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Part 4 Chapter 8

In which Mrs. Heartfree Continues the Relation of Her Adventures.

The first evening after we were aboard this vessel, which was a brigantine, we being then at no very great distance from the Madeiras, the most violent storm arose from the northwest, in which we presently lost both our masts; and indeed death now presented itself as inevitable to us: I need not tell my Tommy what were then my thoughts. Our danger was so great that the captain of the ship, a professed atheist, betook himself to prayers, and the whole crew, abandoning themselves for lost, fell with the utmost eagerness to the emptying a cask of brandy, not one drop of which they swore should be polluted with salt water. I observed here my old friend displayed less courage than I expected from him. He seemed entirely swallowed up in despair. But Heaven be praised! we were all at last preserved. The storm, after above eleven hours’ continuance, began to abate, and by degrees entirely ceased, but left us still rolling at the mercy of the waves, which carried us at their own pleasure to the south-east a vast number of leagues. Our crew were all dead drunk with the brandy which they had taken such care to preserve from the sea; but, indeed, had they been awake, their labour would have been of very little service, as we had lost all our rigging, our brigantine being reduced to a naked hulk only. In this condition we floated above thirty hours, till in the midst of a very dark night we spied a light, which seeming to approach us, grew so large that our sailors concluded it to be the lantern of a man of war; but when we were cheering ourselves with the hopes of our deliverance from this wretched situation, on a sudden, to our great concern, the light entirely disappeared, and left us in despair encreased by the remembrance of those pleasing imaginations with which we had entertained our minds during its appearance. The rest of the night we passed in melancholy conjectures on the light which had deserted us, which the major part of the sailors concluded to be a meteor. In this distress we had one comfort, which was a plentiful store of provisions; this so supported the spirits of the sailors, that they declared had they but a sufficient quantity of brandy they cared not whether they saw land for a month to come; but indeed we were much nearer it than we imagined, as we perceived at break of day. One of the most knowing of the crew declared we were near the continent of Africa; but when we were within three leagues of it a second violent storm arose from the north, so that we again gave over all hopes of safety. This storm was not quite so outrageous as the former, but of much longer continuance, for it lasted near three days, and drove us an immense number of leagues to the south. We were within a league of the shore, expecting every moment our ship to be dashed in pieces, when the tempest ceased all on a sudden; but the waves still continued to roll like mountains, and before the sea recovered its calm motion, our ship was thrown so near the land, that the captain ordered out his boat, declaring he had scarce any hopes of saving her; and indeed we had not quitted her many minutes before we saw the justice of his apprehensions, for she struck against a rock and immediately sunk. The behaviour of the sailors on this occasion very much affected me; they beheld their ship perish with the tenderness of a lover or a parent; they spoke of her as the fondest husband would of his wife; and many of them, who seemed to have no tears in their composition, shed them plentifully at her sinking. The captain himself cried out, ‘Go thy way, charming Molly, the sea never devour............

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