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THE WAGER MAN-OF-WAR

barge back to the wreck for more sail-cloth. Midshipman Byron found the company uncongenial, to put it mildly, and the venture seemed so confused and hazardous that he shifted into the barge to return to the island and resume existence in his little hut. The crew of the barge were of the same opinion and so they announced to Captain Cheap that they would take chances with him. Eight deserters came straggling out of the woods to join the party and there were, in all, twenty men to contrive a voyage of their own.

The most unruly lot had departed in the long-boat and the cutter, and mutiny no longer kept the island in a turmoil. Order was restored to the extent that a sailor was flogged and banished for stealing food, and the party sensibly toiled at the wreck until they salvaged several barrels of salt beef from the hold, and so recruited health and strength. They patched together the remnants of the yawl, and in this and the barge they put to sea to cruise to the northward in December, or more than half a year after the loss of the Wager. Misfortune beset them at every turn. It seemed as though their ship had been under a curse. A gale almost swamped the two boats as soon as they were clear of the island, and to keep afloat they had to throw overboard all their salt beef and seal meat. Most of the other