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Epilogue: The Legend of One-Eyed Eddie
Legends conflict as to the fate of One-Eyed Eddie Cullen and his first mate, Wild Bella Swan. Some say the pair was captured and hanged, exchanging a passionate kiss before joining hands to face the afterlife side by side. Others say the duo was killed when the Black Arrow went down in a vicious hurricane somewhere in the Caribbean islands.
Still others, however – in stories told in hushed whispers around campfires late at night – say that Captain Cullen and his woman faced no such violent demise, but slipped from sight to live a quiet life among a group of natives in the islands after befriending Jacob Black, a local man with apparent blood ties to the chief. They say Cullen and Swan were married, had a child...grandchildren...and lived out their days together. Some stories say now and then the duo got an itch to return to the sea and set out to find a treasure or pillage the cargo of another pirate vessel.
"Just to keep sharp," Cullen was quoted as saying.
The fate of Cullens' family was a little more clearly documented. His father, Lord Cullen, married his second wife, Lady Esme Brandon Cullen in the spring of 1749. Lady Cullen's daughter, Alice Brandon Whitlock and her husband, Jasper, former first mate of the Arrow, had three children of their own and, despite their advancing years, adopted two more, orphaned in the Revolutionary War. Whitlock himself was credited with organizing a small group of spies believed to be largely responsible for thwarting a British attack on Charleston in 1779.
Emmett McCarty, Master Rigger of the Black Arrow, married a brothel owner, although the two quickly built something of an empire in the islands. Their descendants now own several prosperous vacation resorts, including the original Wild Rose, which has been preserved as a historical monument.
Lord James Hunter, who returned to England a wealthy man, boasting of having discovered Mellick's Gold single-handedly, died of consumption less than a year after he claimed his title. Ironically, London's cool and misty weather exacerbated his condition, and doctors speculated if he'd stayed in the Caribbean, he might have added years to his life.
He never wed and had no children. His lands and finances were seized by the Crown to pay outstanding gambling debts.
As for the rest of Mellick's treasure, it was divided amongst the crew of the Black Arrow and handed down through the generations. Captain Cullen and his Bella stashed their portion of the treasure – not only Mellick's gold, but all the treasure they'd collected over the years – in various places. They hid caches in caves, buried it beneath trees, and left clues for their children and their children's children to be able to find it.
Why, you ask? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but I suspect Cullen thought it would be fun. In my research, I've learned that the captain was often motivated by such things.
Most historians believe all of Cullen's treasure has been discovered, much of it donated to museums over the years. But I believe there is one more cache out there. And I think I've discovered its location. My crew is ready, and I am confident we will discover what may be the greatest pirate treasure ever found.
So yes, I believe that One-Eyed Eddie and his Bella – his Smith – lived a long and happy life together. I believe they plotted together to provide a bit of adventure to those who would come after them. And I believe that somehow, somewhere, they're looking down and smiling as I embark on this journey.
Tomorrow, I set sail in search of Cullen's Cache.
The call of the sea is difficult to resist. The call of a treasure even more so.
I would know, after all. I have the blood of pirates singing in my veins.
- The Journal of Elizabeth Ann Cullen, Ph.D.
University of Florida, History Department
August 12, 2012
A/N: So there you have it. The end of the story – well, almost. As promised when we reached the goal for the Fandom 4 No Kid Hungry Campaign, I will be writing an outtake to this story. (Updated 12/13/12 - The readers have voted, and it will be about the wedding and honeymoon of One-Eyed Eddie and Smith. I can't say right now when it will be posted, but it will be posted eventually. I'm currently on deadline with the second book of my original fiction trilogy, so I need to get that finished first. Thank you for your patience!)
I can't end this without a big thank you to my fabulous beta, tiffanyanne3, who's worked with me since Beyond Time and has just been amazing to work with. Thanks also to KitsuShel, who volunteered to pre-read Cutlass – thanks for all your help!
And thanks to all of you who read, reviewed, recommended, tweeted, PM'd and supported this story along the way. You make writing a joy!
Until next time…