The Survivors of the Chancellor
Part 3 out of 4
"Ah, captain, I've got a word from my mates to say to
you," he said, with all the effrontery imaginable.
"Say on, then," said the captain coolly.
"We should like to know about that little keg of brandy.
Is it being kept for the porpoises or the officers?"
Finding that he obtained no reply, he went on:
"Look here, captain, what we want is to have our grog
served out every morning as usual."
"Then you certainly will not," said the captain.
"What! what!" exclaimed Owen, "don't you mean to
let us have our grog?"
"Once and for all, no."
For a moment, with a malicious grin upon his lips, Owen
stood confronting the captain; then, as though thinking bet-
ter of himself, he turned round and rejoined his companions,
who were still talking together in an undertone.
When I was afterward discussing the matter with Curtis,
I asked him whether he was sure he had done right in re-
fusing the brandy.
"Right!" he cried, "to be sure I have. Allow those
men to have brandy! I would throw it all overboard first."
DECEMBER 21. -- No further disturbance has taken place
among the men. For a few hours the fish appeared again,
and we caught a great many of them, and stored them away
in an empty barrel. This addition to our stock of pro-
visions makes us hope that food, at least, will not fail us.
Usually the nights in the tropics are cool, but to-day, as
the evening drew on, the wonted freshness did not return,
but the air remained stifling and oppressive, while heavy
masses of vapor hung over the water.
There was no moonlight; there would be a new moon
at half-past one in the morning, but the night was singularly
dark, except for dazzling flashes of summer lightning that
from time to time illuminated the horizon far and wide.
There was, however, no answering roll of thunder, and
the silence of the atmosphere seemed almost awful.
For a couple of hours, in the vain hope of catching a
breath of air, Miss Herbey, Andre Letourneur, and I, sat
watching the imposing struggle of the electric vapors. The
clouds appeared like embattled turrets crested with flame,
and the very sailors, coarse-minded men as they were,
seemed struck with the grandeur of the spectacle, and re-
garded attentively, though with an anxious eye, the pre-
liminary tokens of a coming storm. Until midnight we
kept our seats upon the stern of the raft, while the lightning
ever and again shed around us a livid glare similar to that
produced by adding salt to lighted alcohol.
"Are you afraid of a storm. Miss Herbey?" said Andre
to the girl.
"No, Mr. Andre, my feelings are always rather those of
awe than of fear," she replied. "I consider a storm one of
the sublimest phenomena that we can behold -- don't you
think so too?"
"Yes, and especially when the thunder is pealing," he
said; "that majestic rolling, far different to the sharp crash
of artillery, rises and falls like the long-drawn notes of the
grandest music, and I can safely say that the tones of the
most accomplished artiste have never moved me like that in-
comparable voice of nature."
"Rather a deep bass, though," I said, laughing.
"That may be," he answered; "but I wish we might hear
it now, for this silent lightning is somewhat unexpressive."
"Never mind that, Andre," I said; "enjoy a storm when
it comes, if you like, but pray don't wish for it."
"And why not?" said he; "a storm will bring us wind,
"And water, too," added Miss Herbey, "the water of
which we are so seriously in need."
The young people evidently wished to regard the storm
from their own point of view, and although I could have
opposed plenty of common sense to their poetical sentiments,
I said no more, but let them talk on as they pleased for
fully an hour.
Meanwhile the sky was becoming quite over-clouded, and
after the zodiacal constellations had disappeared in the mists
that hung round the horizon, one by one the stars above our
heads were veiled in dark rolling masses of vapor, from
which every instant there issued forth sheets of electricity
that formed a vivid background to the dark gray fragments
of cloud that floated beneath.
Sleep, even if we wished it, would have been impossible in
that stifling temperature. The lightning increased in
brilliancy and appeared from all quarters of the horizon,
each flash covering large arcs, varying from l00 deg. to 150 deg.,
leaving the atmosphere pervaded by one incessant phos-
The thunder became at length more and more distinct,
the reports, if I may use the expression, being "round,"
rather than rolling. It seemed almost as though the sky
were padded with heavy clouds of which the elasticity
muffled the sound of the electric bursts.
Hitherto, the sea had been calm, almost stagnant as a
pond. Now, however, long undulations took place, which
the sailors recognized, all too well, as being the rebound pro-
duced by a distant tempest. A ship, in such a case, would
have been instantly brought ahull, but no maneuvering could
be applied to our raft, which could only drift before the
At one o'clock in the morning one vivid flash, followed,
after the interval of a few seconds, by a loud report of
thunder, announced that the storm was rapidly approaching.
Suddenly the horizon was enveloped in a vaporous fog, and
seemed to contract until it was close around us. At the
same instant the voice of one of the sailors was heard shout-
"A squall! a squall!"
TWO SAILORS WASHED OVERBOARD
DECEMBER 21, night. -- The boatswain rushed to the
halliards that supported the sail, and instantly lowered the
yard; not a moment too soon, for with the speed of an
arrow the squall was upon us, and if it had not been for
the sailor's timely warning we must all have been knocked
down and probably precipitated into the sea; as it was, our
tent on the back of the raft was carried away.
The raft itself, however, being so nearly level with the
water, had little peril to encounter from the actual wind;
but from the mighty waves now raised by the hurricane we
had everything to dread. At first the waves had been
crushed and flattened as it were by the pressure of the air,
but now, as though strengthened by the reaction, they rose
with the utmost fury. The raft followed the motions of
the increasing swell, and was tossed up and down, to and
fro, and from side to side with the most violent oscillations.
"Lash yourselves tight," cried the boatswain, as he threw
us some ropes; and in a few moments with Curtis's assis-
tance, M. Letourneur, and Andre, Falsten and myself were
fastened so firmly to the raft, that nothing but its total dis-
ruption could carry us away. Miss Herbey was bound by
a rope passed round her waist to one of the uprights that had
supported our tent, and by the glare of the lightning I
could see that her countenance was as serene and composed
Then the storm began to rage indeed. Flash followed
flash, peal followed peal in quick succession. Our eyes were
blinded, our ears deafened, with the roar and glare. The
clouds above, the ocean beneath, seemed verily to have taken
fire, and several times I saw forked lightnings dart upward
from the crest of the waves, and mingle with those that
radiated from the fiery vault above. A strong odor of
sulphur pervaded the air, but though thunderbolts fell thick
around us, not one touched our raft.
By two o'clock the storm had reached its height. The
hurricane had increased, and the heavy waves, heated to a
strange heat by the general temperature, dashed over us
until we were drenched to the skin. Curtis, Dowlas, the
boatswain, and the sailors did what they could to strengthen
the raft with additional ropes. M. Letourneur placed him-
self in front of Andre, to shelter him from the waves.
Miss Herbey stood upright and motionless as a statue.
Soon dense masses of lurid clouds came rolling up, and
a crackling, like the rattle of musketry, resounded through
the air. This was produced by a series of electrical con-
cussions, in which volleys of hailstones were discharged
from the cloud-batteries above. In fact, as the storm-sheet
came in contact with a current of cold air, hail was formed
with great rapidity, and hailstones, large as nuts, came pelt-
ing down, making the platform of the raft re-echo with a
For about half an hour the meteoric shower continued
to descend, and during that time the wind slightly abated
in violence; but after having shifted from quarter to quar-
ter, it once more blew with all its former fury. The
shrouds were broken, but happily the mast, already bending
almost double, was removed by the men from its socket be-
fore it should be snapped short off.. One gust caught away
the tiller, which went adrift beyond all power of recovery,
and the same blast blew down several of the planks that
formed the low parapet on the larboard side, so that the
waves dashed in without hindrance through the breach.
The carpenter and his mates tried to repair the damage,
but, tossed from wave to wave, the raft was inclined to an
angle of more than forty-five degrees, making it impossible
for them to keep their footing, and rolling one over another,
they were thrown down by the violent shocks. Why they
were not altogether carried away, why we were not all
hurled into the sea, was to me a mystery. Even if the cords
that bound us should retain their hold, it seemed perfectly
incredible that the raft itself should not be overturned, so
that we should be carried down and stifled in the seething
At last, toward three in the morning, when the hurricane
seemed to be raging more fiercely than ever, the raft, caught
up on the crest of an enormous wave, stood literally per-
pendicularly on its edge. For an instant, by the illumina-
tion of the lightning, we beheld ourselves raised to an in-
comprehensible height above the foaming breakers. Cries
of terror escaped our lips. All must be over now! But
no; another moment, and the raft had resumed its horizontal
position. Safe, indeed, we were, but the tremendous up-
heaval was not without its melancholy consequences.
The cords that secured the cases of provisions had burst
asunder. One case rolled overboard, and the side of one
of the water-barrels was staved in, so that the water which
it contained was rapidly escaping. Two of the sailors
rushed forward to rescue the case of preserved meat; but
one of them caught his foot between the planks of the plat-
form, and, unable to disengage it, the poor fellow stood
uttering cries of distress.
I tried to go to his assistance, and had already untied
the cord that was around me; but I was too late.
