On the night of April 4th we had
another awfully sudden death on board. I left the upper deck at
10 PM to go down into my Hammock, leaving the Ship's Schoolmaster,
Mr. Ebbells and the writer (who sleeps next to me) walking the upper
deck together. Soon affter I turned in, they also came down, after
which I went to sleep, I had not been asleep more than half an hour
before the Writer woke me, and said that the schoolmaster was dead.
Adam Ebbels, schoolmaster for Captain Nares' young son who
traveled with Challenger, died in Bermuda on his 37th birthday, diagnosed
by the ships' doctors with "apoplexy" which we would today call
a stroke. He was buried in Bermuda Cemetery with some ceremony.
|Nearly all the ship's company
attended his funeral; I should have gone but could not be spared,
the Band of the "Royal Alfred" played the "Dead March
in Saul" to the grave; our band not having practised it yet.
A very singular and affecting scene occurred at the Funeral, the Chaplain
of the Dockyard buried him, and did not know just at the time whose
corpse it was, but happening at the conclusion to glance at the Coffin
plate, read the name backwards, as he stood at the head of it. "Adam
Ebbels, born April 4th, 1837, died April 4th 1873," and for some
time was so much affected that he was unable to continue the service.
The Dockyard Chaplain had discovered in mid-funeral service that the deceased
was a good friend of his with whom he had sailed around the world a few
years before. But this strange coincidence would not be the last peculiar
event associated with the post of schoolmaster on HMS Challenger.