All but one of the men of the Badger, downcast, wounded, panting with thirst and loving life, agreed to become pirates and to ship on board the Revenge.
The first mate would not break his oath of allegiance to the king, and he went overboard.
THE ADDRESS OF THE LETTER
There was hard and ghastly work that day when the Revenge was cleared after action, and there was lively and interesting work on board the Badger when Blackbeard and his officers went over the captured vessel to discover what new possessions they had won.
At first Blackbeard had thought to establish himself upon the corvette and abandon the Revenge. It would have been such a grand thing to scourge the seas in a British man-of-war with the Jolly Roger floating over her. But this would have been too dangerous; the combined naval force of England in American waters would have been united to put down such presumption. So the wary pirate curbed his ambition.
Everything portable and valuable was stripped from the Badger—her guns would have been taken had it been practicable to ship them to the Revenge in a rising sea—and then she was scuttled, fired, and cast off, and with her dead on board she passed out of commission in the royal navy.
During the turmoil, the horror and the bringing aboard of pillage, Dickory Charter had kept close below deck, his face in his hands and his heart almost broken. It is so easy for young hearts to almost break.
When he had seen the British ship come sailing down upon them, hope had sprung up brightly in his heart; now there was a chance of his escaping from this hell of the waves. When the Revenge should be taken he would rush to the British captain, or any one in authority, and tell his tale. It would be believed, he doubted not; even his uniform would help to prove he was no pirate; he would be taken away, he would reach Jamaica; he would see Kate; he would carry to her the great news of her father. After that his life could take care of itself.
But now the blackness of darkness was over everything. Those who were to have been his friends had vanished, the ship which was to have given him a new life had disappeared forever. He was on board the pirate ship, bound for the shores of England—horrible shores to him—bound to the shores of England and to Blackbeard’s Eliza!
He was not a fool, this Dickory; he had no unwarrantable and romantic fears that in these enlightened days one man could say to another, “Go you, and marry the woman I have chosen for you.” There was nothing silly or cowardly about him, but he knew Blackbeard.
Not one ray of hope thrust itself through his hands into his brain. Hope had gone, gone to the bottom, and he was on his storm-tossed way to the waters of another continent.
But in the midst of his despair Dickory never thought of freeing himself, by a sudden bound, of the world and his woes. So long as Kate should live he must live, even if it were to prove to himself, and to himself only, how faithful to her he could be.