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The Boat (A Tale of Survival)
by Jarrett Ksiazek (jarrettekjl@verizon.net)

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Drama   User Review:

When four men become stranded in a lifeboat following the destruction of their ship, they must combat their individual demons and work together in order to survive.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


A group of four men are seen sitting in a small white boat
in the middle of the ocean. Their eyes are gazing forward,
and are fastened upon the waves that swept toward them.
These waves were of the hue of slate, save for the tops,
which were of foaming white. The horizon narrowed and
widened, and dipped and rose, and at all times its edge was
jagged with waves that seemed thrust up in points like
rocks. These men are the last survivors of a dreadful
explosion which sunk the steamship that they were on.
One of the men; a overweight sweaty fellow, squatted in the
bottom and looked with both eyes at the six inches of
gunwale which separated him from the ocean. His sleeves were
rolled over his fat forearms, and the two flaps of his
unbuttoned vest dangled as he bent to bail out the boat.
This was the former cook onboard the ship.
"Gawd! That was a narrow clip!"
Another one of the men, this one tall and strong, begins
steering with one of the two oars in the boat, sometimes
raising himself suddenly to keep clear of water that swirled
in over the stern. It was a thin little oar and it seemed
often ready to snap. This man was the ship's oiler.
The third man, who was well dressed and handsome, is pulling
at the other oar, watching the waves. This was the former
correspondent onboard the ship.
The fourth and final man, is lying on the boat's bow with a
deep gash across his right leg. He is dressed in a navy blue
vest and pants with naval insignias over it. He has a neatly
trimmed graying beard and his skin is browned and leathery
from years of sun exposure. This is the former captain.
The captain, from across the boat yells out to the oiler.
"Keep 'er a little more south,
'A little more south,' sir"
The captain then puts his head down so that his face is
touching the bottom of the boat.


The captain is buried in that
profound dejection and
indifference which comes,
temporarily at least, to even the
bravest and most enduring when,
willy nilly, the firm fails,the
army loses, or in this case, the
ship goes down. The mind of the
master of a vessel is rooted deep
in the timbers of her, though he
commanded for a day or a decade,
and this captain had on him the
stern impression of a scene in the
greys of dawn of seven turned
faces, and later a stump of a
top-mast with a white ball on it
that slashed to and fro at the
waves, went low and lower, and
down. From this point on, there is
something strange in his voice.
Although steady, it was, deep with
mourning, and of a quality beyond
oration or tears.
The boat prances and rears, before plunging like a braying
horse as each wave crashes around the vessel. A stream of
foamy seawater races across the deck, engulfing all four
members of the boat in a frothy mixture.
All four of the men are at the mercy of the ocean.
The camera captures the picturesque view of the amber
colored sunset slowly sinking into the blue ocean. We hold
on that view for a little bit before cutting back to the
In the wan light, the faces of the men are grey. Their eyes
glinted in strange ways as they gazed steadily astern.
"It sure is rather beautiful. The
sunset on the open ocean."
"If you like such things."
"Well sure I do." It's not
everyday you see a sunset as
beautiful and peaceful as this


                       COOK (cont'd)
"I don't think peaceful is the
right term to use in describing
THIS sunset."
The cook puts his head down. Ashamed of what he said.
"There's a house of refuge just
north of the Mosquito Inlet
Lighthouse. When they see us,
they'll come off in their boat and
pick us up."
"As soon as who sees us?"
"The crew."
"Houses of refuge don't have
crews. From what I understand they
are only places where clothes and
grub are stored for the benefit of
shipwrecked people. They don't
carry crews."
"Oh yes they do!"
"And how would you know?"
"Well,.... they should have one
anyway right?"
No response from anyone.
"Well we're not there anyhow, so I
guess there's no way of knowing
for sure."
This ends the conversation between the men.


The boat continues to be bounced from the top of each wave.
The wind is tearing through the hair of the hatless men, and
as the craft plopped her stern down again the spray splashed
past them. It is now night and the ocean is pitch black save
for the moon and stars which are casting down small glitters
of light down onto the men.
The scene slowly fades out to blackness.
It is now daytime and the four men are busy rowing and
navigating their lonely boat through the vast open ocean.
"Bully good thing it's an onshore
wind." If not where would we be?
Wouldn't have a show!"
"That's right."
Nods in approval.
"Do you think we've got much of a
show now boys?"
The three men become silent over this, save for a trifle of
hemming and hawing.
To express any particular optimism
at this time they felt to be
childish and stupid, but they all
doubtless possessed this sense of
the situation in their mind. A
young man thinks doggedly at such
times. On the other hand, the
ethics of their condition was
decidedly against any open
suggestion of hopelessness. So
they were silent.
"Oh well. We'll get ashore


