Such is one aspect given us by history of the New Orleans towards which that company of emigrants, first of the three that had left the other side, were toiling across the waters.
SOLD INTO BONDAGE.
They were fever-struck and famine-wasted. But February was near its end, and they were in the Gulf of Mexico. At that time of year its storms have lulled and its airs are the perfection of spring; March is a kind of May. And March came.
They saw other ships now every day; many of them going their way. The sight cheered them; the passage had been lonely as well as stormy. Their own vessels, of course,—the other two,—they had not expected to see, and had not seen. They did not know whether they were on the sea or under it.
At length pilot-boats began to appear. One came to them and put a pilot on board. Then the blue water turned green, and by and by yellow. A fringe of low land was almost right ahead. Other vessels were making for the same lighthouse towards which they were headed, and so drew constantly nearer to one another. The emigrants line the bulwarks, watching the nearest sails. One ship is so close that some can see the play of waters about her bows. And now it is plain that her bulwarks, too, are lined with emigrants who gaze across at them. She glides nearer, and just as the cry of recognition bursts from this whole company the other one yonder suddenly waves caps and kerchiefs and sends up a cheer. Their ship is the Johanna.
Do we dare draw upon fancy? We must not. The companies did meet on the water, near the Mississippi’s mouth, though whether first inside or outside the stream I do not certainly gather. But they met; not the two vessels only, but the three. They were towed up the river side by side, the Johanna here, the Captain Grone there, and the other ship between them. Wagner, who had sailed on the galiot, was still alive. Many years afterwards he testified:
“We all arrived at the Balize [the river’s mouth] the same day. The ships were so close we could speak to each other from on board our respective ships. We inquired of one another of those who had died and of those who still remained.”
Madame Fleikener said the same:
“We hailed each other from the ships and asked who lived and who had died. The father and mother of Madame Schuber [Kropp and his wife] told me Daniel Mueller and family were on board.”
But they had suffered loss. Of the Johanna’s 700 souls only 430 were left alive. Henry Mueller’s wife was dead. Daniel Mueller’s wife, Dorothea, had been sick almost from the start; she was gone, with the babe at her bosom. Henry was left with his two boys, and Daniel with his one and his little Dorothea and Salome. Grandsteiner, the supercargo, had lived; but of 1800 homeless poor whom the Dutch king’s gilders had paid him to bring to America, foul ships and lack of food and water had buried 1200 in the sea.