But no sail was set. Word came instead that the person who had sold the ship had not been paid its price and had seized the vessel; the delays of the law threatened, when time was a matter of fortune or of ruin.
And soon came far worse tidings. The emigrants refused to believe them as long as there was room for doubt. Henry and Daniel Mueller—for locksmith Mueller, said Wagner twenty-seven years afterwards on the witness-stand, “was a brave man and was foremost in doing everything necessary to be done for the passengers”—went back to Amsterdam to see if such news could be true, and returned only to confirm despair. The man to whom the passage money of the two hundred families—nine hundred souls—had been paid had absconded.
They could go neither forward nor back. Days, weeks, months passed, and there still lay the great hulk teeming with its population and swinging idly at anchor; fathers gazing wistfully over the high bulwarks, mothers nursing their babes, and the children, Eva, Daniel, Henry, Andrew, Dorothea, Salome, and all the rest, by hundreds.
Salome was a pretty child, dark, as both her parents were, and looking much like her mother; having especially her black hair and eyes and her chin. Playing around with her was one little cousin, a girl of her own age,—that is, somewhere between three and five,—whose face was strikingly like Salome’s. It was she who in later life became Madame Karl Rouff, or, more familiarly, Madame Karl.
Provisions began to diminish, grew scanty, and at length were gone. The emigrants’ summer was turned into winter; it was now December. So pitiful did their case become that it forced the attention of the Dutch Government. Under its direction they were brought back to Amsterdam, where many of them, without goods, money, or even shelter, and strangers to the place and to the language, were reduced to beg for bread.
But by and by there came a word of great relief. The Government offered a reward of thirty thousand gilders—about twelve thousand dollars—to any merchant or captain of a vessel who would take them to America, and a certain Grandsteiner accepted the task. For a time he quartered them in Amsterdam, but by and by, with hearts revived, they began to go again on shipboard. This time there were three ships in place of the one; or two ships, and one of those old Dutch, flattish-bottomed, round-sided, two-masted crafts they called galiots. The number of ships was trebled—that was well; but the number of souls was doubled, and eighteen hundred wanderers from home were stowed in the three vessels.
FAMINE AT SEA.
These changes made new farewells and separations. Common aims, losses, and sufferings had knit together in friendship many who had never seen each other until they met on the deck of the big Russian ship, and now not a few of these must part.