothing of her particular guardian angel but that Stede Bonnet might
stay away. If, after tiring of piracy, that man came back, as his
relatives wished him to do, the good dame was sure he would make
mischief of some sort, and as like as not in the direction of her
Dickory. If this evil family genius should be lost at sea or should
disappear from the world in some equally painless and undisgraceful
fashion, Dame Charter was sure that she could in a reasonable time quiet
the grief of poor Kate; for what right-minded damsel could fail to
mingle thankfulness with her sorrow that a kind death should relieve a
parent from the sins and disgraces which in life always seemed to open
up in front of him.

About this time there came a letter from Barbadoes, which was of great
interest to everybody in the household. It was from Master Martin
Newcombe, and of course was written to Kate, but she read many portions
of it to the others. The first part of the epistle was not read aloud,
but it was very pleasant for Kate to read it to herself. This man was a
close lover and an ardent one. Whatever had happened to her fortunes,
nothing had interfered with his affection; whatever he had said he still
bravely stood by, and to whatever she had objected in the way of
obstacles he had paid no attention whatever.

In the parts of the letter read to her uncle and the others, Master
Newcombe told how, not having heard from them for so long, he had been
beginning to be greatly troubled, but the arrival of the Black Swan,
which, after touching at Kingston, had continued her course to
Barbadoes, had given him new life and hope; and it was his intention, as
soon as he could arrange his affairs, to come to Jamaica, and there say
by word of mouth and do, in his own person, so much for which a letter
was totally inadequate. The thought of seeing Kate again made him
tremble as he walked through his fields. This was read inadvertently,
and Dickory frowned. Dame Charter frowned too. She had never supposed
that Master Newcombe would come to Spanish Town; she had always looked
upon him as a very worthy young farmer; so worthy that he would not
neglect his interest by travelling about to other islands than his own.
She did not know exactly how her son felt about all this, nor did she
like to ask him, but Dickory saved her the trouble.

"If that Newcombe comes here," he said, "I am going to fight him."

"What!" cried his mother. "You would not do that. That would be
terrible; it would ruin everything."

"Ruin what?" he asked.

His mother answered diplomatically. "It would ruin all your fine
opportunities in this family."

Dickory smiled with a certain sarcastic hardness. "I don't mean," said
he, "that I am going to hack at him with a sword, because neither he nor
I properly know how to use swords, and after the wonderful practice that
I have seen, I would not want to prove myself a bungler even if the
other man were a worse one. No, mother, I mean to fight with him by all
fair means to gain the hand of my dear Kate. I love her, and I am far
more worthy of her than he is. He is not a well-disposed man, being
rough and inconsiderate in his speech." Dickory had never forgiven the
interview by the river bank when he had gone to see Madam Bonnet. "And
as to his being a stout lover, he is none of it. Had he been that, he
would long ago have crossed the little sea between Barbadoes and here."

"Do you mean, you foolish boy," exclaimed Dame Charter, "to say that you
presume to love our Mistress Kate?" And her eyes glowed upon him with
all the warmth of a mother's pride, for this was the wish of her heart,
and never absent from it.

"Ay, mother," said Dickory, "I shall fight for her; I shall show her
that I am worthier than he is and that I love her better. I shall even
strive for her if that mad pirate comes back and tries to overset
everything."

"Oh, do it before that!" cried Dame Charter, anxiety in every wrinkle.
"Do it before that!"

Mr. Delaplaine was a little troubled by the promised visit from
Barbadoes. He had heard of Master Newcombe as being a most estimable
young man, but the fault about him, in his opinion, was that he resided
not in Jamaica. For a long time the good merchant had lived his own
life, with no one to love him, and he now had with him his sister's
child, whom he had come to look upon as a daughter, and he did not wish
to give her up. It was true that it might be possible, under favourable
pressure, to induce young Newcombe to come to Jamaica and settle there,
but this was all very vague. Had he had his own way, he would have
driven from Kate every thought of love or marriage until the time when
his new clerk, Dickory Charter, had become a young merchant of good
standing, worthy of such a wife. Then he might have been willing to give
Kate to Dickory, and Dickory would have given her to him, and they might
have all been happy. That is, if that hare-brained Bonnet did not come
home.

The Delaplaine family did not go much into society at that time, for
people had known about the pirate and his ship, the Revenge, and the
pursuit upon which Captain Vince of the royal corvette Badger had been
sent. They had all heard, too, of the death of Captain Vince, and some
of them were not quite certain whether he had been killed by the pirate
Bonnet or another desperado equally dangerous. Knowing all this,
although if they had not known it they would scarcely have found it out
from the speech of their neighbours, the Delaplaines kept much to
themselves. And they were happy, and the keynote of their happiness was
struck by Kate, whose thankful heart could never forget the death of
Captain Vince.

Mr. Delaplaine made his proper visit to Spanish Town, to carry his
thanks and to tell the Governor how things had happened to him; and the
Governor still showed his interest in Mistress Kate Bonnet, and
expressed his regret that she had not come with her uncle, which was a
very natural wish indeed for a governor of good taste.

This is a chapter of happenings, and the next happening was a letter
from that good man, Ben Greenway, and it told the most wonderful,
splendid, and glorious news that had ever been told under the bright sun
of the beautiful West Indies. It told that Captain Stede Bonnet was no
longer a pirate, and that Kate was no longer a pirate's daughter. These
happy people did not join hands and dance and sing over the great news,
but Kate's joy was so great that she might have done all these things
without knowing it, so thankful was she that once again she had a
father. This rapture so far outshone her relief at the news of the death
of Captain Vince that she almost forgot that that wicked man was safe
and dead. Kate was in such a state of wild delight that she insisted
that her uncle should make another visit to the Governor's house and
take her with him, that she herself might carry the Governor the good
news; and the Governor said such heart-warming things when he heard it
that Kate kissed him in very joy. But as Dickory was not of the party,
this incident was not entered as part of the proceedings.

