by James Sprunt

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A selection from the beginning of the event:

BITING storm of sleet and snow is seldom seen in Wilmington. For many years the winter season passed with scarcely frost enough to chill the poor, and then a Christmas season came that will long be remembered for the rigor of its cold.

For several days a blizzard had prevailed along the far north-west, and when the weather warning came, the signal lights—a white above a red—increased the apprehension of a storm.

The week began with dismal, rainy days, black clouds, and bitter cold, and when complacent home-blessed people heard the moaning wind sing dolefully or rush with sudden, smothering fury down the chimney flues, they yawned beside their cheerful fires and made some commonplace remarks about the suffering poor.

At night a gale blew fiercely, some fifty miles an hour. The driving rain was congealed into stinging sleet which smote the cheeks like showers of needles. The dreary lonesome streets bore striking contrast with brighter seasons in the past.

With sudden burst, the howling storm would seize some luckless passenger and bend him double, while his splintered umbrella went flying into space. The second day the havoc of the storm was shown by prostrate fences in the streets, broken branches, tin signs, and chimney pots, with not a few old buildings unroofed and torn as by a hurricane.

To those who watched and prayed for some loved toiler on the sea, the news of many wrecks along the coast came like a knell of doom. The telegraphic wires were down; but every tardy mail brought word of savage storms which crushed the life from many ship-wrecked sailors from Hatteras to Cape Fear.

How few of those accustomed to everlasting hills can comprehend the awful fury of a storm at sea when broken, helpless ships are tossed in air, where stricken and beaten with maddening fury, they plunge a moment later into the seething hollows, and the foundering fabrics, with their haggard, hopeless crews, sink to rise no more!

The church's prayer for those in peril on the sea is often said unthinkingly; but as the daily record came of shattered ships and drowning men, there went from many hearts a silent invocation for those in such extremity.

The crews on board the lightships never before had seen such fury in the storm. The one on Frying Pan was staunch and safe enough, and rode without a strain through previous gales; but now she leaped upon the wild and sloping sea like some mad animal, and standing for a moment with her bowsprit heavenward, plunged into the foaming chasm of the hollow waters, and vanished in the smother, which seemed to hold her down. The mushroom anchors held until the strain broke the heavy iron chains, and then she drifted in the whirl far out to sea....

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015511994
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 09/28/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 851 KB

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