Wreck of the Golden Mary(金玛丽的遗骸)

Charles Dickens
I was apprenticed to the Sea when I was twelve years old, and I have
encountered a great deal of rough weather, both literal and metaphorical. It
has always been my opinion since I first possessed such a thing as an
opinion, that the man who knows only one subject is next tiresome to the
man who knows no subject. Therefore, in the course of my life I have
taught myself whatever I could, and although I am not an educated man, I
am able, I am thankful to say, to have an intelligent interest in most things.
A person might suppose, from reading the above, that I am in the habit
of holding forth about number one. That is not the case. Just as if I was to
come into a room among strangers, and must either be introduced or
introduce myself, so I have taken the liberty of passing these few remarks,
simply and plainly that it may be known who and what I am. I will add no
more of the sort than that my name is William George Ravender, that I
was born at Penrith half a year after my own father was drowned, and that
I am on the second day of this present blessed Christmas week of one
thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, fifty-six years of age.
When the rumour first went flying up and down that there was gold in
California--which, as most people know, was before it was discovered in
the British colony of Australia--I was in the West Indies, trading among
the Islands. Being in command and likewise part-owner of a smart
schooner, I had my work cut out for me, and I was doing it. Consequently,
gold in California was no business of mine.
But, by the time when I came home to England again, the thing was as
clear as your hand held up before you at noon-day. There was Californian
gold in the museums and in the goldsmiths' shops, and the very first time I
went upon 'Change, I met a friend of mine (a seafaring man like myself),
with a Californian nugget hanging to his watch-chain. I handled it. It was
as like a peeled walnut with bits unevenly broken off here and there, and
then electrotyped all over, as ever I saw anything in my life.
I am a single man (she was too good for this world and for me, and she
died six weeks before our marriage-day), so when I am ashore, I live in
my house at Poplar. My house at Poplar is taken care of and kept ship-

shape by an old lady who was my mother's maid before I was born. She is
as handsome and as upright as any old lady in the world. She is as fond of
me as if she had ever had an only son, and I was he. Well do I know
wherever I sail that she never lays down her head at night without having
said, "Merciful Lord! bless and preserve William George Ravender, and
send him safe home, through Christ our Saviour!" I have thought of it in
many a dangerous moment, when it has done me no harm, I am sure.
In my house at Poplar, along with this old lady, I lived quiet for best
part of a year: having had a long spell of it among the Islands, and having
(which was very uncommon in me) taken the fever rather badly. At last,
being strong and hearty, and having read every book I could lay hold of,
right out, I was walking down Leadenhall Street in the City of London,
thinking of turning-to again, when I met what I call Smithick and
Watersby of Liverpool. I chanced to lift up my eyes from looking in at a
ship's chronometer in a window, and I saw him bearing down upon me,
head on.
It is, personally, neither Smithick, nor Watersby, that I here mention,
nor was I ever acquainted with any man of either of those names, nor do I
think that there has been any one of either of those names in that Liverpool
House for years back. But, it is in reality the House itself that I refer to;
and a wiser merchant or a truer gentleman never stepped.
"My dear Captain Ravender," says he. "Of all the men on earth, I
wanted to see you most. I was on my way to you."
"Well!" says I. "That looks as if you WERE to see me, don't it?" With
that I put my arm in his, and we walked on towards the Royal Exchange,
and when we got there, walked up and down at the back of it where the
Clock-Tower is. We walked an hour and more, for he had much to say to
me. He had a scheme for chartering a new ship of their own to take out
cargo to the diggers and emigrants in California, and to buy and bring
back gold. Into the particulars of that scheme I will not enter, and I have
no right to enter. All I say of it is, that it was a very original one, a very
fine one, a very sound one, and a very lucrative one beyond doubt.
He imparted it to me as freely as if I had been a part of himself. After
doing so, he made me the handsomest sharing offer that ever was made to

me, boy or man--or I believe to any other captain in the Merchant Navy--
and he took this round turn to finish with:
"Ravender, you are well aware that the lawlessness of that coast and
country at present, is as special as the circumstances in which it is placed.
Crews of vessels outward-bound, desert as soon as they make the land;
crews of vessels homeward-bound, ship at enormous wages, with the
express intention of murdering the captain and seizing the gold freight; no
man can trust another, and the devil seems let loose. Now," says he, "you
know my opinion of you, and you know I am only expressing it, and with
no singularity, when I tell you that you are almost the only man on whose
integrity, discretion, and energy--" &c., &c. For, I don't want to repeat
what he said, though I was and am sensible of it.
Notwithstanding my being, as I have mentioned, quite ready for a
voyage, still I had some doubts of this voyage. Of course I knew, without
being told, that there were peculiar difficulties and dangers in it, a long
way over and above those which attend all voyages. It must not be
supposed that I was afraid to face them; but, in my opinion a man has no
manly motive or sustainment in his own breast for facing dangers, unless
he has well considered what they are, and is able quietly to say to himself,
"None of these perils can now take me by surprise; I shall know what to
do for the best in any of them; all the rest lies in the higher and greater
hands to which I humbly commit myself." On this principle I have so
attentively considered (regarding it as my duty) all the hazards I have ever
been able to think of, in the ordinary way of storm, shipwreck, and fire at
sea, that I hope I should be prepared to do, in any of those cases, whatever
could be done, to save the lives intrusted to my charge.
As I was thoughtful, my good friend proposed that he should leave me
to walk there as long as I liked, and that I should dine with him by-and-by
at his club in Pall Mall. I accepted the invitation and I walked up and
down there, quarter-deck fashion, a matter of a couple of hours; now and
then looking up at the weathercock as I might have looked up aloft; and
now and then taking a look into Cornhill, as I might have taken a look
over the side.
All dinner-time, and all after dinner-time, we talked it over again. I

