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What Happened On Galápagos?

The Truth of the Galápagos Affair
As Told By A Lady from Cologne

Margret Walbroel Wittmer

Table of Contents
Part I (previous page) Part II (this page)
The End of the World? Harry in Mortal Danger Burro is Fired At The Hunt for Non-Existent Animals
Within Reach of Floreana Grand Hotel Floreana Christmas on Floreana Dr. Ritter's Writings
Arrival and Visit to Dr. Ritter Childbirth in the Wilderness Velero III Drops Anchor Dr. Ritter Ailing
The March into the Interior The Baroness Comes to See Rolf Peaceful Island Sea Water Drinkable?
Breaking Ground War On Floreana Ritter's Dental Practice No Trace of Lorenz and Nuggerud
Herta Dies A Beautiful Row Plundering Dr. Ritter's Chickens Die
Sunday with the Colonists Lean Days Five Months Without Rain Meat Poisoning
The Tragedy of the Galápagos Begins Mail from Germany Lorenz Moves In The Death
Notes in my Diary: October 15, 1932 A Short Legal Procedure Our Wish Becomes Reality Lorenz and Nuggerud Also Dead
Pleasant Guests, New Friendships The Galápagos Treasure The Sensation Floreana in Pictures
New Troubles and Some Anxiety Philippson Returns Before Lorenz' Departure Suspicion
NOTES: [n] = Page number in typed mansucript.
Black border = Sections written by Heinz Wittmer.
Stealing in the Bay Tragic Balance
Dryness and Dampness The Investigation
Out of Heinz Wittmers' Diary The “Thumb Sucker”
More Irritating Happenings Vacation Trip to Germany
The Trunk The Crossing
Three Persons Missing The Tragedy of Marchena

Burro is Fired At

Rolf makes his first attempt to walk without help and must have a lot of attention. Things are made pleasanter for us in another way too—Lump chases away our troublesome fence guests—mostly donkeys—all alone.

Heinz tries again to reach the east side of the island by land but has to give it up—the undergrowth is too thick. He hopes to find a good well there and start a “branch business.”

More beasts try to force their way into our garden; this time it's donkeys. Going outside Heinz sees a gray animal on the terrace steps, fires and drops him. He then goes along the fence looking for more trespassers but finds none, only hearing them screaming in the bush outside. The entire fence is intact but the garden door, which Heinz had carefully closed himself, is open. It could only have been opened by human hands. Had someone opened the gate and let the donkey in? Unfortunately, it was Dr. Ritter's Burro—dead. A terrible prank to play on us.

Dr. Ritter's Burro is dead—shot by Heinz. Frau Koerwin was so fond of the animal that we haven't the heart to tell her. We bury the carcass and decide to say nothing to Dr. Ritter either since we know that even if we were able to prove how it happened there would still be [53] an awful row and endless trouble thereafter.

Two days later Lorenz appears and asks us not to shoot at any tame donkeys because several of theirs have gotten away. In the night, “someone” is supposed to have let them loose. Lorenz, fixed by Heinz gaze, is unable to hold his eyes steady and drops them to the ground. The lie is proved in another way a little later when Heinz finds all the tame donkeys on the meadow nearby—tied.

Usually the wild donkeys stay near the coast, but when things dry up, as at present, they head straight for our place. It would have been possible to replace Burro with another donkey, but one has no idea how difficult it is to train one of these wild beasts—even a young one—to be a useful animal. Turning a wild donkey into a tame, useful one is a long, hard job.

Next, our bean bushes and papaya trees are plundered. Animals would have left tracks so they were eliminated. Heinz watches and several days later finds human footprints in the soft, moist ground. And one morning at 5 o'clock, I get a glimpse of Philippson slipping sidewards in the bushes. We haven't proof, however, to do anything. Anyway, a written complaint to Chatham would likely be treated as a trifle and probably not even answered. The best will be to watch and wait.

Christmas on Floreana

Christmas again. Our consciences bothered us over that thing with Burro and we'd like to do something to make the Ritters happy. So Heinz and Harry pack our turtles in a large sack and take them to the Ritters as a Christmas present. Harry carries other gifts too—a painting, six eggs for hatching and some Christmas things I baked out of yucca; all this from me. Though there was little of the Christmas spirit in evidence at the Ritters, still they gave us gifts in return [54] — a can of milk, one of pineapple and some bananas. On their return, Heinz and Harry find our living room decorated with flowers in honor of the day. In lieu of a Christmas tree we light a huge fire in the fireplace and place three lighted candles on the mantelpiece to heighten the effect. So do we celebrate Christmas, as all Germans do no matter where they are unless they have tossed all the little joys of life overboard as the Ritters seem to have done.

Rolf, our sturdy little son, receives a home-made wagon from his father and some other small gifts; Harry, fruits and a new pair of trousers; Heinz an ashtray—made by Harry and I out of a mixture of sand and clay and for myself the best gift of all: a deep joy in all these simple presents. It is a real Christmas, though the weather is more like that of Easter time for winter, without which Christmas never seems quite complete, is unknown in this part of the world.

On the second day of the Christmas holidays, Heinz and Harry have another try at solving the “east problem”—remaining away from 8 in the morning until 5 P.M. They came closer but had tried too close to the coast. Anyway, Heinz is satisfied that he has found the right altitude level through which he will be able to force a way the next time they try.

Rolf's first birthday, the 2nd of January, 1934, is another day to celebrate. He absolutely refuses to have anything to do with a little pair of play trousers I made for him—stripping them off as soon as they are on, much preferring to run about naked. These days he is wide awake at 5 in the morning and then it's good-by to peace and quiet. If Rolf keeps on growing as he has, he will develop into a sturdy little soldier.

With our dignified “country house” we have adopted new and more fitting habits. A “gong,” made by hanging up a shovel, now is used to summon Heinz and Harry to their meals, the sound of it penetrating to [55] the farthest corner of our property. In this way I have a “line” on them at all times and they can be quickly reached without much loud calling and tiresome searching.

On New Year's day, after I had summoned him to his meal by the gong, Harry brings news of the newcomers. It seems they have visitors for he heard loud laughter and saw three strange men there. But no one comes to us.

Dr. Ritter tells us later that it was party of Americans on a trip around the world in a sailboat. The had visited him in Friedo, then to Madam and on the return dropped in at Friedo again.

The Ritters seem to know something of the business of the accidentally shot Burro. Frau Koerwin hints around but Heinz is simply unable to come out with the truth, especially since it's only too obvious from the way she talks about the poor animal that there would be angry outbursts at both himself, the unintentional perpetrator of the deed, as well as against the person really responsible—the identity of whom it would be difficult to prove. It's unpleasant, but under the circumstances it is better to keep quiet as long as possible.

Velero III Drops Anchor

The third day in January * brings a welcome break in the monotony of our island life. Mr. Hancock arrives with schedule-like punctuality and the Velero III lays again in Black Beach Bay. After visiting Dr. Ritter in Friedo, they come to us. We get along better with each other this time, for I can now speak a little English. The men with Mr. Hancock speak that droll German of the Americans, to which one quickly becomes accustomed. Mr. Hancock says he has a package for us and we jump to the conclusion it is from relatives of ours, but our mistake is soon evident and we deeply appreciate the adroit, casual [56] manner in which he goes about making us a present of a lot of clothes for our little Rolf. It all makes us very happy.

* Velero III records show it was at Socorro Island on January 3, and visited Floreana January 17-19 and 27-30.—JW.

The visit is a long one and we spend a couple of hours in pleasant conversation, and I am able to bring up the thing lying closest to Heinz' heart—the exploration of the east side of the island. Mr. Hancock immediately offers us the use of his motor boat so that it can be tried by the water route.

The next morning Heinz goes along to the yacht, to which he had previously been invited, after which he, professor Dr. Schmitt, Dr. Ritter and a steersman leave in the motor boat. After a thorough investigation, they conclude that the east side is absolutely lacking in water—a thing he has suspected from the miserable dryness of that section. Anyway, Heinz has had his wish. Heinz says, and Dr. Ritter and Dr. Schmitt agree, that the American explorer, Beebe, was either mistaken or erred in writing it down—instead of the east side, he must have meant the west side. The spot where the Irishman, Patrick (Watkins) lived in Beebe's book “Galápagos, the End of the World” must have been where Dr. Ritter's Friedo is today.

Our intention of settling on the east side is now given up. Thanks to the friendliness of Captain Hancock, Heinz was able to go into the whole question thoroughly, the men making a trip completely around the island and enabling Heinz to bring back home much new information about our island. The entire east and south sides have steep banks; flat beaches are to be found only on the west and north sides.

As the motor boat entered Black Beach Bay again, the Velero III had disappeared—likely left for Post Office Bay and so the boat heads for there at once. The surmise was correct, the two boats meeting and the yacht leaving then for Black Beach Bay where Dore Koerwin is awaiting the men. Madam is set ashore first, laden with gifts. [57] Then Heinz, also richly remembered with gifts of groceries, petroleum and tools. We are sorry that we are able to give only a small tea sieve in silver, made by my father, in return but Mr. Hancock valued the little remembrance for the good wishes that it symbolized and not for its intrinsic value.

