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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Will Weatherhelm » Chapter Two.
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Chapter Two.
Greek pirates—A suspicions stranger—My first fight—Desperate encounter—Our fate sealed—The sinking vessel—The mate’s death—We secure a boat—Down she goes—Our perilous voyage—Loss of another shipmate—Death of Edward Seton—My promise—A strong breeze—A gale springs up—A heavy sea.

Having discharged our cargo at Naples, the captain, finding that we could get no freight home from thence at the time, determined to go to Smyrna, where he knew that he could obtain one of dried fruit, figs, currants, and raisins. We spent ten days there, and on our homeward voyage, keeping somewhat to the northward of our course, got among the islands of the Greek Archipelago. At that time a great many of the petty Greek chiefs, driven by the Turks from their hereditary domains, had established themselves on any rocky island they could find, with as many followers as they could collect, and nothing loth, used to carry on the respectable avocation of pirates. Some possessed only lateen-rigged craft, or open boats, but others owned fine large vessels, ships and brigs, strongly armed and manned. Though they attacked any Turkish vessels wherever they could find them, they were in no respect particular, if compelled by necessity to look out for other prey, and the merchantmen of any civilised nation which came in their way had but a small chance of escape.

I observed some little anxiety on the countenances of the officers, and a more careful watch than usual was kept on board at night, while in the day-time the captain or first mate was constantly aloft, and more than once the course was changed to avoid a strange sail. The winds were light and baffling, so that we were detained among the islands for some time. At last we got a fair breeze from the northward, though it was light, and we were congratulating ourselves that we should have a quick run to the westward. We had been standing on for a couple of hours or so, when I saw the master and mates looking out anxiously ahead. I asked Charley Iffley what it was they saw.

“An ugly-looking big brig, which has a cut they don’t like about her,” was the answer. “When we were out here the last time, we sighted just such another chap. A hundred or more cut-throat-looking fellows were dancing on her decks, and we had every expectation that they would lay us aboard, when a man-of-war hove in sight, and she prudently cut her stick. The man-of-war made chase, but a Thames barge might as well have tried to catch a wherry. The pirate was out of sight in no time.”

“But if this stranger should prove to be a gentleman of the same profession, what shall we do, Charley?” I asked.

“Run away if we can, and fight him if he comes up with us,” he replied.

I thought he did not seem quite so anxious about fighting as he had been when we were off the Riff coast. Indeed, from what I could learn, should the vessel in sight prove to be a Greek pirate, we might find a struggle with her no joking matter. That she was so, I found the captain and officers entertained not the slightest doubt. The schooner was brought on a wind and stood away to the southward, but the brig immediately afterwards changed her course for the same direction. The captain on this called the crew aft, and told us that he intended to try and make his escape, but that if he did not succeed, we must fight for our lives, for if overcome we should all have our throats cut. Charley and I, and La Motte, gave a shrill cheer, in which we were joined by two or three of the other men, but the old hands merely growled out, “Never fear; no man wants to get his throat cut, so we’ll fight.” I was surprised at their want of enthusiasm; but when men have been much knocked about in the world, and have all their finer feelings blunted, that, among other sentiments, is completely battered out of them.

When Captain Tooke saw the brig change her course, he hauled the schooner close on a wind, but the brig instantly hauled her wind also, and we very soon saw that she was rapidly overhauling us. The truth is, that English merchantmen of those days were mere tubs compared to those of foreign nations; and even the Kite, though a fast vessel of her class, was very inferior to the craft of the present day of the same rig. Thus we saw that there was little chance of escaping a fight should the stranger prove to be a pirate, unless a man-of-war or large merchantman, able to help us, might heave in sight.

While we were trying the speed of our heels, every possible preparation was made for fighting; boarding nettings were triced up; our two guns were carefully loaded; the small arms were got up and distributed among the people, who fastened on the cutlasses round their waists and stuck the pistols in their belts. Charley and I had got hold of a pistol a-piece, and purposed committing great execution with them, but I was condemned to help La Motte to hand up powder and shot from below, greatly to Master Charley’s amusement, who looked down and asked how I liked being a powder-monkey. As I every now and then shoved my head through the hatchway, I saw that the brig was coming up rapidly after us. I had been down some little time, when just as I came up and was looking about me, my ears were saluted with a loud hissing whirl, and I saw our main gaff shot away at the jaws and come tumbling down on deck. This made the schooner fall off the wind somewhat.

“Fire, my lads! fire!” shouted Captain Tooke, “and see if we can’t repay them in kind.”

