Jim Butler (ajb@ZEPPO.GEOSURV.GOV.NF.CA)
Fri, 26 Nov 1993 14:40:38 NST
Here is a sea story that I found in my scouting files.
It was actually a photocopy of a section from a book,but
no indication as to the source and the author. I think
that it would make an interesting tale for a campfire.
Read and enjoy!
RESCUE AT SEA
This is a tale of ships and rescue with a strange twist. Is it true?
Did it really happen? Can a person be in two places at the same time?
We do not know for certain, but it is an intriguing tale that will
make you think.
The story takes place in the fall of 1823, when a young man named
Robert Brace from Torbay, Newfoundland, was mate of a vessel
trading between Liverpool, England, and Saint John, New Brunswick.
On one particularly difficult westward passage, the vessel came
close to the iceberg infested waters on the east coast of
Near noon, Brace and his captain were on deck making routine
navigation observations. After, they went below to work out
the ship's position. Brace's cabin adjoined the main cabin,
which made if possible for him to see into the main cabin, when
he was at his desk, simply by looking over his shoulder.
Brace was intently working on his calculations and he
noticed nothing unusual. He thought that his captain was
working, with the same figures, in the main cabin. When
Brace run into a little difficulty with his work, he, without
turning around, asked the captain to confirm their position.
There was no reply. He repeated the question. When there
was still no answer, Brace looked over his shoulder. He saw,
what he thought was, the captain busily writing on his slate.
(Remember that this was well before paper was in ready supply
and most things, that did not have to be saved, were written
on slate). Brace thought it unusual that the captain did not
answer, so he got up and went to the door of the main cabin.
As he did, the man, who had been writing on the slate, raised
his head. Brace was frozen with shock. The man at the desk
was a complete stranger!
Brace broke out in a cold sweat. He had faced death many
times without fear, but as he met the stranger's gaze, in
the silence of the lower deck, knowing that he has never
seen the man before, an errie sensation began to spread
over his body. He had never seen this person before.
Not on any ship or on shore. He bolted to the deck and
hurriedly searched for the captain. When he found him Brace
asked the captain, "Who's in your cabin writing on your slate?"
The captain was startled. "There's no one there as far as I know."
"Well, there's a man sitting at your desk," Brace exclaimed.
"You must be dreaming," the captain said, "but could be
the second mate or the steward - nobody else would be in
there without my permission."
Brace, however, assured the skipper that the man in the
cabin was neither the second mate nor the steward, nor
in fact any of the crew - he was a complete stranger.
"Where could he have come from?" the captain asked. "We're
been at sea for nearly six weeks. Let's go below and find out."
The two men went to the cabin, but found no one. A search
do not reveal any trace that a stranger having been there - until
they looked at the slate. There they saw, in a strange handwriting,
the statement: "Sail for the northwest!"
The captain, amazed, immediately sat down before the writing table.
He stared at the slate. Then he ordered Brace to write the same
message underneath the words on the slate. There was no resemblance
in the handwriting. The captain sent for the second mate and every
man of the crew in turn who was able to write. Each was told to
write the same message on the slate. None of the handwriting
matched the original message.
Dumbfounded, the captain insisted that there must be a stowaway
aboard even though the ship had been at sea for six weeks. He
ordered a thorough search of the vessel. The crew searched the
ship from stem to stern and found no one.
The captain was puzzled. The mate insisted he had seen a
strange man writing the message on the slate. And, in his
opinion, if on one on the ship had done it, then it was a
message they could not ignore. After some discussion, the
captain ordered the helmsman to steer to the northwest.
All hands were on deck as the ship began to sail on
the new course. A sense of great eagerness, mixed
with some uneasiness, in the air. The lookouts were
doubled in the rigging. Everyone peered at the horizon
for the first sight of ... they knew not what!
For more than three hours the ship sailed on her course,
ninety degrees off the old one. Suddenly, an iceberg was
sighted. A few minutes later, the masthead lookout shouted
that there appeared to be a ship near the berg, so close that
it might be a wreck. The captain looked through his telescope,
and saw that the ship was stuck fast in a field of ice around the
berg. The masts were gone and the ship was sinking. He could
also see people on board.
The rescue vessel approached as near as it could with
safety. A lifeboat was lowered to pick up the passengers
and crew of the ship in distress. It was later learned that
the ship was bound for Quebec from Liverpool, and carrying
many passengers. It had become stuck in the ice for some time
and was in trouble. The passengers and crew had given up hope of
rescue when the vessel appeared.
As the people left the sinking vessel, they were taken
aboard the lifeboats and carried to the rescue ship. Brace was
on the rescue ship watching the survivors come aboard. He
almost fell off the deck with fright. One of the men coming
aboard his ship was the same fellow he had seen writing on the
slate at the captain's table some hours before. The same figure,
features and clothing, exactly.
Brace called the captain aside and told him about the man. The
captain was skeptical, to say the least, but he was determined
to get to the bottom of the extraordinary affair. The mysterious
stranger was standing with the captain of the abandoned ship. As
soon as the shipwrecked people were safely stowed away, the captain
and mate of the rescue vessel approached the stranger, a little
apprehensive as to what to expect. Both men thanked their rescuers
for saving their lives.
The stranger appeared to be a normal human being, dispelling
any fears of ghosts or spirits. The mystery deepened. Brace's
captain asked the stranger if he would come to his cabin. When
they reached there, the captain said to the man, "Forgive this
odd request, but please write something on this slate."
"Willingly," the stranger replied. "What would you like me to write?"
Without hesitation the captain said, "Write - sail by the northwest."
The puzzled stranger did as he was requested. On the blank
side of the captain's slate he wrote sail by the northwest.
The captain put the slate behind his back, turned it over
and handed it back to the writer.
"Is this your writing?" he asked.
"Of course it is," said the stranger, "you saw me write it."
"Well, then," said the captain, turning over the slate, "who wrote
"Why I did, of course, just now," the stranger replied. Then
he realized that the same message, in his own handwriting, on
both sides of the slate.
His first reaction was to became angry. He thought they were
trying to make a fool of him. But he soon realized it was no
laughing matter, especially after he had heard Brace's story.
Then the the stranger remembered that he had fainted with
exhaustion earlier in the day. On waking, he declared to the
captain that they would be rescued soon.
When the captain questioned his statement, the stranger said
that he had seen himself on board another ship that was coming
to save them. He described the rescue vessel and the description
fit the rescue ship exactly. Thus, the survivors could hardly
believe their eyes when they saw the rescue ship approaching,
and all believed that divine providence had a hand in snatching
them from a watery grave.
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let me know if you like this. I may be able to get more of
these types of stories.
Jim Butler Internet firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City