Lost Ships and Lonely Seas/Chapter 16

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CHAPTER XVI

LUCKLESS SEAMEN LONG IN EXILE

ROBINSON CRUSOE recoiling from the discovery of the footprint in the sand is what Stevenson calls one of the epoch-making scenes in all romantic literature, to be compared with Achilles shouting over against the Trojans, Ulysses bending the great bow, and Christian running with his fingers in his ears. There is, nevertheless, among the true stories of seafaring adventure at least one scene which is not unworthy of mention in the same breath with the culminating moment of Robinson Crusoe. This occurred when Peter Serrano encountered the other castaway on a desert island off the coast of Chile.

It was in the early days of Spanish exploration and settlement on the South American coasts when this sailor, Peter Serrano, was wrecked, and saved himself by swimming ashore while the rest of the crew were drowned. He crawled out upon an island so dismally barren that it had neither water, wood, nor grass, and not a bit of wreckage was washed ashore with him, no provisions, no timbers with which to build a boat. In short, Peter Serrano had absolutely none of the resources of the shipwrecks of fiction.

When the huge sea turtles crawled up on the sand he threw them over upon their backs and cut their throats with his sheath-knife. The blood he drank, and the flesh was eaten raw or dried in the blazing sun. Other distressed mariners have thanked God for this same food, and it may explain to the landsman why a ship is said to "turn turtle" when she capsizes. Peter Serrano, who was cast ashore with only his ready wits and his sheath-knife, scraped out the shells of these great turtles and used them to catch water when the heavy rains fell. He was therefore provided with food and drink, and shelter was the next essential.

There were fragments of plank from ships which had been lost among these shoals, but they were small and rotten and good for nothing but firewood. Peter made himself a little roof of turtle-shells large enough to crawl under, but the heat of the sun so tormented him that he had to take a cool dip in the salt water several times a day. However, he had organized himself for the struggle for existence and was now determined to find some method of making fire. How he succeeded was described by his biographer, Garcilasso de la Vega, and translated into English a hundred and fifty years ago.

 

Considering on this invention, (for seamen are much more ingenious in all times of extremity than men bred at land) he searched everywhere to find out a couple of hard pebbles, instead of flints, his knife serving in the place of a steel. But the island being covered all over with a dead sand and no stone appearing, he swam into the sea and diving often to the bottom he at length found a couple of stones fit for his purpose which he rubbed together until he got them to an edge, with which being able to strike fire, he drew some threads out of his shirt which he worked so small that it was like cotton, and served for tinder. So that having contrived a means to kindle fire, he gathered a great quantity of sea-weeds thrown up by the waves which, with the shells of fish and the splinters of old ships afforded nourishment for his fuel. And lest sudden showers should extinguish his fire he made a little covering for it, like a small hut, with the shells of the largest turtles, taking great care that his fire should not go out.

 

Peter Serrano lived alone for three years in this condition and saw several ships pass the island, but none turned in to investigate his signal smoke. It is easy to fancy that "being exposed to all weathers, the hair of his body grew in that manner that he was covered all over with bristles, and the hair of his head and beard reaching to his waist he appeared like some wild savage creature."

Now for the scene which is extraordinary for its elements of romantic climax. Poor Peter Serrano did not know it, but he was living literature as defined by the masters. It is quaintly told in the original narrative and needs no embroidery of comment.

 
At the end of three years, Serrano was strangely surprised with the appearance of a man in his island, whose ship had, the night before, been cast away upon those sands, and who had saved himself on a plank of the vessel. As soon as it was day he espied the smoke and imagining whence it was, he made towards it.

As soon as they saw each other, it is hard to say which was the more amazed. Serrano imagined that it was the devil who had come in the shape of a man to tempt him to despair. The new-comer believed Serrano to be the devil in his own proper shape and figure, being covered all over with hair and beard. In fine, they were both afraid, flying one from the other. Peter Serrano cried out as he ran:

"Jesus, Jesus, deliver me from the devil."

