“An’ ye pride yoursel’ on that, an’ at this moment?” asked Ben, truly amazed.
“That do I,” said Bonnet. “And think of it, Ben Greenway, that presumptuous, overbearing Blackbeard was killed, and his head brought away sticking up on the bow of a vessel. What a rare sight that must have been, Ben! Think of his long beard, all tied up with ribbons, stuck up on the bow of a ship!”
“An’ ye are now the head de’il on earth?” said Ben.
“You can put it that way, if you like,” said Bonnet, “but I am not so looked upon in this town. I am an honoured person. I doubt very much if any prisoner in this country was ever treated with the distinction that is shown me, but I don’t wonder at it; I have the reputation of two great pirates joined in one—the pirate Bonnet, of the dreaded ship Revenge, and the terrible Thomas of the Royal James. My man, there are people in this town who have been to me and who have said that a man so famous should not even be imprisoned. I have good reason to believe that it will not be long before pardon papers are made out for me, and that I may go my way.”
“An’ your men?” asked Greenway. “Will they go free or will they be hung like common pirates?”
Bonnet frowned impatiently. “I don’t want to hear anything about the men,” he said; “of course they will be hung. What could be done with them if they were not hung? But it is entirely different with me. I am a most respectable person, and, now that I am willing to resign my piratical career, having won in it all the glory that can come to one man, that respectability must be considered.”
“Weel, weel,” said the Scotchman; “an’ when it comes that respectabeelity is better for a man’s soul an’ body than righteousness, then I am no fit counsellor for ye, Master Bonnet,” and he took his leave.
The next morning, when Ben Greenway left his lodging he found the town in an uproar. The pirate Bonnet had bribed his sentinels and, with some others, had escaped. Ben stood still and stamped his foot. Such infamy, such perfidy to the authorities who had treated him so well, the Scotchman could not at first imagine, but when the truth became plain to him, his face glowed, his eye burned; this vile conduct of his old master was a triumph to Ben’s principles. Wickedness was wickedness, and could not be washed away by respectability.
The days passed on; Bonnet was recaptured, more securely imprisoned, put upon trial, found guilty, and, in spite of the efforts of the advocates of respectability, was condemned to be hung on the same spot where nearly all the members of his pirate crew had been executed.
During all this time Ben Greenway kept away from his old master; he had borne ill-treatment of every kind, but the deception practised upon him when, at his latest interview, Bonnet talked to him of his respectability, having already planned an escape and return to his evil ways, was too much for the honest Scotchman. He had done with this man, faithless to friend and foe, to his own blood, and even to his own bad reputation.