To be return...


Description of Characters. Sweet Ellen Armstrong. Sudden appearance of the Piratical Brig. The Earl's Request. Blackbeard's Decision. The Desperadoes. The decision is enforced. Perilous situation of Mary Hamilton and Ellen.

In order to carry forward the plan of our story in a consistent and intelligible manner, it becomes necessary for us, here, to briefly explain some important particulars relating to the history of the Earl of Derwentwater and his companions, previous to their landing upon the remote Island of Trinidad, as related in the course of our first chapter.

The intelligent reader of history, will undoubtedly recollect, that the year 1715, (two years before the time chosen for the commencement of our romance,) was rendered famous by the important insurrection which then took place throughout England and Scotland, in favor of the Chevalier de St. George, or James the Third, a proud and haughty scion of the Roman Catholic house of Stuart. This singular and renowned rebellion, although premature in its beginning, and short in its duration, caused during its continuence, the Hanoverian incumbent of the English sceptre to tremble for the permanence of his seat on the throne, and though he at first pretended to despise both it and its authors, he was finally compelled to use vigorous and extraordinary means to bring it to a summary and fatal conclusion. Through the instrumentality of foreign troops, and the numerous cabels which sprang up in the rebel camp, King George was soon enabled to quell this Jacobitical insurrection, which otherwise might have proved formidable enough to have overturned the Protestant dynasty of the British realm, and established in its place the despotic hierarchy of the Church of Rome. So well aware was the reigning monarch and his ministers of the truth of the above important fact, that they deemed it imperatively incumbent upon them, in order to deal a death blow to all future attempts of the same nature, to punish all the noblemen and other leading characters connected with it, in the most severe and exemplary manner. Acting upon the above principle, the Privy Council caused immediately to be arrested, about thirty of the Scotch and English nobility, the majority of whom fell by the bloody axe of the executioner, whilst the remainder were sentenced to perpetual banishment.

Amongst this latter class of insurgents, was George Armstrong, Earl of Derwentwater, who succeeded to his father's rank and title, immediately after his decease, which happened somewhere about the year 1694. Some time previous to his death, however, the old earl, through his influence with the crown, had obtained the grant of a large tract of land in the province of South Carolina, near the mouth of the Roanoke river, which was soon after settled by these minor and remote branches of his own extensive family, whose fortunes had become sadly dilapidated by the frequent intestine revolutions which happened in Great Britain during the latter part of the seventeenth century. Upon the accession of Queen Anne to the English throne, the old earl fell into disgrace with the ministry, and with his family retired soon after that event, to his plantations in America. Shortly after his arrival, however, the change of climate proved fatal to his advanced age, and brought on an intermittent fever, which ended his life, and caused his only son, George Armstrong, to succeed to his grand title and extensive estates.

Although the character of the young earl, differed in many important respects from that of his father, still, in one great feature there was an exact resemblance between them. The disposition of the old earl was stubborn, artful and avaricious, whilst that of his son, was frank, open and generous. In temper, the former was cunning, revengeful and unforgiving, whilst that of the latter, though hasty and violent in its outbreaks, would a moment afterwards pass away, leaving no lingering trace of its harsh and cruel effect upon the young earl's strong and vigorous mind. Here, the wide contrast between the characters of the father and son ended,—for the same vaulting ambition which had animated the father, through a long and eventful life, descended upon the son in its full and unstinted measure, whilst in blind and extravagant adherence to the house of Stuart, and the Roman Catholic religion, the son greatly outstripped the father, who had been moderate enough in his political and religious machinations to ensure to him his titles, and cause his estate to remain unconfiscated, and in his own particular keeping.

Instead, however, of copying the temporizing and crafty policy of his father, the young earl, soon after his accession to the title and fortune of the former, began openly to hold a correspondence with the court of the pretender, which finally resulted in his becoming one of the first noblemen to assist in raising the rebel banner in Scotland, in the year 1715. After running through a short career of active service, George Armstrong the last Earl of Derwentwater, found his vast estates confiscated to the crown, and himself a prisoner in the Tower of London. This event happened during the spring of 1716. Early in the summer of the same year, he, with a number of others was brought to trial before a special commission appointed for that purpose, found guilty of high treason, (and although, others who had taken a less active part in the rebellion, were doomed to immediate execution.) The earnest intercession of the French Ambassador at the court of St. George Armstrong, to be commuted to foreign and perpetual banishment, and in accordance with this sentence, he was about to join his brother-in-law, a rich South American merchant, who was located at Rio Janeiro in Brazil, when his progress was somewhat singularly arrested by the adventure commenced in our first chapter.

