Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/390

This page needs to be proofread.
346
LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

Then, as one of them told it when he returned home:

"After the engagement, Benjamin Hazen, having dressed himself in a clean shirt and jerkin, told what messmates of his that were left that he could never submit to be taken as a prisoner by the English and leaped into the sea where he was drowned."

More than a hundred years later, in the Great War against Germany, an American yacht enrolled in the naval service was hunting submarines and convoying transports in the Bay of Biscay when a hurricane almost tore her to pieces. Deck-houses smashed) hold full of water, the yacht was not expected to survive the night. Then it was that a boatswain's mate related:

 

A guy of my division appeared on deck all dressed up in his liberty blues. The bos'n's-mate asked him what he meant by turning out all dolled up like that. "Why, Jack," answered this cheerful gob, "I have a date with a mermaid in Davy Jones' locker."

 

Captain Inglefield of the Centaur was about to make one of those momentous decisions which now and then confront a man as he stands at the crossroads of destiny. When he prepared his own case and submitted his defense, in the narrative written after his return to England, he stated it with a certain unconscious art which deserves to be quoted as follows: