“Now go, my boys,” shouted Bonnet, “back to your places, every one of you, and fall to your duty; and in honour of that black flag which floats above you, each one of you shall drink a glass of grog.”
With another shout the crew hurried forward, and Stede Bonnet stood upon the quarter-deck, the pirate captain of the pirate ship Revenge.
And now stepped up to his master that good Presbyterian, Ben Greenway.
“An’ ye call yoursel’ a pirate, sir?” said he, “an’ ye go forth upon the sea to murder an’ to rob an’ to prepare your soul for hell?”
Mr. Bonnet winked a little.
“You speak strongly, Ben,” said he, “but that might have been expected from a man of your fashion of thinking. But let me tell you again, my good Ben Greenway, that I was no party to your being on this vessel. Even now, when my soul swells within me with the pride of knowing that I am a sovereign of the seas and that I owe no allegiance to any man or any government and that my will is my law and is the law of every man upon this vessel—even now, Ben Greenway, it grieves me to know that you are here with me. But the first chance I get I shall set you ashore and have you sent home. Thou art not cut out for a pirate, and as no other canst thou sail with me.”
Ben Greenway looked at him steadfastly.
“Master Stede Bonnet,” said he, “ye are no more fit to be a bloody pirate than I am. Ye oversee your plantation weel, although I hae often been persuaded that ye knew no’ as much as ye think ye do. Ye provide weel for your family, although ye tak’ no’ the pleasure therein ye might hae ta’en had ye been content wi’ ane wife, as the Holy Scriptures tell us is enough for ony mon, an’ ye hae sufficient judgment to tak’ the advice o’ a judgmatical mon about your lands an’ your herds; but when it comes to your ca’in’ yoursel’ a pirate captain, it is enough to make a deceased person chuckle by the absurdity o’ it.”
“Ben Greenway,” exclaimed Major Bonnet, “I don’t like your manner of speech.”
“O’ course ye don’t,” cried Ben; “an’ I didna expect ye to like it; but it is the solemn truth for a’ that.”
“I don’t want any of your solemn truths,” said Bonnet, “and as soon as I get a chance I am going to send you home to your barnyard and your cows.”
“No’ so fast, Master Bonnet, no’ so fast,” answered Ben. “I hae ta’en care o’ ye for mony years; I hae kept ye out o’ mony a bad scrape both in buyin’ an’ sellin’, an’ I am sure ye never wanted takin’ care o’ mair than ye do now; an’ I’m just here to tell ye that I am no’ goin’ back to Barbadoes till ye do, an’ that I am goin’ to stand by ye through your bad luck and through your good luck, in your sin an’ in your repentance.”
[Illustration: “If you talk to me like that I will cut you down where you stand!”]
“Ben Greenway,” cried Captain Bonnet, as he waved his sword in the air, “if you talk to me like that I will cut you down where you stand! You forget that you are not talking to a country gentleman, but to a pirate, a pirate of the seas!”