Our lee-gun had been run over to the weather side, and both guns were fired at once, discharged by some of our best hands, old men-of-war’s men. Still, as no cry of satisfaction followed, I suspected that they had not succeeded in damaging the enemy. A whole broadside from the Greek now came rattling down upon us. I could not resist giving a look up on deck. Several of our poor fellows had been knocked over, and lay writhing in agony. Some were binding up their wounds, and one lay half hanging over the hatchway shot through the body. Such another iron shower would speedily clear our decks of every living being. As to striking our flag, or crying out for mercy, that was out of the question; we were contending with people who had received none from their oppressors, and had not learned to show it to others. Those not required to work the two guns, began blazing away with the muskets, but in that arm also the pirate was infinitely our superior. Her shot from another broadside came rushing fiercely over us. This time no one on deck was hit, but the effects aloft were disastrous. Both our topsail-yards were wounded, and several braces and much of our standing rigging shot through. Our people fought as well as any men-of-war’s men, and our captain showed that though he was a rough diamond he was a brave fellow. A third broadside reduced our rigging to a perfect wreck, and masts, and spars, and blocks came tumbling down from aloft in melancholy confusion. All this time the wind had been increasing, and it now blew a pretty smart breeze. We might have still a chance if we could knock away some of the enemy’s spars, and keep him from boarding us. Our hull had received no material injury, and if a gale came on we might weather it out till perhaps some ship might come to our rescue. Having got up all the powder and shot required, I came on deck. I asked Charley what he thought of the state of things. He was looking very pale; his shirt-sleeve was tucked up at the elbow, and there was blood on his arm, which a musket-ball had just grazed.

“Don’t ask me, Will,” said he. “What can we do against that big fellow? We shall all be food for fishes before long, I suppose.”

I looked at the brig, which was twice our size and uninjured in rigging, and was closely approaching us, while I could make out that her decks were crowded with men in a variety of Eastern costumes, mostly such as I had seen on board the Greek vessels at Smyrna. By this time it was blowing fresh, and a good deal of sea had got up. The schooner, having no canvas aloft to steady her, was pitching and tumbling about in an awful way. Our fate was sealed. I remembered all the dreadful stories I had heard, and the atrocities committed by these Greek pirates; but I had little time for thought. On came the pirate; showers of musket-balls swept our decks, and round shot came crashing through our side. In another instant her grappling-irons were thrown aboard, and as a huge spider catches a miserable fly, so did our big antagonist hold us struggling and writhing in his grasp.

We had fought as long as we could; but what could we do against such overwhelming numbers? We did not strike to the villains at all events, for we had not a man by this time left on his legs to haul down the flag, even had we wished to do so. The pirates, with fierce shouts, waiting till the sides of the vessels rolled together, leaped, sword in hand, on our decks. The captain and mates continued fighting to the last, as if resolved to sell their lives dearly. Some were driven overboard, several were knocked down below, and so saved their lives for the moment, while the greater number were unable to lift hand or foot in their defence. I was among them. A shot grazed me, I could scarcely tell where, my whole body was in such agony; but overcome with it I lay without power of moving. This was fortunate, for had any of us shown signs of life, the pirates would have despatched as at once. As it was, they merely shoved us out of the way, while they set to work to get out the cargo. Though I could not move, my eye was able to follow them, and from the expeditious way in which they proceeded about their work, they were evidently well practised in it. Every moment I expected to find my existence finished by having the point of a sword or a pike run into me. I suppose after this that I went off into a swoon, for when I again looked up, the pirates had left the vessel, and I could see the topsails of their brig, just as they were sheering off. My first impulse was that of joy to think that I was saved. I tried to rise, and fancied that I might have strength sufficient to do so; but then I thought it better to be perfectly still, lest the pirates should see me moving about, and take it into their heads to fire and perhaps finish me. My feelings were very dreadful. I knew not how many of my companions might have escaped. Perhaps I might be soon the only survivor left alone on the shattered wreck, for the groans of my companions still alive showed that they were desperately wounded; or perhaps my doom was already fixed, and my hours were drawing to a close. I could scarcely bear to hear those sounds of pain, yet I dared not move to render assistance. I waited for some time, and then I slowly turned round my head, and ventured to look if the vessel could be seen from where I lay. She was not visible, so I crawled to a port through which I could see her about a mile off, standing away to the eastward. I now felt that, provided no one showed their heads above the bulwarks, we should be safe. A cask of water stood on the deck for daily use. I crawled to it, and swallowed some of the precious fluid, which much revived me. I never tasted a more delicious draught in my life. I took the tin cup, and crawled to the nearest person who appeared to be alive. It was the captain. He was groaning heavily, “Here’s a cup of water, sir,” I said; “it will do you good. The pirates are off, and I do not think they are coming back again.”

