Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/388

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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

sibly the clattering beat of the chain pumps of the Centaur were timed to the chorus of "Blow High, Blow Low," and the gloomy, reeking main-deck echoed the verses:

 

"And on that night when all the crew.
The memory of their former lives
O'er flowing cans of flip renew.
And drink their sweethearts and their wives,
I 'll heave a sigh and think on thee:
And, as the ship rolls through the sea,
The burden of my song shall be
Blow high, blow low, let tempests tear
The mainmast by the board."

The Centaur was left on a lonely sea after the assistance of the crippled merchantmen had been courteously declined and the Ville de Paris had so unaccountably sailed past. At night the flashes of guns were seen, the farewell messages of foundering ships, but through the long day there was never a sight of a sail. The Centaur settled deeper and deeper until her lower decks were awash and it was foolish to pump and bale any longer. What was the use of trying to lift the Atlantic Ocean out of a ship that refused to stay afloat? It was not so much the fear of death as the realization of defeat that caused such a scene as this:

"The people who, till this period, had labored as determined to conquer their difficulties, without a