Now society, both in Spanish Town and Kingston, opened its arms and
insisted that the fair star of Barbadoes should enter them, and there
were parties and dances and dinners, and it might have been supposed
that everybody had been a father or a mother to a prodigal son, so
genial and joyful were the festivities--Kate high above all others.

At some of these social functions Dickory Charter was present, but it is
doubtful whether he was happier when he saw Kate surrounded by gay
admirers or when he was at home imagining what was going on about her.

There was but one cloud in the midst of all this sunshine, and that was
that Mr. Delaplaine, Dame Charter, and her son Dickory could not forget
that it was now in the line of events that Stede Bonnet would soon be
with them, and beyond that all was chaos.

And over the seas sailed the good ship the Royal James, Captain Thomas
in command.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE TIDE DECIDES


It was now September, and the weather was beautiful on the North
Carolina coast. Captain Thomas (late Bonnet) of the Royal James (late
Revenge) had always enjoyed cool nights and invigorating morning air,
and therefore it was that he said to his faithful servitor, Ben
Greenway, when first he stepped out upon the deck as his vessel lay
comfortably anchored in a little cove in the Cape Fear River, that he
did not remember ever having been in a more pleasant harbour. This
well-tried pirate captain--Stede Bonnet, as we shall call him,
notwithstanding his assumption of another name--was in a genial mood as
he drank in the morning air.

From his point of view he had a right to be genial; he had a right to be
pleased with the scenery and the air; he had a right to swear at the
Scotchman, and to ask him why he did not put on a merrier visage on such
a sparkling morning, for since he had first started out as Captain
Thomas of the Royal James he had been a most successful pirate. He had
sailed up the Virginia coast; he had burned, he had sunk, he had robbed,
he had slain; he had gone up the Delaware Bay, and the people in ships
and the people on the coasts trembled even when they heard that his
black flag had been sighted.

No man could now say that the former captain of the Revenge was not an
accomplished and seasoned desperado. Even the great Blackbeard would not
have cared to give him nicknames, nor dared to play his blithesome
tricks upon him; he was now no more Captain Nightcap to any man. His
crew of hairy ruffians had learned to understand that he knew what he
wanted, and, more than that, he knew how to order it done. They listened
to his great oaths and they respected him. This powerful pirate now
commanded a small fleet, for in the cove where lay his flag-ship also
lay two good-sized sloops, manned by their own crews, which he had
captured in Delaware Bay and had brought down with him to this quiet
spot, a few miles up the Cape Fear River, where now he was repairing his
own ship, which had had a hard time of it since she had again come into
his hands.

For many a long day the sound of the hammer and the saw had mingled with
the song of the birds, and Captain Bonnet felt that in a day or two he
might again sail out upon the sea, conveying his two prizes to some
convenient mart, while he, with his good ship, freshened and restored,
would go in search of more victories, more booty, and more blood.

"Greenway, I tell you," said Bonnet, continuing his remarks, "you are
too glum; you've got the only long face in all this, my fleet. Even
those poor fellows who man my prizes are not so solemn, although they
know not, when I have done with them, whether I shall maroon them to
quietly starve or shall sink them in their own vessels."

"But I hae no such reason to be cheerful," said Ben. "I hae bound mysel'
to stand by ye till ye hae gone to the de'il, an' I hae no chance o'
freein' mysel' from my responsibeelities by perishin' on land or in the
sea."

"If anything could make me glum, Ben Greenway, it would be you," said
the other; "but I am getting used to you, and some of these days when I
have captured a ship laden with Scotch liquors and Scotch plaids I
believe that you will turn pirate yourself for the sake of your share of
the prizes."

"Which is likely to be on the same mornin' that ye turn to be an honest
mon," said Ben; "but I am no' in the way o' expectin' miracles."

On went the pounding and the sawing and the hammering and the swearing
and the singing of birds, although the latter were a little farther away
than they had been, and in the course of the day the pirate captain,
erect, scrutinizing, and blasphemous, went over his ship,
superintending the repairs. In a day or two everything would be
finished, and then he and his two prizes could up sail and away. It was
a beautiful harbour in which he lay, but he was getting tired of it.

There were great prospects before our pirate captain. Perhaps he might
have the grand good fortune to fall in with that low-born devil,
Blackbeard, who, when last he had been heard from, commanded but a small
vessel, fearing no attack upon this coast. What a proud and glorious
moment it would be when a broadside and another and another should be
poured in upon his little craft from the long guns of the Royal James.

Bonnet was still standing, reflecting, with bright eyes, upon this
dazzling future, and wondering what would be the best way of letting the
dastardly Blackbeard know whose guns they were which had sunk his ship,
when a boat was seen coming around the headland. This was one of his own
boats, which had been posted as a sentinel, and which now brought the
news that two vessels were coming in at the mouth of the river, but that
as the distance was great and the night was coming on they could not
decide what manner of craft they were.

This information made everybody jump, on board the Royal James, and the
noise of the sawing and the hammering ceased as completely as had the
songs of the birds. In a few minutes that quick and able mariner,
Bonnet, had sent three armed boats down the river to reconnoitre. If the
vessels entering the river were merchantmen, they should not be allowed
to get away; but if they were enemies, although it was difficult to
understand how enemies could make their appearance in these quiet
waters, they must be attended to, either by fight or flight.

When the three boats came back, and it was late before they appeared,
every man upon the Royal James was crowded along her side to hear the
news, and even the people on the prizes knew that something had
happened, and stood upon every point of vantage, hoping that in some way
they could find out what it was.

