The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version

Examination Of The Hold
NOVEMBER 15 to 20. -- The examination of the hold has at last been made. Among the
first things that were found was the case of picrate, perfectly intact, having neither been
injured by the water, nor of course reached by the flames. Why it was not at once pitched
into the sea I cannot say; but it was merely conveyed to the extremity of the island, and
there it remains.
While they were below, Curtis and Dowlas made them- selves acquainted with the full
extent of the mischief that had been done by the conflagration. They found that the deck
and the cross-beams that supported it had been much less injured than they expected, and
the thick, heavy planks had only been scorched very superficially. But the action of the
fire on the flanks of the ship had been of a much more serious character; a long portion of
the inside boarding had been burned away, and the very ribs of the vessel were con-
siderably damaged; the oakum caulkings had all started away from the butt-ends and
seams; so much so that it was little short of a miracle that the whole ship had not long
since gaped completely open.
The captain and the carpenter returned to the deck with anxious faces. Curtis lost no time
in assembling pas- sengers and crew, and announcing to them the facts of the case.
"My friends," he said, "I am here to tell you that the Chancellor has sustained far greater
injuries than we sus- pected, and that her hull is very seriously damaged. If we had been
stranded anywhere else than on a barren reef, that may at any time be overwhelmed by a
tempestuous sea, I should not have hesitated to take the ship to pieces, and con- struct a
smaller vessel that might have carried us safely to land; but I dare not run the risk of
remaining here. We are now 800 miles from the coast of Paramaribo, the nearest portion
of Dutch Guiana, and in ten or twelve days, if the weather should be favorable, I believe
we could reach the shore. What I now propose to do is to stop the leak by the best means
we can command, and make at once for the nearest port."
As no better plan seemed to suggest itself, Curtis's proposal was unanimously accepted.
Dowlas and his assistants im- mediately set to work to repair the charred frame-work of
the ribs, and to stop the leak; they took care thoroughly to calk from the outside all the
seams that were above low water mark; lower than that they were unable to work, and
had to content themselves with such repairs as they could effect in the interior. But after
all the pains there is no doubt the Chancellor is not fit for a long voyage, and would be
condemned as unseaworthy at any port at which we might put in.
To-day the 20th, Curtis having done all that human power could do to repair his ship,
determined to put her to sea.
Ever since the Chancellor had been relieved of her cargo, and of the water in her hold,
she had been able to float in the little natural basin into which she had been driven. The
basin was enclosed on either hand by rocks that remained uncovered even at high water,