(These stories are genuine tales of the supernatural as related by islanders who had personal contact with them. For obvious reasons the names of the narrators are not given. There is no disposition to vouch for the supernatural elements of the tales: the facts are as given and the explanation may be left to the reader.)

3. The Indomitable Captain

This story did not actually take place on the Vineyard, but its actors were Vineyard people and it has a simple explanation which makes it, at least, an established fact on the records of spirit lore.

The captain of a whaleship which sailed out of Edgartown along with many others was as bold a sea dog as ever lived. In seamanship he was the equal of any man living. In battle he might have bested the most stouthearted foe.

His ship was at sea, when the crew was repeatedly frightened by blood-curdling yells. Some of the men were playing cards in the cabin when they were startled by the yells, and they threw their cards into the fire.

These untoward happenings threatened the morale of the ship. There was no telling when frightful howls would arouse the whole ship’s company. And they all knew that nothing on board ship was capable of yelling that way.

The captain determined to search the ship, for he did not believe in ghosts. Following as nearly as he could the sound of the yells, he crawled into the hold and over the cargo. The crew hung back, afraid.

The captain was a long time making the dark search, but at last he groped into the bows. The air was close and hot. The yells occurred at frequent intervals and there was no apparent source from which they could be coming. The sound of water swashing against the vessel’s side reminded the captain that he was at sea and far away from anyone or anything to board his ship.

All of a sudden he was confronted with two burning balls of fire - enough to frighten as brave a man as he. Still the captain threw himself forward desperately, straight at the flaming balls in the back hold.

A moment later he had in his grasp a very hungry, very starved stowaway cat.