As Ellen finished speaking, Elvira, commenced her narration as follows:
'I was born in Lincoln, near fifty years ago. My parents were poor, but respectable trades-people, who, had they been permitted to live, until I, their only child, had reached the age of womanhood, might have, by religious counsel and strict government checked, if not wholly obliterated the reckless propensities of my passionate temper and wild, wayward disposition. But before my years had numbered ten, my parents both died within a few weeks of each other, leaving me to the care of a tyrannical old aunt, who I soon afterwards found, managed to hide, under an artful affection of religion and prudery, a base malignant and sensual character. I was immediately sent by my aunt to the parish-school, where, being naturally tractable and apt to learn I soon acquired the rudiments of a good education, and besides, I learnt also to become an expert needle-woman. No sooner did my aunt find that I was mistress of this latter accomplishment, than she took me at once from school, and compelled me to toil day and night at my needle, refusing me at the same time all necessary rest and recreation.
'Young and high-spirited as I then was, I found it impossible to bear such brutal treatment, and one day when I was about fourteen years of age, in a fit of anger and despair, I left the home of my cruel aunt, and found myself a wretched wanderer in the streets of London, without money, home, or friends. Still I wandered on, not realizing the horror of my situation, till the shades of evening began to cover the city, and the harsh knawings of cruel hunger, began inexorably to crave their natural satisfaction. Then it was that I felt myself compelled to look around for some place of shelter, but could find none, and would have returned again to my cruel aunt, but alas, all my efforts to find her habitation proved utterly fruitless, and having by this time reached the banks of the Thames, I plunged without a moment's hesitation, into its dark waters, resolving to end at once a life which promised nothing to its possessor, but wretchedness and wo. But my fatal resolution was frustrated by a man, who, unperceived had for some time previous watched my wild and desperate course, and who jumped into the water as I a second time rose to its surface, caught me by the arm, and held me tightly with one hand, whilst with the other he swam toward a small vessel, which, being but a short distance off, he managed to reach in safety.
'Having received on board this vessel every attention which the greatest delicacy and kindness could dictate, I soon became impressed with a strong desire to become acquainted, with the character and designs of the person who had so disinterestedly preserved my life. It so happened that during a short illness which was occasioned by the cold bath I had taken in the Thames, I was assiduously attended by a female, who, as I afterwards learnt, was the wife of one of the officers of the vessel. To this woman who was very kind and attentive to my wants, I applied for the gratification of my curiosity concerning my preserver, upon which she informed me that he was a young Spaniard of good family, who commanded the vessel in which we were then situated.
'This was all I could gather from her, but a day or two afterwards I had perfectly recovered so that I could verbally thank the generous man who had saved my life, to his face. After having listened with modest though marked attention to my warm protestations of gratitude, Don Almanzor, (for such was his name,) begged me to relate to him the untoward events which had driven me to desperation and almost death.
'In accordance with his request, I gave him a brief history of my previous life, after which in view as he said, of my helpless and desolate condition, he offered to take me to his home in Cuba, where he informed me I should become an inmate of his father's family, he taking upon himself to act towards me, in every respect, the part of a friend and generous brother.
'With redoubled expressions of sincere gratitude and respect, I eagerly consented to abide by Almanzor's generous offer, and a few days afterward, the vessel in which I had so strangely become a passenger, sailed for Havana, where she arrived after a pleasant passage of three weeks.
'During the voyage, Almanzor treated me with the most delicate attention and respect, and as he was young, handsome, and unmarried, you will not be surprised when I inform you, that long before its termination, I became deeply and fervently attached to him. However, I resolved to keep my passion a secret within my own bosom, until I should know whether my affection would be reciprocated by its object, and in the mean time, I became regularly domesticated in the family of Don Almanzor, which consisted of his father, who was a rich old Spanish slave-dealer, his mother, and himself. The old people treated me in all respects, as though I had been their only daughter, and for two years I lived with them in the enjoyment of a pure and tranquil happiness, which, at the expiration of that time, was enhanced beyond measure, by an honorable offer on the part of Almanzor, of his hand and heart. As might naturally be supposed, I readily accepted an offer which agreed so well with my own inclinations, and shortly afterwards we were married, and after two more years of increased felicity had passed, I became the mother of a lovely daughter.
