The Survivors of the Chancellor
The Whale-Boat Missing
DECEMBER 6. -- I must have fallen asleep for a few hours, when, at four o'clock in the
morning, I was rudely aroused by the roaring of the wind, and could distinguish Curtis's
voice as he shouted in the brief intervals between the heavy gusts.
I got up, and holding tightly to the purlin -- for the waves made the masts tremble with
their violence -- I tried to look around and below me. The sea was literally raging
beneath, and great masses of livid-looking foam were dashing be- tween the masts, which
were oscillating terrifically. It was still dark, and I could only faintly distinguish two
figures in the stern, whom, by the sound of their voices, that I caught occasionally above
the tumult, I made out to be Curtis and the boatswain.
Just at that moment a sailor, who had mounted to the main-top to do something to the
rigging, passed close be- hind me.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"The wind has changed," he answered, adding something which I could not hear
distinctly, but which sounded like "dead against us."
Dead against us! then. thought I, the wind had shifted to the southwest, and my last
night's forebodings had been correct.
When daylight at length appeared, I found the wind, al- though not blowing actually from
the southwest, had veered round to the northwest, a change which was equally dis-
astrous to us, inasmuch as it was carrying us away from land. Moreover, the ship had
sunk considerably during the night, and there were now five feet of water above deck; the
side netting had completely disappeared, and the fore- castle and the poop were now all
but on a level with the sea, which washed over them incessantly. With all possible ex-
pedition Curtis and his crew were laboring away at their raft, but the violence of the swell
materially impeded their operations, and it became a matter of doubt as to whether the
woodwork would not fall asunder before it could be properly fastened together.
As I watched the men at their work, M. Letourneur, with one arm supporting his son,
came out and stood by my side.
"Don't you think this main-top will soon give way?" he said, as the narrow platform on
which we stood creaked and groaned with the swaying of the masts.
Miss Herbey heard his words and pointing toward Mrs. Kear, who was lying prostrate at
her feet, asked what we thought ought to be done.
"We can do nothing but stay where we are," I replied.