The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version

Mrs. Kear Succumbs To Fever
DECEMBER 6 continued. -- The Chancellor no longer main- tained her equilibrium; we
felt that she was gradually going down, and her hull was probably breaking up. The
main- top was already only ten feet above water, while the bow- sprit, with the exception
of the extreme end, that rose obliquely from the waves, was entirely covered.
The Chancellor's last day, we felt, had come.
Fortunately the raft was all but finished, and unless Curtis preferred to wait till morning,
we should be able to embark in the evening.
The raft is a very solid structure. The spars that form the framework are crossed one
above another and lashed together with stout ropes, so that the whole pile rises a couple
of feet above the water. The upper platform is con- structed from the planks that were
broken from the ship's sides by the violence of the waves, and which had not drifted
away. The afternoon has been employed in charging the raft with such provisions, sails,
tools, and instruments as we have been able to save.
And how can I attempt to give any idea of the feelings with which, one and all, we now
contemplated the fate be- fore us? For my own part, I was possessed rather by a
benumbed indifference than by any sense of genuine resigna- tion. M. Letourneur was
entirely absorbed in his son, who, in his turn, thought only of his father, at the same time
exhibiting a Christian fortitude, which was shown by no one else of the party except Miss
Herbey, who faced her danger with the same brave composure. Incredible as it may seem,
Falsten remained the same as ever, occupying himself with writing down figures and
memoranda in his pocketbook. Mrs. Kear, in spite of all that Miss Herbey could do for
her, was evidently dying.
With regard to the sailors, two or three of them were calm enough, but the rest had well-
nigh lost their wits. Some of the more ill-disposed among them seemed inclined to run
into excesses; and their conduct, under the bad in- fluence of Owen and Jynxstrop, made
it doubtful whether they would submit to control when once we were limited to the
narrow dimensions of the raft. Lieutenant Walter, al- though his courage never failed
him, was worn out with bodily fatigue, and obliged to give up all active labor; but Curtis
and the boatswain were resolute, energetic and firm as ever. To borrow an expression
from the language of metallurgic art, they were men "at the highest degree of hardness."
At five o'clock one of our companions in misfortune was released from her sufferings.
Mrs. Kear, after a most dis- tressing illness, through which her young companion tended
her with the most devoted care, has breathed her last. A few deep sighs and all was over,
and I doubt whether the sufferer was ever conscious of the peril of her situation.
The night passed on without further incident. Toward morning I touched the dead
woman's hand, and it was cold and stiff. The corpse could not remain any longer on the