As he was most truly a landsman, knowing nothing about the sea or the various intricate methods of navigating a vessel thereupon, he was compelled to secure a real captain—one who would be able to take charge of the vessel and crew, and who would do, and have done, in a thoroughly seamanlike manner, what his nominal skipper should desire and ordain.
This absolutely necessary personage had been secured almost as soon as the vessel had been purchased, before any of the rest of the crew had signed ship’s articles; and it was under his general supervision that the storing and equipment had been carried on. His name was Sam Loftus. He was a big man with a great readiness of speech. There were, perhaps, some things he could not do, but there seemed to be nothing that he was not able to talk about. As has been said, the rest of the crew came in slowly, but they did come, and Major Bonnet told his daughter that when he had secured four more men, it was his intention to leave port.
“And sail for Jamaica?” she exclaimed.
“Oh, yes,” he said, with an affectionate smile, “and I will leave you with your Uncle Delaplaine, where you can stay while I make some little cruises here and there.”
“And so I am really to go?” she exclaimed, her eyes sparkling.
“Really to go,” said he.
“And what may I pack up?” she asked, thinking of her step-mother.
“Not much,” he said, “not much. We will be able to find at Spanish Town something braver in the way of apparel than anything you now possess. It will be some days before we sail, and I shall have quietly conveyed on board such belongings as you need.”
She was very happy, and she laughed.
“Yours will be an easily laden ship,” said she, “for you take in with you no great store of goods for traffic. But I suppose you design to pick up your cargo among the islands where you cruise, and at a less cost, perchance, than it could be procured here?”
“Yes, yes,” he said; “you have hit it fairly, my little girl, you have hit it fairly.”
New annoyances now began to beset Major Bonnet. What his daughter had remarked in pleasantry, the people of the town began to talk about unpleasantly. Here was a good-sized craft about to set sail, with little or no cargo, but with a crew apparently much larger than her requirements, but not yet large enough for the desires of her owner. To be sure, as Major Bonnet did not know anything about ships, he was bound to do something odd when he bought one and set forth to sail upon her, but there were some odd things which ought to be looked into; and there were people who advised that the attention of the colonial authorities should be drawn to this ship of their farmer townsman. Major Bonnet had such a high reputation as a good citizen, that there were few people who thought it worth while to trouble themselves about his new business venture, but a good many disagreeable things came to the ears of Sam Loftus, who reported them to his employer, and it was agreed between them that it would be wise for them to sail as soon as they could, even if they did not wait for the few men they had considered to be needed.