“Oh, don’t talk about that, Dame Charter,” said Kate; “if we can get enough to eat, no matter what it is, we must be satisfied and think only of our great joy in sailing to my father and to your Dickory.”
That afternoon Captain Ichabod found Kate by herself on deck, and he made bold to sit down by her; and before he knew what he was about, he was telling her his whole story. She listened carefully to what he said. He touched but lightly upon his wickednesses, although they were plain enough to any listener of sense, and bemoaned his fearful passion for gaming, which was sure to bring him to misery one day or another.
“When I have staked my vessel and have lost it,” said he, “then there will be an end of me.”
“But why don’t you sell your vessel before you lose it,” said Kate, “and become a farmer?”
His eyes brightened. “I never thought of that,” said he. “Bedad—excuse me, Miss—some day when I’ve got a little together and can pay my men I’ll sell this sloop and buy a farm, bedad—I beg your pardon, Miss—I’ll buy a farm.”
Kate smiled, but it was easy to see that Captain Ichabod was in earnest.
The next day Captain Ichabod came to Mr. Delaplaine and took him to one side. “I want to speak to you,” he said, “about a bit of business.”
“You may have noticed, sir, that we are somewhat short of provisions, and the way of it is this. The night before we sailed, hoping to make a bold stroke at the card-table and thereby fit out my vessel in a manner suitable to the entertainment of a gentleman and ladies, I lost every penny I had. I did hope that our provisions would last us a few days longer, but I am disappointed, sir. That cook of mine, who is a soft-hearted fellow, his neck always ready for the heel of a woman, has thrown overboard even the few stores we had left for you, the good Dame Charter having told him they were not fit to eat. And more, sir, even my men are grumbling. So I thought I would speak to you and explain that it would be necessary for us to overhaul a merchantman and replenish our food supply. It can be done very quietly, sir, and I don’t think that even the ladies need be disturbed.”
Mr. Delaplaine stared in amazement. “Do you mean to say,” he exclaimed, “that you want me to consent to your committing piracy for our benefit?”
“Yes, sir,” answered the captain, “that’s what I suppose you would call it; but that’s my business.”
“Now, sir, I wish you to know that I am a Christian and a gentleman,” said Mr. Delaplaine.
“That’s all very true, bedad,” said Captain Ichabod, “but you’re also another thing; you’re a human being, and you must eat.”
“This is terrible,” exclaimed the merchant, “that at my time of life I should consent to a felony at sea, and to profit by it. I cannot bear to think of the wickedness and the disgrace of it.”