"Yea. If the wind holds!"
"Yes! If we don't catch hell in
the surf!"
Canton flannel gulls fly near and far. Sometimes they sit
down on the sea, near patches of brown seaweed that rolled
on the waves with a movement like carpets on a line in a
gale. The birds sat comfortably in groups, and they were
envied by some in the dingey, for the wrath of the sea was
no more to them than it was to a covey of prairie chickens a
thousand miles inland. Often they came very close and stared
at the men with black bead-like eyes. At these times they
were uncanny and sinister in their unblinking scrutiny, and
the men hooted angrily at them, telling them to be gone. One
came, and evidently decided to alight on the top of the
captain's head. The bird flew parallel to the boat and did
not circle, but made short sidelong jumps in the air in
chicken-fashion. His black eyes were wistfully fixed upon
the captain's head.
"Ugly brute!"
"Not you, the bird!" It looks as
if it was made with a jack knife!"
The bird stares ominously from atop the Captain's head
towards the three men.
"You know, in ancient Rome, fowl
were considered harbingers of
death and destruction. In this
case, I believe the ancients knew
more than we did!"
The oiler and the correspondent begin to row once more. They
sit together in the same seat, and each rowed an oar. Then
the oiler took both oars; then the correspondent took both
oars; then the oiler; then the correspondent. They rowed and
they rowed.....
The camera shows a overhead shot of the small boat floating
adrift in the seemingly endless ocean. From this height the
boat is almost not even noticeable.


The camera transitions back down to the boat where the oiler
and the correspondent are busy rowing through a cycle of
rough sea.
"Look out now! Steady there!"
A wave crashes over the boat soaking everyone on board.
Brown mats of seaweed that appeared from time to time were
like islands, bits of earth. They were traveling,
apparently, neither one way nor the other. They were, to all
intents, stationary.
"Seaweed is a sign land is near,
right captain?"
"Yes. One shouldn't be too far off
shore when they encounter
The captain, reared cautiously on the bow, after the dingey
soared on a great swell. His eyes suddenly became very wide
and he pointed frantically in front of him.
"I see a light-house!"
This jump starts the three men into a frenzy.
"Yes, where is it!?"
The captain points straight out in front of him.
"It was right there! Just West of
us! I could see it when the boat
rose on the wave!"
"I don't see it."
"Neither do I."
The correspondent who was still rowing and could not look
back at the crew shouts out.


"I can't see a damn thing either!"
"Well than turn around, and when
the next wave lifts us look West."
Just then a wave lifts the boat up. The correspondent
following orders looks West.
"See it?"
"No, I didn't see anything."
"Look again!"
At the top of another wave, the correspondent did as he was
bid, and this time his eyes chanced on a small still thing
on the edge of the swaying horizon. It was precisely like
the point of a pin. It is a lighthouse!
"I see it!"
"I see it too!"
"Me too!"
The camera focuses on the barely visible lighthouse in the
distance. It is awfully far off.
"Think we'll make it captain?"
"If this wind holds and the boat
don't swamp, we can't do much else
but hope."
The little boat, lifted by each towering sea, and splashed
viciously by the crests, made progress that in the absence
of seaweed was not apparent to those in her. She seemed just
a wee thing wallowing, miraculously top-up, at the mercy of
five oceans. Occasionally, a great spread of water, like
white flames, swarmed into her.
"Bail her cook!"


"My name is George sir."
"Well bail her out then George!"
"All right captain!"
"It would be difficult to describe the subtle brotherhood of
men that was here established on the seas. No one said that
it was so. No one mentioned it. But it dwelt in the boat,
and each man felt it warm him. They were a captain, an
oiler, a cook, and a correspondent, and they were friends,
friends in a more curiously iron-bound degree than may be
common. The hurt captain, lying against the water-jar in the
bow, spoke always in a low voice and calmly, but he could
never command a more ready and swiftly obedient crew than
the motley three of the dingey. It was more than a mere
recognition of what was best for the common safety. There
was surely in it a quality that was personal and heartfelt.
And after this devotion to the commander of the boat there
was this comradeship that the correspondent, for instance,
who had been taught to be cynical of men, knew even at the
time was the best experience of his life. But no one said
that it was so. No one mentioned it."
"I wish we had a sail."
The captain looks towards the direction of the lighthouse
intently, his years of sea training coming to his head at
once, trying to figure out the best possible way to make it
to shore.
"We could try my overcoat on the
end of an oar and give you two
boys a chance to rest."
The cook and the correspondent rush from their rowing
positions to hold their makeshift mast and spread wide the
This "sail" surprisingly begins to take in wind and moves
the boat ever closer towards the lighthouse.
"Well if I didn't know any better
I'd say we are looking at the
coast of New Smyrna.I coasted up


