When the lower tiers of bags had been reached, they had tried pumping out the water, but this was of little use. The brig had keeled over on her starboard side, and early in the morning of the third day, when the tide was running out, a hole had been cut in that side of the vessel, out of which a great portion of the water she contained had run. It would all come in again, and more of it, when the tide rose, but they were sure they could get through their work before that, and they were right. The bags now lay upon the beach in the shape of a long mound, not more than three feet high, and about four rows wide at the bottom and two at the top. The captain had superintended the arrangement of the bags, and had so shaped the mass that it somewhat resembled in form the dunes of sand which lay behind it. No matter what might be their next step, it would probably be advisable to conceal the bags, and the captain had thought that the best way to do this would be to throw sand over the long mound, in which work the prevailing western winds would be likely to assist, and thus make it look like a natural sand-hill. Burke and Shirley were in favor of burial, but the consideration of this matter was deferred, for there was more work to be done, which must be attended to immediately.
Now provisions, water, and everything else that might be of value was taken out of the brig and carried to shore. Two tents were constructed out of sails and spars, and the little party established themselves upon the beach. What would be their next work they knew not, but they must first rest from their long season of heavy labor. The last days had been harder even than the days of storm and the days of pumping. They had eaten hurriedly and slept but little. Regular watches and irregular watches had been kept—watches against storm, which might sweep the brig with all on board out to sea, watches against desertion, watches against they knew not what. As chief watcher, the captain had scarcely slept at all.
It had been dreary work, unrelieved by hope, uncheered by prospect of success; for not one of them, from the captain down, had any definite idea as to what was to be done after they had rested enough to act.
But they rested, and they went so far as to fill their pipes and stretch themselves upon the sand. When night came on, chilly and dark, they gathered driftwood and dead branches from the thicket and built a camp-fire. They sat around it, and smoked their pipes, but they did not tell stories, nor did they talk very much. They were glad to rest, they were glad to keep warm, but that was all. The only really cheerful thing upon the beach was the fire, which leaped high and blazed merrily as the dried wood was heaped upon it.
SHIRLEY SPIES A SAIL