At first he did not seem to understand me; then he took the mug of water, and drained it to the bottom.

“What, gone, are they?” he at length exclaimed. “Ah, lad, is that you? Well, what has happened? Oh! I know. Help me up, and we’ll see about it.”

I did my best, hurt as I was, to raise him up. In a short time he very much recovered. Both he and I, it appeared, had been knocked over by the wind of a round shot, and had been rather stunned than seriously hurt.

The captain, as he lay on the deck, bound up my wound for me with a kindness I did not expect from him. As soon as he was somewhat recovered, he told me to come with him and examine into the state of affairs. Many of the crew lay stiff and stark on deck—their last fight over. We carried the water to the few who remained alive, and very grateful they were for it. Among the killed was the first mate; but poor Charley I did not see. I observed another man moving forward. I crawled up to him. He was Edward Seton. I gave him the mug of water. He thanked me gratefully.

“I’m afraid that I am in a bad way, Weatherhelm,” said he; “but see what you can do for me, and I’ll try and get about and help the captain: tell him.”

Under his directions I bound up his wounds as well as I could, and in a little time he began to crawl about, though it seemed to give him great pain to do so. On looking into the hold we found that several men were there. The captain hailed them, and gave the welcome news that the pirate was off, and that they might venture on deck. As soon as they heard his voice they sprang up, but looks of horror were on their countenance.

“It’s all over with us, sir,” said they. “The villains have bored holes in the ship’s bottom, and the water is rushing in by bucketsful.”

I accompanied the captain below. Unhappily he found that what they said was too true, and at the first appearance of things it looked as if the schooner could not swim another half hour. On further examination, however, it appeared that, whatever might have been the intention of the villains, they had not bored the holes very cleverly. Some of them were through the timbers, and others were even above the water line, and they had providentially been prevented from finishing their work by breaking their auger, the iron of which was sticking in one of the timbers. When this had occurred they made the attempt to knock a hole through the ship’s side; but they had found the ribs and planking too strong for their axes, and had been compelled to desist before accomplishing their purpose. They had, however, effectually destroyed the pumps,—a few strokes of their axes had done that,—so that we had little hope of freeing the vessel of water, as it would take long to repair them. Why they did not set her on fire I do not know. Perhaps because they were afraid that the blaze might attract the attention of any ship of war which might be in the neighbourhood, and bring her down upon them. At all events, they refrained from no tender feeling of love or mercy for us.

“Don’t give in, my lads,” cried the captain, after he had examined the state of affairs. “All who can manage to move, come with me; we may still have a chance of saving our lives. See if any of you can find an axe and wood to make plugs to drive into these holes.”

The pirates had of course intended to heave overboard everything of the sort; but fortunately, without loss of time, a hatchet was found under the windlass forward, where one of the men recollected he had left it, after chopping wood for firing, and another discovered an axe in the carpenter’s store-room, under a number of things which had been routed out of the chests by the pirates in their search for money. With these two tools we set to work, and as soon as a plug was cut, we drove it into such of the holes as let in the greatest quantity of water. There was no difficulty in finding them, for the water spouted up in jets in all directions in the hold.

It must be understood that what was already inside had not yet got to a level with the sea. Indeed, if it had, we should very soon have gone down. We succeeded in stopping the greater number, but unfortunately two or three had been bored low down, and some of the cargo having washed over them, we could not contrive to reach the places to plug them. I guessed, when the fact was discovered, that all hopes of ultimately saving the vessel must be greatly diminished, though what we had done would enable her to float for some time longer.

I have before been prevented mentioning anything respecting those of my shipmates who had escaped with their lives. The first person I saw below was old Cole. He was unhurt, and seemed to take matters as coolly and quietly as if they were of ordinary occurrence. He had, as I afterwards discovered, directly he saw the pirate brig running us aboard, gone below and stowed himself away. I ventured to ask him, on a subsequent occasion, how it was that he had not remained on deck and fought on like the rest. “Why, I will tell you, Will,” said he; “I have found out, by a pretty long experience, that if I don’t take care of Number one, no one else will; so, when I saw that nothing more could be done to beat off the pirates, I thought to myself, there’s no use getting killed for nothing, so I’ll just keep in hiding till I see how things go.” La Motte, the Guernsey lad, was unhurt, but we picked up poor Charley Iffley with an ugly knock on his head, which had stunned him. He didn’t know that his father was killed. We let him perfectly recover before we told him. I wished to have kept back the knowledge of this fact from him, but of course as soon as he came on deck he could not fail to discover it, so La Motte and I broke it to him gently. I was somewhat shocked to find how little effect it had on him.