Another heavy sea dashed over us, and by the light of a
dazzling flash I saw the unhappy man, although he had
managed without assistance to disengage his foot, washed
overboard before it was in my power to get near him. His
companion had also disappeared.
The same ponderous wave laid me prostrate on the plat-
form, and as my head came in collision with the corner of
a spar, for a time I lost all consciousness.
WE LOSE NEARLY ALL OUR PROVISIONS
DECEMBER 22. -- Daylight came at length, and the sun
broke through and dispersed the clouds that the storm had
left behind. The struggle of the elements, while it lasted,
had been terrific, but the swoon into which I was thrown
by my fall prevented me from observing the final incidents
of the visitation. All that I know is, that shortly after we
had shipped the heavy sea, that I have mentioned, a shower
of rain had the effect of calming the severity of the hurri-
cane, and tended to diminish the electric tension of the
Thanks to the kind care of M. Letourneur and Miss Her-
bey, I recovered consciousness, but I believe that it is to
Robert Curtis that I owe my real deliverance, for he it was
that prevented me from being carried away by a second
The tempest, fierce as it was, did not last more than a few
hours; but even in that short space of time what an irrepar-
able loss we have sustained, and what a load of misery seems
stored up for us in the future!
Of the two sailors who perished in the storm, one was
Austin, a fine active young man of about eight-and-twenty;
the other was old O'Ready, the survivor of so many ship-
wrecks. Our party is thus reduced to sixteen souls, leav-
ing a total barely exceeding half the number of those who
embarked on board the Chancellor at Charleston.
Curtis's first care had been to take a strict account of
the remnant of our provisions. Of all the torrents of rain
that fell in the night we were unhappily unable to catch a
single drop; but water will not fail us yet, for about four-
teen gallons still remain in the bottom of the broken barrel,
while the second barrel has not been touched. But of food
we have next to nothing. The cases containing the dried
meat, and the fish that we had preserved, have both been
washed away, and all that now remains to us is about sixty
pounds of biscuit. Sixty pounds of biscuit between sixteen
persons! Eight days, with half a pound a day apiece, will
consume it all.
The day has passed away in silence. A general depres-
sion has fallen upon all; the specter of famine has appeared
among us, and each has remained wrapped in his own
gloomy meditations, though each has doubtless but one idea
dominant in his mind.
Once, as I passed near the group of sailors lying on the
fore part of the raft, I heard Flaypole say with a sneer:
"Those who are going to die had better make haste about
"Yes," said Owen, "and leave their share of food to
At the regular hour each person received his half-pound
of biscuit. Some, I noticed, swallowed it ravenously;
others reserved it for another time. Falsten divided his
ration into several portions, corresponding, I believe, to the
number of meals to which he was ordinarily accustomed.
What prudence he shows! If any one survives this misery,
I think it will be he.
LIEUTENANT WALTER'S CONDITION
DECEMBER 23 to 30. -- After the storm the wind settled
back into its old quarter, blowing pretty briskly from the
northeast. As the breeze was all in our favor it was im-
portant to make the most of it, and after Dowlas had care-
fully readjusted the mast, the sail was once more hoisted,
and we were carried along at the rate of two or two and a
half knots an hour. A new rudder, formed of a spar and
a good-sized plank, has been fitted in the place of the one
we lost, but with the wind in its present quarter it is in
little requisition. The platform of the raft has been re-
paired, the disjointed planks have been closed by means of
ropes and wedges, and that portion of the parapet that was
washed away has been replaced, so that we are no longer
wetted by the waves. In fact, nothing has been left undone
to insure the solidity of our raft, and to render it capable
of resisting the wear and tear of the wind and waves. But
the dangers of wind and waves are not those which we have
most to dread.
Together with the unclouded sky came a return of the
tropical heat, which during the preceding days had caused
us such serious inconvenience; fortunately on the 23d the
excessive warmth was somewhat tempered by the breeze,
and as the tent was once again put up, we were able to find
shelter under it by turns.
But the want of food was beginning to tell upon us sadly,
and our sunken cheeks and wasted forms were visible
tokens of what we were enduring. With most of us hunger
seemed to attack the entire nervous system, and the con-
striction of the stomach produced an acute sensation of
pain. A narcotic, such as opium or tobacco, might have
availed to soothe, if not to cure, the gnawing agony; but of
sedatives we had none, so the pain must be endured.
One alone there was among us who did not feel the pangs
of hunger. Lieutenant Walter seemed as it were to feed
upon the fever that raged within him; but then he was the
victim of the most torturing thirst. Miss Herbey, besides
reserving for him a portion of her own insufficient allowance,
obtained from the captain a small extra supply of water with
which every quarter of an hour she moistened the parched
lips of the young man, who, almost too weak to speak, could
only express his thanks by a grateful smile. Poor fellow!
all our care cannot avail to save him now; he is doomed,
most surely doomed to die.
On the 23d he seemed to be conscious of his condition,
for he made a sign to me to sit down by his side, and then
summoning up all his strength to speak, he asked me in a
few broken words how long I thought he had to live?
Slight as my hesitation was, Walter noticed it immed-
"The truth," he said; "tell me the plain truth."
"My dear fellow, I am not a doctor, you know," I be-
gan," and I can scarcely judge --"
"Never mind," he interrupted, "tell me just what you
I looked at him attentively for some moments, then laid
my ear against his chest. In the last few days his malady
had made fearfully rapid strides, and it was only too evi-
dent that one lung had already ceased to act, while the other
was scarcely capable of performing the work of respiration.
The young man was now suffering from the fever which is
the sure symptom of the approaching end in all tuberculous
The lieutenant kept his eye fixed upon me with a look of
eager inquiry. I knew not what to say, and sought to evade
"My dear boy," I said, "in our present circumstances not
one of us can tell how long he has to live. Not one of us
knows what may happen in the course of the next eight
"The next eight days," he murmured, as he looked
eagerly into my face.
And then, turning away his head, he seemed to fall into
a sort of doze.
The 24th, 25th, and 26th passed without any alteration
in our circumstances, and strange, nay, incredible as it may
sound, we began to get accustomed to our condition of star-
vation. Often, when reading the histories of shipwrecks,
I have suspected the accounts to be greatly exaggerated; but
now I fully realize their truth, and marvel when I find on
how little nutriment it is possible to exist for so long a time.
To our daily half-pound of biscuit the captain has thought
to add a few drops of brandy, and the stimulant helps con-
siderably to sustain our strength. If we had the same pro-
visions for two months, or even for one, there might be
room for hope; but our supplies diminish rapidly, and the
time is fast approaching when of food and drink there will
The sea had furnished us with food once, and, difficult
as the task of fishing had now become, at all hazards the
attempt must be made again. Accordingly the carpenter
and the boatswain set to work and made lines out of some
untwisted hemp, to which they fixed some nails that they
pulled out of the flooring of the raft, and bent into proper
shape. The boatswain regarded his device with evident
"I don't mean to say," said he to me, "that these nails
are first-rate fish-hooks; but, one thing I do know, and that
is, with proper bait they will act as well as the best. But
this biscuit is no good at all. Let me but just get hold of
one fish, and I shall know fast enough how to use it to catch
And the true difficulty was how to catch the first fish. It
was evident that fish were not abundant in these waters,
nevertheless the lines were cast. But the biscuit with which
they were baited dissolved at once in the water, and we did
not get a single bite. For two days the attempt was made
in vain, and as it only involved what seemed a lavish waste
of our only means of subsistence, it was given up in de-
To-day, the 30th, as a last resource, the boatswain tried
what a piece of colored rag might do by way of attracting
some voracious fish, and having obtained from Miss Her-
bey a little piece of the red shawl she wears, he fastened it
to his hook. But still no success; for when, after several
hours, he examined his lines, the crimson shred was still
hanging intact as he had fixed it. The man was quite dis-
couraged at his failure.
"But there will be plenty of bait before long," he said
to me in a solemn undertone.
"What do you mean?" said I, struck by his significant
"You'll know soon enough," he answered.
What did he insinuate? The words, coming from a man
usually so reserved, have haunted me all night.
JANUARY 1 to 5. -- More than three months had elapsed
since we left Charleston in the Chancellor, and for no less
than twenty days had we now been borne along on our raft
at the mercy of the wind and waves. Whether we were
approaching the American coast, or whether we were drift-
ing farther and farther to sea, it was now impossible to de-
termine, for, in addition to the other disasters caused by the
hurricane, the captain's instruments had been hopelessly
smashed, and Curtis had no longer any compass by which
to direct his course, nor a sextant by which he might make
Desperate, however, as our condition might be judged,
hope did not entirely abandon our hearts, and day after
day, hour after hour were our eyes strained toward the far
horizon, and many and many a time did our imagination
shape out the distant land. But ever and again the illusion
vanished; a cloud, a mist, perhaps even a wave, was all that
had deceived us; no land, no sail ever broke the gray line
that united sea and sky, and our raft remained the center of
the wide and dreary waste.
On the 1st of January, we swallowed our last morsel of
biscuit. The first of January! New Year's Day! What
a rush of sorrowful recollections overwhelmed our minds!
