Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/120

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CHAPTER V.


Narrow Escape from a "Bad" Whale—He Feigns Suicide in Order to Avoid Recapture at Roderique—Transferred to the Sapphire off Cape of Good Hope—Arrival at Liverpool—Takes Passage for America—Lands at Philadelphia.


DR. JOHNSON, who knew little about jails and less about ships, said that "being in a ship is being in a jail with a chance of being drowned." To the man who had spent three years in penal servitude, the deck of the Gazelle was the illimitable world of freedom. Captain Gifford was a kindly man. In Henry Hathaway, O'Reilly found a loving friend and messmate, who gave the half of his little state-room and the whole of his big heart to the young Irishman. The friendship thus contracted on board the Gazelle lasted throughout life. On O'Reilly's part it was reinforced by an undying sense of gratitude for his freedom, twice conferred, and his life once saved, by the generous American sailor.

Hathaway had what, to a noble nature, is the best of reasons for loving O'Reilly, the right of a benefactor. He had helped him to escape from bondage, he was yet to protect him from recapture, and he had saved him from death itself.

Here is the story of the last-named good deed, as modestly told by Hathaway, and as I have heard it confirmed from the grateful lips of O'Reilly.

New Bedford, Mass., 1877.

My Dear Friend: According to your wish, I will now endeavor to give you a brief account of what happened on the day when Mr. O'Reilly was with me in pursuit of a "bad" whale on the northwest coast of Australia. I don't exactly remember the date, but think it was in May, 1869. We lowered away our boats for whales, and O'Reilly was very anxious to go in my boat • I told him that he had