Lorenz, Ritter, and the Wittmers all had motives to be rid of the Baroness. Her disappearance is still a mystery to the outside world, but the islanders keep the secret to themselves. It was strongly insinuated and all but admitted to us who the villain was.
A few months later, the vegetarian Dr. Ritter died of meat poisoning. His abused mistress, Dore, returned to Germany shortly after his death. The Wittmers then had Floreana to themselves.
During those revelations, Mr. Horneman came in and sat quietly beside us at the table. It was becoming a party. They talked about the luxury yachts that had visited the Galapagos throughout the years. Any boat’s arrival was a big day on the islands. The Yankee Clipper, which had come to the island a few times while Irving and Electra Johnson owned it, would be arriving in a few days. The islanders had been alerted to the fact by shortwave radio.
As Terry and I said our goodbyes and thanked Tanta Rombeck, she shook our hands warmly. Tears welled up in her eyes. Festive moments in her harsh and lonely island life were precious few.
The Yankee Clipper arrived. The cruise that began in Miami was to take 18 months to go around the world, and at that time cost each of the 29 passengers $6,000 (about $42,000 in today’s dollar).
As soon as the magnificent sailboat dropped anchor, dinghies swarmed around it. When Terry and I went back to Friedel and Forrest Nelson’s house for dinner, the tiny living room was filled with young people from the boat, drinking beer. A lively bunch from all over the United States, they were leaving just as we arrived.
Forrest told us we had to prepare our own dinner. He and Friedel were dining on board. We also had to feed Uncle Graffer, who always ate dinner there. Actually, he was no problem because all he ever ate was bread and jam. I looked in the refrigerator for something to eat and found only carrots, turnips, and bread. While I was shredding turnips, Terry and Uncle Graffer went down the road to find Mr. Horneman. They returned to a dinner of cooked turnips, carrot sticks, and bread.
After dinner, Eddy came by to row us to the yacht. The waves were rough and salt spray cut sideways into our faces. Soaking wet, we climbed aboard and went below. It was like entering a fraternity house.
Tiny, a fellow from Chicago, who looked like a scroungy bum, but a self-assured one, was heir to the White Sox and Greyhound fortunes. A vivacious spinster from Montana owned a florist shop. A young punk had a letter of introduction to the King of Thailand. They all were eager to corner us with gossip about the others, and to boast about their fathers’ positions.
On our last day on Santa Cruz, we awakened to see two ships in the harbor—the elegant Yankee Clipper sailing ship, and a scrubby-looking stub-nosed black hulk, the Cristobal Carrier. It looked good to us. We had met everyone, had seen everything, and were ready to return to the mainland.
While taking our last sun bath on Santa Cruz, Terry watched in awe as a finch hopped all over my back, then perched on my head for awhile before he flew away.
After our last dinner with Forrest and Friedel, we said our goodbyes to all our friends on Santa Cruz and boarded the Cristobal Carrier. Mr. Horneman saw us off, too. He handed us this note, which we later read. It was very touching.
“Dear Gail and Terry, I am sure many people should like to treat you as old, dear friends. I should best have liked to see you from beginning (birth) up to date and forever. My only daughter has left the home of her parents. We should have liked to be blessed with two other daughters, two just exactly as you are, Gail and Terry. If you some time should like to spend a time in a quiet place like this for a holiday, better a holiyear, you would have made us very happy.
“I should like to get a spark of what you so richly have, by your contact with the field of noble etheric energy, which you are so well in touch with. If you came to Norway and met my boys, my best wish would have been that they could have made you to be my real daughters—daughters in love. I am sure many fathers have wished like me. Staying here then, all three of you, my daughters, could have met each other when you wished.
“As we now see you go away from us, that will give a pain like the departing of the best old friends to be had. Truly yours, Jacob Peter Horneman.”