The Survivors of the Chancellor HTML version

Death Of Lieutenant Walter
JANUARY 7. -- During the last few days, since the wind has freshened, the salt water
constantly dashing over the raft has terribly punished the feet and legs of some of the
sailors. Owen, whom the boatswain ever since the revolt has kept bound to the mast, is in
a deplorable state, and, at our request, has been released from his restraint. Sandon and
Burke are also suffering from the severe smarting caused in this way, and it is only owing
to our more sheltered position on the aft-part of the raft, that we have not all shared the
same inconvenience.
To-day the boatswain, maddened by starvation, laid hands upon everything that met his
voracious eyes, and I could hear the grating of his teeth as he gnawed at fragments of
sails and bits of wood, instinctively endeavoring to fill his stomach by putting the mucus
into circulation. At length, by dint of an eager search, he came upon a piece of leather
hanging to one of the spars that supported the platform. He snatched it off and devoured
it greedily; and, as it was animal matter, it really seemed as though the absorption of the
substance afforded him some temporary relief. In- stantly we all followed his example; a
leather hat, the rims of caps, in short, anything that contained any animal matter at all,
were gnawed and sucked with the utmost avidity. Never shall I forget the scene. We were
no longer human -- the impulses and instincts of brute beasts seemed to actuate our every
For a moment the pangs of hunger were somewhat allayed; but some of us revolted
against the loathsome food, and were seized either with violent nausea or absolute sick-
ness. I must be pardoned for giving these distressing de- tails; but how otherwise can I
depict the misery, moral and physical, which we are enduring? And with it all, I dare not
venture to hope that we have reached the climax of our sufferings.
The conduct of Hobart, during the scene that I have just described, has only served to
confirm my previous suspicions of him. He took no part in the almost fiendish energy
with which we gnawed at our scraps of leather; and, although by his conduct of perpetual
groanings, he might be considered to be dying of inanition, yet to me he has the
appearance of being singularly exempt from the tortures which we are all enduring. But
whether the hypocrite is being sustained by some secret store of food, I have been unable
to discover.
Whenever the breeze drops the heat is overpowering; but although our allowance of
water is very meager, at present the pangs of hunger far exceed the pain of thirst. It has
often been remarked that extreme thirst is far less endurable than extreme hunger. Is it
possible that still greater agonies are in store for us? I cannot, dare not, believe it. For-
tunately, the broken barrel still contains a few pints of water, and the other one has not
yet been opened. But I am glad to say that notwithstanding our diminished numbers, and
in spite of some opposition, the captain has thought right to reduce the daily allowance to
half a pint for each person. As for the brandy, of which there is only a quart now left, it
has been stowed away safely in the stern of the raft.