There is a comical scene on the beach. Frau Koerwin is seated on a stone playing with her young donkey; Madam is busy searching for mussels yet both manage to watch closely in order to find out what everyone received. Meanwhile, Lorenz and Philippson load a donkey and Madam joins them. Shortly before midnight Heinz arrives home with part of his load, having left the biggest part of it on the beach where, next day, Heinz and Harry pick it up and bring it to Dr. Ritters from where they intend to pick it up later, a little at a time.

Mr. Hancock was the very soul of tact through it all—handing out the things to each person from the island himself so that there would be no cause for dissension later.

It is rather unpleasant to be always talking about gifts but one has to live the life of an islander in order to get rid of most of that sensitiveness in regard to that word “gift.”

Dr. Ritter, as the first on the island and because of his acquaintance with Captain Hancock naturally has priority rights in all these things. The two men know and appreciate one another. It was natural, when Dr. Ritter lived alone on the island, that Captain Hancock should inquire into his needs and wishes and promise to bring him this or that on his next trip here. Surely, no one can find fault with that. On his next trip, in 1933, after hearing of new settlers on the island, it was natural for him to think that they would need the same things that Dr. Ritter did. He believed he would be acting in the interest of harmony here on the island by giving something to everyone in whose life and fate he had an interest. His manner of giving presents makes [58] it easier, too, to accept things from him. And everything would have been fine had not envy, jealousy and greed been so evident at times.

Peaceful Island

My association with Dr. Ritter's feminine companion—always harping on her “education”—is not what it might be. Often I, a simple housewife, who knows only housekeeping and how to keep things in order, have been a target for her remarks although, or perhaps because, Dr. Ritter often holds my housekeeping up as an example to her. Heinz is too quiet and thoughtful a man to wish anything but peace; all he wants is the chance to work and further the plans he has made. As for myself, I try to confine myself to my duties as a housewife and mother and to avoid contacts with outsiders as much as possible.

On Sunday, January 30th*, 1934, leaving Heinz [Harry?] to watch over little Rolf, now able to walk by himself, Heinz and I go to Black Beach Bay to bathe and catch Langusten [lobsters]. To our astonishment, we see the Velero III, that we had believed long gone, heading for the island. Captain Hancock had taken definite leave of us all before and we wonder what special reason now brings him back. We go by Dr. Ritter's to tell him the news but find they he has already sighted the ship and we find that our visit is plainly unwelcome, both of them being almost rude to us. The doctor then goes with us toward the beach to meet Mr. Hancock, Frau Koerwin to follow after. On the way Dr. Ritter becomes noticeably rude again, running ahead, mumbling to himself etc. and we finally let him go. He sees then that he has been behaving badly and allows us to overtake him. We likely have not been sighted from the Velero III as yet and Dr. Ritter lets us know that in his opinion we are superfluous. We don't wait to be told a second time but part company with him at once, while he goes on alone. On the way back we bump into a group of men: Captain Hancock, Professor Schmitt and others. They had taken [59] a short cut, easy with their swift motor boat, and shortly we are all together—even Frau Koerwin joining us. Tired from the walk, she suggests that we take a short rest, to which Dr. Ritter snaps out a reply in English that sets her to crying. I draw her away from the angry Dr. Ritter and she tells me her troubles, begging me to visit here oftener, for the doctor becomes more and more disagreeable and malicious—she has to stand for terrible things.

Sunday was actually January 28th this year.—JW.

It is painful to have such a scene with visitors here.

In company with several men from the ship, among them Dr. Schmitt, we go on to our house where Dr. Schmitt wishes to take some indoor pictures. It bids fair to become a pleasure-filled Sunday, there being seven men to entertain and on top of it all comes an unexpected guest. There is a “Hello” from the garden gate and a Dane comes toward us who arrived in a 21 ton sailboat now lying in Post Office Bay, and, as luck would have it, he brings mail from the homeland.

We now learn why Captain Hancock turned back. He is expecting the yacht of a friend from Norway, the “Stella Polaris,” once owned by the Russian Czar. The Dane is also waiting for this yacht from his neighboring country and so suddenly there are “big doings” on Floreana.

Ritter's Dental Practice

Those in the wigwam have noticed something. Lorenz comes to us with the information that a bull has fallen from the cliff above into their garden and now lies, with a broken neck, a few yards from the house. He wants to know if we would like to have it. Very nice of them but we refuse, with thanks.

They don't take the trouble to remove the bull but slowly leave it lying where it perished. The smell from the rotting flesh is noticeable for two whole weeks.

On February 28, 1934, the new Major arrives, making his tour of the islands in the San Cristóbal. The best part of the visit is that the new Major brings more mail for us and, leaving shortly, leaves us free to enjoy our papers and letters undisturbed. Sleep is impossible when such a heap of mail arrives. Heinz, sitting in front of a pile of newspapers, I curled up on a corner of the sofa—that is always a pleasant picture. All this by the light of the flickering fire in the fireplace and now, our newest achievement, a petroleum lamp. Just like in grandmother's time.

The next day is also taken up looking through our mail. Little Rolf goes walking in the garden alone and when we search for him he is usually to be found in front of the chicken coop—he can watch the chickens by the hour.

Dr. Schmitt had noticed that we lack things in which we can keep food and wishes to leave some tin cans and metal boxes on the beach for us before he leaves. Picking the things up, Heinz finds a large milk can beside the other cans and also some work clothes for Harry. We'll have to put off our thanks for these things until next year.

Seeing Dr. Ritter on the way home, Heinz learns that the “Stella Polaris” arrived the previous day and that after laying to for a few hours all three ships sailed away. The Ritters had been invited on board the Stella Polaris. The passengers were rich Americans taking a South Seas trip, all of whom had heard of Dr. Ritter and were very pleased to be able to meet the man in person.

So did Dr. Ritter enjoy a very pleasant experience and we are happy that things happened as they did for him. After the visit to the Norwegian ship, the Ritters were invited by Captain Hancock to dinner on board the Velero III.

Captain Hancock pleases Dr. Ritter greatly by presenting him with a complete set of dental instruments and needs and he is now equipped so that he can make Frau Koerwin a new set of teeth.

[61] Plundering

The sailboat “Ines” brings three Spaniards who intended to settle on Floreana but change their minds in favor of Isabela and sail away again. A few days later, two Italians arrive in a small sailboat—a stopover on a trip around the world. While the Spaniards were visiting Madam, it seems some of the sailors from the Ines plundered Madam's supply house in Post Office Bay. She is able to force them to give up part of what was taken; it goes without saying that sparks must have flown.

Five Months Without Rain

I don't believe that a person in Germany could ever realize how desolate and miserable a place can look after five months without rain. In the beginning of March, things look horrible here. Dead animals lie around everywhere and from the rotting carcasses clouds of flies arise when one nears them. The water in our well is retreating and if things continue as they are, it may go entirely dry. Madam is already running short of water—her little stream by the orange trees furnishing but little water now.

Every morning we find our fence has been torn by the animals. At night we must watch; during the day repair the damage—time lost that we could use in more profitable ways.

In the night of March 1st, Heinz confronts a bull coming toward the house. In the darkness, the shot goes astray and the bull, with a roar of rage, rushes to attack. The beast manages to get within a couple of steps of the house before Heinz succeeds in finishing him with a couple of shots.

As a preventive measure we have placed some barrels filled with water in front of our fence for thirsty animals outside. We must [62] fill them several times each day and it's hard work carrying the water but there is a satisfaction in helping the poor animals outside.

One night a female donkey, a real wild creature, strays into the garden and goes to work on all our green things. Heinz is sound asleep after a hard day's work and fails to hear Lump's barking so taking a stick and a lasso I go after her alone. She backs away and stumbles and I am able to toss the loop over her head, binding the other end around a tree nearby. Then I gathered some green stuff and give her some water. In the morning I find that she has been wounded in the head, and wash the wound out, finding her full of fly maggots. I nurse the animal back to health and let her go again but she has become so used to me that she appears regularly for her food and drink, even taking green things from little Rolf, who had been an absorbed witness to the nursing activities, without coming too near him [her]. Not only the animals need care these days; our garden needs it too and we must spend three hours every day watering it—the ground drinking in the water as though it were nothing but anyway our plants keep on living.

The solution is not to get tired. At Friedo, says Harry on returning from there, the dryness is worse that it is up here.

Heinz had a narrow escape from the sudden attack of a wild steer—making a dangerous leap into a rock crevice to get out of the way. It worked, but now after several days he has a badly ulcerated tooth and must go around with a swollen cheek. I told Frau Koerwin about it when it began but she said the doctor could do nothing so we'll have to do what we can ourselves.

