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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens


close in upon us!

One mast was broken short off, six or eight feet from the deck, and
lay over the side, entangled in a maze of sail and rigging; and all
that ruin, as the ship rolled and beat - which she did without a
moment's pause, and with a violence quite inconceivable - beat the
side as if it would stave it in. Some efforts were even then being
made, to cut this portion of the wreck away; for, as the ship,
which was broadside on, turned towards us in her rolling, I plainly
descried her people at work with axes, especially one active figure
with long curling hair, conspicuous among the rest. But a great
cry, which was audible even above the wind and water, rose from the
shore at this moment; the sea, sweeping over the rolling wreck,
made a clean breach, and carried men, spars, casks, planks,
bulwarks, heaps of such toys, into the boiling surge.

The second mast was yet standing, with the rags of a rent sail, and
a wild confusion of broken cordage flapping to and fro. The ship
had struck once, the same boatman hoarsely said in my ear, and then
lifted in and struck again. I understood him to add that she was
parting amidships, and I could readily suppose so, for the rolling
and beating were too tremendous for any human work to suffer long.
As he spoke, there was another great cry of pity from the beach;
four men arose with the wreck out of the deep, clinging to the
rigging of the remaining mast; uppermost, the active figure with
the curling hair.

There was a bell on board; and as the ship rolled and dashed, like
a desperate creature driven mad, now showing us the whole sweep of
her deck, as she turned on her beam-ends towards the shore, now
nothing but her keel, as she sprung wildly over and turned towards
the sea, the bell rang; and its sound, the knell of those unhappy
men, was borne towards us on the wind. Again we lost her, and
again she rose. Two men were gone. The agony on the shore
increased. Men groaned, and clasped their hands; women shrieked,
and turned away their faces. Some ran wildly up and down along the
beach, crying for help where no help could be. I found myself one
of these, frantically imploring a knot of sailors whom I knew, not
to let those two lost creatures perish before our eyes.

They were making out to me, in an agitated way - I don't know how,
for the little I could hear I was scarcely composed enough to
understand - that the lifeboat had been bravely manned an hour ago,
and could do nothing; and that as no man would be so desperate as
to attempt to wade off with a rope, and establish a communication
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com-David Copperfield by Charles Dickens



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