Had we not always associated the opening of another year
with new hopes, new plans, and coming joys? And now,
where were we? Could we dare to look at one another,
and breathe a New Year's greeting?
The boatswain approached me with a peculiar look on
"You are surely not going to wish me a happy New
Year?" I said.
"No indeed, sir," he replied, "I was only going to wish
you well through the first day of it; and that is pretty good
assurance on my part, for we have not another crumb to
True as it was, we scarcely realized the fact of there being
actually nothing until on the following morning the hour
came round for the distribution of the scanty ration, and
then, indeed, the truth was forced upon us in a new and
startling light. Toward evening I was seized with violent
pains in the stomach, accompanied by a constant desire to
yawn and gape that was most distressing; but in a couple
of hours the extreme agony passed away, and on the 3d I
was surprised to find that I did not suffer more. I felt, it
is true, that there was some great void within myself, but
the sensation was quite as much moral as physical. My
head was so heavy that I could not hold it up; it was swim-
ming with giddiness, as though I were looking over a
My symptoms were not shared by all my companions,
some of whom endured the most frightful tortures. Dow-
las and the boatswain especially, who were naturally large
eaters, uttered involuntary cries of agony, and were obliged
to gird themselves tightly with ropes to subdue the excru-
ciating pain that was gnawing their very vitals.
And this was only the second day of our misery! What
would we not have given for half, nay, for a quarter of the
meager ration which a few days back we deemed so inade-
quate to supply our wants, and which now, eked out crumb
by crumb, might, perhaps, serve for several days? In the
streets of a besieged city, dire as the distress may be, some
gutter, some rubbish-heap, some corner may yet be found
that will furnish a dry bone or a scrap of refuse that may
for a moment allay the pangs of hunger; but these bare
planks, so many times washed clean by the relentless waves,
offer nothing to our eager search, and after every fragment
of food that the wind has carried into the interstices has
been scraped out and devoured, our resources are literally
at an end.
The nights seem even longer than the days. Sleep, when
it comes, brings no relief; it is rather a feverish stupor,
broken and disturbed by frightful nightmares. Last night,
however, overcome by fatigue, I managed to rest for sev-
At six o'clock this morning I was roused by the sound
of angry voices, and, starting up, I saw Owen and
Jynxstrop, with Flaypole, Wilson, Burke, and Sandon,
standing in a threatening attitude. They had taken posses-
sion of the carpenter's tools, and now, armed with hatchets,
chisels, and hammers, they were preparing to attack
the captain, the boatswain, and Dowlas. I attached myself
in a moment to Curtis's party. Falsten followed my ex-
ample, and although our knives were the only weapons at
our disposal, we were ready to defend ourselves to the very
Owen and his men advanced toward us. The miserable
wretches were all drunk, for during the night they had
knocked a hole in the brandy-barrel, and had recklessly swal-
lowed its contents. What they wanted they scarcely seemed
to know, but Owen and Jynxstrop, not quite so much intox-
icated as the rest, seemed to be urging them on to massacre
the captain and the officers.
"Down with the captain! Overboard with Curtis!
Owen shall take the command!" they shouted from time to
time in their drunken fury; and, armed as they were, they
appeared completely masters of the situation.
"Now, then, down with your arms!" said Curtis sternly,
as he advanced to meet them.
"Overboard with the captain!" howled Owen, as by word
and gesture he urged on his accomplices.
Curtis pushed aside the excited rascals, and, walking
straight up to Owen, asked him what he wanted.
"What do we want? Why, we want no more captains;
we are all equals now."
Poor stupid fool! as though misery and privation had not
already reduced us all to the same level.
"Owen," said the captain once again, "down with your
"Come on, all of you," shouted Owen to his companions,
without giving the slightest heed to Curtis's words.
A regular struggle ensued. Owen and Wilson attacked
Curtis, who defended himself with a piece of spar; Burke
and Flaypole rushed upon Falsten and the boatswain, while
I was left to confront the negro Jynxstrop, who attempted to
strike me with the hammer which he brandished in his hand.
I endeavored to paralyze his movements by pinioning his
arms, but the rascal was my superior in muscular strength.
After wrestling for a few minutes, I felt that he was getting
the mastery over me, when all of a sudden he rolled over
on to the platform, dragging me with him. Andre Letour-
neur had caught hold of one of his legs, and thus saved my
life. Jynxstrop dropped his weapon in his fall; I seized it
instantly, and was about to cleave the fellow's skull, when I
was myself arrested by Andre's hand upon my arm.
By this time the mutineers had been driven back to the
forepart of the raft, and Curtis, who had managed to parry
the blows which had been aimed at him, had caught hold of
a hatchet, with which he was preparing to strike Owen.
But Owen made a sidelong movement to avoid the blow, and
the weapon caught Wilson full in the chest. The unfor-
tunate man rolled over the side of the raft and instantly dis-
"Save him! save him!" shouted the boatswain.
"It's too late; he's dead! " said Dowlas.
"Ah, well! he'll do for --" began the boatswain; but he
did not finish his sentence.
Wilson's death, however, put an end to the fray. Flay-
pole and Burke were lying prostrate in a drunken stupor, and
Jynxstrop was soon overpowered, and lashed tightly to the
foot of the mast. The carpenter and boatswain seized hold
"Now then," said Curtis, as he raised his blood-stained
hatchet, "make your peace with God, for you have not a
moment to live."
"Oh, you want to eat me, do you?" sneered Owen, with
the most hardened effrontery.
But the audacious reply saved his life; Curtis turned as
pale as death, the hatchet dropped from his hand, and he
went and seated himself moodily on the farthest corner of
A FATHER'S LOVE
JANUARY 5 and 6. -- The whole scene made a deep impres-
sion on our minds, and Owen's speech coming as a sort of
climax, brought before us our misery with a force that was
As soon as I recovered my composure, I did not forget to
thank Andre Letourneur for the act of intervention that
had saved my life.
"Do you thank me for that, Mr. Kazallon?" he said; "it
has only served to prolong your misery."
"Never mind, M. Letourneur," said Miss Herbey; "you
did your duty."
Enfeebled and emaciated as the young girl is, her sense
of duty never deserts her; and although her torn and be-
draggled garments float dejectedly about her body, she never
utters a word of complaint, and never loses courage.
"Mr. Kazallon," she said to me, "do you think we are
fated to die of hunger?"
"Yes, Miss Herbey, I do," I replied, in a hard, cold tone.
"How long do you suppose we have to live?" she asked
"I cannot say; perhaps we shall linger on longer than we
"The strongest constitutions suffer the most, do they
not?" she said.
"Yes; but they have one consolation -- they die the soon-
est," I replied, coldly.
Had every spark of humanity died out of my breast, that
I thus brought the girl face to face with the terrible truth,
without a word of hope or comfort? The eyes of Andre
and his father, dilated with hunger, were fixed upon me, and
I saw reproach and astonishment written in their faces.
Afterward, when we were quite alone, Miss Herbey asked
me if I would grant her a favor.
"Certainly, Miss Herbey; anything you like to ask," I
replied; and this time my manner was kinder and more
"Mr. Kazallon," she said, "I am weaker than you, and
shall probably die first. Promise me that, if I do, you will
throw me into the sea!"
"Oh, Miss Herbey," I began, "it was very wrong of me
to speak to you as I did!"
"No, no," she replied, half smiling; "you were quite
right. But it is a weakness of mine; I don't mind what they
do with me as long as I am alive, but when I am dead --"
She stopped and shuddered. "Oh, promise me that you will
throw me into the sea!"
I gave her the melancholy promise, which she acknowl-
edged by pressing my hand feebly with her emaciated fingers.
Another night passed away. At times my sufferings were
so intense that cries of agony involuntarily escaped my lips;
then I became calmer, and sank into a kind of lethargy.
When I awoke, I was surprised to find my companions still
The one of our party who seems to bear his privations
the best is Hobart the steward, a man with whom hitherto
I have had very little to do. He is small, with a fawning
expression remarkable for its indecision, and has a smile
which is incessantly playing round his lips; he goes about
with his eyes half closed, as though he wished to conceal his
thoughts, and there is something altogether false and
hypocritical about his whole demeanor. I cannot say that
he bears his privations without a murmur, for he sighs and
moans incessantly; but, with it all, I cannot but think that
there is a want of genuineness in his manner, and that the
privation has not really told upon him as much as it has
upon the rest of us. I have my suspicions about the man,
and intend to watch him carefully.
To-day, the 6th, M. Letourneur drew me aside to the stern
of the raft, saying he had a secret to communicate, but that
he wished neither to be seen nor heard speaking to me. I
withdrew with him to the larboard corner of the raft, and, as
it was growing dusk, nobody observed what we were doing.
"Mr. Kazallon," M. Letourneur began, in a low voice,
"Andre is dying of hunger; he is growing weaker and
weaker, and oh! I cannot, will not, see him die!"
He spoke passionately, almost fiercely, and I fully under-
stood his feelings. Taking his hand, I tried to reassure him.
"We will not despair yet," I said; "perhaps some pass-
ing ship --"
"Ship!" he cried, impatiently, "don't try to console me
with empty commonplaces; you know as well as I do that
there is no chance of falling in with a passing ship." Then,
breaking off suddenly, he asked: "How long is it since my
son and all of you have had anything to eat?"