Lorenz Moves In

Lorenz comes to us with an unpleasant bit of news. He has received so many terrible beatings from Philippson that he has run away and begs us to let him stay with us for awhile. The poor, weak man, [63] without a will of his own, extremely nervous, and on top of all this, consumptive, arouses our deepest sympathy but Heinz says we will only increase the tension here on the island if we grant him his request. Anyway, Heinz has no intention of inviting trouble because of Lorenz and tells him that Dr. Ritter had once offered to take him in and advises him to go to Friedo. Should the doctor refuse, then naturally our house stands open to him.

Lorenz is in terrible shape—Philippson had given him such a beating with his fists that he lay for a while unconscious.

Lorenz tries at Friedo and meets with a refusal; they will supply him with enough bananas to live on but will not take him into the house. So we have no choice; Lorenz moves in with us. It is only to be a short stay—he plans to take the San Cristóbal (due within the next few days) to Guayaquil and from there to make his way back to Germany, his homeland.

Oddly enough, Madam seems to treat the whole thing as a trifle. It's an extremely uncomfortable state of affairs but we know that a mortal enmity exists between Philippson and Lorenz.

Madam again attempts to better things between us and makes Heinz a present of a fine wild donkey that she caught. It is a strong animal and it would pay to tame it but when Heinz tries to water it, it bites him so badly in the arm that he is disabled for several days. Finally it becomes so unmanageable that we have to shoot it.

None of us feel right with Lorenz living with us and long for the arrival of the San Cristóbal that is to take the poor sick fellow away from here.

Our Wish Becomes Reality

March 27, 1934. Lorenz, wishing to be useful, has gone with Heinz to fetch some wood. Madam appears at the gate and asks for Lorenz, saying [64] that some friends of hers have arrived to take them along to the South Seas and that Lorenz is to take care of the house and the animals until he hears from her.

I can hardly believe my ears! The thing that we have longed for is to become a reality.

It seems too good to be true and I tell myself that it was only talk. Lorenz, returning after several hours with Heinz, is also skeptical and calmly eats his dinner before going to the wigwam. The house was empty.

To convince himself that they are really gone, Lorenz goes down to Post Office Bay where all he finds is footprints in the sand—proof that some people had been there recently.

It is true! Frau Bousquet and her friend Philippson have left the island!

Lorenz moves back into the wigwam and on the next day goes with me to Dr. Ritter's to tell him what has happened and see if there are any new developments. The Ritters, surprised by the news, go into a dance of joy. The doctor advises Lorenz to sell everything salable and leave the island with the proceeds. Next Sunday, he and Frau Koerwin will make it a point to come up and look over the place.

April 5, 1934. The longed-for rain comes at last. On Sunday the Ritters arrive and Heinz goes along with them to the wigwam. Dr. Ritter opens the various chests and boxes and examines the contents just as though they were his own property. He seems to be firmly convinced that Madam is gone for good this time.

Lorenz begins to sell at once, the whole thing going like a bargaining between two Galilean Jews—when Lorenz asks ten sucres, the doctor bids one. The supplies in Post Office Bay are also examined. Here someone had broken in again and according to Lorenz much is missing, including some iron piping.

[65] Madam had started wrecking the house in the bay herself, even having wood from the floor and roof removed. This Lorenz had hid in the bushes and later carried part of it up to the wigwam.

We acquire several things ourselves; among others a donkey and some corrugated tin.

Lorenz says that it was Philippson who stole our collapsible boat and took it around to the lagoon, but he doesn't know the exact spot and Heinz is unable to find it by searching. Lorenz also clears up the affair of Dr. Ritter's Burro. Philippson had driven the animal into our garden purposely, hoping we would take it for a wild donkey and shoot it. Lorenz has to admit that he helped in the shameful deed but says he was forced into it, beatings and starvation being the usual punishment for refusing to do as he was told.

During the next week, Lorenz further liquidates his holdings—selling part to Dr. Ritter and part to us. He is kept busy for a long time bringing the things the doctor bought down to Friedo.

The Sensation

I feel it necessary, with the publishing of our diaries and letters, to use this space for an insertion and to point out some journalistic errors for which certain “sensation reporters” should feel very guilty. In the newspapers of several lands, we later read with astonishment of how the “Baroness” had marooned two men of her “court” on a waterless island—perhaps having brought them there by force. Though Frau Bousquet may have been involved in the terrible death by thirst of the two persons on Marchena and has been named in connection with the tragedy, it nevertheless is a fact that neither she nor Philippson could have determined the events that led to the tragic end. Lorenz just hadn't been able to stand it any longer; his eternal quarrels with Philippson, in which he, as the weaker, always got the worst of it, [66] finally drove him out of the wigwam into our house. He was a deathly sick man, hardly able to stand life in the tropics—to say nothing of the mishandlings of Philippson. Seeing no other way out, he finally scraped up enough courage to leave the other two and came to us in the hope of having a little rest until the next ship at least. He then intended to leave Floreana forever. That, actually, is the “sensation” of Galápagos, out of which, in the world, something quite different was made.

The life that settlers, far from their homeland, must lead; the hard fight for existence; the daily exertion necessary for the work to be done in the garden and in the house; the struggle with an often merciless Nature; the many months of drought and then many months of rain—that is all so serious that the usual trifles that come up between people forced to live near one another cease to have a meaning. And when several American reporters were able to exaggerate these ordinary happenings between people into the main events in our lives here on Floreana, it only goes to show how ignorant these information manufacturers were of the real facts and how little responsible they felt for their journalistic activities. The unprejudiced reader would have soon found that our for himself.

But what of those who greedily swallow all such sensational items and in their enthusiasm decide that they too would like a taste of this “splendid,” “free” life—that God knows is anything but free—and resolve to have a try at themselves? We decided we could do nothing else, in order to discourage others from lighthearted decisions to leave the homeland, but describe what we went through in all its stark reality. Perhaps, with the publication of all this, we will be able to reach many a person unduly impressed by the “sensational news” of last year, and, by giving him the truth, influence him into turning back.

[67] As for Madam, she was anything but the woman the reporters painted her. She came from Paris, from a world ruled by style and the saxophone; a woman from the metropolitan world who chose the lonely, primitive life only because of her love for the unusual. Not finding all she had promised herself here on Floreana made Frau Bousquet unhappy, nervous and moody. Such spiritual conditions, under which her companions also suffered, force their way into the sphere of consciousness and cause more or less mischief. That is the only explanation there is for the “Galápagos Drama.”

And now, back to our notes!

Before Lorenz' Departure

On the 21st of April we hear many ship signals and thinking they come from Black Beach Bay, Lorenz, accompanied by Harry, goes down there in the hope that his chance had come to leave the island. Shortly after they leave several men arrive at our place and Mr. Howell, the owner of the yacht “Thalia,” introduces himself. The ship lays in Post Office Bay so Lorenz has gone on a wild goose chase. The new arrivals express the intention of visiting Madam and are quite surprised to learn that she is gone. Since it is almost five o'clock, Heinz offers to guide the men as far as the rode since they could easily miss it in the dark and on the way they stumble into Harry and Lorenz, the latter saying that he'd like to go on board the ship. Conversation is difficult, the newcomers speaking only English, but Mr. Howell says there is a German cook on board who will be able to interpret Lorenz' wishes.

Unfortunately, nothing comes of Lorenz' plans to leave, for the Thalia is leaving next morning and he hasn't his things together, but he is consoled by the news that the San Cristóbal is now at Isabela and is coming here next.

So Lorenz decides to wait. Mr. Howell gives Heinz a package for [68] Dr. Ritter since he hasn't time to visit Friedo himself. Also Heinz receives a packet of seeds, handed over with the remark “Half for you—half for Dr. Ritter.”

Next day Lorenz brings the things down to Dr. Ritter and there is the devil to pay. “Why didn't Howell come himself?” He certainly must have been hindered or he would have; besides there are some packages missing that the doctor had been expecting for a long time. In other words, the doctor's visitors [were] side-tracked and his packages held back. So Heinz has to go down to straighten things out. Dore Koerwin becomes abusive and refuses to believe that half of the seeds were meant for us even though Lorenz is able to vouch for the truth of the statement. However, later, with the news that more things are awaiting him in Guayaquil, the doctor calms down and everything is straightened out again. Dr. Ritter had been more or less reasonable through it all; not so with Frau Koerwin, however, and Heinz is so angry that he swears he will have nothing to do with her from now on—regardless; even if it makes things worse between the doctor and ourselves. This [is] the same with Lorenz—he and Frau Koerwin used to be good friends; now because of the latest affair, they've become enemies. A sad state of affairs—only Germans on the island and all enemies.

May is here and our life runs smoothly for awhile. Lorenz, a sick man, is unable to do much but does what he can. He manages, with a great deal of effort, to move his things to Post Office Bay, so that he won't be left behind the next time a ship comes for just a short stay.

Stealing in the Bay

Heinz succeeds in killing a couple of pigs on the pampa, in which activity Lump proves himself very adept. Because of the long dry spell, the orange crop is very poor and now, after the fruit has been shook down, the trees are beginning to bloom for the second time. The black bugs too, become feverishly active—from the distance of 300 feet one can hear the humming as from a distant organ.

