So there I was... in South Carolina- Charleston if you want to get specific. But I decided I didn't want to be there in Charleston...it just wasn't interesting anymore. So what do I do? Why, I get out of there of course! I got a boat ticket to go all the way to the city of New York. I was to set sail on the 15th of June on the amazing ship "Independence" controlled by the marvelous Captain Hardy! I was to go up and visit my sister Mary, who had moved to the city after she wed her husband.
I didn't know what to expect. I was used to traveling with my maid Harriet, but she was staying in Charleston to care for my mother. On the 14th, I went on board of the Independence to settle my rooming issues. I was absolutely delighted to find that there were many more ladies traveling than my father had said! Finally! More women to meet and spend the sail with.
My state-room was to be across the hall from some Wyatt fellow....although I don't know his first name. I had overheard the Captain and some young man discussing that Mr. Wyatt had recently been married, although strangely enough, no one had ever met the new Mrs. Wyatt. All I know is that Wyatt himself must be rich- he had ordered THREE state-rooms! Why, my father was upset about having to get just one! I knew his two sisters of course- they were in my social circle; not quite popular enough for ME to talk to them though.
On the 15th I arrived, ready to set sail, only to be disappointed by the news that the Independence was not going to be sailing today "owing to circumstances". Circumstances?! What the heck? Who cares about circumstances? Daddy says that the only circumstances that should keep us from sailing are the weather, and the weather looks just fine to me. But the Captain will "let me know" when we're setting sail.
A week went by, and I finally heard from him! We were to set sail the next day! Daddy says only special passengers were informed a day early- I bet those Wyatt girls knew nothing about it! As I stood on board the next morning waiting for my luggage to be taken to my state-room, the Wyatt party arrived. I said hello to the two sisters, and tried to get a close look at the wife, but for some odd reason she had a veil on. I didn't understand it- the sisters didn't have veils on, so no one died- why on earth would she be wearing one voluntarily? It looked absolutely hideous on her...it made her look positively frumpy. Then came a man...must have been that Wyatt fellow. But if you ask me, he looked much more like a man who was attending a funeral than a man who was newly married. A cart arrived shortly after the Wyatt party had; carrying their luggage. It was all rather plain looking luggage; nothing that looked very fashionable or expensive. But there was one rather large piece of luggage, an ordinary pine box. I didn't understand why they wanted to waste space in their rooms, but it wasn't any of my concern.
For the first few days there was wonderful weather. Everyone was so outgoing and friendly- all except for the Wyatt's. The sisters acted even more stiffly than usual, and the brother (who I learned was an artist) was gloomy and unapproachable. Mrs. Wyatt was the only one who was cheerful of the group. She was quite talkative, and loved to associate with the other women as well as the men. Although no one particularly liked Mrs. Wyatt, we found her amusing, and had a fun time laughing at her rather than with her as she thought. I couldn't understand how Mr. Wyatt had married this...creature; she had no breeding, brought in no money, and certainly wasn't much to look at! But, apparently Wyatt was one of the few who married for love. Personally, I find it absolutely romantic- in a plain, old-fashioned way, of course.
I awoke one night to a noise across the way. I pulled on my robe, and went to find out what had happened. I slid open my door, only to find that it was Mrs. Wyatt sneaking...sneaking, into another room! She had hit the door when she was going out of Mr. Wyatt's room, which explained the odd thud which had awakened me. Oddly enough, that night starting a bunch of thumping noises coming from that room. The next two nights, after Mrs. Wyatt would sneak out, I could hear muffled noises coming from the room. After thinking about it enough, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Wyatt was opening that stupid pine box! That was what was keeping me awake at night. I couldn't believe it. Ruined beauty sleep all because of an artist opening a stupid box! After a while, he would place the lid- more softly than when he took off the lid mind you- back onto the box. There would be a dead stillness after, until daybreak when muffled sobs could be heard- I just couldn't understand why the man would open the box every night- waking ME up- just so he could sit there and cry over whatever was in it! It was completely rude.
After 7 days at sea, there was a terrible storm coming in from the south...something or another. West? East? Who cares? All that matters is that there was a storm, right? Anyways... for 2 days we rode through the storm. I wasn't doing so well....all the tossing and turning of the ship was making my delicate system sick. But then, THEN as if I didn't have enough problems the storm from south-whatever became a hurricane. We lost our after-sail thingy, and we lost three men due to them going overboard. We lost a foretopsail, so we had to put up a storm stay-sail, which actually allowed us to move steadily, making the ride much smoother than before. The storm lasted another hour or so before they made the decision to start throwing as much cargo as could be spared and reached and by cutting away 2 of the masts. We had a leak in the boat which was how water was getting in the ship and the leak gained on us quickly, regardless of the pumps that were put out.
Around sundown the storm had visibly eased in violence and the sea went down with it. Around eight o'clock or so, the clouds broke away enough for a view of the full moon. Fourteen of us passengers, me included of course as well as the Captain, the Wyatts, and a Mexican officer, his wife and children, and some man who seemed to know Mr. Wyatt very well got on a miniature boat...a happy boat? No, no I was mistaken. A jolly-boat. After we got on, it was horrendously crowded. Why, there was hardly room for one of my suitcases. They said to bring only necessary items- excuse me? Everything I've brought on this trip is necessary. I wonder if they even knew how much my luggage cost- probably not. And the astonishing thing is I had to have been the only person to realize how much we were being forced to leave behind! All except for Mr. Wyatt that is, who insisted on taking his stupid pine, oblong box. He begged demanded really, that the Captain allow the box to come with them. Although the Captain seemed to be touched (I think it was an act), he did not allow Wyatt to bring the box.
But the crazy man Wyatt jumped out of the boat! He grabbed hold of a rope that was hanging from the fore-chains and climbed up on board, and rushed down to his room. While we were all watching the maniac disappear, we had been swept next to the ship and were indeed at the mercy of the sea. We tried to go back to the ship, but our boat was being pushed away by Mother Nature and her sea. We realized that Wyatt's fate was sealed. As more distance came between us and the ship, we saw idiot Wyatt emerge from the cabin. He was indeed dragging the box, and alone too! While we watched, he wrapped a three-inch rope around first the box, then him...then he threw both himself and the box into the ocean! He descended rapidly, away from our watching eyes in an instant.
The Captain and the man, Wyatt's friend, were talking. I overheard them talking- something about Wyatt not rising until the salt melts. But then the Captain quieted and said that they had to talk about it at a "more appropriate time". That must have meant when there weren't women around.
We landed on Roanoke Island and were there a week before we were able to get a passage to New York. When I got there, I went straight to my sister's, and have been there since. Mary introduced me to a Mrs. Adelaide Curtis from Albany. It just so happened- by fate, of course- that this was Mrs. Wyatt's mother. It was from her I had learned the whole story- The real Mrs. Wyatt passed away the morning of the 14th, and although Mr. Wyatt was overcome with grief, he was forced to sail to New York. He found it necessary to take the body of the deceased back to her mother, and obviously it never got there. The wife's absence would have been questioned, so the lady's maid stepped in and impersonated the wife for the voyage.
So basically, I went through a hurricane, awful sleeping conditions, making the voyage to New York unknowingly with a body right across the hall the entire time. How gross! I'll just have to make sure Daddy hears about this!