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Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 346 pages of information about Narratives of Shipwrecks of the Royal Navy; between 1793 and 1849.

The first cry from the rock was—­’water! water!’ but water they had none.  They had found it impossible to procure anything but earthen vessels, and these could not be carried through the surf.  The coxswain, however, informed them that next morning a large vessel would come to their relief; and in this hope of a speedy deliverance they were encouraged to further endurance.  The morning broke at last, but no boat appeared; then came a reaction, and the heart-sickness of hope deferred.  The scenes that occurred on that day were too dreadful to relate—­it was the fourth on which they had not tasted food.

......Savagely
They glared upon each other;
.............
.... and you might have seen
The longings of the cannibal arise
(Although they spoke not) in their wolfish eyes.—­BYRON.

They must now either taste human flesh or perish—­there was no alternative.

A young man who had died the previous night was selected to be food for the rest.[9] Most of them had not power to masticate or to swallow—­

    For every tongue, through utter drought,
    Was withered at the root. 
    COLERIDGE (Ancient Mariner).

Before evening death had made fearful ravages, and had numbered amongst its victims Captain Palmer and the first lieutenant.

Another night came on; long and anxiously had they gazed upon the horizon—­in vain had they strained their blood-shot eyes to see some vessel coming to their relief.  The shades of night closed round them, and sadly they awaited the dawn of another day, resolving that if they lived to see it they would construct a raft and commit themselves to the waves, rather than remain to die of hunger and thirst.  Accordingly, at daylight they began to put their plan into execution by fastening some of the larger spars together, and in a few hours the raft was completed.  The eventful moment for launching it arrived, when with bitter grief and disappointment they beheld the work of their hands, which it had cost them so much labour to achieve, dashed to pieces in a few seconds and scattered adrift upon the waves.  Some of the men, rendered desperate by seeing their last chance of escape thus snatched from them, rushed into the sea, grasping at such parts of the wreck as came within their reach; but they were all swept away by the current, and their unhappy comrades saw them no more.

In the afternoon, the coxswain arrived in the whale-boat, but he came without bringing them any food or means of escape—­for all his entreaties had been unavailing to persuade the Greek fishermen to put to sea whilst the gale continued.  They had, however, promised to come to the relief of the sufferers the next day if the weather should be more favourable.

This was the fifth day that these wretched men had passed without food of any kind except the disgusting morsel they had attempted to swallow.  Many who were completely exhausted, stretched their weary limbs on the hard rocks and expired, and before night the greater part of the survivors were in a state of complete insensibility.

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