The other hearing this, took courage and returning again to him, called out:

"Brother, brother, do not fly from me, for I am a Christian, as thou art."

And because he saw that Serrano still ran from him, he repeated the Credo or Apostles' Creed in words aloud, which, when Serrano heard, he knew it was no devil that would recite those words, and thereupon gave a stop to his flight, and returning with great kindness they embraced each other with sighs and tears, lamenting their sad state, without any hopes of deliverance. Serrano, supposing that his guest wanted refreshment, entertained him with such provisions as his miserable life afforded, and having a little comforted each other they began to recount the manner and occasion of their sad disasters.

For the better government of their way of living, they designed their hours of day and night to certain services; such a time was appointed to kill fish for eating, such hours for gathering weeds, fish-bones, and other matters which the sea threw up, to maintain their constant fire. And especial care had they to observe their watches and relieve each other at certain hours, that so they might be sure their fire went not out.

In this manner they lived amiably together for certain days, but many days did not pass before a quarrel arose between them, so high that they were ready to fight. The occasion proceeded from some words that one gave the other, hinting that he took not that care and labor as the extremity of their condition required. This difference so increased, (for to such misery do our passions often betray us) that at length they separated and lived apart one from the other.

However, in a short time having experienced the want of that comfort which mutual society procures, their choler was appeased and they returned to enjoy con- verse, and the assistance which friendship and company afforded, in which condition they passed four years, During this time they saw many ships sail near them, yet none would be so charitable or curious as to be invited by their smoke and flame. So that being now almost desperate, they expected no other remedy besides death to put an end to their miseries.

However, at length, a ship venturing to pass nearer than ordinary, espied the smoke, and rightly judging that it must be made by some shipwrecked persons escaped to those sands, hoisted out their boat to take them in. Serrano and his companion readily ran to the place where they saw the boat coming, but as soon as the mariners approached so near as to distinguish the strange figures and looks of these two men, they were so affrighted that they began to row back.

But the poor men cried out and that they might believe them not to be devils of evil spirits, they rehearsed the creed and called aloud the name of Jesus, with which words the mariners returned, took them into the boat and carried them to the ship, to the great wonder of all present, who with admiration beheld their hairy shapes, not like men but beasts, and with singular pleasure heard them relate the story of their past misfortunes.

The companion died in his voyage to Spain, but Serrano lived to come thither, from whence he travelled into Germany where the Emperor, Charles V, then resided: all which time he nourished his hair and beard to serve as an evidence and proof of his past life. Wheresoever he came the people pressed, as to a sight, to see him for money. Persons of quality, having the same curiosity, gave him sufficient to defray his charges, and his Imperial Majesty, having seen him and heard his discourses, bestowed a rent upon him of four thousand pieces of eight a year, which make forty-eight hundred ducats in Peru. Alas, while going to take possession of this income, Peter Serrano died at Panama and had no farther enjoyment of it.
 

This Spanish sailor of long ago deserved to enjoy those golden ducats, and it was a most unkindly twist of fate that snuffed his candle out. He was more fortunate, however, than most shipwrecked seamen, who have been thankful to find a shirt to their backs and the chance to sign on for another voyage when they set foot in port again. Seven years on a desert island was a long, long exile for Peter Serrano, but he saw home much sooner than the luckless Dutchmen of the Sparrow-hawk who were cast away on an island off the coast of Korea in the year of 1653. Twelve years later a few survivors gazed once more on the quays and docks of Amsterdam, but meanwhile they were making history.

These were the first men who ever carried to Europe a description of the hermit kingdom of Korea and its queer, slipshod people in dirty white clothes, a nation sealed up as tight as a bottle which had drowsed unchanged through a thousand years. Japan was not wholly barred to foreigners even then, for the Dutch East India Company was permitted to send two ships a year to Nagasaki and to maintain a trading post in that harbor. It was a privilege denied all other nations, and for two centuries the Dutch enjoyed this singular commercial monopoly.

