It was dark when men came tumbling below, throwing themselves into hammocks and bunks, and Dickory prepared to turn in. If sleep should come and without dreams, it would be greater gain than bags of gold. As he took off his coat, the letter of the English captain dropped from his breast. Until then he had forgotten it, but now he remembered it as a sacred trust. The dull light of the lantern barely enabled him to discern objects about him, but he stuck the letter into a crack in the woodwork where in the morning he would see it and take proper care of it.
Soon sleep came, but not without dreams. He dreamed that he was rowing Kate on the river at Bridgetown, and that she told him in a low sweet voice, with a smile on her lips and her eyes tenderly upturned, that she would like to row thus with him forever.
Early in the morning, through an open port-hole, the light of the eastern sun stole into this abode of darkness and sin and threw itself upon the red-stained letter sticking in the crack of the woodwork. Presently Dickory opened his eyes, and the first thing they fell upon was that letter. On the side of the folded sheet he could see the superscription, boldly but irregularly written: “Miss Kate Bonnet, Kingston, Ja.”
Dickory sat upright, his eyes hard-fixed and burning. How long he sat he knew not. How long his brain burned inwardly, as his eyes burned outwardly, he knew not. The noise of the watch going on deck roused him, and in a moment he had the letter in his hands.
All that day Dickory Charter was worth nothing to anybody. Blackbeard swore at him and pushed him aside. The young fellow could not even count the doubloons in a bag.
“Go to!” cried the pirate, blacker and more fantastically horrible than ever, for his bare left shoulder was bound with a scarf of silk and his great arm was streaked and bedabbled with his blood, “you are the most cursed coward I have met with in all my days at sea. So frightened out of your wits by a lively brush as that of yesterday! Too scared to count gold! Never saw I that before. One might be too scared to pray, but to count gold! Ha! ha!” and the bold pirate laughed a merry roar. He was in good spirits; he had captured and sunk an English man-of-war; sunk her with her English ensign floating above her. How it would have overjoyed him if all the ships, little and big, that plied the Spanish Main could have seen him sink that man-of-war. He was a merry man that morning, the great Blackbeard, triumphant in victory, glowing with the king’s brandy, and with so little pain from that cut in his shoulder that he could waste no thought upon it.
“But Eliza will like it well,” continued the merry pirate; “she will lead you with a string, be you bold or craven, and the less you pull at it the easier it will be for my brave girl. Ah! she will dance with joy when I tell her what a frightened rabbit of a husband it is that I give her. Now get away somewhere, and let your face rid itself of its paleness; and should you find a dead man lying where he has been overlooked, come and tell me and I will have him put aside. You must not be frightened any more or Eliza may find that you have not left even the spirit of a rabbit.”