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F. Habakuk Jephson's Statement

In the month of December in the year 1873, the British ship Dei
Gratia steered into Gibraltar, having in tow the derelict
brigantine Marie Celeste, which had been picked up in latitude
38 degrees 40', longitude 17 degrees 15' W. There were several
circumstances in connection with the condition and appearance of
this abandoned vessel which excited considerable comment at the
time, and aroused a curiosity which has never been satisfied. What
these circumstances were was summed up in an able article which
appeared in the Gibraltar Gazette. The curious can find it in the
issue for January 4, 1874, unless my memory deceives me. For the
benefit of those, however, who may be unable to refer to the paper
in question, I shall subjoin a few extracts which touch upon the
leading features of the case.

"We have ourselves," says the anonymous writer in the Gazette,
"been over the derelict Marie Celeste, and have closel
questioned the officers of the Dei Gratia on every point which
might throw light on the affair. They are of opinion that she had
been abandoned several days, or perhaps weeks, before being picked
up. The official log, which was found in the cabin, states that
the vessel sailed from Boston to Lisbon, starting upon
October 16. It is, however, most imperfectly kept, and affords
little information. There is no reference to rough weather, and,
indeed, the state of the vessel's paint and rigging excludes the
idea that she was abandoned for any such reason. She is perfectly
watertight. No signs of a struggle or of violence are to be
detected, and there is absolutely nothing to account for the
disappearance of the crew. There are several indications that a
lady was present on board, a sewing-machine being found in the
cabin and some articles of female attire. These probably belonged
to the captain's wife, who is mentioned in the log as having
accompanied her husband. As an instance of the mildness of the
weather, it may be remarked that a bobbin of silk was found
standing upon the sewing-machine, though the least roll of the
vessel would have precipitated it to the floor. The boats were
intact and slung upon the davits; and the cargo, consisting of
tallow and American clocks, was untouched. An old-fashioned sword
of curious workmanship was discovered among some lumber in the
forecastle, and this weapon is said to exhibit a longitudinal
striation on the steel, as if it had been recently wiped. It has
been placed in the hands of the police, and submitted to Dr.
Monaghan, the analyst, for inspection. The result of his
examination has not yet been published. We may remark, in
conclusion, that Captain Dalton, of the Dei Gratia, an able and
intelligent seaman, is of opinion that the Marie Celeste may have
been abandoned a considerable distance from the spot at which
she was picked up, since a powerful current runs up in that
latitude from the African coast. He confesses his inability,
however, to advance any hypothesis which can reconcile all the
facts of the case. In the utter absence of a clue or grain of
evidence, it is to be feared that the fate of the crew of the
Marie Celeste will be added to those numerous mysteries of the
deep which will never be solved until the great day when the sea
shall give up its dead. If crime has been committed, as is much to
be suspected, there is little hope of bringing the perpetrators to

I shall supplement this extract from the Gibraltar Gazette by
quoting a telegram from Boston, which went the round of the English
papers, and represented the total amount of information which had
been collected about the Marie Celeste. "She was," it said, "a
brigantine of 170 tons burden, and belonged to White, Russell &
White, wine importers, of this city. Captain J. W. Tibbs was an
old servant of the firm, and was a man of known ability and tried
probity. He was accompanied by his wife, aged thirty-one, and
their youngest child, five years old. The crew consisted of seven
hands, including two coloured seamen, and a boy. There were three
passengers, one of whom was the well-known Brooklyn specialist on
consumption, Dr. Habakuk Jephson, who was a distinguished advocate
for Abolition in the early days of the movement, and whose
pamphlet, entitled "Where is thy Brother?" exercised a strong
influence on public opinion before the war. The other passengers
were Mr. J. Harton, a writer in the employ of the firm, and Mr.
Septimius Goring, a half-caste gentleman, from New Orleans. All
investigations have failed to throw any light upon the fate of
these fourteen human beings. The loss of Dr. Jephson will be felt
both in political and scientific circles."

I have here epitomised, for the benefit of the public, all that has
been hitherto known concerning the Marie Celeste and her crew,
for the past ten years have not in any way helped to elucidate the
mystery. I have now taken up my pen with the intention of telling
all that I know of the ill-fated voyage. I consider that it is a
duty which I owe to society, for symptoms which I am familiar with
in others lead me to believe that before many months my tongue and
hand may be alike incapable of conveying information. Let me
remark, as a preface to my narrative, that I am Joseph Habakuk
Jephson, Doctor of Medicine of the University of Harvard, and ex-
Consulting Physician of the Samaritan Hospital of Brooklyn.

Many will doubtless wonder why I have not proclaimed myself before,
and why I have suffered so many conjectures and surmises to pass
unchallenged. Could the ends of justice have been served in any
way by my revealing the facts in my possession I should
unhesitatingly have done so. It seemed to me, however, that there
was no possibility of such a result; and when I attempted, after
the occurrence, to state my case to an English official, I was met
with such offensive incredulity that I determined never again to
expose myself to the chance of such an indignity. I can excuse
the discourtesy of the Liverpool magistrate, however, when I
reflect upon the treatment which I received at the hands of my own
relatives, who, though they knew my unimpeachable character,
listened to my statement with an indulgent smile as if humouring
the delusion of a monomaniac. This slur upon my veracity led to a
quarrel between myself and John Vanburger, the brother of my wife,
and confirmed me in my resolution to let the matter sink into
oblivion--a determination which I have only altered through my
son's solicitations. In order to make my narrative intelligible,
I must run lightly over one or two incidents in my former life
which throw light upon subsequent events.

My father, William K. Jephson, was a preacher of the sect called
Plymouth Brethren, and was one of the most respected citizens of
Lowell. Like most of the other Puritans of New England, he was a
determined opponent to slavery, and it was from his lips that I
received those lessons which tinged every action of my life. While
I was studying medicine at Harvard University, I had already made
a mark as an advanced Abolitionist; and when, after taking my
degree, I bought a third share of the practice of Dr. Willis, of
Brooklyn, I managed, in spite of my professional duties, to devote
a considerable time to the cause which I had at heart, my pamphlet,
"Where is thy Brother?" (Swarburgh, Lister & Co., 1859) attracting
considerable attention.

When the war broke out I left Brooklyn and accompanied the 113th
New York Regiment through the campaign. I was present at the
second battle of Bull's Run and at the battle of Gettysburg.
Finally, I was severely wounded at Antietam, and would probably
have perished on the field had it not been for the kindness of a
gentleman named Murray, who had me carried to his house and
provided me with every comfort. Thanks to his charity, and to the
nursing which I received from his black domestics, I was soon able
to get about the plantation with the help of a stick. It was
during this period of convalescence that an incident occurred which
is closely connected with my story.

Among the most assiduous of the negresses who had watched my couch
during my illness there was one old crone who appeared to exert
considerable authority over the others. She was exceedingly
attentive to me, and I gathered from the few words that passed
between us that she had heard of me, and that she was grateful to
me for championing her oppressed race.

One day as I was sitting alone in the verandah, basking in the sun,
and debating whether I should rejoin Grant's army, I was surprised
to see this old creature hobbling towards me. After looking
cautiously around to see that we were alone, she fumbled in the
front of her dress and produced a small chamois leather bag which
was hung round her neck by a white cord.

