Author’s Note: This story is written in expression of my passion for pirates. Ever since I was in high school, I have fantasized about a handsome rogue, back in the day, capturing me and whisking me off to his pirate ship to have his way with me again and again. I read numerous romance novels around pirates and more recently, have done some research on them after the release of Pirates of the Caribbean. Hopefully, the information that follows is both entertaining and indicative of the many legends that followed around the pirate known as Blackbeard.
Legends abound and surround the small area around Bath, North Carolina about piracy and alliances in the governor’s house that have had tongues wagging for years. No one really knows what is true and what is hearsay but enough people talk over the years to make one wonder what exactly is true and what simple fantasy is. I will admit that the simple notion of it all reeks of romance and high adventure. Perhaps that is the drawing factor of those rumored involved. I can simply tell you what I know. Let me take you back to the days of pirates and beautiful maidens who tried desperately not to love them …
Captain Edward Teach, come to be feared as the notorious “Blackbeard”, fearsome of all pirates in the early 1700’s, roamed and claimed the area around the North Carolina area known as Bath. For all intents and purposes, Blackbeard was an American pirate although he began his piracy acts of treason in the England area. Even the name of his flag ship indicated such, heralding the name of the queen herself … The Queen Anne’s Revenge. But the events that follow happened within the time that he spent in the Bath area, his home away from home.
Teach became known infamously for the huge black beard that shrouded his face and rumor has it that in order to strike terror in the hearts of his enemies, he would weave hemp into both his hair and beard, setting them ablaze in the heat of battle. Despite his large size and the fact that even his own crew feared him, he managed to win the heart of Penelope Eden, the daughter of North Carolina’s governor, Charles Eden. My version of their story follows …
“Penelope!” The call came from the governor’s library at home in the expanse of the large plantation that overlooked the west side of Bath creek.
Penelope lifted her head, gazing into the mirror at her vanity table. Her jade-colored eyes met the dark chocolate ones of the slave behind her, brushing her hair out in long waves of ebony. It was unusual for her father to call for her so late at night and concern was etched across her brow as she saw the same flicker across Beth’s countenance. Before Penelope could even ask, her personal chamber maid moved to retrieve her brocade robe with velvet trim, holding it open for the slender girl as she stood and moved into it, her soft voice lifting to call out, “Coming father!”
In a swirl of dark fabric and raven-kissed tresses, Penelope slipped dainty feet into small brocade slippers and hurried downstairs, her ever faithful slave watching her hasty departure. Charles Eden, governor of North Carolina and prominent citizen of Bath, was not one to be kept waiting and there was something in his voice that told of his immediate need for his young step-daughter’s presence. “Yes father?” she hastened in an almost breathless voice, stepping into her father’s personal study and library. She was immediately the picture of obedience and beauty as her eyes spoke of her concern for her father calling for her this late in the evening.
Charles glanced up at his step-daughter; almost breathless was he at her beauty, even at the young age of nineteen. A soft smile flitted across his lips as his left hand rested on a small jeweled box resembling, in a way, that of a small casket. It was quite beautiful and Penelope couldn’t help but glance at it in admiration even as mink-brown brows furrowed at its almost gruesome presentation. Charles couldn’t help but notice her curiosity and he glanced at it as well. “A gift,” he explained as he gently lifted to her.
Penelope’s hands closed around the small casket, lifting it closer to her view as jaded eyes narrowed, glancing at the lock that kept the casket from being opened. It was in the shape of … well, it resembled a gold coin but encrusted with a pirate’s head in the center. Penelope quickly set the casket down almost as if it had burned her slender fingers, a frown appearing on her face. “A gift from whom?” she asked, almost icily.
“Now Penelope,” Charles began, extracting a sealed envelope from his coat pocket. “As you can see, it is locked. How would I know of this information?”
Penelope furrowed her brows even as she gingerly took the sealed envelope from her step-father’s hands, glancing at him in knowledge that he was holding something back. Looking down at the seal, she immediately thrust the envelope back to him with a soft snort of disgust. “This can only be from one person and I think you know it as well as I,” she said, clasping her hands before her in hopes that her interlaced fingers proved to help keep her mouth shut as well.
Charles sighed and broke the seal on the envelope, extracting a skeleton key from it to set on the table beside the small jeweled casket. “You would want to open it. It is only proper to at least take a look.” He also extracted a folded letter on parchment to set beside the key. “I would not look at something addressed to you specifically.”
“Since when?” she retorted softly, picking up the key and inserting it into the nose of the pirate coin that made the lock on the casket. She need not look up to know what kind of look her step-father was bestowing upon her. Why he continued to support the scaly-wag known as Blackbeard.
“Edward isn’t that bad, if you were to give him a chance,” Charles began in frustration, watching his daughter begin to open the casket, interested in what Blackbeard would send to her at this late hour. It was not like the pirate to gift women at all. He sighed as Penelope rolled her eyes and then peeled back the red silk that was within. He glanced at the letter and then startled, almost jumped as he heard his daughter scream, one hand coming up to cover her mouth as she backed away from the casket, eyes wide. Slaves and house servants came running immediately as Charles quickly crossed the room to where she stood. “Penelope! What in God’s name …” and then stopped short as he glanced into the casket, only to look away, a sick look on his face.
