fifty Indians, men, women, and children, found the camp and built wigwams, evidently intending to settle for a while and do some trading. Their canoes were filled with seal, shell-fish, and live sheep, and the visitation was immensely valuable to the castaways; but some of the ruffianly sailors insulted the women, and the indignant Patagonians soon packed up and departed, bag and baggage. As a result, the ravages of famine became so severe that the muster-roll was reduced to a hundred men. This meant that a third of the survivors of the wreck were already dead.
Throughout the whole story of suffering, mutiny, and demoralization the deeds of those who bravely and unflinchingly endured seemed to gleam like stars against a somber background. You will find frequent mention of Midshipman Byron, a lad in his teens, who was the real hero of the Wager, although he never realized it. He achieved nothing spectacular in a way, but he always tried to do his duty and something more. The British midshipman of that era was often a mere rosy-cheeked infant who pranced into the thick of a boarding-party with his cutlass and dirk or bullied a boat's crew of old salts in some desperate adventure on an enemy's coast. The precocious breed survives in the Royal Navy of to-day, and in the great battle-