A minute before this Captain Stede Bonnet had been in a very pleasant state of mind. It was only two days ago that he had captured a Spanish ship, from which he got great gain, including considerable stores of gold. Everything of value had been secured, the tall galleon had been burned, and its crew had been marooned on a barren spot on the coast of San Domingo. The spoils had been divided, at least every man knew what his share was to be, and the officers and the crew of the Revenge were in a well-contented state of mind. In fact, Captain Bonnet would not have sailed after a little brig, certainly unsuited to carry costly cargo, had it not been that his piratical principle made it appear to him a point of conscience to prey upon all mercantile craft, little or big, which might come in his way. Thus it was, that he was sailing merrily after the King and Queen, when Ben Greenway came to him with his disturbing words.
“What mean you?” cried Bonnet. “Know you that vessel?”
“Ay, weel,” said Ben, “it is the King and Queen, bound, doubtless, for Bridgetown. I tell ye, Master Bonnet, that it was a great deal o’ trouble an’ expense ye put yersel’ to when ye went into your present line o’ business on this ship. Ye could have stayed at hame, where she is owned, an’ wi’ these fine fellows that ye have gathered thegither, ye might have robbed your neebours right an’ left wi’out the trouble o’ goin’ to sea.”
“Ben Greenway,” roared the captain, “I will have no more of this. Is it not enough for me to be annoyed and worried by these everlasting ships of Bridgetown, which keep sailing across my bows, no matter in what direction I go, without hearing your jeers and sneers regarding the matter? I tell you, Ben Greenway, I will not have it. I will not suffer these paltry vessels, filled, perhaps, with the grocers and cloth dealers from my own town, to interfere thus with the bold career that I have chosen. I tell you, Ben Greenway, I’ll make an example of this one. I am a pirate, and I will let them know it—these fellows in their floating shops. It will be a fair and easy thing to sink this tub without more ado. I’d rather meet three Spanish ships, even had they naught aboard, than one of these righteous craft commanded by my most respectable friends and neighbours.”
Black Paul, the sailing-master, had approached and had heard the greater part of these remarks.
“Better board her and see what she carries,” said he, “before we sink her. The men have been talking about her and, many of them, favour not the trouble of marooning those on board of her. So, say most of us, let’s get what we can from her, and then quickly rid ourselves of her one way or another.”
“’Tis well!” cried Bonnet, “we can riddle her hull and sink her.”
“Wi’ the neebours on board?” asked Greenway.
Captain Bonnet scowled blackly.
“Ben Greenway,” he shouted, “it would serve you right if I tied you hand and foot and bundled you on board that brig, after we have stripped her, if haply she have anything on board we care for.”