The news brought by the boats was to the effect that two vessels, not
sailing as merchantmen and well armed and manned, were now ashore on
sand-bars, not very far above the mouth of the river. Now Bonnet swore
bravely. If the work upon his vessels had been finished he would up
anchor and away and sail past these two grounded ships, whatever they
were and whatever they came for. He would sail past them and take with
him his two prizes; he would glide out to sea with the tide, and he
would laugh at them as he left them behind. But the Royal James was not
ready to sail.

The tide was now low; five hours afterward, when it should be high,
those two ships, whatever they were, would float again, and the Royal
James, whatever her course of action should be, would be cut off from
the mouth of the river. This was a greater risk than even a pirate as
bold as Bonnet would wish to run, and so there was no sleep that night
on the Royal James. The blows of the hammers and the sounds of the saws
made a greater noise than they had ever done before, so that the night
birds were frightened and flew shrieking away. Every man worked with all
the energy that was in him, for each hairy rascal had reason to believe
that if the vessel they were on did not get out of the river before the
two armed strangers should be afloat there might be hard times ahead for
them. Even Ben Greenway was aroused. "The de'il shall not get him any
sooner than can be helped," he said to himself, and he hammered and
sawed with the rest of them.

On his stout and well-armed sloop the Henry, Mr. William Rhett, of
Charles Town, South Carolina, paced anxiously all night. Frequently from
the sand-bar on which his vessel was grounded he called over to his
other sloop, also fast grounded, giving orders and asking questions. On
both vessels everybody was at work, getting ready for action when the
tide should rise.

Some weeks before the wails and complaints of a tortured sea-coast had
come down from the Jersey shores to South Carolina, asking for help at
the only place along that coast whence help could come. A pirate named
Thomas was working his way southward, spreading terror before him and
leaving misery behind. These appeals touched the hearts of the people of
Charles Town, already sore from the injuries and insults inflicted upon
them by Blackbeard in those days when Bonnet sat silently on the pirate
ship, doing nothing and learning much.

There was no hesitancy; for their own sake and for the sake of their
commerce, this new pirate must not come to Charles Town harbour, and an
expedition of two vessels, heavily armed and well manned and commanded
by Mr. William Rhett, was sent northward up the coast to look for the
pirate named Thomas and to destroy him and his ship. Mr. Rhett was not a
military man, nor did he belong to the navy. He was a citizen capable of
commanding soldiers, and as such he went forth to destroy the pirate
Thomas.

Mr. Rhett met people enough along the coast who told him where he might
find the pirate, but he found no one to tell him how to navigate the
dangerous waters of the Cape Fear River, and so it was that soon after
entering that fine stream he and his consort found themselves aground.

Mr. Rhett was quite sure that he had discovered the lair of the big game
he was looking for. Just before dark, three boats, well filled with men,
had appeared from up the river, and they had looked so formidable that
everything had been made ready to resist an attack from them. They
retired, but every now and then during the night, when there was quiet
for a few minutes, there would come down the river on the wind the sound
of distant hammering and the noise of saws.

It was after midnight before the Henry and the Sea Nymph floated free,
but they anchored where they were and waited for the morning. Whether
they would sail up the river after the pirate or whether he would come
down to them, daylight would show.

Mr. Rhett's vessels had been at anchor for five hours, and every man on
board of them were watching and waiting, when daylight appeared and
showed them a tall ship, under full sail, rounding the distant headland
up the river. Now up came their anchors and their sails were set. The
pirate was coming!

Whatever the Royal James intended to do, Mr. Rhett had but one plan, and
that was to meet the enemy as soon as possible and fight him. So up
sailed the Henry and up sailed the Sea Nymph, and they pressed ahead so
steadily to meet the Royal James that the latter vessel, in carrying out
what was now her obvious intention of getting out to sea, was forced
shoreward, where she speedily ran upon a bar. Then, from the vessels of
Charles Town there came great shouts of triumph, which ceased when first
the Henry and then the Sea Nymph ran upon other bars and remained
stationary.

Here was an unusual condition--three ships of war all aground and about
to begin a battle, a battle which would probably last for five hours if
one or more of the stationary vessels were not destroyed before that
time. It was soon found, however, that there would only be two parties
to the fight, for the Sea Nymph was too far away to use her guns. The
Royal James had an advantage over her opponents, since, when she
slightly careened, her decks were slanted away from the enemy, while the
latter's were presented to her fire.

At it they went, hot and heavy. Bonnet and his men now knew that they
were engaged with commissioned war vessels, and they fought for their
lives. Mr. Rhett knew that he was fighting Thomas, the dreaded pirate of
the coast, and he felt that he must destroy him before his vessel should
float again. The cannon roared, muskets blazed away, and the combatants
were near enough even to use pistols upon each other. Men died, blood
flowed, and the fight grew fiercer and fiercer.

Bonnet roared like an incarnate devil; he swore at his men, he swore at
the enemy, he swore at his bad fortune, for had he not missed the
channel the game would have been in his own hands.

So on they fought, and the tide kept steadily rising. The five hours
must pass at last, and the vessel which first floated would win the day.

The five hours did pass, and the Henry floated, and Bonnet swore louder
and more fiercely than before. He roared to his men to fire and to
fight, no matter whether they were still aground or not, and with many
oaths he vowed that if any one of them showed but a sign of weakening he
would cut him down upon the spot. But the hairy scoundrels who made up
the crew of the Royal James had no idea of lying there with their ship
on its side, while two other ships--for the Sea Nymph was now
afloat--should sail around them, rake their decks, and shatter them to
pieces. So the crew consulted together, despite their captain's roars
and oaths, and many of them counselled surrender. Their vessel was much
farther inshore than the two others, and no matter what happened
afterward they preferred to live longer than fifteen or twenty minutes.