"Massa," she said, bending down and croaking the words into my ear,
"me die soon. Me very old woman. Not stay long on Massa
Murray's plantation."

"You may live a long time yet, Martha," I answered. "You know I am
a doctor. If you feel ill let me know about it, and I will try to
cure you."

"No wish to live--wish to die. I'm gwine to join the heavenly
host." Here she relapsed into one of those half-heathenish
rhapsodies in which negroes indulge. "But, massa, me have one
thing must leave behind me when I go. No able to take it with me
across the Jordan. That one thing very precious, more precious and
more holy than all thing else in the world. Me, a poor old black
woman, have this because my people, very great people, 'spose they
was back in the old country. But you cannot understand this same
as black folk could. My fader give it me, and his fader give it
him, but now who shall I give it to? Poor Martha hab no child, no
relation, nobody. All round I see black man very bad man. Black
woman very stupid woman. Nobody worthy of the stone. And so I
say, Here is Massa Jephson who write books and fight for coloured
folk--he must be good man, and he shall have it though he is white
man, and nebber can know what it mean or where it came from." Here
the old woman fumbled in the chamois leather bag and pulled out a
flattish black stone with a hole through the middle of it. "Here,
take it," she said, pressing it into my hand; "take it. No harm
nebber come from anything good. Keep it safe--nebber lose it!" and
with a warning gesture the old crone hobbled away in the same
cautious way as she had come, looking from side to side to see if
we had been observed.

I was more amused than impressed by the old woman's earnestness,
and was only prevented from laughing during her oration by the fear
of hurting her feelings. When she was gone I took a good look at
the stone which she had given me. It was intensely black, of
extreme hardness, and oval in shape--just such a flat stone as one
would pick up on the seashore if one wished to throw a long way.
It was about three inches long, and an inch and a half broad at the
middle, but rounded off at the extremities. The most curious part
about it were several well-marked ridges which ran in semicircles
over its surface, and gave it exactly the appearance of a human
ear. Altogether I was rather interested in my new possession, and
determined to submit it, as a geological specimen, to my friend
Professor Shroeder of the New York Institute, upon the earliest
opportunity. In the meantime I thrust it into my pocket, and
rising from my chair started off for a short stroll in the
shrubbery, dismissing the incident from my mind.

As my wound had nearly healed by this time, I took my leave of Mr.
Murray shortly afterwards. The Union armies were everywhere
victorious and converging on Richmond, so that my assistance seemed
unnecessary, and I returned to Brooklyn. There I resumed my
practice, and married the second daughter of Josiah Vanburger, the
well-known wood engraver. In the course of a few years I built up
a good connection and acquired considerable reputation in the
treatment of pulmonary complaints. I still kept the old black
stone in my pocket, and frequently told the story of the dramatic
way in which I had become possessed of it. I also kept my
resolution of showing it to Professor Shroeder, who was much
interested both by the anecdote and the specimen. He pronounced it
to be a piece of meteoric stone, and drew my attention to the fact
that its resemblance to an ear was not accidental, but that it was
most carefully worked into that shape. A dozen little anatomical
points showed that the worker had been as accurate as he was
skilful. "I should not wonder," said the Professor, "if it were
broken off from some larger statue, though how such hard material
could be so perfectly worked is more than I can understand. If
there is a statue to correspond I should like to see it!" So I
thought at the time, but I have changed my opinion since.

The next seven or eight years of my life were quiet and uneventful.

Summer followed spring, and spring followed winter, without any
variation in my duties. As the practice increased I admitted J. S.
Jackson as partner, he to have one-fourth of the profits. The
continued strain had told upon my constitution, however, and I
became at last so unwell that my wife insisted upon my consulting
Dr. Kavanagh Smith, who was my colleague at the Samaritan Hospital.

That gentleman examined me, and pronounced the apex of my left lung
to be in a state of consolidation, recommending me at the same time
to go through a course of medical treatment and to take a long

My own disposition, which is naturally restless, predisposed me
strongly in favour of the latter piece of advice, and the matter
was clinched by my meeting young Russell, of the firm of White,
Russell & White, who offered me a passage in one of his father's
ships, the Marie Celeste, which was just starting from Boston.
"She is a snug little ship," he said, "and Tibbs, the captain, is
an excellent fellow. There is nothing like a sailing ship for an
invalid." I was very much of the same opinion myself, so I closed
with the offer on the spot.

My original plan was that my wife should accompany me on my
travels. She has always been a very poor sailor, however, and
there were strong family reasons against her exposing herself to
any risk at the time, so we determined that she should remain at
home. I am not a religious or an effusive man; but oh, thank God
for that! As to leaving my practice, I was easily reconciled to
it, as Jackson, my partner, was a reliable and hard-working man.

I arrived in Boston on October 12, 1873, and proceeded immediately
to the office of the firm in order to thank them for their
courtesy. As I was sitting in the counting-house waiting until
they should be at liberty to see me, the words Marie Celeste
suddenly attracted my attention. I looked round and saw a very
tall, gaunt man, who was leaning across the polished mahogany
counter asking some questions of the clerk at the other side.
His face was turned half towards me, and I could see that he had a
strong dash of negro blood in him, being probably a quadroon or
even nearer akin to the black. His curved aquiline nose and
straight lank hair showed the white strain; but the dark restless
eye, sensuous mouth, and gleaming teeth all told of his African
origin. His complexion was of a sickly, unhealthy yellow, and as
his face was deeply pitted with small-pox, the general impression
was so unfavourable as to be almost revolting. When he spoke,
however, it was in a soft, melodious voice, and in well-chosen
words, and he was evidently a man of some education.

"I wished to ask a few questions about the Marie Celeste," he
repeated, leaning across to the clerk. "She sails the day after
to-morrow, does she not?"

"Yes, sir," said the young clerk, awed into unusual politeness by
the glimmer of a large diamond in the stranger's shirt front.

"Where is she bound for?"


"How many of a crew?"

"Seven, sir."


"Yes, two. One of our young gentlemen, and a doctor from New

"No gentleman from the South?" asked the stranger eagerly.

"No, none, sir."

"Is there room for another passenger?"

"Accommodation for three more," answered the clerk.

"I'll go," said the quadroon decisively; "I'll go, I'll engage my
passage at once. Put it down, will you--Mr. Septimius Goring, of
New Orleans."

The clerk filled up a form and handed it over to the stranger,
pointing to a blank space at the bottom. As Mr. Goring stooped
over to sign it I was horrified to observe that the fingers of his
right hand had been lopped off, and that he was holding the pen
between his thumb and the palm. I have seen thousands slain in
battle, and assisted at every conceivable surgical operation, but
I cannot recall any sight which gave me such a thrill of disgust as
that great brown sponge-like hand with the single member protruding
from it. He used it skilfully enough, however, for, dashing off
his signature, he nodded to the clerk and strolled out of the
office just as Mr. White sent out word that he was ready to receive

I went down to the Marie Celeste that evening, and looked over my
berth, which was extremely comfortable considering the small size
of the vessel. Mr. Goring, whom I had seen in the morning, was to
have the one next mine. Opposite was the captain's cabin and a
small berth for Mr. John Harton, a gentleman who was going out in
the interests of the firm. These little rooms were arranged on
each side of the passage which led from the main-deck to the
saloon. The latter was a comfortable room, the panelling
tastefully done in oak and mahogany, with a rich Brussels carpet
and luxurious settees. I was very much pleased with the
accommodation, and also with Tibbs the captain, a bluff, sailor-
like fellow, with a loud voice and hearty manner, who welcomed me
to the ship with effusion, and insisted upon our splitting a bottle
of wine in his cabin. He told me that he intended to take his wife
and youngest child with him on the voyage, and that he hoped with
good luck to make Lisbon in three weeks. We had a pleasant chat
and parted the best of friends, he warning me to make the last of
my preparations next morning, as he intended to make a start by the
midday tide, having now shipped all his cargo. I went back to my
hotel, where I found a letter from my wife awaiting me, and, after
a refreshing night's sleep, returned to the boat in the morning.
From this point I am able to quote from the journal which I kept in
order to vary the monotony of the long sea-voyage. If it is
somewhat bald in places I can at least rely upon its accuracy in
details, as it was written conscientiously from day to day.

