He is small, with a fawning expression remarkable for its indecision, and has a smile which is incessantly playing round his lips; he goes about with his eyes half closed, as though he wished to conceal his thoughts, and there is something altogether false and hypocritical about his whole demeanor. I cannot say that he bears his privations without a murmur, for he sighs and moans incessantly; but, with it all, I cannot but think that there is a want of genuineness in his manner, and that the privation has not really told upon him as much as it has upon the rest of us. I have my suspicions about the man, and intend to watch him carefully.
To-day, the 6th, M. Letourneur drew me aside to the stern of the raft, saying he had a secret to communicate, but that he wished neither to be seen nor heard speaking to me. I withdrew with him to the larboard corner of the raft, and, as it was growing dusk, nobody observed what we were doing.
"Mr. Kazallon," M. Letourneur began, in a low voice, "Andre is dying of hunger; he is growing weaker and weaker, and oh! I cannot, will not, see him die!"
He spoke passionately, almost fiercely, and I fully under- stood his feelings. Taking his hand, I tried to reassure him.
"We will not despair yet," I said; "perhaps some pass- ing ship --"
"Ship!" he cried, impatiently, "don't try to console me with empty commonplaces; you know as well as I do that there is no chance of falling in with a passing ship." Then, breaking off suddenly, he asked: "How long is it since my son and all of you have had anything to eat?"
Astonished at his question, I replied that it was now four days since the biscuit had failed.
"Four days," he repeated; "well, then, it is eight since I have tasted anything. I have been saving my share for my son."
Tears rushed to my eyes; for a few moments I was unable to speak, and could only once more grasp his hand in silence.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked, at length.
"Hush! not so loud; someone will hear us," he said, low- ering his voice; "I want you to offer it to Andre as though it came from yourself. He would not accept it from me; he would think I had been depriving myself for him. Let me implore you to do me this service; and for your trouble," -- and here he gently stroked my hand -- "for your trouble you shall have a morsel for yourself."
I trembled like a child as I listened to the poor father's words; and my heart was ready to burst when I felt a tiny piece of biscuit slipped into my hand.
"Give it him," M. Letourneur went on under his breath, "give it him; but do not let anyone see you; the monsters would murder you if they knew it! This is only for to- day; I will give you some more to-morrow."
The poor fellow did not trust me -- and well he might not -- for I had the greatest difficulty to withstand the tempta- tion to carry the biscuit to my mouth. But I resisted the impulse, and those alone who have suffered like me can know what the effort was.
Night came on with the rapidity peculiar to these low lati- tudes, and I glided gently up to Andre, and slipped the piece of biscuit into his hand as "a present from myself."
The young man clutched at it eagerly.
"But my father?" he said, inquiringly.
I assured him that his father and I had each had our share, and that he must eat this now, and perhaps I should be able to bring him some more another time. Andre asked no more questions, and eagerly devoured the morsel of food.
So this evening at least, notwithstanding M. Letourneur's offer, I have tasted nothing.
CHAPTER XL DEATH OF LIEUTENANT WALTER
JANUARY 7. -- During the last few days, since the wind has freshened, the salt water constantly dashing over the raft has terribly punished the feet and legs of some of the sailors. Owen, whom the boatswain ever since the revolt has kept bound to the mast, is in a deplorable state, and, at our request, has been released from his restraint. Sandon and Burke are also suffering from the severe smarting caused in this way, and it is only owing to our more sheltered position on the aft-part of the raft, that we have not all shared the same inconvenience.