'My husband was at this time absent on a trading voyage, and the vessel that he was in having encountered a severe hurricane, was stranded, and every soul on board of her found a watery grave.
'This dreadful news was brought to me by Captain Rowland, who visited the island at that time, in the capacity of master of an English brig, and need I say that the horrid tidings almost drove me frantic.
'Then the insiduous tempter came, and offered me his hand, which I accepted, and thus I became what you see me now, Rowland's wife.'
'And who is this Captain Rowland?' asked Ellen, eagerly.
'He is a noted pirate,' replied Elvira.
'Did you know that when you married him?'
'I did not, if I had, sooner would I have yielded my life than united my fortune, desperate as it was, with his. When I discovered his true character, I was his wife, on board of his vessel, and in his power, with no avenue through which I could escape, and for the sake of my child, I was forced to humble myself, and submit to his caprices.'
'Your situation must have been terrible beyond expression,' ejaculated Ellen, who had become deeply interested in the story of the unfortunate woman.
'God knows that it was so,' answered Elvira. 'The discovery of his deception came upon me suddenly, like a thunderbolt from the clouds of heaven, and I upbraided him for it in the bitterness of my heart, and he answered my reproaches at first with scornful laughter, and afterwards with a relation of the history of his past life, during which, to my utter astonishment and surprise, I learnt that he had been once before married, but that his wife had recently died, leaving two children, a son who was at that time in the vessel with his father, and an infant daughter, concerning whom, I could only then learn from Rowland, that she had been left in London, in the hands of such persons as would take good care of her.
'It was in vain after this, that I begged my cruel husband to return me and my child to Havana, he was utterly deaf to all my entreaties, although about two months after our embarcation he landed me on this desolate, but beautiful island, where, in his hours of leisure, he had with the assistance of his companions, erected and furnished with his rich but ill gotten spoils, that building which has been signified by the name of the Pirate's Palace.'
'That must be the horrid place,' exclaimed Ellen, 'which I saw this morning, and in which I fear Mary Hamilton is—is—'
'Now confined,' interrupted Elvira.
'Is it not worse than that,' exclaimed Ellen, eagerly, 'has she not met with a cruel death?'
'Oh no, that is no part of the purpose of those who have detained her,' answered Elvira.
'Do you know their true purpose, then,' asked Ellen, 'relative to her, myself, and the rest of the prisoners?'
'With regard to Miss Hamilton,' replied Elvira, 'Rowland's purpose is to force her into a union with his son.'
'And who may his son be?' again inquired Ellen.
'No other,' answered Elvira, impressively, 'but Herbert Rowland otherwise called Blackbeard, the famous pirate of the Roanoke, who is besides your only brother.'
'And Captain Rowland?'
'Is your father.'
'God of Heaven! can it be possible?' exclaimed the fair Ellen.
'It is no less possible than true,' replied Elvira.
'Then, in Heaven's name, let us free Arthur from his fetters,' exclaimed Ellen, 'and all of us escape through the cabin window into the boat, that has, I perceive, been left astern.'
Upon hearing this, Elvira immediately left the cabin, but, to Ellen's greater joy, she shortly after returned, followed by Arthur Huntington, who assisted the females into the boat, after which he entered it himself and succeeded in getting, unperceived, out of sight of the brig, upon the bosom of the wide ocean.
Singular Interview between Blackbeard and his Father. The Sloop-of-war. Meeting of Rowland and Henry Huntington. Life or Death. The Surprise. The Fight. The Result. Joyful Meeting. The Double Bridal. Happy Conclusion.
Upon entering the main apartment of the pirate's palace, Blackbeard encountered Captain Roderick Rowland whom he addressed as follows:
'Ha, mine honored father, so you happened to arrive here just in the nick of time to—'
'Be hung, I suppose,' muttered Rowland from between his teeth.
'Not quite so bad as that I hope,' rejoined Blackbeard.