Heinz has to plant another half hectare of corn, that which he planted in January having almost entirely dried up. Lorenz goes again to the bay and finds that a ship has been there without our knowing it. He finds tracks by his trunks out of which things have been stolen and figures he'd better move down to the bay so as to be near his property. Twice a week he will come up to us to fetch water and food.

Heinz' second birthday on Floreana is celebrated, Harry, Rolf and Lorenz each presenting him with a cake. It is a great occasion for Harry and Lorenz, both of whom are very partial to such things. Heinz and I are a bit inclined to be melancholy, but one soon gets rid of such feelings.

Meanwhile, Lorenz has sold everything from the wigwam that was usable to either Dr. Ritter or to us.

Lorenz is already sick of living alone in the bay, asking to live with us again. Neither the San Cristóbal nor any other ship had put in an appearance while he was there. He intends to go down every other day and see if a ship is there but a look at his shoes tells us that he can't do it much longer in such footgear. Carelessly, he had left his trunks in the bay again and naturally, the next time he goes down a ship has been there and some more things stolen. It is a terrible blow to the poor fellow and he hides the rest of his property in the bushes.

Tuxedo, dress suit, dress shirts—all stolen. When one looks at the sick Lorenz, one is inclined to doubt that he'll ever wear such things again though he is very hopeful and doesn't seem to realize how sick he really is. Fever spots on his cheeks, coughing spells that leave him spent—in short, a deathly sick man.

Lorenz, now 33 years old, had led an active life. He met Frau Bousquet in Paris and the two, with his money, had first had a commission [70] business and later a regular business together, in the course of events hiring Philippson, a salesman. Wearying of Paris, she decides to go live on the Galápagos Islands and adding the Ecuadorian, Valdivieso to her party, leaves for Guayaquil on the Dutch steamer “Bodegraven.”

We are unable to feel anything but the deepest sympathy for Lorenz. Hours on end he sits in one spot, crying softly to himself, saying not a word and making a heart-rending picture. Outside of these spells of despondency, however, he always behaves very well with us and not infrequently has he guarded the house when Heinz and I were gone. He can even be trusted with Rolf. Lorenz tells us some interesting things that throw some light on the deep enmity between Madam and Dr. Ritter. Both, says Lorenz, wrote for American newspapers and each believed the other to be the author of the sensational news items about Floreana—building, thereby, a veritable well of envy and hate.

Dryness and Dampness

The animals gradually recover from the dry spell. It is horrible to learn how many perished; on the beach one often sees three or four carcasses together. The pigs migrated to another part of the island where they seem to have fared better. The noisy mating season of the donkeys is here again. . . . So passes the years—between drought and rainy and also many beautiful days.

In the bay Heinz tries to construct a raft out of some old oil tanks but is unsuccessful, rust having so eaten the tanks that they soon leak. However, he catches several langusten and a sea eel, but the latter escapes again. “Arnold,” our cat, has gone on a rampage and eaten three of Lorenz' pigeons, leaving only the deaf [?] ones alive and these refuse to pair with the wild doves. Several wild doves that I put in the cage I had to quickly remove to keep the others from killing them.

[71] Where the droves of sparrows come from that make our lives miserable, is a puzzle to us. They are of different sizes and range in color from light brown to deepest black. Many of the [?] birds are so trusting that they sit on our heads and shoulders while we work in the garden and allow us to take them in our hands. Naturally, this is highly pleasing to our cat who is beginning to look very well fed.

On June 1st, 1934, with the new moon, rain sets in again and it looks as though the garúa time is here once more. Heinz had made a smoke oven out of corrugated tin and we no longer need to smoke things in the house—a big relief for me. It makes it easier, too, to keep the flies away.

Again the moths attack the half-ripe oranges and leave them rotting on the trees.

On June 25, 1934, Heinz and Lorenz go down to the lagoon to make a thorough search for the boat but are unsuccessful. If only Heinz had a boat! In the lagoon they find some goats which prove to be hard to catch. The way to the lagoon is long—it would be so much easier to reach in a boat. Following the coast, both men were well burned by the sun; they lose their way and finally reach our level again in the cold drizzle rain. These climate changes are remarkable things—within a few hours one can go from raw, autumn dampness into tropical heat.

Out of Heinz Wittmer's Diary

The following events are best described by the notes from Heinz Wittmer's diary.

July 5, 1934. Today seven little rabbits arrive and since the rabbit mother seems inclined to ignore them, she must be forced, regularly, to do her duty. The caterpillars have almost entirely disappeared. Again and again, in the last week, I was able to shoot some ducks but now they are hatching, Lorenz finding a nest with five eggs in it only [72] a few days ago. Our pleasant habit of spending the evenings reading is somewhat upset with the coming of Lorenz since he'd rather play cards than read, so we first play cards and then have our hour of reading—Lorenz usually disappearing into bed after the card-playing and leaving us alone.

The garúa drizzle weather hangs on. At last we are alone again. Last week the Norwegian, Nuggerud, came from Santa Cruz in his ship, “Dynamita” bringing a young Swedish author, Rolf Blomberg along with him. This young man, a nice, congenial person, stayed with us two days and then left after avowing his intention of returning in a few weeks to spend a couple of months living in the cave. Lorenz decides to go with Nuggerud to Santa Cruz and from there to take the first ship to Guayaquil. To go back to Germany at this time Lorenz deems inadvisable since he would arrive there in the fall and he doubts whether he will be able to stand the cooler climate in his present condition. So he decides to put his papers in order, communicate with his brother in Germany and then return here from Guayaquil.

On the Velero III, expected in January, Lorenz hopes to be able to leave here for good. Perhaps he also entertains the secret hope to be able to get a job somewhere through Captain Hancock's influence. Otherwise, he will be in Germany in the spring when the difference in the weather will not be so great. Because the Norwegian's ship lies in Black Beach Bay, Lorenz is obliged to pass Dr. Ritter's, distasteful as it is to him. From Black Beach Bay, the ship sails around to Post Office Bay where Lorenz is to pick up his things and perhaps leave a written message for us. The next day, Grete [Margret] and I go down to Post Office Bay, Grete never having been there and wishing to learn the way, but the going is very rough and she soon tires. Lorenz had written an account of his visit to Dr. Ritter's, on his way to the boat, that I am taking good care of. It seems Frau Koerwin had at first refused to appear, but after [73] Dr. Ritter had talked her into it, have come out—wearing an expression of forced friendliness. There must have been a deep enmity between Lorenz and Frau Koerwin, although in the beginning they seemed to get along beautifully. As far as I can judge, the sudden change can be traced directly back to Frau Koerwin's behavior. Anyway, Lorenz is now going and it is to be hoped that he doesn't drink himself to death.

More Irritating Happenings

On July 15, we see yacht—heading in the direction of Black Beach Bay. I go down the road a ways until I can see the bay, but the ship was not there—seemingly having kept on to Post Office Bay. Quite by accident I catch a glimpse of Dr. Ritter, watching me from behind a bush and seeing that he has been discovered he comes out. He is wearing, for the first time, a white silk shirt and white trousers and tells me that he is out to look over the oranges. The fox! It is only too obvious that he is on his way to Post Office Bay to visit the incoming ship. O.K.—you kid me and I'll kid you! So I tell him that I am out hunting pigs, which he believes, naturally, as little as I believed his story. Then, together, we walk toward a group of orange trees.

On the way, Dr. Ritter says that in the future he will no longer take letters from us to be forwarded because he has the feeling that we suspect him of having held back the letters we gave him last February. How in the world Dr. Ritter got such an idea is more than I can understand. It had never occurred to Grete and I that the doctor would be capable of such a thing, although, a long time ago, we did mention that the letters he gave to Mr. Astor and an English dentist for us had not arrived. Since then we have never mentioned the incident. Dr. Ritter now tells us that also some letters of his own mail had failed to arrive and that he suspects an Italian count, a guest on the Astor ship and a guest for a day at Friedo, of having kept these letters [74] for himself. Well, that may be—but I find it hard to believe that the count was interested in our letters. Anyway, from now on we won't bother Dr. Ritter with our letters.

The Trunk

Grete would like to give an American yacht in the bay some mail to take along and for that reason we go down to the beach next day. But the ship is gone. So we walk along the coast to the old stone house and catch several langusten. After a long search, we find the luggage that Lorenz left behind but, unfortunately, haven't time enough left to examine it. There are three medium-sized trunks; the top one is open and contains linen on top of which is a packet of photographs and a book. We lock the trunks and start back at once, for we must hurry if we would reach the house before dark. On the way home, near the orange trees, we run across Dr. Ritter's wheelbarrow and then, a bit later, Dr. Ritter himself, carrying a stove on his back. This stove Dr. Ritter had offered to buy from Lorenz but due to the row over the Howell visit the deal had fallen through. Now, with Lorenz gone, he has made haste to go and get it, claiming that he has already paid Lorenz for it. That doesn't fit in, however, with what Lorenz said and there will be a lot of difficult explaining when he returns.

