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Chapter 14 The Last Sailing of the "Bounty"

  • ONCE more were the white men welcomed with unaffected joy by th_imple—hearted Tahitians, who yet wondered at their second return and mad_any inquiries as to its cause. Among those who thronged on board were th_elatives of Pipiri the Areoi; these told enigmatically by Mahina that th_riest would be long in returning, were at first angry and then suspicious;
  • but when in answer to a direct question put to Christian, they learned that h_ad been killed in a fight against his countrymen and their white friends,
  • they were seized with shame and retired with downcast faces. Later on in th_ay came Tina and his beautiful wife, who welcomed Christian and his comrade_ith every demonstration of affection and esteem, though they too marvelled a_he second return of the Bounty; this Christian did not attempt to explain,
  • knowing that those Tahitians who accompanied the ship would not fail to tel_heir countrymen of all the events that had transpired since they sailed fro_ahiti. But Tina expressed his delight at hearing from Christian that many o_he Bounty's crew had returned for the purpose of living among his people, an_eadily gave assistance to land the stores belonging to the shore party.
  • For the third time the ship was now wooded and watered and prepared for sea.
  • When everything was in readiness, Christian mustered the hands, and desire_ll those who wished to remain on shore to go to the larboard side of th_hip, and all those who intended to remain by him to the starboard. The firs_o step over to the larboard were Stewart and Heywood, who were at onc_ollowed by thirteen seamen. His own party Christian found to consist o_dward Young, his next in command; Mills, the gunner's mate; Brown, th_ardener; Martin, McCoy, Williams, Quintal, and, of course, the faithfu_lexander Smith; besides these there stepped over to starboard Tarioa-Maina,
  • the young Tubuaian chief, his two friends, and three Tahitian men with thei_ives, one of whom bore in her arms a female infant. Each of Christian's whit_ollowers had with him a native wife, and thus the whole of his party totalle_wenty-eight persons.
  • For a moment or two Christian looked from one to another of those ranged o_he larboard side, then told them in an unmoved voice to get into the boat. I_ few minutes they were gone, and the boat was being pulled shorewards.
  • Turning to those of the ship's company who were still standing on th_tarboard side, he informed them of his intention to sail in a day or two, an_aid he would be pleased if they would not visit the shore again. This the_nhesitatingly promised.
  • That night—the 22nd of September—he went on shore in a canoe and, landing _hort distance from the village, made his way to the house of the chie_ipa'uu, the father of Nuia, Stewart's wife.
  • Entering quietly he found the two youths in conversation with the old chief.
  • "I have come," he said, "to say goodbye again. Let us now speak together fo_he last time, and bury the past. I can never forget that until that mornin_n April we were always good friends. Shake hands then, my lads, for the las_ime."
  • "I am very sorry all this has happened, sir," said young Heywood, "and onl_ust now Stewart admitted that you were sorely tempted," and he held out hi_and.
  • "God knows, Christian," said Stewart, "I bear you no malice, for I canno_orget that after we gave you our promise not to interfere with your plans _nduced Heywood to join me in breaking that promise. I can only plead as m_xcuse that I never intended to be false to that pledge; but seeing many o_he men were ripe to join me in the attempt to retake the ship I fel_ustified in breaking it. I can only say again that although you have damne_ur prospects in life I freely forgive you."
  • "Not so, Stewart," said the mutineer, "your reputation as a loyal office_hall not suffer, nor shall this boy's. You are both innocent of participatin_n my crime. Be guided by me. Bligh will probably reach England; whether h_oes so or not a ship will be sent out to search for us. When she arrive_ere, go off at once to her and give yourselves up to the commander. Tell him,
  • as I tell you now, that this disaster was brought about entirely by me, and _lone am responsible for the act."
  • "I fear that we shall have difficulty in clearing ourselves," answere_tewart, moodily.
  • "Not if you give yourselves up at once and tell the exact truth. No one, no_ven my followers, not even I myself, thought of mutiny until I came on dec_n the morning watch, and then the temptation suddenly came upon me. You bot_now what a life that damned scoundrel—God forgive me if I speak of a dea_an—led us all, and how he picked me out particularly for his insults an_naccountable malice."
  • "That is true enough; the wonder is that you bore with him so long. But it i_oo late to talk of that now," said Stewart, with a ring of sympathy in hi_oice; "when do you sail, and where are you going?"
  • "My dear lads," he answered mournfully, "where I am going is a question _annot answer, and if I could it would be better unanswered, for you will b_sked what has become of me. I shall leave at daylight and probably search fo_ome uninhabited island on which to spend the remainder of my life."
  • "The natives say you do not intend sailing for a day or two."
  • "No, Stewart. I gave that out on purpose; every one is on board and all i_eady, and I hope to be clear of the bay to-morrow morning, before even _ative is awake, and so by that means avoid the fuss of another leave-taking."
  • He was silent for a while, then turning to Heywood, earnestly besought him t_ee his relatives in England and tell them the truth. "Remember," said he,
  • "when you reach England my people will have learned to hate and despise me a_ mutineer. Tell them what you have seen of my sufferings and my provocation,
  • and ask them to forgive me."
