hold to where Lem Harvey sat.
"I'm here, Jack. Whadda you want?" Lem called back from the gloom. The sailor dropped
down through the hatch and squinted in the darkness.
"There you be, we've been a-lookin' all over for ye," exclaimed Jack. "How long 'ave ye been
down 'ere? Never mind, you more likely than not know that we won againt' them lubberly Brits
and now 'ave got 'em all tied up and are a-bringin' them down 'ere."
"I know, I was there. Just came down 'ere for a lit'l peace an' quiet after all that noise of
battle," Lem replied.
"I know, I does that sometime too," Jack said.
The hold was silent for a moment then Jack broke out anew, "Boy, weren't that Dave Mitchel
and ye amazin'? Why, ifin it wen't for you two capturin' that there British cap'n the fight could still be a-goin'. I was in the riggin' and saw when that nasty Brit had ye and was a-goin' to shoot ye through the gut when out of nowhere there's that Davey come flyin' and tackles the man..."
"I don't want to hear about David Mitchel right now!" Lem snapped. "He may be some sort o'
hero to the rest of the world, but to me he's just another hypocritical Christian who act so good
and holy so they can gain favor with folks who are stupid enough to fall for them!"
"I know whatcha mean," Jack said with sympathy. "You've been so faithful to this 'ere ship for
so many years, and then the cap'n promotes Davey to first mate now that Hersley's dead..."
"Hersley's dead? David's first mate? How do ya know?" Lem demanded.
"Hersley was shot while driving back them lubberly Brits with that old ax of his. I know
because I saw the whole thing from the rigging, and the cap'n just announced that when you
and David rejoin the ship af'er takin' the Shark back to Salem then Davey will be our new first
"We're takin' the Shark to Salem?"
"Yeah, that's why you need to come on deck an' pick yers and Davey's crew."
Lem stood at the wheel of the Shark, with Jack standing beside him, untangling a mass of
knotted rope. Thirty-eight other men worked busily about the deck, replacing broken spars and
rigging, patching holes made by cannon shot, re-securing the guns about the deck, and
otherwise removing all traces of the fight as far as possible. Several of the sails were hoisted
where the masts had not been too badly damaged to secure them and the Shark was making
"How many men did the Eagle loose anyway?" Lem asked Jack without turning his head
from the compass.
"She came out pretty well considerin' the way the ship looks, all full of shot holes. I heard
Cap'n say that we lost thirty-two men killed, five of whom were officers, includin' Tom Prince and Hersley. The total wounded men amounted to twenty-nine, including the first Lieutenant Jeff Tommas. Then they send out the forty of us in this ‘ere ship. We had three hundred one men
and boys to start with the cap'n said, so that would leave them with... two hundred ninety-nine
and a half men." Jack said triumphantly, impressed with his own sophisticated math.
"That’s two hundred effective men, you pea brained land lubber!" Lem ejaculated, "And you
can't have half a man!"
"Oh yes you can!" Jack shot back, his pride quite hurt at his math being disproved. "You
simply cut one man in half and throw the other half overboard!"
"Just go help with the repair you thumb fingered fool!" Lem ordered savagely. "We have
nowhere near enough men to fight with if we were attacked by a Britisher and so the sooner we
get to Salem the better."
"All right," Jack spat. "I'll just go help first mate-to-be Davey Mitchel get the ship repaired."
Lem glared after the man, smarting under the intentional insult that had gone straight home.
He knew in his heart that David wasn't out to override him. If he was Lem would be dead or
dying on the poop deck with a British bullet in his gut. But he was angry all the same. Lem
struggled between what he knew factually was true and what he felt, and both sides seemed
determined not to quit. The thoughts of being so near to death on the poop deck and the
thought of judgement also returned to his mind. As he thought, he happened to glance at the
binnacle and his eyes grew wide, for the fluid in the glass had dropped dramatically. One glance
at the sky aft of the ship told him the weather gauge was not wrong.
"All hands on deck! Take down the sail! Batten down the hatches! We're in for a storm!" He
yelled at the top of his voice. Instantly all the sailors were thrown into a flurry of action. Men
scurried into the rigging to take in the sail while the others hurried to clear the deck of all the
tools and material that they had just been using in the repair work, but it was too late.The gale
burst down upon the little vessel. Rain came down in sheets and waves beat against the Shark.
"Let down the anchor! We will have to ride ‘er out!" Lem yelled, and the sailors ran to obey.