The Koreans, however, refused to have any intercourse with the European world, and seamen wrecked on that coast were compelled to spend the rest of their lives there as slaves and captives. This was why the story told by Henry Hamel, the purser of the Sparrow-hawk, aroused such a vast amount of interest when he reappeared with seven shipmates after escaping to Japan.

The vessel flew the flag of the Dutch East India Company, and sailed from Batavia with a crew of sixty-four men, under orders to drop a new Dutch governor at the island of Formosa. This castellated ark of a seventeenth-century merchantman safely completed this leg of her voyage and was then sent to Japan to pick up a cargo of copper, silk, camphor, porcelain, and bronze. The winds drove the Sparrow-hawk to and fro, and for a fortnight she still hobbled and rolled within sight of Formosa. Then came a tempest which made a wreck of her, and she piled upon the rocks of the Korean island of Quelpert.

The governor promptly sent soldiers to make prisoners of the thirty-four Dutchmen, who were treated with unexpected kindness. The purser, the pilot, and the surgeon's mate were given an audience by this island ruder, and the scene included a romantic surprise.

Seated beside the Korean governor of this strange, unknown island was a man of a florid complexion who wore a great red beard. The castaways stared at him and declared that he was a Dutchman, which the governor jestingly denied; but presently the red-bearded one broke his silence, and the tears ran down his cheeks while he told them that his name was Jan Wettevri of the town of Zyp, Holland.

He had been wrecked on the Korean coast in a Dutch frigate in the year of 1626, when he was a young man of thirty-one, and his age was now fifty-eight. Twenty-seven years had he been held in Korea, and no word respecting the fate of his ship had ever gone back to Holland. Two shipmates had been saved with him, Theodore Gerard and Jan Pieters, but they were long since dead. Both had been killed seventeen years before this while fighting in the Korean army against a Tartar invasion.

Often had he besought the King of Korea, sighed this red-bearded sailor, Jan Wettevri, that he might go to Japan and join his countrymen at Nagasaki,

 

but all the answer he could get from that prince was an assurance that he should never go excepting he had wings to fly thither; that it was the custom of the country to detain all strangers, but not to suffer them to want anything and that they would be supplied with clothing and food during their lives.

 

Jan Wettevri found difficulty in speaking his own tongue when he attempted to tell his story to these seamen of the Sparrow-hawk, for in seventeen years he had heard no other language than Korean.

The friendly governor of Quelpert was succeeded by an unpleasant old tyrant who made life so uncomfortable that the stubborn Dutchmen resolved to escape to Japan, sink or swim. The pilot and six sailors stole a junk, but luck was against them. The rotten mast went over the side as they were sailing out to sea, and so they were carried back for punishment. Their hands were tied to a heavy log of wood, and they had to lie in a row flat upon their stomachs while a sturdy Korean jailer flailed them with a heavy cudgel, twenty-five blows each upon that part of a Dutchman's back where his baggy breeches were the most voluminous. So cruel was this chastisement that several of them lay a month in bed.

So long as they were content to submit to circumstances, the Koreans were inclined to treat them with a certain good humor and toleration. After several months they were conveyed to the mainland and lodged in the capital city, where the king had his palace. He enrolled them in his body-guard, and they received wages of seventy measures of rice per month. Armed with muskets, they drilled under the command of Jan Wettevri. Henry Hamel, the purser, relates:

 

Curiosity induced most of the great men belonging to the court to invite them to dinner, that they might enjoy the satisfaction of seeing them perform the military exercises and dance in the Dutch manner. The women and children were still more impatient to see them, a report having been propagated that they were monsters of deformity and that in order to drink they were obliged to fasten their noses behind their ears. Their astonishment, however, was so much the greater when they saw that they were handsomer and much more stalwart than the natives of the country. The whiteness of their complexion was particularly admired. The crowds that flocked about them were so great that during the first days they could scarcely pass through the streets or enjoy a moment's rest in their huts. At length, the general was obliged to check this curiosity by forbidding any one to approach their lodgings without his permission.