'I hope not, too,' answered Rowland; 'but there is a very dim chance for us to escape with whole necks.'
'How so, father? What do you mean?' asked Blackbeard.
'Did not Lovelace tell you that the Fury was chased all day yesterday by one of His Majesty's sloops-of-war?'
'He did not,' replied Blackbeard, who was greatly astonished by the intelligence thus communicated. 'But what is to be done?'
'One of two things must be decided upon, and that quickly,' answered Rowland. 'We must either get the brig underweigh, and sail for it, or else shut ourselves up here and fight for it.'
'You will be obliged to decide upon the latter position, then, for the brig is aground.'
'D—nation!' muttered Rowland, then recollecting himself, he continued:
'Well, Herbert, how many of our crew is there now about the palace?'
'Not more than a dozen.'
'There should be thirteen, I think,' replied Rowland.
'And there probably would have been had not one of them had his brains knocked out this morning in a scuffle with one of your passengers.'
'Which one of them was it who dared to strike one of us?' asked Rowland.
'A devilish rum one, I can tell you, father. If I mistake not, his name was Henry Huntington.'
'Have you got him in custody?'
'Ay, he is safely confined in the cavern.'
'And I hope we shall have an opportunity to hang him,' exclaimed Rowland. 'And Mary Hamilton, is she too, safe?'
'She is, I believe, in the next room with Violette,' answered Blackbeard.
'Herbert, I have resolved that you shall marry that girl,' said Rowland abruptly.
'Hell and fury!' exclaimed Blackbeard. 'I did not expect that. In your letter, written to me from London, you stated that I was to marry one of the two girls who were about to take passage with you in the Gladiator, so I concluded you meant the youngest, and I have made love to her accordingly.'
'Good God, Herbert, she is your only sister!'
'Then I have killed her!'
'How?' exclaimed Rowland.
'I have murdered her,' replied Blackbeard, who then related to his father the conversation that had passed between himself and Ellen, and its terrible result.
'I little thought,' said Rowland, as Blackbeard finished speaking, 'that I was training you up to outvie myself in villany. Are you sure she is dead?'
'I hope she is,' replied Blackbeard, ironically.
'Beware then!' exclaimed Blackbeard; 'for if she has gone, if her pure spirit has departed, you shall soon follow her.'
'If I follow her I shall be sure of Heaven, then, which would by no means be the case if I followed you in your exit from the world,' muttered Blackbeard.
'Why, Herbert,' exclaimed Rowland, 'you will soon arrive to be the very prince of bucaniers, if your career is not cut short by a—'
'Halter,' interrupted Blackbeard. 'Well, if it is, I shall not have to swing alone—there is some consolation in that—there is nothing like plenty of company, whichever road we may be travelling.'
'Ha! ha! ha!' laughed Rowland. 'You're a sad dog, Herbert, and well worthy the lineage from which you have descended. Now you will go and order the men to get their arms in readiness for a desperate fight, and despatch two of them to the brig with orders for her crew to hasten to our assistance.'
'But what shall be done with the passengers and crew of the Indiaman,' asked Blackbeard.
'There are none there of any great consequence to us,' answered Rowland, 'and as there is no room for us to be cumbered with them here, we shall be obliged to let them run a chance of escape. You can also tell Pepper to bring the prisoners now in the cavern immediately into my presence.'
Having received the above orders, Blackbeard departed upon his errand, and soon after, Pepper entered Rowland's presence, followed by Henry Huntington and his faithful servant, Mr. Patrick O'Leary.
After surveying the two prisoners for some moments in silence, Rowland spoke to Huntingdon in the following manner:
'You are undoubtedly much surprised at meeting me in this place, are you not, Mr. Huntington?'
'Since the mysterious events of this morning I have ceased to be surprised at anything,' answered Henry.
This reply was apparently unheeded by Rowland, who thus continued:
'I have sent for you here in order to inform you that to-morrow will be the last day of your existence. You have forfeited your life in two several and different ways to the laws of the free sons of the ocean.'
Here Rowland paused for a reply; but as Henry did not choose to make any, he continued:
'When you considered me to be nothing but the master of a paltry Indiaman, you treated me with haughtiness, contempt, and scorn that I never did forgive, and never shall.'