gave him my views of his plan, and he very much approved of the same. I
told him I had nearly decided, but not quite. "Well, well," says he, "come
down to Liverpool to-morrow with me, and see the Golden Mary." I liked
the name (her name was Mary, and she was golden, if golden stands for
good), so I began to feel that it was almost done when I said I would go to
Liverpool. On the next morning but one we were on board the Golden
Mary. I might have known, from his asking me to come down and see her,
what she was. I declare her to have been the completest and most exquisite
Beauty that ever I set my eyes upon.
We had inspected every timber in her, and had come back to the
gangway to go ashore from the dock-basin, when I put out my hand to my
friend. "Touch upon it," says I, "and touch heartily. I take command of this
ship, and I am hers and yours, if I can get John Steadiman for my chief
John Steadiman had sailed with me four voyages. The first voyage
John was third mate out to China, and came home second. The other three
voyages he was my first officer. At this time of chartering the Golden
Mary, he was aged thirty-two. A brisk, bright, blue-eyed fellow, a very
neat figure and rather under the middle size, never out of the way and
never in it, a face that pleased everybody and that all children took to, a
habit of going about singing as cheerily as a blackbird, and a perfect sailor.
We were in one of those Liverpool hackney-coaches in less than a
minute, and we cruised about in her upwards of three hours, looking for
John. John had come home from Van Diemen's Land barely a month
before, and I had heard of him as taking a frisk in Liverpool. We asked
after him, among many other places, at the two boarding-houses he was
fondest of, and we found he had had a week's spell at each of them; but, he
had gone here and gone there, and had set off "to lay out on the main-to'-
gallant-yard of the highest Welsh mountain" (so he had told the people of
the house), and where he might be then, or when he might come back,
nobody could tell us. But it was surprising, to be sure, to see how every
face brightened the moment there was mention made of the name of Mr.
We were taken aback at meeting with no better luck, and we had wore

ship and put her head for my friends, when as we were jogging through
the streets, I clap my eyes on John himself coming out of a toyshop! He
was carrying a little boy, and conducting two uncommon pretty women to
their coach, and he told me afterwards that he had never in his life seen
one of the three before, but that he was so taken with them on looking in at
the toyshop while they were buying the child a cranky Noah's Ark, very
much down by the head, that he had gone in and asked the ladies'
permission to treat him to a tolerably correct Cutter there was in the
window, in order that such a handsome boy might not grow up with a
lubberly idea of naval architecture.
We stood off and on until the ladies' coachman began to give way, and
then we hailed John. On his coming aboard of us, I told him, very gravely,
what I had said to my friend. It struck him, as he said himself, amidships.
He was quite shaken by it. "Captain Ravender," were John Steadiman's
words, "such an opinion from you is true commendation, and I'll sail
round the world with you for twenty years if you hoist the signal, and
stand by you for ever!" And now indeed I felt that it was done, and that the
Golden Mary was afloat.
Grass never grew yet under the feet of Smithick and Watersby. The
riggers were out of that ship in a fortnight's time, and we had begun taking
in cargo. John was always aboard, seeing everything stowed with his own
eyes; and whenever I went aboard myself early or late, whether he was
below in the hold, or on deck at the hatchway, or overhauling his cabin,
nailing up pictures in it of the Blush Roses of England, the Blue Belles of
Scotland, and the female Shamrock of Ireland: of a certainty I heard John
singing like a blackbird.
We had room for twenty passengers. Our sailing advertisement was no
sooner out, than we might have taken these twenty times over. In entering
our men, I and John (both together) picked them, and we entered none but
good hands--as good as were to be found in that port. And so, in a good
ship of the best build, well owned, well arranged, well officered, well
manned, well found in all respects, we parted with our pilot at a quarter
past four o'clock in the afternoon of the seventh of March, one thousand
eight hundred and fifty-one, and stood with a fair wind out to sea.

