Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/96

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Another night came, and the crazed mutineers made an attack even more savage. It was not altogether impelled by the blind instinct of survival, for again they tried to tear the raft apart and destroy themselves with it. They were so many ravening beasts. Those who resisted them displayed many instances of brave and beautiful self-sacrifice. One of the loyal laborers was seized by four of the rebels, who were about to kill him, but Lavilette, formerly a sergeant of Napoleon's Old Guard, rushed in and subdued them with the butt of a carbine and so saved the victim of their rage.

A young lieutenant fell into the hands of these maniacs, and again there were volunteers to rush in against overwhelming numbers and effect a rescue, regardless of their grievous wounds. Bleeding and exhausted, M. Coudin had fallen upon a barrel, but he still held in his arms a twelve-year-old sailor-boy whom he was trying to shield from harm. The rebels tossed them both into the sea, but M. Coudin clung to the lad and insisted that he be placed upon the raft before he permitted himself to be helped.

During these periods of hideous combat among men who should have been brethren and comrades in tribulation, as many as sixty of them were drowned or died of their wounds. Only two of these belonged to the little party of finely tempered