But Bonnet quailed not before fate, before the enemy, or before his
crew; if he heard another word of surrender he would fire the magazine
and blow the ship to the sky with every man in it. Raising his cutlass
in air, he was about to bring it down upon one of the cowards he
berated, when suddenly he was seized by two powerful hands, which pinned
his arms behind him. With a scream of rage, he turned his head and
found that he was in the grasp of Ben Greenway.

"Let go your sword, Master Bonnet," said Ben; "it is o' no use to ye
now, for ye canna get awa' from me. I'm nae older than ye are, though I
look it, an' I've got the harder muscles. Ye may be makin' your way
steadily an' surely to the gates o' hell an' it mayna be possible that I
can prevent ye, but I'm not goin' to let ye tumble in by accident so
long as I've got two arms left to me."

Pale, haggard, and writhing, Stede Bonnet was disarmed, and the Jolly
Roger came down.



CHAPTER XXXVII

BONNET AND GREENWAY PART COMPANY


It was three days after this memorable combat--for the vessels engaged
in it needed considerable repairs--when Mr. Rhett of Charles Town sailed
down the Cape Fear River with his five vessels--the two with which he
had entered it, the pirate Royal James, and the two prizes of the
latter, which had waited quietly up the river to see how matters were
going to turn out.

On the Henry sailed the pirate Thomas, now discovered to be the
notorious Stede Bonnet, and a very quiet and respectful man he was. As
has been seen before, Bonnet was a man able to adapt himself to
circumstances. There never was a more demure counting-house clerk than
was Bonnet at Belize; there never was an humbler dependent than the
almost unnoticed Bonnet after he had joined Blackbeard's fleet before
Charles Town, and there never was a more deferential and respectful
prisoner than Stede Bonnet on board the Henry. It was really touching to
see how this cursing and raging pirate deported himself as a meek and
uncomplaining gentleman.

There was no prison-house in Charles Town, but Stede Bonnet's wicked
crew, including Ben Greenway--for his captors were not making any
distinctions in regard to common men taken on a pirate ship--were
clapped into the watch-house--and a crowded and uncomfortable place it
was--and put under a heavy and military guard. The authorities were,
however, making distinctions where gentlemen of family and owners of
landed estates were concerned, no matter if they did happen to be taken
on a pirate ship, and Major Bonnet of Barbadoes was lodged in the
provost marshal's house, in comfortable quarters, with only two
sentinels outside to make him understand he was a prisoner.

The capture of this celebrated pirate created a sensation in Charles
Town, and many of the citizens were not slow to pay the unfortunate
prisoner the attentions due to his former position in society. He was
very well satisfied with his treatment in Charles Town, which city he
had never before had the pleasure of visiting.

The attentions paid to Ben Greenway were not pleasing; sometimes he was
shoved into one corner and sometimes into another. He frequently had
enough to eat and drink, but very often this was not the case. Bonnet
never inquired after him. If he thought of him at all, he hoped that he
had been killed in the fight, for if that were the case he would be rid
of his eternal preachments.

Greenway made known the state of his own case whenever he had a chance
to do so, but his complaints received no attention, and he might have
remained with the crew of the Royal James as long as they were shut up
in the watch-house had not some of the hairy cut-throats themselves
taken pity upon him and assured the guards that this man was not one of
them, and that they knew from what they had heard him say and seen him
do that there was no more determined enemy of piracy in all the Western
continent. So it happened, that after some weeks of confinement Greenway
was let out of the watch-house and allowed to find quarters for himself.

The first day the Scotchman was free he went to the provost-marshal's
house and petitioned an interview with his old master, Bonnet.

"Heigho!" cried the latter, who was comfortably seated in a chair
reading a letter. "And where do you come from, Ben Greenway? I had
thought you were dead and buried in the Cape Fear River."

"Ye did not think I was dead," replied Ben, "when I seized ye an' held
ye an' kept ye from buryin' yoursel' in that same river."

Bonnet waved his hand. "No more of that," said he; "I was unfortunate,
but that is over now and things have turned out better than any man
could have expected."

"Better!" exclaimed Ben. "I vow I know not what that means."

Bonnet laughed. He was looking very well; he was shaved, and wore a neat
suit of clothes.

"Ben Greenway," said he, "you are now looking upon a man of high
distinction. At this moment I am the greatest pirate on the face of the
earth. Yes, Greenway, the greatest pirate on the face of the earth. I
have a letter here, which was received by the provost-marshal and which
he gave me to read, which tells that Blackbeard, the first pirate of his
age, is dead. Therefore, Ben Greenway, I take his place, and there is no
living pirate greater than I am."

"An' ye pride yoursel' on that, an' at this moment?" asked Ben, truly
amazed.

"That do I," said Bonnet. "And think of it, Ben Greenway, that
presumptuous, overbearing Blackbeard was killed, and his head brought
away sticking up on the bow of a vessel. What a rare sight that must
have been, Ben! Think of his long beard, all tied up with ribbons, stuck
up on the bow of a ship!"

"An' ye are now the head de'il on earth?" said Ben.

"You can put it that way, if you like," said Bonnet, "but I am not so
looked upon in this town. I am an honoured person. I doubt very much if
any prisoner in this country was ever treated with the distinction that
is shown me, but I don't wonder at it; I have the reputation of two
great pirates joined in one--the pirate Bonnet, of the dreaded ship
Revenge, and the terrible Thomas of the Royal James. My man, there are
people in this town who have been to me and who have said that a man so
famous should not even be imprisoned. I have good reason to believe that
it will not be long before pardon papers are made out for me, and that I
may go my way."

"An' your men?" asked Greenway. "Will they go free or will they be hung
like common pirates?"

Bonnet frowned impatiently. "I don't want to hear anything about the
men," he said; "of course they will be hung. What could be done with
them if they were not hung? But it is entirely different with me. I am a
most respectable person, and, now that I am willing to resign my
piratical career, having won in it all the glory that can come to one
man, that respectability must be considered."

