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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/174

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THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

were holes in the bottoms of others, and the buckets emptied themselves on the way. The difference in quantity between the water which was making its way in and that which they returned to the sea was ludicrous; for a hogshead that entered, a glassful was baled out; so they did not improve their condition. It was like a miser trying to spend a million, half-penny by half-penny.

The chief said, "Let us lighten the wreck."

During the storm they had lashed together the few chests which were on deck. These remained tied to the stump of the mast. They undid the lashings, and rolled the chests overboard through a breach in the gunwale. One of these trunks belonged to the Basque woman, who could not repress a groan as she saw it going, exclaiming.—

"Oh, my new cloak lined with scarlet! Oh, my poor open-work stockings! Oh, my silver earrings to wear at Mass on May-day!"

The deck cleared, the cabin had next to be seen to. It was greatly encumbered, as the reader may remember, by the luggage belonging to the passengers, and by the bales belonging to the sailors. They took the luggage, and threw it over the gunwale. They carried up the bales, and cast them into the sea. The lantern, the barrels, the sacks of provisions, the bales, and the water-butts, even the pot of soup,—all went over into the waves. They unscrewed the nuts of the iron stove, in which the fire had long since gone out, hoisted it on deck, dragged it to the side of the vessel, and threw it overboard. They cast overboard everything they could pull out of the deck,—chains, shrouds, and torn rigging.

From time to time the chief took a torch, and throwing its light on the figures painted on the prow looked to see how much the wreck had settled down.