There was no prison-house in Charles Town, but Stede Bonnet’s wicked crew, including Ben Greenway—for his captors were not making any distinctions in regard to common men taken on a pirate ship—were clapped into the watch-house—and a crowded and uncomfortable place it was—and put under a heavy and military guard. The authorities were, however, making distinctions where gentlemen of family and owners of landed estates were concerned, no matter if they did happen to be taken on a pirate ship, and Major Bonnet of Barbadoes was lodged in the provost marshal’s house, in comfortable quarters, with only two sentinels outside to make him understand he was a prisoner.
The capture of this celebrated pirate created a sensation in Charles Town, and many of the citizens were not slow to pay the unfortunate prisoner the attentions due to his former position in society. He was very well satisfied with his treatment in Charles Town, which city he had never before had the pleasure of visiting.
The attentions paid to Ben Greenway were not pleasing; sometimes he was shoved into one corner and sometimes into another. He frequently had enough to eat and drink, but very often this was not the case. Bonnet never inquired after him. If he thought of him at all, he hoped that he had been killed in the fight, for if that were the case he would be rid of his eternal preachments.
Greenway made known the state of his own case whenever he had a chance to do so, but his complaints received no attention, and he might have remained with the crew of the Royal James as long as they were shut up in the watch-house had not some of the hairy cut-throats themselves taken pity upon him and assured the guards that this man was not one of them, and that they knew from what they had heard him say and seen him do that there was no more determined enemy of piracy in all the Western continent. So it happened, that after some weeks of confinement Greenway was let out of the watch-house and allowed to find quarters for himself.
The first day the Scotchman was free he went to the provost-marshal’s house and petitioned an interview with his old master, Bonnet.
“Heigho!” cried the latter, who was comfortably seated in a chair reading a letter. “And where do you come from, Ben Greenway? I had thought you were dead and buried in the Cape Fear River.”
“Ye did not think I was dead,” replied Ben, “when I seized ye an’ held ye an’ kept ye from buryin’ yoursel’ in that same river.”
Bonnet waved his hand. “No more of that,” said he; “I was unfortunate, but that is over now and things have turned out better than any man could have expected.”
“Better!” exclaimed Ben. “I vow I know not what that means.”
Bonnet laughed. He was looking very well; he was shaved, and wore a neat suit of clothes.
“Ben Greenway,” said he, “you are now looking upon a man of high distinction. At this moment I am the greatest pirate on the face of the earth. Yes, Greenway, the greatest pirate on the face of the earth. I have a letter here, which was received by the provost-marshal and which he gave me to read, which tells that Blackbeard, the first pirate of his age, is dead. Therefore, Ben Greenway, I take his place, and there is no living pirate greater than I am.”