                       CAPTAIN (cont'd)
and down this shore often in
schooners back in the day."
The wind slowly died away. The cook and the correspondent
were not now obliged to slave in order to hold high the oar.
But the waves continued their old impetuous swooping at the
dingey, and the little craft, no longer under way, struggled
woundily over them. The oiler and the correspondent took the
oars again.
Various montages of the men rowing and the sea and sky are
shown. As this occurs we hear the narrator's omnipotent
"Shipwrecks are _ propos_ of
nothing. If men could only train
for them and have them occur when
the men had reached pink
condition, there would be less
drowning at sea. Of the four in
the dingey none had slept any time
worth mentioning for two days and
two nights previous to embarking
in the dingey, and in the
excitement of clambering about the
deck of a foundering ship they had
also forgotten to eat heartily.
For these reasons, and for others,
neither the oiler nor the
correspondent was fond of rowing
at this time. The correspondent
wondered ingenuously how in the
name of all that was sane could
there be people who thought it
amusing to row a boat. It was not
an amusement; it was a diabolical
punishment, and even a genius of
mental aberrations could never
conclude that it was anything but
a horror to the muscles and a
crime against the back. He
mentioned to the boat in general
how the amusement of rowing struck
him, and the weary-faced oiler
smiled in full sympathy.
Previously to the foundering, by
the way, the oiler had worked
double-watch in the engine-room of
the ship."


"Take her easy now boys, don't
spend yourselves!"
"Aye Captain!"
"Aye Captain!"
"If we have to run a surf you'll
need all your strength, because
we'll sure have to swim for it.
Take your time!"
Slowly we see the land rising from the sea. From a black
line it becomes a line of black and a line of white, trees
and sand.
The captain peers towards shore.
"I can make out a house on shore
"That must be the house of refuge!
I told you all there was one!
They'll see us before long and
come out after us, you'll see!"
The camera focuses in on the ever closer lighthouse, rearing
high in the distance.
"The keeper ought to be able to
make us out now, if he's looking
through a glass. He'll notify the
life-saving people."
"None of those other boats could
have got ashore to give word of
the wreck, else the lifeboat would
be out hunting us!"
Slowly and beautifully the land loomed out of the sea. The
wind came again. It had veered from the north-east to the
south-east. Finally, a new sound struck the ears of the men
in the boat. It was the low thunder of the surf on the


"We'll never be able to make the
lighthouse now!"
The captain gazes out into the sea. He is at war now, not
with beast or man, but with mother nature herself.
"Swing her head a little more
north Billie."
"A little more north sir."
The little boat turned her nose once more down the wind, and
all but the oarsman watched the shore grow. Under the
influence of this expansion doubt and direful apprehension
was leaving the minds of the men. The management of the boat
was still most absorbing, but it could not prevent a quiet
cheerfulness. In an hour, perhaps, they would be ashore.
A wave passes over the ship soaking the four men again. The
correspondent thought that he had been drenched to the skin,
but happening to feel in the top pocket of his coat finds
eight cigars. Four of them were soaked with sea-water; four
were perfectly scathless.
"All right gentleman what do you
say we take a puff of what's to
come once we reach shore!"
The correspondent hands out the cigars.
      (Between rows)
"Alright, does anyone have a
"I have a pair right here."
The captain reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small
tin holder which ironically carries four matches.
"Make them count boys!"
We see all of the men lighting and then puffing at the big
cigars while rowing.


"Cook, er, I mean George. There
doesn't seem to be any signs of
life around you house of refuge."
"No....funny. They must not see
A broad stretch of lowly coast lay before the eyes of the
men. It was of dunes topped with dark vegetation. The roar
of the surf was plain, and sometimes they could see the
white lip of a wave as it spun up the beach. A tiny house
was blocked out black upon the sky. Southward, the slim
lighthouse lifted its little grey length.
"They must have seen us by now."
The camera focuses on the tiny house on the beach. There is
no sign of life anywhere. The camera switches back to the
men on the boat, all have looks of frustration and sadness
etched on their faces.
"Well, I suppose we'll have to
make a try for land ourselves. If
we stay out here to long none of
us will have the strength to swim
after the boat swamps."
The oiler, who was at the oars, begins to turn the boat
straight for the shore. There was a sudden tightening of
muscle. There was some thinking.
"If we all don't get ashore.....
The captain takes a look at all the men on the boat.
"If we all don't get to shore, I
suppose you fellows know where to
send news of my resignation as a
"Don't say that captain. If we
were meant to die we would have
gone down in the explosion that
destroyed the ship."