'You was treated by me, as in my estimation, you deserved to be,' replied Henry, boldly.
'Very well,' answered Rowland, as a sardonic grin illuminated his flexible countenance, 'as you are self-condemned on that charge, there is no occasion for me to bring forward the others, so to-morrow morning you die!'
'Oh! say not so, but recall your cruel words!' exclaimed Mary Hamilton, as she rushed into Rowland's presence from the inner apartment.
'Ha! who have we here?' exclaimed Rowland, as the wild tones of Mary's voice fell upon his ear.
'You see before you, sir,' replied Miss Hamilton, 'a poor unfortunate girl who only claims from you the boon of her friend's life.'
'You plead in vain, Miss Hamilton,' answered Rowland, coldly, 'his life has been twice forfeited, and were an angel from Heaven to ask it, it would avail nothing—he must and shall die.'
'Then will I die with him!'
'Ha! sits the wind in that quarter,' muttered Rowland in a low tone, then raising his voice, and addressing Mary, he said:
'I suppose then, I am to infer that you are in love with this Mr. Huntington.'
'You must infer what you please, sir,' replied Mary, 'I shall say no more.'
'I must speak myself, then,' replied Rowland. 'Now Miss Hamilton, hear me. Some ten years have elapsed since I first become acquainted with your father in Rio, where I had landed to dispose of a cargo of negroes. I also soon became acquainted with the vast extent of his wealth, with the fact that, upon the event of his death, it would fall into your hands, and from that hour I resolved that you should marry my son. To bring about this result I have practised every art which my inventive genius could suggest in order to get you in my power, and after finding out where and with whom you resided, I have watched day and night for an opportunity to secure your person, and at last success crowned my efforts, as I obtained the command of the vessel in which, as I was well assured beforehand, you took passage for the purpose of joining your father. Now my son is here, and you, his destined bride, we have a regularly educated Roman priest here also, who can legally solemnize the marriage rites; therefore consent to wed my son, Herbert Rowland, and the life of Henry Huntington is saved.'
For some moments after the conclusion of Rowland's speech, Mary uttered not a word, but stood with uplifted eyes, as if in silent suppication to Heaven for guidance in this her hour of peril and danger.
The solemn silence which reigned in the apartment was soon broken by Rowland who thus again addressed Miss Hamilton:
'Will you consent to become my son's wife?'
'Never!' replied the fair girl, firmly. 'Although the life of my friend is dearer to me than my own, I will never consent to save it by a dishonored allegiance with the son of a pirate.'
'Then an angel spoke,' exclaimed Henry.
'By the piper that played before Moses, and I can swear on the blissed book to that same, masther Henry,' ejaculated Pat O'Leary, who, with a countenance swaying alternately from laughing to crying, formed a somewhat ludicrous contrast to the rest of the group.
'Take that young sprig of nobility below again, Pepper,' exclaimed Rowland.
As Henry was about to follow the individual in question, who was preparing to depart with his prisoner, Mary said:
'Farewell, Henry, be of good cheer, and despair not, for He who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, will most assuredly deliver you from your villanous persecutor.'
Having thus spoken, Miss Hamilton immediately retired into the adjoining apartment.
'Come, young man,' exclaimed Pepper, 'bear a hand, and trot here in my wake.'
'Lead on,' answered Henry, and so saying he followed Pepper towards the door.
They had hardly reached it, however, before their farther progress was impeded by the entrance of Blackbeard, who almost breathlessly exclaimed:
'It is all over with us, father. The boats from the sloop-of-war on the other side of the island, and their crews armed to the teeth, are now within a few rods of the palace.'
'Be the bones of St. Patrick, an' sure that is the most illegant news that iver graated the ears iv a jintleman in disthress!' exclaimed Pat O'Leary, who was in an ecstacy of joy at the prospect of his speedy deliverance.
'What is to be done, father?' asked Blackbeard.
'Done,' exclaimed Rowland, in a voice of thunder, 'why, we must fight and die, as we have lived, at war with all mankind.'
