The first sensation: the yawing of the ship; the gentle sympathetic sway of his hammock. As long as he could remember, Gerhardt Ritchie had woken at the same time; always came to wakefulness as the sun rose in Demerara. In his current latitude, these were the long stretches of the night; the times he could lie quietly in his hammock and mull over his past day; plan for the coming day; consider the challenges in his life.
And the challenges were exceptional. His mission to San Francisco had been extraordinary – and fraught with danger. Under the instructions of the Governor, he was to recruit 50 men – all former slaves, all eager to save their families from the spreading pall of American slavery. His special ability to convince these men was obvious. A Demerara Creole, he had the special commission of the Governor of Vancouver Island in his pocket and a promise of 50 acres in return 4 years of militia service.