Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/82

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but in the confusion almost all the stores were thrown into the boats. M. Correard, geographical engineer attached to the expedition, had gallantly volunteered to take chances with his own men on the raft. He had kept his wits about him, and delayed to ask Captain de Chaumareys whether navigation instruments and charts had been provided for the raft. He was assured that a naval officer was attending to these essentials and would be in charge of the party. Forgetting his duty entirely, this faithless officer scrambled into one of the boats, and the raft was left without means of guidance.

There are cowards in all services, afloat and ashore, but they are seldom conspicuous. Among those who fled away in the boats was the gay Captain de Chaumareys, who oozed through a port-hole without delaying a moment. In this manner he disappeared from the narrative, the last glimpse of him as framed in the port-hole while his ship was still crowded with terrified castaways for whom there were no boats. He was a feather-brained poltroon who, by accident, happened to be a Frenchman.

There were intrepid men in the Medusa who bullied the others into helping make a raft. The best that they could do was to launch a pitiful contrivance of spars and planks held together by lashings. It was sixty-five feet long and twenty broad,