Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/302

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disabled by a fall on deck which dislocated his shoulder, and confined him to his cabin. The officers were better off without him. On the morning of May 13, 1740, the carpenter's keen eyesight discerned the lift of land through a rift in the cloudy weather, but the others disagreed with him until they saw a gloomy peak of the Cordilleras. The ship was driving bodily toward the land, and the utmost exertions were made to crowd her off-shore; but the sails split in the heavy gale, and so few men were fit for duty that there were no more than three or four active seamen to a watch.

In darkness next morning the Wager struck a sunken rock, and her ancient timbers collapsed. She split open like a pumpkin, rolled on her beam-ends, and lodged against other projections of the reef, with the seas boiling clean over her. Then a mountainous billow or two lifted her clear, and she went reeling inshore, sinking as she ran. Several of the sick men were drowned in their hammocks, and others scrambled on deck to display miraculous recoveries. Because the commander of the ship was worthless and disabled besides, the discipline of the ship in this crisis was abominable. The brave men rallied together as by instinct, and tried to hammer courage and obedience into the frenzied mob. The