"Weel, weel," said the Scotchman; "an' when it comes that
respectabeelity is better for a man's soul an' body than righteousness,
then I am no fit counsellor for ye, Master Bonnet," and he took his
leave.

The next morning, when Ben Greenway left his lodging he found the town
in an uproar. The pirate Bonnet had bribed his sentinels and, with some
others, had escaped. Ben stood still and stamped his foot. Such infamy,
such perfidy to the authorities who had treated him so well, the
Scotchman could not at first imagine, but when the truth became plain to
him, his face glowed, his eye burned; this vile conduct of his old
master was a triumph to Ben's principles. Wickedness was wickedness, and
could not be washed away by respectability.

The days passed on; Bonnet was recaptured, more securely imprisoned, put
upon trial, found guilty, and, in spite of the efforts of the advocates
of respectability, was condemned to be hung on the same spot where
nearly all the members of his pirate crew had been executed.

During all this time Ben Greenway kept away from his old master; he had
borne ill-treatment of every kind, but the deception practised upon him
when, at his latest interview, Bonnet talked to him of his
respectability, having already planned an escape and return to his evil
ways, was too much for the honest Scotchman. He had done with this man,
faithless to friend and foe, to his own blood, and even to his own bad
reputation.

But not quite done. It was but half an hour before the time fixed for
the pirate's execution that Ben Greenway gained access to him.

"What!" cried Bonnet, raising his head from his hands. "You here? I
thought I had done with you!"

"Ay, I am here," said Ben Greenway. "I hae stood by ye in good fortune
an' in bad fortune, an' I hae never left ye, no matter what happened;
an' I told ye I would follow ye to the gates o' hell, but I could go no
farther. I hae kept my word an' here I stop. Fareweel!"

"The only comfortable thing about this business," said Bonnet, "is to
know that at last I am rid of that fellow!"



CHAPTER XXXVIII

AGAIN DICKORY WAS THERE


There were indeed gay times in Spanish Town, and with the two loads
lifted from her heart, Kate helped very much to promote the gaiety. If
this young lady had wished to make a good colonial match, she had
opportunities enough for so doing, but she was not in that frame of
mind, and encouraged no suitor.

But, bright as she was, she was not so bright as on that great and
glorious day when she received Ben Greenway's letter, telling her that
her father was no longer a pirate. There were several reasons for this
gradually growing twilight of her happiness, and one was that no letter
came from her father. To be sure, there were many reasons why no letter
should come. There were no regular mails in these colonies which could
be depended upon, and, besides, the new career of her father, sailing as
a privateer under the king's flag, would probably make it very
difficult for him to send a letter to Jamaica by any regular or
irregular method. Moreover, her father was a miserable correspondent,
and always had been. Thus she comforted herself and was content, though
not very well content, to wait.

Then there was another thing which troubled her, when she thought of it.
That good man and steady lover, Martin Newcombe, had written that he was
coming to Spanish Town, and she knew very well what he was coming for
and what he would say, but she did not know what she would say to him;
and the thought of this troubled her. In a letter she might put off the
answer for which he had been so long and patiently waiting, but when she
met him face to face there could be no more delay; she must tell him yes
or no, and she was not ready to do this.

There was so much to think of, so many plans to be considered in regard
to going back to Barbadoes or staying in Jamaica, that really she could
not make up her mind, at least not until she had seen her father. She
would be so sorry if Mr. Newcombe came to Spanish Town before her father
should arrive, or at least before she should hear from him.

Then there was another thing which added to the twilight of these
cheerful days, and this Kate could scarcely understand, because she
could see no reason why it should affect her. The Governor, whom they
frequently met in the course of the pleasant social functions of the
town, looked troubled, and was not the genial gentleman he used to be.
Of course he had a right to his own private perplexities and annoyances,
but it grieved Kate to see the change in him. He had always been so
cordial and so cheerful; he was now just as kind as ever, perhaps a
little more so, in his manner, but he was not cheerful.

Kate mentioned to her uncle the changed demeanour of the Governor, but
he could give no explanation; he had heard of no political troubles, but
supposed that family matters might easily have saddened the good man.

He himself was not very cheerful, for day after day brought nearer the
time when that uncertain Stede Bonnet might arrive in Jamaica, and what
would happen after that no man could tell. One thing he greatly feared,
and that was, that his dear niece, Kate, might be taken away from him.
Dame Charter was not so very cheerful either. Only in one way did she
believe in Stede Bonnet, and that was, that after some fashion or
another he would come between her and her bright dreams for her dear
Dickory.

And so there were some people in Spanish Town who were not as happy as
they had been.

Still there were dinners and little parties, and society made itself
very pleasant; and in the midst of them all a ship came in from
Barbadoes, bringing a letter from Martin Newcombe.

A strange thing about this letter was that it was addressed to Mr.
Delaplaine and not to Miss Kate Bonnet. This, of course, proved the
letter must be on business; and, although he was with his little family
when he opened his letter, he thought it well to glance at it before
reading it aloud. The first few lines showed him that it was indeed a
business letter, for it told of the death of Madam Bonnet, and how the
writer, Martin Newcombe, as a neighbour and friend of the family, had
been called in to take temporary charge of her effects, and, having done
so, he hastened to inform Mr. Delaplaine of his proceedings and to ask
advice. This letter he now read aloud, and Kate and the others were
greatly interested therein, although they cautiously forbore the
expression of any opinion which might rise in their minds regarding this
turn of affairs.

Having finished these business details, Mr. Delaplaine went on and read
aloud, and in the succeeding portion of the letter Mr. Newcombe begged
Mr. Delaplaine to believe that it was the hardest duty of his whole life
to write what he was now obliged to write, but that he knew he must do
it, and therefore would not hesitate. At this the reader looked at his
niece and stopped.

