The Pirate by Henry Poe-Part Two
by Ann Neilson
This is my second and final installment of Henry Poe’s The Pirate. (I apologize that this had been put off so long until now.) You can read the first part here.
“The events of my boyhood I pass over–suffice it to say, I lost my parents at an early age, and was left to the care of a relation. I received a good education, and knew sorrow but by name until I had attained my eighteenth year. I then began a new existence–I was in love–Yes! if ever a man loved passionately–intensely,–I did. I was singular, romantic in my ideas, and Rosalie was equally so. I will pass over the few happy hours of our affection–they would be tedious, and I would not wish to bring them to my mind too foreibly–she promised me her hand, and declared that none but myself should ever possess it–Oh! my friend, you are young–but beware how you entrust your heart and happiness into the keeping of a woman!–it is this that has brought me to what I am–a wretched outcast–a murderer!–a broken-hearted, desperate being!”–The perspiration stood in large drops on his forehead–after a pause of a moment he continued:
“I was too much restricted by poverty to marry–but I believed that I possessed talents which would place me beyond the reach of its effects–I accordingly embraced an offer from a friend to engage in a trading voyage to the West Indies, and as my health was delicate, my friends considered the climate would restore my frame to its usual vigour. I bade a farewell to home and to Rosalie–that kiss!–that farewell kiss, was our last.
We were detained nearly a year trading to different ports, and altho’ I had written home every opportunity, had never received an answer. It was with such feelings of rapturous joy which language is incapable of defining, that I saw our vessel fast approaching my native land–a thousand endearing recollections rushed on my mind–the thought that my Rosalie was false, had never entered my brain–I would have blushed if it had done so.
It was night when our boast landed me at the wharf, and I flew with a beating heart towards her dwelling.
I forgot to mention the dagger–I purchased it with some other trinkets on account of its beauty, and had that day carelessly put it in my waistcoat pocket.
There were lights in the front of the house and I heard music–I wished to see her alone, and went to the garden gate–every thing reminded me of the blissful hours I had passed–I walked towards the servants’ houses, intending to get one of them to carry a message to Rose. The first one I met had often carried letters bewteen us–but she did not recognize me, until I spoke, when she exclaimed, “Oh Lord! Master Edgar is it you!–Miss Rose is to be married in half an hour!” and burst into tears. I have often since been surprised at my own firmness, for I listened calmly to her tale!–’twas short–a wealthy suitor had been proposed and was accepted. I asked if she could not procure me an interview–that, she said was impossible, but I would stand in the passage I might see her as she passed to the room. Thither I went, and as there was only a small lamp burning, I could not easily be discovered–I heard her laughing and talking gaily in her dressing room–strange feelings came over me–a thousand lights seemed to dance before my eyes–a difficulty of breathing, and a confused sensation of pain oppressed me–when I came to myself I was leaning against the wall and my hand convulsively grasping the dagger.
The door opened, and Rosalie with several others, came into the passage–I waited until she was nearly opposite to me, when I let fall the cloak with which I had concealed my face, and exclaimed “do you know me!–I am Edgar Leonard!”–She shrieked at the mention, and I buried my dagger in her bosom!”—-
He paused-his countenance was livid, and he bit his lip till the blood spouted on the table before him.–After a few moments he became more composed, and hastily swallowing a glass of wine, proceeded-
“I remember nothing afterwards until I found myself in the street–my hand felt stiff, and when I held it up in the moonlight, I discovered that it was blood–the truth flashed across my bewildered mind–’twas Rosalie’s life-blood! the dagger, too, looked dim–that too was stained with the blood of her, for whom, but one short hour previous to the fatal disclosure of her inconsistency, every drop in my own veins should have freely flowed!–I knew not how I got there, but I was in the boat, and I remember telling the men to land me on the opposite shore. I wished to fly, if possible, from thought, and embarked under a feigned name in a vessel for Colombia, intending to join the Patriots. On our passage we were captured by this vessel, and as I was now an outcast from society, I gladly joined them, and at the death of their captain I(?)* was chosen the commander.
I am weary of life, yet, although a murderer, I cannot commit suicide. I have courted death, but it shuns me–so true it is, that
“Life’s strange principle will longest lie
Deepest in those who wish the most die.”
You have now heard the history of my ill-fated life–but I have something more with you”–with this, he opened a chest and drew thence a bag of gold–“Take this,” said he,–“it may benefit you–me it never can–and yet,” he bitterly added, that at one time, perhaps, would have made me the happiest of mortals in the possession of my”–He stopped short–and suddenly clasping his hands to his forehead, he reeled and sunk senseless on the floor, ere I could recover from the bewildering maze which had seized upon my faculties.–He slowly recovered, and, when he seemed somewhat composed, I endeavored to persuade him to renounced his present mode of life, and again return to the bosom of civilized society–“Never!” exclaimed he, with a vehemence which made me shrink back with terror–“Never shall my outlawed foot pollute the soil of my much injured country–some speedy vengeance may here close my hated existence–but to bear in retirement those stings of remorse which which my guilt-stricken conscience is afflicted, would be worse than a thousand deaths on the ocean, where every nerve would be firmly strung in the conflict.” His firmness awed me into silence, and I felt no inclination to renew my endeavors to avert him from his purpose.
In a few days we fell in with a vessel bound to Charleston, in which I obtained a passage, and, after bidding an affectionate farewell to the youthful commander of the pirate, to whose attention and kindness I was mainly indebted for my restoration to health, we kept on our course homeward, and his little barque was soon beyond the reach of our observance. When the last glimpse was extinct, (and until then I stood motionless on the deck,) I retired to the cabin, where I found that not only my baggage had been safely and carefully delivered through his orders, but that the gold which I had intentionally left in the cabin of the corsair, was also placed in the hands of the captain, to be delivered to me.
After a pleasant run of five days we reached our destined port, and it being the sabbath day on which we landed, my first duty was fulfilled in repairing to the church and offering up my grateful acknowledgements for the signal display of the finger of providence in my behalf,–and in which a prayer for the unfortunate pirate was not forgotten.”
*I am unsure what this word is.