So on they fought, and the tide kept steadily rising. The five hours must pass at last, and the vessel which first floated would win the day.
The five hours did pass, and the Henry floated, and Bonnet swore louder and more fiercely than before. He roared to his men to fire and to fight, no matter whether they were still aground or not, and with many oaths he vowed that if any one of them showed but a sign of weakening he would cut him down upon the spot. But the hairy scoundrels who made up the crew of the Royal James had no idea of lying there with their ship on its side, while two other ships—for the Sea Nymph was now afloat—should sail around them, rake their decks, and shatter them to pieces. So the crew consulted together, despite their captain’s roars and oaths, and many of them counselled surrender. Their vessel was much farther inshore than the two others, and no matter what happened afterward they preferred to live longer than fifteen or twenty minutes.
But Bonnet quailed not before fate, before the enemy, or before his crew; if he heard another word of surrender he would fire the magazine and blow the ship to the sky with every man in it. Raising his cutlass in air, he was about to bring it down upon one of the cowards he berated, when suddenly he was seized by two powerful hands, which pinned his arms behind him. With a scream of rage, he turned his head and found that he was in the grasp of Ben Greenway.
“Let go your sword, Master Bonnet,” said Ben; “it is o’ no use to ye now, for ye canna get awa’ from me. I’m nae older than ye are, though I look it, an’ I’ve got the harder muscles. Ye may be makin’ your way steadily an’ surely to the gates o’ hell an’ it mayna be possible that I can prevent ye, but I’m not goin’ to let ye tumble in by accident so long as I’ve got two arms left to me.”
Pale, haggard, and writhing, Stede Bonnet was disarmed, and the Jolly Roger came down.
BONNET AND GREENWAY PART COMPANY
It was three days after this memorable combat—for the vessels engaged in it needed considerable repairs—when Mr. Rhett of Charles Town sailed down the Cape Fear River with his five vessels—the two with which he had entered it, the pirate Royal James, and the two prizes of the latter, which had waited quietly up the river to see how matters were going to turn out.
On the Henry sailed the pirate Thomas, now discovered to be the notorious Stede Bonnet, and a very quiet and respectful man he was. As has been seen before, Bonnet was a man able to adapt himself to circumstances. There never was a more demure counting-house clerk than was Bonnet at Belize; there never was an humbler dependent than the almost unnoticed Bonnet after he had joined Blackbeard’s fleet before Charles Town, and there never was a more deferential and respectful prisoner than Stede Bonnet on board the Henry. It was really touching to see how this cursing and raging pirate deported himself as a meek and uncomplaining gentleman.