Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/60

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32
MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY

Under orders to join the brig Consort at New York and continue the surveying of Southern harbors, Maury left his father's home in Tennessee by stage coach to join his ship. He went by the northern route, and near Somerset, Ohio, on a rainy night about one o'clock in the morning, an embankment gave way and the coach was upset. Maury, having given his seat inside to a woman with a baby in arms, was riding on the seat with the coachman, and was the only person seriously injured. There were twelve other passengers; Maury, the thirteenth, had his right knee-joint transversely dislocated and the thigh-bone longitudinally fractured.

His recovery from the injury was slow and painful. The leg was improperly set, and at a time when the use of anesthetics was unknown it had to be reset with great pain to the unfortunate officer. During the three months of his confinement at the Hotel Phoenix in Somerset he managed to keep up his spirits in spite of the suffering and loneliness, and to break the tedium of the dull days he commenced the study of French without the aid of either grammar or dictionary. At last, in January, 1840, he thought himself strong enough to proceed to New York; but it was in the midst of winter and he had to be driven in a sleigh over the Alleghany Mountains. This occasioned considerable delay, and when he at length arrived at his destination he found that his ship had already sailed. He then made his way to his home in Virginia to recuperate his health and strength under the apprehension that his injury might be so serious as to incapacitate him for further active service in the navy.

During the long weeks in Ohio he had been greatly troubled with these fears and had considered gravely