Madam Bonnet went into her house, and if she had met a maid-servant, it might have been bad for that poor woman. She was not troubled about Kate. She knew the young man to be Dickory Charter, and she was quite sure that her step-daughter was in his mother’s cottage. Why she happened to be there, and what had become of the recreant Bonnet, the equally recreant young woman could come and tell her whenever she saw fit.
A PAIR OF SHOES AND STOCKINGS
The tide was running down, and Dickory made a swift passage to the town. Seeing on the pier the man from whom he had borrowed the rope, he stopped to return him his property, and thinking that the good people of the town should know that, no matter what had befallen Major Bonnet, his daughter had not gone with him and was safe among friends, he mentioned these facts to the man, but with very few details, being in a hurry to return with his message.
Before he turned into the inlet, Dickory was called from the shore, and to his surprise he saw his mother standing on the bank in front of a mass of bushes, which concealed her from her house.
“Come here, Dickory,” she said, “and tell me what you have heard?”
Her son told his doleful tale.
“I fear me, mother,” he said, “that Major Bonnet’s ship has gone on some secret and bad business, and that he is mixed up in it. Else why did he desert his daughter? And if he intended to take her with him, that was worse.”
“I don’t know, Dickory,” said good Dame Charter reflectively; “we must not be too quick to believe harm of our fellow-beings. It does look bad, as the townspeople thought, that Major Bonnet should own such a ship with such a strange crew, but he is a man who knows his own business, and may have had good reason for what he has done. He might have been sailing out to some foreign part to bring back a rich cargo, and needed stout men to defend it from the pirates that he might meet with on the seas.”
“But his daughter, mother,” said Dickory; “how could he have left her as he did? That was shameful, and even you must admit it.”
“Not so fast, Dickory,” said she; “there are other ways of looking at things than the way in which we look at them. He had intended to take Mistress Kate on a little trip; she told me that herself. And most likely, having changed his mind on account of the suspicions in the town, he sent word to her to return to her home, which message she did not get.”
“Yes, mother,” he said, “it might have been that way, but I don’t believe that he went of his own accord, and I don’t believe that he would take Ben Greenway with him. I think, mother, that they were both stolen with the ship.”