American Prisoners of The Revolution
BY DANSKE DANDRIDGE
DAME GRANT AND HER BOAT
"One indulgence was allowed us by our keepers, if indulgence it can be called. They had given permission for a boat to come alongside the ship, with a supply of a few necessary articles, to be sold to such of the prisoners as possessed the means of paying for them. This trade was carried on by a very corpulent old woman, known among us by the name of Dame Grant. Her visits, which were made every other day, were of much benefit to us, and, I presume, a source of profit to herself. She brought us soft bread and fruit, with various other articles, such as tea, sugar, etc., all of which she previously put up into small paper parcels, from one ounce to a pound in weight, with the price affixed to each, from which she would never deviate. The bulk of the old lady completely filled the stern sheets of the boat, where she sat, with her box of goods before her, from which she supplied us very expeditiously. Her boat was rowed by two boys, who delivered to us the articles we had purchased, the price of which we were required first to put into their hands.
"When our guard was not composed of Refugees, we were usually permitted to descend to the foot of the Accommodation-ladder, in order to select from the boat such articles as we wished. While standing there it was distressing to see the faces of hundreds of half-famished wretches, looking over the side of the ship into the boat, without the means of purchasing the most trifling article before their sight, not even so much as a morsel of wholesome bread. None of us possessed the means of generosity, nor had any power to afford them relief. Whenever I bought any articles from the boat I never enjoyed them; for it was impossible to do so in the presence of so many needy wretches, eagerly gazing at my purchase, and almost dying for want of it.
"We frequently furnished Dame Grant with a memorandum of such articles as we wished her to procure for us, such as pipes, tobacco, needles, thread, and combs. These she always faithfully procured and brought to us, never omitting the assurance that she afforded them exactly at cost.
"Her arrival was always a subject
of interest to us; but at length she did not make her appearance for several
days, and her appearance was awaited in extreme anxiety. But, alas! we were
no longer to enjoy this little gratification. Her traffic was ended. She
had taken the fever from the hulk, and died * * * leaving a void which was
never afterwards filled up."