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Part I

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Chapter I The Heart of a Savage

IT was night at Tahiti, in the Society Islands. The trade-wind had died away, and a bright flood of shimmering moonlight poured down upon the slumbering waters of a little harbour a few miles distant from Matavai Bay, and the white curve or beach that fringed the darkened line of palms shone and glistened like a belt of ivory under the effulgence of its rays. For nearly half a mile the broad sweep of dazzling sand showed no interruption nor break upon its surface save at one spot; there it ran out into a long narrow point, on which, under a small cluster of graceful cocos, growing almost at the water's edge, a canoe was drawn up.

Seated upon the platform of the outrigger, and conversing in low tones, were a man and woman.

The man was an European, dressed in the uniform of a junior naval officer at the end of the last century. He was of medium height, with a dark, gipsy-like

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complexion and wavy brown hair, and as he drew the woman's face to him and kissed her, her skin showed not so dark as his.

The woman, or rather girl, was a pure-blooded native, wearing only the island pareu of tappa cloth about her loins and a snow-white teputa or poncho of the same material over her gracefully-rounded shoulders. The white man's right arm was round her waist, she held his left hand in hers, and with her head against his bosom looked up into his face with all the passionate ardour of a woman who loves.

For a few moments the man ceased speaking and looked anxiously over his shoulder at a number of white tents, pitched in a grove of breadfruit trees some few hundred yards away.

As he looked, the moonlight shone upon the musket barrel of a sentry, whose head could just be discerned above the beach as he paced slowly to and fro before the tents.

Bending her head of wavy, glossy black hair, the girl pressed her lips softly upon the white man's hand, and raising her face again, her eyes followed his, and as she noticed his intent look, a curious, alarmed expression came into her own lustrous orbs.

“What is it?” she murmured. “Does the soldier see us?”

The man smiled reassuringly and shook his head; then still clasping the girl's waist within his arm, he gazed earnestly into her beautiful face and sighed and muttered to himself.

“Mahina,” he said hesitatingly in the Tahitian

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tongue and speaking very softly, “you are a beautiful woman.”

The girl's lips parted in a tender smile, her eyes glowed with a soft, happy light, and again she took his hand in hers and kissed it passionately.

“My white lover,” she murmured, “would that I could tell thee in thine own tongue how I love thee. But the language of Peretanenote is hard to the lips of us of Tahiti; yet, in a little time, when thou hast learned mine, thou wilt know all the great love that is in my heart for thee, and then thou shalt tell me all that is in thine for me.”

The man drew her slender figure to his bosom again; although he spoke her tongue but indifferently and she knew little of his, the ardent love which shone in her eyes and illumined her whole face, made her meaning plain enough. For a minute or so he remained silent, then again the girl's eyes sought his and her hand trembled as she noted the troubled, anxious look deepening upon his features.

“Kirisiani,” she said, stroking his sun-bronzed cheek, “what is in thy mind to make this cloud come to thine eyes?”

“Mahina,” he answered in English, “the time is near now for us to part”; then seeing that the girl did not quite comprehend, he repeated his words in the native language.

“And wilt thou leave me who loveth thee, to sail away with the white Arii,note thy enemy?”

“How can I help it? Am I not the King's officer?

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Did I yield to my love for thee and let the ship sail without me, then in mine own land I should be held up to scorn as a false man, and those of my name would be shamed.”

The girl slowly bent her head and put her hands over her face; then came a sudden, silent gush of tears. For a while she sobbed softly, as only women sob when some bright dream of love and happiness passes away for ever. Then with a quick movement she freed herself from the man's encircling arms, flung herself upon her knees on the sand, raised her tear-dimmed, starlike eyes to his, and spoke.

“Yet thou knowest we love thee; and if thou wilt remain with us my people will take thee to their hearts, and thou shalt become a chief among us. For see, I, Mahina, am of good blood, and there is no other woman in the land that loves thee as I do. And thou shalt have as many slaves as Tinā, our chief, and like him, be carried upon men's shoulders wherever thou goest, so that thy feet shall not touch the ground.”

The man took her hands from his knees and, passing his arms around her, tenderly lifted her up to her seat again. Then with his forehead resting upon his hand he sat and thought.

“No, Mahina. It cannot be as thou desirest; for I am the King's servant, an Arii, and it would be death to me were I to yield to my love for thee and flee from the ship like one of the common sailors. Some day I may return—when I am no longer serving in a King's ship.”

He was on the point of rising and bidding her return

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to her home in the native village which lay some distance back from the cluster of tents, when she sprang to her feet and stood before him with one hand pressed to her panting bosom.

Barely eighteen years of age, her tall, slender figure, as she stood in the flood of moonlight, showed all the grace and beauty of perfect womanhood. Unlike the generality of the Polynesian women (who possess in their youth a faultless symmetry of figure rivalled by no other race in the world, yet too often have somewhat flattened faces), her features were absolutely perfect in their oval regularity and beauty, and through the olive skin of her cheek there now glowed a dusky red, and her lover saw that her frame was shaking with over-mastering passion as she strove to speak. Only once before had Fletcher Christian seen her look like this—when some of her girlish companions had coupled his name with that of Nuia, the sister of Tinā, the chief.

“Mahina,” said her lover, stepping forward and essaying to take her hand.

She drew quickly back, and made an almost threatening gesture.

Christian paused irresolutely, for the look of scorn and fury in the girl's eyes daunted and shamed him. Then he spoke.

“Mahina, this is folly. Why art thou so angered with me?”

“Thou false white man!” she answered, and the strange, hoarse break in her young voice startled him—its melody and sweetness were changed into the jarring accents of rage and wounded pride; “touch

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me no more,” and here a quick, sobbing note sounded in her throat. “Am I nothing to thee? Is all my beauty so soon dead to thee, and wilt thou put such shame upon me?”

“Nay, Mahina, but listen——”

“Why should I listen to thee, now that thou art about to cast me off? Dost thou think that I am a Tahitian woman, to be played with till thou hast tired of me; and then be given, with a laugh, to some other white man on the ship—as I have seen done? Did I not tell thee once that though I was born in this land of Tahiti my mother's mother came from the far distant island of Afitā—the island that springs up like a steep rock from the blue depths of the unknown sea? And by her was my mother taught to despise these dog-eaters of Tahiti; and as my mother was taught, so she taught me.”

For the hundredth time since he had fallen under the spell of the girl's beauty and succumbed to the witchery of her ways and to the sound of her melting voice, her white lover again felt that her presence would overcome his resolution to part with her and return to his hateful duty; and for the hundredth time he struggled to resist a fascination he knew was fatal. So, not daring to look into the danger-depths of her now tear-dimmed eyes, he spoke again with seeming calm, but yet his face paled and flushed and paled again at the sound of his own cold words. He loved her, he said, but how could he escape from the ship? The punishment would be death.

“Death,” she said; “nay, not so, my lover, but life

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for us both. Listen to me, and I will show thee that we shall never part again. And heed not the hot words of anger that leapt from my heart”; and then with all the eloquence of her passionate nature she unfolded to him a plan of escape, and as she spoke her eyes and hands and lips came to the aid of her soft, low voice.

“Mahina,” and he turned from her abruptly and walked to and fro upon the sand, with working face and clenched hands, “let this end, girl; I cannot do as you wish.”

“Ah,” and again the tender voice became harsh and the red spark came into the dark eyes, “then there is some painted woman in thine own land whom thou lovest—a woman such as is she whom we saw on the ship—and it is for her thou hast cast me off.”

“Why, you pretty fool,” said the man in English, with a laugh, as he took her hand, “are you like your mother—offended at a silly jest? Did not you cry with the other girls, ‘Huaheine no Peretane maitai,’note and when you were told that it was but a figure of wax did you not laugh with them?”

“Ay,” replied the girl, and her voice had a sullen tone, “but how know I that this image, which thou sayest was made by one of the sailors of the ship, is not the image of one thou lovest in Peretane? And my mother hath told me that this image of the woman with the hair like the sun and eyes like the ocean blue is carried on the ship as a spell to keep the white men's hearts hard to us women of Tahiti.”

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“Nay,” said the man, in Tahitian, “I tell thee no lies, Mahina; 'twas but a silly jest of the sailors. The thing was the waxen head and shoulders of a woman, and the sailors, to make the people laugh, made unto it a body and wrapped it in garments and made pretence that it was an Englishwoman. Thy countrymen knew it was but a jest—but thy mother, who, lacking keen vision, for she is old, was foolish enough to believe in it; so when she placed presents of mats and food at its feet, all who saw laughed at her; and because she was angered at this hath she told thee this silly tale.”

“Then, if the thing lives not, how is it that the man who showed it to our people carries it with him?”

“Thou silly little one! know that in my country there be men who are workers and dressers of men's and women's hair, and such images as that which thou hast seen are placed outside their dwellings so that men may know their trade. And this man on the ship dresses and curls and whitens the false heads of hair that some of us wear by placing them on the head of the image—for then is his task easy.”

“Ah,” she said in a whisper, “forgive me; but tell me that thou wilt not leave me.”

“No, no, Mahina, tempt me not again; it cannot be. Good-night. Go to thy mother's house—and try to forget me.” Then, not daring to look into her agonised face, he hurriedly embraced her and walked quickly towards the tents.

“Go,” said the girl, as she sank down with her black mantle of hair falling over her shoulders, “go,

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then, and see Mahina no more. It is because I am not white that thou leavest me here with hunger in my heart for thee.” And as she heard the sound of his footsteps over the loose pebbles some distance away, followed by the sentry's challenge, she lay prone upon the sand and wet it with a flood of anguished tears.

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Chapter II The Cutting of the Cable

SCARCE two cables' lengths away from the dark fringe of palms which lined the white, shimmering beach, the Bounty lay motionless upon the placid, reef-sheltered waters of the quiet little bay, her hempen cable hanging straight up and down from hawse-pipe to anchor, fifteen fathoms below her forefoot. From the cabin windows a light in the captain's berth shot a dulled gleam upon the darkened water under her cumbrous stern, which the bright rays of moonlight had not yet touched, for though the moon was full it was not high, and the ship lay head to the south-eastward, with her bows toward the verdured slopes of Orohena Mountain, whose mist-capped summit towered seven thousand feet to the sky. Aloft, the ship's black spars stood silhouetted against the snow-white canvas bent in readiness for her departure; for in a day or two her long stay at Tahiti would come to an end, and the bows of the little barque would be turned southward for her voyage to the West Indies.

In the great cabin, the chief entrance to which was

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from the main deck, the moon-rays sent a stream of light through the open doors, and showed a strange sight to see on shipboard.

Instead of being fitted up like a King's ship, or indeed as a merchantman, the whole cabin space was filled with young breadfruit plants. Reaching fore and aft from the cabin doors to the transoms were five tiers of stout shelving, built to receive the pots in which the plants were placed; while sloping upwards towards the after part of the quarter deck from the transoms themselves were five tiers more. Nearly all the plants were fully-leaved, and a stray moonbeam now and then pierced its way through them to strike against and illumine the dark mahogany doors of the rooms on either side of this strangely furnished cabin.

Nearly nine months before, the Bounty, of 215 tons burden, had left Spithead for Tahiti under the command of Lieutenant William Bligh, who had been sailing-master with the great navigator Cook in the Resolution. The ship which Bligh now commanded was specially fitted to convey specimens of the breadfruit tree from Tahiti—the Otaheite of Cook—to the West Indies, in the hope that the tree would there take root and flourish and furnish as bountiful a food supply to the negroes of those islands as it did to the light, copper-coloured people of the isles of the Pacific.

Of the forty-six persons who sailed from Spithead in the Bounty, all, save Fletcher Christian, the senior master's mate, and a guard of four men who were on shore, were at that moment on board; and all, except the anchor watch, were deep in slumber.

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Walking to and fro on the forepart of the upper deck was Edward Young, a square-built, dark-complexioned man of twenty-two, and midshipman in charge of the watch. For nearly an hour he had thus paced the deck, glancing now at cloud-capped Orohena, six miles away, and now at the white tents of the shore party with the dark figure of the sentry in the foreground. Presently he stopped and looked intently towards another part of the beach where, an hour before, he had seen two figures seated upon a canoe which was drawn up on the hard, white sand; they were gone, but his quick eye discerned the smaller of the two disappear among the coconut groves towards the village of Papawa, while the taller person walked quickly over to the largest of the four tents and entered it.

“Ah,” he said to himself, and an amused smile flitted over his sallow features, “Master Fletcher and Mahina, as I thought. He's badly love-smitten with that girl … no wonder he doesn't grumble at doing duty over the breadfruit plants on shore, with such a woman as that to sit by his side and charm him with her sweet prattle.… Better to be at that than doing this cursed dog-trot up and down in the moon-light … and yet 'tis dangerous … aye, as dangerous for him as it is for me to linger among these people so long.”

He sighed, and then baring his left arm, looked at a name tatooed upon it lengthwise; then with an angry gesture of contempt, pulled down his sleeve, and resumed his walk to and fro.

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“Dangerous! Aye, indeed it is! Else why should I, a King's officer, and as proud a man as Fletcher Christian—whom I call a fool—commit such folly as this? What would my fine uncle say did he know that I had gone so far as to promise this girl, whose name is on my arm, never to leave her. And though I do leave her, is it less dishonourable for me to beguile her with lies because my skin is white and hers is brown? Well, in a week or so, poor Alrema will have to learn to forget me.”

A cool breath of air touched his cheek, and looking shoreward he saw the plumèd palm-tops swaying gently to and fro; then again a smart puff rippled the glassy surface of the water between the ship and the shore and swept seaward; and Young saw the black wall of a rain squall come fleeting down from the dark shadow of the mountain.

Calling to the watch to stand-by, the young officer picked up his oil-skin, which one of the men brought him, put it on, and waited for the squall to strike the ship. Quickly it loomed down upon the line of palms, the black cloud paling to a misty white as it drew nearer; then it rustled, then fiercely shook the waving branches and drenched them with an ice-cold shower ere it hummed and whistled through the Bounty's cordage and sent her sharply astern, to tauten up her cable as rigid as an iron bar.

“Pretty stiff while it lasts, Tom,” said one of the anchor watch to a messmate, as, ten minutes afterwards, the tail end of the squall passed and the bright moonlight again played upon the soaking decks.

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“Damme, but I'd like to see a stiffer one come along and part the cable, eh?”

As the droning hum of the squall ceased and the palm branches hung pendulous to rest again, a woman, nude, except for the narrow girdle of leaves around her waist, raised herself from the foot of a coconut tree behind which she had crouched, and looked at the ship. In her right hand was an open clasp knife. She leant her back against the tree and gazed steadily at the Bounty for nearly a minute, then with an angry exclamation cast the knife from her into the sea.

“Fool that I was! Why did I not cut the rope through? Even though the young Arii had seen me he would not have raised his hand to harm me, for he too would gladly see the ship cast away and broken upon the reef, so that he need not leave my cousin Alrema.”

