The Survivors of the Chancellor
Curtis Resolves To Abandon The Ship
DECEMBER 4. -- The first attempt at mutiny being thus happily suppressed, it is to be
hoped that Curtis will succeed as well in future. An insubordinate crew would render us
Throughout the night the pumps were kept, without respite, steadily at work, but without
producing the least sensible benefit. The ship became so water-logged and heavy that she
hardly rose at all to the waves, which con- sequently often washed over the deck and
contributed their part toward aggravating our case. Our situation was rapidly becoming as
terrible as it had been when the fire was raging in the midst of us; and the prospect of
being swallowed by the devouring billows was no less formidable than that of perishing
in the flames.
Curtis kept the men up to the mark, and, willing or unwill- ing, they had no alternative
but to work on as best they might; but in spite of all their efforts, the water perpetually
rose, till, at length, the men in the hold who were passing the buckets found themselves
immersed up to their waists, and were obliged to come on deck.
This morning, after a somewhat protracted consultation with Walter and the boatswain,
Curtis resolved to abandon the ship. The only remaining boat was far too small to hold us
all, and it would therefore be necessary to construct a raft that should carry those who
could not find room in her. Dowlas, the carpenter, Mr. Falsten, and ten sailors were told
off to put the raft in hand, the rest of the crew being ordered to continue their work
assiduously at the pumps, until the time came and everything was ready for embarkation.
Hatchet or saw in hand, the carpenter and his assistants made a beginning without delay,
by cutting and trimming the spare yards and extra spars to a proper length. These were
then lowered into the sea -- which was propitiously calm -- so as to favor the operation
(which otherwise would have been very difficult) of lashing them together into a firm
framework, about forty feet long and twenty-five feet wide, upon which the platform was
to be supported.
I kept my own place steadily at the pumps, and Andre Le- tourneur worked at my side. I
often noticed his father glance at him sorrowfully, as though he wondered what would
become of him if he had to struggle with waves to which even the strongest man could
hardly fail to succumb. But come what may, his father will never forsake him, and I
myself shall not be wanting in rendering him whatever assistance I can.
Mrs. Kear, who had been for some time in a state of drowsy unconsciousness, was not
informed of the immediate danger; but when Miss Herbey, looking somewhat pale with
fatigue, paid one of her flying visits to the deck, I warned her to take every precaution for
herself, and to be ready for any emergency.