Page:The Rambler in Mexico.djvu/232

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A DEATH AT SEA.

contempt of danger would cost him his life; that at that very moment, the seeds were sown of the fatal disease; and that, in the eyes of more than one experienced observer on board, he was already a doomed man. In common with many of the passengers, he suffered from seasickness during the first two or three days, but when they, one by one, recovered health and spirits, he continued very ill, and evidently grew worse instead of better. The bad habit of body in which he evidently was, accounted for this in some degree; but on the fourth day, a total prostration of strength, the horribly livid hue of his countenance, and other yet more certain symptoms of the vomito, began to excite more than ordinary interest and attention. The idea of having the horrible disease among us was repulsive, as you may imagine. Many denied the possibility, and for some time the matter was rather whispered than openly debated. The fifth day brought delirium and raving. No remedy suggested by the experience of those around him, no care, brought any alleviation. It was affecting to see at this time, when the nature of the dreadful malady which he had thus introduced, by fatal imprudence, into our floating prison became unquestionable, how all seemed to front the danger with firmness. There was no skulking and no murmuring; no shunning the sick man's couch when assistance was necessary. He had no intimate friend on board, and all seemed therefore to claim an equal right to do what could be done. De Pourtales in particular, who felt not only the tie of language with the sufferer, but the similarity of their ages and positions, was unremitting in his good offices.

The night between the seventh and eighth was a dreadful one. We were off the Campeachy Bank; and soon after dark a heavy squall with thunder and lightning came on.

The poor patient had been removed from below to one of the deck staterooms, both for a freer circulation of air, as well as to diminish the danger of infection. Pourtales, M'Euen, and myself, occupied the berths in his immediate proximity,