Dr. Ritter also claims that he still has some corrugated tin coming from Lorenz. This is manifestly untrue, for I have no more tin than I paid for; it's merely a trick of Dr. Ritter's—had I fallen for it he would have taken the advantage. Yesterday, the doctor says, he really had intended to go to Post Office Bay but did not tell me the truth because he figured we were trying to check up on him. Why must there always be words that offend? I can now understand why the earlier settlers were unable to get along with Dr. Ritter.

[75] The doctor is astonished at our large field of corn and good crop of beans and hints that I'll be able to sell some to him. We are invited to Friedo next Sunday.

July 29, 1934. Two days ago we were visited by two Americans from the sailboat “Cimba,” on their way to the South Seas and anchored for a short time in Post Office Bay. We gave them a sack full of vegetables and then received two pounds of cocoa in return. They told us that a French vessel was on its way here and should arrive tomorrow or the day after.

Within two days four young hens have disappeared, likely the victims of the wild dogs. Today I went to Post Office Bay where the various inscriptions on the post barrel and the letters lying therein bore witness to the fact that the “La Koragaine” had already been there. The room in the log house that I had always kept locked had been broken into and the fish spear that I had forged with so much trouble had disappeared.

August 7, 1934. I caught a wild dog in a trap today—I hope it's the chicken thief. We must harvest our corn at once, although it's not entirely ripe, for the rats are devouring too much of it.

Three Persons Missing

August 24, 1934. It has rained all month. On August 21st, Dr. Ritter comes to us bringing some mail that was left with him by the men from the San Cristóbal the day before. Among the letters is a note from Blomberg in Santa Cruz, who writes [that] Lorenz, the Norwegian, Nuggerud and an Indian have been missing for six weeks. It seems that on their way to Santa Cruz they sighted the San Cristóbal and that Lorenz persuaded Nuggerud to take him to Chatham the following day so that he could catch the San Cristóbal. Otherwise, he would be forced to wait four more weeks for it. So, in spite of the rough sea, Nuggerud, Lorenz and [76] an Indian set out. They fail to arrive in Chatham, however, and it is feared their motor boat must have failed them and that, having no sail, they were driven far out of their course—at the mercy of wind and sea. It is highly probable that both men and ship are lost.

The news is a blow to Dr. Ritter as well as ourselves; we find it almost impossible to believe that Lorenz can really be dead. It means, also, that some more mail is lost, along with many photographs. It is a very sad day for us.

Dr. Ritter says, further, that he is running short of food—fruits such as otoi, yucca, etc. he doesn't plant anymore because he intends to concentrate on bananas.

The other day I went down to Post Office Bay to pick up the baggage that Lorenz left behind. Evidently, someone had managed to find it for it had been tampered with but just what has been taken I can't determine because I didn't know the contents. I did notice, however, that the photographs that were lying in the top trunk were gone. Strange, too that the well-hidden things were found—Lorenz had carefully described the hiding place to us before he left and still we found it only after a long search. We brought the things remaining—mainly linen and clothing—up here to the house and made a list of them so that in case Lorenz fails to return, I can write his brother in regard to their disposal.

Seven more hens disappear—these wild dogs are certainly pests. I have already caught nine of them and still there are some around here.

The guavas fruit is ripening and makes good marmalade; it will be several months, however, before the oranges and aguacates are ripe. Once more it is becoming difficult to keep the wild beasts away; they remain whole days in the bushes nearby.

The Hunt for Non-Existent Animals

August 26, 1934. More visitors. This time it's three Germans, [77] here to spend a few weeks on the island, with the intention of hunting the “thousands” of wild animals here, killing as many as possible and selling the hides—hoping in this way to build up a good business. They were brought here by another German, part owner of the ship “Esperanza,” who is to have a share in the business too. I'm afraid they won't have much luck, however, for although the thick bush makes an exact count impossible, in my estimation there can't be more than about 150 head of cattle here. How many pigs and donkeys there are would be difficult to determine, but there can't be very many. Outside of pigs, donkeys and cattle, there are no beasts here that are worth anything. The iguanas are gone and at the most a dozen turtles and they were brought to the island by Captain Bruns [Paul Edvard Bruun] when he was on Floreana.

One of the three Germans, Heinlein, is a jockey by profession; Senff is a mechanic and Tremel a salesman. Senff and Heinlein are from Guayaquil and Tremel came from Santa Cruz, where he had worked for Herr Kubler. Herr Kubler is the man we met that time on Isabela—he had sent to Spain for his wife and daughter and is now living on Santa Cruz. The three had already been to Dr. Ritter's, who told them that they couldn't live in Friedo and advised them to go to us. They have brought rice, beans and sugar along and intend to live in the old pirate cave. The Esperanza will next return in three weeks to pick up the first batch of hides and after that will visit here once a month. The owner of the ship offers to bring back corn and other trifles for us from Guayaquil. It would be nice to have the ship come here every month, but I doubt if it will work out that way, for the men won't be able to earn anything here. Dr. Ritter invites the three Germans and ourselves to Friedo next Sunday, but asks us to bring some rice and meat because he has nothing to eat.

September 9, 1934. The three globe-trotters are comfortably settled [78] in the cave. We call them “globe-trotters” because all three have done a lot of traveling. Heinlein, a Brandenburger, has been in little Asia, Sweden and Colombia; Senff, a native of Hamburg, was once on a ship, then with an oil company in Venezuela, later a hunter in the Amazon country and then with a circus in charge of the animals. Tremel, the best educated of the three, is from South Germany. He too, after leaving Germany, was with an oil company in Venezuela, afterwards working in Canada, Chile and last in Guayaquil.

Dr. Ritter's Writings

September 10, 1934. Sunday we were at Dr. Ritter's. A few days before I had shot a calf and so was able to bring a roasted ham along while the globe-trotters brought a pound of rice. We hoped it would be enough for us all. Dr. Ritter had not become acquainted with the three as yet, and was curious to learn more about what they intended to do on the island. Frau Koerwin became very enthused over Herr Tremel after learning that he wrote for American newspapers. After eating, the conversation became interesting and suddenly another visitor came—a Mr. Taylor, owner of the yacht “Aldebaran” that at one time, under the name “Meteor,” belonged to the German Kaiser. He came with a friend and had already been to our place, where, after being told by Harry where to find us, had come to Friedo. Frau Koerwin related her life's history and Dr. Ritter, though at first reserved, finally brought out his various writings so that Mr. Taylor could study them. Senff and Tremel later went on board the ship, spending the night there.

The other day Mr. Taylor came to us, bringing pumpkins, beans, spinach and some salt meat. My attempt to shoot an animal so as to give him some fresh meat is unsuccessful. Tremel and Senff then took Mr. Taylor to the ship, returning late that evening with three large fish and three bottles of whiskey. The ship had sailed from Post Office Bay [79] around to Black Beach Bay because the road is better from there. The Ritters were also on board, returning laden with groceries. Mr. Taylor's main reason for coming here was to make the acquaintance of Frau Bousquet, having been curious about her through reading a book giving an account of the cruise of the “Blue Dolphin.”

Among others, Dr. Ritter gives Mr. Taylor an article of his that has for a subject the universe, in which the doctor agrees with Cologne philosopher Dr. Bartels, that the earth is not merely a small sphere in the cosmos. Herr Tremel also received several of Dr. Ritter's works to look over, but is unable to follow the ideas—the writings dealing with Dr. Bartels' theory of the point-curvature and zero-curvature of the earth's surface.

September 16, 1934. We celebrate Harry's birthday with the three vagabonds, with whom we get along very well. Herr Tremel is giving Grete lessons in English and in return we give them vegetables, cucumbers, meat and fat for outside of five ducks they haven't been able to shoot a thing. They see now that the reports of the hunting to be had on the island were greatly exaggerated and that the thick bush adds greatly to the hunting difficulties. Yesterday I caught a wild dog which Senff intends to tame and take away with him later.

September 26, 1934. The three hunters are becoming impatient because the Esperanza has not arrived. Yesterday the San Cristóbal was here and brought us two of the cases that we shipped to from Germany last fall. There is still one missing and from the looks of things it will remain that way.

Dr. Ritter Ailing

October 11, 1934. On October 6th Rolf suddenly had a high fever at 41 degrees—and Senff and Tremel went to fetch Dr. Ritter. He came at once and examined the boy but was unable to find anything definite. [80] Grete and Harry have had severe sore throats for the last week. For several days Rolf's fever remained at the same level but today it is down and he feels much better. Dr. Ritter seems to be suffering deeply himself; he looks broken and old and says he'd like to leave the island for his life here is just one disappointment after another.

Sea Water Drinkable?

October 15, 1934. Yesterday I again visited Dr. Ritter, bringing him some otoi, cucumbers, beans and a young rooster in return for his help with Rolf, who is now quite well again. On the hunt for wild cattle, I chance across six aguacate trees, evidently planted by earlier settlers. In various places I find remains of the wire that was used to fence in the settlement and also a small well. There is no other fresh water in the neighborhood and that the small well flows the year around seems doubtful.