 

For some reason the Dutch company of musketeers was mustered out of this service after a year or so, and they were more or less turned adrift and scattered, always under the vigilant eyes of provincial governors or other officials. Sometimes they loafed and again they worked for their board or begged their way from one village to another, and were entertained by the peasantry, who never ceased to wonder at them. Once an ugly-tempered governor refused to give them clothing and said they might starve for all he cared; but the account was handsomely squared, for

 

he held his dignity only four months, and being accused of having condemned to death several persons of different ranks on insufficient grounds, he was sentenced by the king to receive ninety strokes on the shin bones and to be banished for life.

Towards the end of this year a comet appeared. It was followed by two others which were both seen at once for the space of two months, one in the southeast and the other in the southwest, but with their tails opposite to each other. The court was so alarmed by this phenomenon that the king ordered the guard at all the forts and over all the ships to be doubled. He likewise directed that all his fortresses should be well supplied with warlike stores and provisions and that his troops should be exercised every day. Such were his apprehensions of being attacked by some neighbor that he prohibited a fire to be made during the night in any house that could be perceived from the sea.

The same phenomena had been seen when the Tartars ravaged the country, and it was recollected that similar signs had been observed previous to the war carried on by the Japanese against Korea. The inhabitants never met the Dutch sailors without asking them what people thought of comets in their country. Comformably to the idea prevalent in Europe, the Dutch replied that comets prognosticated some terrible disaster, as pestilence, war, or famine, and sometimes all three calamities together.

 

At the end of twelve years of this forlorn exile, eight of the crew of the Sparrow-hawk succeeded in stealing away from Korea in a staunch sea-going junk. Eight others of the thirty-six officers and men were still alive, but they had to be left behind. With some rice, a few jars of water, and an iron pot, the fugitives sailed the junk to the coast of Japan, where the fishermen directed them to Nagasaki, where Dutch ships were at anchor in the bay. The eight Dutchmen who remained in Korea were never heard of again, nor was any word received of Jan Wettevri, now seventy years old, and that great red beard well streaked with gray.

When a sailor kissed his wife or sweetheart good-by in those rude, adventurous centuries, the voyage was likely to be darkened by these tragedies of enforced exile, which were ever so much worse than shipwreck. Quite typical of its era was the fate of the crew of the English privateer Inspector when foul weather set her ashore near Tangier in the year of 1746. Incidentally, the narrative of the experience of these eighty-seven survivors conveys certain vivid impressions of an Emperor of Morocco, Zin el Abdin, and of his amazing contempt for the Christian powers of Europe and their supine submission to his ruthless dictates. This was in accordance with the attitude of centuries, during which the treatment of foreign envoys in Morocco was profoundly humiliating, and the gifts they brought were regarded in the light of tribute. Indeed, it was not until 1900 that the custom of mounted sultans under umbrellas receiving ambassadors on foot and bareheaded was abolished.

While from the European point of view the pirates of the Barbary coast were a bloodthirsty set of robbers, in the eyes of the Moors they were religious warriors for the faith who had volunteered to punish the Nazarenes for rejecting Mohammed, and it is difficult to realize the honor in which their memory is held save by comparison with that of the Crusaders, in which the positions were exactly reversed. The varying influences of the different European states could be gaged at first by the prices they were compelled to pay to ransom their captive subjects and later by the annual tribute which they were willing to present to protect their vessels. Some countries continued the payment well into the nineteenth century, although the slavery of Christians in Morocco had been abolished by treaty in 1814.

The privateer Inspector, commanded by Captain Richard Veale, sailed from the Downs on a cruise with two hundred and five hands. After taking two prizes she entered the Strait of Gibraltar, where a brisk gale of wind opened her seams, and it was a case of founder or run for the nearest beach. A treaty which had been signed by the Emperor of Morocco and the British Government inspired the hope of a humane reception in Tangier. More than a hundred of the privateersmen were drowned when the Inspector drove against the rocky coast, and the rest of them, wounded, half-naked, and exhausted, were discovered by the Moors, who threw them into a loathsome jail of Tangier.