Lem did his best to keep the head of the ship facing the waves. David and four others were in
the rigging fighting furiously to bring down the top sail on the fore mast while three more
attempted to lower the main sail. Once or twice they were almost blown out of the rigging but
they finally they secured the sails and clambered back down to the deck. Everyone was soaked
to the skin and they went about their respective duties as best as they could along the slippery
Suddenly a tremendous wave crashed against the starboard side of the brig. The ship tipped
up and the deck became a gigantic slide. One of the thirty-two pounder guns broke free of its
securing ropes. It skidded along the deck towards the ship’s wheel where Lem stood, steering
the ship. David Mitchel saw it coming and leapt on Lem and the two slid across the slanted
deck. He was just in time, for the big gun slammed against the wheel and smashed it to
smithereens. The cannon continued its plunge, crashing through the railing of the deck and
disappearing overboard. Lem and David clung to the same railing a few feet away. With the rail
being weakened it began to crack under their weight. The moment before the rail would have
broken completely off and thrown both men into the sea, the deck flattened out and began to
slant the other way, saving their lives.
Lem and David crawled across the deck to the mizzen mast and clung to it for dear life. With
the ship’s wheel gone the vessel was completely out of control.
"Get below! Get below! We don't want to loose any men!" Lem shouted at the top of his
voice. So saying, he and David crawled across the main deck and through the hatch behind the
capstan. Two more men followed. A moment later another three burst in with five more right
behind them. In five minutes the whole crew had made it safely below deck. The forty men
stumbled along through the belly of the ship, clutching at every beam and ceiling support for
balance as the ship rolled back and forth. They eventually made it to the made hold and crawled
inside. A light was soon struck and the men huddled together among the kegs and crates of
supplies to wait out the storm.
The roll of the ship was not as bad deep in the ship’s belly as it was on the decks. The first
thing David did when he had finally got secure was to pray out loud.
"O God on high, we know that you control the sea and the wind. We pray that You would help
us to make it through this storm unharmed. But not our will, but Thine be done, Amen!"
For a moment there was no sound except the crashing of the storm outside. Then one of
the men spoke, "Your faith seems like it's real to ya, and you always seem to be grateful to yer
God no mat'er what's happenin'. A lot of folks who call 'emselves Christians seem to think that
God is suppose' to make there lives 'ere better."
"Yea," piped in Jack. "You stuck to yer God through thick an' thin, even though you've had
some rough times around 'ere," he added, with a meaningful look at Lem.
David caught the look and chose his words carefully, "You're right, many people do think
God is supposed to make their lives better and take away all pain and suffering. Some people
even reject God because they think he should have prevented a time of pain, or the death of a
loved one. But this is not the proper perspective. God is not to make our life better, he is our
Creator, and we belong to Him and are to give Him all honor and glory.
"When God created the world He made two people who He charged with keeping the
garden of Eden. He had only one law for them, and that was for them not to eat of the fruit of a
particular tree. Satan, who is God's arch enemy, tricked them into sinning against God. With this
disobedience sin entered the world. God put a curse on them and sent them out of the perfect
paradise they had formerly enjoyed, but he also promised a Savior who would cleanse men
from their sins."
"So you're sayin' that there wasn't any sin or pain or sufferin' before that man sinned, and
'cause he sinned we are all punished?" Lem asked.
"Yes and no," David answered. "Suffering and death came through Adam, which is why bad
things happen in this world. But all men have sinned on their own as well. I have, you have, we
all have. All except one Man, Jesus Christ. Jesus was God's Son, the promised redeemer who
would save mankind from his sins by taking them on Himself. He came to earth to be born as a
baby, live a perfect life, preach, and heal the sick and demon possessed. Eventually, when he
was thirty-three, the religious rulers became jealous and had Him put to death by the Roman
"You mean He died?" one man asked. "How could He save us all 'ere sinners if he died?"
Their was a murmur of ascent among the attentive sailors.
"You see, that was all God's plan," David replied. "The just wages of sin is death. Throughout
the time before Christ, God required animal sacrifice to cover sin, but this had to be done
repeatedly, every time someone sinned. Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, who lived a
perfect life and died for our sins."
"Hold on, matey," interrupted Jack. "I thought you said some jealous priests of some kind or
another killed 'im."
"They did, but it was all under God's control. Jesus Himself said that He gave His life
willingly, and if He, being God in the flesh, had not consented, they would not have been able to
do anything to HIm. It shows that even in the worst circumstances God is in control. Jesus’
blood was shed so that ours would not have to be. He paid for my sin, and for the sin of all who
will believe on Him."
