In the harrowing tale of the British yacht that capsized in the Atlantic in July 1884, the crew had no option but to turn to cannibalism in order to survive, however, the victim didn't want to let the surviving crew rest.
Only four men escaped when the British square-rigged yacht Pierrot capsized in the Atlantic in July 1884. Huddles in a battered dinghy, they drifted for 25 days. Near-death from starvation and exposure captain Edwin Rutt then made a last desperate suggestion.
Lots should be drawn to determine which of the four would be eaten. Two of the sailors agreed with Rutt, but 18-year-old Dick Tomlin, the youngest crewman, protested that he would rather die than eat human flesh.
Tomlinson's resistance sealed his fate. At the first opportunity, Rutt crept up toward the sleeping boy and drove a knife into his neck.
The mate Josh Dudley and seaman Will Hoon had no reservation about cannibalism. When they were rescued by the yacht Gellert four days later, it was the slain boy's flesh that sustained them.
The horror-stricken master of the Gellert rejected the idea of burial at sea. Hidden away under the tarpaulin, the body of the victim accompanied the three survivers to the Cornish port of Falmouth.
All three were tried and condemned to death for murder on the high seas. But the Home Secretary decided that there had been horror enough and commuted the sentence to six months' imprisonment. No one could have known that the horrors were just beginning.
When the three men were freed from jail, they found little future. To keep body and soul together Josh Dudley found work as a drayman. Two weeks later his team of horses saw something that frightened them in the middle of a foggy London street. Bolting, they tossed Dudley to the cobblestones where his head shattered.
Witnesses said the thing in the fog had been a figure swathed from head to foot in bloodstained bandages. After Dudley's death, the figure mysteriously vanished.
With fear beginning to take root, Captain Rutt went to the Soho slums and sought out Will Hoon. He found the old seaman far gone in drink, a sodden derelict in desperately bad health.
Rutt told Hoon that some vengeance-crazed relative was masquerading as Dick Tomlinson's ghost, and he urged Hoon wanted only more gin, and in the last delirium, he was taken to the charity ward of a hospital where he died in a screaming fit. Witnesses said later that another patient "dressed all in bandages" had been holding Hoon down, trying to soothe him. Then the patient vanished.
Now in a state of abject terror. Rutt went to the police. They scoffed at his tales of a "figure in bandages". But in view of the captain's mental condition, they offered him one night of lodging in a cell.
Rutt went gratefully to the cell, checking twice to be sure that he was locked in. It was a cell for the disturbed of London, and screams in the night were not uncommon.
But when at 3 am the police heard the captain, some distinctive quality in his cries brought warders running. They unlocked the door and went to his bunk, where Rutt lay with his knees scissored upward and his dead eyes like marbles.
Clenched in his fingers the shocked bobbies saw shreds of cotton. And a bloodstained gauze.