  • Silence fell upon them again in the darkened house, and nought was heard sav_he heavy breathing of the mutineer. Suddenly he rose, grasped their hand_ithout a word, and, turning away, walked slowly down to the white line o_each whereon his canoe lay.
  • Old Tipa'uu awaking from his sleep a few minutes later, kindled afresh th_ying fire, and as the flame leapt up and illuminated the house he saw tha_he faces of Stewart and Heywood were wet with tears.
  • An hour before daylight Fletcher Christian, who had been shut up for som_ours alone in his cabin, came on deck and called the hands, and ere the mist_f Orohena had begun to float away before the chilly breaths of the lan_reeze, the Bounty's anchor was up to her bow, and, with all her canva_pread, she was slipping out of the bay.
  • When daylight broke the natives gave a cry of astonishment, for the ship ha_isappeared.
  • The story of those of the mutineers who remained at Tahiti can be told in _ew words. Who has not heard of the horrors of the Pandora's "box," the ter_pplied to the round house built by the merciless Captain Edwards of th_andora frigate on the deck of his ship as a prison for his wretched captives.
  • The Pandora, sent out to search for the mutineers, arrived at Tahiti on Marc_3, 1791. The sailors surrendered themselves, two seamen, Thompson an_hurchill excepted, for the last-named had been murdered sometime previousl_y Thompson, who in turn was killed by the Tahitians, not before he richl_eserved death for his atrocious crimes.
  • The white men had occupied their time on shore in building a schooner in whic_ome had intended to leave the island, but they were unable to put to sea fo_ant of sails.
  • Stewart's wife, Nuia, who was the daughter of the chief with whom he lived,
  • had borne a child, and her love for her white husband has formed the theme o_any a Tahitian love song. When the Pandora sailed the heart-rending grief o_his gentle girl affected even the rough seamen whose duty it was to force he_way from Stewart's side. Six weeks after she died of a broken heart.
  • Amid the tears and lamentations of the Tahitians, the frigate left with he_risoners on the 19th of May, the little schooner sailing with her. From th_ay the unhappy men surrendered until their arrival at the Cape of Good Hope,
  • they were all treated with great brutality by Edwards—Heywood and Stewart,
  • officers and mere youths as they were, receiving no more mercy at his hand_han did the others.
  • Three months were spent by the Pandora in a vain search for the Bounty an_hose on board, and then the frigate was headed for Timor; on August 28th,
  • while making her way through Endeavour Strait, she crashed on a reef, and o_he following day was abandoned a total wreck.
  • The previous inhumanity of Captain Edwards towards his prisoners was,
  • immediately after the ship struck, if possible, increased. For a long time h_ade no attempt to save them with the rest of the ship's company. From the bo_n which they were confined the only means of egress was by a scuttle on th_op.
  • Some of them, as the Pandora rolled and dashed them, heavily ironed as the_ere, from one side to the other of their dreadful prison, bruised an_leeding, cried out that they would be drowned like rats in a hole, fo_lready the vessel was breaking up fast, but their vindictive gaoler ordere_hem to be quiet or they would be fired upon. Only at the last moment did h_ive the order to take their irons off; and then, if it had not been for th_umanity of one of the Pandora's boatswain's mates, they would all have bee_rowned. He, brave fellow, hearing their cries, declared he would either fre_hem or drown with them; he dropped the keys of their irons through th_cuttle, and with the greatest difficulty (for the water was up to his waist)
  • forced off the iron bar which kept the scuttle closed.
  • When the survivors reached a small sand quay and Edwards mustered them it wa_ound that thirty-one of the frigate's crew and Stewart and three of th_ounty's seamen were drowned.
  • Then began a long voyage to Coupang on the island of Timor, there bein_inety—nine persons in all, divided between three boats. The story of thei_readful sufferings need not here be told; but after a voyage of ninetee_ays, on September 19th, two of the boats reached Coupang, the third arrivin_hree days later. From Coupang they were conveyed in a Dutch ship to Java,
  • where they found the Resolution—the schooner built by the Bounty's people a_ahiti—which had early parted company with the Pandora and had arrived si_eeks before, her crew having endured similar privations. From Batavia the_ere taken to the Cape of Good Hope, their numbers having been increased at _ormer place by the addition of more prisoners—the survivors of the Bryan_arty, eleven convicts who had escaped from Sydney.
  • Embarking in the Gorgon, man-of-war, at the Cape, Edwards and his unfortunat_risoners at last reached England safely, and the mutineers were tried b_ourt—martial. Bligh was not present, having sailed on a second voyage t_ahiti for another cargo of of breadfruit plants.
  • The trial ended in the acquittal of three seamen and the conviction of si_thers, among them Heywood. The general tenor of the evidence went to prov_orrison and Heywood innocent. But Bligh had left behind him statement_nculpating these men. The Admiralty, after the court- martial was over,
  • considered the evidence and ultimately unconditionally pardoned Heywood,
  • Morrison, and a seaman named Muspratt, and executed the others.
  • Heywood and Morrison were permitted to re-enter the service, and both of the_ad honourable careers, the first after attaining the rank of captain die_ull of years and honours in 1831, and Morrison became gunner of the Blenheim,
  • in which ship, in 1807, he was lost with all hands.
  • **END OF PART I**