Astonished at his question, I replied that it was now four
days since the biscuit had failed.
"Four days," he repeated; "well, then, it is eight since I
have tasted anything. I have been saving my share for my
Tears rushed to my eyes; for a few moments I was unable
to speak, and could only once more grasp his hand in silence.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked, at length.
"Hush! not so loud; someone will hear us," he said, low-
ering his voice; "I want you to offer it to Andre as though
it came from yourself. He would not accept it from me; he
would think I had been depriving myself for him. Let me
implore you to do me this service; and for your trouble," --
and here he gently stroked my hand -- "for your trouble you
shall have a morsel for yourself."
I trembled like a child as I listened to the poor father's
words; and my heart was ready to burst when I felt a tiny
piece of biscuit slipped into my hand.
"Give it him," M. Letourneur went on under his breath,
"give it him; but do not let anyone see you; the monsters
would murder you if they knew it! This is only for to-
day; I will give you some more to-morrow."
The poor fellow did not trust me -- and well he might not
-- for I had the greatest difficulty to withstand the tempta-
tion to carry the biscuit to my mouth. But I resisted the
impulse, and those alone who have suffered like me can know
what the effort was.
Night came on with the rapidity peculiar to these low lati-
tudes, and I glided gently up to Andre, and slipped the piece
of biscuit into his hand as "a present from myself."
The young man clutched at it eagerly.
"But my father?" he said, inquiringly.
I assured him that his father and I had each had our
share, and that he must eat this now, and perhaps I should
be able to bring him some more another time. Andre asked
no more questions, and eagerly devoured the morsel of food.
So this evening at least, notwithstanding M. Letourneur's
offer, I have tasted nothing.
DEATH OF LIEUTENANT WALTER
JANUARY 7. -- During the last few days, since the wind
has freshened, the salt water constantly dashing over the
raft has terribly punished the feet and legs of some of the
sailors. Owen, whom the boatswain ever since the revolt has
kept bound to the mast, is in a deplorable state, and, at our
request, has been released from his restraint. Sandon and
Burke are also suffering from the severe smarting caused in
this way, and it is only owing to our more sheltered position
on the aft-part of the raft, that we have not all shared the
To-day the boatswain, maddened by starvation, laid hands
upon everything that met his voracious eyes, and I could
hear the grating of his teeth as he gnawed at fragments of
sails and bits of wood, instinctively endeavoring to fill his
stomach by putting the mucus into circulation. At length,
by dint of an eager search, he came upon a piece of leather
hanging to one of the spars that supported the platform.
He snatched it off and devoured it greedily; and, as it was
animal matter, it really seemed as though the absorption of
the substance afforded him some temporary relief. In-
stantly we all followed his example; a leather hat, the rims
of caps, in short, anything that contained any animal matter
at all, were gnawed and sucked with the utmost avidity.
Never shall I forget the scene. We were no longer human
-- the impulses and instincts of brute beasts seemed to
actuate our every movement.
For a moment the pangs of hunger were somewhat
allayed; but some of us revolted against the loathsome food,
and were seized either with violent nausea or absolute sick-
ness. I must be pardoned for giving these distressing de-
tails; but how otherwise can I depict the misery, moral and
physical, which we are enduring? And with it all, I dare
not venture to hope that we have reached the climax of our
The conduct of Hobart, during the scene that I have just
described, has only served to confirm my previous suspicions
of him. He took no part in the almost fiendish energy with
which we gnawed at our scraps of leather; and, although by
his conduct of perpetual groanings, he might be considered
to be dying of inanition, yet to me he has the appearance
of being singularly exempt from the tortures which we are
all enduring. But whether the hypocrite is being sustained
by some secret store of food, I have been unable to discover.
Whenever the breeze drops the heat is overpowering; but
although our allowance of water is very meager, at present
the pangs of hunger far exceed the pain of thirst. It has
often been remarked that extreme thirst is far less endurable
than extreme hunger. Is it possible that still greater agonies
are in store for us? I cannot, dare not, believe it. For-
tunately, the broken barrel still contains a few pints of water,
and the other one has not yet been opened. But I am glad
to say that notwithstanding our diminished numbers, and in
spite of some opposition, the captain has thought right to
reduce the daily allowance to half a pint for each person.
As for the brandy, of which there is only a quart now left,
it has been stowed away safely in the stern of the raft.
This evening has ended the sufferings of another of our
companions, making our number now only fourteen. My
attentions and Miss Herbey's nursing could do nothing for
Lieutenant Walter, and about half-past seven he expired in
Before he died, in a few broken words, he thanked Miss
Herbey and myself for the kindness we had shown him. A
crumpled letter fell from his hand, and in a voice that was
scarcely audible from weakness, he said :
"It is my mother's letter; the last I had from her -- she
was expecting me home; but she will never see me more.
Oh, put it to my lips -- let me kiss it before I die. Mother!
mother! Oh, my God!"
I placed the letter in his cold hand, and raised it to his
lips; his eye lighted for a moment; we heard the faint sound
of a kiss; and all was over!
HUMAN FLESH FOR BAIT
JANUARY 8. -- All night I remained by the side of the poor
fellow's corpse, and several times Miss Herbey joined me
in my mournful watch.
Before daylight dawned, the body was quite cold, and as
I knew there must be no delay in throwing it overboard, I
asked Curtis to assist me in the sad office. The body was
frightfully emaciated, and I had every hope that it would not
As soon as it was quite light, taking every precaution that
no one should see what we were about, Curtis and I pro-
ceeded to our melancholy task. We took a few articles from
the lieutenant's pockets, which we purposed, if either of us
should survive, to remit to his mother. But as we wrapped
him in his tattered garments that would have to suffice for
his winding sheet, I started back with a thrill of horror. The
right foot had gone, leaving the leg a bleeding stump.
No doubt that, overcome by fatigue, I must have fallen
asleep for an interval during the night, and some one had
taken advantage of my slumber to mutilate the corpse. But
who could have been guilty of so foul a deed? Curtis
looked around with anger flashing in his eye; but all seemed
as usual, and the silence was only broken by a few groans of
But there was no time to be lost; perhaps we were already
observed, and more horrible scenes might be likely to occur.
Curtis said a few short prayers, and we cast the body into the
sea. It sank immediately.
"They are feeding the sharks well, and no mistake," said
a voice behind me.
I turned round quickly, and found that it was Jynxstrop
who had spoken.
As the boatswain now approached, I asked him whether
he thought it possible that any of the wretched men could
have taken the dead man's foot.
"Oh, yes, I dare say," he replied in a significant tone,
"and perhaps they thought they were right."
"Right! what do you mean?" I exclaimed.
"Well, sir," he said coldly, "isn't it better to eat a dead
man than a living one?"
I was at a loss to comprehend him, and, turning away, laid
myself down at the end of the raft.
Toward eleven o'clock a most suspicious incident occurred.
The boatswain, who had cast his lines early in the morning,
caught three large cod, each more than thirty inches long, of
the species which, when dried, is known by the name of
stock-fish. Scarcely had he hauled them on board when the
sailors made a dash at them, and it was with the utmost dif-
ficulty that Curtis, Falsten and myself could restore order, so
that we might divide the fish into equal portions. Three
cod were not much among fourteen starving persons, but,
small as the quantity was, it was allotted in strictly equal
shares. Most of us devoured the food raw, almost I might
say, alive; only Curtis, Andre, and Miss Herbey having the
patience to wait until their allowance had been boiled at a
fire which they made with a few scraps of wood. For my-
self, I confess that I swallowed my portion of fish as it was
-- raw and bleeding. M. Letourneur followed my example;
the poor man devoured his food like a famished wolf, and it
is only a wonder to me how, after his lengthened fast, he
came to be alive at all.
The boatswain's delight at his success was excessive, and
amounted almost to delirium. I went up to him, and en-
couraged him to repeat his attempt.
"Oh, yes," he said; "I'll try again. I'll try again."
"And why not try at once?" I asked.
"Not now," he said evasively; "the night is the best time
for catching large fish. Besides, I must manage to get
some bait, for we have been improvident enough not to save
a single scrap."
"But you have succeeded once without bait; why may you
not succeed again?"
"Oh, I had some very good bait last night," he said.
I stared at him in amazement. He steadily returned my
gaze, but said nothing.
"Have you none left?" at last I asked.
"Yes!" he almost whispered, and left me without another
Our meal, meager as it had been, served to rally our shat-
tered energies; our hopes were slightly raised; there was no
reason why the boatswain should not have the same good
One evidence of the degree to which our spirits were re-
vived was that our minds were no longer fixed upon the
miserable present and hopeless future, but we began to recall
and discuss the past; and M. Letourneur, Andre, Mr. Fal-
sten and I, held a long conversation with the captain about
the various incidents of our eventful voyage, speaking of
our lost companions, of the fire, or the stranding of the ship,
of our sojourn on Ham Rock, of the springing of the leak, of
our terrible voyage in the top-masts, of the construction of
the raft, and of the storm. All these things seemed to have
happened so long ago, and yet we were living still. Living,
did I say? Ay, if such an existence as ours could be called
a life, fourteen of us were living still. Who would be the
next to go? We should then be thirteen.
