This surpasses fiction.
It was after the capture of New Orleans that Captain Austin
fell into the clutches of the enemy and was lodged there in prison.
But jail walls could never hold him. Within a few days he was assisted to his liberty and secreted in the home of a sympathizer.
For ten days he remained in hiding before a means of escape from the city was devised.
Finally one dark night a friend from the outside came to the house and led Captain Austin
with his companion to the water front.
Swimming out in the muddy water, the two men climbed
over the side of a coal schooner and hid themselves in the hold.
The vessel was going out light, bound for Havana
, a haven of safety for the prisoners.
At the appointed time a shuffling of feet on deck told the men below that the ship was under way. Until far out at sea, they remained in the hold, stifled with the odor of bilge and dust of coal.
Their friend from the outside had shipped as mate.
When darkness came he opened the hatch and the men were released.
Stealthily creeping to the cabin occupied by the master, they opened the door and walked in. The captain was a German and all of his Teutonic wrath blazed up at the sight of the dust-begrimed stowaways.
He demanded their story.
Very frankly they admitted that they were escaping prisoners of war and wanted to go to Havana
With a great Prussian oath the master rushed toward the door with the intention of giving the order to 'bout ship.
Coolly producing a revolver, Captain Austin
pointed the muzzle in the German
“Stay where you are,” came the hoarse command.
Obedience seemed necessary.
The stowaways agreed to pay their passage if allowed the freedom of the vessel as passengers to Cuba
In the face of the circumstances the demand was complied with and the ship sailed on its course.
But it was not for long.
Morning dawned, and with the light a ship of war bearing the stars and stripes appeared in the distance.
The captain rushed to the rail and made an attempt to signal the vessel.
Suddenly he felt himself held in a grasp of steel.
He was forced hastily back in his cabin, the door was locked on him, and Captain Austin
A week later the schooner was tied up at the Havana wharves
and Captain Austin
was still in charge.
Turned over to the Cuban authorities, his further immunity from captivity was avoided by virtue of a previous meeting with the captain general
of the island.
How this was brought about is another story.