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I might have retired to mine, but for the little
compliment we were paying to the director),
and while there the ruin came upon him like a
cloud of dust. The only trace that I could find,
some time after, of my berthNo. 444was
the fragment of a figure-plate upon the main
wail.

Passing on to the deck again, I met a number
of stokers carefully carrying a scalded comrade
of theirs, who was one of thirteen injured by the
explosion through the furnace down one of those
fearful stoke-holes. One man had jumped through
a porthole in his agonyto be immediately
drowned; and the poor fellow who was being
carried along the deck was crying hysterically,
most probably from fright. The whole crew,
with a few exceptions, were very much
unnerved. Another victim soon came along, who
appeared to be doubled up, as if with cramp,
but who endeavoured to walk, with a little help.
I followed these men into what was called the
dispensary, or hospital-hold, down a dark and
double flight of steps, by the light of a flickering
candle, round a corner, and between two
long tables, across a lower unfinished common
dining saloon; through another rough deal door,
and down a dark winding staircase; across a
kind of hold, up a pair of ladder steps, and
along two passages, until at last I opened the
door amongst the wounded, dead, and dying.
It was a low-roofed, dirty, wretched place, with
a small surgery at the end, and as one man was
putting down mattresses, and preparing blanket-
beds, another was sweeping up the shavings,
dirt, and chips from the floor. It was not large
enough, nor airy enough, to contain the dozen
injured men, and some were placed upon tables
in a hold of the vessel. A number of beds were
pulled to pieces for the sake of the white soft
wool they contained, and when the half-boiled
bodies of the poor creatures were anointed with
oil, they were covered over with this wool, and
made to lie down. They were nearly all
stokers and firemen, whose faces were black with
their work, and one man who was brought in
had patches of red raw flesh on his dark, agonised
face, like dabs of red paint, and the skin of his
arms was hanging from his hands like a pair of
tattered mittens. He was marked early for peace
and death, while the others, who have since gone
to rest, were moaning, and complaining of
thirst or cold, and were with difficulty kept down
in their rude beds all through the bitter night.
Poor fellows! they add a few more martyrs
to the long list of men who have been
sacrificed in the working of fancy inventions. As
they lay with their begrimed faces above the
coverlets, and their chests covered with the
strange woolly coat that had been put upon
their wounds, they looked like wild beings of
another country or another world, whose proper
fate it was to labour and suffer differently
from us.

All through the bitter night, as the huge
vessel, whose shell was uninjured, still kept
upon her course to "ensure the commercial
success of the undertaking" (I use the exact
directorial phrase), many groups of whispering
riggers and stokers were standing in
corners of holds and parts of the deck, while
the passengers who had lost, or who had
forsaken, their berths, either walked about until
daybreak, or slept feverishly upon chairs and
couches, or under the staircase pavilions on
deck. Many servants of the public, like myself,
were busily employed in examining the results
of the explosion, in eliciting the true character
of the accident bit by bit, and in collecting,
with some difficulty and opposition, that
painful information which was laid before
the public by telegram the first moment we
were allowed to go on shore. To help in
ensuring the commercial success of the
undertaking, we were kept the prisoners of the
company from Hastings to Weymouth, and we
were insulted by being asked and expected to
place an official report in the columns of the
newspaper press, which had the singular
peculiarity of concealing every particle ot the truth.
Having passed, by some miracle through what
every competent and unprejudiced engineering
authority on board declared to be the greatest
explosion, considering the weights and forces,
that had ever happened on board a steam-
vessel, we were asked to call it " an accident,"
and to say that " several stokers were injured,"
when three were already dead, and five more
out of the other ten were not expected to
recover.

It is almost needless to say that such a report
was indignantly rejected, and that I, for my
part, claim to be considered no enemy to an
interesting and great enterprise, no foe to
progress, no antiquated croaker or man
behind my age, because I decline to accept a
purely experimental vessel, on a disastrous
experimental trip, round a portion of this island, as
a proved great ocean success, and because I
have joined with a few others in speaking the
whole unqualified truth.

Now ready, price 1s.,
Uniform with PICKWICK, DAVID COPPERFIELD, BLEAK
HOUSE, &c.,
The Fifth Monthly Part of
A TALE OF TWO CITIES.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
With Two Illustrations on Steel by HABLOT K.
BROWNE.
To be completed in Eight Monthly Parts.
CHAPMAN and HALL, 193, Piccadilly, W., AND
"ALL THE YEAR ROUND" Office, 11. Wellington-street
North, London, W.C.


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