"An unlucky number!" said Andre, with a mournful
During the night the boatswain cast his lines from the
stern of the raft, and, unwilling to trust them to anyone
else, remained watching them himself. In the morning I
went to ascertain what success had attended his patience. It
was scarcely light, and with eager eyes he was peering down
into the water. He had neither seen nor heard me coming.
"Well, boatswain!" I said, touching him on the shoulder.
He turned round quickly.
"Those villainous sharks have eaten every morsel of my
bait," he said, in a desponding voice.
"And you have no more left?" I asked.
"No more," he said. Then grasping my arm, he added,
"and that only shows me that it is no good doing things by
The truth flashed upon me at once, and I laid my hand
upon his mouth. Poor Walter!
OXIDE OF COPPER POISONING
JANUARY 9 and10. -- On the 9th the wind dropped, and
there was a dead calm; not a ripple disturbed the surface of
the long undulations as they rose and fell beneath us; and if
it were not for the slight current which is carrying us we
know not whither, the raft would be absolutely stationary.
The heat was intolerable; our thirst more intolerable still;
and now it was that for the first time I fully realized how the
insufficiency of drink could cause torture more unendurable
than the pangs of hunger. Mouth, throat, pharynx, all alike
were parched and dry, every gland becoming hard as horn
under the action of the hot air we breathed. At my urgent
solicitation, the captain was for once induced to double our
allowance of water; and this relaxation of the ordinary rule
enabled us to attempt to slake our thirst four times in the day,
instead of only twice. I use the word "attempt" advisedly;
for the water at the bottom of the barrel though kept covered
by a sail, became so warm that it was perfectly flat and
It was a most trying day, and the sailors relapsed into a
condition of deep despondency. The moon was nearly full,
but when she rose the breeze did not return. Continuance
of high temperature in daytime is a sure proof that we have
been carried far to the south, and here, on this illimitable
ocean, we have long ceased even to look for land; it might
almost seem as though this globe of ours had veritably be-
come a liquid sphere!
To-day we are still becalmed, and the temperature is as
high as ever. The air is heated like a furnace, and the sun
scorches like fire. The torments of famine are all forgotten;
our thoughts are concentrated with fevered expectation upon
the longed-for moment when Curtis shall dole out the scanty
measure of lukewarm water that makes up our ration. Oh
for one good draught, even if it should exhaust the whole
supply! At least, it seems as if we then could die in peace!
About noon we were startled by sharp cries of agony,
and looking round, I saw Owen writhing in the most horrible
convulsions. I went toward him, for, detestable as his con-
duct had been, common humanity prompted me to see
whether I could afford him any relief. But before I reached
him, a shout from Flaypole arrested my attention. The
man was up in the mast, and with great excitement pointing
to the east.
"A ship! A ship!" he cried.
In an instant all were on their feet. Even Owen stopped
his cries and stood erect. It was quite true that in the direc-
tion indicated by Flaypole there was a white speck visible
upon the horizon. But did it move? Would the sailors
with their keen vision pronounce it to be a sail? A silence
the most profound fell upon us all. I glanced at Curtis as
he stood with folded arms intently gazing at the distant
point. His brow was furrowed, and he contracted every fea-
ture, as with half-closed eyes he concentrated his power of
vision upon that one faint spot in the far off horizon.
But at length he dropped his arms and shook his head. I
looked again, but the spot was no longer there. If it were
a ship, that ship had disappeared; but probably it had been a
mere reflection, or, more likely still, only the crest of some
A deep dejection followed this phantom ray of hope. All
returned to their accustomed places. Curtis alone remained
motionless, but his eye no longer scanned the distant view.
Owen now began to shriek more wildly than ever. He
presented truly a most melancholy sight; he writhed with the
most hideous contortions, and had all the appearance of
suffering from tetanus. His throat was contracted by re-
peated spasms, his tongue was parched, his body swollen, and
his pulse, though feeble, was rapid and irregular. The poor
wretch's symptoms were precisely such as to lead us to sus-
pect that he had taken some corrosive poison. Of course it
was quite out of our power to administer any antidote; all
that we could devise was to make him swallow something
that might act as an emetic. I asked Curtis for a little of
the lukewarm water. As the contents of the broken barrel
were now exhausted, the captain, in order to comply with my
request, was about to tap the other barrel, when Owen
started suddenly to his knees, and with a wild, unearthly
"No! no! no! of that water I will not touch a drop."
I supposed he did not understand what we were going to
do, and endeavored to explain; but all in vain; he persisted
in refusing to taste the water in the second barrel. I then
tried to induce vomiting by tickling his uvula, and he brought
off some bluish secretion from his stomach, the character of
which confirmed our previous suspicions -- that he had been
poisoned by oxide of copper. We now felt convinced that
any effort on our part to save him would be of no avail.
The vomiting, however, had for the time relieved him, and
he was able to speak.
Curtis and I both implored him to let us know what he
had taken to bring about consequences so serious. His reply
fell upon us as a startling blow.
The ill-fated wretch had stolen several pints of water from
the barrel that had been untouched, and that water had
JANUARY 11 to 14. -- Owen's convulsions returned with in-
creased violence, and in the course of the night he expired
in terrible agony. His body was thrown overboard almost
directly, it had decomposed so rapidly that the flesh had not
even consistency enough for any fragments of it to be re-
served for the boatswain to use to bait his lines. A plague
the man had been to us in his life; in his death he was now
of no service!
And now, perhaps still more than ever, did the horror of
our situation stare us in the face. There was no doubt
that the poisoned barrel had at some time or other contained
copperas; but what strange fatality had converted it into a
water cask, or what fatality, stranger still, had caused it to
be brought on board the raft, was a problem that none could
solve. Little, however, did it matter now; the fact was evi-
dent -- the barrel was poisoned, and of water we had not a
One and all, we fell into the gloomiest silence. We were
too irritable to bear the sound of each other's voices; and it
did not require a word -- a mere look or gesture was enough
-- to provoke us to anger that was little short of madness.
How it was that we did not all become raving maniacs, I can-
Throughout the 12th no drain of moisture crossed our
lips, and not a cloud arose to warrant the expectation of a
passing shower; in the shade, if shade it might be called, the
thermometer would have registered at least 100 deg., and per-
haps considerably more.
No change next day. The salt water began to chafe my
legs, but although the smarting was at times severe, it was an
inconvenience to which I gave little heed; others who had
suffered from the same trouble had become no worse. Oh!
if this water that surrounds us could be reduced to vapor
or to ice! its particles of salt extracted, it would be available
for drink. But no! we have no appliances, and we must
At the risk of being devoured by the sharks, the boat-
swain and two sailors took a morning bath, and as their
plunge seemed to freshen them, I and three of my com-
panions resolved to follow their example. We had never
learned to swim, and had to be fastened to the end of a rope
and lowered into the water, while Curtis, during the half
hour of our bath, kept a sharp lookout to give warning of
any danger from approaching sharks. No recommenda-
tion, however, on our part, nor any representation of the
benefit we felt we had derived, could induce Miss Herbey
to allay her sufferings in the same way.
At about eleven o'clock, the captain came up to me, and
whispered in my ear:
"Don't say a word, Mr. Kazallon; I do not want to raise
false hopes, but I think I see a ship."
It was as well that the captain had warned me; otherwise,
I should have raised an involuntary shout of joy; as it was
I had the greatest difficulty in restraining my expressions of
"Look behind to larboard," he continued in an undertone.
Affecting an indifference which I was far from feeling, I
cast an anxious glance to that quarter of the horizon of
which he spoke, and there, although mine was not a nautical
eye, I could plainly distinguish the outline of a ship under
Almost at the same moment the boatswain who happened
to be looking in the same direction, raised the cry, "Ship
Whether it was that no one believed it, or whether all
energies were exhausted, certain it is that the announcement
produced none of the effects that might have been expected.
Not a soul exhibited the slightest emotion, and it was only
when the boatswain had several times sung out his tidings
that all eyes turned to the horizon. There, most undeniably,
was the ship, but the question rose at once to the minds of
all, and to the lips of many, "Would she see us?"
The sailors immediately began discussing the build of the
vessel, and made all sorts of conjectures as to the direction
she was taking. Curtis was far more deliberate in his judg-
ment. After examining her attentively for some time, he
said, "She is a brig running close upon the wind, on the star-
board tack. If she keeps her course for a couple of hours,
she will come right athwart our tracks."
A couple of hours! The words sounded to our ears like
a couple of centuries. The ship might change her course
at any moment; closely trimmed as she was, it was very
probable that she was only tacking about to catch the wind,
in which case, as soon as she felt a breeze, she would résumé
her larboard tack and make away again. On the other hand,
if she was really sailing with the wind, she would come
nearer to us, and there would be good ground for hope.
Meantime, no exertion must be spared, and no means left
untried, to make our position known. The brig was about
twelve miles to the east of us, so that it was out of the ques-
tion to think of any cries of ours being overheard; but Curtis
gave directions that every possible signal should be made.
