The Swiss Family Robinson

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Six Days in a Storm

WHEN one has a good tale to tell, he should try to be brief, and not say more than he can help ere he makes a fair start; so I shall not say a word of what took place on board the ship till we had been six days in a storm. The barque had gone far out of her true course, and no one on board knew where we were. The masts lay in splints on the deck, a leak in the side of the ship let more in than the crew could pump out, and each one felt that ere long he would find a grave in the deep sea, which sent its spray from side to side of what was now but a mere hulk.

"Come, boys," said I to my four sons, who were with me, "God can save us if it please Him so to do; but, if this is to be our last hour, let us bow to His will we shall at least go down side by side."

My dear wife could not hide the tears that fell down her cheeks as I thus spoke to my sons, but she was calm, and knelt down to pray, while the boys clung round her as if they thought she could help them.

Just then we heard a cry of "Land! land!" felt a shock, and it was clear that we had struck on a rock, for we heard a loud cry from one of the men, "We are lost! Launch the boat; try for your lives!"

I went at once on deck, and found that all the boats had been let down, and that the last of the crew had just left the ship. I cried out for the men to come back and take us with them, but it was in vain.

I then thought that our last chance was gone. Still, as I felt the ship did not sink, I went to the stern, and found, to my joy, that she was held up by a piece of rock on each side, and made fast like a wedge. At the same time I saw some trace of land, which lay to the south, and this made me go back with some hope that we had still a faint chance.

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