An hour later, when daylight broke, Edward Young, after calling the ship's company, again went to the bows to take a look at the cable. It was his last duty before reporting to his relief that all was well, and then turning in. As he peered over the low bows of the vessel he saw the hemp cable stretching away down into the clear depths of the calm water. In a moment his sailor's eye saw that all the strands of the cable but one were parted.

His sallow face turned white, then flushed again, and quickly walking aft he knocked at the door of the state room occupied by Lieutenant William Bligh.

“Who is it?” inquired a sharp, imperious voice; then ere the young man had given his name the cabin

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door opened and a man of medium height, little more than thirty years old, stood facing the midshipman. His features were clear cut and refined and of singular whiteness—remarkable in one whose occupation was the sea—and his complexion contrasted strikingly with the jet black of his hair.

“The cable is nearly chafed through, sir, or the strands have parted. There was a strong squall just before daylight and the ship strained very heavily upon it. I think——”

“Keep your opinions to yourself. You are a damned careless fellow, and not fit even to keep anchor watch. Where is it chafed?”

“About a fathom below the water, sir,” answered the young man with an unsteady voice and an angry gleam in his dark eyes. “When I looked just now it was tautened out, and I saw that only one strand remained.”

“Bah,” said the commander with a contemptuous laugh; “and you have the audacity to attempt to screen your carelessness by telling me it has chafed—a couple of fathoms down from the hawse-pipe and in fifteen fathoms of water! The fact is, some of the natives have been off in a canoe and cut it under your nose. You ought to have prevented it. Were you asleep on your watch, Mr. Young? Answer me quickly.”

“I was not, sir,” answered the young man quietly, steadying his voice; “and I will swear that no canoe has come near the ship since I took charge of the deck. I believe she brought up to her anchor so suddenly

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during the squall that the jerk caused the cable to part.”

“That will do. I will see to this matter myself. You are all alike—every one of you. There is not an officer in the ship that I can trust. Order my boat away.”

The angry, red flush in the commander's pale cheeks and the steady glitter in his light blue eyes boded ill to the young officer, whose own dark features were dyed deep with repressed passion; but by a powerful effort he overcame the desire to hurl back his superior officer's taunts, and saluting the captain with a hand which trembled with rage, he withdrew.

In a quarter of an hour Bligh stepped out of his boat on to the beach. Before he had walked a dozen paces he was met with smiles of welcome by Moana and Tinā, two of the leading chiefs, as had ever been the case during the many weeks of the Bounty's stay at the island.

But instead of the outstretched hand of friendship the angry officer gave them but a cold inclination of his head, and passed them by. At the entrance to the principal tent stood Fletcher Christian, who saluted as the commander approached.

“Mr. Christian,” and the moment the master's mate heard the sharp, fierce ring in his captain's tones, his jaw set firmly and his eye looked steadily into Bligh's, “Mr. Christian, the cable has been cut. Most providentially, however, despite the criminal negligence of Mr. Young, the officer of the watch, one strand was not severed. That, fortunately, held

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the ship; otherwise she would now be lying on the reef. I am determined that the culprit shall be found and made an example of—as, by God! he shall.”

“Very good, sir. Shall I send word for Tinā and the other chiefs to come to you?”

“Why so, sir? What reason have you to jump to the conclusion that this piece of villainy is the work of the natives?”

“I cannot imagine, sir, who else should be suspected.”

“That is a matter of opinion. I have mine. But as you have made the suggestion I will at least put your uncalled-for suspicions to the test of investigation.”

“Pardon me, sir——” began Christian, when Bligh cut him short with an imperious gesture.

“Send for Tinā.”

In another minute a tall, stout, but handsome native whose speaking countenance expressed the most timid deference and respect, joined the captain and Christian.

“Tinā,” said Bligh, fixing his keen eyes upon the chief's face, which already showed the deepest concern, “what does this mean? My ship's cable has been cut. Some of your people have done it. Let them be found instantly.”

Like the simple child of nature that he was, the chief clasped his hands beseechingly together, and the quick tears welled up into his dark eyes ere he could speak.

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“What man is there of mine, oh friend of Tutinote and friend of Tinā, who would do thee or thine such wrong as this?” and then with the utmost distress depicted on his face he beckoned to him a fine, handsome woman of about thirty, and hurriedly spoke a few words to her. As she quickly walked away to do his bidding, he turned to Bligh, and in pleading accents besought him to wait a little till his wife Aitia returned.

The captain of the Bounty nodded, seated himself upon a stool which the sentry brought to him, and waited. The chief's house was but a short distance from the tents and soon the woman returned carrying with her a framed picture of a naval officer. It was a portrait of Captain Cook, painted by Webber in 1777, which the great navigator had presented to the Tahitians, and which they treated with as much reverence as if it were a god.

“See,” said the chief, taking the picture from Aitia's hand, and the accents of perfect truth rang in his voice, “see, this is Tuti,” and he held it out towards the two officers; “would I, Tinā, whom he knew as Umunote his friend, and whose eyes love to look upon this, his face which speaketh not, would I tell thee lies? Nay, oh chief, it is my mind that none of my people have done this thing; but yet who can tell the wickedness that cometh into the hearts of men at times? And so now will I speak and seek if there be a man among my people with such an evil heart, and if there be then will I myself slay him before

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thee, so that the bitterness that is in my heart and thine shall die away and be forgotten.”

And then, before the officer could frame a reply to the chief's impassioned speech, Aitia was at his feet, the tears streaming down her face while she repeated her husband's protestations of love and affection for all who came from the land of Peretane.

The earnest manner of the chief had its effect upon the quick, impulsive temper of Bligh—a man who could change in a moment from the violence of intemperate passion to the most winning amiability of manner.

In more gentle tones he replied that he was satisfied that Tinā would do his best to discover who had cut the cable, although if the culprit were found he hoped he would not go so far in punishing him as to take his life. Then he turned to Christian, and altering the suave tone in which he had addressed the chief, curtly ordered him to take the boat's crews and load the boats with plants.

Merely touching his hat, the master's mate repeated the order to the coxswain of the boat near by and turned away.

In an instant Bligh's pale cheek flushed angrily, and he sprang to his feet.

“What the devil do you mean by receiving my order in that manner? Why don't you answer me when I address you? By heavens, sir, I will teach you the respect due to your superior officer!”

Christian turned and faced him; and Bligh, hot and furious as was his mood now, could not but notice

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the repressed passion in his eyes and the paleness that blanched his tanned cheeks, and realise that Fletcher Christian was not a man to drive to desperation.

For a moment the younger man did not answer, then the pallor of his countenance purpled with the sudden rush of blood to his face, the thick black eyebrows came together and his forehead showed two deep furrows as he replied—and in his voice there was no attempt to disguise the bitterness of heart within him—

“I treat you, sir, with all the respect that the rules of the Service demand; with the same courtesy”—and here his tones rang with contemptuous sarcasm—“I answer you as you show to me. Nothing, sir, shall induce me to forget that I am compelled by my duty to adopt that courtesy and respect. But, sir, beyond that I will take care to be no more civil to you than your treatment of me demands or justifies.”

“Beware, sir; you are treading on dangerous ground—you are mutinous! I've half a mind to make a prisoner of you and keep you under arrest until we reach England. By heavens, sir, I'll stand none of your insolence and misconduct! You and every other officer of the ship shall be brought up to the mark and learn your duties.”

But the master's mate made no reply, and walked quietly away after the boat's crew; and Bligh, his frame trembling with passion, went towards the house of Tinā the chief.

Aided by the willing hands of the natives, men and women, who had stood by listening with deep concern

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to the angry discussion between the two officers, the boats' crews soon loaded their boats, and Christian was left alone. Suddenly he felt a hand placed upon his and a voice murmured—

“Kirisiani, dost know who cut the rope?”

He started, and turned to meet the beautiful face of the girl he had talked with during the night.

“Hush, Mahina, tell me not, else must I tell his name to the captain—and that means death.”

She laughed. “Thou knowest that it was I who did it. And yet tell of it if thou so desirest. What is death to me, my beloved, if thou leavest me? Listen —I will tell thee all. So that I might keep thee near me always, and my eyes look into thine, from sunrise to dark, and my hand lie in thine through the silence of the night, I swam to the ship as the wind and rain swept down from the dark valleys of Orohena, and cut the rope.”

“Mahina, Mahina, 'twas well for thee that the chief of the ship is no friend of mine—even now hot words passed between us—else would I tell him 'twas thee. With us, who are servants of the King of Britain, no woman's love must count—our love to him is first of all. Forget that thou hast ever seen me.”

She flung her arms round his neck and drew his face down to hers. “Thou art mine—if thou leavest in the ship then will I curse thee and die.”

Ere he could say more, with an angry sob she had gone.

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Chapter III White Men and Brown Women

TWO days had passed, and now as the departure of the ship drew near the natives redoubled their kindnesses to the Bounty's people. Christian, with his morbid mind brooding over the scene between himself and his commander, did his duty in a dull, mechanical way and scarce spoke even to Edward Young, the one man to whom his gloomy nature sometimes relaxed. The parting, too, between Mahina and himself had had its effect upon him and he now clearly saw that, untutored savage as she was, she was yet a tender, loving woman whose heart he had cruelly tortured. “But,” he reasoned with himself, “it cannot be helped. She will never see me again, poor child. She will soon cast me out of her memory.”

A mile or two away from where the Bounty rode at anchor, at a little village called Torea, Mahina and Nuia, the handsome sister of Tinā the chief, sat together with their arms clasped round each other's waists. Mahina's eyes were wet with tears, but yet

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there was shining through them the light of radiant happiness.

“See, Nuia, how I have wronged thee! Always, always was my heart wrung by the idle words of those who said that Kirisiani wavered in his love between thee and me.”

Nuia laughed, and her bright, starlike eyes looked honestly into those of her friend.

“It is false. True, I once coveted him; but soon I saw it was for thee alone that he cared. And then it was that Steuanote told me he loved me, and 'tis he alone that I care for now; and gladly will I help thee to keep thy lover, even as do I desire to keep mine. And listen now, while I tell thee how this shall be done.”

Then Nuia told her friend how some of the seamen with whom the women had tender relations had declared for days their intention of deserting to the mountains and there remaining until the Bounty sailed. The women had promised to assist them, even though they knew Tinā would resent the act bitterly. They trusted, however, that after Bligh was gone, the chief's love for his sister would procure their pardon. Only the previous day Nuia and Alrema and two other girls named Ohuna and Ahi, who were devoted to two seamen named Millward and Churchill, had arranged to steal the ship's cutter during the night, land some miles down the coast where they would be met by Nuia and her companions, and make their way over the mountains to Taravao—the peninsula that connects

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the district of Taiarapu with Tahiti. Here they were to conceal themselves till “the wrath of Tinā had ceased.”

“To-night, oh friend of my heart,” said Nuia, placing her cheek against the bare bosom of her friend and embracing her lovingly, “this shall be done. Alrema's lover, Etuāti, who hateth the chief of the ship as bitterly as does thy Kirisiani, to-night again keepeth the watch. He hath taken the hands of these men in his and sworn to turn away his face when they steal the boat; and to-night, perhaps, will my Steua escape from the ship and come to me. Then, one by one, all those of the white men that hate to leave this land of ours will hide away, and the Arii Pirainote will trouble not, for in Taravao it will be hard for him to seek them?”

A fierce light shone in Mahina's eyes. “True, how could he? And yet it would please me better could I see Pirai dead. For ever is he saying bitter words to the man I love.”

Nuia looked at her companion for a moment, then rose, and, going to a corner of the house, reached her hand up to the thatch; then she took down a pistol and gave it to her friend.

“See, this is the little gun that Pirai the captain gave to my brother Tinā. To-night Alrema gives it to her lover, who hath sworn to kill Pirai some day for the foul words he ever gives him, even as he speaks foul words to thy lover.”

Then the two girls separated—Nuia to give the

  ― 25 ―
pistol into Alrema's hand for Young, and Mahina to watch for her lover, should Christian come ashore in the evening.

At one o'clock next morning Edward Young was again keeping anchor watch. It was dark and rainy and no one else was to be seen on deck but the sentry—John Millward. Presently Young felt a hand on his shoulder, and heard the voice of Churchill, the ship's corporal—“Mr. Young!”

“For heaven's sake be careful, Churchill! Are you all ready?”

“Yes, we've got the second cutter alongside. Muspratt is in her. We've eight muskets and six bags of powder and ball. Five of the muskets and some ammunition will be hidden by Alrema, who will be watching for you to escape. Why don't you come now, sir? There are half a dozen others ready to do so!”

“No, no, not now. I must get away alone. Alrema will let you know when.”

“Goodbye, sir,” whispered Churchill.

The midshipman pressed his hand, and the corporal stepped softly along the deck, till he reached the spot where Millward the sentry stood, peering anxiously out into the gloom which enveloped the ship. A quick gesture from Churchill, and the two figures dropped quietly over the side and were gone.

For some minutes Young looked for the boat through the darkness, as those in her pulled with muffled oars towards the shore.

“That's satisfactory,” muttered the young man to

  ― 26 ―
himself; “that's something for our amiable and worthy commander to think over at breakfast.”

Lieutenant Bligh did think over it at breakfast; and soon Young was in irons and awaiting a promised flogging for “being asleep on his watch and allowing the damned scoundrels to desert,” as his commander forcibly expressed it.

Four days afterwards, as Christian made his rounds of the ship he came upon Young, still in leg irons, waiting, with deadly hatred in his heart, for Bligh to visit him.

In the bosom of his shirt lay Tinā's pistol, and as the figures of Christian and a seaman darkened the entrance to the stuffy cabin his fingers clutched the weapon savagely.

“They are all taken, Young,” muttered his superior officer; “they gave themselves up to Bligh this morning, and are now on board. I wish with all my heart I could set you free, for Bligh swears he will flog you.”

“And I swear, Christian, that he shall die if he attempts it. My God! are we Englishmen or slaves?”

Christian shook his head gloomingly, and with a pitying look at the young man, went on deck, passing on his way the manacled figures of the three captured men. They lay together in the sail locker, their backs raw and bleeding from the four dozen lashes which they had each received in the morning.

Their dreams of and dash for liberty had been brief. Landing at the spot agreed upon, Nuia and her two friends, Ohuna and Ahi, met them with the warmest demonstrations of affection and loyalty; then

  ― 27 ―
they learned with alarm that Oripah and Tamiri, two of Tinā's subsidiary chiefs, had forbidden the people in any way to aid or shelter them; and that Tinā himself had bitterly reproached his sister Nuia for her share in the conspiracy—for by some means the whole plan of escape had been made known to him. Then after a hurried discussion the three deserters, accompanied by Ahi and another girl named Tahinia, set out again for Tetuaroa, a group of low-lying coral islands twenty-eight miles from where the Bounty lay. There they hoped to be free from interference; for the chief of the islands, Miti, was related to Tahinia.