"Yes, if there is a fair and
loving God, than why would he get
us this far only to let us die a
watery grave while gazing upon the
sand and trees he created?
These words seem to uplift the mood of everyone including
the captain.
The billows that came at this time were more formidable.
They seemed always just about to break and roll over the
little boat in a turmoil of foam. There was a preparatory
and long growl in the speech of them. No mind unused to the
sea would have concluded that the boat could ascend these
sheer heights in time. The shore was still afar. The oiler
was a wily surfman.
"Boys she won't live three minutes
more! Captain! shall I take her
out to sea?"
The captain looks longingly towards shore. We see a close-up
of his face, he is a beaten, wore out man.
"Yes, go ahead!"
The oiler, by a series of quick miracles, and fast and
steady oarsmanship, turned the boat in the middle of the
surf and took her safely to sea again fighting the waves all
the way.
There was a considerable silence as the boat bumped over the
furrowed sea to deeper water. Then somebody in gloom spoke.
"Well, anyhow, they must have seen
us from the shore by now."
No one says a word.
We see a flock of sea gulls flying in a slanting flight up
the wind toward the grey desolate east. A squall, marked by
dingy clouds, and clouds brick-red, like smoke from a
burning building, appeared from the south-east.
"What do you think of those life
saving people? Aint they peaches?"


"Funny they haven't seen us."
"Oh yea? Well maybe they think
we're out here for sport! Maybe
they think we're fishin? Maybe
they think we're a bunch of damned
It was a long afternoon. A changed tide tried to force them
southward, but the wind and wave said northward. Far ahead,
where coast-line, sea, and sky formed their mighty angle,
there were little dots which seemedto indicate a city on the
"St. Augustine?"
      (shaking his head)
"No. Were too near Mosquito
We see in a series of montage takes the oiler rowing, and
then the correspondent rowing. Then the oiler rowed. With
each cut back and forth to the two men, the looks on their
faces become more haggard and strained.
"Did you ever like to row Billie?"
"No. Hang it!"
All of a sudden the captain's eyes light up. The camera
(from the captains point of view) focuses on a distant
object on the shore line. The object is moving!
"There's a man on shore!"
The captain points towards shore.
"There! See him? See him!"


The three men look in the direction the captain is pointing.
"Yes, sure! He's walking along!"
"Now he's stopped. Look! He's
facing us!"
"He's waving at us!"
"So he is! By thunder!"
"Ah, now we're all right! Now
we're all right! There'll be a
boat here for us in half-an-hour."
"He's running. He's going up to
that house there."
The camera focuses on the beach. The beach seems lower than
the sea, and it required a searching glance to discern the
little black figure. The captain saw a floating stick and
they rowed to it. A bath-towel was by some weird chance in
the boat, and, tying this on the stick, the captain waved
it. The oarsman did not dare turn his head, so he was
obliged to ask questions.
"What's he doing now?"
"he's standing still again. He's
looking, I think.....There he goes
again. Toward the house....Now
he's stopped again."
"Is he waving at us?"
"No, not now! He was though."
"Look! Here comes another man!"
"He's running."


"Look at him go, would you."
We see from the men's point of view the man on the beach. He
has met up with the other faster moving man who we find out
is on a bicycle.
"Why, he's on a bicycle. Now he's
met the other man. They're both
waving at us. Look!"
"Here comes something up the
"What the devil is that thing?"
"It looks like a boat."
"No, it's not a boat."
"Well what is it then?"
"It looks like a car."
The camera zooms in to reveal that it is in fact a car
driving up the beach. The car is a convertible and there are
multiple people driving in it.
"It is a car! There are people in
it, quick, draw their attention!"
The four men begin to hoot and holler like maniacs. The
oiler, being the biggest and tallest of the men begins to
wave the captain's jacket high over his head.
"That's it, Look! There's a fellow
waving a little black flag. He's
standing up on a car seat."
"That ain't his flag it's his coat
isn't it?


