After a time Dickory stopped running, for his path, always straight away, so far as he could judge, from the landing-place, became very difficult. In the forest there were streams, sometimes narrow and sometimes wide, and how deep he knew not, so that now he jumped, now he walked on fallen trees. Sometimes he crossed water and marsh by swinging himself from the limbs of one tree to those of another. This was hard work for a young gentleman in a naval uniform and cocked hat, but it had to be done; and when the hat was knocked off it was picked up again, with its feathers dripping.
Dickory was going somewhere, although he knew not whither, and he had solemn business to perform which he had sworn to do, and therefore he must have fit clothes to wear, not only in which to travel but in which to present himself suitably when he should accomplish his mission. All these things Dickory thought of, and he picked up his cocked hat whenever it dropped. He would have been very hungry had he not bethought himself to fill his pockets with biscuits before he left the vessel. And as to fresh water, there was no lack of that.
A GIRL WHO LAUGHED
It was towards nightfall of the day on which Dickory had escaped from the pirates at the spring that he found himself on a piece of high ground in an open place in the forest, and here he determined to spend the night. With his dirk he cut a quantity of palmetto leaves and made himself a very comfortable bed, on which he was soon asleep, fearing no pirates.
In the morning he rose early from his green couch, ate the few biscuits which were left in his pockets, and, putting on his shoes and stockings, started forth upon, what might have been supposed to be, an aimless tramp.
But it was not aimless. Dickory had a most wholesome dread of that indomitable apostle of cruelty and wickedness, the pirate Blackbeard. He believed that it would be quite possible for that savage being to tie up his beard in tails, to blacken his face with powder, to hang more pistols from his belt and around his neck, and swear that the Revenge should never leave her anchorage until her first lieutenant had been captured and brought back to her. So he had an aim, and that was to get away as far as possible from the spot where he had landed on the island.
He did not believe that his pursuers, if there were any upon his track, could have travelled in the night, for it had been pitchy black; and, as he now had a good start of them, he thought he might go so far that they would give up the search. Then he hoped to be able to keep himself alive until he was reasonably sure that the Revenge had hoisted anchor and sailed away, when it was his purpose to make his way back to the spring and wait for some other vessel which would take him away.
With his shoes on he travelled more easily, although not so swiftly, and after an hour of very rough walking he heard a sound which made him stop instantly and listen. At first he thought it might be the wind in the trees, but soon his practised ear told him that it was the sound of the surf upon the beach. Without the slightest hesitation, he made his way as quickly as possible towards the sound of the sea.