Of course he did not keep his great design from Dickory—it was too glorious, too transcendent. He took his young admiral into his cabin and laid before him his dazzling future.
Dickory sat speechless, almost breathless. As he listened he could feel himself turn cold. Had any one else been talking to him in this strain he would have shouted with laughter, but people did not laugh at Blackbeard.
When the pirate had said all and was gazing triumphantly at poor Dickory, the young man gasped a word in answer; he could not accept this awful fate without as much as a wave of the hand in protest.
“But, sir,” said he, “if—”
Blackbeard’s face grew black; he bent his head and lowered upon the pale Dickory, then, with a tremendous blow, he brought down his fist upon the table.
“If Eliza will not have you,” he roared; “if that girl will not take you when I offer you to her; if she or her mother as much as winks an eyelash in disobedience of my commands, I will take them by the hair of their heads and I will throw them into the sea. If she will not have you,” he repeated, roaring as if he were shouting through a speaking trumpet in a storm, “if I thought that, youngster, I would burn the house with both of them in it, and the rum I had bought to make a jolly wedding should be poured on the timbers to make them blaze. Let no notions like that enter your mind, my boy. If she disobeys me, I will cook her and you shall eat her. Disobey me!” And he swore at such a rate that he panted for fresh air and mounted to the deck.
It was not a time for Dickory to make remarks indicating his disapproval of the proposed arrangement.
As the Revenge sailed on over sunny seas or under lowering clouds, Dickory was no stranger to the binnacle, and the compass always told him that they were sailing eastward. He had once asked Blackbeard where they now were by the chart, but that gracious gentleman of the midnight beard had given him oaths for answers, and had told him that if the captain knew where the ship was on any particular hour or minute nobody else on that ship need trouble his head about it. But at last the course of the Revenge was changed a little, and she sailed northward. Then Dickory spoke with one of the mildest of the mates upon the subject of their progress, and the man made known to him that they were now about half-way through the Windward passage. Dickory started back. He knew something of the geography of those seas.
“Why, then,” he cried, “we have passed Jamaica!”
“Of course we have,” said the man, and if it had not been for Dickory’s uniform he would have sworn at him.
BLADE TO BLADE
When the corvette Badger sailed from Jamaica she moved among the islands of the Caribbean Sea as if she had been a modern vessel propelled by a steam-engine. That which represented a steam-engine in this case was the fiery brain of Captain Christopher Vince of his Majesty’s navy. More than winds, more than currents, this brain made its power felt upon the course and progress of the vessel.