Joshua, head manservant of the house, reached into the casket with shaking fingers only to lift out a pair of man’s hands, apparently severed from his body. Penelope shuddered and turned away as Charles looked once again upon the mangled gift that was covered in dried blood. His grimace turned to concern as he looked closer, a sigh of frustration released as he realized that the hands belonged to Penelope’s suitor and fiancée, the tell-tale ring of his father’s house upon the right index finger crusted in blood.
“Dear God,” he whispered, “Samuel …”
Penelope’s screams pierced the air as she realized that the severed hand belonged to none other than her fiancée. She would have fallen to the floor if it hadn’t been for her father’s quick hands as Joshua placed the severed hand back into the casket and brought the dear girl a glass of water. She was frightfully white and looked as though she might turn quite ill. “How dare he,” she managed to whisper as she trembled in strong hands that set her into the nearest chair. “Barbaric savage!”
Charles Eden was shocked. It was clear as to what had been done and Charles could only cough it up to Blackbeard’s obvious displeasure at his step-daughter’s hand already being spoken for. But this was too much. There was no way that Charles could condone this kind of barbaric behavior, despite their newly established partnership in a business left unspoken about. He pulled a hand over his face as his mind swirled on how to react to this act of cruel savagery. Penelope’s sobs were evidence enough of the cruelty he had brought first-hand into his own home and Charles blamed himself for allowing Blackbeard to get this close to their family.
And then suddenly Blackbeard himself was in the room, his large presence shrouded Penelope’s small form as she glanced up from her chair. She threw herself at him, small fists useless against his large chest as she screamed her hatred for what he had done. “How dare you!” she screamed futilely. “What did you do?! What did you do?!” she wailed as his strong hand pushed her to her knees before him where she collapsed into sobs. Both Joshua and Charles did not dare approach to rescue the beautiful damsel from the pirate’s clutches. He had been a welcome guest in this home for quite some time and both stood silent, waiting to hear the explanation that was sure to come.
Edward Teach’s face was hard as he stared down at the beauty at his feet. One hand reached down to pull the girl’s head back, his fist strong in her hair. His black eyes almost shot daggers as he looked upon the tears she shed for that disgraceful wimp he had thrown from the side of his ship, begging for mercy. “Stop your wailing for that pathetic creature that I would not even call a man,” he barked at her, a scowl marring his rugged face. “I will rival no one, especially a small shadow of a man such as the one that was easily captured and dumped into the swirling waters of the sea. His hands were simply a token of what shall never touch what belongs to ME!”
Penelope couldn’t stop the tears that ran down her cheek. She was sure that her engagement to another would put an end to the pirate’s enamourment with her but it had only served to fuel his jealousy and now Samuel was dead. “Please, just leave me alone,” she begged, shaking hands coming up to cover her ashen face as she thought of the torture that poor Samuel must have endured because of her.
Blackbeard’s laughter sent a tremor of apprehension down the curve of her spine. “The last thing I have in mind, my dear Penelope, is leaving you alone.” Then with a sharp tug, he dragged the girl to her feet, propelling her to the door by the hand in her hair as he strode purposefully back the way he had come.
“Wait a minute!” Charles began as he stepped forward as to stop Blackbeard but was stopped cold by the pirate’s dark eyes that seemed to threaten him without even a word. “Please Edward … not Penelope.”
“Do not interfere, Governor or yours too will be the fate of the sea.” That was enough to keep both Penelope’s father and the head manservant from following the roguish pirate and his new captive back through the house to the secret tunnel that had been built between the Governor’s 400 acre plantation and Bath creek. The passage was cut from the cellar of Eden’s mansion to the steep bank on the west side of the creek for the pirate’s unseen comings and goings.
Penelope fought him every inch of the way but her attempts to remove his hands from her hair were futile. Tears of frustration and even fear fled down her flushed cheeks in rivers of silver-hued mists. But as she was roughly shoved out from the path onto the side of the creek and saw a small band of pirates waiting there for the return of their captain, she knew her resistance was futile. Their leering glances and apparent hunger in their eyes made her press reflexively against Blackbeard for protection which he took as surrender on her part. With a triumphant grin, he yanked on her hair, pulling her up for a kiss through the tangled mass of his thick beard.
“Stop it,” she almost screamed, trying to push away from him but his strong hand in her hair kept her close to him. Her arms and legs futilely struck at him as the pirates around her laughed in amusement and then before she could react, the sting of his backhand sent her reeling backwards to land on the sweet curve of her ass on the sand at his feet.
“You dare tell me what to do?” he growled low to her and Penelope cringed at both the sound of his voice and the look on his face. He towered over her, his large body like a massive breadth of muscle and sinew and Penelope shivered as she took him in. Despite the long tangled hair and the massive black beard that was rippled through with strands of gray, she had to admit, even in her distressed state, that the man was … she gasped softly as she realized her attraction to him. And then she gasped as suddenly he roughly grabbed her up and pushed her forward as the small band of pirates and their new captive made their way to the ship harbored in near Bath.