"Go on," cried Kate, her face a little flushed, "go on!"

The face of Mr. Delaplaine was pale, and for a moment he hesitated,
then, with a sudden jerk, he nerved himself to the effort and read on;
he had seen enough to make him understand that the duty before him
was to read on.

[Illustration: In an instant Dickory was there.]

Briefly and tersely, but with tears in the very ink, so sad were the
words, the writer assured Mr. Delaplaine that his love for his niece had
been, and was, the overpowering impulse of his life; that to win this
love he had dared everything, he had hoped for everything, he had been
willing to pass by and overlook everything, but that now, and it tore
his heart to write it, his evil fortune had been too much for him; he
could do anything for the sake of his love that a man with respect for
himself could do, but there was one thing at which he must stop, at
which he must bow his head and submit to his fate--he could not marry
the daughter of an executed felon.

Thus came to that little family group the news of the pirate Bonnet's
death. There was more of the letter, but Mr. Delaplaine did not read it.

Kate did not scream, nor moan, nor faint, but she sat up straight in her
chair and gazed, with a wild intentness, at her uncle. No one spoke. At
such a moment condolence or sympathy would have been a cruel mockery.
They were all as pale as chalk. In his heart, Mr. Delaplaine said: "I
see it all; the Governor must have known, and he loved her so he could
not break her heart."

In the midst of the silence, in the midst of the chalky whiteness of
their faces, in the midst of the blackness which was settling down upon
them, Kate Bonnet still sat upright, a coldness creeping through every
part of her. Suddenly she turned her head, and in a voice of wild
entreaty she called out: "Oh, Dickory, why don't you come to me!"

In an instant Dickory was there, and, cold and lifeless, Kate Bonnet was
in his arms.



CHAPTER XXXIX

THE BLESSINGS WHICH COME FROM THE DEATH OF THE WICKED


It was three weeks after Martin Newcombe's letter came before Ben
Greenway arrived in Spanish Town. He had had a hard time to get there,
having but little money and no friends to help him; but he had a strong
heart and an earnest, and so he was bound to get there at last; and,
although Kate saw no visitors, she saw him. She was not dressed in
mourning; she could not wear black for herself.

She greeted the Scotchman with earnestness; he was a friend out of the
old past, but she gave him no chance to speak first.

"Ben," she exclaimed, "have you a message for me?"

"No message," he replied, "but I hae somethin' on my heart I wish to say
to ye. I hae toiled an' laboured an' hae striven wi' mony obstacles to
get to ye an' to say it."

She looked at him, with her brows knit, wondering if she should allow
him to speak; then, with the words scarcely audible between her tightly
closed lips, she said: "Ben, what is it?"

"It is this, an' no more nor less," replied the Scotchman; "he was never
fit to be your father, an' it is not fit now for ye to remember him as
your father. I was faithful to him to the vera last, but there was no
truth in him. It is an abomination an' a wickedness for ye to remember
him as your father!"

Kate spoke no word, nor did she shed a tear.

"It was my heart's desire ye should know it," said the Scotchman, "an' I
came mony a weary league to tell ye so."

"Ben," said she, "I think I have known it for a long time, but I would
not suffer myself to believe it; but now, having heard your words, I am
sure of it."

"Uncle," said she an hour afterward, "I have no father, and I never had
one."

With tears in his eyes he folded her to his breast, and peace began to
rise in his soul. No greater blessing can come to really good people
than the absolute disappearance of the wicked.

And the wickedness which had so long shadowed and stained the life of
Kate Bonnet was now removed from it. It was hard to get away from the
shadow and to wipe off the stain, but she was a brave girl and she did
it.

In this work of her life--a work which if not accomplished would make
that life not worth the living--Kate was much helped by Dickory; and he
helped her by not saying a word about it or ever allowing himself, when
in her presence, to remember that there had been a shadow or a stain.
And if he thought of it at all when by himself, his only feeling was one
of thankfulness that what had happened had given her to him.

Even the Governor brightened. He had striven hard to keep from Kate the
news which had come to him from Charles Town, suppressing it in the
hopes that it might reach her more gradually and with less terrible
effect than if he told it, but now that he knew that she knew it the
blessings which are shed abroad by the disappearance of the wicked
affected him also, and he brightened. There were no functions for Kate,
but she brightened, striving with all her soul to have this so, for her
own sake as well as that of others. As for Mr. Delaplaine, Dame Charter,
and Dickory, they brightened without any trouble at all, the
disappearance of the wicked having such a direct and forcible effect
upon them.

Dickory Charter, who matured in a fashion which made everybody forget
that Kate Bonnet was eleven months his senior, entered into business
with Mr. Delaplaine, and Jamaica became the home of this happy family,
whose welfare was founded, as on a rock, upon the disappearance of the
wicked.

Here, then, was a brave girl who had loved her father with a love which
was more than that of a daughter, which was the love of a mother, of a
wife; who had loved him in prosperity and in times of sorrow and of
shame; who had rejoiced like an angel whenever he turned his footsteps
into the right way, and who had mourned like an angel whenever he went
wrong. She had longed to throw her arms around her father's neck, to
hold him to her, and thus keep off the hangman's noose. Her courage and
affection never waned until those arms were rudely thrust aside and
their devoted owner dastardly repulsed.

True to herself and to him, she loved her father so long as there was
anything parental in him which she might love; and, true to herself,
when he had left her nothing she might love, she bowed her head and
suffered him, as he passed out of his life, to pass out of her own.



CHAPTER XL

CAPTAIN ICHABOD PUTS THE CASE


In the river at Bridgetown lay the good brig King and Queen, just
arrived from Jamaica. On her deck was an impatient young gentleman,
leaning over the rail and watching the approach of a boat, with two men
rowing and a passenger in the stern.