The three vagabonds are still with us. They have eaten all the food they brought with them and now must depend almost entirely on us, for their hunting is almost a complete fizzle—outside of a few ducks and a small pig they haven't shot a thing. Heinlein and Senff move into the log house in the bay, intending to stay there until a ship arrives. They solve the water question by boiling sea water and condensing the steam, which with a little extra cooling makes excellent drinking water. Their food they fetch from us. Herr Tremel has some painful abscesses on his arms and legs and so is forced to remain with us for the present.

No Trace of Lorenz and Nuggerud

October 22, 1934. The three vagabonds are gone at last. The San Cristóbal arrived yesterday to pick up some things from the log house, and two passengers, Professor Voegelli and Herr Blomberg of Santa [81] Cruz come to visit us. There is no news at all of Lorenz and Nuggerud. Herr Blomberg tells us about life on Santa Cruz where there is eternal quarreling between the Norwegians and Herr Kubler. Everyone there tries to do the rest as much harm as he can; it's really shameful that people seem to be unable to get along with one another. Herr Tremel left on the San Cristóbal too, because, as we learned from Professor Voegelli, he has been offered a position in Guayaquil again.

November 4, 1934. Yesterday, Harry and I went down to the bay to see to the things that Senff and Heinlein had borrowed from us. Those two slick customers have taken a large tank and some fishing tackle of mine away with them. One can't depend on anybody any more. We fed and cared for those three fellows as well as we could and as thanks for it they have made off with things belonging to me. Just wait until the next one comes.

November 9, 1934. On the 6th of November, we were visited by the American, Captain Lord, whose ship, the “Seth Parker,” lay in the bay. Next day some more people came to us to look over the island and invite us to come on board the ship the following day. Grete and I then went down to the bay, taking a donkey laden with fruit, pumpkins, and smoked meat which we exchanged for groceries of all kinds. The Seth Parker is an old, four-masted sailing vessel, nicely furnished within. We spent a very pleasant day on board the ship and on the way back some sailors caught six big fish for us and so, heavily laden, we reached our farm again late in the afternoon. While we were on the ship, several members of the crew came to us saying that they had visited Dr. Ritter and had a message for us. It seems the young rooster we had given the doctor had died and he wants to know if we can give him another one.

Dr. Ritter's Chickens Die

November 14, 1934. Sunday, Grete and I went down to Dr. Ritter's [82] to bring them the new rooster and found them very worried. More than half of their chickens had died very suddenly. When the people from the Seth Parker were visiting Friedo, the doctor opened a glass of boiled pig meat. Noticing that the meat seamed spoiled, he threw the contents of the glass to the chickens, a large part of them dying after eating it. These dead chickens the doctor is now boiling for future use. This is something we find hard to understand—if the doctor wants meat, he can shoot some animals as we do. He offered us some of the boiled chickens, which we refused. Before leaving we promised Dr. Ritter several of our chickens and yesterday he came for them—six in all. The price Grete asked was the return of the books that we gave him once in exchange for three hens, which didn't seem to please the doctor any too well.

November 17, 1934. Yesterday, Harry and I went out again gathering mango rinds which I intend to use in tanning hides. The attempt to tan them with lemon juice was a success, the result being a light brown leather. I am now going to tan one hide in the lemon juice and another in mango rinds. So have we solved the problems of shoes and clothing.

Meat Poisoning

November 26, 1934. On the 20th of November I went to the salt lagoon to hunt for tortoise and gather mango rinds. The night I spent under a splendid full moon by a crackling fire, for it was pretty cold there on the beach. That odd barking of seals was audible the whole night through but I was unable to shoot a single one of them. I arrived home the next day and found Grete absent. Harry told me that Frau Koerwin had come to us that morning to beg me to come to Friedo, for Dr. Ritter had been poisoned by some meat and would very likely die. Grete went with Frau Koerwin at once, leaving word for me to follow as soon as possible. At four o'clock in the afternoon I was in Friedo. Dr. Ritter was no longer about to talk or see although he could still hear and was fully conscious. His wishes were made known by writing them down after a pencil had been placed in his hand. In regard to the illness of Dr. Ritter, Frau Koerwin told us the following:

On November 19th, they had opened several glasses containing the boiled meat of the chickens that died, intending to eat it. Dr. Ritter had noticed that the meat was bad when he opened the glasses but they cooked the meat thoroughly once more and ate it anyway. Not only had she and Dr. Ritter eaten of the meat, but the cats also. Next day, the morning of the 20th, Dr. Ritter complained of not feeling well and said that he had surely been poisoned by the meat, for he could no longer see. She, Frau Koerwin, had immediately put her finger down her own throat to cause herself to vomit and had vomited thoroughly. In the course of the morning Dr. Ritter's tongue became so badly swollen that he could no longer speak clearly, only stammer. His last remark was one pointing out the bitter irony of he, a vegetarian, dying from meat poisoning. To cause Dr. Ritter to vomit, she cooked some strong coffee and finally in the night of November 21st he does vomit. She was unable to give the doctor a stomach rinse he asked for because the necessary instruments were lacking.

The Death

On the 21st, in the morning, Frau Koerwin came to us, calling and begging for a rubber tube with which to give a stomach rinse. I was absent but Grete went with her at once. Shortly after my arrival, Dr. Ritter had a choking spell, writing on a piece of paper that a lump of mucus was stuck in his windpipe. Frau Koerwin's attempt to draw it up with the rubber tube fails so the doctor writes that it's no use, [84] that he'll just have to die and that I should take pity on his sufferings and shoot him. As far as we could tell, he suffered greatly but no cries of pain come from him. He struggled against the shot of morphine that Frau Koerwin gave him and repelled with blows and kicks every effort of Frau Koerwin to touch him. There must have existed a state of intense hatred between the doctor and Frau Koerwin for Dr. Ritter wrote: “In my last moment, I curse you!” Toward six o'clock the doctor was no longer able to write. Grete he quietly allowed to tuck him in, stroking her hand in gratitude. Several times he extended his folded hands together toward Grete and me and I had the impression he was begging to end his misery with a bullet. Frau Koerwin finally went to lie down and get some rest for she was to relieve us at the doctor's bedside at nine, the doctor remaining quiet until that time. As Frau Koerwin relieved us and came near the doctor, his condition suddenly changed. He began to pound and kick and suddenly raised up as though he were about to hurl himself at Frau Koerwin, but instead he let out a scream and dropped back, rolling over on his other side. Shortly afterward Frau Koerwin turned him over and found him dead.

After making certain of Dr. Ritter's death, I went back home to see that the children were all right, leaving Grete to stay with Frau Koerwin.

Next day, Harry and I go down to Friedo to bury Dr. Ritter's body. We find the underside, on which he lay, a bluish red and a thick, dark blood oozing out of nose and mouth. We wrap the body up in a piece of linen cloth, load it on to Dr. Ritter's wheelbarrow, and transport it to a spot in the garden where we have prepared a grave and bury it there between the stones that Dr. Ritter had removed with so much trouble from the ground. We had promised Frau Koerwin that one of us would come to her the next day. In the house, Grete tells me that Frau Koerwin talked about her fate all night long, saying that her life has [85] been the purest martyrdom. Her one wish, almost an obsession, is to leave the island as soon as possible for she expects to be murdered here. Just who is going to murder her is not clear for there is no one on the island but ourselves.

Time and again, Grete stays all night with Frau Koerwin, now suffering under the delusion that she still has an important duty to fulfill in this life—to make Dr. Ritter's fame known to the world and have him recognized as a great philosopher. She has written an account of his illness and gives a copy of it to every visitor on the island.

Lorenz and Nuggerud Also Dead

Captain Hancock comes with some ladies and a lot of men with whom we are already acquainted to inquire into the disappearance of Madam and Philippson. Lorenz and Nuggerud have been found dead on Marchena Island by the crew of a fishing boat. Hancock has already been there and photographed the corpses.

At Frau Koerwin's request, Grete remains with her again in Friedo overnight. Next day, while the ship's carpenter is busy packing Frau Koerwin's belongings, the entire party comes up to us and there is much relating and many questions because of the recent happenings. With the help of Dr. Schmitt, I transfer all of Frau Koerwin's things to the coast; toward evening she goes aboard and the following morning the Velero III sails away with her. I am supposed to manage Friedo for at least a year and try to keep it in its present condition for Frau Koerwin and a nephew of Dr. Ritter's [who] would come and take it over. After the Velero III left, the San Cristóbal arrived, the men coming for some fishing in the bay. A reporter from the Guayaquil newspaper “Universo” and a Herr Sinack come to visit us and remain overnight.

