The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version
We Lose Nearly All Our Provisions
DECEMBER 22. -- Daylight came at length, and the sun broke through and dispersed the
clouds that the storm had left behind. The struggle of the elements, while it lasted, had
been terrific, but the swoon into which I was thrown by my fall prevented me from
observing the final incidents of the visitation. All that I know is, that shortly after we had
shipped the heavy sea, that I have mentioned, a shower of rain had the effect of calming
the severity of the hurri- cane, and tended to diminish the electric tension of the
Thanks to the kind care of M. Letourneur and Miss Her- bey, I recovered consciousness,
but I believe that it is to Robert Curtis that I owe my real deliverance, for he it was that
prevented me from being carried away by a second heavy wave.
The tempest, fierce as it was, did not last more than a few hours; but even in that short
space of time what an irrepar- able loss we have sustained, and what a load of misery
seems stored up for us in the future!
Of the two sailors who perished in the storm, one was Austin, a fine active young man of
about eight-and-twenty; the other was old O'Ready, the survivor of so many ship- wrecks.
Our party is thus reduced to sixteen souls, leav- ing a total barely exceeding half the
number of those who embarked on board the Chancellor at Charleston.
Curtis's first care had been to take a strict account of the remnant of our provisions. Of all
the torrents of rain that fell in the night we were unhappily unable to catch a single drop;
but water will not fail us yet, for about four- teen gallons still remain in the bottom of the
broken barrel, while the second barrel has not been touched. But of food we have next to
nothing. The cases containing the dried meat, and the fish that we had preserved, have
both been washed away, and all that now remains to us is about sixty pounds of biscuit.
Sixty pounds of biscuit between sixteen persons! Eight days, with half a pound a day
apiece, will consume it all.
The day has passed away in silence. A general depres- sion has fallen upon all; the
specter of famine has appeared among us, and each has remained wrapped in his own
gloomy meditations, though each has doubtless but one idea dominant in his mind.
Once, as I passed near the group of sailors lying on the fore part of the raft, I heard
Flaypole say with a sneer:
"Those who are going to die had better make haste about it."
"Yes," said Owen, "and leave their share of food to others."