It may be easily believed that up to that time I had had no leisure to be
intimate with my passengers. The most of them were then in their berths
sea-sick; however, in going among them, telling them what was good for
them, persuading them not to be there, but to come up on deck and feel the
breeze, and in rousing them with a joke, or a comfortable word, I made
acquaintance with them, perhaps, in a more friendly and confidential way
from the first, than I might have done at the cabin table.
Of my passengers, I need only particularise, just at present, a brighteyed blooming young wife who was going out to join her husband in
California, taking with her their only child, a little girl of three years old,
whom he had never seen; a sedate young woman in black, some five years
older (about thirty as I should say), who was going out to join a brother;
and an old gentleman, a good deal like a hawk if his eyes had been better
and not so red, who was always talking, morning, noon, and night, about
the gold discovery. But, whether he was making the voyage, thinking his
old arms could dig for gold, or whether his speculation was to buy it, or to
barter for it, or to cheat for it, or to snatch it anyhow from other people,
was his secret. He kept his secret.
These three and the child were the soonest well. The child was a most
engaging child, to be sure, and very fond of me: though I am bound to
admit that John Steadiman and I were borne on her pretty little books in
reverse order, and that he was captain there, and I was mate. It was
beautiful to watch her with John, and it was beautiful to watch John with
her. Few would have thought it possible, to see John playing at bo-peep
round the mast, that he was the man who had caught up an iron bar and
struck a Malay and a Maltese dead, as they were gliding with their knives
down the cabin stair aboard the barque Old England, when the captain lay
ill in his cot, off Saugar Point. But he was; and give him his back against a
bulwark, he would have done the same by half a dozen of them. The name
of the young mother was Mrs. Atherfield, the name of the young lady in
black was Miss Coleshaw, and the name of the old gentleman was Mr.
As the child had a quantity of shining fair hair, clustering in curls all
about her face, and as her name was Lucy, Steadiman gave her the name

of the Golden Lucy. So, we had the Golden Lucy and the Golden Mary;
and John kept up the idea to that extent as he and the child went playing
about the decks, that I believe she used to think the ship was alive
somehow--a sister or companion, going to the same place as herself. She
liked to be by the wheel, and in fine weather, I have often stood by the
man whose trick it was at the wheel, only to hear her, sitting near my feet,
talking to the ship. Never had a child such a doll before, I suppose; but she
made a doll of the Golden Mary, and used to dress her up by tying ribbons
and little bits of finery to the belaying-pins; and nobody ever moved them,
unless it was to save them from being blown away.
Of course I took charge of the two young women, and I called them
"my dear," and they never minded, knowing that whatever I said was said
in a fatherly and protecting spirit. I gave them their places on each side of
me at dinner, Mrs. Atherfield on my right and Miss Coleshaw on my left;
and I directed the unmarried lady to serve out the breakfast, and the
married lady to serve out the tea. Likewise I said to my black steward in
their presence, "Tom Snow, these two ladies are equally the mistresses of
this house, and do you obey their orders equally;" at which Tom laughed,
and they all laughed.
Old Mr. Rarx was not a pleasant man to look at, nor yet to talk to, or to
be with, for no one could help seeing that he was a sordid and selfish
character, and that he had warped further and further out of the straight
with time. Not but what he was on his best behaviour with us, as
everybody was; for we had no bickering among us, for'ard or aft. I only
mean to say, he was not the man one would have chosen for a messmate.
If choice there had been, one might even have gone a few points out of
one's course, to say, "No! Not him!" But, there was one curious
inconsistency in Mr. Rarx. That was, that he took an astonishing interest in
the child. He looked, and I may add, he was, one of the last of men to care
at all for a child, or to care much for any human creature. Still, he went so
far as to be habitually uneasy, if the child was long on deck, out of his
sight. He was always afraid of her falling overboard, or falling down a
hatchway, or of a block or what not coming down upon her from the
rigging in the working of the ship, or of her getting some hurt or other. He

used to look at her and touch her, as if she was something precious to him.
He was always solicitous about her not injuring her health, and constantly
entreated her mother to be careful of it. This was so much the more
curious, because the child did not like him, but used to shrink away from
him, and would not even put out her hand to him without coaxing from
others. I believe that every soul on board frequently noticed this, and not
one of us understood it. However, it was such a plain fact, that John
Steadiman said more than once when old Mr. Rarx was not within earshot,
that if the Golden Mary felt a tenderness for the dear old gentleman she
carried in her lap, she must be bitterly jealous of the Golden Lucy.
Before I go any further with this narrative, I will state that our ship
was a barque of three hundred tons, carrying a crew of eighteen men, a
second mate in addition to John, a carpenter, an armourer or smith, and
two apprentices (one a Scotch boy, poor little fellow). We had three boats;
the Long-boat, capable of carrying twenty-five men; the Cutter, capable of
carrying fifteen; and the Surf-boat, capable of carrying ten. I put down the
capacity of these boats according to the numbers they were really meant to
We had tastes of bad weather and head-winds, of course; but, on the
whole we had as fine a run as any reasonable man could expect, for sixty
days. I then began to enter two remarks in the ship's Log and in my
Journal; first, that there was an unusual and amazing quantity of ice;
second, that the nights were most wonderfully dark, in spite of the ice.
For five days and a half, it seemed quite useless and hopeless to alter
the ship's course so as to stand out of the way of this ice. I made what
southing I could; but, all that time, we were beset by it. Mrs. Atherfield
after standing by me on deck once, looking for some time in an awed
manner at the great bergs that surrounded us, said in a whisper, "O!
Captain Ravender, it looks as if the whole solid earth had changed into ice,
and broken up!" I said to her, laughing, "I don't wonder that it does, to
your inexperienced eyes, my dear." But I had never seen a twentieth part
of the quantity, and, in reality, I was pretty much of her opinion.
However, at two p.m. on the afternoon of the sixth day, that is to say,
when we were sixty-six days out, John Steadiman who had gone aloft,

