LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS
came only thirty persons remained alive of the one hundred and fifty who had left the frigate. Occasional glimpses of reason prevailed, as when two soldiers were caught in the act of stealing wine from the only cask left, and were put to death after a summary courtmartial conducted with singular regard for form and ceremony.
Among those who mercifully passed out at the end of a week was the twelve-year-old sailor-boy, whose name was Leon. M. Savigny describes it so tenderly that the passage is worth quoting:
He died like a lamp which ceases to burn for want of aliment. All spoke in favor of this young and amiable creature who merited a better fate. His angelic form, his musical voice, the interest inspired by an age so infantile, increased still more by the courage he had shown and the services he had performed, (for he had already made a campaign in the East Indies), moved us all with the deepest pity for this young victim. Our old soldiers, and all the people in general, did everything they could to prolong his existence. Neither the wine of which they deprived themselves without regret, nor all the other means they employed, could arrest his melancholy doom.
He expired in the arms of his friend, M. Coudin, who had not ceased to give him the most unwearied attention. Whilst he had strength to move he ran incessantly from one side to the other, loudly calling for his mother, for water and for food. He trod upon the feet and legs of his wounded companions who in their turn uttered cries of anguish, but these were rarely mingled with threats