Thirst, by Eugene O’Neill

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GENTLEMAN: It was in the salon. You were singing. You were very beautiful. I remember a woman on my right saying: “How pretty she is! I wonder if she is married?” Strange how some idiotic remark like that will stick in one’s brain when all else is vague and confused. I was looking at you and wondering what kind of woman you were. You know I had never met you personally–only seen you in my walks around the deck. Then came the crash–that horrible dull crash. We were all thrown forward on the floor of the salon; then screams, oaths, fainting women, the hollow boom of a bulkhead giving way. I vaguely remember rushing to my stateroom and picking up my wallet. It must have been that menu I took instead. Then I was on deck fighting in the midst of the crowd. Somehow I got into a boat–but it was overloaded and was swamped immediately. I swam to another boat. They beat me off with the oars. That boat too was swamped a moment later. And then the gurgling, choking cries of the drowning! Something huge rushed by me in the water, leaving a gleaming trail of phosphorescence. A woman near me with a life belt around her gave a cry of agony and disappeared–then I realized–sharks! I became frenzied with terror. I swam. I beat the water with my hands. The ship had gone down. I swam and swam with but one idea–to put all that horror behind me. I saw something white on the water before me. I clutched it–climbed on it. It was this raft. You and he were on it. I fainted. The whole thing is a horrible nightmare in my brain–but I remember clearly that idiotic remark of the woman in the salon. What pitiful creatures we are!

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