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Base Camp

Crossing the Channel to Santa Barbara

During the voyage back across the Channel, the San Nicolas woman conveyed through gestures how she had lived alone for eighteen years on the remote island. " she lived on fish, sealís blubber, roots and shellfish; and the birds, whose skins she secured for clothing, were seabirds, which she caught at night off their roosts in the seams of the crags. The bush enclosures she made for a screen from the winds, and as a protection while asleep from wild animals. She made frequent excursions over the island from her main dwelling, which was a large cave on the north end of San Nicholas. She kept dried meat at each camping station; the food in the crevices by the springs was for the time when, from sickness or old age, she would only be able to crawl to the water and live on what she had stored out of reach of the dogs. She revealed she had seen the other recent visitations to her island by the hunters, but was both afraid to make her self visible, and then remorseful when they left with out her. She had never found her young baby when she originally returned to the island eighteen years before and had spent the time entirely alone, save for wild dogs she had been able to tame.

She was taken first to Santa Cruz Island for a month long hunting trip, which was of great interest to her as she had not been to another island, and when she reached Santa Barbara, she was delighted and amazed by the new sights, such as Captain Nideverís soon on shore riding a little pony, or an ox team passing by - all animals she had never before seen. She was taken to live with Captain Nidever, and protected by his Spanish wife who refused offers to have her put on show and taken to San Francisco as a curiosity. She was gravely disappointed when none of her people could be located at any of the Missions in Southern California, and there were none found who could even speak her language. She was courteous, modest and kind to the Nideverís and their children, and lapsed into a mysterious illness with in two weeks of being brought to the mainland ( Nidiver claimed from eating too much fruit ), unwilling to eat even her island fare of seal blubber. Following her death, her feathered robes were sent to Rome, and she was buried in the cemetery beside the Santa Barbara Mission.