The Romance of a Pirate's Daughter
FRANK R. STOCKTON
Illustrated by A. J. Keller and H. S. Potter
New York D. Appleton and Company 1902 Copyright, 1901, 1903 By D. Appleton and Company All rights reserved February, 1902
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
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
"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
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."
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.
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."
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."
"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.
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.
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."
"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.
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.
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.