The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
Mr. Kear Makes A Business Deal
DECEMBER 5. -- The day was very hot. December in lati- tude 16 deg. N. is a summer
month, and unless a breeze should rise to temper the burning sun, we might expect to
suffer from an oppressive heat.
The sea still remained very rough, and as the heavy waves broke over the ship as though
she were a reef, the foam flew up to the very top-masts, and our clothes were perpetually
drenched by the spray.
The Chancellor's hull is three-fourths immerged; besides the three masts and the
bowsprit, to which the whale-boat was suspended, the poop and the forecastle are the
only por- tions that now are visible; and as the intervening section of the deck is quite
below the water, these appear to be con- nected only by the framework of the netting that
runs along the vessel's sides. Communication between the top-masts is extremely
difficult, and would be absolutely precluded, were it not that the sailors, with practiced
dexterity, manage to hoist themselves about by means of the stays. For the pas- sengers,
cowering on their narrow and unstable platform, the spectacle of the raging sea below
was truly terrific; every wave that dashed over the ship shook the masts till they trembled
again, and one could venture scarcely to look or to think lest he should be tempted to cast
himself into the vast abyss.
Meanwhile, the crew worked away with all their remain- ing vigor at the second raft, for
which the top-gallants and yards were all obliged to be employed; the planks, too, which
were continually being loosened and broken away by the violence of the waves from the
partitions of the ship, were rescued before they had drifted out of reach, and were brought
into use. The symptoms of the ship foundering did not appear to be immediate; so that
Curtis insisted upon the raft being made with proper care to insure its strength; we were
still several hundred miles from the coast of Guiana, and for so long a voyage it was
indispensable to have a struc- ture of considerable solidity. The reasonableness of this
was self-apparent, and as the crew had recovered their as- surance they spared no pains to
accomplish their work effec- tually.
Of all the number, there was but one, an Irishman, named O'Ready, who seemed to
question the utility of all their toil. He shook his head with an oracular gravity. He is an
old- ish man, not less than sixty, with his hair and beard bleached with the storms of
many travels. As I was making my way toward the poop, he came up to me and began
"And why, bedad, I'd like to know, why is it that they'll all be afther lavin' the ship?"
He turned his quid with the most serene composure, and continued: