Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/331

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The long-boat, still overcrowded to a degree that meant incredible discomfort and danger, blundered on her course, with only the sun and stars for guidance. A little flour and some other stores had been taken from the wreck, and now occurred a curious manifestation of human selfishness, of the struggle for survival reduced to the lowest terms. The officers had endeavored to ration the food, share and share alike, but the ugly temper of the men made such prudent precautions impossible, and some obtained more provisions than others. The situation was described by one of them in these words:

The people on board began to barter their allowance of provisions for other articles. Flour was valued at twelve shillings a pound, but, before night, it rose to a guinea. Some were now absolutely starving for want—and the day following, George Bateman, a lad of sixteen, expired, being reduced to a perfect skeleton. On the 19th, Thomas Capell, aged twelve years, son of the late Lieutenant Capell, died of want. A person on board had above twenty guineas of his money, along with a watch and a silver cup. The latter the boy wished to sell for flour; but his guardian told him it would buy clothes for him in the Brazils.

"Sir," cried the miserable youth, "I shall never live to see the Brazils, I am now starving—almost starved to death; therefore give me my silver cup, for God's sake, to get me some victuals, or buy some for me yourself."

But all his prayers and entreaties were vain, and Heaven sent death to his relief. Those who have not ex-