December 28, 1934. The newspaper reporter, who visits us daily during the stay of the San Cristóbal, we come to know as a burning [86] patriot and we can't help but think that if every Ecuadorian loved his country as much as he does, that rich land would have a great future. Members of the crew of the San Cristóbal are also here quite often and are always very frank and obliging. On the 14th of December we had another visiting ship, the Polish training ship “Dar Pomorza.” I had just come home to Harry (for Grete and Rolf had been living for some time in Friedo), when, just as darkness was falling, several shots range out and in answer to my calls seven persons came toward us out of the night. They turned out to be the captain, the first officer, a professor and two more officers and Señor Carlos Gil of Isabela. They had left Post Office Bay at noon but had lost their way so completely that they only succeeded in reaching our place at nightfall. In the absence of the housewife I entertained them as well as I could. They stayed the night with us and then, early in the morning, went back to the ship.

Floreana in Pictures

Next, I went to Friedo and then with the donkey to the bay to pick up some gifts from the people on the ship. When I returned to Friedo, Grete told me that the captain, the first officer and the ship's doctor had visited her here and had informed her that they had left some more things for us on the shore of the bay. They were splendid people, these Poles—nearly all of them had German names and spoke German. The ship was previously a German training ship.

On the day after the departure of the Dar Pomorza, to our astonishment, the Velero III drops anchor in the bay. Dr. Schmitt and a young man come to us in Friedo to get some oranges and prepare an account of the disappearance of the Baroness. This account is to be signed by Frau Koerwin as well as myself, for she has been telling all sorts of things on board the ship—things that it is difficult to make head or tail of. I then went along on board the ship and after the evening [87] meal the document is brought out and signed by Frau Koerwin and me.

Our greatest enjoyment on the ship is an after-dinner concert. Mr. Hancock himself plays cello. It is wonderful and almost overwhelming to hear such music again after long years. We are also shown a film, taken by the Baroness. Mr. [W. Charles] Swett points out to me that the film does not deal with an actual happening but with a comedy.


The day after the departure of the Velero III, we receive a copy of “El Universo” from the Guayaquil reporter in which is printed an article written by Dr. Ritter in which the doctor, in telling about the disappearance of the Baroness, says we know all about it. (!)

Now we know what Dr. Ritter was trying to convey to us with his prayerful gestures during his last hours. He knew he had directed suspicion toward us by saying we knew all about the disappearance of the Baroness and begged our forgiveness. Only after Lorenz had been given up for dead had the doctor given this article, which is quite different from the one he prepared in Lorenz' presence directly after the Baroness left, to the newspapers and in which suspicion is directed at us. Why didn't he give this article to the newspaper earlier? . . . Why did he wait until Lorenz had disappeared? . . . Now that Dr. Ritter is dead, he can give no explanation—his lips are sealed forever.

While looking through some of Dr. Ritter's books, I find the following sentence underlined:

“All thoughts of sympathy or antipathy do good or evil and when they are unable to find a fertile soil in which [to] take root, back they go to their originator and spend on him the potentialities for good or evil inherent in them.”

Did he in this way prophesy his own fate?

[88] The San Cristóbal remained at anchor until the 23rd and then departed for Chatham, probably to return again in a few days for the Major wishes to investigate the disappearance of the Baroness. We are now waiting for the arrival of the ship, intending to move back to our own house after it leaves. We have named our house “Casa [Asilo?] de la Paz” after a settlement that was here earlier. It seems to be a fitting name for we have had peace all the time we have been living there.

Tragic Balance

We don't like it in Friedo. Outside of the arrangement of the rooms, that we don't like, it has been the cause of the complete upsetting of our pleasant family life. Harry stays in Casa de la Paz, Grete and Rolf in Friedo, and I run back and forth. Why such a turmoil just to take care of Friedo? To do good to those who meant to do us evil? No—we are through with such things once and for all—we've already paid plenty for our instruction. It is basically false to state that people are good; words and expressions sound very fine when one knows nothing of the deeds. So it was with Dr. Ritter. “We live only from fruits and eggs” he used to tell us and what do we find here? Flour, butter, fat, oil, sugar, canned vegetables, etc. The piles of empty cans are ample proof what they really lived on mainly. All of these things came from America.

Now we see why Dr. Ritter didn't want anyone else on the island—he thought only of the curtailment of his own supplies.

Pots and pans lie around everywhere and there are tools of all kinds. Heaps of empty shells spoke eloquently of frequent hunting. The guns are of American manufacture and the many worn shoes too. We had tried to clean the living room a bit and ran across some memorandums listing the things the doctor needed, and which he intended asking visitors here to bring him. There also were some rough copies of letters [89] from Dore Koerwin to her previous husband.

On the 26th of December comes another ship—this time a small sailboat, owned by an instructor in the High School of Technology in Atlanta. He and his wife had sailed the ship alone and already have visited several islands of the Galápagos group, the last being Santa Cruz where they had met and brought along two men, a Herr Graffy and a Herr Wohl, who came along to do some hunting here on Floreana. While his pleasant, young wife remains with Grete, in Friedo, I go with the men on up the hill to show them my estate and perhaps shoot a steer. In the evening the Americans and Herr Wohl return to the ship while Graffy stays with me and Harry so as to get some hunting real early in the morning. We have no luck with the hunting so in lieu of fresh meat our guest takes along a plentiful supply of oranges as well as some eggs, chickens and vegetables that we give them. The oranges that grow here are said to be better than those of California. The next day the visitors leave for Santa Cruz, intending to return here again in a few days to take on a supply of fresh water and fruit.

People are unable to understand why Frau Dore, who also ate of the spoiled meat, didn't also become sick. But then, people must always have something new to tell and this offers the best opportunity.

It seems a lot of alcohol is being drunk on Santa Cruz; not infrequently, everyone there lies dead drunk on the sand sleeping off their jags. It seems that because of the almost continuous rain, life on the plantations is more than one can stand. Things grow well there but no one does any harvesting—the people are too lazy. The coffee they let rot on the stem; the plants are uncared for and the horses and pigs, that are allowed to run wild, just help themselves to whatever they wish. There are supposed to be droves of rats there and these eat the corn before it is ripe. On the coast, where the people live, swarms of mosquitoes appear during the rainy season. This is the island that Herr [90] Kubler described as a “paradise” in an effort to get me to move there. But one can't believe anyone here; people come out with an opinion before they have really looked around and know what they're talking about.

The Investigation

January 7, 1935. One week of the new year gone already—a week in which much has happened that has added to our riches of experience.

After the departure of the Americans on the 28th of December, we moved back into our house, transferring the valuable things in Friedo to our place. On January 1st, I went with Grete to Friedo where we found a note from the American saying that, unfortunately, he was unable to visit us and that the Major would be here tomorrow or the next day.

On January 2nd, came the Major, Kubler as interpreter, Luna, the reporter and four soldiers, to question us about the disappearance of the Baroness. The whole day was taken up with the investigation and in the evening I accompanied the Major to Friedo where he made out a report on the death of Dr. Ritter.

After it was all over, I went on board the ship to get some mail for us that the Major had forgotten to bring along. There wasn't much. To our great astonishment, letters we had given the three vagabonds to forward, had been returned to us along with a note from them saying that they must refuse to do Grete this favor because we had tried to take advantage of their unfortunate circumstances while they were on the island. These good-for-nothings, not even capable of shooting a single steer, we had fed for eight weeks and now they had sent back letters we had trusted them to mail.

We spent the night in Friedo because the San Cristóbal was to leave again during the night. Herr Kubler looked to be very sick. The Major was very nice and said he regretted having to question us.

So there has been an important legal investigation on Floreana—perhaps the first in the history of the island. Before coming here to Floreana, the Major was on Marchena Island where he attended to the burying of Lorenz and Nuggerud.

The lives of five persons have been destroyed and we alone remain on the entire island of Floreana—alone in the solitude. But we are very content.

The “Thumb-Sucker”

Grete, who hasn't nursed Rolf for over a half year now, is getting plumper and preferring to be slender is trying to work off the extra poundage in the garden. Rolf is our tyrant—nothing is safe from the little rascal, now two years old. He crawls everywhere and gets into everything, somehow managing to see everything he shouldn't but growing more and more intelligent each day. His picture, on his father's arm, has appeared in American newspapers and because he had his thumb in his mouth when the picture was taken he has become known as “The Thumb-Sucker.”

Harry, now a big, husky fellow, has also gained. His left eye has become a lot better and he is now industriously practicing shooting. I myself am not exactly in the best of health but it's likely due to the recent excitement and will soon pass away.

Friedo looks so mournful and neglected. Over Dr. Ritter's grave I have erected a cross with a head board. The papayas are dropping to the ground and rotting. The upkeep of the garden is too much for me, especially after the way Dr. Ritter and Frau Koerwin treated us, besides which Frau Dore has not kept her promise to send us help from Chatham or the mainland. So Friedo bids fair to sink back to sleep into its primitive state from which it has already been awakened several times. Who knows whether it will ever awake again to a new life? This accursed [92] island is inclined to feel enmity toward man and resists his every effort—or at least it has up to the present time.

Here end the notes of Heinz Wittmer

* * * * *

Heinz was depressed by our recent experiences with human cussedness—even the official investigation having gone against the grain. So he has turned the job of writing in our diary over to me again.

