Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/333

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months, during which the great majority of the younger officers and men of the Wager had been blotted out by privations which seemed beyond human endurance.

While the long-boat was standing along the coast, on this last stretch of the journey, there came a time when there was no food or water left. There was no small boat to send ashore, so nine of the strongest men offered to swim to the beach and see what they could find. Over they went, feeble as they were, and all reached shore except one marine, who had so little strength to spare that he sank like a stone. Those in the long-boat let several empty water-casks drift to the land and tied to them some muskets and ammunition wrapped in tarred canvas. A gale blew the long-boat out to sea and disabled her rudder. Tacking back with great difficulty, she found it impossible to lay to and bring off the eight men, and another cask was floated off to them, containing a letter of farewell, and more ammunition, and the boat made sail, and vanished to the northward.

The adventures of this little band of seamen, accidentally marooned in this manner, were most remarkable. They are almost unknown to history, although a century and more ago much was written about the Wager. The heroism and manliness of