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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/179

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CHAPTER XVIII.


THE HIGHEST RESOURCE.


THE wreck being lightened was sinking more slowly, but none the less surely. The hopelessness of their situation was without mitigation; they had exhausted their last resource.

"Is there anything else we can throw overboard?" asked one.

The doctor, whom every one had forgotten, rose from the companion-way and answered: "Yes."

"What?" asked the chief.

"Our crime," replied the doctor.

They shuddered, and all cried out: "Amen."

The doctor standing up, pale as death, raised his hand to heaven, saying: "Kneel down."

They all prepared to kneel.

The doctor went on. "Let us throw our crimes into the sea, they weigh us down; it is they that are sinking the ship. Let us cease to think of safety; let us think only of salvation. Our last crime,—the crime which we committed, or rather completed, just now,—O wretched beings who are listening to me, it is that which is overwhelming us! For those who leave intended murder behind them, it is the height of audacity to tempt the mighty deep. He who sins against a child, sins against God. True, we were obliged to put to sea, but it was certain perdition. The storm, warned by the shadow of our crime, came upon us. It is well.