But when half-way across a furious squall drove them back to the mainland. Landing at a village called Tetaha the deserters remained hidden till they were surprised by Bligh and a boat's crew; and although they were prepared to fight to the last, the girls, to their surprise, begged them to surrender.

“Milwa,” said Nuia to Millward, the moment they saw Bligh approaching, accompanied by his boat's crew and Tinā, “waste neither these men's blood nor thine. Yield—and I, Nuia, swear that the ship shall not take thee away.”

Relying on the repeated assurances of the girls, who wept in the earnestness of their beseechings, the three deserters came out of the house and stood before Bligh and his party.

“Surrender, you villains!” he cried.

“Aye, aye, sir, we surrender,” answered Churchill; and under his breath he said to his companions—“to be free again before long.”

  ― 28 ―

When the men were brought on board, Bligh, whose face was livid with passion, turned to Fletcher Christian.

“Muster the hands, Mr. Christian. I'll show you and the others like you whether I will tolerate this spirit of mutiny and disregard of my orders.”

Then in sullen silence the ship's company were mustered on the main deck to witness the flogging of the deserters.

As the bleeding form of Muspratt, the last to be punished, and the greatest sufferer, was led away from the gratings, one of the boatswain's mates named Morrison said to the midshipman Stewart in a low voice: “I'm glad, sir, I wasn't picked on to flog poor Bill Muspratt. My God, sir, how long is this to go on? The men are bordering on mutiny. Last night the captain took away every present of food given to us by the natives and said that it was his, and that every one on the ship, from the master down, was a damned thief.”

Stewart gave him a warning glance as he answered in a whisper: “Don't talk to me, Morrison; if the captain sees you it means the cat.”

Ten minutes later, as Christian was employed in hoisting in the cutter, Bligh's imperious tones were heard asking for him.

“Mr. Christian,” said the captain, walking up to where the master's mate stood, and his voice quivered with rage, “I find that you had the audacity to send a coconut to that scoundrel Young to drink just now. By the Lord, sir, do you want me to send you to join

  ― 29 ―
him?” And then with a passionate gesture he turned on his heel and again sought his cabin.

The master's mate, with blazing eyes and face white with anger, turned and looked at the seamen who stood around him with their hands on the boat-falls. Not a word escaped his lips, but in their eyes he read their dangerous sympathy.

That night Bligh slept ashore at Tinā's house, and when all but the anchor watch were asleep a canoe glided gently alongside, and Mahina and Alrema stepped on deck and were met by their lovers. Young had secretly been released from his irons by Christian the moment Bligh had left the ship. For some hours the four conversed earnestly together, then just as the first grey streaks of dawn began to pierce the horizon the girls embraced the two men tenderly and went quietly back to their canoe.

Down below, as Christian was replacing the handcuffs on Young's wrists, the midshipman gripped his companion's arm.

“Christian,” he said, “as God is my judge I intend to keep faith with that girl, even if it costs me my life; and you, Christian, are you made of stone? Can you leave Mahina—to lead such a life as we are made to live?”

The master's mate dashed Young's arm aside. “For God's sake, man, don't ask me. My brain is on fire,” and for a minute or two he walked quickly to and fro, seemingly oblivious of the other's presence. Then he stopped suddenly and faced Young with a short, bitter laugh.

  ― 30 ―

“That all depends on what happens. If Bligh treats me as a man … I will pocket his past insults … and prove a cruel, heartless scoundrel to that poor girl. If he does not …”

He finished the sentence with a gesture of despair, and went on deck.

  ― 31 ―

Chapter IV The First Sailing of the “Bounty”

THE time to say farewell had come at last, and from early dawn the beach was crowded with natives. For two days the genial, kindhearted people had entertained their white friends with their simple sports, and the crew of the Bounty—save for those who lay ironed and sweltering in her 'tween decks—were given liberty by their stern captain. Sometimes in the midst of the mirth and song that prevailed during the hivas or dancing of the natives, strange spells of silence would fall, and Tinā the chief and his stately wife would, with tears streaming from their eyes, leave the assembled throng and retire to their house. Tender-hearted, simple, and affectionate, they had conceived for Bligh, despite his occasional outbursts of passion and his severe treatment of the ship's company, a sincere and lasting respect; and that evening, when he came ashore dressed in his full uniform, with his sword by his side, smiling in that engaging manner which seemed so natural to him at times, even those few of the natives who feared and disliked him for his

  ― 32 ―
tyranny, demonstrated at least their respect for his rank and position in the most marked and earnest manner.

Long past midnight the singing and dancing continued, and Bligh, as he stood on the beach, grasping the hands of Tinā and Aitia in his, was content. Nearly two-thirds of his crew were ashore, and now as he stood there watching he saw them taking farewell of their native friends, who with the most extravagant demonstrations of sorrow, begged them to remain till the morning. He had no suspicion that this was assumed and that nearly half of his men had whispered to some taio (male friend) or pretty girl, “We will return soon.”

“Good-night,” he said to the chief, holding out his white hand again, “good-night, Tinā and Aitia. Remember that to-morrow, soon after daylight, we sail. Yet I shall be pleased to see you in the morning.”

Then the boatswain's whistle sounded for the men to return to the boats, and amid the weeping of those of the islanders who did not know what Mahina and the other women knew, Bligh and his men called out their farewells and pulled towards the ship.

But with the first signs of dawn, those on board, looking shoreward, saw a vast concourse of natives on that part of the beach nearest the Bounty; and every few minutes numbers of people of both sexes were arriving through the palm-groves from inland villages, carrying gifts of fruit and native clothing, intended as parting presents for the voyagers. The waters, too, of the little bay were alive with canoes; many of them

  ― 33 ―
had come from the distant villages of Taiarapu, a day's journey, laden to the water's edge with simple tokens of affection for Bligh and his crew. As the canoes passed under the Bounty's stern on their way to the shore the people in them were much affected when they noted the unmistakable signs of the ship's departure. They had daily heard for a month past from Bligh himself that he hoped to sail on the following day, but the continued delays seemed to have inspired them with hope; the Bounty's people, they believed, had become so attached to their island friends that they could not part from them, and it was even possible, to their simple minds, that Bligh would abandon the mission on which he was sent by the unknown King of England.

Sitting a little apart from the others and apparently taking no heed of the bustle around them, the girls Mahina and Nuia conversed with each other in low tones. Alrema, although accused by Tinā of helping his sister in aiding the seamen to desert, had been forgiven, and was just then, with Aitia, conveying to Bligh a farewell present of two handsome parais or mourning dresses, which were to be given to King George.

“Mahina,” and Nuia placed her hand on her friend's shoulder, “all will yet be well. Why look so sad? Dost thou doubt our lovers' promises? See, only a little while ago, Alrema went on board to see her lover Etuati—he who is now bound with iron rings on his hands and feet—and this he said to her: ‘Tell those that love us that we will return to Tahiti ere a

  ― 34 ―
moon has passed.’ Come, my friend, let us go to the ship for the last time.”

By this time the Bounty was surrounded by hundreds of canoes, and her decks were thronged with natives who, each man singling out his particular taio, or white friend, pressed upon his acceptance some farewell gift. Bligh, standing on the quarter deck, was conversing with Aitia and her husband, and behind him stood a boatswain's mate holding in his arms two muskets and two pistols, with bags of powder and ball. These were a gift from the commander to Aitia, whose skill as a markswoman rendered the gift specially pleasing and valuable.

Raising his hat, and addressing her as if she were some great English lady, the captain of the Bounty said that the gifts were in token of his own personal liking for her and her husband, and as a proof of the friendship of the king of Great Britain. Then, while a respectful silence fell upon every one on board, the stately Aitia touched her forehead with the weapons one after another, and flinging herself at Bligh's feet clasped them in her hands and wept.

Gently disengaging her hands the commander straightened his slender figure, and his sharp tones rang out: “Clear the decks, Mr. Christian; and you, Tinā, ask your people to get into their canoes. Aitia, goodbye; Tinā, goodbye.”

Christian, who had just bidden a hurried, passionate farewell to Mahina, sprang to the ship's forecastle and then some of the seamen manned the little capstan; the fiddler took his seat upon its head and scraped a

  ― 35 ―
dismal tune, every now and then breaking off in the middle of a bar to wave his bow to some Tahitian friend whom he knew, as he or she went over the side to a canoe. The ship was already hove short; and a few fathoms of the great hemp cable flaked upon the deck soon brought the anchor to the cathead. The topsails bellied out as the wind filled them; the men sprang aloft to man the yards at the word of command from Bligh, who had explained to Tinā that with this ceremony and the firing of guns the ships of King George saluted the sovereigns of other nations; but as the gun-firing might injure the breadfruit plants on board it would be omitted. The sailors aloft gave a last cheer, the water began to ripple and bubble under the bluff bows of the Bounty and from the crowd of sorrowing people burst a cry of “Ioarana no ti atua ti” (“May the gods protect thee for ever and ever”).

A puff rippled across the bay, the ship lay over to it and sped quickly towards the passage between the roaring lines of surf which leapt and seethed upon the shelving ledges of coral reef. In another five minutes the vessel's bows rose and fell to the sweep of the ocean swell, and the Bounty stood out into the open sea.

Then those who watched from the shore saw her square her yards and head to the south, for Bligh intended to call at the Friendly Islands before proceeding to the West Indies. Hour after hour, and still the people watched the lessening canvas of the ship sink below the horizon. Towards noon the breeze failed, and not till the green shadows of the mountains turned

  ― 36 ―
into a soft purple under the rays of the setting sun was the white speck lost to sight.

Then Mahina and Nuia, who were the last to go, turned sadly away and went home to their dwellings of thatch to wait and hope.

  ― 37 ―

Chapter V The Last Straw

FOR thirteen days the Bounty had sailed westward over a placid sea, the light south-east trades which filled her canvas scarce causing more than a noiseless ripple under her forefoot. On the morning of the fourteenth day she sailed through a cluster of low-lying, richly-verdured islands—the Namuka Group, and dropped her anchor in ten fathoms, in the clear, motionless waters of a reef-enclosed spot off the main island. The day was beautifully fine but intensely hot, and the dying wind gave the ship scarcely way enough to bring her to an anchor.

In a very short time Bligh had opened communication with the natives of Namuka—a fierce, muscular race, who, however, professed friendship, agreeing to let him procure such supplies as he wanted from the island, and promising their assistance in wooding and watering the ship. The calm and dignified manner of the commander seemed to impress the savage, intractable, and treacherous Tongans as it had the gentle

  ― 38 ―
and kindly-natured Tahitians; and Bligh again showed those peculiar phases of his character which made him treat even the most dangerous natives with humanity and forbearance, and yet toward his officers and crew behave with undeserved, terrible severity.

As soon as the captain returned on board, in sharp, fretful tones he ordered the boats away; one under the command of Mr. Nelson, the botanist, and another with Christian in charge, to wood and water the ship.

For some hours the work went on without interference, till the natives, all of whom were armed with spears, clubs, and slings, began to surround the white men and steal everything they could lay their hands upon. Some of them actually took the casks of water from Christian's men and rolled them away into the coconut groves. Every moment their demeanour became more threatening and their insulting gestures and language were so unmistakable that Christian got his men together in order to cover the boats, and then paused irresolutely as to his next course of action. For Bligh had given orders that no matter how the natives behaved they were not to be molested, and on no excuse were they to be fired upon.

In a few minutes their numbers had so increased that they began to show signs of making a rush upon Christian's scanty force, evidently mistaking his forbearance for fear; and soon some hundreds of them attempted to cut him off from the boats. It was only at this juncture that he gave orders to fire a volley over the heads of the now advancing and yelling body

  ― 39 ―
of savages. To this they responded with derisive jeers, shaking their spears and clubs and calling out “Maté! maté!” (“Kill! kill!”).

With great difficulty Christian got his men back into the boats without injury being inflicted on either side, and reported himself to Bligh, who severely reprimanded him.

Wiping the beads of perspiration from his face, the young man replied to his commander's censure: “It is impossible, sir, to carry on the duty unless some steps are taken to prevent the landing party from being cut off by the natives.”

“You are a damned cowardly lot of fellows!” sneered Bligh; “and is it possible that you, Mr. Christian, an officer in the King's Service, are afraid of a troop of savages while you and your men have firearms?”

Christian's face paled and his limbs shook as if in a fit of ague: “Our arms are of no avail, sir, while you forbid their use.”

“Carry on the work and don't attempt to argue with me,” was the contemptuous answer.

So with wrath eating his heart out Christian went back to his task, and by almost superhuman endurance and forbearance managed to complete the wooding and watering of the ship.

At last the work was finished, and the Bounty once more at sea, and on the afternoon of the 26th of April she lay becalmed between Namuka and the island of Tofoa, whose sharp-pointed volcanic cone could be seen thirty miles away, with thin blue curls of smoke

  ― 40 ―
ascending from its hidden fires into the windless atmosphere, while the sea was of glassy calmness and the ship drifted steadily to the eastward.

Pacing to and fro upon the quarter deck, with the red fury spot showing upon his pale cheeks, the captain presently said, in his quick, angry way, as his eye glanced along the deck—

“Morrison, send Mr. Christian here.”

It was Fletcher Christian's watch on deck, and he at once responded.

“Mr. Christian, what has become of the pile of drinking coconuts which was stowed between the guns? Some scoundrel has taken them. I demand to know who was the person!”

“I cannot tell you, sir, what has become of them.”

“You mean you will not. By heavens, sir, you shall! I have no doubt that whoever took them did so with the sanction of the officers.”

A lump rose in Christian's throat and his voice sounded hoarsely.

“I think, sir, that you are mistaken.”

“We shall see! Pass the word for all the officers to come on deck.”

In a few minutes they were all assembled, and Bligh, now in a fever heat of unreasoning passion, attacked them in the same manner. For some seconds no one answered; then Fryer the master, and Christian and Young assured him each in turn that they had not seen any of the men take the coconuts.

“Then,” said Bligh, and his thin, clean-cut lips curled contemptuously, “you have taken them yourselves!

  ― 41 ―
Mr. Elphinstone,” turning to the junior master's mate, “bring every coconut in the ship on deck.”

“Now,” went on Bligh, as four or five seamen came on the poop carrying bunches of coconuts, which they placed in heaps on the deck, “please tell me, each of you, which of these heaps you individually claim.”

The officers spoke in turn, and then but one heap of coconuts remained—that belonging to Christian.

“Is this yours, Mr. Christian?” said Bligh, in a voice trembling with passion.

“I really do not know, sir. It is difficult to tell one pile of coconuts from another; but I hope you don't think me mean enough to steal yours.”

“By God, sir, I do! You must have stolen these from me or you could give a better account of them! You infernal rascals! You are all thieves alike and combine with the men to rob me. I will flog you all and make some of you jump overboard before we reach Endeavour Straits.”

