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[202] came, that would have assuredly brought death, the men were picked up by fishermen just off the Cuban coast a few miles below Havana. Water and food were forced down their throats a little at a time. At first it seemed as though relief would be as likely to prove fatal as suffering had been before, but slowly, under the ministering hands of the fishermen, they improved. Almost worn out by their awful experience, they were taken to Havana and turned over to the authorities. They were taken before the captain-general and told their story. Struck by the tale and by the appearance of the prisoners, he released them on parole. The freedom of the city was theirs.

But the publicity given the event reached the army authorities in the North, and an officer was dispatched to bring them back. When he arrived Austin and his companion were summoned to appear before the Governor of the island. A young lieutenant in his blue uniform was there awaiting them in the private office of the captain general, who sat at his desk writing. At last he turned toward the group. In his hand he held a document which he handed to Austin. It was a certificate of citizenship in Cuba. Snapping their fingers at the officer who had come to get them, they left the Palace free men.

During the remainder of their stay in the Cuban capital Captain Austin and his companion struck up a close friendship with the Governor, who had given them their liberty. This fact proved their salvation later.

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