"So it is. It's his coat. He's
taken it off and is waving it
around his head."
"What's that idiot with the coat
doing? What he signaling anyhow?"
"It looks as if he were trying to
tell us to go north. There must be
a life saving station up there."
"No! He thinks we're fishing. Just
giving us a merry hand. See?
"Well I wish I could make
something out of those signals.
What do you suppose he means?"
"He don't mean anything. He's just
"Well if he'd just signal us to
try the surf again, or to go out
to sea and wait, or to go north,
or go south, or go
anywhere!.....There would be some
reason to it. But look at him. He
just stands there and keeps his
coat revolving like a wheel. The
"There come more people!"
The camera focuses in on the beach where we see two more
cars make their way across the sand. The cars are full of
"Now that's quite a mob."
"That fellow is still waving his


"He must think we like to see him
do that. Why don't he quit it?"
"I don't know. I think he is
trying to make us go north. It
must be that there's a lifesaving
station there somewhere."
"Say, he aint tired yet. look at
him wave."
"Wonder how long he can keep that
up. He's been revolving his coat
ever since he caught sight of us.
He's an idiot. Why aren't they
getting men to bring a boat out?"
"They'll have a boat out here for
us in less than no time, now that
they've seen us."
A faint yellow tone comes into the sky over the low land.
The shadows on the sea slowly deepened. The wind bore
coldness with it, and the men begin to shiver.
"Holy smoke! If we keep on
monkeying around out here all
"Oh, we'll never have to stay here
all night! Don't you worry.
They've seen us now...... and it
won't be long before they'll come
chasing out after us."
The shore grew dusky. The man waving a coat blended
gradually into this gloom, and it swallowed in the same
manner the omnibus and the group of people. The spray, when
it dashed uproariously over the side, made the voyagers
shrink and swear like men who were being branded.


"I'd like to catch the chump who
waved the coat. I feel like
punching him in the face, just for
"Why? What did he do?"
"Nothing, but he just seemed so
damned cheerful."
In the meantime the oiler rowed, and then the correspondent
rowed, and then the oiler rowed. Grey-faced and bowed
forward, they mechanically, turn by turn, plied the leaden
oars. The form of the lighthouse had vanished from the
southern horizon, but finally a pale star appeared, just
lifting from the sea. The streaked saffron in the west
passed before the all-merging darkness, and the sea to the
east was black. The land had vanished, and was expressed
only by the low and drear thunder of the surf.
"Keep her head up! Keep her head
"Keeping her head up sir."
This was surely a quiet evening. All save the oarsman lay
heavily and listlessly in the boat's bottom. As for him, his
eyes were just capable of noting the tall black waves that
swept forward in a most sinister silence, save for an
occasional subdued growl of a crest.
We see the cook's head was on a thwart, and he looked
without interest at the water under his nose. He was deep in
other thoughts. Finally he spoke.
"Billie. What kind of pie do you
like best?"


"Don't talk about those things,
blast you!"
"Well, I was just thinking about
ham sandwiches, and...."
"All of you just shut up! There is
no need to talk about such
The captain pauses his speech and thinks for a moment.
"Do a man good to think positively
now and than."
A night on the sea in an open boat is a long night. As
darkness settled finally, the shine of the light, lifting
from the sea in the south, changed to full gold. On the
northern horizon a new light appeared, a small bluish gleam
on the edge of the waters. These two lights were the
furniture of the world. Otherwise there was nothing but
The oiler and the correspondent are seen rowing late into
the night. It is a cold night and we can see their breath as
a mist coming out of their mouths.
The oiler turns to the correspondent who is lying on the bat
floor, trying to sleep.
"Will you take over the rowing for
a little while?"
"Sure Billie."
The correspondent takes over rowing.
"By the way, my name is Benjamin."
It's funny how we've been on the
water for so long, yet we just are


                       OILER (cont'd)
asking each other simple
questions. Imagine that."
The particular violence of the sea had ceased. The waves
came without snarling. The obligation of the man at the oars
was to keep the boat headed so that the tilt of the rollers
would not capsize her, and to preserve her from filling when
the crests rushed past. The black waves were silent and hard
to be seen in the darkness. Often one was almost upon the
boat before the oarsman was aware.
"Captain, shall I keep her making
for that north light, sir?"
"Yes. Keep it about two points off
the port bow."
The correspondent, as he is rowing, looks down at the two
men sleeping under-foot. The cook's arm was around the
oiler's shoulders, and, with their fragmentary clothing and
haggard faces, they were the babes of the sea, a grotesque
rendering of the old babes in the wood.
We see that the cook has tied a life-belt around himself in
order to get even the warmth which this clumsy cork
contrivance could donate, and he seemed almost stove-like
when a rower, whose teeth invariably chattered wildly as
soon as he ceased his labor, dropped down to sleep.
A sudden rogue wave sweeps onto the boat, waking everyone up
immediately. They are all drenched in seawater.
"I'm awfully sorry everyone. Damn
this ocean!"
"That's alright old boy."
Everyone save the correspondent lays back down. There is a
good inch of water at the bottom of the boat now, making
staying dry an impossibility.
Presently it seemed that even the captain dozed, and the
correspondent thought that he was the one man afloat on all
the oceans. The wind had a voice as it came over the waves,
and it was sadder than the end.
There was a long, loud swishing astern of the boat, and a
gleaming trail of phosphorescence, like blue flame, was


