Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/392

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Inglefield of the Centaur, and, no matter how painful his moral conflict, it is obvious that his departure was attended with a kind of skulking ignominy. He ran away from his comrades to save his own skin and left them in the lurch. This is quixotic, perhaps, but are not all questions of honor more or less irrational? The captain's narrative makes no farther mention of the sinking Centaur. At five o'clock of a September afternoon in the North Atlantic, two hours of daylight remained even in thick and cloudy weather. The four hundred men aboard the ship could watch the pinnace as she scudded before the wind with a blanket stretched for a sail and her course laid for the Azores. I imagine they damned the soul of their captain in curses that were wrenched from the bottom of their hearts instead of extenuating his conduct and wishing him luck. And presumably Captain Inglefield turned to gaze at the foundering man-of-war with her people clustered on deck or busied with the pitifully futile rafts. Nobody knows how much longer the Centaur floated. The time must have been mercifully brief. When she went under, every man on board was drowned.

The captain expected sympathy, and you may offer him as much as you like when he relates of his voyage in the small boat: