Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/89

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THE FRIGATE MEDUSA
 

Such were the reflections of a little group of devout and high-minded Frenchmen whose example helped to steady the rest of the castaways in the early hours of their ordeal. During the first night the wind increased, and the sea became so boisterous that the waves gushed and roared across the raft, most of which was three feet under water. A few ropes were stretched for the people to cling to, but they were washed to and fro, and many were caught and killed or cruelly hurt between the grinding timbers. Others were swept into the sea. Twenty of the company had perished before dawn. Two ship's boys and a baker, after bidding farewell to their comrades, threw themselves into the ocean as the easier end. A survivor wrote:

 

"During the whole of this night we struggled against death, holding ourselves closely to those spars which were firmly bound together; tossed by the waves from one end to the other, and sometimes precipitated into the sea; floating between life and death, mourning over our misfortunes, certain of perishing, yet contending for the remainder of existence with that cruel element which had determined to swallow us up. Such was our situation till break of day."

 

Already the minds of some of the castaways were affected. When the day came clear and beautiful, they saw visions of ships, of green shores, of loved