Amazing Answer To A Mother's Prayers
...the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: ...And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. Luke.7:12,13
From "Miracles at Sea" - Harvey Berman in "Fate" magazine March 1958.
Our story begins in 1829 on an October morning, when a schooner Mermaid set sail from Sydney, Australia, for Collier Bay. Captain Samuel Nolbrow was the skipper, and the ship carried a crew of eighteen and three passengers.
On the fourth day the wind died down and the vessel was becalmed. The Captain saw the barometer was falling and a wall of black clouds was approaching rapidly. Worse, the Mermaid was now in the treacherous Torres Strait, separating Australia and New Guinea.
The storm struck shortly before midnight. Huge waves broke over the deck and rain and howling winds ripped through the rigging. Then the ship was driven towards a ridge of rocks. Desperately the Captain and crew fought to swing the schooner from her course to disaster. But despite their frantic efforts, the Mermaid smashed into a coral reef that ripped her bottom. Waves lashed her hull and decks as churning water poured into her hold.
"Abandon ship," the captain shouted above the scream of the wind. Seamen and passengers dropped over the side and started swimming toward a large rock about two hundred feet away. The captain was the last man to leave the sinking ship, when he arrived at the rock he found all twenty-one persons had made it to safety.
For three miserable days the survivors huddled on the rock, then the bark Swiftsure hove into view and took them aboard. The bark continued on her course off the New Guinea coast, but on the fifth day after the rescue she was caught in a powerful, uncharted current. Swept broadside into rocks along the shore the Swiftsure began breaking up and, again, the order to abandon ship came and once again all persons aboard were saved.
Later that same day the schooner Governor Ready, with a crew of thirty-two, appeared. After taking on the marooned crews of the other two vessels, the schooner was somewhat crowded as she sailed away to the west.
About three hours later the schooner caught fire and the flames roared through the wooden vessel like a gale. All aboard climbed into longboats. They were many miles from shipping lanes but the Australian Government cutter Comet, came along, blown off course by a storm. The crew of the cutter did not welcome the crews and passengers of three lost vessels. It wasn't just the lost elbow-room but obviously they felt a jinx was involved- the crew-members of the Mermaid regarded one another with suspicion. The crew of the Comet expected trouble and it came five days later in the form of a violent storm that snapped off the Comet's mast and ripped away her sails and carried off her rudder. When she began sinking the crew launched the only longboat and the rest kept afloat clinging to wreckage.
For eighteen hours they drifted in the cold sea, fighting sharks; then along came the packet Jupiter and again they were rescued. For a forth time it was found not a single life had been lost!
Two days later the Jupiter hit a reef and sank. But the passenger vessel City of Leeds was close at hand to take them all on board and transfer them safely to Sydney. Five ships had been lost and the crew of the Mermaid had been shipwrecked five times-yet no-one was lost.
Now the most amazing part of our story- On the passenger ship, City of Leeds was an elderly English woman named Sarah Richley who was critically ill. She had earlier told passengers that she was going to Australia in hopes of finding her son, who had run away fifteen years before and joined the navy. She had never heard from him and Navy officials said he had served his term and left.
Delirious she called constantly for her son and the doctor decided to ease her dying moments by getting a sailor to pretend he was her son. He looked around for a young man the approximate age and description of Peter Richely and chose one of the crew of the Mermaid.
The seaman agreed to help the doctor and as they walked to her cabin the doctor said, "Now this is how we will do it, the woman's name is Sarah Richley and she's from Yorkshire, you're to--" He stopped and stared- the seaman's face had turned white and he had braced himself against the wall. "What's wrong with you?" the doctor asked.
Tears poured down the mans cheeks as he stammered, "You see, I am Peter Richley! Please take me to my mother!"
Happiness is great medicine. Sarah Richley recovered and lived in a house her son built for her for nearly twenty years.
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalms 56:8
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