Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/389

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murmur, or without a tear, seeing their efforts useless, many of them burst into tears and wept like children."

There were boats for only a few of the large company, and such rafts as could be hastily put together would not have survived an hour in the seas that still ran high and menacing. By way of doing something, however, the carpenter's gang swung out some spars and booms and began to lash them together. Captain Inglefield made mention of the behavior of the crew in this interesting reference.


Some appeared perfectly resigned, went to their hammocks and desired their messmates to lash them in; others were securing themselves to gratings and small rafts; but the most predominant idea was that of putting on their best and cleanest clothes.


This desire of making a decent appearance when in the presence of death is curiously frequent in the annals of the sea and may be called a characteristic trait of the sailor. At random two instances recur to mind. One of them happened aboard the United States frigate Essex in the War of 1812, when Captain David Porter fought his great fight against the Phoebe and the Cherub and won glory in defeat. The decks of the Essex were covered with dead and wounded, and more than half her crew had fallen when the starry ensign was hauled down.