sang out from the top, that the sea was clear ahead. Before four p.m. a
strong breeze springing up right astern, we were in open water at sunset.
The breeze then freshening into half a gale of wind, and the Golden Mary
being a very fast sailer, we went before the wind merrily, all night.
I had thought it impossible that it could be darker than it had been,
until the sun, moon, and stars should fall out of the Heavens, and Time
should be destroyed; but, it had been next to light, in comparison with
what it was now. The darkness was so profound, that looking into it was
painful and oppressive--like looking, without a ray of light, into a dense
black bandage put as close before the eyes as it could be, without touching
them. I doubled the look-out, and John and I stood in the bow side-by-side,
never leaving it all night. Yet I should no more have known that he was
near me when he was silent, without putting out my arm and touching him,
than I should if he had turned in and been fast asleep below. We were not
so much looking out, all of us, as listening to the utmost, both with our
eyes and ears.
Next day, I found that the mercury in the barometer, which had risen
steadily since we cleared the ice, remained steady. I had had very good
observations, with now and then the interruption of a day or so, since our
departure. I got the sun at noon, and found that we were in Lat. 58 degrees
S., Long. 60 degrees W., off New South Shetland; in the neighbourhood of
Cape Horn. We were sixty-seven days out, that day. The ship's reckoning
was accurately worked and made up. The ship did her duty admirably, all
on board were well, and all hands were as smart, efficient, and contented,
as it was possible to be.
When the night came on again as dark as before, it was the eighth
night I had been on deck. Nor had I taken more than a very little sleep in
the day-time, my station being always near the helm, and often at it, while
we were among the ice. Few but those who have tried it can imagine the
difficulty and pain of only keeping the eyes open--physically open--under
such circumstances, in such darkness. They get struck by the darkness, and
blinded by the darkness. They make patterns in it, and they flash in it, as if
they had gone out of your head to look at you. On the turn of midnight,
John Steadiman, who was alert and fresh (for I had always made him turn

in by day), said to me, "Captain Ravender, I entreat of you to go below. I
am sure you can hardly stand, and your voice is getting weak, sir. Go
below, and take a little rest. I'll call you if a block chafes." I said to John in
answer, "Well, well, John! Let us wait till the turn of one o'clock, before
we talk about that." I had just had one of the ship's lanterns held up, that I
might see how the night went by my watch, and it was then twenty
minutes after twelve.
At five minutes before one, John sang out to the boy to bring the
lantern again, and when I told him once more what the time was, entreated
and prayed of me to go below. "Captain Ravender," says he, "all's well; we
can't afford to have you laid up for a single hour; and I respectfully and
earnestly beg of you to go below." The end of it was, that I agreed to do so,
on the understanding that if I failed to come up of my own accord within
three hours, I was to be punctually called. Having settled that, I left John
in charge. But I called him to me once afterwards, to ask him a question. I
had been to look at the barometer, and had seen the mercury still perfectly
steady, and had come up the companion again to take a last look about me-
-if I can use such a word in reference to such darkness--when I thought
that the waves, as the Golden Mary parted them and shook them off, had a
hollow sound in them; something that I fancied was a rather unusual
reverberation. I was standing by the quarter-deck rail on the starboard side,
when I called John aft to me, and bade him listen. He did so with the
greatest attention. Turning to me he then said, "Rely upon it, Captain
Ravender, you have been without rest too long, and the novelty is only in
the state of your sense of hearing." I thought so too by that time, and I
think so now, though I can never know for absolute certain in this world,
whether it was or not.
When I left John Steadiman in charge, the ship was still going at a
great rate through the water. The wind still blew right astern. Though she
was making great way, she was under shortened sail, and had no more
than she could easily carry. All was snug, and nothing complained. There
was a pretty sea running, but not a very high sea neither, nor at all a
confused one.
I turned in, as we seamen say, all standing. The meaning of that is, I

did not pull my clothes off--no, not even so much as my coat: though I did
my shoes, for my feet were badly swelled with the deck. There was a little
swing-lamp alight in my cabin. I thought, as I looked at it before shutting
my eyes, that I was so tired of darkness, and troubled by darkness, that I
could have gone to sleep best in the midst of a million of flaming gaslights. That was the last thought I had before I went off, except the
prevailing thought that I should not be able to get to sleep at all.
I dreamed that I was back at Penrith again, and was trying to get round
the church, which had altered its shape very much since I last saw it, and
was cloven all down the middle of the steeple in a most singular manner.
Why I wanted to get round the church I don't know; but I was as anxious
to do it as if my life depended on it. Indeed, I believe it did in the dream.
For all that, I could not get round the church. I was still trying, when I
came against it with a violent shock, and was flung out of my cot against
the ship's side. Shrieks and a terrific outcry struck me far harder than the
bruising timbers, and amidst sounds of grinding and crashing, and a heavy
rushing and breaking of water--sounds I understood too well--I made my
way on deck. It was not an easy thing to do, for the ship heeled over
frightfully, and was beating in a furious manner.
I could not see the men as I went forward, but I could hear that they
were hauling in sail, in disorder. I had my trumpet in my hand, and, after
directing and encouraging them in this till it was done, I hailed first John
Steadiman, and then my second mate, Mr. William Rames. Both answered
clearly and steadily. Now, I had practised them and all my crew, as I have
ever made it a custom to practise all who sail with me, to take certain
stations and wait my orders, in case of any unexpected crisis. When my
voice was heard hailing, and their voices were heard answering, I was
aware, through all the noises of the ship and sea, and all the crying of the
passengers below, that there was a pause. "Are you ready, Rames?"-- "Ay,
ay, sir!"--"Then light up, for God's sake!" In a moment he and another
were burning blue-lights, and the ship and all on board seemed to be
enclosed in a mist of light, under a great black dome.
The light shone up so high that I could see the huge Iceberg upon
which we had struck, cloven at the top and down the middle, exactly like

