I was now alone upon the waste of waters, with barely three days’ provisions between me and a slow and painful death. To add to my anxieties I could see that the weather, which had been calm and fine since my leaving the island, was about to change. Storm clouds gathered on the horizon. The sun was obscured. Rain fell, and the wind rose until it blew with the force of a tempest. I managed, with difficulty, to unship the sail, and devoted myself to baling the boat, which threatened at any moment to be swamped by the green water which came aboard of her. All that day, and the next, I was driven by the storm whither I knew not. The fruit which remained from our store was now rendered uneatable by reason of the salt water, in which it washed from side to side as the boat tossed and buffeted upon her way. A was famished and numb with cold. Yet, even in my extremity, I clung to life, and my last act of consciousness was to secure myself by a rope to the thwart upon which I lay.
I was brought back to life by a flask of spirits held to my lips, and upon opening my eyes I became conscious of a bronzed, kindly face looking down at me in the water-logged boat.
“Hold up, lad,” said my preserver in English, a language with which I was well acquainted. “We’ll have you aboard the ‘Seagull’ in a jiff, and to-morrow you’ll be as fit as a buck rat.”
I then saw that a ship’s boat was alongside the cutter, manned by four men. The weather had by this time moderated, but the sea ran high. It was therefore no easy matter to shift me from the cutter into the boat, for I was helpless and weak as a child from exposure to wind and sea. But willing hands at length effected the transfer, when we made for the “Seagull”, which lay hove to half a mile distant.
On coming aboard this vessel I was taken below and treated with great kindness, when, after my wet clothes had been set to dry, I was put into a warm bunk, a bowl of hot soup being brought to me, which, when I had taken it, sent me into a sound sleep. I awoke much refreshed, and on resuming my clothes I was glad to find that the belt in which I carried my jewels had not been interfered with. I thought it more prudent not to make mention of these gems, for I well knew that if they were found upon me I should not be allowed to keep them. The captain, having heard so much of my story as I chose to tell, promised me a passage to England, whither his ship was bound.
I found the crew of the brig “Seagull” to be a rough lot, of mixed nationalities, but Captain Bland, who was in command, was an Englishman returning home after a voyage of two years in these latitudes. Upon learning my rating on the “Arms of Amsterdam” he made me his second mate, in place of one who had died shortly before my coming on board the brig.
It may be imagined with what a thankful heart I welcomed a change from the companionship of savages to that of civilized men, and when I remembered the projects I had formed against my life I realized how unwise it is to become the arbiter of one’s own fate.