The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 64

sprung. To make room for more stowage in the afterhold, the
heel of this mast had been stepped between decks (a very reprehensible
practice, occasionally resorted to by ignorant ship-builders), so that
it was in imminent danger of working from its step. But, to crown all
our difficulties, we plummed the well, and found no less than seven feet
of water.

Leaving the bodies of the crew lying in the cabin, we got to work
immediately at the pumps--Parker, of course, being set at liberty to
assist us in the labour. Augustus’s arm was bound up as well as we could
effect it, and he did what he could, but that was not much. However, we
found that we could just manage to keep the leak from gaining upon us
by having one pump constantly going. As there were only four of us, this
was severe labour; but we endeavoured to keep up our spirits, and looked
anxiously for daybreak, when we hoped to lighten the brig by cutting
away the mainmast.

In this manner we passed a night of terrible anxiety and fatigue, and,
when the day at length broke, the gale had neither abated in the least,
nor were there any signs of its abating. We now dragged the bodies
on deck and threw them overboard. Our next care was to get rid of the
mainmast. The necessary preparations having been made, Peters cut away
at the mast (having found axes in the cabin), while the rest of us stood
by the stays and lanyards. As the brig gave a tremendous lee-lurch, the
word was given to cut away the weather-lanyards, which being done, the
whole mass of wood and rigging plunged into the sea, clear of the brig,
and without doing any material injury. We now found that the vessel
did not labour quite as much as before, but our situation was still
exceedingly precarious, and in spite of the utmost exertions, we
could not gain upon the leak without the aid of both pumps. The
little assistance which Augustus could render us was not really of any
importance. To add to our distress, a heavy sea, striking the brig to
the windward, threw her off several points from the wind, and, before
she could regain her position, another broke completely over her, and
hurled her full upon her beam-ends. The ballast now shifted in a mass
to leeward (the stowage had been knocking about perfectly at random for
some time), and for a few moments we thought nothing could save us from
capsizing. Presently, however, we partially righted; but the ballast

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