Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

mate, Mr. Jones, was a man with his two feet under him, and he shouted to the cowards:

"Here, lads, let us not be discouraged. Did you never see a ship amongst breakers before? Come, lend a hand; here is a sheet and there is a brace; lay hold. I doubt not that we can bring her near enough to land to save our lives."

Mr. Jones thought they were all dead men without a ghost of a show of salvation, as he later confessed, but his exhortations put heart into them, and he was not one to die without a gallant struggle. Soon the wreck of the Wager piled up in the breakers between two huge rocks, where she stayed fast. Dry land was no more than a musket-shot away, and as soon as daylight came the three boats that were left—the barge, the cutter, and the yawl—were launched and instantly filled with men, who tumbled in helter-skelter. The rest of the sailors proceeded to break open casks of wine and brandy and to get so drunk that several were drowned in the ship. The suffering Captain Cheap permitted himself to be lifted out of bed and borne into a boat with most of the commissioned officers, while the master, gunner, and carpenter, who were not gentlemen at all, but very ordinary persons, in fact, remained in the wreck to save what they could of her and to