“Father!” cried Kate, “what has happened to you? I never saw such a fine gentleman.”
Bonnet smiled with complacency, and removed his cocked hat.
“I always endeavour, my dear,” said he, “to dress myself according to my station. Yesterday, not expecting to see you, I was in a sad plight. I would have preferred you to meet me in my naval uniform, but as that is now, to say the least, inconvenient, and as I reside on shore in the capacity of a merchant or business man, I attire myself to suit my present condition. Ah! my good brother-in-law, I am glad to see you. I may remark,” he added, graciously shaking hands with Dame Charter, “that I left my faithful Scotchman in our storehouse in the town, it being necessary for some one to attend to our possessions there. Otherwise I should have brought him with me, my good Dame Charter, for I am sure you would have found his company acceptable. He is a faithful man and an honest one, although I am bound to say that if he were less of a Presbyterian and more of a man of the world his conversation might sometimes be more agreeable.”
Mr. Delaplaine regarded with much earnestness and no little pleasure his transformed brother-in-law. Hope for the future now filled his heart. If this crack-brained sugar-planter had really recovered from his mania for piracy and had a fancy for legitimate business, his new station might be better for him than any he had yet known. Sugar-planting was all well enough and suitable to any gentleman, provided Madam Bonnet were not taken with it. She would drive any man from the paths of reason unless he possessed an uncommonly strong brain, and he did not believe that such a brain was possessed by his brother-in-law Bonnet. The good Mr. Delaplaine rubbed his hands together in his satisfaction. Such a gentleman as this would be welcome in his counting-house, even if he did but little; his very appearance would reflect credit upon the establishment. Dame Charter kept in the background; she had never been accustomed to associate with the aristocracy, but she did not forget that a cat may look at a king, and her eyes were very good.
“There were always little cracks in his skull,” she said to herself. “My husband used to tell me that. Major Bonnet is quick at changing from one thing to another, and it needs sharp wits to follow him.”
After a time Major Bonnet proposed a row upon the harbour—he had brought a large boat, with four oarsmen, for this purpose. Mr. Delaplaine objected a little to this, fearing the presence of so many pirate vessels, but Bonnet loftily set aside such puerile objections.
“I am the business representative of the great Blackbeard,” he said, “the most powerful pirate in the world. You are safer here than in any other port on the American coast.”
When they were out upon the water, moving against the gentle breeze, Bonnet disclosed the object of his excursion. “I am going to take you,” said he, “to visit some of the noted pirate ships which are anchored in this harbour. There are vessels here which are quite famous, and commanded by renowned Brethren of the Coast. I think you will all be greatly interested in these, and under my convoy you need fear no danger.”