The Solitary Of Hell's Gate ..... a man who goes to the edge of insanity
The year is 1833 and it has been 6 years since Rufus Dawes arrived at Macquarie Harbour positioned North West of Hobart on Van Diemen's Land. He is found in solitary confinement on a island near the penal settlement of Sarah Island and due to his extreme sense of hopeless and desolation he enters the ocean with his iron shackles to drown himself. Many convicts suicided at this time.
Welcome to post number 3 of "The Natural Term Of HIs Natural Life." This story is an overview in my words about a man called Rufus Dawes who must have had to go through such ultra hard life lessons because he experiences extremely bad luck or coincidences. He goes from a highly privileged life as Richard Devine to a miserable wretched life as a convict in a penal colony on Van Diemen's Land (a State of Australia that is now called Tasmania). ( I am finding it hard to explain this man's life destiny in any way other than a planned life lesson. Who would have willingly entered into such an agreement?)
Despite Dawes's want to die he cannot so he floats to the surface and swims, kicks and float to an island in the distance. He successfully removes his shackles and wanders for a couple of days without food and little rest.
Meanwhile at the same time of Dawes's attempted suicide action was happening on a large type of yacht called an Osprey. Convicts led by John Rex, (the man behind the attempted mutiny on the prison ship Malabar), had taken control of the small ship. Being a reasonable man he let the Captain of the Osprey Bates, Captain Frere, Mrs Vickers and Sylvia and one soldier go in a small boat with food provisions. The Osprey was sailing to Hobart as part of the penal settlement re-locating to Port Arthur. Major Vickers, the Commandant had departed a week or so before on a smaller sailing vessel called the Ladybird.
As fate would have it and there are a lot coincidences in the story they land on the island Dawes happens to be wandering around. Following a few days of hardship, cold, no warm shelter from the wind and a the death of the soldiering Captain Bates Dawes enters. Once he is fed, rested and nursed by the kind little Sylvia Dawes sets to work to build shelters, makes a makeshift oven, cooks etc to make life comfortable for the stranded party of 4. He is a natural leader equipped with the necessary skills to survive, even the cruel bully Frere does Dawes's bidding.
It was during the building of a little boat for their escape of the island that Maurice Frere full of bitterness talks about the loss of an inheritance from his uncle Sir Richard Devine. Every penny went his wayward son, .."burnt to death in the Hydaspes, and never heard of his luck. His mother has got the money, though I never saw a shilling."
This bit of information rocked poor Dawes to the core. Inwardly knowing that the promise of a pardon for his work on this island would never eventuate and loosing any possibility for escape Dawes continues with the plan of leading the escape from the island. Into the boat went Captain Frere, little Sylvia and Mrs Vickers.
"The sacrifice was complete. The convict turned away and two great glistening tears rolled down his rugged face, and fell upon the sand."
After 11 days floating in the walnut shaped boat that had no sail a ship appeared on the horizon. They were saved, all except Rufus Dawes, the hero of the day. He is put into iron shackles and treated once more as a most desperate and dangerous criminal who tried to bolt. Captain Frere had no intention of speaking up for Dawes and well Sylvia was only a child of 12. Mrs Vickers was very ill and not in her right mind.
Cheers and Blessings