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Page 13 - The Wreck of the "Auguste", 1761

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1 (403 reads)

then to tell the passengers of the desper? ate but inevitable decision that the cap? tain and mate had taken. There was nothing else to be done; our fate was decreed, and only the hand of Providence could save us. I told my brother of our sad lot. Then I went below and told the passengers of both sexes of the danger that threatened, of the decision of those in command, of the crew's utter despair .... Already the ship was drifting towards the shore .... What prayers went up to God! What promises and vows! Vows and promises, alas, that were all in vain! The fatal moment came on apace All our efforts went to reach the mouth of the navigable river, each of us expecting every moment to be his last. Who could des? cribe the violence of the waves in the in? stant that we struck! Time after time the tips of the masts seemed to rake the very clouds, and time after time we thought our? selves swallowed in the abyss. Once groimded, our first care was to cut a- way the masts and rigging from the down side of the ship. We got this done, but the violence of the waves threw her on her beam ends. We were roughly between 120 and 150 feet from land; and on a sandy bar that completely shut off the entrance to the little river! The ship was so damaged that she was half under, and passengers of both sexes had to clamber up to the bridge. Some, driven witless by the danger they were in, and thinking they could make it safely to shore, threw themselves into the water, and so perished. The rest took up positions near us, clinging to shrouds and back-stays, and tried to hold on against the waves that rolled over us, one hard upon the other. Several were swept away, and this was not to be wondered at in men so completely done in. We still had the two ship's boats • our last resort. But this ray of hope, having sus? tained us amid the violence of the waves, was soon extinguished, for the larger of the two boats was swept away by the waves and smashed to fragments. At the same in? stant the smaller boat was thrown into the water. A servant of Mr. Laveranderie by the name of Etienne instantly threw himself into the boat; the captain and some others followed. I saw what was going on when one of my chil? dren that I held in my arms, and young Hen? ry, who was fastened to my belt, cried out: "Save us, save us! The boat is in the wa? ter." Without an instant's hesitation I grabbed a rope and slid down to a near-by opening: then, with a violent effort, I threw myself clear and fell by good fortune into the boat. In so doing I lost my son and little Henry, for they were not strong enough to follow me. Though we.were in the lee of the ship, a wave filled the boat al? most to the top; a second carried us away from the ship. I had the presence of mind to climb up on the edge of the boat, and in an instant a third wave threw me up on the beach. It would be difficult to do justice to the horror of my situation: the cries of those who remained on the vessel; the futile ef? forts of those who, hoping to save their lives, threw themselves into the sea; the cold and drenching rain; the certainty that I had lost my children. Those who, like myself, had been thrown ashore were in a fainting condition, prostrate from ex? haustion on an unknown shore. The captain, stretched out on the beach, was the first I tried to help. I managed to get some water out of him and give him some relief; but he was out of his head and seemed to have difficulty in getting back " to normal. I did my best to help some of the others and had good success, but I had to work slowly and painfully for my own strength was almost gone. Alive on the shore were only seven of us: the captain; Laforet, corporal in the Roussilon regiment; Monier, a corporal from Beam; Etienne, a servant; Pierre, a servant; Laforce, a dis? charged soldier; and myself. Anxious not to lose sight of the vessel, I gave my powser horn, ramrod and flint • ar? ticles I had fortunately been able to save • to five of the men so that they could make a fire at the edge of the woods, distant three-quarters of an arpent from .the shore. They had no success, they were so complete? ly chilled and exhausted; they hardly had courage enough to come and tell me of their failure. I went along at once and succeeded M wlco PHARMACY ONE- STOP- SHOPPING for Health a Bettjty Operated by Mansons 564-8151 Celebrating 75 Years of Service 'peedy Propane FILLING STATIONS: Speedy Propane Bulk Plant Kings Road, Sydney J.E.Benoit. Arichat Robin*s?? Cheticamp Eraser's Campground. Baddeck Inlet Campground. Baddeck Bob Wilson's Fina. Reserve ' t:a!>e" Bretdn *'sr 'ag azine/13
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