October 16.--Cast off our warps at half-past two and were towed
out into the bay, where the tug left us, and with all sail set we
bowled along at about nine knots an hour. I stood upon the poop
watching the low land of America sinking gradually upon the horizon
until the evening haze hid it from my sight. A single red light,
however, continued to blaze balefully behind us, throwing a long
track like a trail of blood upon the water, and it is still visible
as I write, though reduced to a mere speck. The Captain is in a
bad humour, for two of his hands disappointed him at the last
moment, and he was compelled to ship a couple of negroes who
happened to be on the quay. The missing men were steady, reliable
fellows, who had been with him several voyages, and their non-
appearance puzzled as well as irritated him. Where a crew of seven
men have to work a fair-sized ship the loss of two experienced
seamen is a serious one, for though the negroes may take a spell at
the wheel or swab the decks, they are of little or no use in rough
weather. Our cook is also a black man, and Mr. Septimius Goring
has a little darkie servant, so that we are rather a piebald
community. The accountant, John Harton, promises to be an
acquisition, for he is a cheery, amusing young fellow. Strange how
little wealth has to do with happiness! He has all the world
before him and is seeking his fortune in a far land, yet he is as
transparently happy as a man can be. Goring is rich, if I am not
mistaken, and so am I; but I know that I have a lung, and Goring
has some deeper trouble still, to judge by his features. How
poorly do we both contrast with the careless, penniless clerk!

October 17.--Mrs. Tibbs appeared upon deck for the first time
this morning--a cheerful, energetic woman, with a dear little child
just able to walk and prattle. Young Harton pounced on it at once,
and carried it away to his cabin, where no doubt he will lay the
seeds of future dyspepsia in the child's stomach. Thus medicine
doth make cynics of us all! The weather is still all that could be
desired, with a fine fresh breeze from the west-sou'-west. The
vessel goes so steadily that you would hardly know that she was
moving were it not for the creaking of the cordage, the bellying of
the sails, and the long white furrow in our wake. Walked the
quarter-deck all morning with the Captain, and I think the keen
fresh air has already done my breathing good, for the exercise did
not fatigue me in any way. Tibbs is a remarkably intelligent man,
and we had an interesting argument about Maury's observations on
ocean currents, which we terminated by going down into his cabin to
consult the original work. There we found Goring, rather to the
Captain's surprise, as it is not usual for passengers to enter that
sanctum unless specially invited. He apologised for his intrusion,
however, pleading his ignorance of the usages of ship life; and the
good-natured sailor simply laughed at the incident, begging him to
remain and favour us with his company. Goring pointed to the
chronometers, the case of which he had opened, and remarked that he
had been admiring them. He has evidently some practical knowledge
of mathematical instruments, as he told at a glance which was the
most trustworthy of the three, and also named their price within a
few dollars. He had a discussion with the Captain too upon the
variation of the compass, and when we came back to the ocean
currents he showed a thorough grasp of the subject. Altogether he
rather improves upon acquaintance, and is a man of decided culture
and refinement. His voice harmonises with his conversation, and
both are the very antithesis of his face and figure.

The noonday observation shows that we have run two hundred and
twenty miles. Towards evening the breeze freshened up, and the
first mate ordered reefs to be taken in the topsails and top-
gallant sails in expectation of a windy night. I observe that the
barometer has fallen to twenty-nine. I trust our voyage will not
be a rough one, as I am a poor sailor, and my health would probably
derive more harm than good from a stormy trip, though I have the
greatest confidence in the Captain's seamanship and in the
soundness of the vessel. Played cribbage with Mrs. Tibbs after
supper, and Harton gave us a couple of tunes on the violin.

October 18.--The gloomy prognostications of last night were not
fulfilled, as the wind died away again, and we are lying now in a
long greasy swell, ruffled here and there by a fleeting catspaw
which is insufficient to fill the sails. The air is colder than it
was yesterday, and I have put on one of the thick woollen jerseys
which my wife knitted for me. Harton came into my cabin in the
morning, and we had a cigar together. He says that he remembers
having seen Goring in Cleveland, Ohio, in '69. He was, it appears,
a mystery then as now, wandering about without any visible
employment, and extremely reticent on his own affairs. The man
interests me as a psychological study. At breakfast this morning
I suddenly had that vague feeling of uneasiness which comes over
some people when closely stared at, and, looking quickly up, I met
his eyes bent upon me with an intensity which amounted to ferocity,
though their expression instantly softened as he made some
conventional remark upon the weather. Curiously enough, Harton
says that he had a very similar experience yesterday upon deck. I
observe that Goring frequently talks to the coloured seamen as he
strolls about--a trait which I rather admire, as it is common to
find half-breeds ignore their dark strain and treat their black
kinsfolk with greater intolerance than a white man would do. His
little page is devoted to him, apparently, which speaks well for
his treatment of him. Altogether, the man is a curious mixture of
incongruous qualities, and unless I am deceived in him will give me
food for observation during the voyage.

The Captain is grumbling about his chronometers, which do not
register exactly the same time. He says it is the first time that
they have ever disagreed. We were unable to get a noonday
observation on account of the haze. By dead reckoning, we have
done about a hundred and seventy miles in the twenty-four hours.
The dark seamen have proved, as the skipper prophesied, to be very
inferior hands, but as they can both manage the wheel well they are
kept steering, and so leave the more experienced men to work the
ship. These details are trivial enough, but a small thing serves
as food for gossip aboard ship. The appearance of a whale in the
evening caused quite a flutter among us. From its sharp back and
forked tail, I should pronounce it to have been a rorqual, or
"finner," as they are called by the fishermen.

October 19.--Wind was cold, so I prudently remained in my
cabin all day, only creeping out for dinner. Lying in my bunk I
can, without moving, reach my books, pipes, or anything else I may
want, which is one advantage of a small apartment. My old wound
began to ache a little to-day, probably from the cold. Read
"Montaigne's Essays" and nursed myself. Harton came in in the
afternoon with Doddy, the Captain's child, and the skipper himself
followed, so that I held quite a reception.