The British consul, Mr, Pettigrew, arrived from Gibraltar in H. M. S. Phoenix a few days later, and opened negotiations which resulted in the release of the captain, his three lieutenants, and the officer of marines. As for the others, the consul was tartly informed that they could rot in slavery until the British Government discharged an old debt claimed by the Emperor of Morocco for captives redeemed seventeen years before.

While in prison the wretched seamen were left without food for three days on end, and to their piteous plea the governor of Tangier sent word:

"If the unbelieving dogs are hungry, let them eat the stones."

When they desperately attempted to escape, iron chains were locked about their necks, and twenty of them were thrown into a black hole of a dungeon where hunger almost drove them to casting lots and eating one of their number. Two sheep were thrown to them, however, which they instantly devoured raw. After five months of this existence, in which they were more dead than alive, an order came to carry them to Bufcoran, two hundred miles distant, where the emperor was encamped.

This haughty potentate rode out to look them over, and it was his pleasure that they should be confined in a castle near by. It pleased them greatly when, after a little while, the same governor of Tangier who had abused them so frightfully was dragged into the castle, along with his household of officials, and they wore iron collars locked about their necks. There was such a thing as righteous retribution even in those parlous days. The emperor was building a splendid new castle, and the British privateersmen were set at work with pickaxes to dig the wall foundations. Remorselessly driven until they dropped, twenty of them abjured Christianity to find a respite from their torments.

The emperor was not too busy with his new castle to attend to matters of state, such as punishing the disgraced governor of Tangier and sundry other subjects who had misbehaved themselves in one way or another. Sailormen were accustomed to strange sights and wonderful experiences in that age of sea-faring, but few of them beheld such a drama as was enacted before the eyes of the survivors of the Inspector as they glanced up from their sweating toil amid the stones and mortar. One of them described it in these words:

 
The emperor came to the place where the governor of Tangier and his miserable companions had lain five days in chains on the bare ground without the smallest allowance of provisions. Having viewed these unfortunate wretches, the emperor withdrew about sixty paces from the castle towards his camp where he gave orders that they should all be brought out before him. When they were arranged in the form required, the governor, three sons of the late bashaw, and another principal inhabitant of Tangier were unchained and set apart from the rest.

Then with all possible serenity the emperor desired his armor-bearer to bring him his scimetar. He drew it from the scabbard with a countenance as composed as if he had been going to exercise a body of troops. One of the delinquents was next commanded to be loosened from his chains and brought before him. The unhappy man, aware of his approaching fate, fell prostrate, and with tears implored mercy. All entreaties were vain, for the emperor without regarding them, exclaimed "In the name of God," and with one blow struck off his head. This done, he returned his scimetar to the armor-bearer with orders for him and his assistants to follow the same example and retiring a short way off, stood to see his orders executed. In this manner were no less than three hundred and thirty victims massacred to glut his diabolical vengeance.

The governor of Tangier, the three sons of the late bashaw, and the other person, who were freed of their chains to be spectators of the slaughter, were petrified with horror at the sight and full of apprehension that they were reserved for sufferings more severe. At length, the emperor approaching them warned them of the spectacle they beheld, and advised them to take care that his affairs be properly administered at Tangier in future.

By this means he intended to extort a sum of money from their friends, but as this did not follow according to his expectations he summoned them once more before him and gave orders for their immediate execution. He had previously told them, however, that having promised they should not die by the sword, they should all suffer by the bow-string. Hereupon two of his guards were selected who were employed to strangle them, one after another; which they did with all imaginable deliberation, in obedience to the orders of the emperor to take a moderate time in the executions for the sake of his own enjoyment. And notwithstanding the small number of victims, it occupied two hours.
 
