The Survivors of the Chancellor
An Attempt At Mutiny
DECEMBER 2 and 3. -- For four hours we have succeeded in keeping the water in the
hold to one level; now, however, it is very evident that the time cannot be far distant
when the pumps will be quite unequal to their task.
Yesterday Curtis, who does not allow himself a minute's rest, made a personal inspection
of the hold. I, with the boatswain and carpenter, accompanied him. After dislodg- ing
some of the bales of cotton we could hear a splashing, or rather gurgling sound; but
whether the water was enter- ing at the original aperture, or whether it found its way in
through a general dislocation of the seams, we were unable to discover. But, whichever
might be the case, Curtis de- termined to try a plan which, by cutting off communication
between the interior and exterior of the vessel, might, if only for a few hours, render her
hull more water-tight. For this purpose he had some strong, well tarred sails drawn
upward by ropes from below the keel, as high as the previous leak- ing place, and then
fastened closely and securely to the side of the hull. The scheme was dubious, and the
operation difficult, but for a time it was effectual, and at the close of the day the level of
the water had actually been reduced by several inches. The diminution was small enough,
but the consciousness that more water was escaping through the scupper-holes than was
finding its way into the hold gave us fresh courage to persevere with our work.
The night was dark, but the captain carried all the sail he could, eager to take every
possible advantage of the wind, which was freshening considerably. If he could have
sighted a ship he would have made signals of distress, and would not have hesitated to
transfer the passengers, and even have allowed the crew to follow, if they were ready to
forsake him; for himself his mind was made up -- he should remain on board the
Chancellor until she foundered beneath his feet. No sail, however, hove in sight;
consequently escape by such means was out of our power.
During the night the canvas covering yielded to the pres- sure of the waves, and this
morning, after taking the sound- ing, the boatswain could not suppress an oath when he
an- nounced, "Six feet of water in the hold!"
The ship, then, was filling once again, and already had sunk considerably below her
previous water-line. With aching arms and bleeding hands we worked harder than ever at
the pumps, and Curtis makes those who are not pumping form a line and pass buckets,
with all the speed they can, from hand to hand.
But all in vain! At half-past eight more water is re- ported in the hold, and some of the
sailors, overcome by de- spair, refuse to work one minute longer.
The first to abandon his post was Owen, a man whom I have mentioned before as
exhibiting something of a mu- tinous spirit. He is about forty years of age, and altogether
unprepossessing in appearance; his face is bare, with the exception of a reddish beard,
which terminates in a point; his forehead is furrowed with sinister looking wrinkles, his