The Wild Man of Cape Cod

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For years after Bellamy’s pirate ship was wrecked at Wellfleet, by false pilotage on the part of one of his captives, a strange-looking man used to travel up and down the cape, who was believed to be one of the few survivors of that night of storm, and of the hanging that others underwent after getting ashore. The pirates had money when the ship struck; it was found in the pockets of a hundred drowned who were cast on the beach, as well as among the sands of the cape, for coin was gathered there long after. They supposed the stranger had his share, or more, and that he secreted a quantity of specie near his cabin. After his death gold was found under his clothing in a girdle. He was often received at the houses of the fishermen, both because the people were hospitable and because they feared harm if they refused to feed or shelter him; but if his company grew wearisome he was exorcised by reading aloud a portion of the Bible. When he heard the holy words he invariably departed.

And it was said that fiends came to him at night, for in his room, whether he appeared to sleep or wake, there were groans and blasphemy, uncanny words and sounds that stirred the hair of listeners on their scalps. The unhappy creature cried to be delivered from his tormenters and begged to be spared from seeing a rehearsal of the murders he had committed. For some time he was missed from his haunts, and it was thought that he had secured a ship and set to sea again; but a traveller on the sands, while passing his cabin in the small hours, had heard a more than usual commotion, and could distinguish the voice of the wild man raised in frantic appeal to somebody, or something; still, knowing that it was his habit to cry out so, and having misgivings about approaching the house, the traveller only hurried past. A few neighbors went to the lonely cabin and looked through the windows, which, as well as the doors, were locked on the inside. The wild man lay still and white on the floor, with the furniture upset and pieces of gold clutched in his fingers and scattered about him. There were marks of claws about his neck.

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