Ben grinned, but seeing the temper his master was in, thought it wise to retire.
AN UNSUCCESSFUL ERRAND
For what seemed a very long time to Kate Bonnet, Dickory Charter paddled bravely through the darkness. She was relieved of the terror and the uncertainty which had fallen upon her during the past few hours, and she was grateful to the brave young fellow who had delivered her from the danger of sailing out upon the sea with a crew of wicked scoundrels who were about to steal her father’s ship, and her heart should have beaten high with gratitude and joy, but it did not. She was very cold, and she knew not whither young Dickory was taking her. She did not believe that in all that darkness he could possibly know where he was going; at any moment that dreadful ship might loom up before them, and lights might be flashed down upon them. But all of a sudden the canoe scraped, grounded, and stopped.
“What is that?” she cried.
“It is our beach,” said Dickory, and almost at that moment there came a call from the darkness beyond.
“Dickory!” cried a woman’s voice, “is that you?”
“It is my mother,” said the boy; “she has heard the scraping of my keel.”
Then he shouted back, “It is Dickory; please show me a light, mother!”
Jumping out, Dickory pulled the canoe high up the shelving shore, and then he helped Kate to get out. It was not an easy job, for she could see nothing and floundered terribly; but he seemed to like it, and half led, half carried her over a considerable space of uneven ground, until he came to the door of a small house, where stood an elderly woman with a lantern.
“Dickory! Dickory!” shouted the woman, “what is that you are bringing home? Is it a great fish?”
“It is a young woman,” said the boy, “but she is as wet as a fish.”
“Woman!” cried good Dame Charter. “What mean you, Dickory, is she dead?”
“Not dead, Mother Charter,” said Kate, who now stood, unassisted, in the light of the lantern, “but in woeful case, and more like to startle you than if I were the biggest fish. I am Mistress Kate Bonnet, just out of the river between here and the town. No, I will not enter your house, I am not fit; I will stand here and tell my tale.”
“Dickory!” shouted Dame Charter, “take the lantern and run to the kitchen cabin, where ye’ll make a fire quickly.”
Away ran Dickory, and standing in the darkness, Kate Bonnet told her tale. It was not a very satisfactory tale, for there was a great part of it which Kate herself did not understand, but it sufficed at present for the good dame, who had known the girl when she was small, and who was soon busily engaged in warming her by her fire, refreshing her with food, and in fortifying her against the effects of her cold bath by a generous glass of rum, made, the good woman earnestly asserted, from sugar-cane grown on Master Bonnet’s plantation.