The British sailors confessed that such barbarity made them tremble, and all that sustained their hopes was the rumor of the expected arrival of an ambassador from England. The consul could do nothing for them. Mr. Kilbs, the sailing-master of the Inspector, fainted at his work while the emperor was inspecting the building. The despot of Morocco inquired why the overseers permitted such indolence, but when the case was explained and he saw that the mariner was in the agonies of death, he was kind enough to order him carried into the castle, where he soon expired. In this instance there was
 
P 384--Lost ships and lonely seas.jpg

TAKING ON THE PILOT IN THE 18TH CENTURY

 
no touch of the whimsical humor displayed when two superannuated Moorish soldiers toppled over with exhaustion. The emperor cursed them most heartily, at which the two old men in tremulous accents entreated him to pity their infirmities and grant them charity during the few years of life left to them, reminding the emperor of their eighteen years of service in the army. To this plea their ruler amiably replied that he could perceive their inability to labor any longer and it was therefore his duty to protect them against the evils of old age and poverty. He therefore graciously ordered that they both be shot through the head without more ado.

After a year of captivity, the sailors were taken to Fez to toil on another pretentious fortress. Their keepers abused them without mercy, and a midshipman of the privateer, Mr. Nelson, took his life in his hands and complained to the emperor. Such boldness won the tyrant's favor, and he asked what the grievances were. The midshipman showed a heavy stick of wood with which one of the keepers had beaten the men of the Inspector because they sang some songs during the night to keep their spirits up.

"Fetch me four sticks of that same size, and let them be good ones," commanded his Majesty Zin el Adbin. "Also drag that wicked keeper before me.

The whole company of British seamen was also ordered into the royal presence, and four of the most stalwart were selected and told to take the sticks and break them on the keeper's bones. The victim was stretched on the ground, and the incensed mariners flogged him with great enthusiasm while the emperor encouraged them to make a thorough job of it or have their own bones broken. The guards carted away what was left of the keeper, and he died an hour later.

From Fez the captives were carried to Tetuan to await tidings from the British ambassador to Morocco, who was striving to obtain their release. At parting with their black overseer, he made the logical remark:

"Now I have no more to do with you; and if ever you catch me in your country, I expect no better usage than you have had here."

The negotiations moved haltingly while the sailors waited in prison in Tetuan. After a long delay enough money was received from Gibraltar to redeem twenty-five of them, who were selected by the governor of the city, "who dismissed them with wishes for a happy voyage." Three weeks afterward the balance of the cash came to Tetuan, but the emperor put a spoke in the wheel by refusing to let the privateersmen go until that matter of the old debt was canceled. The British ambassador sent a naval officer to England for more money, and there was another delay, which annoyed the Moorish governor of Tetuan. A squadron of British men-of-war, under Commodore Keppel, rode at anchor in the harbor, but their guns were silent while the ambassador was arrested, his property seized, and his secretary thrown into a dungeon pit twenty feet deep, where the playful Moors dropped dead cats and dogs and stones on him. It could scarcely be said that Britannia rules the waves that washed the shores of Morocco.

Commodore Keppel pledged his word that the old account should be squared, although it was well known that the British Government had already paid it once, and the ambassador gave a promissory note for the whole amount. Finally the claims were settled to the satisfaction of the Emperor of Morocco, and the survivors of the privateer were put aboard H. M. S. Sea-Horse. "They ran into the water as deep as the waist, each thinking himself happiest that he could get in the boat first."

Fifty-seven of them had lived to gain their freedom after four years of slavery. Their sad story ended more happily than might have been expected, for when they returned to England the king was pleased to give them a bounty of five pounds each.

 

The Jews in London supplied them with clothing and showed them many acts of kindness. Mr. Rich, manager of one of the principal theatres, presented each man with five pounds and devoted the proceeds of a night's performance to their use. The proprietor of another public exhibition did the like, on which occasion they appeared in iron chains and collars such as they had worn in slavery.

 

The privateersman of the Inspector who wrote the narrative of the adventures and miseries in Morocco was a hardy salt, if ever there was one. Unharmed by the experience, this Thomas Troughton lived until 1806, and died at the uncommonly ripe old age of one hundred and fourteen years.

