Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/360

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The master returning to his tent with the most acute sense of the various miseries they were involved in, was ready to expire with faintness and anguish; and placing himself so as to receive some refreshment from sleep, he observed an unusual air of intentness in the countenances of all the people; when, after some pause, Mr. Whitworth, a young gentleman, his mother's darling son, delicately educated, amidst so great an affluence as to despise common food, began in the name of the assembly to court the master's concurrence in converting the human carcass into the matter of their nourishment; and was immediately seconded by a great majority, three only opposing on account of their esteeming it a heinous sin.

This affair had been thus consulted and concluded upon in the master's absence, and the present method concerted of making it known by a gentleman reputed to be much in his favor. The master remained in his former posture, observing an invincible silence, while they were urging their desires with irresistible vehemence; for nothing that ever befell him from the day of his birth, not even the dread and distress of his soul upon quitting the wreck when he did not expect to live a minute, was so amazingly shocking as this unexpected proposal. But after a short interval, he maturely weighed all circumstances and pronounced in favor of the majority, arguing the improbability of its being a sin to eat human flesh in a case of such necessity, providing they were in no ways accessory to the taking away of life.


The body of the carpenter was their sustenance until a shallop, sailing out of Portsmouth, discovered the fragments of a tent among the rocks and snow of Boon Island and a few figures of men