furrowed on the black waters. It might have been made by a
monstrous knife. Then there came a stillness, while the
correspondent breathed with the open mouth and looked at the
Suddenly there was another swish and another long flash of
bluish light, and this time it was alongside the boat, and
might almost have been reached with an oar. The
correspondent saw an enormous fin speed like a shadow
through the water, hurling the crystalline spray and leaving
the long glowing trail. It's a shark!
We see the correspondent look over his shoulder towards the
captain, who was sleeping. He then stares at the oiler and
cook who are also sound asleep next to one another.
The shark circles the boat, making soft splashes as its tail
fin hits the side of the boat.
"But the thing did not then leave the vicinity of the boat.
Ahead or astern, on one side or the other, at intervals long
or short, fled the long sparkling streak, and there was to
be heard the whirroo of the dark fin. The speed and power of
the thing was greatly to be admired. It cut the water like a
gigantic and keen projectile."
We see the correspondent huddled up and staring over the
side of the boat at the shark.
"The presence of this biding thing did not affect the man
with the same horror that it would if he had been a
picnicker. He simply looked at the sea dully and swore in an
undertone. Nevertheless, it is true that he did not wish to
be alone. He wished one of his companions to awaken by
chance and keep him company with it. But the captain hung
motionless over the water-jar, and the oiler and the cook in
the bottom of the boat were plunged in slumber."
      (talking to self)
"If I am going to die tonight.
Than why would a God in heaven
wait till now to finish me off?"
Correspondent pauses his rant.
      (Looking up
       towards heaven)
"If you're up there and hear me


                       CORRESPONDENT (cont'd)
than you know that it would be an
abomination to let us die. After
we have come so close....An
abomination I tell you!"
The correspondent begins to tear up.
"I thought you were a loving, just
God..... do you really care less
if we all live or die? Is this
just some sort of unstoppable
cycle we all must go through?"
The correspondent's emotion turns to anger.
      (Looking towards
"Answer me!"
There is no answer. The three men are still sleeping even
after that outburst.
"If you are there.... please help
us. If not for my sake, than
To chime the notes of his emotion, a verse mysteriously
entered the correspondent's head. He had even forgotten that
he had forgotten this verse, but it suddenly was in his
      (muttering to
"A soldier of the Legion lay dying
in Algiers,There was a lack of
woman's nursing, there was dearth
of woman's tears; But a comrade
stood beside him, and he took that
comrade's hand, And he said: 'I
shall never see my own, my native
"In his childhood, the correspondent had been made
acquainted with the fact that a soldier of the Legion lay


dying in Algiers, but he had never regarded the fact as
important. Myriads of his school-fellows had informed him of
the soldier's plight, but the dinning had naturally ended by
making him perfectly indifferent. He had never considered it
his affair that a soldier of the Legion lay dying in
Algiers, nor had it appeared to him as a matter for sorrow.
It was less to him than the breaking of a pencil's point.
Now, however, it quaintly came to him as a human, living
thing. It was no longer merely a picture of a few throes in
the breast of a poet, meanwhile drinking tea and warming his
feet at the grate; it was an actuality--stern, mournful, and
In a flashback sequence we are transported to the desert
sands of Algiers. The correspondent is lying his hands on a
wounded soldier, blood is shooting from the soldier's chest
and flowing through the hands of the correspondent.
We see in the far Algerian distance, a city of low square
forms is set against a sky that was faint with the last
sunset hues. The correspondent, plying the oars and dreaming
of the slow and slower movements of the lips of the soldier,
was moved by a profound and perfectly impersonal
comprehension. He was sorry for the soldier of the Legion
who lay dying in Algiers.
The flashback sequence ends.
The shark which was circling the boat is now gone.The light
in the north still glimmered, but it was apparently no
nearer to the boat. Sometimes the boom of the surf rang in
the correspondent's ears, and he turned the craft seaward
then and rowed harder. Southward, some one had evidently
built a watch-fire on the beach. It was too low and too far
to be seen, but it made a shimmering, roseate reflection
upon the bluff back of it, and this could be discerned from
the boat. The wind came stronger, and sometimes a wave
suddenly raged out like a mountain-cat, and there was to be
seen the sheen and sparkle of a broken crest.
The captain, now awake in the bow of the boat, moved on his
water-jar and sat erect.
"Pretty long night."


