The Watcher On White Island





The isles of Shoals, a little archipelago of wind and wave-swept rocks

that may be seen on clear days from the New Hampshire coast, have been

the scene of some mishaps and some crimes. On Boone Island, where the

Nottingham galley went down one hundred and fifty years ago, the

survivors turned cannibals to escape starvation, while Haley's Island is

peopled by shipwrecked Spanish ghosts that hail vessels and beg for

passage back to their country. The pirate Teach, or Blackbeard, used to

put in at these islands to hide his treasure, and one of his lieutenants

spent some time on White Island with a beautiful girl whom he had

abducted from her home in Scotland and who, in spite of his rough life,

had learned to love him. It was while walking with her on this rock,

forgetful of his trade and the crimes he had been stained with, that one

of his men ran up to report a sail that was standing toward the islands.

The pirate ship was quickly prepared for action, but before embarking,

mindful of possible flight or captivity, the lieutenant made his mistress

swear that she would guard the buried treasure if it should be till

doomsday.



The ship he was hurrying to meet came smoothly on until the pirate craft

was well in range, when ports flew open along the stranger's sides, guns

were run out, and a heavy broadside splintered through the planks of the

robber galley. It was a man-of-war, not a merchantman, that had run

Blackbeard down. The war-ship closed and grappled with the corsair, but

while the sailors were standing at the chains ready to leap aboard and

complete the subjugation of the outlaws a mass of flame burst from the

pirate ship, both vessels were hurled in fragments through the air, and a

roar went for miles along the sea. Blackbeard's lieutenant had fired the

magazine rather than submit to capture, and had blown the two ships into

a common ruin. A few of both crews floated to the islands on planks, sore

from burns and bruises, but none survived the cold and hunger of the

winter. The pirate's mistress was among the first to die; still, true to

her promise, she keeps her watch, and at night is dimly seen on a rocky

point gazing toward the east, her tall figure enveloped in a cloak, her

golden hair unbound upon her shoulders, her pale face still as marble.





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