“That’s the doctrine of Father Neptune-drink and enjoy life.”
“Every man to his post!” shouted the captain, as he approached from the quarterdeck. Quick to obey, they were where they were commanded in an instant, each with his tin can half filled with liquor. Captain Marlin, seeing this, ordered them to drink their grog or throw it overboard; they chose the former mode of disposing of it, and threw their empty cans at the cook.
In the distance a small black speck was decried.
The sun had set in clouds. The heavens were hung in darkness. Ever and anon a peal of thunder echoed above, a flash of vivid lightning illumed the waters, and far as eye could see the waters tossed high their whitened crests. The winds blew stormy, and now heavy drops of rain fell upon the deck of the “Tangus.” “Every man to his duty!” shouted the captain; but the captain’s voice was not obeyed.
Objects at two feet distance could not be seen. Louder that voice was heard. “Every man to his duty,—save the ship!”
“Captain, what is my duty?” inquired the cook.
“I appoint you under officer. Search for the men, and, if they are not all washed over, tell them I order them to work. If they do not know it, tell them the ship’s in danger, and they must work.”
The storm was fast increasing, till, at length, instead of blackness, one sheet of livid flame clothed the heavens above. Now all could be seen, and the captain busied himself. But two of the crew were to be seen, and they lay as senseless as logs. They heeded not the rage of the storm. The terrific peals of thunder awoke them not-they were dead drunk!
By the time the storm commenced, the liquor they had drank began to have its effect. Four of the crew, who were usually wide awake-that is, uncommonly lively-when intoxicated, had unfortunately fell overboard, and were lost.
The captain had now food for reflection, but the time and place were not for such musings.
He endeavored to arouse them, but in vain; so, with the aid of the only sober man aboard besides himself, he conveyed them to a place of safety. In the mean time the ship strained in every joint, and he momentarily expected to find himself standing on its wreck.
The waves washed the deck, and everything movable, cook-house and all, went by the board. The only hope of safety was in cutting away the masts, and to this task they diligently applied themselves. All night the captain and cook worked hard, and when morning came they found the storm abating. Soon the sun shone in its brightness; but what a scene did its light reveal! The once stately ship dismasted; four men, including the mate of the vessel, lost, and two lying insensible in the cabin.
It was not strange that the question came home to the mind of Captain Marlin, with force, “Is it right to carry liquor for a ship’s crew?” He need ask the opinion of no one; he could find an answer in the scene around him.