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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/171

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CHAPTER XVII.


THE LAST RESOURCE.


THERE was a hole in the keel. A leak had been sprung. When it happened no one could tell. Was it when they touched the Caskets? Was it off Ortach? Was it when they were whirled about on the shoal west of Alderney? It was most probable that they had struck against some hidden rock, the shock of which they had not felt in the midst of the convulsive fury of the wind which was tossing them about. When one has tetanus who would feel a pin-prick?

The other sailor, the southern Basque, whose name was Ave Maria, also went down into the hold, and returning to the deck said: "There are six feet of water in the hold;" and added, "In less than forty minutes we shall sink."

Where was the leak? They could not find it. It was hidden by the water which was filling the hold. The vessel had a hole in her hull somewhere below the water-line, quite forward in the keel. Impossible to find it, impossible to check it. They had a wound which they could not stanch. The water, however, was not rising very fast.

The chief called out: "We must work the pump!"

Galdeazun replied: "We have no pump left."

"Then," said the chief, "we must make for land."

"Where is the land?"

"I don't know."

"Nor I."

"But it must be somewhere."

"True enough."

"Let some one steer for it."