Penrith Church in my dream. At the same moment I could see the watch
last relieved, crowding up and down on deck; I could see Mrs. Atherfield
and Miss Coleshaw thrown about on the top of the companion as they
struggled to bring the child up from below; I could see that the masts were
going with the shock and the beating of the ship; I could see the frightful
breach stove in on the starboard side, half the length of the vessel, and the
sheathing and timbers spirting up; I could see that the Cutter was disabled,
in a wreck of broken fragments; and I could see every eye turned upon me.
It is my belief that if there had been ten thousand eyes there, I should have
seen them all, with their different looks. And all this in a moment. But you
must consider what a moment.
I saw the men, as they looked at me, fall towards their appointed
stations, like good men and true. If she had not righted, they could have
done very little there or anywhere but die--not that it is little for a man to
die at his post--I mean they could have done nothing to save the
passengers and themselves. Happily, however, the violence of the shock
with which we had so determinedly borne down direct on that fatal
Iceberg, as if it had been our destination instead of our destruction, had so
smashed and pounded the ship that she got off in this same instant and
righted. I did not want the carpenter to tell me she was filling and going
down; I could see and hear that. I gave Rames the word to lower the Longboat and the Surf-boat, and I myself told off the men for each duty. Not
one hung back, or came before the other. I now whispered to John
Steadiman, "John, I stand at the gangway here, to see every soul on board
safe over the side. You shall have the next post of honour, and shall be the
last but one to leave the ship. Bring up the passengers, and range them
behind me; and put what provision and water you can got at, in the boats.
Cast your eye for'ard, John, and you'll see you have not a moment to lose."
My noble fellows got the boats over the side as orderly as I ever saw boats
lowered with any sea running, and, when they were launched, two or three
of the nearest men in them as they held on, rising and falling with the
swell, called out, looking up at me, "Captain Ravender, if anything goes
wrong with us, and you are saved, remember we stood by you!"--"We'll all
stand by one another ashore, yet, please God, my lads!" says I. "Hold on

bravely, and be tender with the women."
The women were an example to us. They trembled very much, but
they were quiet and perfectly collected. "Kiss me, Captain Ravender," says
Mrs. Atherfield, "and God in heaven bless you, you good man!" "My
dear," says I, "those words are better for me than a life-boat." I held her
child in my arms till she was in the boat, and then kissed the child and
handed her safe down. I now said to the people in her, "You have got your
freight, my lads, all but me, and I am not coming yet awhile. Pull away
from the ship, and keep off!"
That was the Long-boat. Old Mr. Rarx was one of her complement,
and he was the only passenger who had greatly misbehaved since the ship
struck. Others had been a little wild, which was not to be wondered at, and
not very blamable; but, he had made a lamentation and uproar which it
was dangerous for the people to hear, as there is always contagion in
weakness and selfishness. His incessant cry had been that he must not be
separated from the child, that he couldn't see the child, and that he and the
child must go together. He had even tried to wrest the child out of my arms,
that he might keep her in his. "Mr. Rarx," said I to him when it came to
that, "I have a loaded pistol in my pocket; and if you don't stand out of the
gang- way, and keep perfectly quiet, I shall shoot you through the heart, if
you have got one." Says he, "You won't do murder, Captain Ravender!"
"No, sir," says I, "I won't murder forty-four people to humour you, but I'll
shoot you to save them." After that he was quiet, and stood shivering a
little way off, until I named him to go over the side.
The Long-boat being cast off, the Surf-boat was soon filled. There
only remained aboard the Golden Mary, John Mullion the man who had
kept on burning the blue-lights (and who had lighted every new one at
every old one before it went out, as quietly as if he had been at an
illumination); John Steadiman; and myself. I hurried those two into the
Surf-boat, called to them to keep off, and waited with a grateful and
relieved heart for the Long-boat to come and take me in, if she could. I
looked at my watch, and it showed me, by the blue-light, ten minutes past
two. They lost no time. As soon as she was near enough, I swung myself
into her, and called to the men, "With a will, lads! She's reeling!" We were