Calling Samuel his clerk, Bligh ordered all the grog to be stopped, and only half a pound of yams to be served to each officer's mess in the future—and a quarter of a pound only if a single yam was missed. And then, his handsome features distorted with rage, and muttering curses, he turned upon his heel and went below.

The officers stood and eyed each other with anger and amazement, and began to complain audibly; but Christian, with a strange look in his dark eyes, ordered

  ― 42 ―
them in a hoarse and broken voice, some to their duty, others to their watch below.

When eight bells struck he was relieved by the master and went to his cabin.

And Edward Young, as he watched Fletcher Christian pass him, with his hands clenched and his face blanched to a deathly white, smiled to himself and said, “It is the last straw.”

  ― 43 ―

Chapter VI The Rubicon

WHEN Christian reached his cabin he threw himself upon his sea-chest—almost the only article of furniture that the place contained—and cursed aloud his wretched existence. He thought of the long voyage before him, each day wearisome enough even if spent in agreeable companionship with his fellows, but a very purgatory with such a man as Bligh to goad him every hour with foul language and petty insults.

His gloomy reflections were broken in upon by a voice asking permission for the speaker to enter.

“What do you want?” he asked angrily.

A seaman drew aside the canvas screen.

“The captain sends his compliments, sir, and requests the pleasure of your company to supper.”

Christian sprang to his feet, his face flaming with passion. “Tell him to go to the devil and take his supper in the only company he is fit for.”

Alexander Smith, the sailor who had brought the message, for a moment stared in astonishment, yet

  ― 44 ―
waited in respectful silence. This was the first time during all the long voyage that an officer had so far forgotten himself as to express his feelings about the commander before a common seaman. With the seamen themselves such outbursts were frequent enough, but here was an officer—the senior master's mate, the third man in rank in the ship—ordering a common sailor to tell his commander to go to the devil, the only fit company for him!

Smith was a young man of twenty-two, the son of a Thames lighterman; but he had been born with brains, and had taught himself to read and write, while his mother had brought him up to do his duty and respect his superiors in that old fashion which is good. This was his first voyage in a King's ship, but he knew what was due from Christian to his commander.

So, instead of smiling, either openly or covertly, at Christian's rage, he thought for a moment, pulled awkwardly at a lock of his hair, gave a slight cough, and said—

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Christian, did you say that I was to tell the captain you felt too poorly, and kindly asked to be excused?”

Christian glanced quickly at him, and then forgot his anger. The sailor was not much to look at, a strongly-built fellow below the middle height, with his face pitted deeply from the effects of small-pox, and his naked chest disfigured with tatoo marks—a coarse, rough seaman in dress and appearance, a gentleman in instincts—and, above all, a man.

  ― 45 ―

“Smith, you're a good fellow to bring me up with a round turn like that! Give me your hand, and deliver your own message, and accept my gratitude!” And the officer grasped the sailor's hand and wrung it warmly.

“Aye, aye, sir,” and Smith's honest tones trembled with pleasure, for he liked and respected the young man, and felt proud of having thus won his confidence. “A few months longer, sir, and it'll be all serene with us.” Then, with a respectful salute, he was gone.

The master's mate sat down again on the chest, and leant his cheek upon his hands. The last words of Smith—“a few months longer”—had once more set his brooding mind to work.

He rose to his feet again; the close, hot atmosphere of his stuffy quarters seemed to oppress and choke him, and his brain was dulled and aching with the misery in his heart. He stepped out, and, gaining the deck quietly, leant upon the bulwarks and looked moodily over the star-lit ocean to where the steep cone of Tofoa upreared its darkened form three thousand feet in the air. It was the first dog-watch, when on ship-board men sing and make merry; but on this ship came no sounds of violin or choruses of seamen, for all, officers and men alike, were sullen and gloomy, and brooded over the incidents of the past few days.

The wind was very light, and the ship scarce held steerage way; everything was still, and the grave-like silence oppressed the man. Now and then a

  ― 46 ―
gleam of red, smoky flame would flash in the sky to the eastward, and a strange, dulled muttering would be borne over the waters as the raging forces pent up in black Tofoa boiled and seethed within its groaning heart. The sight possessed a fascination for him, and for nearly half an hour he stood and watched the shooting dull-red flame and listened to the awful sounds which broke from the mountain in the violence of its convulsions.

Presently he changed his attitude of dejection, and his eye lightened.

“Ten miles away,” he muttered, gazing at the dark shape of Tofoa, “and there are beaches on the west side where landing is easy, and a network of low islets within another six leagues. By heavens, I'll risk it! Anything is better than this—better, even, the jaws of a shark!”

He went quietly forward and collected a number of boat-oars and some hand-spikes from the racks; these he brought to a place in the after part of the ship, where he was not likely to be seen, and began to lash them together.

He was interrupted suddenly by Young. “What the h—l are you doing, Christian?”

“I am making a raft.”

“A raft?”

“Yes, a raft.”

“Why? What for?”

“Because, Young, I can stand this no longer. I am about to try and make Tofoa on this raft.”

“Madness! You could never reach there, even

  ― 47 ―
if there were no sharks. There is a fearful current setting to the westward.”

“I don't care. Sharks are better company than this infernal tyrant. Why, do you know, Young, that the damned, pitiful scoundrel actually invited me to sup with him to-night, no doubt thinking to propitiate me for the insults of this afternoon.”

“Oh, well, you've suffered no more than I. But still, this is sheer madness, Christian. You are not, surely, such a fool as to incur all the odium of becoming a deserter, for what?—to be turned into shark's meat!”

“Don't argue with me, Young,” he answered fiercely. “I've made up my mind to get out of this floating hell, and I mean to leave the ship either in the first or middle watch. You know of my intention. If you think it your duty, tell the gentle Bligh.”

Young laughed. “Not I, Christian. I'll not move in the matter, except to dissuade you from such folly.”

“Cease, cease, my dear fellow; it is too late. Either this, or I put an end to my life. But if your sympathies are with me, do me this favour—go to the steward and on some pretence or other get me food. Put it in a bag with some nails and hoop-iron and beads, or anything likely to take the fancy of the natives, and bring it to me.”

Young at once went away, and procuring a canvas bag put in it food, some bottles of water, and a few articles for barter. But at the same time he told the boatswain's mate of Christian's watch and the officers

  ― 48 ―
in charge of the first and middle watches, and begged them to keep the matter secret, but on no account to give the young man an opportunity of carrying out his rash project, “for,” said he earnestly, “Mr. Christian is not in a fit state to leave the ship; the man is ill in mind and body, and not responsible for his actions.”

Slowly the night passed, and more than once Christian came on deck with the intention of putting his idea of escape into practice; but he always found some one ready to talk to him, and so no opportunity came. At half-past three he gave up all further attempts, and sick in mind, lay down in his bunk. Then eight bells struck, and he was called by Stewart to take the morning watch.

As Stewart turned to go on deck he pressed Christian's hand sympathetically, and said in a low voice, “Mr. Christian, I know your design. For God's sake, sir, try to have patience, and give up your intention. If you carry it out, it only means a dreadful death.”

“I will make no further attempt to-night, at least,” he answered, in a strange, husky voice; but he gave the midshipman's hand a firm grip.

For some minutes he sat upon his sea-chest, with his face buried in his hands, thinking; and the darkness of the night, the hoarse mutterings and muffled thunder from distant Tofoa, found a responsive echo in his maddened brain.

The signs of dawn were reddening the horizon as Christian reached the deck; and the black pall of smoke

  ― 49 ―
which had hovered over Tofoa's lofty peak was vanishing before the breath of a light air which was coming over the water from the south-east but had not yet stirred the Bounty's canvas.

Thomas Hayward, the midshipman of the watch, had mustered his men; the wheel had been relieved, the look-out stationed, and those of the watch who were not needed had gone forward to lay about the deck to doze or sleep.

Leaning over the forecastle rail the look-out stood watching the movement of a huge shark that swam to and fro, close to the ship's port side. Presently Young, whose attention was drawn to the monster by the seaman, leant over the waist and watched also, and shuddered as he thought of Christian and his raft; then, knowing that Christian would not disturb him, he lay down between two guns.

Pacing to and fro on the starboard side of the little poop the master's mate was waiting for the breeze to reach the ship, to give the order to brace the yards round to meet it. Perhaps had that light, cooling air which was now sweeping away sulphurous smoke from Tofoa's black sides, reached the silent ship and sent the crew hurrying about her decks, the desperate deed that was so soon to follow would never have been done. But as Christian looked aloft, he saw the pendant topsails give a feeble flap or two and then hang limp and dead as before; a faint breath of air touched his burning temples, and then silence, deep and oppressive, fell upon the ship again.

“A dead calm still,” he muttered to himself; “I

  ― 50 ―
wish to God a squall would put us on our beam ends or founder the ship—anything but this.” And then he stepped to the side and watched, with a curious sense of fascination, the sullen mass of the burning mountain.

The utter impossibility of his leaving the ship unless to die by the teeth of the sharks was now forced upon his mind, for there beneath the counter he saw swimming to and fro a brute that would have made short work of him upon the fragile raft on which he had thought to venture his life. But yet—and his hands clenched savagely—submission to his lot was not possible—better death itself than endure it longer.

Then his thoughts went back to a night on the white beach at Tahiti, the murmuring sway and rustle of pluméd palms, and the soft symphony of the throbbing surf on the distant reef, as Mahina's starlike eyes, dimmed with her farewell tears, looked past his own into the cloudless vault of heaven above them; and her passionate pleadings as she placed her trembling hands upon his arm seemed even now to be borne to him across the sea, and made the quick, hot blood or youth surge madly through his veins. Madness to think of her now! Yes, he knew that; but yet she loved him—would give her life for him, even. A savage! And he a King's officer, yet a slave to a vindictive tyrant—his life one daily round of insult and shame.… A savage, yet a gloriously beautiful woman, whom only his duty to his King and country made him forget.

Then his face flushed hotly. Forget her! What folly to try to deceive himself! He loved her! …

  ― 51 ―
He struck his clenched hand on the rail, and then his brain caught fire, his breath came in short, quick gasps, and the WAY OUT flashed into his mind.

What would be his life at sea? Bligh, even if suffered until the ship returned to England, was not the only coarse, cruel tyrant in the Service. And it would be at least seven months ere the voyage was ended—seven months of torture, shame and misery. And over there, far beyond the sea-rim lay at least happiness with one who loved him.

What did it matter after all? Perhaps after long, long years of service he would be put aside for other and younger men who had influence and social position. But then, he thought, he was an officer, a man of good family. The insults he had received might be forgotten were he one of the rough, coarse seamen for'ard—such a man, for instance, as Quintal who, when brutally flogged by Bligh, swore he would kill his oppressor. But a seaman forgot and forgave a flogging, and an officer and a gentleman must forget and—no, not forgive—an insult from his superior.

So, as he paced to and fro on the little poop and as the dawn began to break he sought to get rid of the devil tempting him; but he sought in vain. Again and again Mahina's soft voice and choking sobs sounded in his ears. “I will love thee for ever and ever and ever; how canst thou leave me?”

Then the WAY OUT came into his heart again. It was so easy of accomplishment, too. He stopped suddenly in his hurried pacing to and fro and his quick mutterings; for the man at the wheel was regarding him curiously.

  ― 52 ―
“My God!” he muttered to himself, then cried aloud “I'll do it!” He stepped to the break of the poop.

“Hayward,” he called in a hoarse whisper.

Hayward jumped up from the hatch where he had been lying and came to the foot of the poop ladder.

“Did you call me, sir?”

“Yes”—and his voice seemed like the voice or another man to the speaker himself—“come up here and look after her. I want to go below and lash up my hammock.”

The midshipman looked inquiringly at him. “You are ill, sir,” he said; “better get into your hammock instead. Hallet is sleeping on deck. Let me call him to relieve you.”

“No,” and his voice had a strange, sharp ring in it; “come up here.”

“You are not thinking of that raft again, Mr. Christian? There's been a shark swimming round the ship all night.”

“Damn you, come up here when I tell you.”

“Very well, sir,” said Hayward in a changed voice, and he walked aft to the binnacle without another word.

Christian ran forward. The men of his watch lay sleeping on the fore-hatch, and among them he was quick to recognise two seamen, Quintal and McCoy, men who had been severely punished for trivial offences by Bligh. Both were good seamen, and, with Alexander Smith, had a particular liking for Christian, who had treated them with a great deal of kindness. The master's mate, now that he had

  ― 53 ―
determined to take the plunge, seemed to have rapidly sketched in his mind a feasible plan of action. He stooped down and awakened both of them quietly.

The men sprang to their feet and would have called the rest of the sleeping watch, but with a warning gesture Christian stopped them. Then he motioned them to follow him to the waist of the ship.

“Listen,” said he, speaking quickly; “I have determined to take charge of this ship. Captain Bligh is no longer fit to command her. You two know him—and you know me!

The seamen, half dazed at the suddenness of the question, hesitated a moment. “My God, men!” he said hoarsely, “answer me. Heavens! Why do you hesitate? Are you men or cowards? You, Quintal, will you help me?”

“Help you, sir?” and Matthew Quintal, a young man of scarce twenty-one years, seized his jumper on either side with his brawny hands and showed his broad, tattooed chest. “I don't know what you mean, sir, but I'll follow you to hell.”

“Good; and now, McCoy, you?”

A grim smile flickered over McCoy's features. Like Quintal he was tattooed on both chest and arms, and was a broad-shouldered, strongly-made man, with deep-set eyes and a face denoting undaunted courage and resolution.

“I am with you, sir, and with Mat Quintal.”

“Go you then, McCoy, and rouse the armourer. Tell him I want the key of the arm-chest to shoot a shark. You, Quintal, rouse up Churchill, Muspratt,

  ― 54 ―
and Millward, and remind them of the flogging Bligh gave them at Tahiti; then bring them quietly to me.”

The men stepped softly below to the 'tween decks to carry out their orders. As soon as their backs were turned young Smith, who, unobserved by Christian, lay awake upon the main-hatch, rose and came towards the officer.

“What are you about to do, Mr. Christian?” he said in whispered tones. “I heard your orders. Stop them, sir, before it is too late, for God's sake!”

“Ah, Smith, is that you? It is too late, too late now. Will you sail under my orders, or will you make me shoot you, as I certainly will do if you give the alarm?”

The young seaman's face paled. “Your threat, sir, would not stop me if I had not already decided. I don't like to join in a mutiny, but it is your act, sir, and not mine; and you will have to answer for it, not me. Captain Bligh is no friend of mine; and I'll never desert a gentleman like you for him. You can count on me, sir.”

Christian took his hand and gripped it fiercely. Then McCoy returned with the key of the arm-chest, which was kept aft; following him up the ladder came Quintal, accompanied by a fair-haired lad named Ellison, and Millward, one of the three for whom Quintal had gone below—all in a state of suppressed excitement.

“It's all right,” said Quintal; “Muspratt and Churchill are coming. They are with us, but they are below bringing up some of the others.”