It seems proper that one of these true tales of luckless seamen long in exile should have for its hero a mariner of that rugged New England, the early fortitude and daring of which laid the enduring foundations of this nation. In the year of 1676 Mr. Ephraim How of New Haven found it necessary to undertake a journey to Boston. Express-trains were not then covering the distance between these cities in four hours. In fact, there were not even post-roads or stage-coaches, and the risk of being potted by hostile Indians was by no means negligible. To the Pilgrims and the Puritans of that era the country was still a wilderness almost as soon as they ventured inland beyond the sound of the sea.

As was common enough, Mr. Ephraim How had a vessel of his own to carry the cargoes which, as a merchant, he sold to his neighbors of the New Haven colony. They were a web-footed race of pioneers who traded and farmed and sailed or fished to earn a thrifty dollar. For his business trip to Boston Mr. How sensibly went by sea as an easier and quicker route than by land. With him in his small ketch of seventeen tons went his two sons as sailors, another youth named Caleb Jones, whose father was a magistrate in New Haven, a Mr. Augur, who was a passenger, and a boy, unnamed, who probably cooked the pork and potatoes and scrubbed the pots in the galley. It was in the month of August, and the ketch made a pleasant voyage of it around Cape Cod and into Boston Bay.

Illness, contrary winds, and business delays postponed the return journey until October, and they made sail with every expectation of a good passage. Off Cape Cod one heavy gale after another drove the ketch far offshore. The experience must have been terribly severe, for after eleven days of it the eldest son died, and the other son died soon after. It was too much for young Caleb Jones also, and he followed the others over the side, stitched up in a piece of canvas. Poor Ephraim How had lost his crew as by a visitation of God, and it seems as though some contagious disease must have ravaged the little ketch. The passenger, Mr. Augur, was no sailor at all, and Mr. How lashed himself to the helm for thirty-six hours at a stretch.

In this situation the two men cast lots whether to try to struggle back to the New England coast or to bear away with the wind and hope to reach the West Indies. The gambler's choice decreed New England, but the weather decided otherwise. For more than two months the distressed ketch tossed about and drifted, and was beaten to and fro without a glimpse of landfall. It was late in November when she was wrecked on a ledge of rock, but Ephraim How had not the slightest idea of where it was. He later learned that he had driven as far to the eastward as Nova Scotia, and the ketch had smashed herself upon a desolate island near Cape Sable. For Ephraim How it was a long, long way from Boston to New Haven.

Cape Sable in the winter time is even now a wicked refuge for shipwrecked mariners. Fortunately, there drifted ashore from the ketch the following list of essentials:

"A cask of gunpowder, which received no damage from the water; a barrel of wine, half a barrel of molasses, several useful articles towards building a tent; besides which they had firearms and shot, a pot for boiling, and most probably other things not mentioned."

Ephraim How, Mr. Augur, and the cabin boy prepared to make a winter of it in their flimsy shelter of a canvas tent amid the rocks and snow-drifts. They shot crows, ravens, and sea-gulls, and warded off starvation with an uncomplaining heroism which expressed itself in these words:

"Once they lived five days without any sustenance but did not feel themselves pinched with hunger at other times, which they esteemed a special favor of heaven unto them."

The dear friend and companion, Mr. Augur, died after three months of this ordeal, and the cabin boy lived until the middle of February. Thereafter Ephraim How was a solitary castaway. He somehow survived the winter, and notched a stick to keep the tally of the days and weeks as they brought the milder airs of spring. Fishing-vessels may have sighted his signals, but they passed unheeding, afraid of some Indian stratagem to lure them inshore.

Ephraim How had been three months alone, and seven months on this island near Cape Sable, when a trading-brig of Salem stood in to investigate the smoke of his fire, and mercifully rescued him from exile. On the eighteenth of July, 1677, he arrived in Salem port, and then made his way home to New Haven. He had been absent a whole year on that journey to Boston, which the modern traveler makes in a few hours with magical ease and luxury.