not an inch too far out of the inner vortex of her going down, when, by the
blue-light which John Mullion still burnt in the bow of the Surf-boat, we
saw her lurch, and plunge to the bottom head-foremost. The child cried,
weeping wildly, "O the dear Golden Mary! O look at her! Save her! Save
the poor Golden Mary!" And then the light burnt out, and the black dome
seemed to come down upon us.
I suppose if we had all stood a-top of a mountain, and seen the whole
remainder of the world sink away from under us, we could hardly have felt
more shocked and solitary than we did when we knew we were alone on
the wide ocean, and that the beautiful ship in which most of us had been
securely asleep within half an hour was gone for ever. There was an awful
silence in our boat, and such a kind of palsy on the rowers and the man at
the rudder, that I felt they were scarcely keeping her before the sea. I
spoke out then, and said, "Let every one here thank the Lord for our
preservation!" All the voices answered (even the child's), "We thank the
Lord!" I then said the Lord's Prayer, and all hands said it after me with a
solemn murmuring. Then I gave the word "Cheerily, O men, Cheerily!"
and I felt that they were handling the boat again as a boat ought to be
The Surf-boat now burnt another blue-light to show us where they
were, and we made for her, and laid ourselves as nearly alongside of her as
we dared. I had always kept my boats with a coil or two of good stout stuff
in each of them, so both boats had a rope at hand. We made a shift, with
much labour and trouble, to got near enough to one another to divide the
blue-lights (they were no use after that night, for the sea-water soon got at
them), and to get a tow-rope out between us. All night long we kept
together, sometimes obliged to cast off the rope, and sometimes getting it
out again, and all of us wearying for the morning--which appeared so long
in coming that old Mr. Rarx screamed out, in spite of his fears of me, "The
world is drawing to an end, and the sun will never rise any more!"
When the day broke, I found that we were all huddled together in a
miserable manner. We were deep in the water; being, as I found on
mustering, thirty-one in number, or at least six too many. In the Surf-boat
they were fourteen in number, being at least four too many. The first thing

I did, was to get myself passed to the rudder--which I took from that time-
-and to get Mrs. Atherfield, her child, and Miss Coleshaw, passed on to sit
next me. As to old Mr. Rarx, I put him in the bow, as far from us as I could.
And I put some of the best men near us in order that if I should drop there
might be a skilful hand ready to take the helm.
The sea moderating as the sun came up, though the sky was cloudy
and wild, we spoke the other boat, to know what stores they had, and to
overhaul what we had. I had a compass in my pocket, a small telescope, a
double-barrelled pistol, a knife, and a fire-box and matches. Most of my
men had knives, and some had a little tobacco: some, a pipe as well. We
had a mug among us, and an iron spoon. As to provisions, there were in
my boat two bags of biscuit, one piece of raw beef, one piece of raw pork,
a bag of coffee, roasted but not ground (thrown in, I imagine, by mistake,
for something else), two small casks of water, and about half-a-gallon of
rum in a keg. The Surf-boat, having rather more rum than we, and fewer to
drink it, gave us, as I estimated, another quart into our keg. In return, we
gave them three double handfuls of coffee, tied up in a piece of a
handkerchief; they reported that they had aboard besides, a bag of biscuit,
a piece of beef, a small cask of water, a small box of lemons, and a Dutch
cheese. It took a long time to make these exchanges, and they were not
made without risk to both parties; the sea running quite high enough to
make our approaching near to one another very hazardous. In the bundle
with the coffee, I conveyed to John Steadiman (who had a ship's compass
with him), a paper written in pencil, and torn from my pocket-book,
containing the course I meant to steer, in the hope of making land, or
being picked up by some vessel--I say in the hope, though I had little hope
of either deliverance. I then sang out to him, so as all might hear, that if we
two boats could live or die together, we would; but, that if we should be
parted by the weather, and join company no more, they should have our
prayers and blessings, and we asked for theirs. We then gave them three
cheers, which they returned, and I saw the men's heads droop in both boats
as they fell to their oars again.
These arrangements had occupied the general attention advantageously
for all, though (as I expressed in the last sentence) they ended in a

sorrowful feeling. I now said a few words to my fellow-voyagers on the
subject of the small stock of food on which our lives depended if they
were preserved from the great deep, and on the rigid necessity of our eking
it out in the most frugal manner. One and all replied that whatever
allowance I thought best to lay down should be strictly kept to. We made a
pair of scales out of a thin scrap of iron-plating and some twine, and I got
together for weights such of the heaviest buttons among us as I calculated
made up some fraction over two ounces. This was the allowance of solid
food served out once a-day to each, from that time to the end; with the
addition of a coffee-berry, or sometimes half a one, when the weather was
very fair, for breakfast. We had nothing else whatever, but half a pint of
water each per day, and sometimes, when we were coldest and weakest, a
teaspoonful of rum each, served out as a dram. I know how learnedly it
can be shown that rum is poison, but I also know that in this case, as in all
similar cases I have ever read of--which are numerous--no words can
express the comfort and support derived from it. Nor have I the least doubt
that it saved the lives of far more than half our number. Having mentioned
half a pint of water as our daily allowance, I ought to observe that
sometimes we had less, and sometimes we had more; for much rain fell,
and we caught it in a canvas stretched for the purpose.
Thus, at that tempestuous time of the year, and in that tempestuous
part of the world, we shipwrecked people rose and fell with the waves. It
is not my intention to relate (if I can avoid it) such circumstances
appertaining to our doleful condition as have been better told in many
other narratives of the kind than I can be expected to tell them. I will only
note, in so many passing words, that day after day and night after night,
we received the sea upon our backs to prevent it from swamping the boat;
that one party was always kept baling, and that every hat and cap among
us soon got worn out, though patched up fifty times, as the only vessels we
had for that service; that another party lay down in the bottom of the boat,
while a third rowed; and that we were soon all in boils and blisters and
The other boat was a source of such anxious interest to all of us that I
used to wonder whether, if we were saved, the time could ever come when