October 20 and 21.--Still cold, with a continual drizzle of
rain, and I have not been able to leave the cabin. This
confinement makes me feel weak and depressed. Goring came in to
see me, but his company did not tend to cheer me up much, as he
hardly uttered a word, but contented himself with staring at me in
a peculiar and rather irritating manner. He then got up and stole
out of the cabin without saying anything. I am beginning to
suspect that the man is a lunatic. I think I mentioned that his
cabin is next to mine. The two are simply divided by a thin wooden
partition which is cracked in many places, some of the cracks being
so large that I can hardly avoid, as I lie in my bunk, observing
his motions in the adjoining room. Without any wish to play the
spy, I see him continually stooping over what appears to be a chart
and working with a pencil and compasses. I have remarked the
interest he displays in matters connected with navigation, but I am
surprised that he should take the trouble to work out the course of
the ship. However, it is a harmless amusement enough, and no
doubt he verifies his results by those of the Captain.

I wish the man did not run in my thoughts so much. I had a
nightmare on the night of the 20th, in which I thought my bunk was
a coffin, that I was laid out in it, and that Goring was
endeavouring to nail up the lid, which I was frantically pushing
away. Even when I woke up, I could hardly persuade myself that I
was not in a coffin. As a medical man, I know that a nightmare is
simply a vascular derangement of the cerebral hemispheres, and yet
in my weak state I cannot shake off the morbid impression which it

October 22.--A fine day, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and a
fresh breeze from the sou'-west which wafts us gaily on our way.
There has evidently been some heavy weather near us, as there is a
tremendous swell on, and the ship lurches until the end of the
fore-yard nearly touches the water. Had a refreshing walk up and
down the quarter-deck, though I have hardly found my sea-legs yet.
Several small birds--chaffinches, I think--perched in the rigging.

4.40 P.M.--While I was on deck this morning I heard a sudden
explosion from the direction of my cabin, and, hurrying down, found
that I had very nearly met with a serious accident. Goring was
cleaning a revolver, it seems, in his cabin, when one of the
barrels which he thought was unloaded went off. The ball passed
through the side partition and imbedded itself in the bulwarks in
the exact place where my head usually rests. I have been under
fire too often to magnify trifles, but there is no doubt that
if I had been in the bunk it must have killed me. Goring, poor
fellow, did not know that I had gone on deck that day, and must
therefore have felt terribly frightened. I never saw such emotion
in a man's face as when, on rushing out of his cabin with the
smoking pistol in his hand, he met me face to face as I came down
from deck. Of course, he was profuse in his apologies, though I
simply laughed at the incident.

11 P.M.--A misfortune has occurred so unexpected and so horrible
that my little escape of the morning dwindles into insignificance.
Mrs. Tibbs and her child have disappeared--utterly and entirely
disappeared. I can hardly compose myself to write the sad details.

About half-past eight Tibbs rushed into my cabin with a very white
face and asked me if I had seen his wife. I answered that I had
not. He then ran wildly into the saloon and began groping about
for any trace of her, while I followed him, endeavouring vainly to
persuade him that his fears were ridiculous. We hunted over the
ship for an hour and a half without coming on any sign of the
missing woman or child. Poor Tibbs lost his voice completely from
calling her name. Even the sailors, who are generally stolid
enough, were deeply affected by the sight of him as he roamed
bareheaded and dishevelled about the deck, searching with feverish
anxiety the most impossible places, and returning to them again and
again with a piteous pertinacity. The last time she was seen was
about seven o'clock, when she took Doddy on to the poop to give him
a breath of fresh air before putting him to bed. There was no
one there at the time except the black seaman at the wheel, who
denies having seen her at all. The whole affair is wrapped in
mystery. My own theory is that while Mrs. Tibbs was holding the
child and standing near the bulwarks it gave a spring and fell
overboard, and that in her convulsive attempt to catch or save it,
she followed it. I cannot account for the double disappearance in
any other way. It is quite feasible that such a tragedy should be
enacted without the knowledge of the man at the wheel, since it was
dark at the time, and the peaked skylights of the saloon screen the
greater part of the quarter-deck. Whatever the truth may be it is
a terrible catastrophe, and has cast the darkest gloom upon our
voyage. The mate has put the ship about, but of course there is
not the slightest hope of picking them up. The Captain is lying in
a state of stupor in his cabin. I gave him a powerful dose of
opium in his coffee that for a few hours at least his anguish may
be deadened.

October 23.--Woke with a vague feeling of heaviness and
misfortune, but it was not until a few moments' reflection that I
was able to recall our loss of the night before. When I came on
deck I saw the poor skipper standing gazing back at the waste of
waters behind us which contains everything dear to him upon earth.
I attempted to speak to him, but he turned brusquely away, and
began pacing the deck with his head sunk upon his breast. Even
now, when the truth is so clear, he cannot pass a boat or an unbent
sail without peering under it. He looks ten years older than
he did yesterday morning. Harton is terribly cut up, for he was
fond of little Doddy, and Goring seems sorry too. At least he has
shut himself up in his cabin all day, and when I got a casual
glance at him his head was resting on his two hands as if in a
melancholy reverie. I fear we are about as dismal a crew as ever
sailed. How shocked my wife will be to hear of our disaster! The
swell has gone down now, and we are doing about eight knots with
all sail set and a nice little breeze. Hyson is practically in
command of the ship, as Tibbs, though he does his best to bear up
and keep a brave front, is incapable of applying himself to serious

October 24.--Is the ship accursed? Was there ever a voyage which
began so fairly and which changed so disastrously? Tibbs shot
himself through the head during the night. I was awakened about
three o'clock in the morning by an explosion, and immediately
sprang out of bed and rushed into the Captain's cabin to find out
the cause, though with a terrible presentiment in my heart.
Quickly as I went, Goring went more quickly still, for he was
already in the cabin stooping over the dead body of the Captain.
It was a hideous sight, for the whole front of his face was blown
in, and the little room was swimming in blood. The pistol was
lying beside him on the floor, just as it had dropped from his
hand. He had evidently put it to his mouth before pulling the
trigger. Goring and I picked him reverently up and laid him on his
bed. The crew had all clustered into his cabin, and the six
white men were deeply grieved, for they were old hands who had
sailed with him many years. There were dark looks and murmurs
among them too, and one of them openly declared that the ship was
haunted. Harton helped to lay the poor skipper out, and we did him
up in canvas between us. At twelve o'clock the foreyard was hauled
aback, and we committed his body to the deep, Goring reading the
Church of England burial service. The breeze has freshened up, and
we have done ten knots all day and sometimes twelve. The sooner we
reach Lisbon and get away from this accursed ship the better
pleased shall I be. I feel as though we were in a floating coffin.

Little wonder that the poor sailors are superstitious when I, an
educated man, feel it so strongly.

