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Hero Of A Bowsprit

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On April 12, 1877, one of the most terriflc storms that ever visited the North Carolina coast began and lasted for three lays, culminating on the 15th ofï Cape Tear. It was fearfully destructive to life and property, wrecking many ships with heir crews and cargoes, and burying hem beneath the waves. One large three niasted vessel broke up, and parts of her lrifted into Smithville bay, a prize for he wreckers, whioh not only ülustrated he forcé of the storm, but was a curiosity n the strength of its structure. "All her bolts," said one who examined rieces of the wreek, "are brass, four, six and even eight feet long; the knees are solid iron, and the outside planking six nches through, and of stout pine." There were two Smithville pilot boats - the Slary K. Sprunt and the Uriah Timmons - cruising ofï the coast at the time he storrn commenced, and flnding it imrjossible to make a harbor they were comjellecl to stand off and try to weather it rat. The Mary K. Sprunt had a crew of Ive men, viz. : Christopher Pinner, Sobert Walker, Charles Dasher, Jr., Thomas Grlssom and Lawrence Gillespie, the cook. ïhey were brave and skillful nen, but after a desperate struggle, in which all that the most skillful seamanship could accomplish had been exhausted, she went down with all on board. On the 28th the body of Tom Grissom was found by the pilot boat H. Westermann floating at sea, about nine milea out, and the pilots also found the Mary K. Sprunt lying on the bottom, in eleven and a half fathoms, her white sails, torn nto ribbons, shining up through the blue depths and undulating with the motion oí ;he restless sea. The Uriah Timmons had a crew of four nen - C. C. Morse, Julius Weeks, Joseph Thompson, Jr., and Joseph Arnold- and of these Arnold was the youngest, hardly 20 years of age. Every precaution was ;akeu upon the approach of the storm, and, with only enough canvas to steer by, she faced it. All day and night of the 12th she leaped and rolled and dived like a cork on the waves, while the storm increased in f ury every hour. Day dimly dawned on the 13th over a howling waste of waters, whose billows heaved her skyward, leaving great chasms, down whose Bides she rushed headlong as if to certain destruction. A gray mist shrouded sky and sea, and the storm fiend shrieked with that unearthly voice which, once heard, is never forgotten. Cowering before the blast, licked from stem to stern by the tongue of the hungry sea, groaning and sobbing as she strained up the watery heights or slid down the hissing gulfs, the little ship drove on. Although carrying but thirteen yards of canvas, the jaw of the boom was eating into the foremast like a famished animal. With the advancing day the fury of the gale increased. It seemed as if the spirit of an angry god walked the waters and lashed the elements in his wrath. A mountainous wave, leading the host of billows, would rush toward the little vessel, and, toppliug as if to f all upon and crush her, would lower its crest, and, gliding beneath her trembling timbers, lift her almost clear in air and toss her, toy like, to another hnge billow, while the multitudinous ocean roared with rage. The crew of the Timmons, brave and h.irdy mariners as they were, and accustomed to storms on the broad water from childhood, stood appalled at the surpassing terrors of this awful scène. Lashed in the cockpit, with vise like grip upon the wheel and drenched to the skin, sat Julius Weeks, who had been there thirteen hours. At last, toward afternoon, to the utter dismay of all on board, the jib halyard parted, and, flying down the stay, the jib hung, bag like, below the bowsprit, and instantly the sea, like a ravenous beast, feil upon it and held it down as if devouring it. The brave boat struggled hard to lift her bow, thus weighted, from the waves, and with a mighty effort succeeded. Again the sea seized and held the bellying jib,and again the gallant boat, struggled, raised it clear, nut with weakening power. The pilota now realized that, unless immediately released from this new and frightful danger, the Timmons could not hold her head up, but must founder after a few more struggles; but, feeling assured that an attenipt to reach the jib stay would result iu certain death, as no man could ever remain on the bowsprit even if he could reach it, they were stricken with despair. "We are lost," exolaimed one; "unless we can cut that jibstay we are certainly gone. A man can't live there, but it is our only Jiope." Who should do the desperate deed? They hurriedly agreed