“Oho!” cried Captain Ichabod, “by my life I believe it. That’s the young fellow that Blackbeard dressed up in a cocked hat and took away with him.”
“I am the same person, sir,” said Dickory.
“So far so good,” said Captain Ichabod. “I am very glad that I did not bring down my cutlass on you, which I should have done, bedad, had it not been for this young woman.”
Now up spoke Mr. Delaplaine. “We have found you, Dickory,” he cried, “but what can you tell us of Major Bonnet?”
“Ay, ay,” added Captain Ichabod, “there’s another one we’re after; where’s the runaway Sir Nightcap?”
“Alas!” said Dickory, “I do not know. I escaped from Blackbeard, and since that day have heard nothing. I had supposed that Captain Bonnet was in your company, Mr. Delaplaine.”
Now the captain of the Black Swan pushed himself forward. “Is it Captain Bonnet, lately of the pirate ship Revenge, that you’re talking about?” he asked. “If so, I may tell you something of him. I am lately from Charles Town, and the talk there was that Blackbeard was lying outside the harbour in Stede Bonnet’s old vessel, and that Bonnet had lately joined him. I did not venture out of port until I had had certain news that these pirates had sailed northward. They had two or three ships, and the talk was that they were bound to the Virginias, and perhaps still farther north. They were fitted out for a long cruise.”
“Gone again!” exclaimed Mr. Delaplaine in a hoarse voice. “Gone again!”
Captain Ichabod’s face grew clouded.
“Gone north of Charles Town,” he exclaimed, “that’s bad, bedad, that’s very bad. You are sure he did not sail southward?” he asked of the captain of the brig.
That gruff mariner was in a strange state of mind. He had just been captured by a pirate, and in the next moment had made, what might be a very profitable sale, to a respectable merchant, of the goods the pirate was about to take from him. Moreover, the said pirate seemed to be in the employ of said merchant, and altogether, things seemed to him to be in as fearsome a mix as they had seemed to Captain Ichabod, but he brought his mind down to the question he had been asked.
“No doubt about that,” said he; “there were some of his men in the town—for they are afraid of nobody—and they were not backward in talking.”
“That upsets things badly,” said Captain Ichabod, without unclouding his brow. “With my slow vessel and my empty purse, bedad, I don’t see how I am ever goin’ to catch Blackbeard if he has gone north. Finding Blackbeard would have been a handful of trumps to me, but the game seems to be up, bedad.”
The captain of the brig and Ichabod’s quarter-master went away to attend to the transfer of the needed goods to the Restless. Mander, with his wife and little daughter, were standing together gazing with amazement at the strange pirates who had come aboard, while Lucilla stepped up to Dickory, who stood silent, with his eyes on the deck.