Having related as much of the earl's previous history, as is consistent with the progress of our story, the next of our voyagers in order of description, is his fair niece, Mary Hamilton. In form, as we have before said, she was stately and beautiful, her features were striking and regular, though they could not be called pre-eminently beautiful, whilst her complexion was fair and elegantly transparent. Her hair, which was as dark in color as the plumage of the raven, as it clustered in short, rich, silken curls over her small white neck, gave conclusive evidence, when combined to a pair of large, languishing black eyes, that she was not born beneath the ruddy influence of England's cold and vacillating climate. And such was the fact, for the mother that bore her was of pure Castilian blood, who had fallen in love with and married William Hamilton, whilst residing with her father, who, at that time, held the high situation of Governor of the Island of Cuba. Under the warm and enervating influences of the climate of this island, Mary Hamilton first saw the light, but long before she had learnt to lisp her mother's name, she was sent to England, there to receive, through the agency of her uncle, an education calculated to fit her for the station she would be called upon to assume, as the only child and heir of the ancient house of Hamilton. As she advanced from infancy to childhood, and her young mind began gradually to expand, nature (that beautiful but mystic chain which connects man with his Creator,) prompted her to ask for her mother. The answer which fell from her aunt's lips, in cold and icy tones, which precluded all farther questioning, was,

'Mary, your maternal parent is dead, but I will be a mother to you so long as I live, and my husband shall be to you an indulgent father. And now, dear Mary,' continued Lady Armstrong, 'for various reasons which cannot now be explained, I must strictly prohibit you from alluding to your real mother in my presence, or that of my husband.'

Many a long and bitter hour as she passed from childhood to youth, and from thence to woman's estate, did the future heiress of the House of Hamilton ponder sadly over the mysterious and cruel prohibition of her noble aunt, and as she thus pondered, a strong but indefinite presentiment of future sorrow and grief and misery in connection with the fate of her real parents became so completely fastened upon her mind as to cause her whole deportment to become tinged with a sort of sad and mournful melancholy, which all the seductive arts of a London life could not eradicate.

Although numberless suitors of almost every variety of rank and character had knelt in real and assumed adoration before the virtuous shrine of the beautiful West Indian heiress, she had turned from them all with almost loathing indifference, and the summons which she received (about three months previous to the commencement of our story) calling upon her to join her father, in company with her uncle, found her at the age of twenty-three, unmarried and unengaged. In less than a month however, after her embarcation on board of the Gladiator, a gradual change had taken place in her whole demeanor, caused by the deep interest she found herself constrained to take in the person of Henry Huntington, the son of Sir Arthur Huntington, who had followed the fortunes of the Earl of Derwentwater during the rebellion, and who had chosen also to share his banishment. The baronet was a fine specimen of the old English cavaliers, who had freely spent the greater portion of a handsome fortune in the service of the Stuart family, and now, when nearly at the close of a long and eventful life, he with his twin sons (whose poor mother had died in giving them birth,) had left their own dear and native soil, to live, and perhaps to die in a foreign land.

These twin sons and brothers, Henry and Arthur Huntington, had arrived (at the time of which we are speaking,) to the age of twenty-two, and in personal appearance they might have been considered as correct models of manly beauty. Their forms were tall, erect, and muscular, and thus far, each was the exact counterpart of the other, but here the resemblance between the brothers ended. In temper and disposition, Henry was mild, generous and forgiving, whilst Arthur was sanguine, violent and irascible. Although they had both been educated alike, they differed very widely in strength of mind and capacity of intellect, for the mind of Henry was strong, and undeviatingly based on the principles of right, while that of his brother was weak and vacillating. The affections of the former when once fixed, were immoveable as the solid rock, whilst the passions of the latter, although more violent, were not capable of remaining fixed for any length of time on any particular object. These two brothers had both felt a partiality for Mary Hamilton, and so far as Henry was concerned, the partiality was fully reciprocated, but she looked coldly upon Arthur, which caused him to turn from her in disgust, and transport his vacillating affections to sweet Ellen Armstrong, whom, as being our principal heroine, we must now proceed briefly to notice and describe.

At the time of her introduction to the notice of our readers, she was to all outward appearance a bright and joyous being, who seemed to think of nothing but the happiness of herself and those around her. Although but fourteen summers had then passed over her head, and her fair form was slight and fragile as the first pale flower of Spring, her high and noble thoughts, as they escaped from her vermillion lips in soft and musical words, gave sufficient evidence that her mind and intellect was far beyond her years. She was, in very fact and deed, a singular and uncommon being, such an one as is rarely to be met with in the daily walks of life. Her form, though slight, was faultless in its proportions, her countenance was intelligent and highly expressive, whilst in her fair complexion, the pure red and white, seemed to have been most judiciously combined. To all these embellishments, permit us to add, a head of luxuriant hair, of a golden auburn color, with a pair of large and sparkling blue eyes, shaded by long, dark, silken eye lashes, and the personal portrait of our heroine is complete. Her character, also, in many of its traits was as good as her person was beautiful. The bland sweetness of her disposition and the apparent mildness of her temper, had even in the years of her childhood, endeared her to all who happened to be within reach of her acquaintance, but still she had faults, for there are none perfect, no, not one. Ellen Armstrong was fanciful, wayward, and highly romantic, a being of strong and ardent passions which would sometimes, in spite of the watchful vigilance which she always endeavored to keep over them, get the better of her right judgment, and high sense of rectitude.