We had no firearms by which we could attract attention, and
nothing else occurred to us beyond hoisting a flag of distress.
Miss Herbey's red shawl, as being of a color most distin-
guishable against the background of sea and sky, was run
up to the mast-head, and was caught by the light breeze that
just then was ruffling the surface of the water. As a drown-
ing man clutches at a straw, so our hearts bounded with hope
every time that our poor flag fluttered in the wind.
For an hour our feelings alternated between hope and
despair. The ship was evidently making her way in the di-
rection of the raft, but every now and then she seemed to
stop, and then our hearts would almost stand still with agony
lest she was going to put about. She carried all her canvas,
even to her royals and stay-sails, but her hull was only
partially visible above the horizon.
How slowly she advanced! The breeze was very, very
feeble, and perhaps soon it would drop altogether! We felt
that we would give years of our life to know the result of the
At half past twelve the captain and the boatswain con-
sidered that the brig was about nine miles away; she had,
therefore, gained only three miles in an hour and a half,
and it was doubtful whether the light breeze that had been
passing over our heads had reached her at all. I fancied,
too, that her sails were no longer filled, but were hanging
loose against her masts. Turning to the direction of the
wind, I tried to make out some chance of a rising breeze;
but no, the waves were calm and torpid, and the little puff of
air that had aroused our hopes had died away across the sea.
I stood aft with M. Letourneur, Andre and Miss Herbey,
and our glances perpetually wandered from the distant ship
to our captain's face. Curtis stood leaning against the mast,
with the boatswain by his side; their eyes seemed never for
a moment to cease to watch the brig, but their countenances
clearly expressed the varying emotions that passed through
their minds. Not a word was uttered, nor was the silence
broken, until the carpenter exclaimed, in accents of despair:
"She's putting about!"
All started up -- some to their knees, others to their feet.
The boatswain dropped a frightful oath. The ship was
still nine miles away, and at such a distance it was impossible
for our signal to be seen; our tiny raft, a mere speck upon
the waters, would be lost in the intense irradiation of the sun-
beams. If only we could be seen, no doubt all would be
well; no captain would have the barbarous inhumanity to
leave us to our fate; but there had been no chance; only too
well we knew that we had not been within range of sight.
"My friends," said Curtis, "we must make a fire; it is our
last and only chance."
Some planks were quickly loosened and thrown into a heap
upon the fore part of the raft. They were damp and
troublesome to light; but the very dampness made the smoke
more dense, and ere long a tall column of dusky fumes was
rising straight upward in the air. If darkness should come
on before the brig was completely out of view, the flames,
we hoped might still be visible. But the hours passed on;
the fire died out; and yet no signs of help.
The temper of resignation now deserted me entirely;
faith, hope, confidence -- all vanished from my mind, and,
like the boatswain, I swore long and loudly. A gentle hand
was laid upon my arm, and turning round I saw Miss Herbey
with her finger pointing to the sky. I could stand it no
longer, but gliding underneath the tent I hid my face in my
hands and wept aloud.
Meanwhile the brig had altered her track, and was moving
slowly to the east. Three hours later and the keenest eye
could not have discerned her top-sails above the horizon.
THE DEPTHS OF DESPAIR
JANUARY 15. -- After this further shattering of our ex-
cited hopes, death alone now stares us in the face; slow and
lingering as that death may be, sooner or later it must in-
To-day some clouds that rose in the west have brought us
a few puffs of wind; and in spite of our prostration, we ap-
preciate the moderation, slight as it is, in the temperature.
To my parched throat the air seemed a little less trying; but
it is now seven days since the boatswain took his haul of
fish, and during that period we had eaten nothing; even
Andre Letourneur finished yesterday, the last morsel of the
biscuit which his sorrowful and self-denying father had in-
trusted to my charge.
Jynxstrop, the negro, has broken loose from his confine-
ment, but Curtis has taken no measures for putting him
again under restraint. It is not to be apprehended that the
miserable fellow and his accomplices, weakened as they are
by their protracted fast, will attempt to do us any mischief
Some huge sharks made their appearance to-day, cleaving
the water rapidly with their great black fins. The monsters
came up close to the edge of the raft, and Flaypole, who was
leaning over, narrowly escaped having his arm snapped off
by one of them. I could not help regarding them as living
sepulchers, which ere long might swallow up our miserable
carcasses; yet, withal, I profess that my feelings were those
of fascination rather than horror.
The boatswain, who stood with clenched teeth and dilated
eye, regarded these sharks from quite another point of view.
He thought about devouring the sharks, not about the sharks
devouring him; and if he could succeed in catching one, I
doubt if one of us would reject the tough and untempting
flesh. He determined to make the attempt, and as he had
no whirl which he could fasten to his rope he set to work
to find something that might serve as a substitute. Curtis
and Dowlas were consulted, and after a short conversation,
during which they kept throwing bits of rope and spars into
the water in order to entice the sharks to remain by the raft,
Dowlas went and fetched his carpenter's tool, which is at
once a hatchet and a hammer. Of this he proposed to make
the whirl of which they were in need, under the hope that
either the sharp edge of the adze or the pointed extremity
opposite would stick firmly into the jaws of any shark that
might swallow it. The wooden handle of the hammer was
secured to the rope, which, in its turn was tightly fastened
to the raft.
With eager, almost breathless, excitement we stood watch-
ing the preparations, at the same time using every means
in our power to attract the attention of the sharks. As soon
as the whirl was ready the boatswain began to think about
bait, and, talking rapidly to himself, ransacked every corner
of the raft, as though he expected to find some dead body
coming opportunely to sight. But his search ended in noth-
ing; and the only plan that suggested itself was again to
have recourse to Miss Herbey's red shawl, of which a frag-
ment was wrapped around the head of the hammer. After
testing the strength of his line, and reassuring himself that
it was fastened firmly both to the hammer and to the raft,
the boatswain lowered it into the water.
The sea was quite transparent, and any object was clearly
visible to a depth of two hundred feet below the surface.
Leaning over the low parapet of the raft we looked on in
breathless silence, as the scarlet rag, distinct as it was against
the blue mass of water, made its slow descent. But one by
one the sharks seemed to disappear. They could not, how-
ever, have gone far away, and it was not likely that any-
thing in the shape of bait dropped near them would long
escape their keen voracity.
Suddenly, without speaking, the boatswain raised his hand
and pointed to a dark mass skimming along the surface of
the water, and making straight in our direction. It was a
shark, certainly not less than twelve feet long. As soon as
the creature was about four fathoms from the raft, the
boatswain gently drew in his line until the whirl was in such
a position that the shark must cross right over it; at the
same time he shook the line a little, that he might give the
whirl the appearance, if he could, of being something alive
and moving. As the creature came near, my heart beat
violently; I could see its eyes flashing above the waves; and
its gaping jaws, as it turned half over on its back, exhibited
long rows of pointed teeth.
I know not who it was, but some one at that moment
uttered an involuntary cry of horror. The shark came to a
standstill, turned about, and escaped quite out of sight. The
boatswain was pale with anger.
"The first man who speaks," he said, "I will kill him
on the spot."
Again he applied himself to his task. The whirl was
again lowered, this time to the depth of twenty fathoms,
but for half an hour or more not a shark could be distin-
guished; but as the waters far below seemed somehow to
be troubled I could not help believing that some of the
brutes at least were still there.
All at once, with a violent jerk, the cord was wrested from
the boatswain's hands; firmly attached, however, as it was
to the raft, it was not lost. The bait had been seized by a
shark, and the iron had made good its hold upon the crea-
"Now, then, my lads," cried the boatswain, "haul away!"
Passengers and sailors, one and all, put forth what
strength they had to drag the rope, but so violent were the
creature's struggles that it required all our efforts (and it is
needless to say they were willing enough) to bring it to the
surface. At length, after exertions that almost exhausted
us, the water became agitated by the violent flappings of the
tail and fins; and looking down I saw the huge carcass of
the shark writhing convulsively amid waves that were
stained with blood.
"Steady! steady!" said the boatswain, as the head ap-
The whirl had passed right through the jaw into the mid-
dle of the throat, so that no struggle on the part of the ani-
mal could possibly release it. Dowlas seized the hatchet,
ready to dispatch the brute the moment it should be landed
on the raft. A short sharp snap was heard. The shark
had closed its jaws, and bitten through the wooden handle
of the hammer. Another moment and it had turned round
and was completely gone.
A howl of despair burst from all our lips. All the labor
and the patience, all had been in vain. Dowlas made a few
more unsuccessful attempts, but as the whirl was lost, and
they had no means of replacing it, there was no further
room for hope. They did, indeed, lower some cords
twisted into running knots, but (as might have been ex-
pected) these only slipped over, without holding, the slimy
bodies of the sharks. As a last resource the boatswain
allowed his naked leg to hang over the side of the raft;
the monsters, however, were proof even against this at-
Reduced once again to a gloomy despondency, all turned
to their places, to await the end that can not now be long
Just as I moved away I heard the boatswain say to
"Captain, when shall we draw lots?"
