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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/183

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THE HIGHEST RESOURCE.

Under these signatures the doctor added a note: "Of the crew of three men, the captain having been washed overboard by a sea, but two remain, and they have signed."

The two sailors affixed their names underneath the note. The northern Basque signed himself, "Galdeazun." The southern Basque signed, "Ave Maria: Thief."

Then the doctor said: "Capgaroupe."

"Here," said the Proven├žal.

"Have you Hardquanonne's flask?"

"Yes."

"Give it me."

Capgaroupe drank off the last mouthful of brandy, and handed the flask to the doctor.

The water was rising in the hold; the wreck was sinking deeper into the sea. The sloping edges of the ship were covered by a thin wave, which was rising. All were crowded on the centre of the deck.

The doctor dried the ink on the signatures by the flame of the torch, and folding the parchment into a narrower compass than the diameter of the neck, put it into the flask, and called for the cork.

"I don't know where it is," said Capgaroupe.

"Here is a piece of rope," said Jacques Quartourze.

The doctor corked the flask with a bit of rope, and asked for some tar. Galdeazun went forward, extinguished the signal-light, took the vessel which had held it from the stern, and brought it, half full of burning pitch, to the doctor. The flask containing the parchment which they had all signed was carefully corked and tarred over.

"It is done," said the doctor.

And from every mouth, faltered in every language, came as if from the tomb such dismal utterances as:

"Ainsi soit-il!"