December 14, 1895


     Billy Neville left Cross at the age of 13 aboard his father’s ship, Cross Winds. The ship sank off the coast of Sumatra in 1875 with the loss of all hands.

     Billy’s mother was devastated when news reached her of the fate of her husband and son, and she went mad with grief. Her brother, William – after whom Billy was named – promptly placed his sister in an asylum, collected the insurance money from the loss of the ship, and retired to the house that had once belonged to his sister and brother-in-law.

     Billy’s mother slowly died of malnutrition and neglect, but William invested the insurance money wisely and lived comfortably as the years passed.

     Unbeknownst to William, his nephew Billy was still alive. The boy was rescued by Batak warriors on their way to battle against the Dutch forces in Sumatra. For years Billy sought to return home, traveling with a small monkey, his sole friend.

     Eventually, Billy found a ship to work on, and he made his way across the Pacific, moving ever closer to California. When he reached the States, Billy and his pet traveled across the country. For years he had sent letters to his mother, but never had he received an answer.

     Fear grew in him that something terrible had happened to her, and when he arrived in Cross on December 14, 1895, Duncan Blood told Billy what had transpired, and Billy and his monkey went home to see Uncle William.

     Billy and his pet lived at the home for another 42 years, but his Uncle William vanished that December night.

     Some of the neighbors recalled seeing Billy the next morning, bringing a sea chest out to his uncle’s wagon, the monkey’s small paws dyed a darker stain of brown as the creature sat upon his shoulder.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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