Calling at every port where information might possibly be gained, hailing every sloop or ship or fishing-smack which might have sighted the pirate ship Revenge, with a constant lookout for a black flag, Captain Vince kept his engine steadily at work.
But it was not in pursuit of a ship that the swift keel of the Badger cut through the sea, this way and that, now on a long course, now doubling back again, like a hound fancying he has got the scent of a hare, then raging wildly when he finds the scent is false; it was in pursuit of a woman that every sail was spread, that the lookout swept the sea, and that the hot brain of the captain worked steadily and hard. This English man-of-war was on a cruise to make Kate Bonnet the bride of its captain. The heart of this naval lover was very steady; it was fixed in its purpose, nothing could turn it aside. Vince’s plans were well-digested; he knew what he wanted to do, he knew how he was going to do it.
In the first place he would capture the man Bonnet; all the details of the action were arranged to that end; then, with Kate’s father as his prisoner, he would be master of the situation.
There was nothing noble about this craftily elaborated design; but, then, there was nothing noble about Captain Vince. He was a strong hater and a strong lover, and whether he hated or loved, nothing, good or bad, must stand in his way. With the life or death, the misery or the happiness of the father in his hands, he knew that he need but beckon to the daughter. She might come slowly, but she would come. She was a grand woman, but she was a woman; she might resist the warm plea of love, but she could not resist the cold commands of that cruel figure of death who stood behind the lover.
Captain Bonnet was returning from his visit to the New England coast, picking up bits of profit here and there as fortune befell him, when Captain Vince first heard that the Revenge had gone northward. The news was circumstantial and straightforward, and was not to be doubted. Vince raged upon his quarter-deck when he found out how he had been wasting time. Northward now was pointed the bow of the Badger, and the vengeful Vince felt as if his prey was already in his hands. If Bonnet had sailed up the Atlantic coast he was bound to sail down again. It might be a long cruise, there might be impatient waitings at the mouths of coves and rivers where the pirates were accustomed to take refuge or refit, but the light of the eyes of Kate Bonnet were worth the longest pursuit or the most impatient waiting.
So, steadily sailed the corvette Badger up the long Atlantic coast, and she passed the capes of the Delaware while Captain Bonnet was examining the queer pulpit in the little bay-side town where his ship had stopped to take in water.
At the various ports of the northern coast where the Revenge had sailed back and forth outside, the Badger boldly entered, and the tales she heard soon turned her back again to sail southward down the long Atlantic coast. But the heart of Christopher Vince never failed. The vision of Kate Bonnet as he had seen her, standing with glorious eyes denouncing him; as he should see her when, with bowed head and proffered hand, she came to him; as all should see her when, in her clear-cut beauty, she stood beside him in his ancestral home, never left him.