THE WIDE CONTRASTS IN LIFE
pened before I was finally stricken and will make you think of the tales often heard of shipwrecked men who, having given up all hope at the pumps, turn in despair and break open the captain’s lockers, drinking themselves into a state of bestiality. It is the coward’s way of meeting death, or perhaps it means the great final protest of the physical against the spiritual—a mad defiance of the inevitable—and confirms what some of our physiologists have always maintained—that only a thin stratum of self-control divides us from something lower than the beast.
“We had buried one of our bravest and best comrades, one whose name is still held in reverence by all who knew him, and after we had laid him in the ground an orgy began, which I am ashamed to say—for I was no better than the rest—was as cowardly as it was bestial. My portable india-rubber bath-tub, being the largest vessel in the camp, was the punch-bowl, and into it was dumped every liquor we had in the place: Portuguese wine, Scotch whiskey, Bass’s ale, brown stout, cognac—nothing escaped. You can imagine what followed. Those of our natives who helped themselves, after a wild outburst of savagery, soon