  ― 55 ―

For one brief moment the madness of the deed flashed across Christian's brain as he saw the figures of the seamen coming up from the 'tween decks; but the phrase “they are with us” reminded him that he was now a mutineer, and too far on his fatal course to draw back. He set his teeth and, in another minute, followed by his associates in the desperate venture, was serving out weapons to his party from the arm-chest.

The noise made by the clank of the arms, slight as it was, had by this time wakened all the watch on deck; and Hayward, sitting on the wheel grating, was suddenly astounded to see Christian running towards him, cutlass in hand, followed by a number of armed seamen. The watch came tramping aft, and Christian, with a maddening sense of triumph in his heart, felt that the supreme moment had arrived.

Quick as lightning he spoke some hot words to McCoy and Quintal, who repeated them to the thronging and excited sailors; Quintal and Ellison then rapidly passed weapons to four or five of the watch. These, stepping apart from the others, at once ranged themselves with Christian and his party.

Still, despite the fierce, eager mutterings and the clash of arms from those on deck, there had been no great noise or confusion, and none of those who slept below were awakened; the mutineers, from ready force of habit, obeying unhesitatingly the orders of the passionate man who was once their officer and now their ringleader.

There was a moment's pause; a dozen armed men,

  ― 56 ―
grim and determined, stood around their leader, waiting. As the sun leapt, a flaming ball of blood-red fire, from out the sleeping sea, Christian looked into the dark and working faces of the crew and waved his cutlass in the air; then, following their leader, the desperate men made a dash for Bligh's cabin.

  ― 57 ―

Chapter VII Mutiny

ALTHOUGH it was now daylight the great cabin was still in semi-darkness when Christian, followed by Churchill, by Mills, the gunner's mate, and a seaman named Birkett, burst in upon the sleeping commander.

As a flood of sunlight poured through the widely-opened door Bligh, aroused by the rush of hurrying feet, started up in his bunk to find a musket levelled at his heart, and the livid face of Christian looking savagely into his own.

“What is this?” he said in his quick, imperious way, preparing to spring out of his berth.

“If you utter another word I'll shoot you,” answered Christian, still presenting his piece; then suddenly he grounded it upon the deck with a crash and turned to his followers.

“Drag him out and lash his hands behind his back,” he cried. Again the commander tried to spring from his bed, his cheek white, not with fear but with suppressed rage; and again he threw himself

  ― 58 ―
back as Christian, whose eyes gleamed with a deadly, awful hatred, thrust the muzzle of the musket almost into his face.

In another moment the men sprang upon Bligh, and with savage fury dragged him out of his bunk, and Mills, the instant his captain's feet touched the deck, seized his white, delicate hands and lashed them behind his back with a piece of native cinnet.

“Drag him up on deck,” and Christian stood aside to let the seamen execute his orders.

The moment the struggling form of Bligh appeared on deck, young Ellison, who had taken the wheel, sprang towards them, tore a bayonet from the hands of a seaman near him, and launched himself upon the captain with an imprecation, but was thrust back by Smith.

“Stand back, boy!” said Christian fiercely; “I alone will deal with him. You, Smith, and you, McCoy, keep guard over him, and if he tries to utter a word show him no mercy—blow his brains out on the spot.”

In grim and ominous silence McCoy and Smith, with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, stepped out and stationed themselves on either side of the bound man. Christian, hitherto doubtful of the fidelity of his party, noted with a savage satisfaction that McCoy's face was working with passion, and that he at least was prepared to carry out his leader's orders, while Smith's open, ruddy countenance was now set and stern.

Meanwhile Quintal, accompanied by a seaman

  ― 59 ―
named Williams, who was stripped to the waist and armed with a cutlass, had burst into the cabin of Fryer, the master and senior officer under Bligh, and ordered him on deck.

Fryer sprang up with a loud cry and reached for his pistols, which were on a rack over his head; but Quintal was too quick for him and seized him by the wrist in a vice-like grip.

“Hold your tongue, or, by God! you are a dead man, Mr. Fryer! Keep quiet and no one will hurt you; resist, and I'll run you through,” and Williams leant across him and secured the pistols.

The dangerous look in his eyes as he pointed them at the master's heart told Fryer that resistance meant death, but folding his arms across his chest he stood defiantly facing them both.

“What are you doing?” he asked. “Have you taken the ship?”

“Yes, we have. Mr. Christian is our captain now.”

“Where is Captain Bligh? What have you done with him, you villains?”

“Keep a civil tongue in your head, Mr. Fryer; we are desperate men, and yet we don't want to kill you. I'll tell you what we intend doing with the captain,” and he laughed grimly; “we are going to put him in the small cutter and let him try living on three-quarters of a pound of yam a day.”

“The small cutter! Why, her bottom is almost out; she's worm-eaten and full of holes.”

“The boat is a lot too good for him even if she had no bottom at all,” answered Quintal. “Now go on

  ― 60 ―
deck, Mr. Fryer, and mind this, if you make one attempt at resistance you are a dead man.”

As soon as they reached the deck they saw Christian standing on the poop, giving orders to get out the boat.

“In God's name, Christian, what are you about?” and Fryer, disregarding the menacing gestures of the mutineers, placed his hand on his shipmate's arm. “Are you mad, man? Consider the consequences!”

“Not a word from you, Fryer!” and Christian dashed aside his hand fiercely. “I tell you that I have been in hell for weeks past. This dog, this infernal, malignant scoundrel, has brought all this upon himself. Stand back, I tell you—I am dangerous!”

“Christian, let me implore you.…”

“Silence, I tell you!”

“For God's sake, Christian, let me speak. We have always been friends, and you may trust me. Resist this mad impulse before it is too late. Let the captain go down to his cabin again and leave me to tackle the men.”

With a fearful oath Christian turned upon him and pointed his cutlass at Fryer's heart. “Silence! I tell you for the last time. I don't want to murder you, Fryer, but, by the God above me, I'll run you through if you don't cease!”

Fryer's bronzed cheek paled a moment, but his eye never quailed even when the cutlass point touched his breast. “Will you not at least get out a better boat than the cutter?” he said quietly.

  ― 61 ―

“No! by heavens, I will not! That boat is good enough for such a ruffian,” then lowering his weapon he turned away and beckoned to Smith and McCoy to leave their prisoner and come to him, and for half a minute he conversed eagerly with them; while Bligh managed to get near enough to the master to speak.

“Mr. Fryer,” he said quickly, yet calmly, “there must be some of the officers and men who will not fail me in the hour of need. For God's sake, Fryer, try to find some of them ere this villain murders us all!”

But low as were his tones Christian heard him, and stepping up to the captain and Fryer, when within a foot or two of Bligh, he seized him by the shoulder and made as if to run him through.

“Advance one step nearer, and by the God above us this cutlass goes through your cowardly, brutal heart! All the officers and men not with me are guarded below; you can do no good now; your authority on this floating hell is gone for ever. Here, two of you men take Mr. Fryer back to his cabin and lock him in.”

By this time the cutter was afloat; but Christian, realising that it would be impossible to crowd all of those who were well-affected to Bligh into her, had also lowered the launch, a six-oared boat measuring twenty-three feet from stem to stern.

Two officers, Hayward and Hallet, and Elphinstone, Heywood, and Stewart (midshipmen), Ledward the surgeon, Cole the boatswain, Purcell the carpenter, and some seamen, meanwhile had been secured either below or on deck. One or two of the youngsters,

  ― 62 ―
among whom was Peter Heywood, a lad of fifteen, scarcely understanding what they were doing in the confusion and excitement, had been compelled to lend the mutineers a hand in getting out the launch; and Bligh's keen eye happened to fall on this boy as he was helping with the boat-falls.

This was unfortunate for Heywood, who was at once put down by his commander as one of the ring-leaders, and suffered for it later.

Suddenly Christian sprang upon the poop from the main-deck, and again held a consultation with Smith and McCoy. He turned and gazed savagely at Bligh, who met his look with unflinching calmness. For a few moments the two men regarded each other with looks of deadliest hatred, and then Fletcher Christian's voice rang out.

“Pass all but Captain Bligh over the side into the boat.”

Then with oaths, struggles, and entreaties some twenty men were dragged along the deck and passed down into the boat. Bligh, who stood near the gangway, now made an appeal to the leader of the mutineers, who was on the poop watching him.

“If you will stop this even now, Mr. Christian, I will promise nothing more shall come of it,” he called out.

The master's mate, flinging down the cutlass he still held, ran down the poop and faced his enemy; and the crew drew back as he spoke.

“Captain Bligh, listen to me. I could kill you as you stand before me now, but I am no murderer.

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Tyrant and coward, I and those who have suffered with me have done with you for ever.”

A crimson flush dyed the commander's face from brow to chin, and he clenched his hands together tightly at the insulting words.

Then the boat was veered astern, and McCoy, making the painter fast to the stern rail, turned to his leader for further orders.

Going to the stern of the ship, Christian eyed the condition of the boat for a minute in silence, till the boatswain made an attempt to soften his heart.

“Mr. Christian,” he cried, standing up in the boat, “let me plead with you for myself as well as Captain Bligh.”

“No, no, Mr. Cole,” Christian answered. “I have been in hell for the past two weeks and am determined to bear it no longer. You know, Cole, that during the whole voyage I have been treated like a dog.”

“Will you not let the master, who is an old man, remain on board, and take some of the men out of the boat to lighten her?” called Bligh, from where he stood at the gangway.

“No!” was the fierce reply; “Mr. Fryer must go with you—do you think we are fools? But some or the men may come out of the boat.”

A brief discussion among those in the boat ended in two or three seamen asking to be taken on board. The boat was hauled alongside under the counter and they ascended to the deck; and the boatswain, who was a relative of one of them, said to him, “Goodbye

  ― 64 ―
and God bless you, my boy; but for my wife and children I too would stay with the ship also.”

Again Bligh spoke, and there was now no sharp, imperious ring in his voice.

“Mr. Christian,” he said, “I'll pawn my honour as a King's officer—I'll give you my solemn word, with God as my witness, never to think of this if you will desist from this outrage even now. Consider my wife and family.”

The mutineer laughed mockingly. “No, Captain Bligh. If you had any honour things would not have come to this pass; and if you had any regard for your wife and family you should have thought of them before, and not have behaved like the heartless villain you are.”

Then, by Christian's orders, Bligh's clothes, his commission, private journal, and pocket-book were passed down, his hands were liberated, and he was ordered into the boat, which was hauled amidships to receive him. Christian handed to him over the side a book of nautical tables and his own quadrant, saying as he did so: “That book is sufficient for every purpose, and you know my quadrant to be a good one.”

Again the boat was veered astern. Bligh, standing up, raised his clenched hand and cursed the mutineers bitterly, swearing vengeance against those on the ship who would not help him to retake her. Laughs and jeers from the group on the Bounty's poop was the only notice taken of him. Then for the last time the mutineers heard his voice and they ceased their gibes

  ― 65 ―
at the dignity of his tones as he spoke to those whom he thought yet faithful to him on board.

“Never mind, my lads; you can't all come with me, but I will do you justice if ever I reach England.”

The boat's painter was then cast off by Quintal, and the crew took to their oars, Bligh giving his commands in a calm and collected manner. The ocean was calm and only a faint breeze rippled the surface of the placid sea.

As the departing commander and his crew dipped their oars into the water they saw Christian leaning on the rail over the stern, regarding them intently. Presently he stood up and gave an order; the yards were swung round, and a cheer came over to them from the ship—“Hurrah for Tahiti!”

And as the crowded boat grows smaller and smaller to the vision of the desperate man who stands gazing at her from the Bounty's stern, so let those in her go out of this story; they have no further part in it. But the memory of that daring boat voyage will live for ever in our country's annals. Who has not read of Bligh's indomitable courage and resolution, his admirable forethought for the eighteen suffering beings who braved the venture with him, from the first day when the over-crowded little craft was cast off from the ship until it sighted Timor, forty-one days after? His successful conduct of that terrible voyage over an all but unknown sea, losing as he did only one of his men, yet encountering the risk of wreck by violent

  ― 66 ―
storms, of massacre by savage islanders, of the pangs of hunger and the agonies of thirst, well entitled him to the honours that his country paid him. In that act of his life he played his part nobly, and all else that he did ill, when measured against such fortitude in the face of danger and death, may well be forgotten.

  ― 67 ―

Chapter VIII “Hurrah for Tahiti!”

STANDING with folded arms and gloomy face, in which all passion seemed to be dead, the leader of the mutineers watched the launch gradually increase her distance from the Bounty. The last words of Bligh as the boat was cast off still rang in his ears: “I will do you justice if ever I reach England.”

These were ominous words, and they brought vividly before him the horrors of his situation. “If justice is done,” he muttered, “what will become of me? My God! Why did I not put an end to my life before this madness got the better of me?”

The wild cheer of “Hurrah for Tahiti!” from his followers roused him to a sense of his present position. It was evident that to others besides himself a return to Tahiti was one of the inducements for the desperate deed just accomplished. And he was quick to realise, too, that for the safety of them all he must assert himself and take command of the ship. Even had Bligh not heard that defiant cry as the mutineers swung

  ― 68 ―
round the yards, Tahiti would be the first place thought of by those who would surely come in search of them. How soon would that search begin? That it would begin sooner or later he never doubted. The possibility of Bligh and those with him not being picked up by some ship, or not reaching some place of safety, never occurred to him. And yet every one but himself realised how small indeed was the chance that those in the frail little launch would escape death in one or other of the lingering and dreadful forms to which he had so mercilessly consigned them.

The murmuring of voices roused him from his gloomy reflections, and presently McCoy, Quintal, Smith, and others of the more active of the mutineers gathered round their leader, while the rest of the men, forming a group on the main deck, were talking in excited tones of what ought to be done for the best.

He turned to those near him and spoke, with every trace of excitement absent from his voice and manner.

“Men, remember that our future safety from death at the yard-arm depends upon the discipline of a well-ordered ship being maintained. Now that the thing is done we have to guard ourselves for the future. Therefore, as you all have to rely upon me for the navigation of the ship, and as I am the only officer left, until we have settled upon some safe island, and got rid of her, you will have to obey my orders. Are you agreed to that?”

“Aye, aye, Mr. Christian; you can depend upon us,” they answered.

“Very well, then. I have decided to take the ship

  ― 69 ―
to Tubuai.note It will not be safe for us to remain at Tahiti; search will be made for the Bounty, and Tahiti will be the first place a ship will visit. You, Smith, McCoy, and Quintal, who were among the first to stand by me in this undertaking, can arrange with me a plan for our mutual safety.

“But we want to go back to Tahiti,” cried several of the others.

“Yes,” answered Christian quietly, “you want to go back because of the women you have left there. Do not fear, you shall see Tahiti again. Now listen, and I will tell you what my plan is. First, let us go to Tubuai and form a settlement there. Then, when that is finished, I propose to return to Tahiti and bring away as many people as choose to come—that is if these women still run in your minds.”