the survivors in this boat of ours could be at all indifferent to the fortunes
of the survivors in that. We got out a tow-rope whenever the weather
permitted, but that did not often happen, and how we two parties kept
within the same horizon, as we did, He, who mercifully permitted it to be
so for our consolation, only knows. I never shall forget the looks with
which, when the morning light came, we used to gaze about us over the
stormy waters, for the other boat. We once parted company for seventytwo hours, and we believed them to have gone down, as they did us. The
joy on both sides when we came within view of one another again, had
something in a manner Divine in it; each was so forgetful of individual
suffering, in tears of delight and sympathy for the people in the other boat.
I have been wanting to get round to the individual or personal part of
my subject, as I call it, and the foregoing incident puts me in the right way.
The patience and good disposition aboard of us, was wonderful. I was not
surprised by it in the women; for all men born of women know what great
qualities they will show when men will fail; but, I own I was a little
surprised by it in some of the men. Among one-and-thirty people
assembled at the best of times, there will usually, I should say, be two or
three uncertain tempers. I knew that I had more than one rough temper
with me among my own people, for I had chosen those for the Long-boat
that I might have them under my eye. But, they softened under their
misery, and were as considerate of the ladies, and as compassionate of the
child, as the best among us, or among men--they could not have been
more so. I heard scarcely any complaining. The party lying down would
moan a good deal in their sleep, and I would often notice a man--not
always the same man, it is to be understood, but nearly all of them at one
time or other--sitting moaning at his oar, or in his place, as he looked
mistily over the sea. When it happened to be long before I could catch his
eye, he would go on moaning all the time in the dismallest manner; but,
when our looks met, he would brighten and leave off. I almost always got
the impression that he did not know what sound he had been making, but
that he thought he had been humming a tune.
Our sufferings from cold and wet were far greater than our sufferings
from hunger. We managed to keep the child warm; but, I doubt if any one

else among us ever was warm for five minutes together; and the shivering,
and the chattering of teeth, were sad to hear. The child cried a little at first
for her lost playfellow, the Golden Mary; but hardly ever whimpered
afterwards; and when the state of the weather made it possible, she used
now and then to be held up in the arms of some of us, to look over the sea
for John Steadiman's boat. I see the golden hair and the innocent face now,
between me and the driving clouds, like an angel going to fly away.
It had happened on the second day, towards night, that Mrs. Atherfield,
in getting Little Lucy to sleep, sang her a song. She had a soft, melodious
voice, and, when she had finished it, our people up and begged for another.
She sang them another, and after it had fallen dark ended with the Evening
Hymn. From that time, whenever anything could be heard above the sea
and wind, and while she had any voice left, nothing would serve the
people but that she should sing at sunset. She always did, and always
ended with the Evening Hymn. We mostly took up the last line, and shed
tears when it was done, but not miserably. We had a prayer night and
morning, also, when the weather allowed of it.
Twelve nights and eleven days we had been driving in the boat, when
old Mr. Rarx began to be delirious, and to cry out to me to throw the gold
overboard or it would sink us, and we should all be lost. For days past the
child had been declining, and that was the great cause of his wildness. He
had been over and over again shrieking out to me to give her all the
remaining meat, to give her all the remaining rum, to save her at any cost,
or we should all be ruined. At this time, she lay in her mother's arms at my
feet. One of her little hands was almost always creeping about her
mother's neck or chin. I had watched the wasting of the little hand, and I
knew it was nearly over.
The old man's cries were so discordant with the mother's love and
submission, that I called out to him in an angry voice, unless he held his
peace on the instant, I would order him to be knocked on the head and
thrown overboard. He was mute then, until the child died, very peacefully,
an hour afterwards: which was known to all in the boat by the mother's
breaking out into lamentations for the first time since the wreck--for, she
had great fortitude and constancy, though she was a little gentle woman.

Old Mr. Rarx then became quite ungovernable, tearing what rags he had
on him, raging in imprecations, and calling to me that if I had thrown the
gold overboard (always the gold with him!) I might have saved the child.
"And now," says he, in a terrible voice, "we shall founder, and all go to the
Devil, for our sins will sink us, when we have no innocent child to bear us
up!" We so discovered with amazement, that this old wretch had only
cared for the life of the pretty little creature dear to all of us, because of
the influence he superstitiously hoped she might have in preserving him!
Altogether it was too much for the smith or armourer, who was sitting next
the old man, to bear. He took him by the throat and rolled him under the
thwarts, where he lay still enough for hours afterwards.
All that thirteenth night, Miss Coleshaw, lying across my knees as I
kept the helm, comforted and supported the poor mother. Her child,
covered with a pea-jacket of mine, lay in her lap. It troubled me all night
to think that there was no Prayer-Book among us, and that I could
remember but very few of the exact words of the burial service. When I
stood up at broad day, all knew what was going to be done, and I noticed
that my poor fellows made the motion of uncovering their heads, though
their heads had been stark bare to the sky and sea for many a weary hour.
There was a long heavy swell on, but otherwise it was a fair morning, and
there were broad fields of sunlight on the waves in the east. I said no more
than this: "I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord. He raised the
daughter of Jairus the ruler, and said she was not dead but slept. He raised
the widow's son. He arose Himself, and was seen of many. He loved little
children, saying, Suffer them to come unto Me and rebuke them not, for of
such is the kingdom of heaven. In His name, my friends, and committed to
His merciful goodness!" With those words I laid my rough face softly on
the placid little forehead, and buried the Golden Lucy in the grave of the
Golden Mary.
Having had it on my mind to relate the end of this dear little child, I
have omitted something from its exact place, which I will supply here. It
will come quite as well here as anywhere else.
Foreseeing that if the boat lived through the stormy weather, the time
must come, and soon come, when we should have absolutely no morsel to

