The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
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 drop.
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- not tell.
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 suffer on.
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
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