Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/364

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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS
 

Doud was much affected, but consented to attend to the obsequies of unfortunate David Flat, who was the most popular man in the forecastle. The victim then requested a brief respite in which he might prepare his soul to meet its Maker. This was very readily granted, and meanwhile the cook kindled a fire and got the water hot. Friendship was stronger than hunger, however, and there was so much reluctance to execute the sentence that it was determined to grant David Flat a respite until eleven o'clock of the following morning,

 

trusting that Divine Goodness would in the interval open some other source of relief. At the same time they solicited the captain to read prayers, a task which, collecting the utmost effort of his strength, he was just able to perform.

 

It was a scene to linger in one's memory, the waterlogged sloop with her sails streaming in useless ribbons from a broken mast, the little cabin with the skipper almost dead in his bunk, and the group of starved and wistful seamen who bowed their heads while he brokenly whispered the words of the prayer-book. As soon as he had finished, they crept out to rejoin David Flat, who had preferred to be absent from his own funeral service. Through the companionway the captain overheard them talking to him