Captain Ringgold said nothing, but calmly surveyed the men who were now struggling in the water. They seemed to be all able to swim; but it was a closer call than they had had before. The two cutters appeared to be their only possible salvation, and they were still at a considerable distance from the scene of peril.
It was a terribly exciting and harrowing spectacle; but the commander looked as impassable as ever. He rang the gong for the ship to go ahead; and Mr. Gaskette wondered what he intended to do, though he was not left more than a moment in suspense.
The titled gentlemen of the travancore
The first and second cutters of the Guardian-Mother were struggling bravely with the huge billows, but not making very rapid progress, though the gale was in their favor. The eleven men floundering in the water where the wreck had disappeared under them were provided with life-preservers, it was now discovered, and their chances were somewhat less desperate than they were at first taken to be. But the waves rudely knocked them about, and sometimes upset them so as to require a struggle to regain their upright position.
“The Blanche is close aboard of us, Captain Ringgold,” said Mr. Gaskette. “She is running at full speed for a position on our port hand.”
“Very good,” replied the commander. “That is the right thing for her to do, if she don’t come too near us.”
“She is at a safe distance, sir, and her starboard quarter-boat is manned and ready to drop into the water.”
“Captain Sharp will do the right thing at the right time,” replied the commander, whose gaze was riveted upon the struggling party in the water.
“I trust we shall be able to save the whole of them.”
“The chances are good for it,” answered the second officer.
“How is the second cutter doing?” inquired Captain Ringgold.
“She is doing very well, sir, though she is some distance behind the first cutter, for she got away from the ship later. Mr. Belgrave is pulling a stroke as vigorous as the rest of the crew. The Blanche is coming about, and she will have her starboard boat in the water in a few minutes more.”
As her head swung round to port she stopped her screw, and then backed for a few moments, till she had killed the most of her headway; for Captain Sharp knew better than to drop the boat into the water while the vessel was making sternway. In a very short space of time the six-oar craft was pulling with all the muscle of her British tars for the scene of peril, and not more than two cables’ length astern of the second cutter of the Guardian-Mother.
Captain Ringgold observed the boats with the most intense interest as they approached the unfortunate men in the water. The Blanche came about again, and her other quarter-boat was soon pulling after the first. Possibly there was some feeling of rivalry among the crews of the boats in the good work in which they were engaged, for they were all putting their utmost vigor into their oars.