Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/260

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lant old steam frigates Vandalia, Trenton, and Nipsic faced destruction of the Stars and Stripes gallantly streaming and the crews cheering the luckier British ship that was able to fight its way out to sea.

The hapless Phoenix endured it tenaciously, but the odds were too great for her. When she tried to rise and shake her decks free of the gigantic combers, they smashed her with incessant blows. The stout sails were flying out of the gaskets that bound them to the yards. The staunch wooden hull was opening like a basket. The ship was literally being pounded to pieces. Sir Hyde Parker, lashed near the kicking wheel, where four brawny quartermasters sweated as they endeavored to steer the dying frigate, was heard to shout:

"My God! To think that the wind could have such force!"

There was a terrific racket below decks, and fearing that one of the guns might have broken adrift from its tackles, Lieutenant Archer clambered into the gloomy depths, where a marine officer hailed him, announcing:

"Mr. Archer, we are sinking. The water is up to the bottom of my cot. All the cabins are awash and the people flooded out."

"Pooh! pooh!" was the cheery answer, "as long