I demand the courtesy due a hostage, "exclaimed Mr. Peter ForbesHo, ho, you shall be my lackey -the chief messenger," laughed Blackbeard,showing his yellow teeth. Hat in hand, begging medicines for meThe honorable Secretary was near apoplexy. He could only sputter and coughHe was to be sent as an errand boy to the people of Charles Town, at the brutalbehest of this unspeakable knave, but refusal meant death and there were hisfellow captives to consider. He thought of his nephew and was about to pleadhat Jack be sent along with him when Blackbeard demandedwhat of the boy? He takes my eye. No pursy swine of a lawyer could sire alad of his brawn and inchesI am Master Cockrell, Jack answered for himself," and I would have youmore courteous to my worthy uncleIt was a speech so bold that thehikers with an air of comicalenough to note that he had made animpressionof the Spanish Main tugged at hisThe headstrong Jack was keenand he rashly addedTis not long since I knocked a pirate on the head for incivilityMr. Peter Forbes gazed aghast, with slackened jaw, expecting to see his madnephew cut down by the sweep of a broadsword, but Blackbeard merely grinnedand slapped the lad half-way across the deck with a buffet of his open handDizzily Jack picked himself up and was furiously scolded by his uncle. Theirlives hung by a hair and this was no time to play the fool. For once, however,Jack was the wiser of the two. In an amiable humor black beard exclaimedAnd so this strapping young jackanapes knocks pirates on the head! Therebe lazy dogs among my men that well deserve it. You shall stay aboard, MasterCockrell, whilst the juicy lubber of a lawyer voyages into Charles Town. He maysweat an strive the more if I hold you as his security. Zounds, Ill make agentleman rover of ye, Jack, for I like your mettleIt was futile for the unhappy uncle to argue the matter. He could only obeythe tyrant's pleasure and hope for a speedy return and the release of the terrifiedpassengers. The Plymouth Adventure was ordered to haul her course to thewestward and jog under easy sail toward the Charles Town bar. Blackbeard wasrowed off to his own ship, the Revenge, leaving his sailing-master and a prizecrew. These amused themselves by dragging the weeping women on deck androbbing them of their jewels and money, but no worse violence was offeredMiddle-aged matrons and elderly spinsters, they were neither young nor fairenough to be stolen as pirates brides



The Revenge and the two sloops hovered within sight of the PlymouthAdventure and their sails gleamed phantom-like in the darkness. There was littlesleep aboard the captured merchant trader. Some of the pirates amusedemselves with hauling chests and boxes out of the cabins and spilling thecontents about the deck in riotous disorder. One sprightly outlaw arrayed himselfin a silken petticoat and flowered bodice and paraded as a languishing lady withfalse curls until the others pelted him with broken bottles and tar buckets. By theflare of torches they ransacked the ship for provisions, cordage, canvas, andheaped them ready to be dumped into boatsJack Cockrell looked on until he was too drowsy to stay awake and fell asleepn deck, his head pillowed on his arm. Through the night the watches werechanged to the harsh summons of the pirate sailing-master or his mate. Onceck awoke when a seaman staggered into the moonlight with blood runningdown his face. He was not likely to be caught napping on watch again.At dawn the Plymouth Adventure was astir and the Revenge ran close aboardto watch Mr Peter Arbuthnot Forbes and two prosperous merchants of charleown bundled into the long-boat. Blackbeard shouted bloody threats through histrumpet, reminding them that he would allow no more than two days grace fortheir errand ashore. Uncle Peter was deeply affected as he embraced his nephewand kissed him on the cheek. Jack's eyes were wet and he faltered, with unsteadyvoIceForgive me, sir, for all the trouble I have made you. Never did I expect aparting like this.a barbarous coast, Jack, and a hard road to old england, smiled theSecretary of the Council. Have a stout heart. By Gods grace I shall soon deliveryou from these sea vermin.The boy watched the long-boat hoist sail with a grizzled, scarred oldboatswain from the Revenge at the tiller. It drove for the blue fairway of thechannel between the frothing shoals of the bar and made brave headway for theor. Then the ships stood out to sea to go clear of a lee shore and the captivesPlymouth Adventure endured the harrowing suspense with such courage ascould muster. Should any accident delay the return of the long-boat beyondtwo davs, even head winds or foul weather, or if there was lack of medicinesthe town, they were doomed to perish.

ack Cockrell endured it with less anguish than the other wretched hostagesHe had the sublime confidence of vouth in its own destiny and he had found achum in a boyish pirate named Joseph Hawkridge who said he had sailed out ofLondon as an apprentice seaman in a ketch bound to Jamaica. He had been takenout of his ship by Blackbeard, somewhere off the Azores, and compelled toenlist or walk the plank At first he was made cook's scullion but because he wawell-grown and active, the chief gunner had taken him over as a powder boy.This Joe Hawkridge was a waif of the london slums. hard and wise bevondhis vears. who had been starved and abused ever since he could remember hehad filed from cruel taskmasters ashore to endure the slavery of the sea and to bekidnapped into piracy was no worse than other things he had suffered. Agangling lad, with a grin on his homely face, he had certain instincts ofmanliness, of decent conduct, although he had known only men whose soulswere black with sin. Heaven knows where he leaned these cleaner aspirations.They were like the reflection of a star in a muddy poolIt was easy for Jack Cockrell to win his confidence. Few of his shipmatesspoke kindly or showed pity for him. And their youth drew them together. Jacksmotive was largely curiosity as soon as he discovered that here was one ofBlackbeard s crew ready to confide in him. The two lads chatted in shelteredcomers of the deck, between watches, or met more freely in the night hours. Jackshuddered at some of the tales that were told him but he harkened breathless andasked for moreYes, this blackbeard is the very wickedest pirate that ever sailed, said JoeHawkridge in the most matter-of-fact tones. You have found him mercifulbecause he fears a mortal sickness will sweep through his shipsYou have curdled my blood enough for now." admitted Jack"Tell me this.What do they sav of captain Stede bonnet? He chances to be a friend of mineJoe Hawkridge ceased to grin. He was startled and impressed Real gentlemenlike this voung Cockrell always told the truth. making certain that they could notbe overheard, Joe whispered:What news of stede bonnet? you ve seen him? when? Did he cruise to theorth ard? has he been seen off charles town?

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