“I doubt that,” said Ben sturdily. “Would ye cut down an’ murder the innocent? Would ye drive them upon an unsteady plank an’ make them walk into the sea? Could ye raise thy great sword upon the widow an’ the orphan?”
“No more of this disloyal speech,” shouted Bonnet, “or I will put you upon a wavering plank and make you walk into the sea.”
Now Greenway laughed.
“An’ if ye did,” he said, “ye would next jump upon the plank yoursel’ an’ slide swiftly into the waves, that ye might save your old friend an’ servant, knowin’ he canna swim.”
“Ben Greenway,” said Bonnet, folding his arms and knitting his brows, “I will not suffer such speech from you. I would sooner have on board a Presbyterian parson.”
“An’ a happier fate couldna befall ye,” said Ben, “for ye need a parson mair than ony mon I know.”
Bonnet looked at him for a moment.
“You think so?” said he.
“Indeed I do,” said Ben, with unction.
“There now,” cried Bonnet, “I told you, Ben, that I could be wicked upon occasion, and now you have acknowledged it. Upon my word, I can be wickeder than common, as you shall see when good fortune helps us to overhaul a prize.”
The Revenge had been at sea for about a week and all had gone well, except she had taken no prizes. The crew had been obedient and fairly orderly, and if they made fun of their farmer-captain behind his back, they showed no disrespect when his eyes were upon them. The fact was that the most of them had a very great respect for him as the capitalist of the ship’s company.
Big Sam had early begun to sound the temper of the men, but they had not cared to listen to him. Good fare they had and generous treatment, and the less they thought of Bonnet as a navigator and commander, the more they thought of his promises of rich spoils to be fairly divided with them when they should capture a Spanish galleon or any well-laden merchantman bound for the marts of Europe. In fact, when such good luck should befall them, they would greatly prefer to find themselves serving under Bonnet than under Big Sam. The latter was known as a greedy scoundrel, who would take much and give little, being inclined, moreover, to cheat his shipmates out of even that little if the chance came to him. Even Black Paul, who was an old comrade of Big Sam—the two having done much wickedness together—paid no heed to his present treasons.
“Let the old fool alone,” he said; “we fare well, and our lives are easy, having three men to do the work of one. So say I, let us sail on and make merry with his good rum; his money-chest is heavy yet.”
“That’s what I’m thinking of,” said the sailing-master. “Why should I be coursing about here looking for prizes with that chest within reach of my very arm whenever I choose it?”
Black Paul grinned and said to himself: “It is your arm, old Sam, that I am afraid of.” Then aloud: “No, let him go. Let us profit by our good treatment as long as it lasts, and then we will talk about the money-box.”