The Queen of the Sounds
On the waters near Roanoke Island in North Carolina people claim to hear the sounds of a showboat doomed over a century ago. This is the story of 'The Queen of the Sounds' and the man brash enough to summon The Devil.
Corporal Pierre 'Frenchy' Godette was a union soldier stationed on Roanoke Island as part of a occupying force left by General Ambrose Burnside when the Union forces had taken the island. Frenchy was fond of whiskey, women and cards. He had a fantastic time during the occupation of Roanoke Island and fell in love with the area. So much so in fact, that he was able to manipulate himself in to the position of a commissioner once he left the army.
Decent at his job and able to stay (mostly) out of trouble, Godette was able to set aside a fairly sizable sum of money before his job was abolished by Congress. Godette, now in need of a way to make a living, looked around the area and decided what was missing was entertainment. Somewhere where people could go to relieve stress after a week of work. So Godette sank his entire savings into the commission of a showboat. Using the finest lumber available, the huge boat took nearly a year to complete but was well worth it.
She had three decks, each above the other. The first deck held a huge ballroom that doubled as a theater, a decadent bar with leather seats surrounding it and tables that held every game a person could imagine to gamble on. The upper decks were private rooms which could be used for any number of things. The drapes, the engraved wood were all of the highest quality. No expense was spared in building The Queen including the gigantic boiler below deck taking up the entire hold below the ballroom.
But the most expensive, and best part of The Queen was her player piano. No one in the area had even seen a player piano before, and this was the best and loudest ever built overseen by the inventor himself. Every scroll of music available was purchase and placed on board. One man was hired strictly for the operation and maintenance of the piano.
For two years The Queen of the Sounds traveled up and down the coast of North Carolina stopping for days in ports like Edenton, Manteo and Elizabeth City. When the Queen of the Sounds pulled into port, the work in that town mostly stopped. She brightened the lives of many coastal residents and all were sad to see her cast off her lines and make for the next town.By most accounts she was a boon to the coast and rarely did trouble occur on board.
The Queen travel continuously from spring through fall. During winter she would stop and repaint and refurbish for the next year. Frenchy Godette was fast becoming a very wealthy man. And he would've probably would've lived a good life with everything he wanted had he not began to see a young woman who was thought to be a witch.
Frenchy had become bored and craved excitement so when he found out the woman did in fact practice black magic he was instantly hooked. She began to teach him ancient spells and curses. Deeper and deeper he fell into the occult. When spring came around the second year Frenchy was reluctant to set out, finding excuses to stay in port. His drinking had increased and so had his madness until he had come to the conclusion that he needed to become the head of a coven of witches and warlocks and that he must summon The Devil.
Finally, after much nagging by his neighbors and friends the Queen set out and anchored off the town of Wanchese. The town folk were so excited to see her that they raced out in boats to meet her instead of waiting for her to dock.What they found was that while the boat itself was the same as they'd remembered, the vibe on board was darker. Then Frenchy announced his plan to become head of a coven and to summon the Prince of Darkness himself... the very next Sunday night.
Aghast, the town folk fled the Queen and over the next few days a committee of the wisest and most respected members of the community were sent to the Queen to try and talk Frenchy out of his madness. Unfortunately, it was to no avail. His mind was made up to raise Satan. Sadly, the townsfolk returned to their homes with no option but to pity the man called Frenchy.
That Sunday night around dusk the townspeople began to look out over the water at the boat with a mixture of curiosity and fear. They wanted no part in the black arts but were interested in what was going on. What they saw was the captain of the boat on the top deck, his arms stretched out. Some of those watching claimed they heard Frenchy call into the night "Come, Lord Satan, and receive the homage of your devoted servants..."
It was at that point the night air was shattered by the player piano belting out a tune louder than anyone had heard it before. It played without stopping until midnight. Dark figures were seen on the decks of the Queen along with flashes of light no one on shore could explain.A storm cloud rolled in but the water of the sound remain eerily still.
At the stroke of midnight a scream was heard from the 'Queen of the Sounds'. The scream was so loud it was heard even above the sound of the player piano. However, it was only heard for a brief second before a powerful explosion split apart the Queen. The boat seemed to lift out of the water and in a blinding flash, the boat tore itself apart and splashed into the water in a thousand pieces.
Bravely, the men of Wanchese rowed out to the remains of the boat to look for survivors, but never found so much as a single body. The Queen was dead, and took her captain and crew with her. One thing the men did notice as they look around the wreck was the smell of sulfur that was thick in the air.
As no one on the Queen of the Sounds survived that Sunday night, we can only speculate what happened on board. Some say it was the massive boiler that blew the boat apart. It's definitely possible. Boilers in that day were very unstable. You do have to wonder about the timing though. A boiler blowing just at that time is suspicious to say the least. Others say it was God Himself smiting the wicked captain and his crew. Yet others say it was the Prince of Darkness that caused the explosion. Rather than take on a partner, The Devil took another soul instead.
It is said that if you stand on the shore of Roanoke Island on a calm summer night, you can hear the 'Queen of the Sounds' player piano belt out a tune and see the reflection of her lights flicker on the water. Whatever, or whoever is playing the music seems to have a catalog greater than the Queen as often songs are heard that weren't yet written while the Queen sailed the coast.
But before you sail out to meet the Queen and request your favorite song, I ask that you consider what happened to Frenchy and his crew.It may be safer to listen from the shore. That way, you can enjoy the music and keep your soul.