“My dear, we are about to introduce a little variety into our dull lives. As soon as we can overhaul a merchantman we shall commit a piracy. But don’t turn pale; I have arranged it all.”
“You!” exclaimed the wide-eyed Kate.
“Yes,” said her uncle, and he told his tale.
“And remember this, my dear,” he added; “if we cannot pay, we do not eat. I shall be as relentless as the bloody Blackbeard; if they take not my money, I shall swear to Ichabod that we touch not their goods.”
“And are you sure,” she said, “that there will be no bloodshed?”
“I vouch for that,” said he, “for I shall lead the boarding party.”
She took him by both hands. “Why,” she said, “it need be no more than laying in goods from a store-house; and I cannot but be glad, dear uncle, for I am so very, very hungry.”
Now Dame Charter came running and puffing. “Do you know,” she cried, “that there is to be a piracy? The word has just been passed and the cook told me. There is to be no bloodshed, and the other ship will not be burned and the people will not be made to walk a plank. The captain has given those orders, and he is very firm, swearing, I am told, much more than is his wont. It is dreadful, it is awful just to think about, but the provisions are gone, and it is absolutely necessary to do something, and it will really be very exciting. The cook tells me he will put me in a good place where I cannot be hurt and where I shall see everything. And, Mistress Kate and Master Delaplaine, I dare say he can take care of you too.”
Kate looked at her uncle as if to ask if she might tell the good woman what sort of a piracy this was to be, but he shook his head. It would not do to interfere any more than was necessary with the regular progress of events. The captain came up, excited. “Even now, bedad,” he cried, “there are two sails in sight—one far north, and the other to the eastward, beating up this way. This one we shall make for. We have the wind with us, which is a good thing, for the Restless is a bad sailer and has lost many a prize through that fault. And now, Miss,” he said, addressing Kate, “I shall have to ask your leave to take down that English flag and run up our Jolly Roger. It will be necessary, for if the fellows fear not our long guns, they may change their course and get away from us.”
“That will be right,” said Kate; “if we’re going to be pirates, we might as well be pirates out and out.”
Captain Ichabod glowed with delight. “What a girl this was, and what an uncle!”
It was not long, for the Restless had a fair wind, before the sail to the eastward came fully into sight. She was, in good truth, a merchantman, and not a large one. Dame Charter, very much excited, wondered what she would have on board.
“The cook tells me,” said she to Kate, “that sometimes ships from the other side of the ocean carry the most astonishing and beautiful things.”