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THE FRIGATE MEDUSA

had been lost or spoiled by the breaking up of the ship.

It was understood that the raft, with its burden of one hundred and fifty souls, was to be taken in tow by the five boats strung in a line, and this flotilla would make for the nearest coast, which might have been reached in two or three days of favoring weather. After a few hours of slow, but encouraging, progress, the tow-line of the captain's boat parted. Instead of making fast to the raft again, all the other boats cast off their cables and, under sail and oar, set off to the eastward to save themselves. The miserable people who beheld this desertion denounced it as an act of cruelty and perfidy beyond belief. It may have been in the captain's mind to make haste and send a vessel to pick up the castaways, but his previous behavior had been such that he scarcely deserves the benefit of the doubt.

On the makeshift raft there were those who knew how to die like Frenchmen and gentlemen. What they endured has been handed down to us in the personal accounts of M. Correard and M. Savigny, colonial officials who wrote with that touch, vivid and dramatic, which is the gift of many of their race. Even in translation it is profoundly moving. When they saw the boats forsake them and vanish