As night came on there could be seen, twinkling far away upon the horizon, a beacon light, which in those days was kept burning for the benefit of the piratical craft which made a rendezvous of the waters off Belize, then the commercial centre for the vessels of the “free companions.” Having supposed, in his unnautical mind, that his entrance into the Gulf of Honduras meant the end of his present voyage, and not wishing to lower his own feeling of importance by asking too many questions of his inferiors, Captain Bonnet had bedecked himself a day too soon, and there were some jeers and sneers among his crew when he descended to his cabin to take off his fine clothes. But his self-complacency was well armoured, and he did not hear the jokes of which he was the subject, especially by the little clique of which Black Paul was the centre. But the sailing-master knew his business, and the Revenge was safely, though slowly, sailed among the coral-reefs and islands until she dropped anchor off Belize. Early in the morning the now dignified and pompous Captain Bonnet, of that terror of the seas, the pirate craft Revenge, again arrayed himself in a manner befitting his position, and stationed himself on the quarter-deck, where he might be seen by the eyes of all the crews of the other pirate vessels anchored about them and by the glasses of their officers.
Apart from a general desire to show himself in the ranks of his fellow-pirates and to receive from them the respect which was due to a man of his capabilities and general merits, Stede Bonnet had a particular reason for his visit to this port and for surrounding himself with all the pomp and circumstance of high piratical rank. He had been informed that a great man, a hero and chief among his fellows—in fact, the dean of the piratical faculty, and known as “Blackbeard,” the most desperate and reckless of all the pirates of the day—was now here.
To meet this most important sea-robber and to receive from him the hand of fellowship had been Bonnet’s desire and ambition since he had heard that it was possible.
The morning was advanced and the Revenge was rolling easily at her anchorage, but Bonnet was somewhat uncertain as to the next step he ought to take. He wanted to see Blackbeard as soon as possible, but it would certainly be a breach of etiquette entirely inconsistent with his present position for him to go to see him. He was the latest comer, and thought it was the part of Blackbeard to make the first visit.
Paul Bittern now came aft. “The men are getting very restless,” he said; “they want to go on shore. They’d all go if I’d let ’em.”
Captain Bonnet gave his sailing-master a lofty glare.
“If I should let them, you mean, sir. I am sorry I cannot break you of the habit of forgetting that I command this ship. Well, sir, you may tell them that they cannot go. I am expecting a visit from the renowned Blackbeard, now in this port, and I wish to welcome him with all respect and a full crew.”