“What, father dead, is he? Well, what am I to do then, I wonder?” was his unfeeling observation.

“And this is the person whom I thought so fine a fellow, and by whom I was guided rather than by those who loved me best in the world,” I thought to myself. Still, I could not help feeling compassion for my friend, and I believe he really did feel his father’s loss more than his words would have led me to suppose.

Having done what we could below, the captain called us all on deck to examine into the state of the boats, and to see if any of them were fit to carry us to the nearest shore. A glance showed us their condition. The spars which had fallen from aloft, and the shot of the enemy, had done them no little damage, and the villainous pirates, before leaving us, had stove in their sides and hove the oars overboard, to prevent any of us who might survive from making use of them. I felt my heart sink within me when I saw this, but none of us gave way to despair. It is not the habit of British seamen, while a spark of life remains in them, to do so. The long-boat was in the best condition, but with our yards gone we could not hoist her out, even had we had all the crew fit for the work, so that we were obliged to content ourselves with trying to patch up the jolly-boat, which we might launch over the side.

The carpenter was among the killed, so that had the pirates left us all his tools, we could not have repaired the boat properly, and the captain therefore ordered us to set to work to cover her over with tarred canvas, and to strengthen her with a framework inside. Thus prepared, there were some hopes that she might be able to float us, provided the weather did not grow worse.

While the captain and old Cole, with the more experienced hands, were patching up the boat, he sent La Motte and me to try and find a spy-glass in the cabin. After some search we discovered one and took it to him. He watched the pirate brig through it attentively. “Hurra, my lads, she’ll not come back!” he exclaimed. “She’s standing under all sail to the eastward, and soon will be hull down.” This announcement gave us all additional spirits to proceed with our work. La Motte and I were next sent to get up some mattresses from below on which to put the wounded men; we also bound up their hurts as well as we could, and kept handing them round water, for they seemed to suffer more from thirst than anything else.

My own wound hurt me a good deal, but while I was actively employed for the good of others, I scarcely thought about it. I found that much progress was being made with the boat. There was plenty of canvas, and a cask of Stockholm tar was found. After paying both the boat and a piece of canvas sufficiently large to cover her over with the tar, the canvas was passed under her keel and fastened inside the gunwale on either side. It went, of course, from stem to stern, and the thickly tarred folds nailed over the bows served somewhat to strengthen them. In our researches La Motte and I had found a hammer and a pair of pincers, which were very useful, as they enabled us to draw out the nails from the other boat with which to fasten on the canvas. As the boat would require much strengthening inside, a framework of some small spars we had on board was made to go right round her gunwale, from which other pieces were nailed down to the seats, and two athwart, inside the gunwale, to prevent her upper works from being pressed in. Besides this, some planks were torn from the long-boat, and with them a weather streak was made to go round the jolly-boat, and this made her better able to contend with a heavy sea.

When we had performed our first task, the captain sent us with the second mate to get up such provisions and stores as we might require, with some small beakers to fill with water. He then came himself to judge how fast the water was gaining on us, and seeing that the schooner would swim some time longer, he had another thick coat of tar put on, and an additional coat of canvas nailed over the boat. It was lucky this was done, for as the tar had not time to sink into the canvas, I do not think the first would for any length of time have kept the water out. We had still much to do, for we had neither oars, spars, nor sails fitted for the boat. In half an hour more, however, we had fashioned two pairs of oars, in a very rough way certainly, but such as would serve in smooth water well enough. We had stepped two masts and fitted two lugs and a jib. Fortunately the rudder had not been injured, so that we were saved the trouble of making one. I felt my heart somewhat lighter when the work was finished, and we were able to launch the boat over the side where the bulwarks had been knocked away when the enemy ran us aboard. She swam well, and we at once began putting what we required into her. The pirates had carried off all the compasses they could find, but the captain had a small spare one in a locker which had not been broken open, and this he now got out, with a chart and quadrant they had also overlooked. Thus we might contrast our condition very favourably with that of many poor fellows, who have been compelled to leave their sinking ships in the mid Atlantic or Pacific hundreds of miles from any known coast, without chart or compass, and with a scant supply of water and provisions.