There was a bitter ring in his last words, and Smith, in a low voice, asked him to humour the men more, “for remember, sir,” said he, “you have given them their liberty and you will have to take care how you cross them.”

The caution was needed; most of the men by no means relished the prospect of delay in returning to the delights of Tahiti, and one of them in no uncertain manner expressed his sentiments, adding—“You know Mr. Christian, we have a couple of navigators left, if you can't hit it with us.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Christian quickly.

  ― 70 ―

“Why, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Heywood are both below.”

“What!” and Fletcher Christian turned fiercely to Quintal. “Why were these two—one a mere child—not sent away in the boat? Are you such villains as not to have told me, if you knew it?”

“It was just an idea of ours,” answered the seaman who had first spoken—Williams, the Guernsey man; “we thought it just as well to have more than one navigator on board in case anything went wrong with you.”

Christian did not reply. He felt that he had no claim to their obedience other than they chose to admit, and that this was but a reasonable precaution on their parts.

“Where are these two now?” he asked.

“Down below; kept prisoners until all the row was over,” answered Williams. “Shall I pass the word for them to be brought upon deck?”

“Yes,” replied Christian; “bring them up.”

Stewart and Heywood—the first-named an acting mate, and the second a mere, ruddy-faced boy on his first voyage to sea—were accordingly brought up, and to the surprise of every one, as they came up the ladder, they were followed by the swarthy-faced Edward Young.

“What does this mean, Mr. Christian?” said Stewart as soon as he reached the poop-deck. “Why have we been kept prisoners? I know that you have taken the ship and turned Captain Bligh adrift with the other officers. Why have we been detained against our wills?”

  ― 71 ―

“It is not my fault you are here,” answered Christian gloomily. “I thought that you were gone in the boat.”

“However that may be,” replied Stewart excitedly, “because you have turned pirate that is no reason why we should do so. I would rather die than remain with you and be branded as a mutineer.”

“And I too, Mr. Christian,” broke in young Heywood. “I have a family at home, and no act of mine shall bring disgrace on them.”

Christian smiled bitterly at the lad. “These are hard words—but God knows I cannot blame you for them. Yet I hope, my boy, that you will forgive me for the misfortune I have brought upon you; and I promise that at the first port we reach, if it be a spot where it is likely a ship may touch, you can separate from us.”

“That's fair enough,” said a seamen named Thompson. “'Twas I and Williams who kept you below against your wills; and I for one will help you to leave the ship by and by.”

“And what have you to say, Mr. Young?” asked Christian, turning to him; “how do you come to be among us?”

The young man laughed quietly and leant against the skylight as he answered. “I am here of my own free will. I heard what was going on on deck and quietly got out of the way until you had decided matters—and I'm damned glad you have decided 'em this way. Bligh is a good riddance, and while I didn't want to take an active part in the row I wasn't going

  ― 72 ―
to help him; and so long as you have the command I am ready to serve under you.”

“Well done, sir,” cried several of the men at this speech, which was delivered with the utmost coolness, and evoked audible expressions of disgust and contempt from Stewart and Heywood; and then one of the seamen made some coarse jest about Alrema and Tahiti.

A look of contempt passed over Christian's features as he glanced at his dark, saturnine-faced ally, and for the instant he forgot he was the leader of mutineers, and felt as Stewart and Heywood did towards the young man. Then he remembered the situation, and taking Young by the hand, said in mingled tones of contempt and friendliness: “Thank you, Young. I am glad that I am not the only ‘infernal scoundrel’ (mocking Bligh's voice) on board the Bounty.” Then turning to the others he said—

“Well, men, are you agreed? Shall we set a course for Tubuai? Fortunately for us the south-east trades have not yet set in for good, and we ought to make a quick run there.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” cried several of the leading spirits among them. “We'll abide by you; let it be Tubuai.”

“Then keep her east-south-east,” said Christian to the man at the wheel, and as the ship's head came to the wind a point or two, the yards were braced up and the little barque began to slip through the water with the now freshening breeze.

An hour later, when Tofoa was but a pale blue cone on the horizon, an agreement was arrived at that

  ― 73 ―
Young, Churchill, Quintal, Smith, and McCoy should, with the new commander, at once settle a definite plan of action for the future; and the rest of the mutineers, coming aft, shook hands with one another and swore they would faithfully adhere to whatever was decided upon.

Then, under the direction of Young, the breadfruit plants were taken out of their racks and passed to two seamen, who, standing on the cabin transoms, with many a jest at this ending of the scientific expedition, pitched them out of the stern ports into the sea.

  ― 74 ―

Chapter IX The Council in the Cabin

THE council in the now denuded cabin of the Bounty was conducted in a friendly enough manner. In Smith and Young—both of whom were well-liked by the crew—Fletcher Christian had two powerful allies. Young, disgusted with life at sea under such a tyrannical commander as Bligh, yet without the high spirit that had moved Christian to such a desperate deed as mutiny, was willing and indeed eager to lead the life of luxurious ease that they all anticipated in the future; for he fully recognised that he, in joining his fortunes with those of Christian, had for ever dissevered himself from all hope of returning to England; and while he despised all those around him save Christian, he was yet perfectly agreeable to associate with them now on terms of equality.

Smith, in his strong devotion to Christian, seemed to have thrown over the teachings of his youth, and showed by his earnest manner that he was ready to stand or fall by his new leader.

McCoy and Quintal, rough seamen, from long

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habits of obedience and following the lead of Young and Smith, acquiesced in all that was proposed; the only doubtful supporter was Churchill, who wanted the ship to be headed for Tahiti at once. But obstinate as was the latter, he had no part in the plotting that was already going on among some of the crew to compel Christian to abandon the idea of Tubuai and make for Tahiti instead.

The first matter decided was that Christian should be treated in every respect as would be a King's officer commanding the ship, until such time as the mutineers had found a place of refuge on some island where they would be safe from discovery or capture. No one of those who sat in council in the cabin for a moment thought of ever returning to Europe to face the ignominious death that would certainly await them; and Young, in his mocking manner, took care to show the seamen who sat with him at the cabin table that it was better for them all to die of old age on some island than be hanged at the yard-arm in England.

Following this, it was agreed that Young, being well liked by the crew, should be second in command and take charge of one watch; while Mills, the gunner's mate, who was the next in rank as well as the oldest man on board, should take charge of the other half of the ship's company.

Stewart and Heywood were to be regarded as “prisoners at large,” and this decision was at once made known to them; but they both refused the privilege of the freedom of the ship if it involved any assurance on their part of loyalty to the mutineers.

  ― 76 ―

“Send for them, Mr. Christian,” suggested Smith, “and see if you can't get them to join us. They'll listen to you, I am sure.”

Presently the two lads were brought into the cabin, and both frankly stated to Christian their intention of endeavouring, by some means or other, to reach England and doing all in their power to bring him and those with him to justice when they got there.

A dangerous look came into Edward Young's eyes. Heywood saw it, but although his fresh, boyish face paled a moment, he returned Young's frown with a look of defiance.

“As you please,” said Christian shortly; “but I tell you, foolish boys, you are treading on dangerous ground. Take my advice and keep your intentions to yourselves, else you will repent your folly. There are men on board the ship who have gone too far to——”

“To hesitate at pitching two damned young fools overboard,” broke in Young savagely; but a look from Christian made him cease. And then the council came to an end.

The new commander, however, took no steps to prevent Stewart and Heywood from going among the crew, though he knew they were endeavouring to form a party for recapturing the ship. He was confident that however some of the men might attempt to frustrate his plan of first making Tubuai, none would be mad enough to risk destruction by listening to any talk about the ship being recaptured.

But Quintal, McCoy, and Smith, fortunately for

  ― 77 ―
the success of the enterprise, did not share their leader's faith, and a few days after they had returned to their old duties as able seamen they found that the daring midshipmen had so far succeeded in alienating some of the crew from Christian that a plot was ripe to retake the vessel.

One night when the ship was some two or three miles to the southward of Savage Island—an isolated but fertile spot about three hundred miles from Tofoa—Quintal stood at the forward weather rail, gazing at the high cliffs of grey coral rock against whose jagged sides the ocean rollers dashed unceasingly and sent showers of spray high up to the dense foliage which grew on the verge of their summits. Presently he was joined by Smith, who whispered—

“Heywood and Stewart, with five others, will try to retake the ship to-morrow evening. Don't talk to me now, but follow me aft by and by; then we can tell Christian. That scoundrel Coleman was the first to join them, and has promised to serve them out arms to-morrow night. All of them, except Coleman, are in the gunner's watch.”

A quarter of an hour later, Christian, with a grim smile, dismissed Smith and Quintal and watched for his chance. About eleven o'clock a furious rain squall swept down from the south-east, and among those who were sent aloft to take in sail by the gunner's mate, who was in charge of the watch, were the five men who had agreed to support Heywood and Stewart. While these were busy aloft and Coleman was asleep—it being his watch below—Smith, McCoy, and

  ― 78 ―
Quintal and another seaman made a dash for the arm-chest and conveyed it to the cabin.

Arming all those men of whose loyalty he was absolutely assured, Christian waited till the men came down from aloft and the watch was about to be relieved. Then he called the plotters aft and addressed them. A ship's lantern, held by a seaman who stood beside him, threw a broad ray of light upon the anxious faces of the men gathered on the soaking deck; and then for the first time they saw that the men in Young's watch were grouped aft behind Christian and his fellow officer.

Calling upon the five plotters each by name, Christian addressed them—

“I have discovered that you mean to retake the ship. Now weigh my words well: if bloodshed follows it will be your fault. Some of you who are anxious to get back to Tahiti have listened to two foolish boys, little thinking of the madness of such an attempt. The arm-chest is now in my cabin, and at the first attempt on your part to take the command of the ship from me I will shoot every man concerned in it. God knows I do not want to be your leader longer than I can help, and no one among you is less content than I, but,” and here he turned to those immediately around him, “it is necessary for the general safety of us all that I, and I alone, should have charge of the ship; and, by God! while she remains afloat and I alive I will keep command.”

A deep growl of approval came from those of his party who stood near him as he finished; then in

  ― 79 ―
gentle tones Christian addressed Heywood and Stewart, who had now come on deck. Although he seemed outwardly cool the lads could see that he was labouring under strong emotion and was striving to speak to them calmly and dispassionately. He besought them to make no further effort to retake the ship, but to support him in his authority—such as it was, he said bitterly—till the ship finally reached Tahiti, and assured them that this course was best for all parties. “And you, Heywood,” he said kindly, placing his hand on the lad's shoulder, “answer me this: have you, or you, Stewart, ever known me to tell you a lie?”

“No, Mr. Christian, never,” replied the boy emphatically, looking him directly in the face.

“Well then, my lads, I beg of you both to believe that it would be a bitter sorrow to me to hurt either of you. I have suffered too much myself to wreck your future lives by any needless act of mine; nor will you be in bodily danger unless you drive us to stern measures. And I swear to you that I bear you no ill-will for what has passed … no, my lads, none.”

Loyal as they were to their duty, both Stewart and Heywood saw the force of his argument and believed in his promise to set them free as soon as possible; and assured him they would cause no further trouble. Then the watch was changed and the matter ended.

But from that time the arm-chest was carefully watched by men on whom reliance could be placed, and every night Churchill, who now kept the key,

  ― 80 ―
made his bed upon the box, and slept with a brace of loaded pistols by his side.

Day after day the Bounty crept slowly along to the eastward, till early one morning the look-out sighted the two misty blue peaks of Tubuai rising from the sea. As the ship drew nearer to the land, the peaks united at the base and showed an island of verdant hills and bright, shining beaches of golden sand encompassed by a wide belt of surf-beaten coral reef.

The wind was light but steady, and Christian succeeded in working the ship through the passage on the north-west side without much trouble, although she was beset by a great number of canoes filled with natives who made unmistakable signs of defiance to the white men.

As soon as the ship was secured, Christian and his men sought to induce the natives to come on board, but only one or two responded to his invitation; and they, by their suspicious and haughty demeanour, showed their distrust and dislike of the white strangers. Not a woman or child was visible in the canoes, and every man was armed with a club and spear. The only dress they wore was a girdle or rather bandage round their loins, and a turban of tappa cloth round their heads of glossy, jet-black and curling hair. They were a far handsomer and more active race than the Tahitians, much lighter in colour, and of a daring and warlike disposition, and their open hostility to the Bounty party was every minute becoming more apparent.

Not anticipating such a reception as this, Christian

  ― 81 ―
was in a dilemma. To have to force a landing would be a serious matter, and after a brief consultation with some of the men, this idea was abandoned. The ship had been brought there by him against the wishes of the majority, and to have to fight for a footing was, as Williams said, “more than they had stomach for.”

“I will not ask you to fight,” said Christian, “for that would only mean useless slaughter on both sides. These people are, as you can see, brave and determined, and it is a bitter disappointment to me to find them so hostile. But yet I have to consider this—the island, as you see for yourselves, is of amazing fertility and I do not think that we could find a better place to live in. Further, it is not likely to be visited by ships, and would be a safe retreat for us.”

“That's true enough, Mr. Christian,” answered one of the seamen. “Much as I want to get to Tahiti, I only want to do so to get the woman I left there—and there's a lot more like me. I, for one, think that Tubuai is a better place for us than Tahiti.”

“So do I,” said Martin; “and although I want to go to Tahiti for the same reason as most of us, I'm willing to come back here. To my mind this island is far better; but at the same time we don't want our throats cut.”

Satisfied that the crew would be willing to return, Christian then proposed that they should make for Tahiti, embark as many Tahitians as would come with them, return to Tubuai, and either establish friendly relations with the people or force a landing and build a fort.

  ― 82 ―

To this the men readily assented, for they could easily see that the island was not only very rich and fertile, but also well out of the way of discovery, and with a little trouble could be made capable of resisting the attack of even an European force.

So, with hundreds of natives still paddling about the ship in their red-ochre-painted canoes and uttering loud cries of defiance, the anchor was hove up, the ship warped out to sea again, and with a light breeze filling her canvas, headed due north for Tahiti.

The following morning Christian collected together in the main cabin all the curiosities given to Bligh and his officers by the people of Tahiti, as well as all the clothes and other property left by those who had been sent away with him. Then he mustered the crew aft and addressed them, pointing to the piles of goods on the cabin deck.

“Here, my fellow pirates, is the first batch of plunder—you see I call things by their right names. Draw lots and divide it among yourselves. Everything that is there will be of value to you for the purposes of barter with the natives.”

The sneering tone in which he spoke caused many an angry look, but without another word he turned from them and went on deck.

Four days later, on the 5th of June—thirty-eight days after the mutiny—the peak of Orohena lay right ahead; at dawn the following day the Bounty sailed into Matavai Bay, and as the cries of welcome were heard, for awhile all else was forgotten.

