Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/200

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departure. At Rockingham they planted stakes to mark the spot at which Anthony's whaleboat was to land in the night for the prisoners. Before parting they arranged a cipher code for telegraphing. "When the ship was ready for sea," continues Captain Anthony, "I telegraphed the fact to Collins, stating that I should leave the next day. The next day there was a fierce storm and I could not leave, but I thought I would get away in time to carry out the plans, and so did not communicate with Collins. The day following I found that I could not get away; attempted to telegraph to Collins, but it was Good Friday, and the telegraph offices were not open. Pound the female operator, who said that the office could not be opened unless it was a case of 'life or death.' Told her it was more important than either, and she decided to send the message. As good luck would have it, the office at Fremantle was open, and the dispatch was received. Saturday morning I telegraphed to Collins, 'I shall certainly leave Bunbury for the whaling ground to-morrow; I suppose you and your friends start for York on Monday morning.'

"York is a small village, and according to our cipher it was to mean Bunbury. 'Collins' telegraphed back 'I wish you flood luck; I wish you would strike oil; au revoir.'"

The Catalpa sailed on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday noon was thirty miles southwest of Rottennest lighthouse, when Captain Anthony, with six of his best men, started in his whaleboat for the shore. The boat was manned with a third mate, two Portuguese, two Malays, and a native of St. Helena. "None of them," says Captain Anthony, "knew my errand, nor did any one on board the ship except my mate, who was informed when the ship was six months out; told the boat's crew I was going to Fremantle for an anchor to supply the place of one that was broken in the gale at Bunbury. I kept it a secret from my boat's crew, for their own good, knowing that there was a great chance of our being caught, and feeling that in such a case their ignorance would clear them."