The captain made no reply.
OUR THIRST RELIEVED
JANUARY 16. -- If the crew of any passing vessel had
caught sight of us as we lay still and inanimate upon our
sail-cloth, they would scarcely, at first sight, have hesitated
to pronounce us dead.
My sufferings were terrible; tongue, lips, and throat
were so parched and swollen that if food had been at hand
I question whether I could have swallowed it. So ex-
asperated were the feelings of us all, however, that we
glanced at each other with looks as savage as though we
were about to slaughter and without delay eat up one an-
The heat was aggravated by the atmosphere being some-
what stormy. Heavy vapors gathered on the horizon, and
there was a look as if it were raining all around. Longing
eyes and gasping mouths turned involuntarily toward the
clouds, and M. Letourneur, on bended knee, was raising
his hands, as it might be in supplication to the relentless
It was eleven o'clock in the morning. I listened for dis-
tant rumblings which might announce an approaching
storm, but although the vapors had obstructed the sun's
rays, they no longer presented the appearance of being
charged with electricity. Thus our prognostications ended
in disappointment; the clouds, which in the early morning
had been marked by the distinctness of their outline, had
melted one into another and assumed an uniform dull gray
tint; in fact, we were enveloped in an ordinary fog. But
was it not still possible that this fog might turn to rain?
Happily this hope was destined to be realized; for in a
very short time, Dowlas, with a shout of delight, declared
that rain was actually coming; and sure enough, not half a
mile from the raft, the dark parallel streaks against the sky
testified that there at least rain was falling. I fancied I
could see the drops rebounding from the surface of the
water. The wind was fresh and bringing the cloud right
on toward us, yet we could not suppress our trepidation
lest it should exhaust itself before it reached us.
But no; very soon large heavy drops began to fall, and
the storm-cloud, passing over our heads, was outpouring
its contents upon us. The shower, however, was very
transient; already a bright streak of light along the horizon
marked the limit of the cloud and warned us that we must
be quick to make the most of what it had to give us. Curtis
had placed the broken barrel in the position that was most
exposed, and every sail was spread out to the fullest extent
our dimensions would allow.
We all laid ourselves down flat upon our backs and kept
our mouths wide open. The rain splashed into my face,
wetted my lips, and trickled down my throat. Never can
I describe the ecstasy with which I imbibed that renovat-
ing moisture. The parched and swollen glands relaxed,
I breathed afresh, and my whole being seemed revived with
a strange and requickened life.
The rain lasted about twenty minutes, when the cloud,
only half exhausted, passed quite away from over us.
We grasped each other's hands as we rose from the plat-
form on which we had been lying, and mutual congratula-
tions, mingled with gratitude, poured forth from our long
silent lips. Hope, however evanescent it might be, for the
moment had returned, and we yielded to the expectation
that, ere long, other and more abundant clouds might come
and replenish our store.
The next consideration was how to preserve and econo-
mize what little had been collected by the barrel, or imbibed
by the outspread sails. It was found that only a few pints
of rain-water had fallen into the barrel; to this small
quantity the sailors were about to add what they could by
wringing out the saturated sails, when Curtis made them
desist from their intention.
"Stop, stop!" he said "we must wait a moment; we
must see whether this water from the sails is drinkable."
I looked at him in amazement. Why should not this be
as drinkable as the other? He squeezed a few drops out
of one of the folds of a sail into a tin pot, and put it to his
lips. To my surprise, he rejected it immediately, and upon
tasting it for myself I found it not merely brackish, but
briny as the sea itself. The fact was that the canvas had
been so long exposed to the action of the waves, that it had
become thoroughly impregnated by salt, which of course
was taken up again by the water that fell upon it. Dis-
appointed we were; but with several pints of water in our
possession, we were not only contented for the present, but
sanguine in our prospect for the future.
MY FAST IS BROKEN
JANUARY 17. -- As a natural consequence of the allevia-
tion of our thirst, the pangs of hunger returned more vio-
lently than ever. Although we had no bait, and even if we
had we could not use it for want of a whirl, we could not
help asking whether no possible means could be devised for
securing one out of the many sharks that were still per-
petually swarming about the raft. Armed with knives, like
the Indians in the pearl fisheries, was it not practicable to
attack the monsters in their own element? Curtis ex-
pressed his willingness personally to make the attempt, but
so numerous were the sharks that we would not for one
moment hear of his risking his life in a venture of which
the danger was as great as the success was doubtful.
By plunging into the sea, or by gnawing at a piece of
metal, we could always, or at least often, do something that
cheated us into believing that we were mitigating the pains
of thirst; but with hunger it was different. The prospect,
too, of rain seemed hopeful, while for getting food there
appeared no chance; and, as we knew that nothing could
compensate for the lack of nutritive matter, we were soon
all cast down again. Shocking to confess, it would be
untrue to deny that we surveyed each other with the eye
of an eager longing; and I need hardly explain to what a
degree of savageness the one idea that haunted us had re-
duced our feelings.
Ever since the storm-cloud brought us the too transient
shower the sky has been tolerably clear, and although at
that time the wind had slightly freshened, it has since
dropped, and the sail hangs idly against our mast. Except
for the trifling relief it brings by modifying the tempera-
ture, we care little now for any breeze. Ignorant as we
are as to what quarter of the Atlantic we have been carried
by the currents, it matters very little to us from what direc-
tion the wind may blow if only it would bring, in rain or
dew, the moisture of which we are so dreadfully in need.
My brain is haunted by most horrible nightmares; not
that I suppose I am in anyway more distressed than my
companions, who are lying in their usual places, vainly
endeavoring to forget their sufferings in sleep.
After a time I fell into a restless, dreamy doze. I was
neither asleep nor awake. How long I remained in that
state of stupor I could hardly say, but at length a strange
sensation brought me to myself. Was I dreaming, or was
there not really some unaccustomed odor floating in the
air? My nostrils became distended, and I could scarcely
suppress a cry of astonishment; but some instinct kept me
quiet, and I laid myself down again with the puzzled sen-
sation sometimes experienced when we have forgotten a
word or name. Only a few minutes, however, had elapsed
before another still more savory puff induced me to take
several long inhalations. Suddenly, the truth seemed to
flash across my mind. "Surely," I muttered to myself,
"this must be cooked meat that I can smell."
Again and again I sniffed, and became more convinced
than ever that my senses were not deceiving me. But from
what part of the raft could the smell proceed? I rose to
my knees, and having satisfied myself that the odor came
from the front, I crept stealthily as a cat under the sails
and between the spars in that direction. Following the
promptings of my scent, rather than my vision, like a blood-
hound in track of his prey. I searched everywhere I could,
now finding, now losing, the smell according to my change
of position, or the dropping of the wind. At length I got
the true scent, once for all, so that I could go straight to
the object for which I was in search.
Approaching the starboard angle of the raft, I came
to the conclusion that the smell that had thus keenly ex-
cited my cravings was the smell of smoked bacon; the mem-
branes of my tongue almost bristled with the intenseness of
Crawling along a little farther, under a thick roll of
sail-cloth, I was not long in securing my prize. Forcing
my arm below the roll, I felt my hand in contact with some-
thing wrapped up in paper. I clutched it up, and carried
it off to a place where I could examine it by the help of
the light of the moon that had now made its appearance
above the horizon. I almost shrieked for joy. It was a
piece of bacon. True, it did not weigh many ounces, but
small as it was it would suffice to alleviate the pangs of
hunger for one day at least. I was just on the point of
raising it to my mouth, when a hand was laid upon my
arm. It was only by a most determined effort that I kept
myself from screaming out. One instant more, and I
found myself face to face with Hobart.
In a moment I understood all. Plainly this rascal Ho-
bart had saved some provisions from the wreck, upon which
he had been subsisting ever since. The steward had pro-
vided for himself, while all around him were dying of
starvation. Detestable wretch! This accounts for the
inconsistency of his well-to-do looks and his pitiable groans.
Yet why, it struck me, should I complain? Was not I
reaping the benefit of that secret store that he, for himself,
But Hobart had no idea of allowing me the peaceable
possession of what he held to be his own. He made a dash
at the fragment of bacon, and seemed determined to wrest
it from my grasp. We struggled with each other, but
although our wrestling was very violent, it was very noise-
We were both of us aware that it was absolutely neces-
sary that not one of those on board should know anything
at all about the prize for which we were contending. Nor
was my own determination lessened by hearing him groan
out that it was his last, his only morsel. "His!" I
thought; "it shall be mine now!"
And still careful that no noise of commotion should arise,
I threw him on his back, and grasping his throat so that
he gurgled again, I held him down until, in rapid mouth-
fuls, I had swallowed the last scrap of the food for which
we had fought so hard.
I released my prisoner, and quietly crept back to my own
And not a soul is aware that I have broken my fast!
HOBART HANGS HIMSELF
JANUARY 18. -- After this excitement I awaited the ap-
proach of day with a strange anxiety. My conscience told
me that Hobart had the right to denounce me in the pres-
ence of all my fellow-passengers; yet my alarm was vain.