  ― 83 ―

Chapter X Pipiri the Areoi

ON the same hill where nearly six weeks before she had watched the lessening sails of her lover's ship sink below the horizon, Mahina again sat looking seaward. Day after day since the Bounty had sailed she had laid her simple offerings of fruit upon the altar of Oro and prayed for Christian's return to her, and night after night when the rest of the people were singing and dancing upon the broad sward in front of Tinā's house she, sometimes accompanied by Alrema, sat on the hill and the two girls thought or talked of Young and Christian. But to-day her friend was not with her; and only an hour before angry words had passed between her old, fierce-tempered mother and herself about her white lover, and the girl, after a passionate burst of tears, had stolen silently away to the hill to be alone with her thoughts.

Old Manuhuru, like the average civilised mother, had certain views for her daughter, and ever since the Bounty had sailed had sought to induce the girl to forget

  ― 84 ―
her white lover and accept for her husband Pipiri the Areoinote priest. And of all the men of Tahiti who had sought her love Mahina hated most the tall, handsome young Areoi, for he was steeped to the lips in bloodshed. Only a few years before the Bounty came to Tahiti, Pipiri had with his own hands slain his two children, according to the rites of the horrible fraternity, which demanded that a candidate entering upon his novitiate should publicly kill his children and put his wife aside, unless she too should become an Areoi. Mahina had seen the awful deed, had heard the wail of agony from the mother of the children when their ruthless father had plunged his knife into their bosoms; and had fled the scene with terror in her heart, for Pipiri had long sought her love, and she knew he had only become an Areoi that he might force her to marry him.

The girl, by every device she could contrive, avoided meeting the young priest, and to her great joy, since she had shown her open preference for Christian, Pipiri

  ― 85 ―
had not molested her further, although she had frequently seen him talking earnestly with her mother. Only once since Christian had sailed had she met him. She was returning with Alrema from her look-out on the hill, when the Areoi sprang upon the girls as they passed along the narrow, palm-shaded path. His face was stained scarlet with the juice of the mati berry, his long black hair hung loosely down over his copper-coloured shoulders, and his gleaming savage eyes struck terror into her heart; but Alrema faced him dauntlessly.

“Ho, Mahina, daughter of Manuhuru, and Alrema the saucy-tongued,” he cried mockingly, “whence come ye? Are ye still waiting for the white men who will never return? Dost think that thy eyes can draw back the great outriggerless canoe?”note

“What is that to thee, Pipiri the slaughterer?” asked Alrema, tearing away her hand from his grasp; “and seek not to frighten us. Think not that because thou hast become an Areoi I fear thee!”

“Nay, I know that thou fearest no one,” replied the priest fiercely; “but 'tis not thee for whom I waited here. Thou art but a chattering fool, whose tongue I may yet cut off at the roots; but it is thee, Mahina, who hast eaten into my heart—so now I ask thee once more, Why dost thou wait for this white lover of thine? He will never return, I tell thee. Heed not the talk of this fool Alrema and those like her—who have listened to their white lover's lies. Fifty and two days have gone since the ship sailed,

  ― 86 ―
and I tell thee thou wilt never see thy white man again.”

Mahina took courage from Alrema, whose rounded bosom panted with rage at the mocking words of the Areoi, and she sought to soften Pipiri's savage nature.

“Why should I alone be the one woman for whom thou carest, Pipiri? There are many others better than I. So pray thee let me be as I am. Yet it Kirisiani comes not back in three moons from now, then I will be thy wife.”

The Areoi laughed. “Nay, in less time than that. Only just now thy mother swore to me that I might take thee in one moon; for in me, too, is the same blood that flows in thy veins—the blood of the race of Afitā, and for that alone thou shouldst come to me.” Then without further words he stood aside and let the girls pass on to their homes.

That was ten days ago, and Mahina, as she sat with her face leaning upon her hands and gazed seaward, felt the tears well up into her eyes. Her mother had indeed promised her in marriage to the blood-stained Areoi, whom the old woman regarded as a superior man even to the highest chief in the land on account of the blood-tie between them, and because of the bitter, undying hatred he showed to the white men. This she was always ready to stimulate, telling him scornfully that he knew not how to dispose of a rival or he would have enticed Christian from the village and killed him.

Away to the westward the blue, sailless ocean

  ― 87 ―
sparkled and shimmered in the rays of the sun; and nearer in, though far below where she sat, the long rollers of pale emerald swept in serried lines upon the shelving reef of the little bay, and wavering clouds of misty spume drifted slowly before the wind as the rollers curled over and burst upon the rocky barrier on their passage to the shore.

For nearly an hour Mahina sat thus, hearing no sound save the soft crooning note of some resting pigeon in the silent forest around her, or the faint murmur of voices from a party of men in fishing canoes who had landed on the white beach far below; then, with despair in her heart, she rose to return to the village. And there, with his back against the bole of a great tamanu tree, again stood Pipiri the Areoi, looking at her intently.

“Why dost thou watch me?” she asked, trying to pass him, but he stayed her gently with his hand.

“Because, oh foolish one, I love thee, I love thee; and I hate to see thy cheeks, that were once so round and soft, grow thin and drawn with the folly that is consuming thee. See,” and he pointed with his bronzed and brawny arm to the ocean, “see how evenly the sky touches the water, as the half-shell of a coconut would stand upon my hand. No white sail will break through the sky-rim, and no white man shall come between thee and me.”

“If Oro so wills it. But the time that my mother has given me to wait is not yet gone; why dost thou for ever trouble me?”

  ― 88 ―

“Because Orotetefanote hath spoken to me from his altar and told me to wait no longer, for thy white lover will never return. And to-morrow shall our marriage feast be.”

He ceased suddenly, for there was borne to them through the silence of the surrounding forest a cry that sent the blood dancing through the veins of the girl before him with a maddening joy—“A ship! a ship!”

She sprang away from him to the verge of the hill and there—not a far distant speck on the horizon, but rounding the northern point—was a ship, standing in before the breeze and furling her sails as she approached the anchorage.

A quick mist filled the girl's dark eyes, and she staggered for a moment upon her feet. Then she turned and looked into the rage-distorted face of the Areoi priest.

“Thou hast lied to me, Pipiri the Areoi.”

In another moment, evading the savage grasp with which he sought to stay her, she was flying down the hillside to the beach.

  ― 89 ―

Chapter XI Together Again

BEFORE the panting girl reached the beach the Bounty was at anchor and her deck crowded with natives, who greeted Christian and the ship's company with the most extravagant manifestations of joy. For him personally they had always shown the liveliest regard; not only was he one of Tuti's people, but his uniform kindness to them had won their hearts, and, indeed, Bligh himself was the only one of the Bounty's company whom they feared more than they loved.

Tinā himself was among the first to board the ship, and his frank, ingenuous countenance betrayed his astonishment at the return of his friends, while his wondering, inquiring glance as his eye roved over the group of officers on the poop-deck showed that he was quick to discover the absence of Bligh.

Ia oro na oe, Kirisiani,”note he said with a smile, advancing to Christian, “and where is the chief Pirai? And why hath the ship come back so soon?

  ― 90 ―
Hast thou already been to Peretane and returned in three moons?”

Fletcher Christian was quick with his answer. “Nay, Tinā, friend of my heart, we have been fortunate. See, when we neared the island that is called Tonganote we there met the great chief, he whom you call Tuti.note He took on board his ship our chief Pirai and many others of our people and all the presents of breadfruit trees for our king. And then said he to me, ‘Go thou back, Kirisiani, to the country of Tinā, my friend, and say these words to him, “I, Tuti, his friend, need yams and pigs and other food; my people are many and I cannot feed them all, for the sea is wide between here and Britain.’ And for these things have I returned to Tahiti, while Tuti awaits me at Tonga. And for a gift he hath sent thee by me much iron, for he knoweth that iron is needed by thy people.”

Tinā smiled pleasantly and expressed his earnest desire to serve both Cook and Bligh; and he and many minor chiefs who had flocked on board greeted every one of the mutineers as old and dear friends.

For some minutes great excitement and confusion prevailed, and in the midst of the pleasant clamour a small canoe, paddled by two young women, ran

  ― 91 ―
alongside the ship, and Mahina sprang up the ladder on deck, and with a soft, joyous cry threw herself into Christian's arms.

“Thou hast returned, my own,” she murmured. “Oro hath heard my prayers, and thy heart is still mine.”

An angry flush for a moment suffused Christian's cheek at this demonstration before the whole ship's company, and drawing her aside he rebuked her.

“Mahina,” he said severely, “in my country it is only the base and lower sort who show their hearts in this way before all men.”

The girl trembled, but quickly recovered herself, and her dark eyes flashed. Drawing back from her lover she spoke in such tones of wounded pride that Christian felt his cheeks burn with shame.

“Truly, I had forgotten that the blood of the white man is cold,” then placing her hands on her eyes, she walked away, and the hot tears trickled through her fingers.

Few as were her words, they touched him. He remembered that since he had parted from this girl two months before the whole of his life had been changed. Her passionate devotion to him during the five months the Bounty first remained at Tahiti was the one bright spot which then had made life endurable, and now, her faithful heart bursting with love for him, he had met her tender embraces with what to her was cold brutality. “She alone is the only soul on earth who will love me to the end,” he thought bitterly; “she alone will not shrink from contact with me,

  ― 92 ―
in the time to come.” He followed and took her hand.

“Mahina,” he whispered, “forgive me, for thou knowest that for thy sake I have thrown away for ever my country and kindred. Thou art the one woman dear to me in the world, and thy life is my life.”

She flung her arms round his neck and, caring not for those who stood about on the Bounty's deck, kissed him again and again in all the abandonment of her fondness.

Whispering that she might wait for him in the cabin, he gently disengaged her arms, and turned away to look for Tinā.

That night every one of the mutineers, except their chief and Smith, went ashore to their native friends; and as the sound of their singing and dancing floated across the bay to the ship, Mahina, in the cabin of the Bounty, lifted her eyes to Christian's and contentedly laid her head upon his breast.

The Bounty was once more ready for sea. Great numbers of hogs, goats, and fowls were cheerfully given by the islanders to Christian and his companions, and, for a small parcel of some red feathers—which were highly prized by the natives — Tinā presented them with a cow and bull which had been left on the island by Captain Cook. Water, wood, mahi (baked fermented breadfruit), yams, coconuts and breadfruit were also put on board in profusion.

  ― 93 ―
After making a careful survey of the ship and listening to various suggestions made by the crew for her repair, the leader of the mutineers went ashore for the last time before his marriage, which was to take place on the following day.

Accompanied by Smith, the young man, after landing and pushing through the crowd of natives who had gathered on the beach and sought to detain him in friendly converse, made his way to a native house of considerable size and handsome construction.

Here Heywood and Stewart were living. The latter had renewed his former tender relations with Nuia, who, the moment Christian entered, met him with a bright smile of welcome.

Then she went for Stewart and Heywood, who were lying on the village lawn under the shade of a breadfruit tree. Christian had permitted the two young officers to leave the ship on the day after her arrival, principally because of the passionate entreaties of Nuia, who imagined he was her lover's enemy and would kill him for some neglect of duty, and secondly because he had induced both not to reveal the true cause of his return to the islanders, so long as the Bounty remained at Tahiti. As for the natives themselves, although they had begun to suspect that all things were not quite as the mutineers represented them, yet they believed that Cook had good reasons for sending the ship back to Tahiti; and that he had done so they never for a moment doubted. So Tinā and his people were pleased enough when

  ― 94 ―
Christian proposed that some of them should sail away in the Bounty and visit Peretane and King George. To further the deception, Christian stated that he had no objection to some of his own men, who had allied themselves to native women, remaining behind at Tahiti. This proposal was made to account for the fact that besides Heywood and Stewart several of the crew had determined to sever themselves from the ship's company; not for the same reasons which animated the two midshipmen, but because the women with whom they were living did not care to venture to sea in the “great outriggerless canoe.”

In a few minutes Heywood and Stewart entered the house.

Both of them looked cheerful and well, and Christian could not help feeling pleased at the friendly manner in which they returned his greeting.

“I have come to see you, perhaps for the last time,” he said, “and to thank you for the manner in which you have kept your promise to a broken and disgraced man. Heaven knows, my lads, that I would gladly assist you to return to England if it were in my power. But have no fear; that a ship will be sent out here is an absolute certainty.”

Heywood ventured to question him as to when he intended sailing.

“Do not ask me,” he replied hurriedly, while the hot blood mounted to his forehead; “it may be soon, it may not be for a week, but I cannot come and see you again … and I want you to shake hands with me before I go.”

  ― 95 ―

After a momentary hesitation Stewart held out his hand, but young Heywood, whose eyes were filled with tears, with boyish impulsiveness sprang forward before his companion.

“Goodbye, sir; I will never forget how good you have always been to me on the Bounty.”

Christian took their hands in his and wrung them. “Goodbye, my lads. God bless you both, and forgive me all the harm I may have done you.”

Then he turned away, and with Smith closely following him, was soon lost to sight.

Soon after dawn the village was astir with the preparations for Christian's marriage.

Troops of natives carrying presents of food and other articles kept constantly arriving from all parts of the coast, and the first to welcome them and instruct them where to place their gifts was old Manuhuru, Mahina's mother. She was quick to recognise, as soon as Christian returned the possessor of so many riches, the advisability of withdrawing all further opposition to her daughter's marriage with the young Englishman; for with all her hatred of the white men she was very avaricious.

Only that morning she had bidden Pipiri give up all hope of her child now that Christian had returned; and the young warrior-priest, with savage hatred in his heart, had cursed her and sworn yet to possess her daughter if fifty white men stood in his way.

As Mahina was connected through her parents with the reigning family of Tahiti, the marriage ceremony was to be performed in the marae or temple of Oro

  ― 96 ―
instead of in the family marae, and thither went all the people to witness the event.

Mahina, sitting on a mat, was surrounded by a number of young girls who had arrayed her in her wedding garments; at a sign from the officiating priest of Oro she rose and advanced to meet her white lover, who, attended by Alexander Smith and a number of young natives of strikingly handsome appearance, was now walking across the grassy sward towards her, his plain uniform contrasting strangely with the wild, yet picturesque, garb of his island friends, most of whom had their hair profusely decorated with wreaths of white and scarlet blossoms. Round each man's waist was a girdle composed of scarlet leaves of the ti plant, and bright yellow strips of the plantain leaf. Upon each wrist and ankle were circlets of pieces of pearl shell fitted into an embroidered net work of red and black cinnet; the islanders' light brown skins shone with the scented oil with which they had anointed themselves, and the beautiful curved lines or deep blue tattooing with which their bodies were so freely covered stood out with such startling distinctness that even Smith, the most tattooed man of all the Bounty's crew, could not help uttering a cry or admiration.

When about fifty reet distant from each other, the two parties stopped, and a pretty little maiden, carrying in her hand a ripe plantain and a young drinking coconut, advanced out from among the women surrounding Mahina, and addressed the young native chief who led Christian's party—

  ― 97 ―

“Who are ye that come here so gaily clad, and why do ye come?”

