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On April 4th, Matkin had described the unfortunate death of Challenger's schoolmaster, a loss which apparently impacted Matkin's workload, as he relates to his cousin Tom in the continuing July 21 letter:


We shall get letters at S. Vincent, & are to have a fresh Sub Lieutenant, and Schoolmaster there, from England by mail boat, since the other poor fellow died I have had a lot of his work to do.

 

Upon their arrival at St. Vincent, they learn that some ill-chance has befallen their new schoolmaster as well:

9pm, at anchor of Mindelli, the capital of Cape Verdes
As soon as the Quarantine boat had made the usual enquiry, the letters came on board, a few indeed, with only one for me from yourself. The British Consul has just been off to the ship, and informed the Captain that a Sub. Lieutenant & Schoolmaster arrived 8 days ago, by the same mail that brought your letter, but that the latter left the Hotel the day after he arrived to go for a walk & has not since been heard of. The Consul is of the opinion that he has been murdered, so search parties have been sent out, and a reward of £20, offred for information, but nothing has yet been heard.

Continuing August 1st
No information concerning the fate of the missing schoolmaster has come to light, but his clothes & effects were brought on board yesterday & overhauled. A more disgraceful affair I never heard tell of than the loose manner he was sent off to join the ship, and the unchristian treatment he received on his arrival here from the British Consul. From the date of his appointment to the ship, he kept a daily journal, which closes on the day of his disappearance, I read it all through last night, and this is what I was able to deduce from it. His name was Briant, & he came from near Bristol, he was 33 years of age, and had been a schoolmaster in the Navy for 10 years. Was a supernumary on board the Royal Adelaide, when he was ordered to proceed to Southampton for passage to S. Vincent by mail boat for this ship. A second cabin passage was given him from the Admiralty, and he sailed from England early in July calling at Lisbon for some hours when he went on shore, and of course spent some money.