October 25.--Made a good run all day. Feel listless and

October 26.--Goring, Harton, and I had a chat together on deck in
the morning. Harton tried to draw Goring out as to his profession,
and his object in going to Europe, but the quadroon parried all his
questions and gave us no information. Indeed, he seemed to be
slightly offended by Harton's pertinacity, and went down into his
cabin. I wonder why we should both take such an interest in this
man! I suppose it is his striking appearance, coupled with his
apparent wealth, which piques our curiosity. Harton has a theory
that he is really a detective, that he is after some criminal who
has got away to Portugal, and that he chooses this peculiar way of
travelling that he may arrive unnoticed and pounce upon his
quarry unawares. I think the supposition is rather a far-fetched
one, but Harton bases it upon a book which Goring left on deck, and
which he picked up and glanced over. It was a sort of scrap-book
it seems, and contained a large number of newspaper cuttings. All
these cuttings related to murders which had been committed at
various times in the States during the last twenty years or so.
The curious thing which Harton observed about them, however, was
that they were invariably murders the authors of which had never
been brought to justice. They varied in every detail, he says, as
to the manner of execution and the social status of the victim, but
they uniformly wound up with the same formula that the murderer was
still at large, though, of course, the police had every reason to
expect his speedy capture. Certainly the incident seems to support
Harton's theory, though it may be a mere whim of Gorings, or, as I
suggested to Harton, he may be collecting materials for a book
which shall outvie De Quincey. In any case it is no business of

October 27, 28.--Wind still fair, and we are making good
progress. Strange how easily a human unit may drop out of its
place and be forgotten! Tibbs is hardly ever mentioned now; Hyson
has taken possession of his cabin, and all goes on as before. Were
it not for Mrs. Tibbs's sewing-machine upon a side-table we might
forget that the unfortunate family had ever existed. Another
accident occurred on board to-day, though fortunately not a very
serious one. One of our white hands had gone down the
afterhold to fetch up a spare coil of rope, when one of the hatches
which he had removed came crashing down on the top of him. He
saved his life by springing out of the way, but one of his feet was
terribly crushed, and he will be of little use for the remainder of
the voyage. He attributes the accident to the carelessness of his
negro companion, who had helped him to shift the hatches. The
latter, however, puts it down to the roll of the ship. Whatever be
the cause, it reduces our shorthanded crew still further. This run
of ill-luck seems to be depressing Harton, for he has lost his
usual good spirits and joviality. Goring is the only one who
preserves his cheerfulness. I see him still working at his chart
in his own cabin. His nautical knowledge would be useful should
anything happen to Hyson--which God forbid!

October 29, 30.--Still bowling along with a fresh breeze. All
quiet and nothing of note to chronicle.

October 31.--My weak lungs, combined with the exciting episodes
of the voyage, have shaken my nervous system so much that the most
trivial incident affects me. I can hardly believe that I am the
same man who tied the external iliac artery, an operation requiring
the nicest precision, under a heavy rifle fire at Antietam. I am
as nervous as a child. I was lying half dozing last night about
four bells in the middle watch trying in vain to drop into a
refreshing sleep. There was no light inside my cabin, but a single
ray of moonlight streamed in through the port hole, throwing a
silvery flickering circle upon the door. As I lay I kept my drowsy
eyes upon this circle, and was conscious that it was gradually
becoming less well-defined as my senses left me, when I was
suddenly recalled to full wakefulness by the appearance of a small
dark object in the very centre of the luminous disc. I lay quietly
and breathlessly watching it. Gradually it grew larger and
plainer, and then I perceived that it was a human hand which had
been cautiously inserted through the chink of the half-closed
door--a hand which, as I observed with a thrill of horror, was not
provided with fingers. The door swung cautiously backwards, and
Goring's head followed his hand. It appeared in the centre of the
moonlight, and was framed as it were in a ghastly uncertain halo,
against which his features showed out plainly. It seemed to me
that I had never seen such an utterly fiendish and merciless
expression upon a human face. His eyes were dilated and glaring,
his lips drawn back so as to show his white fangs, and his straight
black hair appeared to bristle over his low forehead like the hood
of a cobra. The sudden and noiseless apparition had such an effect
upon me that I sprang up in bed trembling in every limb, and held
out my hand towards my revolver. I was heartily ashamed of my
hastiness when he explained the object of his intrusion, as he
immediately did in the most courteous language. He had been
suffering from toothache, poor fellow! and had come in to beg some
laudanum, knowing that I possessed a medicine chest. As to a
sinister expression he is never a beauty, and what with my state of
nervous tension and the effect of the shifting moonlight it was
easy to conjure up something horrible. I gave him twenty drops,
and he went off again with many expressions of gratitude. I can
hardly say how much this trivial incident affected me. I have felt
unstrung all day.

A week's record of our voyage is here omitted, as nothing eventful
occurred during the time, and my log consists merely of a few pages
of unimportant gossip.

November 7.--Harton and I sat on the poop all the morning, for
the weather is becoming very warm as we come into southern
latitudes. We reckon that we have done two-thirds of our voyage.
How glad we shall be to see the green banks of the Tagus, and leave
this unlucky ship for ever! I was endeavouring to amuse Harton to-
day and to while away the time by telling him some of the
experiences of my past life. Among others I related to him how I
came into the possession of my black stone, and as a finale I
rummaged in the side pocket of my old shooting coat and produced
the identical object in question. He and I were bending over it
together, I pointing out to him the curious ridges upon its
surface, when we were conscious of a shadow falling between us and
the sun, and looking round saw Goring standing behind us glaring
over our shoulders at the stone. For some reason or other he
appeared to be powerfully excited, though he was evidently trying
to control himself and to conceal his emotion. He pointed once or
twice at my relic with his stubby thumb before he could recover
himself sufficiently to ask what it was and how I obtained it--a
question put in such a brusque manner that I should have been
offended had I not known the man to be an eccentric. I told him
the story very much as I had told it to Harton. He listened with
the deepest interest, and then asked me if I had any idea what the
stone was. I said I had not, beyond that it was meteoric. He
asked me if I had ever tried its effect upon a negro. I said I had
not. "Come," said he, "we'll see what our black friend at the
wheel thinks of it." He took the stone in his hand and went across
to the sailor, and the two examined it carefully. I could see the
man gesticulating and nodding his head excitedly as if making some
assertion, while his face betrayed the utmost astonishment, mixed
I think with some reverence. Goring came across the deck to us
presently, still holding the stone in his hand. "He says it is a
worthless, useless thing," he said, "and fit only to be chucked
overboard," with which he raised his hand and would most certainly
have made an end of my relic, had the black sailor behind him not
rushed forward and seized him by the wrist. Finding himself
secured Goring dropped the stone and turned away with a very bad
grace to avoid my angry remonstrances at his breach of faith. The
black picked up the stone and handed it to me with a low bow and
every sign of profound respect. The whole affair is inexplicable.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Goring is a maniac or
something very near one. When I compare the effect produced by
the stone upon the sailor, however, with the respect shown to
Martha on the plantation, and the surprise of Goring on its first
production, I cannot but come to the conclusion that I have really
got hold of some powerful talisman which appeals to the whole dark
race. I must not trust it in Goring's hands again.

November 8, 9.--What splendid weather we are having! Beyond one
little blow, we have had nothing but fresh breezes the whole
voyage. These two days we have made better runs than any hitherto.

It is a pretty thing to watch the spray fly up from our prow as it
cuts through the waves. The sun shines through it and breaks it up
into a number of miniature rainbows--"sun-dogs," the sailors call
them. I stood on the fo'csle-head for several hours to-day
watching the effect, and surrounded by a halo of prismatic colours.

The steersman has evidently told the other blacks about my
wonderful stone, for I am treated by them all with the greatest
respect. Talking about optical phenomena, we had a curious one
yesterday evening which was pointed out to me by Hyson. This was
the appearance of a triangular well-defined object high up in the
heavens to the north of us. He explained that it was exactly like
the Peak of Teneriffe as seen from a great distance--the peak was,
however, at that moment at least five hundred miles to the south.
It may have been a cloud, or it may have been one of those strange
reflections of which one reads. The weather is very warm. The
mate says that he never knew it so warm in these latitudes.
Played chess with Harton in the evening.

