*The Silver Tongued Maid* was still 50 leagues or so from the shore, half sunk at the bottom of the relatively shallow waters.
"We could jettison some of the cargo," suggested Chauncy, while all around him men bailed water "If we lighten our load we might be able to refloat the ship."
"Suggest that again, Mr. Chauncy, " said the Captain "And I'll shoot you myself for mutiny."
"The ship will start breaking apart before long, Captain," Chauncy explained "When that happens we lose the cargo no matter what we do. We don't even have enough life boats for the entire crew.
If we can't refloat the Maid we're all dead men."
"We must begin construction of a raft," said the Captain.
"That might actually work," said Chauncy "We could load the remaining men on it and tug it to the shore with the ship's boats."
"The raft isn't for those useless bilge rats, who wrecked my lovely ship, it's for the cargo," said the Captain "Mark my words, Mr.
Chauncy, I swear to all the pagan gods of the sea that I will not lose a single barrel of this ship's cargo, if I have to sacrifice every sailor under my command to do it!"
After some shouting the men went to work on the raft. They tore down masts, cut rigging, used anything that could float or be tied.
The raft was a vile thing, hastily lashed together from the dismembered corpse of *The Silver Tongued Maid*. The beautiful ship had to die to birth to this rough beast, half-submerged in water.
The ship's cargo, mostly barrels of tea-leaves from Cathay, was loaded onto the raft first.
Next came the chests containing the personal effects of Captain Langschwert, then the men who hadn't been lucky enough to get on the boats.
On one of the boats, of which there were four, was Captain Langschwert, of course.
The rest of the command crew were spread among the others except Chauncy, who had been given the honor of commanding the raft. The strongest rowers rounded out the crews of the boats.
They would need to be; towing the raft would be no small task.
Once the raft was loaded and the men in place, Captain Langschwert gave the signal and all the ropes connecting the boats were cut.
The ship's four boats began to row towards land as fast as they could.
It was a tough decision, Captain Langschwert decided, but a fair one. He couldn't risk them swarming the boats and potentially endangering his escape.
"Protect the tea with your lives!" he yelled back at them, as his boat slowly disappeared.