With his face buried in his folded arms, which rested on the table, Stede Bonnet received his daughter. At first she did not recognise him, never having seen him in such mean apparel; but when he raised his head, she knew her father. Closing the door behind her, she folded him in her arms. After a little, leaving the window, they sat together upon a bale of goods, which happened to be a rug from the Orient, of wondrous richness, which Bonnet had reserved for the floor of his daughter’s room.
“Never, my dear,” he said, “did I dream you would see me in such plight. I blush that you should look at me.”
“Blush!” she exclaimed, her own cheeks reddening, “and you an honest man and no longer a freebooter and rover of the sea? My heart swells with pride to think that your life is so changed.”
Bonnet sadly shook his head.
“Ah!” he said, “you don’t know, you cannot understand what I feel. Kate,” he exclaimed with sudden energy, “I was a man among men; a chief over many. I was powerful, I was obeyed on every side. I looked the bold captain that I was; my brave uniform and my sword betokened the rank I held. And, Kate, you can never know the pride and exultation with which I stood upon my quarter-deck and scanned the sea, master of all that might come within my vision. How my heart would swell and my blood run wild when I beheld in the distance a proud ship, her sails all spread, her colours flying, heavily laden, hastening onward to her port. How I would stretch out my arm to that proud ship and say: ’Let down those sails, drop all those flaunting flags, for you are mine; I am greater than your captain or your king! If I give the command, down you go to the bottom with all your people, all your goods, all your banners and emblazonments, down to the bottom, never to be seen again!’”
[Illustration: Kate and her father in the warehouse.]
Kate shuddered and began to cry. “Oh, father!” she exclaimed, “don’t say that. Surely you never did such things as that?”
“No,” said he, speaking more quietly, “not just like that, but I could have done it all had it pleased me, and it was this sense of power that made my heart beat so proudly. I took no life, Kate, if it could be helped, and when I had stripped a ship of her goods, I put her people upon shore before I burned her.”
Kate bowed her head in her hands. “And of all this you are proud, my father, you are proud of it!”
“Indeed am I, daughter,” said he; “and had you seen me in my glory you would have been proud of me. Perhaps yet—”
In an instant she had clapped her hand over his mouth. “You shall not say it!” she exclaimed. “I have seized upon you and I shall hold you. No more freebooter’s life for you; no more blood, no more fire. I shall take you away with me. Not to Bridgetown, for there is no happiness for either of us there, but to Spanish Town. There, with my uncle, we shall all be happy together. You will forget the sea and its ships; you will again wander over your fields, and I shall be with you. You shall watch the waving crops; you shall ride with me, as you used to ride, to view your vast herds of cattle—those splendid creatures, their great heads uplifted, their nostrils to the breeze.”