"So all you Christians believe that a dead God-Man paid for your sin?" Jack asked. "That
don't make much sense."
David smiled, "Your right Jack, it wouldn't make much sense if it ended there. The thing is
that three days later Jesus Christ rose from the dead, was seen by many, and ascended back to
His Father, where He makes intercession for those who believe! It is God's free gift of grace to
any who accept Him! But it isn’t just a one time thing, it is a whole way of life.”
A moment of quiet followed as the storm continued to beat against the ship. Finally Jack
spoke up, "You mean that a sinful, blood stained, cussin' drinkin' sailor could be saved by God?"
"That is what I mean, Jack. I encourage you to give your life over to Him and repent of your
Jack nodded solemnly and said in a low voice, "I might just do that." He then glanced at
Lem, who was considered the leader. Lem avoided his eyes and shifted in his seat. David didn't
miss the look.
"What's on your mind, Lem?" David asked softly.
Lem took a deep breath, then puffed it out. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it
again. He shifted on the coil of rope he was sitting on then began slowly, somewhat sadly.
"The whole idea makes sense to me and all," he said with his eyes fixed on his boots.
"You've almost convinced me to give up me hate and bitterness and follow God. I just still can't
understand why...why..." at this his lips quavered and his voice broke. He cleared his throat and
continued, "Why a God who is all merciful and gracious as ye say would let...let a little eleven
year old boy like I was be orphaned and abandoned, being left all alone, after praying so
hard...that God would save his parents' lives..." At this he broke down completely and the rough
man's body shook with silent sobs.
David laid a comforting hand on his shoulder and was silent for a moment. Finally he said in
a low voice, "Perhaps for the same reason He allowed it to happen to me: to draw us to
"To you?" Lem asked, pulling himself together and wiping his eyes.
"Yes, to me. You said your parents died in the epidemic of 1786. Mine did too.There was a
family who would take me in, but they weren't my parents. So I ran away from them and lived
how I could for three months. Then a kindly Reverend Mitchel took me in and mentored me,
taught me about God and what Jesus had done for us. I gave my life to Christ and was
determined to share him with others. You know the rest, or the important things."
"I...I had no idea, David," Lem said. "Maybe that is why it happened to us both, to bring us
both to God."
The morning of June 28th 1813 was grey and foggy over Salem, Massachusetts. The few
men working around the docks looked up in surprise to see the dark outline of a ship coming
into port. It was obviously damaged by a recent storm and two men on the deck were working
together to work the makeshift wheel that steered the ship. The attitude on board was cheerful,
however, and some of the men could be heard singing.
The vessel soon pulled up along side the dock, the anchor was dropped and the mooring
ropes secured. A gang plank was quickly lowered and the crew quickly poured onto the wharf,
laughing and singing. Most of the men made straight away for the Whaler’s Tavern, which was
close by. Three of the group headed side by side in the direction of the residential area of town.
The ship, of course, is the Shark, and the three men are David Mitchel, Lem Harvey, and Jack
The three walked and talked together until they came to the church where they were to part.
Lem turned to David and grasped his hand warmly.
“David,” he said, “I can’t thank ye enough for showin’ me and Jack ‘ere the way of salvation
“Not to mention the fact that he had to save yer life long enough fer ye to listen!” Jack said
with a grin.
“Remember, it isn’t me, it’s God who did the work in you,” David said. “I’ll come back for you
two after I see Reverend Mitchel in Boston. Will probably be a day or two.”
“I’ll see to it that the boys have the Shark fixed up by then,” replied Lem.
“Speakin’ of them, remember to pray that God ‘ill do a work in their hearts like He did ‘n
ours,” interjected Jack.
“Right! I’ll most likely be back before the Eagle arrives. God speed!” David said as he turned
“See ya!” Jack replied with a wave of his hand. He and Lem watched him go and then
turned and entered Lem’s small house.
“Ya know,” Jack said thoughtfully to Lem as they moved through his long neglected, dust
filled kitchen, “Ya know, with all of us three bein’ Christians we are sorta like brothers.”
“I guess so,” Lem said as he rummaged through a pile of dishes that had been sitting for
“And you know Davey said we are soldiers for God in a battle with evil when he was
a-readin’ the Bible to us this mornin’?”
“Mm hmm,” answered Lem as he found the pan he had been looking for.
“Well, I don’t see why we can’t be sailors for God instead, and then we’re all shipmates in a
whole new way!” Jack ended triumphantly.
“I like that,” Lem said with a smile, “Shipmates.”