Friday, 8 January 2016


  A raging gale had been roaring ruthlessly, tossing our frigate against the choppy grey waters of the Bay of Biscay, rain soaking through our clothes on the waterlogged deck.
  The lookout shouted and waved his arms frantically, signalling the arrival of a boat to starboard. I rushed to the railings and saw a small vessel propelled by oars in the hands of four drenched men struggling to keep from capsizing. The boat leapt on the waves before finally drawing up alongside H.M.S Princess Helena. I hailed it in and signalled for help. The men who rushed to my side helped me pull up the thick, wiry rope that gashed our numbed fingers.
  The first three men climbed up, but the forth older and heavier occupant slipped down, unable to grasp the ladder. I slid down to the boat and pulled up the large, limp body of the worn-out mariner, who looked as if his days at sea had been too many, and his present plight too exhausting to live through the ordeal. He coughed and retched before collapsing onto the deck.

"Take the captain down to the surgeon, now!"

My order was obeyed instantly, and the near cadaver disappeared from our sight.

"We're dangerously close to the waterline!" shouted Blains.

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