The idea of my proceedings being exposed by him was
quite absurd; in a moment he would himself be murdered
without pity by the crew, if it should be revealed that, un-
known to them, he had been living on some private store
which, by clandestine cunning, he had reserved. But, in
spite of my anxiety, I had a longing for day to come.
The bit of food that I had thus stolen was very small;
but small as it was it had alleviated my hunger; and I was
now tortured with remorse, because I had not shared the
meager morsel with my fellow-sufferers. Miss Herbey,
Andre, his father, all had been forgotten, and from the bot-
tom of my heart I repented of my cruel selfishness.
Meantime the moon rose high in the heavens, and the
first streaks of dawn appeared. There is no twilight in
these low latitudes, and the full daylight came well nigh
at once. I had not closed my eyes since my encounter with
the steward, and ever since the first blush of day I had
labored under the impression that I could see some unusual
dark mass half way up the mast. But although it again
and again caught my eye, it hardly roused my curiosity,
and I did not rise from the bundle of sails on which I was
lying to ascertain what it really was. But no sooner did
the rays of the sun fall upon it than I saw at once that
it was the body of a man, attached to a rope, and swinging
to and fro with the motion of the raft.
A horrible presentiment carried me to the foot of the
mast, and, just as I had guessed, Hobart had hanged him-
self. I could not for a moment doubt that it was I myself
that had impelled him to the suicide. A cry of horror had
scarcely escaped my lips, when my fellow-passengers were
at my side, and the rope was cut. Then came the sailors.
And what was it that made the group gather so eagerly
around the body? Was it a humane desire to see whether
any sparks of life remained? No, indeed; the corpse was
cold, and the limbs were rigid; there was no chance that
animation should be restored. What then was it that kept
them lingering so close around? It was only too apparent
what they were about to do.
But I did not, could not, look. I refused to take part
in the horrible repast that was proposed. Neither would
Miss Herbey, Andre, nor his father, consent to alleviate
their pangs of hunger by such revolting means. I know
nothing for certain as to what Curtis did, and I did not
venture to inquire; but of the others, -- Falsten, Dowlas,
the boatswain, and all the rest, -- I know that, to assuage
their cravings, they consented to reduce themselves to the
level of beasts of prey; they were transformed from human
beings into ravenous brutes.
The four of us who sickened at the idea of partaking
of the horrid meal withdrew to the seclusion of our tent;
it was bad enough to hear, without witnessing the appalling
operation. But, in truth, I had the greatest difficulty in the
world in preventing Andre from rushing out upon the can-
nibals, and snatching the odious food from their clutches.
I represented to him the hopelessness of his attempt, and
tried to reconcile him by telling him that if they liked the
food they had a right to it. Hobart had not been mur-
dered; he had died by his own hand; and, after all, as the
boatswain had once remarked to me, "It was better to eat
a dead man than a live one."
Do what I would, however, I could not quiet Andre's
feeling of abhorrence; in his disgust and loathing he seemed
for the time to have quite forgotten his own sufferings.
Meanwhile, there was no concealing the truth that we
were ourselves dying of starvation, while our eight com-
panions would probably, by their loathsome diet, escape that
frightful destiny. Owing to his secret hoard of provisions
Hobart had been by far the strongest among us; he had been
supported, so that no organic disease had affected his tissues,
and really might be said to be in good health when his
chagrin drove him to his desperate suicide. But what was
I thinking of! whither were my meditations carrying me
away? was it not coming to pass that the cannibals were
rousing my envy instead of exciting my horror?
Very shortly after this I heard Dowlas talking about the
possibility of obtaining salt by evaporating seawater in the
sun; "and then," he added, "we can salt down the rest."
The boatswain assented to what the carpenter had said,
and probably the suggestion was adopted.
Silence, the most profound, now reigns upon the raft. I
presume that nearly all have gone to sleep. One thing I
do know, that they are no longer hungry.
HOBART'S BODY STOLEN
JANUARY 19. -- All through the day the sky remained un-
clouded and the heat intense; and night came on without
bringing much sensible moderation in the temperature. I
was unable to get any sleep, and, toward morning, was dis-
turbed by hearing an angry clamor going on outside the
tent; it aroused M. Letourneur, Andre, and Miss Herbey,
as much as myself, and we were anxious to ascertain the
cause of the tumult.
The boatswain, Dowlas, and all the sailors were storming
at each other in frightful rage; and Curtis, who had come
forward from the stern, was endeavoring to pacify them.
"But who has done it? we must know who has done it,"
said Dowlas, scowling with vindictive passion on the group
"There's a thief," howled out the boatswain, "and he
shall be found! Let's know who has taken it."
"I haven't taken it!" "Nor I! Nor I!" cried the
sailors one after another.
And then they set to work again to ransack every quarter
of the raft; they rolled every spar aside, they overturned
everything on board, and only grew more and more incensed
with anger as their search proved fruitless."
"Can YOU tell us," said the boatswain, coming up to me,
"who is the thief?"
"Thief!" I replied. "I don't know what you mean."
And while we were speaking the others all came up to-
gether, and told me that they had looked everywhere else,
and that they were going now to search the tent.
"Shame!" I said. "You ought to allow those whom
you know to be dying of hunger at least to die in peace.
There is not one of us who has left the tent all night. Why
"Now just look here, Mr. Kazallon," said the boatswain,
in a voice which he was endeavoring to calm down into
moderation, "we are not accusing you of anything; we know
well enough you, and all the rest of you, had a right to
your shares as much as anybody; but that isn't it. It's all
gone somewhere, every bit."
"Yes," said Sandon gruffly; "it's all gone somewheres,
and we are going to search the tent."
Resistance was useless, and Miss Herbey, M. Letourneur,
and Andre were all turned out.
I confess I was very fearful. I had a strong suspicion
that for the sake of his son, for whom he was ready to ven-
ture anything, M. Letourneur had committed the theft; in
that case I knew that nothing would have prevented the in-
furiated men from tearing the devoted father to pieces. I
beckoned to Curtis for protection, and he came and stood
beside me. He said nothing, but waited with his hands in
his pockets, and I think I am not mistaken in my belief that
there was some sort of a weapon in each.
To my great relief the search was ineffectual. There
was no doubt that the carcass of the suicide had been thrown
overboard, and the rage of the disappointed cannibals knew
Yet who had ventured to do the deed? I looked at M.
Letourneur and Miss Herbey; but their countenances at once
betrayed their ignorance. Andre turned his face away, and
his eyes did not meet my own. Probably it is he; but, if it
be, I wonder whether he has reckoned up the consequences
of so rash an act.
THE NEGRO BECOMES INSANE
JANUARY 20 to 22. -- For the day or two after the hor-
rible repast of the 18th those who had partaken of it ap-
peared to suffer comparatively little either from hunger or
thirst; but for the four of us who had tasted nothing, the
agony of suffering grew more and more intense. It was
enough to make us repine over the loss of the provision that
had so mysteriously gone; and if any one of us should die,
I doubt whether the survivors would a second time resist
the temptation to assuage their pangs by tasting human flesh.
Before long, all the cravings of hunger began to return to
the sailors, and I could see their eyes greedily glancing upon
us, starved as they knew us to be, as though they were reck-
oning our hours, and already were preparing to consume
us as their prey.
As is always the case with shipwrecked men, we were
tormented by thirst far more than by hunger; and if, in the
height of our sufferings, we had been offered our choice be-
tween a few drops of water and a few crumbs of biscuit, I
do not doubt that we should, without exception, have pre-
ferred to take the water.
And what a mockery to our condition did it seem that all
this while there was water, water, nothing but water, every-
where around us! Again and again, incapable of compre-
hending how powerless it was to relieve me, I put a few
drops within my lips, but only with the invariable result of
bringing on a most trying nausea, and rendering my thirst
more unendurable than before.
Forty-two days had passed since we quitted the sinking
Chancellor. There could be no hope now; all of us must die,
and by the most deplorable of deaths. I was quite con-
scious that a mist was gathering over my brain; I felt my
senses sinking into a condition of torpor; I made an effort,
but all in vain, to master the delirium that I was aware was
taking possession of my reason. It is out of my power to
decide for how long I lost my consciousness; but when I
came to myself I found that Miss Herbey had folded some
wet bandages around my forehead. I am somewhat better;
but I am weakened, mind and body, and I am conscious that
I have not long to live.
A frightful fatality occurred to-day. The scene was ter-
rible. Jynxstrop the negro went raving mad. Curtis and
several of the men tried their utmost to control him, but in
spite of everything he broke loose, and tore up and down
the raft, uttering fearful yells. He had gained possession of
a handspike, and rushed upon us all with the ferocity of an
infuriated tiger; how we contrived to escape mischief from
his attacks, I know not. All at once, by one of those un-
accountable impulses of madness, his rage turned against
himself. With his teeth and nails he gnawed and tore away
at his own flesh; dashing the blood into our faces, he
shrieked out with a demoniacal grin, "Drink, drink!" and
flinging us gory morsels, kept saying "Eat, eat!" In the
midst of his insane shrieks he made a sudden pause, then
dashing back again from the stern to the front, he made
a bound and disappeared beneath the waves.
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