The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
Two Sailors Washed Overboard
DECEMBER 21, night. -- The boatswain rushed to the halliards that supported the sail,
and instantly lowered the yard; not a moment too soon, for with the speed of an arrow the
squall was upon us, and if it had not been for the sailor's timely warning we must all have
been knocked down and probably precipitated into the sea; as it was, our tent on the back
of the raft was carried away.
The raft itself, however, being so nearly level with the water, had little peril to encounter
from the actual wind; but from the mighty waves now raised by the hurricane we had
everything to dread. At first the waves had been crushed and flattened as it were by the
pressure of the air, but now, as though strengthened by the reaction, they rose with the
utmost fury. The raft followed the motions of the increasing swell, and was tossed up and
down, to and fro, and from side to side with the most violent oscillations.
"Lash yourselves tight," cried the boatswain, as he threw us some ropes; and in a few
moments with Curtis's assis- tance, M. Letourneur, and Andre, Falsten and myself were
fastened so firmly to the raft, that nothing but its total dis- ruption could carry us away.
Miss Herbey was bound by a rope passed round her waist to one of the uprights that had
supported our tent, and by the glare of the lightning I could see that her countenance was
as serene and composed as ever.
Then the storm began to rage indeed. Flash followed flash, peal followed peal in quick
succession. Our eyes were blinded, our ears deafened, with the roar and glare. The clouds
above, the ocean beneath, seemed verily to have taken fire, and several times I saw
forked lightnings dart upward from the crest of the waves, and mingle with those that
radiated from the fiery vault above. A strong odor of sulphur pervaded the air, but though
thunderbolts fell thick around us, not one touched our raft.
By two o'clock the storm had reached its height. The hurricane had increased, and the
heavy waves, heated to a strange heat by the general temperature, dashed over us until we
were drenched to the skin. Curtis, Dowlas, the boatswain, and the sailors did what they
could to strengthen the raft with additional ropes. M. Letourneur placed him- self in front
of Andre, to shelter him from the waves. Miss Herbey stood upright and motionless as a
Soon dense masses of lurid clouds came rolling up, and a crackling, like the rattle of
musketry, resounded through the air. This was produced by a series of electrical con-
cussions, in which volleys of hailstones were discharged from the cloud-batteries above.
In fact, as the storm-sheet came in contact with a current of cold air, hail was formed with
great rapidity, and hailstones, large as nuts, came pelt- ing down, making the platform of
the raft re-echo with a metallic ring.
For about half an hour the meteoric shower continued to descend, and during that time
the wind slightly abated in violence; but after having shifted from quarter to quar- ter, it