Away sailed our gentle and most respectable party, with the Jolly Roger floating boldly high above them. Kate, looking skyward, noticed this and took courage to bewail the fact to Captain Ichabod.
He smiled. “While we’re in sight of my Brethren of the Coast,” he said, “our skull and bones must wave, but when we’re well out at sea we will run up an English flag, if it please you.”
DAME CHARTER MAKES A FRIEND
Captain Ichabod was in high feather. He whistled, he sang, and he kept his men cleaning things. All that he could do for the comfort of his passengers he did, even going so far as to drop as many of his “bedads” as possible. Whenever he had an opportunity, and these came frequently, he talked to Mr. Delaplaine, addressing a word or two to Kate if he thought she looked gracious. For the first day or two Dame Charter kept below. She was afraid of the men, and did not even want to look at them if she could help it.
“But the good woman’s all wrong,” said Captain Ichabod to Mr. Delaplaine; “my men would not hurt her. They’re not the most tremendous kind of pirates, anyway, for I could not afford that sort. I have often thought that I could make more profitable voyages if I had a savager lot of men. I’ll tell you, sir, we once tried to board a big Spanish galleon, and the beastly foreigners beat us off, bedad, and we had a hard time of it gettin’ away. There are three or four good fellows in the crew, tough old rascals who came with the sloop when I bought her, but most of my men are but poor knaves, and not to be afraid of.”
This comfort Mr. Delaplaine kept to himself, and on the second day out, the food which was served to them being most wretchedly cooked, Dame Charter ventured into the galley to see if she could do anything in the way of improvement.
“I think you may eat this,” she said, when she returned to Kate, “but I don’t think that anything on board is fit for you. When I went to the kitchen, I came near dropping dead right in the doorway; that cook, Mistress Kate, is the most terrible creature of all the pirates that ever were born. His eyes are blistering green and his beard is all twisted into points, with the ends stuck fast with blood, which has never been washed off. He roars like a lion, with shining teeth, but he speaks very fair, Mistress Kate; you would be amazed to hear how fair he speaks. He told me, and every word he said set my teeth on edge with its grating, that he wanted to know how I liked the meals cooked; that he would do it right if there were things on board to do it with. Which there are not, Mistress Kate. And when he was beatin’ up that batter for me and I asked him if he was not tired workin’ so hard, he pulled up his sleeve and showed me his arm, which was like a horse’s leg, all covered with hair, and asked me if I thought it was likely he could tear himself with a spoon. I’m sure he would give us better food if he could, for he leaned over and whispered to me, like a gust of wind coming in through the door, that the captain was in a very hard case, having lately lost everything he had at the gaming-table, and therefore had not the money to store the ship as he would have done.”