Wise Mr. Delaplaine!
The very next morning there came a letter from Stede Bonnet to his daughter Kate, in which he told her that it was absolutely impossible for him to return to the humdrum and stupid life of sugar-planting and cattle-raising. Having tasted the glories of a pirate’s career, he could never again be contented with plain country pursuits. So he was off and away, the bounding sea beneath him and the brave Jolly Roger floating over his head. He would not tell his dear daughter where he was gone or what he intended to do, for she would be happier if she did not know. He sent her his warmest love, and desired to be most kindly remembered to her uncle and to Dame Charter. He would make it his business that a correspondence should be maintained between him and his dear Kate, and he hoped from time to time to send her presents which would help her to know how constantly he loved her. He concluded by admitting that what he had said about Ben Greenway was merely a blind to turn their suspicions from his intended departure. If his good brother-in-law, out of kindness to the Scotchman, had brought him to the Belinda and had insisted on keeping him there, it would have made his, Bonnet’s, secret departure a great deal easier.
Kate had never fainted in her life, but when she had finished this letter she went down flat on her back.
Leaving his niece to the good offices of Dame Charter, Mr. Delaplaine, breathing hotly, went ashore, accompanied by the captain. When they reached the storehouse they found it locked, with the key in the custody of a shop-keeper near-by. They soon heard what had happened to Blackbeard’s business agent. He had gone off in a piratical vessel, which had sailed for somewhere, in the middle of the night; and, moreover, it was believed that the Scotchman who worked for him had gone with him, for he had been seen running towards the water, and afterward taking his place among the oarsmen in a boat which went out to the departing vessel.
“May that unholy vessel be sunk as soon as it reaches the open sea!” was the deadly desire which came from the heart of Mr. Delaplaine. But the wish had not formed itself into words before the good merchant recanted. “I totally forgot that faithful Scotchman,” he sighed.
DICKORY STRETCHES HIS LEGS
There were jolly times on board the swift ship Revenge as she sped through the straits of Florida on her way up the Atlantic coast. The skies were bright, the wind was fair, and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream helped to carry her bravely on her way. But young Dickory Charter, with the blood-stained letter of Captain Vince tucked away in the lining of his coat, ate so little, tossed about so much in his berth, turned so pale and spoke so seldom, that the bold Captain Blackbeard declared that he should have some medicine.
“I shall not let my fine lieutenant suffer for want of drugs,” he cried, “and when I reach Charles Town I shall send ashore a boat and procure some; and if the citizens disturb or interfere with my brave fellows, I’ll bombard the town. There will be medicine to take on one side or the other, I swear.” And loud and ready were the oaths he swore.