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obeyed as cheerfully as they autumn-it was at this mocould every order of his, and ment that James, the " practisubmitted their suffering bodies tioner of the Mathematicks," and souls to his guidance. revealed his supreme qualities Their trust in him was as as a leader.
He resolved to steadfast as their simple faith set his feeble dying men to in God.
the tremendous task of digging Easter day, which fell on out and salving their foundered 1st April 1632, found the ship's ship! One cannot suppose that company still alive, though he had himself any hope of terribly reduced in vigour. Five success. To him as a matheof the men, of whom the car- matician the chances of the penter was one, could do noth- ship being seaworthy after she ing which demanded activity had been dug out must have outside the hut. The boatswain seemed infinitesimal.
For and many more were very months the ice within and infirm. Of all the rest there without the frail hulk had were but five who could eat squeezed and rent her timbers. their ordinary allowance of vic- While she was desperately being tuals. The sick men were not scuttled, James reckoned that failing from lack of food but the ship's bottom lifted and were starving from lack of beat upon the ground more vitamins. The pinnace “was than a hundred times. James in an indifferent forwardness," must have anticipated that and the carpenter, upon whose his Mary had sailed her last trained skill its construction voyage, and laid her shattered depended, grew worse and bones ashore for the last time. worse. The cold continued Yet he determined to set his intense. It was a melancholy men to work upon her, “notEaster celebration, and upon withstanding it was more labour any commander of less than and though we declined weaker James's indomitable spirit black still and weaker.” He saw that despair must have fallen. The he must give his people someprospect of completing a pin- thing to occupy their minds, nace and seeking their friends to tear them out of themselves, and homes once more-a faint so that while they were digging prospect which had tinted with out the ship they "might have colour the dark months of the time to thinke of some winter—was passing with the other course." And in this sick and dying carpenter. matter Captain James showed
It was at this moment, when that he was a psychologist as to summon his perishing officers well as a mathematician. and men from deadly melan- First, as a practical man he choly by setting them upon cast about and took stock of work which offered some hope the available tools. He had of ultimate rescue, was of even carefully stored away against greater urgency than in the emergencies an axe and a hat
chet, but tools for digging had for bilge water. By this time not come within his prevision. the salvage of the ship had Now when he wanted them he passed from a psychological found that he had nothing exercise to an urgent necesexcept four broken shovels and sity, for our Carpenter was two iron bars ; the rest had past hope, and therefore little been sunk with the ship. With hope had we for our Pinnasse.” these implements he got busy The first thing to do after clearing the ice and snow from the ice had been bundled out the inside of the ship, and of the ship was to board over piling it about her as some the holes drilled in her bottom
Barricadoe” when the frozen when she was sunk in the sea around began to break up. autumn. The pumps were then
The moment was well chosen, tested, first being thawed by for the weather began to im- continual streams of hot water. prove and the sun to give some It was perceived that as the cheerful warmth. As soon as ice broke and the water rose the wretched men saw solid around the ship under a northresults emerging from their erly wind there was no correlabours they brisked up won- sponding rise within. This did derfully. Luck, which had de- so encourage them that “they serted them, returned with both fell very lustily to digging." hands full-as it always does By the morning of the 27th when it has tried its uttermost of April one of the pumps had and found all efforts vain to been cleared, and the test conquer souls which are made upon which all their conquerable. They found an lives depended.
The pump anchor which had been lost drew, and the water cast forth beside the ship, and, most did appreciably lower the level vital of all, they found the within. This proved that the rudder which had been torn leaks which still remained could off and cast away. That rudder be controlled by the ship's came back to them as though pumps, and that she might from the direct hand of God. still be made to float. With Without it they could never the end of the month came have sailed their ship, and rain and the definite break-up they had no possible means of of the winter. The May Eve replacing it. And then, a in this most human story was little thing may be, they dis- celebrated as by men delivered interred a cask of beer, “which from the imminent prospect did rejoyce us all, especially of death far from those whom the sicke men, notwithstanding they loved. They made a that it did taste a little of good fire in the hut, bulge water.” One may doubt chose Ladies and did cereif the men, thirsting for beer moniously weare their names after five months of depriva- in our Caps, endeavouring to tion, had James's delicate palate revive ourselves by any means.”