November 10.--It is getting warmer and warmer. Some land birds
came and perched in the rigging today, though we are still a
considerable way from our destination. The heat is so great that
we are too lazy to do anything but lounge about the decks and
smoke. Goring came over to me to-day and asked me some more
questions about my stone; but I answered him rather shortly, for I
have not quite forgiven him yet for the cool way in which he
attempted to deprive me of it.

November 11, 12.--Still making good progress. I had no idea
Portugal was ever as hot as this, but no doubt it is cooler on
land. Hyson himself seemed surprised at it, and so do the men.

November 13.--A most extraordinary event has happened, so
extraordinary as to be almost inexplicable. Either Hyson has
blundered wonderfully, or some magnetic influence has disturbed our
instruments. Just about daybreak the watch on the fo'csle-head
shouted out that he heard the sound of surf ahead, and Hyson
thought he saw the loom of land. The ship was put about, and,
though no lights were seen, none of us doubted that we had struck
the Portuguese coast a little sooner than we had expected. What
was our surprise to see the scene which was revealed to us at break
of day! As far as we could look on either side was one long line
of surf, great, green billows rolling in and breaking into a cloud
of foam. But behind the surf what was there! Not the green
banks nor the high cliffs of the shores of Portugal, but a great
sandy waste which stretched away and away until it blended with the
skyline. To right and left, look where you would, there was
nothing but yellow sand, heaped in some places into fantastic
mounds, some of them several hundred feet high, while in other
parts were long stretches as level apparently as a billiard board.
Harton and I, who had come on deck together, looked at each other
in astonishment, and Harton burst out laughing. Hyson is
exceedingly mortified at the occurrence, and protests that the
instruments have been tampered with. There is no doubt that this
is the mainland of Africa, and that it was really the Peak of
Teneriffe which we saw some days ago upon the northern horizon. At
the time when we saw the land birds we must have been passing some
of the Canary Islands. If we continued on the same course, we are
now to the north of Cape Blanco, near the unexplored country which
skirts the great Sahara. All we can do is to rectify our
instruments as far as possible and start afresh for our

8.30 P.M.--Have been lying in a calm all day. The coast is now
about a mile and a half from us. Hyson has examined the
instruments, but cannot find any reason for their extraordinary

This is the end of my private journal, and I must make the
remainder of my statement from memory. There is little chance of
my being mistaken about facts which have seared themselves into my
recollection. That very night the storm which had been brewing
so long burst over us, and I came to learn whither all those little
incidents were tending which I had recorded so aimlessly. Blind
fool that I was not to have seen it sooner! I shall tell what
occurred as precisely as I can.

I had gone into my cabin about half-past eleven, and was preparing
to go to bed, when a tap came at my door. On opening it I saw
Goring's little black page, who told me that his master would like
to have a word with me on deck. I was rather surprised that he
should want me at such a late hour, but I went up without
hesitation. I had hardly put my foot on the quarter-deck before I
was seized from behind, dragged down upon my back, and a
handkerchief slipped round my mouth. I struggled as hard as I
could, but a coil of rope was rapidly and firmly wound round me,
and I found myself lashed to the davit of one of the boats, utterly
powerless to do or say anything, while the point of a knife pressed
to my throat warned me to cease my struggles. The night was so
dark that I had been unable hitherto to recognise my assailants,
but as my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, and the moon broke
out through the clouds that obscured it, I made out that I was
surrounded by the two negro sailors, the black cook, and my fellow-
passenger Goring. Another man was crouching on the deck at my
feet, but he was in the shadow and I could not recognise him.

All this occurred so rapidly that a minute could hardly have
elapsed from the time I mounted the companion until I found
myself gagged and powerless. It was so sudden that I could scarce
bring myself to realise it, or to comprehend what it all meant. I
heard the gang round me speaking in short, fierce whispers to each
other, and some instinct told me that my life was the question at
issue. Goring spoke authoritatively and angrily--the others
doggedly and all together, as if disputing his commands. Then they
moved away in a body to the opposite side of the deck, where I
could still hear them whispering, though they were concealed from
my view by the saloon skylights.

All this time the voices of the watch on deck chatting and laughing
at the other end of the ship were distinctly audible, and I could
see them gathered in a group, little dreaming of the dark doings
which were going on within thirty yards of them. Oh! that I could
have given them one word of warning, even though I had lost my life
in doing it I but it was impossible. The moon was shining fitfully
through the scattered clouds, and I could see the silvery gleam of
the surge, and beyond it the vast weird desert with its fantastic
sand-hills. Glancing down, I saw that the man who had been
crouching on the deck was still lying there, and as I gazed at him,
a flickering ray of moonlight fell full upon his upturned face.
Great Heaven! even now, when more than twelve years have elapsed,
my hand trembles as I write that, in spite of distorted features
and projecting eyes, I recognised the face of Harton, the cheery
young clerk who had been my companion during the voyage. It needed
no medical eye to see that he was quite dead, while the twisted
handkerchief round the neck, and the gag in his mouth, showed the
silent way in which the hell-hounds had done their work. The clue
which explained every event of our voyage came upon me like a flash
of light as I gazed on poor Harton's corpse. Much was dark and
unexplained, but I felt a great dim perception of the truth.

I heard the striking of a match at the other side of the skylights,
and then I saw the tall, gaunt figure of Goring standing up on the
bulwarks and holding in his hands what appeared to be a dark
lantern. He lowered this for a moment over the side of the ship,
and, to my inexpressible astonishment, I saw it answered
instantaneously by a flash among the sand-hills on shore, which
came and went so rapidly, that unless I had been following the
direction of Goring's gaze, I should never have detected it. Again
he lowered the lantern, and again it was answered from the shore.
He then stepped down from the bulwarks, and in doing so slipped,
making such a noise, that for a moment my heart bounded with the
thought that the attention of the watch would be directed to his
proceedings. It was a vain hope. The night was calm and the ship
motionless, so that no idea of duty kept them vigilant. Hyson, who
after the death of Tibbs was in command of both watches, had gone
below to snatch a few hours' sleep, and the boatswain who was left
in charge was standing with the other two men at the foot of the
foremast. Powerless, speechless, with the cords cutting into
my flesh and the murdered man at my feet, I awaited the next act in
the tragedy.

The four ruffians were standing up now at the other side of the
deck. The cook was armed with some sort of a cleaver, the others
had knives, and Goring had a revolver. They were all leaning
against the rail and looking out over the water as if watching for
something. I saw one of them grasp another's arm and point as if
at some object, and following the direction I made out the loom of
a large moving mass making towards the ship. As it emerged from
the gloom I saw that it was a great canoe crammed with men and
propelled by at least a score of paddles. As it shot under our
stern the watch caught sight of it also, and raising a cry hurried
aft. They were too late, however. A swarm of gigantic negroes
clambered over the quarter, and led by Goring swept down the deck
in an irresistible torrent. All opposition was overpowered in a
moment, the unarmed watch were knocked over and bound, and the
sleepers dragged out of their bunks and secured in the same manner.