This impatient young man was Dickory Charter, that morning arrived at
Bridgetown and not yet having been on shore. He came for the purpose of
settling some business affairs, partly on account of Miss Kate Bonnet
and partly for his mother.

As the boat came nearer, Dickory recognised one of the men who were
rowing and hailed him.

"Heigho! Tom Hilyer," he cried, "I am right glad to see you on this
river again. I want a boat to go to my mother's house; know you of one
at liberty?"

The man ceased rowing for a moment and then addressed the passenger in
the stern, who, having heard what he had to say, nodded briefly.

"Well, well, Dick Charter!" cried out the man, "and have you come back
as governor of the colony? You look fine enough, anyway. But if you want
a boat to go to your mother's old home, you can have a seat in this one;
we're going there, and our passenger does not object."

"Pull up here," cried Dickory, and in a moment he had dropped into the
bow of the boat, which then proceeded on its way.

The man in the stern was fairly young, handsome, sunburned, and well
dressed in a suit of black. When Dickory thanked him for allowing him to
share his boat the passenger in the stern nodded his head with a jerk
and an air which indicated that he took the incident as a matter of
course, not to be further mentioned or considered.

The men who rowed the boat were good oarsmen, but they were not
thoroughly acquainted with the cove, especially at low tide, and
presently they ran upon a sand-bar. Then uprose the passenger in the
stern and began to swear with an ease and facility which betokened long
practice. Dickory did not swear, but he knit his brows and berated
himself for not having taken the direction of the course into his own
hands, he who knew the river and the cove so well. The tide was rising
but Dickory was too impatient to sit still and wait until it should be
high enough to float the boat. That was his old home, that little house
at the head of the cove, and he wanted to get there, he wanted to see
it. Part of the business which brought him to Barbadoes concerned that
little house. With a sudden movement he made a dive at his shoes and
stockings and speedily had them lying at the bottom of the boat. Then he
stepped overboard and waded towards the shore. In some of the deeper
places he wetted the bottom of his breeches, but he did not mind that.
The passenger in the stern sat down, but he continued to swear.

Presently Dickory was on the dry sand, and running up to that cottage
door. A little back from the front of the house and in the shade there
was a bench, and on this bench there sat a girl, reading. She lifted her
head in surprise as Dickory approached, for his bare feet had made no
noise, then she stood up quickly, blushing.

"You!" she exclaimed.

"Yes," cried Dickory; "and you look just the same as when you first put
your head above the bushes and talked to me."

"Except that I am more suitably clothed," she said.

And she was entirely right, for her present dress was feminine, and
extremely becoming.

Dickory did not wish to say anything more on this subject, and so he
remarked: "I have just arrived at the town, and I came directly here."

Lucilla blushed again.

"This is my old home," added Dickory.

"But you knew we were here?" she asked, with a hesitating look of
inquiry.

"Oh, yes," said he, "I knew that the house had been let to your father."

Now she changed colour twice--first red, then white. "Are you," she
said, "I mean ... the other, is she--"

"I left her in Jamaica," said Dickory, "but I am going to marry her."

For a moment the rim of her hat got between the sun and her face, and
one could not decide very well whether her countenance was red or white.

"I am very glad to find you here," said Dickory, "and may I see your
father and mother?"

"Yes," said she, "but they are both in the field with my young sister.
But who is this man walking up the shore? And is that the boat you came
in?"

"It is," said Dickory. "We stuck fast, but I was in such a hurry that I
waded ashore. I don't know the man; he had hired the boat, and kindly
took me in, I was in such haste to get here."

For a moment Lucilla bent her eyes on the ground. "In such haste to get
here!" she said to herself; then she raised her head and exclaimed: "Oh,
I know that man; he is the pirate captain who captured the Belinda,
which afterward brought us here." And with both hands outstretched, she
ran to meet him.

The face of Captain Ichabod glowed with irrepressible delight; one might
have thought he was about to embrace the young woman, notwithstanding
the presence of Dickory and the two boatmen, but he did everything he
could do before witnesses to express his joy.

Dickory now stepped up to Captain Ichabod. "Oh, now I know you," cried
he, and he held out his hand. "You were very kind indeed to my friends,
and they have spoken much about you. This is my old home; this is the
house where I was born."

"Yes, yes, indeed," said Captain Ichabod, "a very good house, bedad, a
very good house." But hesitating a little and addressing Lucilla: "You
don't live here alone, do you?"

The girl laughed.

"Oh, no," she cried. "My father and mother will be here presently; in
fact, I see them coming."

"That's very well," said Ichabod, "very well indeed. It's quite right
that they should live with you. I remember them now; they were on the
ship with you."

"Oh, yes," said Lucilla, still laughing.

"Quite right, quite right," said Ichabod; "that was very right."

"I will go meet your father and mother and the dear little Lena; I
remember them so well," said Dickory. He started to run off in spite of
his bare feet, but he had gone but a little way when Lucilla stopped
him. She looked up at him, and this time her face was white.

"Are you sure," said she, "that everything is settled between you and
that other girl?"

"Very sure," said Dickory, looking kindly upon her and remembering how
pretty she had looked when he first saw her face over the bushes.

She did not say anything, but turned and walked back to Captain Ichabod.
She found that tall gentleman somewhat agitated; he seemed to have a
great deal on his mind which he wished to say, feeling, at the same
time, that he ought to say everything first.

"That's your father and mother," said he, "stopping to talk to the young
man who was born here?"

"Yes," she answered, "and they will be with us presently."

