Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1927
Page 9 of 12
Originally from the novel Quatre-Vingt Treize
The package had the effect of a clog. A pebble may stop
a log, the branch of a tree turn aside an avalanche. The carronade stumbled.
The gunner, taking advantage of this critical opportunity, plunged his
iron bar between the spokes of one of the hind wheels. The cannon stopped.
It leaned forward. The man, using the bar as a lever, held it in equilibrium.
The heavy mass was overthrown, with the crash of a falling bell, and
the man, rushing with all his might, dripping with perspiration, passed
the slipnoose around the bronze neck of the subdued monster.
It was ended. The man had conquered. The ant had control over the mastedon; the pygmy had taken the thunderbolt prisoner.
The mariners and sailors clapped their hands.
The whole crew rushed forward with cables and chains, and in an instant the cannon was secured. The gunner saluted the passenger.
“Sir,“ he said, “you have saved my life.“
The old man had resumed his impassive attitude, and made no reply.
The man had conquered, but the cannon might be said to have conquered as well. Immediate shipwreck had been avoided, but the corvet was not saved. The damage to the vessel seemed beyond repair. There were five breaches in her sides, one, very large, in the bow; twenty of the thirty carronades lay useless in their frames. The one which had just been captured and chained again was disabled; the screw of the cascabel was sprung, and consequently leveling the gun made impossible. The battery was reduced to nine pieces. The ship was leaking. It was necessary to repair the damages at once, and to work the pumps.
The gun-deck, now that one could look over it, was frightful to behold. The inside of an infuriated elephant's cage would not be more completely demolished.
However great might be the necessity of escaping observation, the necessity of immediate safety was still more imperative to the corvet. They had been obliged to light up the deck with lanterns hung here and there on the sides.