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Strauch, Dora; Brockmann, Walter / Satan came to Eden

Chapter II: The new life begins,   pp. 18-33

Page 27

                   The New     Life Begins                   27 
crackers, which was something we had never seen before. Suf- 
fering an attack of feminine vanity, I made the rash suggestion 
to Frederick that we also buy a flat-iron. From his hurt expres- 
sion I could see how deeply this request had disappointed him and 
how far I still had to go before I could really feel that I had 
entered upon the spiritual life with all its implications. 
  A few days later we beheld the Manuel y Cobos which was to 
take us to Galapagos. She had just come in from the islands and 
looked considerably the worse for wear, tired and bedraggled if 
ever a ship was. She had brought a cargo of fifty cows and at least 
as many human beings. The traces these had left had not yet been 
removed, so that our first visit on board was premature, and neither 
welcomed nor encouraging. 
  The story of this ship and of her captain is one of the most 
remarkable that I have ever heard, even in those far places of the 
earth where the stories of all the white occupants in permanence 
are remarkable. This bark, we were told, was over a hundred years 
old, and looking at her patched and mended hull and its rough 
interior, we found this easy to believe. The man whose name she 
bore was that extraordinary Cobos who towards the end of the 
19th century assumed possession of the island of Chatham in the 
Galapagos group. We found that the story of this self-appointed 
ruler, as told by the Ecuadoreans, tallied in almost all its amazing 
details with the account of him which we had read in William 
Beebe's book. His sinister personality seemed to have communicated 
itself to the ship, his namesake. There was something gloomy and 
uncanny about it which had nothing to do with its dilapidated state 
and present dirtiness. Later on, when the Baroness Wagner appeared 
on Floreana as its "Empress," we thought that she too, waiting
Guayaquil for this same ship, and hearing, as she must have done, 
the story of Cobos, received much inspiration from it. 
  Dark stories of violence clung to this ghost-like vessel which 
was to be our only link with the world of men. Very often, wait- 
ing in vain for its arrival at Floreana-for it was usually unpunctual 
-I used to wonder what nameless errand it was carrying out. 
When it came, it always seemed to me more heavily laden with 
a cargo of secret guilt than with the innocent commodities it 

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