A fight with a cannon By Victor Hugo

Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1927
Page 5 of 12

Originally from the novel Quatre-Vingt Treize

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There were splits and fractures in the masts, which are set into the framework of the keel and rise above the decks of ships like great, round pillars. The convulsive blows of the cannon had cracked the mizzenmast, and had cut into the mainmast.

The battery was being ruined. Ten pieces out of thirty were disabled; the breaches in the side of the vessel were increasing, and the corvet was beginning to leak.

The old passenger having gone down to the gun-deck, stood like a man of stone at the foot of the steps. He cast a stern glance over this scene of devastation. He did not move. It seemed impossible to take a step forward. Every movement of the loose carronade threatened the ship's destruction. A few moments more and shipwreck would be inevitable.

They must perish or put a speedy end to the disaster; some course must be decided on; but what? What an opponent was this carronade! Something must be done to stop this terrible madness--to capture this lightning--to overthrow this thunderbolt.

Boisberthelot said to La Vieuville:

“Do you believe in God, chevalier?“

La Vieuville replied:

“Yes--no. Sometimes.“

“During a tempest?“

“Yes, and in moments like this.“

“God alone can save us from this,“ said Boisberthelot.

Everybody was silent, letting the carronade continue its horrible din.

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