to decide the matter by lot, and were about to proceed to do so, when Joe Arnold, who was nuw at the wheel, shouted. "Hold on, men! You are all married and have families; I am a single man; let me try it, and if I go overboad it will be all right;" and, surrendering the wheel the brave boy drew lus sheath knife, and putting it between his teeth started forward. It was impossible to keep his footing, and so he crawled cautiously along the deck (there is no railing to a pilot boat), holding on as best he could. His companions watched liim with the eagerness of men whose only hope of life hüng1 on his steadiness of nerve nnd physical Btrength. If he renched the bowsprit in Bafety, the sea would certainly beat him off, for every time the little craft plunged the waves seemed to leap up to meet her. For the flrst time since childhood fervent prayers rose to the lips of Bonte of thoso men who had "foüowed the sea" all their days without thinking of him whose they now realized y had never n before, and l ;,.wel freely du r bronzed I Joe ri toi emast, and jnst then the Timmons rolled nearly on her beam ends. He threw hisarmaround the mast and held on. The storm was now indescribably lierce and the sea terrilic. As the vessel slowly recovered lierself he looscued his hold and crawled toward the bowsprit. He reached it, got astride of it, locked his arms around it, drew a long breath, and then, with a rush, the Timraons bur'ed her head and Joe disappeared in the seethinj; waters. The crew held their breath in an agony of suspense, while their eyes strained toward the boiling foam which engulied him. In a moment the stanch craft, as if conscious of the heroic effort for her relief and stimulated by it to renewed exertion, bounded forward and npward through tlie dashing waters. And on the bowsprit, which was pointing skyward, the crew saw Joe straightening himself irito a sitting po.sition, his knife still held betvveen his clenched teeth, and preparing to crawl still further out. Again and again this scène was enacted, each plunge and rise fimling the hero nearer to the object at which he ainied, while the crew fairly ached with the intensity of their emotions. He reached it at last, and, watchingthe most favorable opportunity, released his right arm, snatched the knife from his teeth, and with a swift and powerful stroke cut the jibstay through as the trembling vessel started down another sea, restored the knife to its place,' again clasped the bowsprit in his arms, and again disappeared - but only for a moment, for the Timmons, now relieved of the weight which held her down, sprang out of the threatening gulf as if with new life inspired. It was a great relief, but the tempest was still at its height, and now both Joe and the crew realized that the most hazardous part of this heroic enterprise was still before him, namely, getting back to the deck again. It was not like coming down from aloft. He had to repeat the desperate performance backward. Slowly, and still astride of the bowsprit, and still alternately plunged into the sea and lif ted high in air, he began the fearful task. Èvery instant was a crisis, every moment threatened to be his last; but slowly and steadily he approached the deck. Finally he reached it, slid alone the foremast, clasped it as before, and at last, crawling, laid himself down exhausted amid his awe struck companions. The storm still howled, the sea was still awful, and night was coming on - another night of horrors - but the Timmons carried her head free and a feeling akin to confldence was beginning to take the place of despair in the breasts of the crew. They passed into the gloom of the starless night upon that wild waste of waters, clinging to the hope that with the coming of another day the storm would pass. And their hope was not in vain. Gradually the violence of the wind abated - although the sea still leaped frantically - and by the next morning had ceased to be alarming. They looked eagerly for the land, gave more sail, and in a few hours recognized points which assured them that they were off Georgetown, S. C. With grateful hearts they steered for the bar and entered the bay in safety, with no other damage to the Timmons than the loss of her boats, sails and rigging, a foremast rubbed almost in two and some strained timbers. Joe Arnold still lives and pursues his calling, and he will be greatly astonished if he ever sees this account of his heroism, for he is modest and does not think he did anything worth talking about. The Timmons, too, is still afloat, and as smart a pilot boat as ever crossed Cape Fear bar


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