"I know."
The captain looks towards the shore.
"Those life-saving people are
really taking their time."
"I guess so."
"Did you see that shark playing
"Yea, I saw him. He was a big
fellow all right. I wish I knew
you were awake."
"Barely is the key word."
The Oiler and the Cook wake up after hearing the
"Oh Billie! Right on cue. Say do
you mind if you take over rowing
for a bit? My back is sore."
"Sure, no problem."
The light in the north had mysteriously vanished, but the
Oiler took his course from the wide-awake captain. The
Correspondent lies down and falls asleep.
It is now night and the boat is farther out to sea.
"George. Take one of the oars at
the stern and keep the boat facing
the sea."
"Yes captain."


"And George, if you should hear
the thunder of the surf, call
"Yes sir."
This plan enables the oiler and the correspondent to get
respite together.
      (talking to oiler
       and correspondent)
"We'll give you boys a chance to
get into shape again.'
"Thank you sir."
"Thanks Captain."
The correspondent and the oiler begin to lie down.
      (talking to oiler)
"I'm not sure how much more of
this I can take."
"We have to be strong. Only the
strongest will come out of this
"Or the luckiest."
With that the two men fall asleep. The camera pans down to
just above water level. It is here that we see an unwelcome
visitor circling around the boat. It's another shark.
As the boat caroused on the waves, spray occasionally bumped
over the side and gave them a fresh soaking, but this had no
power to break their repose.The ominous slash of the wind
and the water affected them as it would have affected
"Boys... I guess one of you had
better take her to sea again."


This awakens the correspondent.
"What!? Oh, ok, move over then."
As he was rowing, the captain gave him some
whisky-and-water, and this steadied the chills out of him.
       bottle of whisky)
"I was saving this for a special
occasion. I guess you need it more
than I do wouldn't you say?"
      (Takes a drink)
"Thanks captain. That was the
finest drink of whiskey I ever
The captain smiles.
I'll tell you though, if I ever
get to shore and anyone shows me
even a picture of an oar!...."
"I'd sock him in the face!"
"I'd skewer him!"
"I'd put him out here on a boat by
himself. That will teach him!"
Everyone laughs.
We transition to a birds eye view of the small boat alone in
the endless ocean. The camera than switches to a still shot
of the morning sunrise, showing the passage of time.
We zoom in on the face of the correspondent who is sleeping.
The correspondent open his eyes to witness the morning


finally appearing, in its splendor, with a sky of pure blue,
and the sunlight flamed on the tips of the waves.
The camera then shows a shot of the distant dunes which were
set with many little black cottages, and a tall white
windmill reared above them. No man, nor dog, nor bicycle
appeared on the beach. The cottages might have formed a
deserted village. The Correspondent sees this though and
quickly awakens the others.
"Wake up! Wake up! We have neared
Everyone awakens and peers out the boat to look at this
"Good God! It looks like a town!"
"It is a town! We have been
"I don't see anyone though."
"Me neither."
"Well, if no help is coming, we
might better try a run through the
surf right away. If we stay out
here much longer we will be too
weak to do anything for ourselves
at all."
The others look at one another before nodding their heads in
"We're with you Captain. Let's go
home boys!"
With that word, everyone on the boat began to prepare for
the battle that was to come. Nature, the very wrath and
manifestation of God, vs. Man.
We see the boat was heading for the beach. The large
windmill tower was a giant, standing with its back to the
plight of the ants. It represented in a degree, to the


correspondent, the serenity of God amid the struggles of the
individual--God in the wind, and God in the vision of men.
God did not seem cruel to him then, nor treacherous. It is,
perhaps, plausible that a man in this situation, impressed
with the unconcern of the universe, should see the
innumerable flaws of his life, and have them taste wickedly
in his mind and wish for another chance. A distinction
between right and wrong seems absurdly clear to him, then,
in this new ignorance of the grave-edge, and he understands
that if he were given another opportunity he would mend his
conduct and his words, and be better and brighter during an
introduction or at a tea.
"Now, boys. The boat is going to
flip, nothing can be done about
that. All we can do is to work her
in as far as possible, and then
when she flips, pile out and swim
for the beach. Keep cool now, and
don't jump until she flips!"
The oiler takes the oars. We see him scanning the surf.
"Captain, I think I'd better bring
her about, and keep her head-on to
the seas and bring her in."
"All right Billie. Back her In!"
The oiler swings the boat towards shore. It is here that we
get a glimpse of the pounding, monstrous surf that awaits
the men as they near shore.
      (looking at the
"We won't get in very close."
A montage of shots of the men getting pounded and soaked by
wave after wave commences. The men have the look of
determination on their faces though.
"Steady boys! Remember, to jump as
far away from the boat when she
"Yes sir!"


