Now society, both in Spanish Town and Kingston, opened its arms and insisted that the fair star of Barbadoes should enter them, and there were parties and dances and dinners, and it might have been supposed that everybody had been a father or a mother to a prodigal son, so genial and joyful were the festivities—Kate high above all others.
At some of these social functions Dickory Charter was present, but it is doubtful whether he was happier when he saw Kate surrounded by gay admirers or when he was at home imagining what was going on about her.
There was but one cloud in the midst of all this sunshine, and that was that Mr. Delaplaine, Dame Charter, and her son Dickory could not forget that it was now in the line of events that Stede Bonnet would soon be with them, and beyond that all was chaos.
And over the seas sailed the good ship the Royal James, Captain Thomas in command.
THE TIDE DECIDES
It was now September, and the weather was beautiful on the North Carolina coast. Captain Thomas (late Bonnet) of the Royal James (late Revenge) had always enjoyed cool nights and invigorating morning air, and therefore it was that he said to his faithful servitor, Ben Greenway, when first he stepped out upon the deck as his vessel lay comfortably anchored in a little cove in the Cape Fear River, that he did not remember ever having been in a more pleasant harbour. This well-tried pirate captain—Stede Bonnet, as we shall call him, notwithstanding his assumption of another name—was in a genial mood as he drank in the morning air.
From his point of view he had a right to be genial; he had a right to be pleased with the scenery and the air; he had a right to swear at the Scotchman, and to ask him why he did not put on a merrier visage on such a sparkling morning, for since he had first started out as Captain Thomas of the Royal James he had been a most successful pirate. He had sailed up the Virginia coast; he had burned, he had sunk, he had robbed, he had slain; he had gone up the Delaware Bay, and the people in ships and the people on the coasts trembled even when they heard that his black flag had been sighted.
No man could now say that the former captain of the Revenge was not an accomplished and seasoned desperado. Even the great Blackbeard would not have cared to give him nicknames, nor dared to play his blithesome tricks upon him; he was now no more Captain Nightcap to any man. His crew of hairy ruffians had learned to understand that he knew what he wanted, and, more than that, he knew how to order it done. They listened to his great oaths and they respected him. This powerful pirate now commanded a small fleet, for in the cove where lay his flag-ship also lay two good-sized sloops, manned by their own crews, which he had captured in Delaware Bay and had brought down with him to this quiet spot, a few miles up the Cape Fear River, where now he was repairing his own ship, which had had a hard time of it since she had again come into his hands.