Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/88

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at the edge of the azure horizon, a stupor fell upon these unfortunate people as they clung to one another with arms locked and bodies pressed together so that they might not be washed off the raft.

A small group in whom nobility of character burned like an unquenchable flame assumed the leadership, attempting to maintain some sort of discipline and decency, to ration the precious wine, to make the raft more seaworthy. One of the artisans had a pocket compass, which he displayed amid shouts of joy, but it slipped from his fingers and was lost. They had no chart or any other resource of the kind.


"The first day passed in a manner sufficiently tranquil. We talked of the means by which we would save ourselves; we spoke of it as a certain circumstance, which reanimated our courage; and we sustained that of the soldiers by cherishing in them the hope of being able, in a short time, to revenge themselves on those who had abandoned them. . . . In the evening our hearts and our prayers, by a feeling natural to the unfortunate, were turned toward Heaven. Surrounded by inevitable dangers, we addressed that invisible Being who has established the order of the universe. Our vows were fervent and we experienced from our prayers the cheering influence of hope. It is necessary to have been in similar circumstances before one can rightly imagine what a solace to the hearts of the sufferers is the sublime idea of a God protecting the afflicted."