Hyson made an attempt to defend the narrow passage leading to his
cabin, and I heard a scuffle, and his voice shouting for
assistance. There was none to assist, however, and he was brought
on to the poop with the blood streaming from a deep cut in his
forehead. He was gagged like the others, and a council was held
upon our fate by the negroes. I saw our black seamen pointing
towards me and making some statement, which was received with
murmurs of astonishment and incredulity by the savages. One of
them then came over to me, and plunging his hand into my pocket
took out my black stone and held it up. He then handed it to a man
who appeared to be a chief, who examined it as minutely as the
light would permit, and muttering a few words passed it on to the
warrior beside him, who also scrutinised it and passed it on until
it had gone from hand to hand round the whole circle. The chief
then said a few words to Goring in the native tongue, on which the
quadroon addressed me in English. At this moment I seem to see the
scene. The tall masts of the ship with the moonlight streaming
down, silvering the yards and bringing the network of cordage into
hard relief; the group of dusky warriors leaning on their spears;
the dead man at my feet; the line of white-faced prisoners, and in
front of me the loathsome half-breed, looking in his white linen
and elegant clothes a strange contrast to his associates.

"You will bear me witness," he said in his softest accents, "that
I am no party to sparing your life. If it rested with me you would
die as these other men are about to do. I have no personal grudge
against either you or them, but I have devoted my life to the
destruction of the white race, and you are the first that has ever
been in my power and has escaped me. You may thank that stone of
yours for your life. These poor fellows reverence it, and indeed
if it really be what they think it is they have cause. Should it
prove when we get ashore that they are mistaken, and that its shape
and material is a mere chance, nothing can save your life. In
the meantime we wish to treat you well, so if there are any of your
possessions which you would like to take with you, you are at
liberty to get them." As he finished he gave a sign, and a couple
of the negroes unbound me, though without removing the gag. I was
led down into the cabin, where I put a few valuables into my
pockets, together with a pocket-compass and my journal of the
voyage. They then pushed me over the side into a small canoe,
which was lying beside the large one, and my guards followed me,
and shoving off began paddling for the shore. We had got about a
hundred yards or so from the ship when our steersman held up his
hand, and the paddlers paused for a moment and listened. Then on
the silence of the night I heard a sort of dull, moaning sound,
followed by a succession of splashes in the water. That is all I
know of the fate of my poor shipmates. Almost immediately
afterwards the large canoe followed us, and the deserted ship was
left drifting about--a dreary, spectre-like hulk. Nothing was
taken from her by the savages. The whole fiendish transaction was
carried through as decorously and temperately as though it were a
religious rite.

The first grey of daylight was visible in the east as we passed
through the surge and reached the shore. Leaving half-a-dozen men
with the canoes, the rest of the negroes set off through the sand-
hills, leading me with them, but treating me very gently and
respectfully. It was difficult walking, as we sank over our ankles
into the loose, shifting sand at every step, and I was nearly
dead beat by the time we reached the native village, or town
rather, for it was a place of considerable dimensions. The houses
were conical structures not unlike bee-hives, and were made of
compressed seaweed cemented over with a rude form of mortar, there
being neither stick nor stone upon the coast nor anywhere within
many hundreds of miles. As we entered the town an enormous crowd
of both sexes came swarming out to meet us, beating tom-toms and
howling and screaming. On seeing me they redoubled their yells and
assumed a threatening attitude, which was instantly quelled by a
few words shouted by my escort. A buzz of wonder succeeded the
war-cries and yells of the moment before, and the whole dense mass
proceeded down the broad central street of the town, having my
escort and myself in the centre.

My statement hitherto may seem so strange as to excite doubt in the
minds of those who do not know me, but it was the fact which I am
now about to relate which caused my own brother-in-law to insult me
by disbelief. I can but relate the occurrence in the simplest
words, and trust to chance and time to prove their truth. In the
centre of this main street there was a large building, formed in
the same primitive way as the others, but towering high above them;
a stockade of beautifully polished ebony rails was planted all
round it, the framework of the door was formed by two magnificent
elephant's tusks sunk in the ground on each side and meeting at the
top, and the aperture was closed by a screen of native cloth
richly embroidered with gold. We made our way to this imposing-
looking structure, but, on reaching the opening in the stockade,
the multitude stopped and squatted down upon their hams, while I
was led through into the enclosure by a few of the chiefs and
elders of the tribe, Goring accompanying us, and in fact directing
the proceedings. On reaching the screen which closed the temple--
for such it evidently was--my hat and my shoes were removed, and I
was then led in, a venerable old negro leading the way carrying in
his hand my stone, which had been taken from my pocket. The
building was only lit up by a few long slits in the roof, through
which the tropical sun poured, throwing broad golden bars upon the
clay floor, alternating with intervals of darkness.

The interior was even larger than one would have imagined from the
outside appearance. The walls were hung with native mats, shells,
and other ornaments, but the remainder of the great space was quite
empty, with the exception of a single object in the centre. This
was the figure of a colossal negro, which I at first thought to be
some real king or high priest of titanic size, but as I approached
it I saw by the way in which the light was reflected from it that
it was a statue admirably cut in jet-black stone. I was led up to
this idol, for such it seemed to be, and looking at it closer I saw
that though it was perfect in every other respect, one of its ears
had been broken short off. The grey-haired negro who held my relic
mounted upon a small stool, and stretching up his arm fitted
Martha's black stone on to the jagged surface on the side of the
statue's head. There could not be a doubt that the one had been
broken off from the other. The parts dovetailed together so
accurately that when the old man removed his hand the ear stuck in
its place for a few seconds before dropping into his open palm.
The group round me prostrated themselves upon the ground at the
sight with a cry of reverence, while the crowd outside, to whom the
result was communicated, set up a wild whooping and cheering.

In a moment I found myself converted from a prisoner into a demi-
god. I was escorted back through the town in triumph, the people
pressing forward to touch my clothing and to gather up the dust on
which my foot had trod. One of the largest huts was put at my
disposal, and a banquet of every native delicacy was served me. I
still felt, however, that I was not a free man, as several spearmen
were placed as a guard at the entrance of my hut. All day my mind
was occupied with plans of escape, but none seemed in any way
feasible. On the one side was the great arid desert stretching
away to Timbuctoo, on the other was a sea untraversed by vessels.
The more I pondered over the problem the more hopeless did it seem.

I little dreamed how near I was to its solution.

Night had fallen, and the clamour of the negroes had died gradually
away. I was stretched on the couch of skins which had been
provided for me, and was still meditating over my future, when
Goring walked stealthily into the hut. My first idea was that
he had come to complete his murderous holocaust by making away with
me, the last survivor, and I sprang up upon my feet, determined to
defend myself to the last. He smiled when he saw the action, and
motioned me down again while he seated himself upon the other end
of the couch.

"What do you think of me?" was the astonishing question with which
he commenced our conversation.

"Think of you!" I almost yelled. "I think you the vilest, most
unnatural renegade that ever polluted the earth. If we were away
from these black devils of yours I would strangle you with my

"Don't speak so loud," he said, without the slightest appearance of
irritation. "I don't want our chat to be cut short. So you would
strangle me, would you!" he went on, with an amused smile. "I
suppose I am returning good for evil, for I have come to help you
to escape."

"You!" I gasped incredulously.

"Yes, I," he continued.