Presuming, kind reader, that you may have inferred that sweet Ellen Armstrong, as the Earl was wont to term her, was his daughter, we must now undeceive you, stating that such was not the case. The history of her connection with the earl was as follows:

As he returned home from an exciting session of the House of Peers, late on a cold night in December, 1703, (nearly 14 years previous to the date of the commencement of our story,) he was greatly surprised, upon entering the drawing-room of his elegant mansion, to find his wife busily employed in fondling and carressing a beautiful infant, apparently not more than two or three weeks old.

'What does this all mean, Lady Armstrong?' exclaimed the earl, as soon as his surprise had in a measure subsided.

'Listen, and I will tell you,' replied the lady, 'About two hours ago, the street-door bell rang violently, which caused me to despatch a serving maid to ascertain from whom this loud summons proceeded. She immediately went to the door and opened it, but found no one there. Upon turning back again into the entry, her ears were assailed by the faint cries of this dear babe, whom she soon after discovered, esconced very comfortably in a large wicker basket. This with its contents was soon conveyed to my presence, and upon removing the infant from its place of rest, I found this note attached to its dress.'

So saying, Lady Armstrong handed a letter to her husband, which he opened, and then read from it as follows:

'To the Right Honorable George Armstrong, Earl of Derwentwater.

Sir: The writer of this, being well aware that your matrimonial union still remains unblest with children, would earnestly entreat you to adopt the infant which this accompanies, as your own. If you should see fit to comply with my request, you can rest assured that no pecuniary means shall be wanting, to insure to her, if she lives, all the educational and other accomplishments fitting to your rank, and that to which at some future day she herself, will be entitled. A draft for the necessary funds will be punctually placed at your disposal at the commencement of each year, until those who have a right, shall claim her at your hands. If you do right by her, you will gain the approval of a good conscience; if not, you will feel the vengeance of a parent's heart. But I can explain no farther. Adieu, yours, &c.,


After having read the above singular epistle, the earl held a long consultation with his amiable wife, which resulted in their concluding to comply with the request of the mysterious writer, to adopt the poor foundling as their own daughter, and at the same time, they determined never to reveal to her the secret of her strange advent amongst them. In accordance with these resolutions a suitable nurse for the young infant was immediately procured, and when it had reached a proper age, it was baptized by the name of Ellen Armstrong.

Such kind readers, is a brief description of the person and fortunes of our heroine, previous to the commencement of our narrative, and now presuming your generous permission as granted, we shall now proceed to extend the great chain of events connected with our singular and romantic history.

As the pirate Blackbeard, uttered in a commanding tone the words recorded at the close of our first chapter, he pointed with his finger towards the ship, and as the earl involuntarily turned his eyes in the same direction, he observed a small brig then about two miles off, making all sail towards the island, which caused him to say, in answer to the pirate's words:

'I have looked yonder as you directed me to do, yet I can see nothing but our own noble ship, and another vessel which appears to be a much smaller one.'

'If you will have the goodness to look again,' replied Blackbeard, somewhat satirically, 'you will see that the small vessel gains very fast upon the larger one.'

'There seems to be nothing very strange or alarming about that,' answered the earl.

'You may possibly, soon have occasion to entertain a very different opinion.'

'How so?' asked the earl.

'Because the small vessel appears to be a piratical brig, whose commander, I am well assured, will not pass a rich Indiaman without politely undertaking to inspect his inventory and overhaul his cargo,' replied the pirate.

'I am rather inclined to think,' answered the earl, 'that he will first be favored through the medium of our guns with an opportunity to cultivate an extensive acquaintance with the sharks and other monsters of the deep. Now, sir,' he continued, turning to the pirate, 'we will with your leave, get as quickly as possible on board of our own ship.'

'Oh, certainly,' replied Blackbeard, 'only, as it appears to me quite probable, that these two young ladies will be exposed to great danger in getting on board of your noble ship, I shall claim the privilege of keeping them here under my protection until I learn the result of the engagement, which I am sure the piratical commander of the brig is about to venture upon.'

As the pirate calmly concluded his strange speech, sweet Ellen Armstrong sank fainting into the arms of Arthur Huntington; and Mary Hamilton, with a blanched cheek, shrank closer to her uncle's side, as he thus indignantly addressed the pirate:

'Villain, I command you to leave the presence of these ladies, instantly.'

'Until their safety is duly cared for, I shall not stir from this spot,' coolly replied the pirate.

'Take your fair burthen to the boat, Arthur,' exclaimed the earl, impatiently, 'and I will follow you.'

'You may go, but the ladies will remain,' said the pirate decidedly, who at the same time gave a loud peculiar whistle, and the next moment the earl found himself and his companions surrounded by a band of ferocious desperadoes, who, with brandished weapons, stood ready to execute the commands of their leader.

'Two of you take these ladies to the palace,' exclaimed Blackbeard, 'whilst the remainder of you will see the gentlemen safely embarked for yonder ship.'

Although the earl and Arthur Huntington resisted manfully, their efforts were unavailing, for whilst the two ladies were borne off in one direction, they were quickly hurried on board their boat and compelled by the threats of their ruffianly assailants to row swiftly towards the noble Gladiator.