"Very good, very good, that's quite right," said Captain Ichabod
hurriedly; "but before they come, I want to say--that is, I would like
you to know--that I have sold my ship. I am not a pirate any longer, I
am a sugar-planter, bedad. Beg your pardon! That is, I intend to be
one. You remember that you once talked to me about sugar-planting in
Barbadoes, and so I am here. I want to find a good sugar plantation, to
buy it, and live on it; I heard that you were stopping on this side of
the river, and so I came here."

"But there is no sugar plantation here," said Lucilla, very demurely.

"Oh, no," said Ichabod, "oh, no, of course not; but you are here, and I
wanted to find you; a sugar plantation would be of no use without you."

She looked at him, still very demurely. "I don't quite understand you,"
she said. She turned her head a little and saw that her family and
Dickory were slowly moving towards the house. She knew that with
diffident persons no time should be lost, for, if interrupted, it often
happened that they did not begin again.

"Then I suppose," she said, her face turned up towards him, but her eyes
cast down, "that you are going to say that you would like to marry me?"

"Of course, of course," exclaimed Ichabod; "I thought you knew that that
is what I came here for, bedad."

"Very well, then," said Lucilla, turning her eyes to the face of the man
she had dreamed of in many happy nights. "No, no," she added quickly,
"you must not kiss me; they are all coming, and there are the two
boatmen."

He did not kiss her, but later he made up for the omission.

The moment Mrs. Mander saw Captain Ichabod and her daughter standing
together she knew exactly what had happened; she had noticed things on
board the Belinda. She hurried up to Lucilla and drew her aside.

"My dear," she whispered, with a frightened face, "you cannot marry a
pirate; you never, never can!"

"Dear mother," said Lucilla, "he is not a pirate; he has sold his ship
and is going to be a sugar-planter."

Now they all came up and heard these words of Lucilla.

"Yes, indeed," said Captain Ichabod, "you may not suppose it, but your
daughter and I are about to marry, and will plant sugar together. Now, I
want to buy a plantation. Where is that young man who was born here,
bedad?"

Dickory advanced, laughing. Here was a fine opportunity, a miraculous
opportunity, of disposing of the Bonnet estate, which was part of the
business which had brought him here. So he told the beaming captain that
he knew of a fine plantation up the river, which he thought would suit
him.

"Very good," said Captain Ichabod. "I have a boat here; let us go and
look at the place, and if it suits us I will buy it, bedad."

So with Mrs. Mander and her husband beside her, and with Lucilla and
the captain by her, the boat was rowed up the river, with Dickory and
young Lena in the bow.

When the boat reached the Bonnet estate it was run up on the shore near
the shady spot where Kate Bonnet had once caught a fish. Then they all
stepped out upon the little beach, even the oarsmen made the boat fast
and joined the party, who started to walk up to the house. Suddenly
Captain Ichabod stopped and said to Mr. Mander: "I don't think I care to
walk up that hill, you know; and if you and your good wife will look
over that house and cast your eyes about the place, I will buy it, if
you say so: you know a good deal more about such things than I do,
bedad. I suppose, of course, that will suit you?" he said to Lucilla.

It suited Lucilla exactly. They sat in the shade in the very place where
Kate had sat when she saw Master Newcombe crossing the bridge.

A small boat came down the river, rowed by a young man. As he passed the
old Bonnet property he carelessly cast his eyes shoreward, but his heart
took no interest in what he saw there. What did it matter to him if two
lovers sat there in the shade, close to the river's brink? His sad soul
now took no interest in lovers. He had just been up the river to arrange
for the sale of his plantation to one of his neighbours. He had decided
to leave the island of Barbadoes and to return to England.

The house suited Captain Ichabod exactly, when Mrs. Mander told him
about it, and Lucilla agreed with him because she was always accustomed
to trust her mother in such things.

So they all got into the boat and rowed back to Dickory's old home, and
on the way Captain Ichabod told Dickory that when they returned together
to the town he would pay him for the plantation, having brought specie
sufficient for the purpose.

It was a gay party in the boat as they rowed down the river; it was a
gay party at the house when they reached it, and they would have all
taken supper together had the Manders been prepared for such
hospitality; but they were poor, having taken the place upon a short
lease and having had but few returns so far. But they were all going to
live at the old Bonnet place, and happiness shone over everything. It
was twilight, and the two young men were about to walk down to the boat,
one of them promising to come again early in the morning, when Lucilla
approached Dickory.

"Where are you going to live with that girl?" she asked in a low voice.

"In Jamaica," said he.

"I am glad of it," she replied, quite frankly.

       *       *       *       *       *

They were well content, those Jamaica people, when Ben Greenway came to
live with them. It had been proposed at one time that he should go to
his old Bridgetown home and take charge of the place as he used to, but
the good Scotchman demurred to this.

"I hae served ane master before he became a pirate," he said, "an' I
don't want to try anither after he has finished bein' ane. If I serve
ony mon, let him be one wha has been righteous, wha is righteous now,
an' wha will continue in righteousness."

"Then serve Mr. Delaplaine," said Dickory.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Manders soon removed to the little house where Dickory was born. The
mansion of their daughter and her husband was a hospitable place and a
lively, but the life there was so wayward, erratic, and eccentric that
it did not suit their sober lives and the education of their young
daughter. So they dwelt contentedly in the cottage at the head of the
cove, and there was much rowing up and down the river.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was upon a fine morning that the ex-pirate Ichabod thus addressed a
citizen of the town:

"Yes, sir, I know well who once lived in the house I own. I knew the man
myself; I knew him at Belize. He was a dastardly knave, and would have
played false to the sun, the moon, and the stars had they shown him an
opportunity, bedad. But I also knew his daughter; she sailed on my ship
for many days, and her presence blessed the very boards she trod on. She
is a most noble lady; and if you will not admit, sir, that her sweet
spirit and pure soul have not banished from this earth every taint of
wickedness left here by her father, then, sir, bedad, stand where you
are and draw!"


THE END



       *       *       *       *       *



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