In short, all, even those most It was so with James's men. sick, were in a “merry humour But this boon of the vetches with the return of hope that did not come soon enough to at last was real, and not feigned save the good carpenter. A as so many of James's own pessimist to the last, he despoken hopes had been.
clared his dis belief in the stanchThat great man Captain ness of the ship. He did James had now to put physical “earnestly argue to the constrength into his sick men. trary, alleging that now she He had foreseen that they lay on the ground in her would be at their weakest in Dock, and that the ice had the spring, at a time when filled her defects, and that the strength was most needed for ice was the thing that kept the effort of getting away, and out the water ; but when she had set aside Tun of should labour in the sea, then Alegant Wine." With this, doubtless she would open." though after being frozen the And there was much to favour wine had lost much of its the carpenter's dying warning, virtue, the sick were revived, for, as James adds, "we could and a weak beverage made- now see quite through her one part of wine to seven
betwixt wind and parts of water-for the regale- water." Before his death, which ment of those who still could occurred in May, the carpenter work. It was, as James re- had, despite his increasing weakmarks, little better than water, ness, brought the pinnace to a yet to his taste more palatable stage when she was ready to than beer flavoured with bilge. be bolted and fitted with tre
And now the Goddess For- nails, and would then need tune, who had become gracious only to receive her planking ; and bountiful, handed out to so that should his predictions this brave stout-hearted com- concerning the ship prove to pany of cripples another gift be well founded, the survivors as vital as was the discovery were not so discouraged by of that long-lost rudder. The his death as they might have warmth of the sun caused a been. They felt assured that crop of vetches to sprout up now, in emergency and failing near the hut, and so to supply the ship, they might still not the victims of scurvy with the lack competence to complete means by which they might the pinnace. speedily be cured. Scurvy is This famous pinnace—which a disease caused by the absence was in fact never completed, in diet of certain critical vita- and was left behind when the mins. Restore the supply of May sailed—was twenty-seven vitamins by fresh vegetables feet by the keel, ten feet which contain them, and men by the beam, and five feet in seemingly at the brink of death the hold. She had seventeen will recover as though by magic. ground timbers, thirty-four principal staddles, and eight sick crew were able to begin short staddles. The carpenter their convalescence. With the had contrived her with a round warm weather also came fish, stern to save labour, and, says and a relief from the salt proJames, “indeed, she was a visions which James himself and well-proportioned vessel.” Her his master alone of all the comburthen was twelve or four- pany could still eat with any teen tons. When we remember appetite. The power of mind that one sick craftsman, with over body is shown very notably no better tools than a damaged in the case of Captain James. axe and two or three hatchets, Upon him fell the whole responhad built her out of rough sibility for keeping his comtimber, cut from island trees pany alive in body and soul, during a Labrador winter, she of inspiring their efforts, and lives though never employed, cheering them in their disand always will live for so tresses. He foresaw everylong as men rate at their worth thing, and provided to his the products of the indomitable utmost capacity for everything. spirit of man. Inspired by the And all through he had no example of his captain, the time to be ill. He was as patient enduring James, this physically unconquerable as he humble carpenter had kept his was mentally and spiritually vow to labour upon her “to unconquerable. He saved the the uttermost," and his utter- lives of his men because he most was his death. It is of lived only for them and that no small significance that three they might be saved. Had he hundred years after this name- been a lesser man there would less carpenter struck his last be no story of the Mary and blow upon that unfinished pin- her pinnace, nothing but a nace one should be writing of heap of ice-worn bones on a her, and that others should be desolate island, and the scatreading and cherishing every tered timbers of a broken ship. bit of timber and every bolt There is little more to tell. which went to the fashioning The godsend of vetches—wild of her.
vetches planted by no human The last serious casualty late hand — restored the scurvyin May was the collapse of the stricken men so rapidly that boatswain, though not before in June they were chewing he, as enduring as his chief salt beef-men whose teeth and his colleague the carpenter, had been falling out a few had seen to the sails and rigging short weeks earlier, and whose and gear of the salved ship black rotting gums had had Mary, now afloat and riding to be cut away daily. The at her rescued anchor. It Mary defied all rules and progwas about this time that the nostications by insisting upon vetches thrust forth their wel- floating. James was prepared come green spikes, and the to cut her down and buoy her
with casks if he could have was as well that no man who gone to sea in no other way. had sailed aboard of her through The Mary floated; the survivors tempestuous seas had realised of the officers and crew, their what was under his feet. It strength restored, tidied her was found
th all her Cutand rigged her and made "a water and Sterne were torne priddy ship ” of her so success- and beaten away, together with fully that by the last day of fourteene foote of her Keele, June she was ready to leave much of her sheathing cut the island, where she had lain away, her bows broken and since the previous November. bruised, and many tim bers On 2nd July, with flags flying cracked within boord. And —the ship's ensign on the under the Starboord bulge a poop and the king's colour at sharp Rocke had cut thorow the main—James set sail, and the sheathing, the planke, and after a voyage perilous indeed, an inch and a half into a timber though not more perilous than that it met withall. Many was every venture in Northern other defects there were bewaters in those days, reached sides, so that it was miraculous Bristol safely on the 22nd Octo- how this vessell could bring us ber. The wonder-ship which home againe.” And what was had brought the company home, even more miraculous was that in defiance of all reasonable such a vessel should have found probabilities, was hauled up on such a man to salve and sail dry ground and examined. It her home.