In August the three boats had been made seaworthy enough to undertake an escape from the miseries of this hopeless island. Then, as usual, there arose confusion of purpose and violent disagreement. This ship's company could be trusted to start a row at the drop of the hat. As long as there was breath in them, they were sure to turn against one another. The majority proposed that they try for a passage homeward by way of the Strait of Magellan. Captain Cheap and hiswere for steering northward, capturing a Spanish vessel of some sort, and endeavoring to find the British squadron from which the Wager had become separated. He blustered about his authority, insisted that his word was law, and so on, until the high-handed majority grew tired of his noise and decided
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THE WAGER MAN-OF-WAR
he would be absent a whole day. At last he was unfortunately overset by a heavy sea when at a great distance from shore; but being near a rock, though no swimmer, he contrived to scramble to it. There he remained two days with little prospect of relief, as he was too far off the land to be visible. Luckily, however, one of the boats happened to go that way in quest of wild-fowl, discovered his signals, and rescued him from his forlorn condition. Yet he was so little discouraged by this accident that, soon after, he procured an ox's hide from the Indians and, by the assistance of hoops, fashioned something like a canoe in which he made several successful voyages.