The boat slides up a massive wave, leaping at the furious
top, bouncing over it, before swinging down the long back of
the wave. Some water had been shipped and the cook bailed
it out.
But the next crest crashed also. The tumbling, boiling flood
of white water caught the boat and whirled it almost
perpendicular. Water swarmed in from all sides. The
correspondent had his hands on the gunwale at his time, and
when the water entered at that place he swiftly withdrew
his fingers, as if he objected to wetting them. The little
boat, drunken with this weight of water, reeled and snuggled
deeper into the sea.
"Bail her out!"
A monstrous wave begins to take form, bearing down on the
"Now boys, this one will do us in
for sure. Remember to jump clear
of the boat!"
The third wave moved forward, huge, furious, implacable. It
fairly swallowed the boat, and almost simultaneously the men
tumbled into the sea. A piece of lifebelt had lain in the
bottom of the boat, and as the correspondent went overboard
he held this to his chest with his left hand.
The January water was icy, and he reflected immediately that
it was colder than he had expected to find it on the coast
of Florida. This appeared to his dazed mind as a fact
important enough to be noted at the time. The coldness of
the water was sad; it was tragic. This fact was somehow so
mixed and confused with his opinion of his own situation
that it seemed almost a proper reason for tears. The water
was cold.
The correspondent reaches the surface. He is conscious of
little but the noisy water. He sees his companions in the
sea. The oiler is ahead in the race. He was swimming
strongly and rapidly. Off to the correspondent's left, the
cook's great white and corked back bulged out of the water,
and in the rear the captain was hanging with his one good
hand to the keel of the overturned boat.
The correspondent continues to swim, the life preserver
nestled underneath him. It is a long way to shore still and
the current was brutally difficult.


We see the cook swimming much farther to the left, the
captain is calling to him.
"Turn over on your back George!
Turn over and use the oar!"
"Ok sir!"
The cook turned on his back, and, paddling with an
oar, went ahead as if he were a canoe.
We see the boat to the left of the correspondent with the
captain clinging with one hand to the keel. He looks like a
man raising himself to look over a board fence, if it were
not for the extraordinary gymnastics of the boat.
The correspondent is now fighting a rip current which is
threatening to take him back to sea. The correspondent
knowing this, begins to swim horizontal to the shore, before
finally escaping its pull.
Through a foggy lens we see a man running along the shore
carrying a life preserver. He is undressing with remarkable
speed. Coat, trousers, shirt, everything flew magically off
him. As the man approaches we see that after stripping down,
the man is still wearing what was considered a bathing suit
at the time. This man is one of the first lifeguards.
      (calling to
"Hold on sir I'm coming!"
      (pointing towards
       the struggling
"Get him first, I can make it from
The lifeguard swims towards the captain with powerful
strokes. He finally reaches the captain and puts the life
preserver around him before heading towards the cook to do
the same.
We see the correspondent arriving in water that reached only
to his waist, but his condition did not enable him to stand
for more than a moment. Each wave knocked him into a heap,
and the under-tow pulled at him.


By this time the lifeguard had pulled both the captain and
cook to shore. All three of the men are exhausted.
"You're an angel sent from God
himself sir."
The lifeguard, too tired to speak reaches out his hand in a
cordial shake.
Suddenly the lifeguard cries out.
"What's that?"
The camera changes to a view of the shallow water. We see
the oiler lying face down in the water. His forehead touched
sand that was periodically, between each wave, clear of the
sea. He was dead.
The correspondent staggers up short incline that separates
the water from the beach, before collapsing onto the sand.
The camera focuses on a close up of the correspondent's
face. It is sunken and wind swept from the days out at sea.
But he is alive. The correspondent looks to his right and
sees the captain and cook both being attended to by the
lifeguard. This brings a faint smile to his face.
"We made it."
An aerial shot of the beach shows that it is quickly being
populated with men with blankets, clothes, and flasks, and
women with coffeepots and all the remedies sacred to their
minds. The welcome of the land to the men from the sea was
warm and generous, but the still and dripping shape of the
oiler was carried slowly up the beach, and the land's
welcome for it could only be the different and sinister
hospitality of the grave.
                                         THE SCENE FADES TO


The camera focuses on the crashing waves on the now desolate
beach. From this view the ocean has a mystical serene
quality to it.
"When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the
moonlight, and the wind brought the sound of the great sea's
voice to the men on shore, and they felt that they could
then be interpreters."


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