Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/265

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he was rather appalled by the situation, although his courage was unshaken. When he later tried to convey a picture of it for the entertainment of his mother, part of the letter read like this:

If I were to write forever, I could not give you an idea of it—a total darkness all above; the sea on fire, running as it were in Alps or Peaks of Teneriffe (mountains are too common an idea); the wind roaring louder than thunder, the whole made more terrible, if possible, by a very uncommon kind of blue lightning; the poor ship very much pressed, yet doing what she could, shaking her sides and groaning at every stroke. Sir Hyde was lashed upon the deck to windward and I soon lashed myself alongside of him and told him the state of affairs below, saying that the ship did not make more water than might be expected in such infernal weather and that I was only afraid of a gun breaking loose.

"I am not in the least afraid of that," said the captain. "I have commanded her for six years and have had many a gale of wind in her, so that her iron work, which always gives way first, is pretty well tried. Hold fast, Archer, that was an ugly sea. We must lower the yards, for the ship is much pressed."

"If we attempt it, sir, we shall lose them, for a man aloft can do nothing; besides, their being down would ease the ship very little; the mainmast is a sprung mast; I wish it were overboard without carrying everything with it, but that can soon be done. The gale cannot last forever. 'T will soon be daylight now."

Found by the master's watch that it was five o'clock, glad it was so near dawn and looked for it with much anxiety. Cuba, thou are much in our way! Sent a mid-