True, he was leaving behind him his friends, Captain Bonnet and Ben Greenway, with whom the wayward Blackbeard would allow no word of leave-taking; true, he was going, he knew not where, and in the power of a man noted the new world over for his savage eccentricities; and true, he might soon be sailing, hour by hour, farther and farther away from the island on which dwelt the angel Kate—that angel Kate and his mother. But none of these considerations could keep down the glad feeling that he was going, that he was moving. Moreover, in answer to one of his impassioned appeals to be set ashore at Jamaica, Blackbeard had said to him that if he should get tired of him he did not see, at that moment, any reason why he should not put him on board some convenient vessel and have him landed at Kingston.
Dickory did not believe very much in the black-bearded pirate, with his wild tricks and inhuman high spirits, but Jamaica lay to the east, and he was going eastward.
Incited, perhaps, by the possession of a fine ship, manned by a crew picked from his old vessel and from the men who had formed the crew of the Revenge, Blackbeard was in better spirits than was his wont, and so far as his nature would allow he treated Dickory with fair good-humour. But no matter what happened, his unrestrained imagination never failed him. Having taken the fancy to see Dickory always in full uniform, he allowed him to assume no other clothes; he was always in naval full-dress and cocked hat, and his duties were those of a private secretary.
“The only shrewd thing I ever knew your Sir Nightcap to do,” he said, “was to tell me you could not read nor write. He spoke so glibly that I believed him. Had it not been so I should have sent you to the town to help with the shore end of my affairs, and then you would have been there still and I should have had no admiral to write my log and straighten my accounts.”
Sometimes, in his quieter moods, when there was no provocation to send pistol-balls between two sailors quietly conversing, or to perform some other demoniac trick, Blackbeard would talk to Dickory and ask all manner of questions, some of which the young man answered, while some he tried not to answer. Thus it was that the pirate found out a great deal more about Dickory’s life, hope, and sorrows than the young fellow imagined that he made known. He discovered that Dickory was greatly interested in Bonnet’s daughter, and wished above all other things in this world to get to her and to be with her.
This was a little out of the common run of things among the brotherhood; it was their fashion to forget, so far as they were able, the family ties which already belonged to them, and to make no plans for any future ties of that sort which they might be able to make. Such a thing amused the generally rampant Blackbeard, but if this Dickory boy whom they had on board really did wish to marry some one, the idea came into the crafty mind of Blackbeard that he would like to attend to that marrying himself. It pleased him to have a finger in every pie, and now here was a pie in the fingering of which he might take a novel interest.