Ghost sightings often have a way of coming up with unpleasant surprises, but, thankfully, few are as violent as the one in this news item from the “Owensboro Monitor,” November 16, 1864:
A strange story is told in connection with the report of the murder at sea on board of the barque Pontiac, of Liverpool, by Jean Moyatos, a Greek sailor now in custody at Edinburgh.
It may be remembered that on the 13th October last, five days after the Pontiac left Callao, Jean Moyatos murdered one of his fellow seamen, and stabbed another in such a dangerous manner that his life was despaired of. Two nights before the fatal occurrence, the mate of the Pontiac was standing near the man at the helm, no other person being on the quarter-deck at the time, when the latter in great terror called out, "What is that near the cabin door?" The mate replied that he saw nothing, and looked about to see if anyone was near, but he failed to discover any person. The steersman then, much terrified, said the figure he saw was that of a strange-looking man, of ghostly appearance, and almost immediately afterwards exclaimed, "There he is again, standing at the captain's window!" The mate, though in view of the captain's window, saw no figure near it, nor at any other part of the quarter-deck, though he looked round and round.
Next day the report went from one to the other that a ghost was on board, which filled some of the sailors with alarm, while others made a jest of it. Next night, a boy (a stowaway) was so dreadfully alarmed in his bunk by something he saw or felt (we do not know which), that he cried out so loudly as to waken all the seamen in bed. The boy was sure it was the ghost seen the previous night that had frightened him; and others of more mature years were inclined to think so too. Perhaps more than half of those on board believed that something supernatural was on board, and that some calamity was about to happen. But there were two on board who did not believe the ghost stories, and these were the man who was murdered and his companion who was stabbed.
The former joked with the boy about the ghost, and said he would have his knife well sharpened and ready for the ghost if it appeared the next night. He would give it a stab and "chuck" it overboard. The latter joined in the joke, saying he also would help "to do" for the ghost, and others said they would have letters ready for the ghost to carry to their friends in the other world.
J. Moyatos overheard what was said as to stabbing and throwing overboard, and in consequence of his imperfect knowledge of the English language, and having previously supposed there was a combination against him, thought the threats were made against him, and therefore resolved to protect himself. A few hours after the jesting we have briefly explained took place, he stabbed the two men who principally carried on the jest, with the fatal result known.
The murder, as might be expected. filled everyone on board with horror; and the terror of the sailors who believed there was a ghost on board was overwhelming. At night, whether in bed or on watch on deck they had great dread, which was heightened by reports that strange noises were heard below. Not even at the end of the voyage had the fear been overcome; for after the ship was moored in the docks two of the crew who had agreed to sleep on board became so frightened after their companions were paid off that they refused to remain in the vessel at night.The moral of our story: next time you see a ghost, keep that news to yourself.