Gradually we become calmer, life here slipping back into a quiet, uneventful groove. Our three hectares or so of land take a lot of care, but when we look out over it we become filled with a just pride and can truthfully say we have accomplished considerable in something like two and a half years. Out of poor material we have built two houses—houses that astonish our visitors and can proudly refer to our garden as a veritable “hacienda.”

Vacation Trip to Germany

Our recent experiences weigh heavily on our minds, so one day Heinz suggests that I take a trip back to Germany to find out what the people back home know of things. When we first came here we had reserved a sum of money with which to pay our fare back home in case our plan was a failure, so now, since there remains no question as to the success of our undertaking, the money is to be used for a vacation trip for myself and little Rolf—the “thumb-sucker” or “Prince Charles” as he has been called by American newspapers after another name for the island; that is, Charles Island. Until all the recent unpleasantness, we hadn't given a thought to such a possibility and now, with the idea taking on a more and more tangible form, a warm feeling of happiness comes over me . . . I am to see Germany, a new Germany perhaps this time, once again. Busily we set about making preparations.

The San Cristóbal is not due until March but perhaps another ship will arrive before that time. Every few days we go down to the beach, to look for ships and take a look at Friedo. Yes, some ships did come—twice—but only to plunder Friedo. On the 17th of February, after a trip to the bay, we had hardly rested a quarter of an hour when we hear a “Hello” outside at the fence.

The old Major of Chatham is here to take leave of us and introduce his successor, the two having arrived on the San Cristóbal. And who else do they bring with them but a German painter, Siegfried Neumann of Munich, coming to visit us after a trip clear across Ecuador. He is a likable person—full of fun. In the first few minutes everything is arranged—yes, Herr Neumann will take me under his protection as far as Guayaquil and help me further after we get there. We begin to pack excitedly and at the same time give the new Major an account of [the] recent double burglary in Friedo. The men are entertained and Herr Neumann is outside making some sketches. In the afternoon we are ready to leave for the ship and Harry, who must remain in the house, starts to cry and it is hard for me too, now that the actual parting is at hand.

The Crossing

The walk down to the bay went so fast that I can hardly remember it at all. Rolf, on his father's arm was happy, all unconscious of course, of what was happening. Heinz stayed with us on the San Cristóbal for an hour; then he, too, had to go ashore—it was hard for him as well. He didn't stay at the beach until the ship's departure but taking the donkey by the bridle at once began the return trip, often turning to look back.

The San Cristóbal finally left, the two Majors, Herr Neumann and the captain talking and trying to comfort me. I fell asleep late and the sea being calm didn't awaken until we were nearing Chatham. Here the [94] San Cristóbal lay to for three days. To my surprise and joy I found the Aldebaran, the ship of Herr Taylor, in the harbor. He had heard I was on board and was searching for me for he was about to leave for Panama and would be glad to take me along, an offer I was forced to refuse because he had no women on board and he as well as I knew that it would be unwise to defy the conventions here in South America, even though the offer was well meant. Then again, Herr Neumann had undertaken to help me in Guayaquil and so our plans remained as they were in the beginning. Naturally, the recent happenings on Floreana were the main topics of conversation.

During the six day voyage from Chatham to Guayaquil, [he] was a considerate, helpful friend, always full of jokes and always full of fun—doing his best to make me forget my almost constant seasickness. Rolf stood it better.

The first class passengers from Chatham numbered [?]; [?] and one civilian: twelve soldiers and the crew of eleven. On deck were three pigs, three goats, a horse, a cow, ten turtles, a “Tölpel” (a sea bird), chickens and ducks. The pigs and goats kept coming into the cabins to drink the washing water. We were terribly, almost forcibly crowded together but we were sailing towards home—that was the important thing.

Evenings I sat in the captain's cabin listening to the interesting accounts of the painter's extensive travels, he having been in Japan and having traveled over almost the whole of South America. He now intends to become acquainted with certain parts of Ecuador and then go back to Germany so that we must part company in Guayaquil. The captain, Señor Boisset, a native Chilean in his late sixties, was a fine man and untiring in his efforts to keep the obtrusive, native “gentlemen” away from me, who, seemingly, had never before seen a blonde woman. Señor Boisset promised to send me frequent reports about my people on Floreana [95] while I am in Germany.

Shortly before the ship arrived in Guayaquil, Herr Neumann sent a wireless message ahead, reserving a hotel room for me and so when we landed I was met by an employee of the hotel and a member of the harbor police. Herr Neumann went on to another hotel, returning in a few hours to take me around to the offices of the various steamship lines. After much discussion, we decided that the “Cerigo,” leaving March 1st, 1935 for Cristóbal, Panama would be the best bet for it would enable me to catch the “San Francisco.” The Cerigo belongs to the Hamburg-American Line.

Herr Neumann absolutely sacrificed himself to help me and yet it so happened that at a time when I needed him badly I was unable to reach him.

I was sitting, with Rolf on my lap, in my hotel room when there was a knock at my door, and at my summons a man dressed in white came in and requested that I prepare myself for a police investigation, the men being due in about twenty minutes. Now what was the matter? We had given the investigating committee on Floreana all the information we possessed. I tried to reach Herr Neumann but without success—he had gone out to paint. The man in white returned again and said I was to come to the consulate and there was nothing I could do but take little Rolf and go along. At the consulate I was taken before a tribunal of six men and was told that the judge had done me a great honor in coming to the consulate to take charge of the Floreana case. From 5 until 8 there were questionings, writings and translations. Rolf began to cry and was given a ruler to play with and by the time we finished the poor little fellow had reduced it to splinters. All questions that had been answered on Floreana and of which they had a report, were repeated and toward the end they questioned me regarding the relations that existed between Frau Dore Koerwin and Dr. Ritter. But at last this [96] too was finished and Herr Neumann, who had been searching everywhere for me, expressed his deep regret that he hadn't been on hand to help me through it all.

The Cerigo put out to sea on March 1st, 1935. In the morning at the hotel I read an article in the Guayaquil newspaper that gave me an appetite for leaving. I read, verbatim: “Wittmer's feminine companion is returning again to Germany, following Frau Koerwin. She says she is coming back but we don't believe it. More than likely Wittmer will soon follow her and again will Floreana be an untenanted island and the mystery of Dr. Ritter and Frau Bousquet remain forever unsolved.”

It all just goes to show how wrong one can be—it was just the revenge of ignored “sensation” reporters. I had a similar experience in Panama with a woman reporter, who was so friendly and anxious to find a few “nice words” to say about me in the largest newspaper in Panama that she didn't get anything straight.

As for the rest, I soon felt as much at home on the San Francisco as on the Cerigo. Germany people—German customs. What did a six weeks voyage across the Atlantic matter under these conditions?

We pass the Azores, continue on to Le Havre, then Rotterdam, a short detour to London and at last reach Hamburg.

The Tragedy of Marchena

So now I am sitting here at home reading a communications sent by the Foreign Office in Berlin last February 3rd, while I was still on Floreana:

Foreign Office, Berlin—January 25, 1935. The customs officials in San Diego (U.S.A.), sent to the German Consulate in Los Angeles, with a note dated the 11th of December, a large number of letters and documents seemingly belonging to a German citizen named Alfred Lorenz—letters, etc. taken with him on his [97] last voyage from the Galápagos island, Floreana, and which had been forwarded to San Diego by the captain of the American steamship “Santa Amaro.”

Among those papers were found the enclosed letters and writings, addressed to you.

Signed: Minister of State—Foreign Office

What really happened is best told by the report of the American fishermen.

The Santa Amaro had dropped anchor at Marchena Island, a waterless island at the extreme northern point of the Galápagos archipelago. Manuel Rodriguez and four sailors had gone ashore and suddenly had seen what looked to be a bundle of rags lying on the ground before them. On closer examination, the bundle of rags turned out to be a human corpse and shaken by the horrible sight, they investigated further and 50 feet away they found another similar bundle—a second corpse, the long blonde hair of which led them to believe it was the body of a woman. Both corpses had become mummified by the sun.

From the ship the news was broadcast that the bodies found were those of a man and a woman and from the mail found near the corpses (the letters I gave Lorenz to mail), the world came to the conclusion that the dead woman was myself.

The news reached Captain Hancock on the 17th of November, 1934, just as he was about to leave for Galápagos in the Velero III and he too, figured that the dead ones must be Heinz and I. He was very worried over the fate of the children.

Captain Hancock at last received word that we were still alive and the question of the identity of the two who died there on Marchena still remained open.

So Captain Hancock set out for Marchena Island, photographed the two bodies, and brought back some specimens of hair so that the identity [98] of the two bodies was finally established beyond a shadow of a doubt as being those of Lorenz and Nuggerud.

What a tragic journey these letters now lying before me have made! I can still see Lorenz saying “Goodbye” to us that day on Floreana—putting our letters in his pocket, and then, swinging his little bundle of smoked meat, depart after saying to us in a high voice, full of joy because of the trip before him:

“Until September, then I'll be back.”

Poor boy. Did you take a secret with you in death?

Part I

The End