By this time a considerable number of the pirates had entered the palace, and were ordered by Rowland to close the doors and barricade them with whatever moveables they could find, but before his command could be executed, the apartment was forcibly entered by the crew of one of the launches of His Majesty's sloop of war, Vengeance, headed by an officer, who called out to the inmates,—
'Surrender in the name of King George!'
'In the name of King Lucifer, then, I will never surrender,' exclaimed Rowland, as he aimed a blow at the officer with his cutlass.
The fight thus began, and soon became general, but although the pirates fought desperately, they were soon overpowered by the superior numbers and coolness of their adversaries, and as a pistol shot laid Rowland upon the floor, the few desperadoes who remained, agreed to surrender at discretion, with the exception of Blackbeard, who fought like a tiger, until he fell covered with wounds by his father's side, the red current of life mingling with that of his unnatural parent.
'Some one must have betrayed us, Herbert,' exclaimed the now dying Rowland, 'and the curse of,—but no, Clarice, I cannot come to thee, thou art in Heaven. O God, my child, my dearest one, where art thou, Clarice, Elvira, El—'
Here the sound of his voice was heard no more. Rowland was dead!
As his cold hand fell lifeless by his side, it rested upon the cold clammy cheek of his son, and it became evident to all around that the short but eventful career of Blackbeard, the far-famed Pirate of Roanoke was forever ended.
* * * * *
Although the Fury had managed to outsail the sloop-of-war, on the day previous to the events above related, the captain of the latter, well knowing that the island of Trinidad had long been a piratical rendezvous, naturally supposed that the brig would stop there, and as he made the land just before night-fall he determined the next day to explore the island, hoping that he might thereby be enabled to trace the desperadoes to their lurking-place.
The wind changing during the night, brought the Vengeance, next morning, some few miles to the leeward of the island, on the side opposite from that where the Fury had grounded, so that it was late in the afternoon before she could get near enough to lower her boats.
Just before, however, the order was given to embark the several boat's crews, the man on the look-out exclaimed:
'There is something close alongside here, which looks like a boat.'
The captain of the Vengeance, upon going forward to see what the strange thing might be, was greatly astonished at being hailed as follows:
'Ship ahoy. For the love of Heaven stop and take on board two helpless women, who have but just escaped from the pirates.'
This request was speedily acceded to, the sails of the Vengeance were hove aback, and the next moment Arthur Huntington, accompanied by Ellen Armstrong and the pirate's wife, were safe upon her deck, where the former lost no time in making the captain of the Vengeance acquainted with the events which had that day transpired, whilst Elvira volunteered to direct the officer who had been entrusted with the command of the boats, to the pirate's palace, which otherwise he might not have found.
Before midnight, the whole party who had landed upon the island in the morning, met each other once again, upon the deck of the Vengeance, and many and sincere were the thanks they returned to Heaven for their deliverance out of the murderous hands of the pirate of the Roanoke.
* * * * *
Five years after the occurrence of the singular events above narrated, the mansion of Lord Armstrong, situated near the mouth of the Roanoke river, in the province of North Carolina, was brilliantly illuminated, as if for a season of great rejoicing. And such indeed was the fact. Soon after night-fall a gay party had assembled in the earl's parlor, and shortly afterwards entered Henry Huntington, holding by the hand the fair and stately Mary Hamilton, immediately followed by his brother Arthur and sweet Ellen Armstrong, the whole party being succeeded by a clergyman, attired in the sacerdotal robes of the church of Rome.
That night, dear reader, witnessed the consummation of a double bridal.
Elvira, the pirate's wife, and her daughter Violette, were present at the wedding, and so was Misther Pat O'Leary, who afterwards declared that 'by the powers of mud, it was indade the pleasantest night he had iver passed in his life, so it was.'
Kind reader, it only remains for us to say that the descendants of Arthur and Henry Huntington still continue to reside upon the pleasant banks of the Roanoke, and often take great pleasure in recounting to each other the exploits of the far-famed Blackbeard, and the providential and almost miraculous escape of their ancestors from the blood-stained hands of Herbert and Roderick Rowland.