We had no difficulty in stowing water and provisions for the remnant of the crew to last us till we could reach Zante or Cephalonia, or some part of the Grecian coast; for that, I heard the captain say, would be the best direction to steer. We first put the wounded who could not help themselves into the boat, and the rest were following, when the captain stopped us.

“Stay, my lads,” said he. “The schooner will float for some time longer, and we must not leave the bodies of our poor shipmates aboard her to be eaten by the fish with as little concern as if they were animals.”

“All right, sir,” answered the men, evidently pleased. “We wouldn’t wish to do so either, sir, but we thought you were in a hurry to be off.”

We set to work at once, for all hands knew what he meant, and we sewed each of the bodies up in canvas, with shot at their feet. “Can anybody say any prayers?” asked the captain. No one answered. Of all the crew, no one had a prayer-book, nor was a Bible to be found. I had one, I knew, which had been put into my chest by my grandmother, but I was ashamed to say it was there, and I had not once looked at it since I came to sea. Edward Seton, however, who had been put into the boat, heard the question. “I have a prayer-book, sir,” he said. “If I may be hoisted on deck, I will read the funeral service.” The captain accepted his offer. He was taken out of the boat and propped up on a mattress. He read the Church of England burial service with a faltering voice (he himself looking like death itself) over the bodies of those whom it appeared too probable that he would shortly follow.

It might, perhaps, have been more a superstitious than a religious feeling which induced my rough, uneducated shipmates to attend to the service, but it seemed to afford them satisfaction, and it may, perhaps, at all events, have done some of us good. Then the poor fellows were launched overboard, with a sigh for their loss, for they were brave fellows, and died fighting like British seamen. Charley stood by while his father’s body was committed to the deep, and he cried very heartily, as if he really felt his loss. Then, slowly, one after the other of us went into the boat. The captain was the last to quit the schooner. For some time we held on. The captain evidently could not bring himself to give the order to cast off—indeed, it was possible that the vessel might still float for some time longer; still it is difficult to say when a water-logged vessel may go down. Had we hung on during the dark, we might have been taken by surprise, and not have been able to get clear in time. I heard the captain propose to Mr Cole to set her on fire, in the hopes that the blaze might bring some vessel down to our relief; but I suspect that he had not the heart to do it. At last, as night was coming on, he gave the order, “Cast off.” I suspect he never gave a more unwilling one. Not another word did he say, but he gave a last lingering look at the craft he had so long commanded, and then turned away his head.

Our lugs were hoisted, for the wind had come round to the southward, and away we stood for Cephalonia. It was a beautiful night, the sea was smooth and the wind was light,—indeed, we would rather have had more of it,—the stars came brightly out of the clear sky, and there was every appearance of fine weather. There seemed no reason to doubt that all would go well, if the wind did not again get up; and, as we had just had a strong blow, there was a prospect of its continuing calm till we got to our destination. The night passed away pretty well—all hands slept by turns, and, for my own part, I could have slept right through it, had it not been that the groans of one of my companions, who lay close to me, sounded in my ears and awoke me. I sat up and recognised the voice of poor Edward Seton. La Motte and I, who were closest to him, did all we could to assuage his pain. We bathed his wounds and supplied him with drink, but his tortures increased till towards the morning, when on a sudden he said that he felt more easy. At first, I fancied that all was going right with him; but soon the little strength he had began to fail, and as the sun rose, and fell on his pale cheeks, I saw that the mark of death was already there. I spoke to him and asked him what I could do for him. He was perfectly conscious of his approaching death.

“You have done all you could for me, Will,” he answered, in a low faint voice, not audible to the rest. “It is all over with me in this world. I am glad that you are near me, for you think more as I do, and you know better what is right than the rest of our shipmates; but, Weatherhelm, let a dying man warn you, as you know better than others what is right, so are your responsibilities greater, and thus more will be demanded of you by the Great Judge before whom I am about to stand, and you will have to stand ere long. Oh! do not forget what I have said. And now I would ask a favour for myself. I have a mother living near Hull, and one I love still better, a sweet young girl I was to have married. Find out my mother—she will send for her—see them both—tell them how I died—how I was doing my duty faithfully as a seaman, and how I thought of them to the last.”

