Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/28

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and every finger a fish-hook." They even managed to find an ax and grope their way to the shrouds in the faint hope that the brig might right if the masts went overside. They hacked away, and came up to breathe now and then, until foremast and mainmast fell with a crash, and the wreck rolled level. Then they slashed with their knives at the tangle of spars and ropes until they drifted clear. As the waves rush across a half-tide rock, so they broke over the shattered brig, but she no longer wallowed on her side.

At last the stormy daylight broke. The mariners had survived, and they looked to find their two passengers, who had no other refuge than the cabin. Mr. Hunt was gone, blotted out with his affairs and his ambitions, whatever they were. The colored child they had vainly tried to find in the night. When the sea boiled into the cabin and filled it, she had climbed to the skylight in the roof, and there she clung like a bat. They hauled her out through a splintered gap, and sought tenderly to shelter her in a corner of the streaming deck, but she lived no more than a few hours. It was better that this bit of human flotsam should flutter out in this way than to linger a little longer in this forlorn derelict of a ship. The Polly could not sink, but she drifted as a mere bundle of boards with the ocean winds and