"Oh, there is no credit to me in the matter. I am quite
consistent. There is no reason why I should not be perfectly
candid with you. I wish to be king over these fellows--not a very
high ambition, certainly, but you know what Caesar said about being
first in a village in Gaul. Well, this unlucky stone of yours has
not only saved your life, but has turned all their heads so that
they think you are come down from heaven, and my influence will be
gone until you are out of the way. That is why I am going to help
you to escape, since I cannot kill you"--this in the most
natural and dulcet voice, as if the desire to do so were a matter
of course.

"You would give the world to ask me a few questions," he went on,
after a pause; "but you are too proud to do it. Never mind, I'll
tell you one or two things, because I want your fellow white men to
know them when you go back--if you are lucky enough to get back.
About that cursed stone of yours, for instance. These negroes, or
at least so the legend goes, were Mahometans originally. While
Mahomet himself was still alive, there was a schism among his
followers, and the smaller party moved away from Arabia, and
eventually crossed Africa. They took away with them, in their
exile, a valuable relic of their old faith in the shape of a large
piece of the black stone of Mecca. The stone was a meteoric one,
as you may have heard, and in its fall upon the earth it broke into
two pieces. One of these pieces is still at Mecca. The larger
piece was carried away to Barbary, where a skilful worker modelled
it into the fashion which you saw to-day. These men are the
descendants of the original seceders from Mahomet, and they have
brought their relic safely through all their wanderings until they
settled in this strange place, where the desert protects them from
their enemies."

"And the ear?" I asked, almost involuntarily.

"Oh, that was the same story over again. Some of the tribe
wandered away to the south a few hundred years ago, and one of
them, wishing to have good luck for the enterprise, got into the
temple at night and carried off one of the ears. There has
been a tradition among the negroes ever since that the ear would
come back some day. The fellow who carried it was caught by some
slaver, no doubt, and that was how it got into America, and so into
your hands--and you have had the honour of fulfilling the

He paused for a few minutes, resting his head upon his hands,
waiting apparently for me to speak. When he looked up again, the
whole expression of his face had changed. His features were firm
and set, and he changed the air of half levity with which he had
spoken before for one of sternness and almost ferocity.

"I wish you to carry a message back," he said, "to the white race,
the great dominating race whom I hate and defy. Tell them that I
have battened on their blood for twenty years, that I have slain
them until even I became tired of what had once been a joy, that I
did this unnoticed and unsuspected in the face of every precaution
which their civilisation could suggest. There is no satisfaction
in revenge when your enemy does not know who has struck him. I am
not sorry, therefore, to have you as a messenger. There is no need
why I should tell you how this great hate became born in me. See
this," and he held up his mutilated hand; "that was done by a white
man's knife. My father was white, my mother was a slave. When he
died she was sold again, and I, a child then, saw her lashed to
death to break her of some of the little airs and graces which her
late master had encouraged in her. My young wife, too, oh, my
young wife!" a shudder ran through his whole frame. "No
matter! I swore my oath, and I kept it. From Maine to Florida,
and from Boston to San Francisco, you could track my steps by
sudden deaths which baffled the police. I warred against the whole
white race as they for centuries had warred against the black one.
At last, as I tell you, I sickened of blood. Still, the sight of
a white face was abhorrent to me, and I determined to find some
bold free black people and to throw in my lot with them, to
cultivate their latent powers, and to form a nucleus for a great
coloured nation. This idea possessed me, and I travelled over the
world for two years seeking for what I desired. At last I almost
despaired of finding it. There was no hope of regeneration in the
slave-dealing Soudanese, the debased Fantee, or the Americanised
negroes of Liberia. I was returning from my quest when chance
brought me in contact with this magnificent tribe of dwellers in
the desert, and I threw in my lot with them. Before doing so,
however, my old instinct of revenge prompted me to make one last
visit to the United States, and I returned from it in the Marie

"As to the voyage itself, your intelligence will have told you by
this time that, thanks to my manipulation, both compasses and
chronometers were entirely untrustworthy. I alone worked out the
course with correct instruments of my own, while the steering was
done by my black friends under my guidance. I pushed Tibbs's wife
overboard. What! You look surprised and shrink away. Surely you
had guessed that by this time. I would have shot you that day
through the partition, but unfortunately you were not there. I
tried again afterwards, but you were awake. I shot Tibbs. I think
the idea of suicide was carried out rather neatly. Of course when
once we got on the coast the rest was simple. I had bargained that
all on board should die; but that stone of yours upset my plans.
I also bargained that there should be no plunder. No one can say
we are pirates. We have acted from principle, not from any sordid

I listened in amazement to the summary of his crimes which this
strange man gave me, all in the quietest and most composed of
voices, as though detailing incidents of every-day occurrence. I
still seem to see him sitting like a hideous nightmare at the end
of my couch, with the single rude lamp flickering over his
cadaverous features.

"And now," he continued, "there is no difficulty about your escape.

These stupid adopted children of mine will say that you have gone
back to heaven from whence you came. The wind blows off the land.
I have a boat all ready for you, well stored with provisions and
water. I am anxious to be rid of you, so you may rely that nothing
is neglected. Rise up and follow me."

I did what he commanded, and he led me through the door of the hut.

The guards had either been withdrawn, or Goring had arranged
matters with them. We passed unchallenged through the town and
across the sandy plain. Once more I heard the roar of the sea,
and saw the long white line of the surge. Two figures were
standing upon the shore arranging the gear of a small boat. They
were the two sailors who had been with us on the voyage.

"See him safely through the surf," said Goring. The two men sprang
in and pushed off, pulling me in after them. With mainsail and jib
we ran out from the land and passed safely over the bar. Then my
two companions without a word of farewell sprang overboard, and I
saw their heads like black dots on the white foam as they made
their way back to the shore, while I scudded away into the
blackness of the night. Looking back I caught my last glimpse of
Goring. He was standing upon the summit of a sand-hill, and the
rising moon behind him threw his gaunt angular figure into hard
relief. He was waving his arms frantically to and fro; it may have
been to encourage me on my way, but the gestures seemed to me at
the time to be threatening ones, and I have often thought that it
was more likely that his old savage instinct had returned when he
realised that I was out of his power. Be that as it may, it was
the last that I ever saw or ever shall see of Septimius Goring.

There is no need for me to dwell upon my solitary voyage. I
steered as well as I could for the Canaries, but was picked up upon
the fifth day by the British and African Steam Navigation Company's
boat Monrovia. Let me take this opportunity of tendering my
sincerest thanks to Captain Stornoway and his officers for the
great kindness which they showed me from that time till they
landed me in Liverpool, where I was enabled to take one of the
Guion boats to New York.

From the day on which I found myself once more in the bosom of my
family I have said little of what I have undergone. The subject is
still an intensely painful one to me, and the little which I have
dropped has been discredited. I now put the facts before the
public as they occurred, careless how far they may be believed, and
simply writing them down because my lung is growing weaker, and I
feel the responsibility of holding my peace longer. I make no
vague statement. Turn to your map of Africa. There above Cape
Blanco, where the land trends away north and south from the
westernmost point of the continent, there it is that Septimius
Goring still reigns over his dark subjects, unless retribution has
overtaken him; and there, where the long green ridges run swiftly
in to roar and hiss upon the hot yellow sand, it is there that
Harton lies with Hyson and the other poor fellows who were done to
death in the Marie Celeste.

Arthur Conan Doyle

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