Blackbeard gazed at him with half-closed eyes, a malicious smile upon his face.
“I have no right,” he said; “I need no right; I am a pirate!”
At these words Bonnet’s legs weakened under him, and he sank down upon the bench. As he did so he glanced at Ben Greenway as if he were the only person on earth to whom he could look for help, but to his amazement he saw before him a face almost jubilant, and beheld the Scotchman, his eyes uplifted and his hands clasped as if in thankful prayer.
THE NEW FIRST LIEUTENANT
When the boat of the Revenge was pulled back to that vessel Bonnet did not go in it; it was Blackbeard who sat in the stern and held the tiller, while one of his own men sat by him.
When Blackbeard stepped on deck he announced, much to the delight of the crew and the consternation of Paul Bittern, that the Revenge now belonged to him, and that all the crew who were fit to be kept on board such a fine vessel would be retained, and that he himself, for the present at least, would take command of the ship, would haul down that brand-new bit of woman’s work at the masthead and fly in its place his own black, ragged Jolly Roger, dreaded wherever seen upon the sea. At this a shout went up from the crew; the heart of every scoundrel among them swelled with joy at the idea of sailing, fighting, and pillaging under the bloody Blackbeard.
But the sailing-master stood aghast. He had known very well what was going to happen; he had talked it all over in the town with Blackbeard; he had drunk in fiery brandy to the success of the scheme, and he had believed without a doubt that he was to command the Revenge when Bonnet should be deposed. And now where was he? Where did he stand?
Trembling a little, he approached Blackbeard. “And as for me,” he asked; “am I to command your old vessel?”
“You!” roared Blackbeard, making as if he would jump upon him; “you! You may fall to and bend your back with the others in the forecastle, or you can jump overboard if you like. My quarter-master, Richards, now commands my old vessel. Presently I shall go over and settle things on that bark, but first I shall step down into the cabin and see what rare good things Sir Nightcap, the sugar-planter, has prepared for me.”
With this he went below, followed by the man he had brought with him.
It was Dickory, half dazed by what he had heard, who now stepped up to Paul Bittern. The latter, his countenance blacker than it had ever been before, first scowled at him, but in a moment the ferocity left his glance.
“Oho!” he said, “here’s a pretty pickle for me and you, as well as for Bonnet and the Scotchman!”
“Do you suppose,” exclaimed Dickory, “that what he says is true? That he has stolen this ship from Captain Bonnet, and that he has taken it for his own?”