“Prize-money!” exclaimed Greenway. “I hae none o’ it, nor will I hae any. What money I hae—an’ it is but little—came to me fairly.”
“Oho!” cried Blackbeard, “and you have money then, have you? Is it enough to make it worth my while to take it?”
“Ye can count it an’ see, whenever ye like,” said Ben. “But it isna money that I came to talk to ye about. I came to ask ye, at the first convenient season, to put me on board that ship out there, that I may be in my rightful place by the side o’ Master Bonnet.”
“And what good are you to him, or he to you,” asked the pirate, with a fine long oath, “that I should put myself to that much trouble?”
“I have the responsibeelity o’ his soul on my hands,” said Ben, “an’ since we left Charles Town I hae not seen him, he bein’ on ane ship an’ I on anither.”
“And very well that is too,” said Blackbeard, “for I like each of you better separate. And now look ye, me kirk bird, you have not done very well with your ‘responsibeelities’ so far, and you might as well make up your mind to stop trying to convert that sneak of a Nightcap and take up the business of converting me. I’m in great need of it, I can tell you.”
“You!” cried Ben.
“I tell you, yes,” shouted Blackbeard, “it is I, myself, that I am talking about. I want to be converted from the evil of my ways, and I have made up my mind that you shall do it. You are a good and a pious man, and it is not often that I get hold of one of that kind; or, if I do, I slice off his head before I discover his quality.”
“I fear me,” said the truthful Scotchman, “that the job is beyond my abeelity.”
“Not a bit of it, not a bit of it,” shouted the pirate. “I am fifty times easier to work upon than that Nightcap man of yours, and a hundred times better worth the trouble. I put no trust in that downfaced farmer. When he shouts loudest for the black flag he is most likely to go into priestly orders, and the better is he reformed the quicker is he to rob and murder. He is of the kind the devil wants, but it is of no use for any one to show him the way there, he is well able to find it for himself. But it is different with me, you canny Scotchman, it is different with me. I am an open-handed and an open-mouthed scoundrel, and I never pretended to be anything else. When you begin reforming me you will find your work half done.”
The Scotchman shook his head. “I fear me—” he said.
“No, you don’t fear yourself,” cried Blackbeard, “and I won’t have it; I don’t want any of that lazy piety on board my vessel. If you don’t reform me, and do it rightly, I’ll slice off both your ears.”
At this moment a man came aft, carrying a great tankard of mixed drink. Blackbeard took it and held it in his hand.
“Now then, you balking chaplain,” he cried, “here’s a chance for you to begin. What would you have me do? Drain off this great mug and go slashing among my crew, or hurl it, mug and all—”