“Yes, yes,” I answered, “I’ll do my best to fulfil your wishes.” I took his hand and pressed it. A fearful change came over his countenance, and he was a corpse. I hoped to be able to keep my promise, for often the only satisfaction a dying seaman has, is to know that his shipmates will faithfully carry his last messages to those he loves best on earth. The body was dragged forward into the bow of the boat, for rough as were the survivors, all esteemed Edward Seton, and no one liked to propose without necessity to throw his remains overboard before they were cold.

At noon the captain took an observation, and found that since leaving the schooner the previous evening we had run about forty miles, which showed that we had been going little more than two and a half knots an hour—for the wind had been very light all the time. Still we were far better off than if it had been blowing a gale. As, however, the day drew on, clouds began to collect in the horizon, forming heavy banks which grew darker and darker every instant. I saw the captain and mate looking at them anxiously.

“We are going to have another blow before long,” observed Mr Cole. “If we could have got under the lee of some land before it came on, it would have been better for us.”

“No doubt about that, Mr Cole; but as we have no land near us, if the gale catches us we must weather it out as men best can,” answered the captain.

The mate was unfortunately right, and somewhere about the end of the afternoon watch a strong breeze sprung up from the southward, which soon caused a good deal of sea. The boat was hauled close to the wind on the larboard tack, but she scarcely looked up to her course, besides making much lee-way. She proved, however, more seaworthy than might have been expected, but we shipped a good deal of water at times, to the great inconvenience of the wounded men, and we had to keep constantly baling with our hats, or whatever we could lay hold of. As it became necessary to lighten the boat as much as possible, the captain ordered us to sew the body of poor Seton up in his blanket, and to heave it overboard. No one present was able to read the burial service over him, and he who had so lately performed that office for his shipmates was committed to the deep without a prayer being said over him. I thought it at the time very shocking; but I have since learned to believe that prayers at a funeral are uttered more for the sake of the living than the dead, and that to those who have departed it matters nothing how or where their body is laid to rest. Of course we had no shot to fasten to poor Seton’s body. For a short time it floated, and as I watched it with straining eyes, surrounded by masses of white foam blown from the summits of the rising waves, I thought of the awful warning he had lately uttered to me, and felt that I, too, might be summoned whither he was gone.

The wind and sea were now rapidly rising. In a short time it had increased very much, and as the waves came rolling up after us, they threatened every instant to engulf the boat. She had begun to leak also very considerably, and do all we could, we were unable to keep her free of water.

“We must lighten the boat, my lads,” said the captain. “Don’t be down-hearted, though; we shall soon make the land, and then we shall find plenty of provisions to supply the place of what we must now cast away.”

Some of the men grumbled at this, and said that they had no fancy to be put on short allowance, and that they would keep the provisions at all risks. I never saw a more sudden change take place in any man than came over the countenance of the captain at this answer. Putting the tiller into the mate’s hand, he sprung up from his seat. “What, you thought I was changed into a lamb, did you?” he exclaimed in a voice of thunder. “Wretched idiots! just for the sake of indulging for a few hours in gluttony, you would risk your own lives and the lives of all in the boat. The first man who dares to disobey me, shall follow poor Seton out there—only he will have no shroud to cover him. You, Storr, overboard with that keg; Johnston, do you help him.” The men addressed obeyed without uttering another word, and the captain went back to the stern-sheets, and issued his orders as calmly as if nothing had occurred.

“The captain was like himself, as I have been accustomed to see him,” I thought to myself. “Sorrow for the loss of his vessel and his people changed him for a time, and now he is himself again.”

I was not quite right, though. Rough as he looked, he was born with a tender heart; but habit, example, and independent command, and long unconstrained temper, made him appear the fierce savage man I often thought him. A large quantity of our water and provisions, and stores of all sorts, were thrown overboard, as was everything that was not absolutely necessary, to lighten the boat as much as possible. Yet, do all we could, there appeared to be a great probability that we should never manage to reach the shore. The water had also somehow or other worked its way between the canvas at the joints in the fore and after parts of the boat, in addition to the seas which came in over the gunwale. To assist in keeping it out we stuffed everything soft we could find, bits of blanket, our shirt-sleeves and handkerchiefs, into the holes in the planks, though of course but little good was thus effected. In vain we looked round on every side, in the hope that our eyes might rest on some object to give us cause for hope. Darker and more threatening grew the sky, louder roared the wind, and higher and higher rose the seas. Scarcely half an hour more remained before darkness would come down on us. With no slight difficulty the boat had been kept steadily before the seas with the advantage of daylight; at night, with the sea still higher, we could scarcely expect that she could be kept clear. It was indeed with little hope of ever again seeing it rise that we watched the sun sinking towards the western horizon.


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