FOR a few days after the battle the white men remained undisturbed in th_ort; but instead of the elation that might have been expected from such _ecisive victory, there now fell upon the mutineers a strange, broodin_eeling of discontent.
Stewart and Heywood, ever bent upon retaking the ship and returning with he_o England, had again succeeded in alienating some of the men from Christian,
whose disregard of their wishes to remain at Tahiti had aroused thei_esentment.
Working upon this, Stewart, little by little, brought some of these men t_elieve that if they aided him in recovering the ship, they would not only b_iven a free pardon for any actual part taken in the mutiny, but would b_ewarded for their loyalty to Heywood and himself. Tired of the hardships an_iscomforts of settlement on an island where the natives were so hostile, an_lready regretting their severance from civilisation, they were not long i_romising to aid the two midshipmen in any scheme devised to recapture th_ounty and sail her to England; or, failing that, to return to Tahiti and giv_hemselves up to the King's ship that they knew would be sent in search o_hem.
Morrison, the boatswain's mate, in particular, professed his readiness at an_ime that Stewart and Heywood might appoint to join them in either seizing th_hip and making Christian and Young prisoners, or escaping from Tubuai an_eturning to Tahiti, and Alexander Smith, ever on the alert in his devotion t_hristian, soon discovered that a second plot had been devised by Stewart,
Heywood, and Morrison to steal the boat, provision her, and escape in th_ight. It became evident to Christian that his authority would be gone if h_id not either make some concessions, or crush the malcontents at once and fo_ver. After discussing the matter seriously with Smith and Young, he calle_he people together and addressed them.
"You all seem so discontented with this place," said he, "and there are, _ind, so many of you who will not hesitate to turn traitors to the rest of us,
that I have determined, if you are agreed, to return to Tahiti. There, thos_ho wish to separate from me can go, and those who wish to remain with me ca_o so."
This proposal was at once agreed to. It was also resolved to divide into tw_arts the ship's stores and fairly share them between the two parties; the_hose who chose to do so could go ashore at Tahiti, and those who desired t_tand by Christian could accompany him in the ship to some island afterward_o be decided upon by himself and his adherents.
And so once more the worn-out old Bounty was floated out to deep water, an_ll hands set to work to take on board her stores and armament again. Tha_art of their labour accomplished, Christian sent parties out to collect th_emainder of the live stock, which had not been seen since the attack on th_ort.
But again the islanders attacked them in such force, and with such undaunte_ourage and fierce resolution, that the landing-party had to retreat to th_hip; and, indeed, they narrowly escaped being cut off before the boat coul_escue them.
Christian, who was engaged with Mahina, Alrema, and some Tahitians in bendin_n the Bounty's after canvas, at once opened fire from the ship to cover th_etreat of his men; as soon as the boat came alongside he ordered those in he_n deck for a glass of grog, and leaving the women to guard the ship, led _trong party on shore to make a second attempt.
For nearly a mile they marched through the rich tropical forest withou_olestation; then there suddenly broke forth the deafening rattle of th_ative battle—drums, and some five hundred Tubuaians— among them man_omen—sprang out from their ambush and made a furious attack with clubs,
spears, and slings. Fortunately the ground favoured the white men, six of who_ere armed with muskets loaded with slugs, and these inflicted terribl_laughter at the first volley. Twice did the Tubuains make determined effort_o break through and separate the white men, but throwing down their musket_nd keeping the Tahitians in the centre, the seamen drew their cutlasses an_ewed and slashed at the naked bodies of the savages till the leafy ground wa_oaked and soddened into a bloody mire. But for the slaughter inflicted by th_uskets of the Tahitians, however, the enemy would have borne them down b_heer force of numbers. Christian, whose great strength and skill in al_uscular exercises had made him famous in Tahiti, fought with such courage an_ury that he soon had a pile of dead and dying Tubuaians forming a breastwor_round him; and, leaning his weapon over their bodies, Talalu, the bi_ahitian, fired into the enemy at such close range that the natives at las_avered, broke, and fled.
So exhausted, however, were Christian and his party, many of whom were badl_ounded by spear-thrusts, that all further attempt to recover the stock wa_bandoned, and after two or three hours' rest they returned to the ship. A_he landing-place they were met by a friendly chief, named Tairoa-Maina, an_wo of his friends, who, always having been well-disposed to Christian, too_o part in the assault. They had just arrived from the principal village,
where the bodies of those who fell in the attack were brought, and with gri_atisfaction the mutineers learnt that fifty-six men and seven women had bee_illed and twice as many badly wounded, principally by cutlasses and muske_lugs.
Fearing to remain on the island after the ship sailed, Tairoa-Maina besough_hristian as his pledged taio, or friend, to take him and his two companion_way with him. To this the mutineer consented.
On the following day, all being in readiness, the ship well stocked wit_rovisions, and the wind being from the S.E. the Bounty once more got unde_eigh. Three days later she was off the island of Maitea, a high, verdure-cla_pot about seven miles in extent, lying thirty miles due east from th_outhern point of Tahiti.
Running in close under the lee side, Christian hove-to the ship, called al_ands aft, and divided everything on board into two lots in readiness for th_ime of separation. Then, before the lusty trade wind, the Bounty, not waitin_or the crowd of canoes that were paddling eagerly off towards her filled wit_atives shouting welcome, stood away due west. At dusk Tahiti was in sight,
and on the following morning the ship once more lay at anchor in Matavai Bay.