Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pirates - Dead Man's Chest

Several ships, arriving from India to load fresh water on Saint Helena, upon departure marooned as punishment a sailor who was deemed to have forfeited his life. When this sailor watched the flotilla depart under full sail and then found himself all alone on this island, he began to lament his misfortune and appealed pitifully to God in Heaven. In his terror he remembers that two days earlier an officer had died and been buried in a coffin on this island. Not wasting any time, with hands and feet he scrapes and scratches open the grave, takes out the corpse, takes the coffin and rushes toward the sea. A sail is made out of a shirt; a part of the coffin lid is used as a rudder. He embarks and in the name of God pursues the ships which were ahead a considerable distance. Meanwhile, the winds had abated all around the ships by heaven-sent command, and they had made such bad progress that the sailor in the coffin reached the flotilla after some hours, driven by the propitious offshore wind.
When the ships' crews spotted him they very seriously considered him a ghost or sea-monster. As he approaches more closely he commences to plea abjectly that they should take pity on him and for heaven's sake take him back to his fatherland. Whereupon the entire crew was moved to pity and and entreated that he should be taken back aboard.

Caspar Schmalkalden, Die wundersamen Reisen des Caspar Schmalkalden nach West- und Ostindien 1642–1652., ed. W. Joost. (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1983). Transl. with slight alterations mine.
in memoriam zinedinho


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