eat, I had one momentous point often in my thoughts. Although I had,
years before that, fully satisfied myself that the instances in which human
beings in the last distress have fed upon each other, are exceedingly few,
and have very seldom indeed (if ever) occurred when the people in distress,
however dreadful their extremity, have been accustomed to moderate
forbearance and restraint; I say, though I had long before quite satisfied
my mind on this topic, I felt doubtful whether there might not have been in
former cases some harm and danger from keeping it out of sight and
pretending not to think of it. I felt doubtful whether some minds, growing
weak with fasting and exposure and having such a terrific idea to dwell
upon in secret, might not magnify it until it got to have an awful attraction
about it. This was not a new thought of mine, for it had grown out of my
reading. However, it came over me stronger than it had ever done before--
as it had reason for doing-- in the boat, and on the fourth day I decided
that I would bring out into the light that unformed fear which must have
been more or less darkly in every brain among us. Therefore, as a means
of beguiling the time and inspiring hope, I gave them the best summary in
my power of Bligh's voyage of more than three thousand miles, in an open
boat, after the Mutiny of the Bounty, and of the wonderful preservation of
that boat's crew. They listened throughout with great interest, and I
concluded by telling them, that, in my opinion, the happiest circumstance
in the whole narrative was, that Bligh, who was no delicate man either,
had solemnly placed it on record therein that he was sure and certain that
under no conceivable circumstances whatever would that emaciated party,
who had gone through all the pains of famine, have preyed on one another.
I cannot describe the visible relief which this spread through the boat, and
how the tears stood in every eye. From that time I was as well convinced
as Bligh himself that there was no danger, and that this phantom, at any
rate, did not haunt us.
Now, it was a part of Bligh's experience that when the people in his
boat were most cast down, nothing did them so much good as hearing a
story told by one of their number. When I mentioned that, I saw that it
struck the general attention as much as it did my own, for I had not
thought of it until I came to it in my summary. This was on the day after

Mrs. Atherfield first sang to us. I proposed that, whenever the weather
would permit, we should have a story two hours after dinner (I always
issued the allowance I have mentioned at one o'clock, and called it by that
name), as well as our song at sunset. The proposal was received with a
cheerful satisfaction that warmed my heart within me; and I do not say too
much when I say that those two periods in the four-and-twenty hours were
expected with positive pleasure, and were really enjoyed by all hands.
Spectres as we soon were in our bodily wasting, our imaginations did not
perish like the gross flesh upon our bones. Music and Adventure, two of
the great gifts of Providence to mankind, could charm us long after that
was lost.
The wind was almost always against us after the second day; and for
many days together we could not nearly hold our own. We had all varieties
of bad weather. We had rain, hail, snow, wind, mist, thunder and lightning.
Still the boats lived through the heavy seas, and still we perishing people
rose and fell with the great waves.
Sixteen nights and fifteen days, twenty nights and nineteen days,
twenty-four nights and twenty-three days. So the time went on.
Disheartening as I knew that our progress, or want of progress, must be, I
never deceived them as to my calculations of it. In the first place, I felt
that we were all too near eternity for deceit; in the second place, I knew
that if I failed, or died, the man who followed me must have a knowledge
of the true state of things to begin upon. When I told them at noon, what I
reckoned we had made or lost, they generally received what I said in a
tranquil and resigned manner, and always gratefully towards me. It was
not unusual at any time of the day for some one to burst out weeping
loudly without any new cause; and, when the burst was over, to calm
down a little better than before. I had seen exactly the same thing in a
house of mourning.
During the whole of this time, old Mr. Rarx had had his fits of calling
out to me to throw the gold (always the gold!) overboard, and of heaping
violent reproaches upon me for not having saved the child; but now, the
food being all gone, and I having nothing left to serve out but a bit of
coffee-berry now and then, he began to be too weak to do this, and

consequently fell silent. Mrs. Atherfield and Miss Coleshaw generally lay,
each with an arm across one of my knees, and her head upon it. They
never complained at all. Up to the time of her child's death, Mrs.
Atherfield had bound up her own beautiful hair every day; and I took
particular notice that this was always before she sang her song at night,
when everyone looked at her. But she never did it after the loss of her
darling; and it would have been now all tangled with dirt and wet, but that
Miss Coleshaw was careful of it long after she was herself, and would



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