“I, Kirisiani, come to the altar of Oro so that I may take for my wife Mahina, daughter of Manuhuru,” replied the mutineer, taking the plantain and coconut from her and giving her a piece of stained native cloth in return.

The child returned to her party, who began to chant some verses in praise of the beauty of Mahina; then the ranks opened out, and Christian, prompted by a chief, stepped to her side.

Together they slowly walked to the marae, where they seated themselves upon mats, Christian at one end of the temple, Mahina at the other, while the people disposed themselves round the sacred edifice in silence.

The leafy screen in front of one of the sacred dormitories opened; Harere, the priest, clothed in the vestments of his sacred office, stepped forward, and, spreading a small square of white tappa cloth in the centre of the temple, bade Mahina and the white man seat themselves upon it. Then, standing directly in front of Christian, he said, in a loud voice, “Kirisiani, taata Peretane, eita anei oe e faa 'rue i ta oe vahine?” (“Christian, the Englishman, wilt thou not cast away this woman?”) to which the mutineer replied “Eita” (“No”). The same question was put to Mahina, and the girl, with a happy smile lighting up her lovely face, and her little hand pressing her lover's, quickly gave the same answer.

“Fortunate then may your lives be if thus ye

  ― 98 ―
remain true one to another,” said Harere. Then stepping back from them and facing the sacred altar of Oro, the priest prayed to the god that the Englishman and his wife might live together in affection, that male children might be given to them in the earlier years of their married life, that they might not “hunger nor thirst, nor see blood shed within their house.”

Then old Manuhuru stepped into the sacred enclosure, bearing in her hands a heavy piece of ahu vavau, or tappa cloth, which she spread out upon the stone floor of the temple; and Harere the priest bade the lovers sit upon it and hold each other by the hand while he again addressed them.

“Hearken, Englishman. It is the custom of this land for the man and the woman who marry before Oro and sit as thou and this woman sit now, to place before them the skulls of their ancestors, whose spirits, entering into the dead bones, will hear the vows that ye have made one to the other. But thou, Kirisiani, art from a far-off country, and it is not the custom of thy people to carry about with them on the sea the skulls of their forefathers. And the mother of thy wife, though now as we are, Tahitian, is, like thee, of strange blood—her mother's people came from a distant land which sprang from out the sea, and neither hath she a skull to place before thee. And for this does Manuhuru now make a sacrifice before Oro.”

He handed to Mahina's mother a large shark's tooth with the base embedded in a piece of polished wood.

  ― 99 ―
Advancing to Christian, the old woman seized his right arm and made a small cut with the sharp point of the tooth upon the palm of his hand, then did the same upon the hand of her daughter. As the blood flowed and dripped down she caught it upon a piece of cloth with her left hand, and with her right she thrust the keen-edged tooth into her own breast, brow, and left shoulder, over and over again.

“See, white man,” she croaked. “Once I hated thee and all white men, but now thy blood and mine and my daughter's have mixed. And if thy blood is as good as mine—for I am of Afitā—then does this mingling of it with mine render thee equal to Mahina; and, moreover, the mixing of blood shall bind thee closer to thy wife.”

Scarcely able to conceal his disgust at the frightful spectacle the old woman presented, with her face and shoulders streaming with blood, Christian was glad to submit to the concluding part of the ceremony, which was the brief suspension over the heads of the married pair of a large piece of cloth called te tapoi.

Leaving the temple Christian and his bride were escorted to a new house specially prepared for them in which to receive their presents, and the young man could not but be touched at the people's expression of their kindly feeling towards him, and the overwhelming display of their generosity.

The rest of the day was spent in the wildest enjoyment and sumptuous feasting; then when darkness descended upon the scene the women and girls sang and danced, and a band of Areois delighted the people

  ― 100 ―
by their wild pantomimic exhibitions far into the night.

But in the midst of the merry clamour Mahina, without bidding her aged mother farewell, stole quietly away to the ship to await her husband, who had gone to take leave of Tinā. As she paddled off alone in a tiny canoe, the tall, stalwart figure of Pipiri the Areoi appeared on the beach. For a few seconds he watched her as she disappeared in the darkness. Then he plunged into the water and swam noiselessly in the same direction.

Long before daylight next morning Mahina awoke and found that her husband was gone from her side. A wild look of fear for a moment blanched her olive cheek; then a smile parted her lips as she heard his voice on deck.

“Man the capstan, lads.”

She ran on deck and found the ship crowded with natives, among whom were Tinā and his noble wife, who wept when Christian bade them farewell. To King George the chief sent many messages, for he firmly believed that the Bounty was on her way to England.

Amid the sounds of weeping and the sighing of tender farewells the anchor came in sight, the ship's head swung round, and the Bounty was again under way.

Once outside the white line of foaming surge which thundered on the reef, Edward Young, who had been securing the anchor, came quietly aft and stood beside his wife Alrema, who, with Mahina and other women,

  ― 101 ―
was on the poop. Presently, as Christian passed, Young caught him by the arm.

“I didn't like to disturb you last night, and so acted on my own responsibility. Stewart and Heywood came on board and announced their determination to sail with us if you would permit them.”

Fletcher Christian's face darkened. “Stewart and Heywood! What does this mean?”

“Treachery,” answered Young, “and I determined to meet treachery with deceit. I told them that I was certain you would never consent to their coming on board again, but that if they liked to stow themselves away till we got out to sea I would not say anything about it, but let them discuss the matter with you afterwards.”

“Are you mad, Young, to do this?”

The sallow-faced midshipman laughed. “Not a bit of it. They might do us more harm by remaining at Tahiti than they would by coming with us. Stewart has Nuia with him, and although she is as true as steel to the chicken-hearted dog, she has let it out to Alrema that he persuaded Heywood to come on board with him last night.”

“What do you think is his intention?” asked Christian moodily.

“To recapture the ship, and try to sail her to England and get a commission—while we dangle from a yard-arm at Portsmouth.”

“Then why let them come on board?”

“To prevent their giving us trouble in the future.

  ― 102 ―
There are lots of islands where no ships are ever likely to touch, and we can put them ashore before we reach Tubuai—and be damned to them.”

“To let them perhaps die, with their fate unknown! But there, Young, forgive me. You have done wisely. Let them come on deck, and I will watch them closely till a fitting time arrives for us to rid ourselves of them.”

On board the Bounty were several native women, the wives of Smith, Quintal, and McCoy, and two Tahitian men, brothers of Smith's and Quintal's wives, who had determined to accompany the white men. These Christian was glad to see, as he thought they would prove useful as interpreters.

But an hour later, after his talk with Young, and when the land was twenty miles astern, it was found that many more natives had hidden themselves on board, and that altogether the Bounty's complement had been increased by twelve women, eight boys, and nine men.

  ― 103 ―

Chapter XII The End of Pipiri

SEVEN days later the ship was once more at Tubuai, but the passage had been so rough that most of the live stock were washed overboard, and the natives had to help work the ship. To add to the troubles of the voyage, Mahina and the other women suffered so much from sickness that they were in the last stage of exhaustion when Tubuai was sighted. And Christian, who, from the hour he had plunged into the mutiny had repented it, grew morose and miserable with the bitterness of unavailing regret and the anxieties of his position as leader.

Well it was for him that at this time and in the black days to come, the example of Smith and Young kept alive in the rest of the crew a respect for him; for these two men, by their undeviating loyalty to their leader and their influence for good with their fellow-mutineers, preserved the spirit of obedience to their chief, and thus averted the worst danger that could threaten such a company.

As the ship entered the passage, the Tubuaians,

  ― 104 ―
instead of attacking the ship as it was feared they would, came off in their canoes in great numbers, and seeing the Tahitians on board, quickly made friends with them. They clambered up the sides of the Bounty, seized the ropes, and helped the sailors to warp the vessel through the reef to a safe anchorage. In a very short time barter was begun; Christian, accompanied by Mahina, went ashore, and with her aid as interpreter he soon negotiated with the chief of the island for a strip of land on which to erect a fort.

But the Tubuaians were less friendly when they found that the white men intended to live among them, and they sought to withdraw from the treaty they had just made.

“We like not the white strangers,” said one of them to Mahina. “How comes it that if, as thou sayest, the white chief is thy husband he remained not with thee in the Big Land?note Why comes he here to seek a home?”

“Foolish man,” answered the wily Mahina haughtily. “Little dost thou know of the customs of these clever white men. They are as wise as the gods, and like not the ways of the people of Tahiti. And the men of Peretane are more like those of Tubuai—they eat and drink and live alike—and for this reason do they desire to remain on Tubuai.”

This compliment, and the gift of a quantity of iron, induced the Tubuaians to offer no further opposition. The ground was to the eastward of the entrance at a place called Avamoa; and here, in

  ― 105 ―
spite of shoal water and the numberless coral boulders which studded the lagoon, it was determined to bring the Bounty.

The ship was lightened as much as possible—no easy task, for there was but one boat—and after much labour she was brought close up to the site of the proposed fort and moored in six fathoms of water. For two days the work of lightening the ship proceeded steadily, and Christian took part with the others in the task. The Tubuaians lent some assistance; but their habits of pilfering at last brought such an explosion of wrath from the leader of the mutineers that they desisted, and matters again went on smoothly for a time.

It was the custom of Mahina, Alrema, Nuia, and the other Tahitian women to sit about the poop and watch the labours of their white husbands, and listen to the loud, excited cries of the half-naked, fierce-looking Tubuaians as they swarmed about the main deck, examining with intense curiosity the strange fittings of the ship, and arguing vociferously among themselves as to their use.

Late one afternoon, just after the last boat load had left for the site of the fort, and the wild islanders had gone ashore in their canoes, Mahina was standing alone at the stern. Gazing down into the transparent depths of the lagoon and watching the many-hued fish that swam in and out among the branches of the coral forest which covered the bottom, she was startled by a touch upon the shoulder, and turning, she met the face of Pipiri the Areoi, looking at her with intense hatred gleaming from his

  ― 106 ―
eyes. So changed was he by his sickness on the voyage that she could not recognise him, and, in addition to this (perhaps for the purpose of disguise), he had shaved his head completely, and his once carefully trimmed beard had disappeared.

She uttered a cry of alarm, and in an instant Christian was beside her.

“What is the matter?” he asked.

With terror in her face she pointed to Pipiri and murmured: “ 'Tis Pipiri the Areoi; he hath frightened me.”

Christian looked at the Tahitian and gradually recognised his features, and remembered that the people at Pare and Matavai had told him that if he had not returned the Areoi would have married Mahina.

“How do you come here?” he asked.

“I was hidden in the bowels of the ship,” answered the man, defiantly. He staggered as he spoke, and Christian correctly surmised that some of the seamen had given him rum to drink.

“But why? What good can come of this?”

“That I might be with Mahina—she of whom thou hast robbed me,” he replied savagely.

“Poor fool,” muttered the mutineer in English, adding in Tahitian, “Truly I pity thee, but yet thou art a fool to have hidden thyself in the ship; for now will I make thee work and thou shalt be a bond slave to thy countrymen.”

“Not so,” answered the Areoi proudly. “Have not others of my countrymen come with thee; why,

  ― 107 ―
then, should I not live in Tubuai as an Areoi and an Aito?” (a warrior).

“I will answer thee, Pipiri the slaughterer, thou cruel and bloody-handed man”—and Mahina faced him. “Thou hast come for no good purpose; and truly we should be foolish to trust thee, save as a slave may be trusted. Do I not know that thou hast sworn to be revenged because I would have none of thee?” Turning to her husband she coutinued, “Send this man away. Let him go live among the Tubuaians, and suffer him not to come near the ship nor our people. I know his bad and cruel heart.”

The Tahitian laughed hoarsely. “Truly, Mahina, thou art a clever woman. I indeed will go and live with the people of Tubuai; but I swear by my gods to return and take my revenge.”

The next instant he sprang over the side, and Christian, in an endeavour to soothe his wife's fears and at her earnest entreaty, gave the order that he was not to be allowed to approach the whites in future.

Parties were now formed to fell timber, the fort was planned, and men under the direction of Edward Young began to dig a moat round the site. The Bounty's armament of four four-pounders and ten swivels was got on shore; the Tahitians who had accompanied the ship took an active part in the work, principally because of the probability of their seeing the guns used in action against the Tubuaians and witnessing the destruction the weapons would accomplish.

  ― 108 ―

All this labour took some weeks to perform, and during that time it daily became more evident that the people of Tubuai disliked their visitors; indeed, during the last days of unloading the ship and digging the moat two or three skirmishes took place between them and the white men and their Tahitian allies.

Early in September, however, so far had the work of constructing the fort progressed, that most of the people left the ship and took up their quarters therein. The four-pounders and swivels were mounted in such a position as to make Christian perfectly sure that, should the Tubuaians attack the stronghold, they would suffer a disastrous defeat. But while aware that such an attack might be made, he was yet hopeful that ere long they would recognise his desire to live among them in peace. Mahina, day after day, went into the principal town, and strove to impress the head chief, Maouri, that the white men's advent would prove of advantage to his people. Still, though they received the beautiful Tahitian with the greatest courtesy and respect, they were cold and suspicious in their manner. One day, when accompanied by Alrema, she visited the village, they found the whole population assembled in the square, listening to an address by an orator. The moment the two women came in view the orator disappeared, not so quickly but that in him they had recognised Pipiri the Areoi.

“Let us go back,” Mahina said to Young's wife; “mischief is meant to us in the fort; else why should these people gather together to listen to Pipiri, who is the enemy of us all?”

  ― 109 ―

Fearing that an attack was intended, Christian, as soon as Mahina told him what she had seen, doubled his sentries and kept a careful watch. For two nights they were undisturbed, but on the third, just after darkness had settled on the island, Talalu, a Tahitian sentry on the western face of the fort, called them to arms.

Scarcely had they time to snatch up their weapons and fire a volley, when a large party of the islanders surrounded the fort on three sides and began a determined assault. With wild cries of defiance and in face of a continuous fire of musketry and grape from the swivels, they jumped into the moat and scrambled up on the other side. Scores of them were shot down as they appeared over the bank, for many carried torches made of the spathe of the coconut tree, with which they intended to fire the buildings within by throwing them over the palisade of coconut logs that enclosed it. The light from these torches, slight as it was, showed the assailants so clearly to Christian's garrison, that ere they could form for their second rush McCoy, Quintal and Smith each fired a swivel loaded with grape into the surging mass. Dreadful cries of agony followed, and so terrified were the Tubuaians at the awful effects of the fire that they wavered and were about to retreat. Instantly half a dozen chiefs, waving their spears, sprang to the front; then the attacking party, beating their battle-drums loudly, again advanced to the assault.

Suddenly, as the dark, waving line of Tubuains swept over the undulating ground which lay between

  ― 110 ―
them and the western face of the fort, a blaze of light lit up the surrounding forest, and Mahina and the other women appeared beside the white men, carrying torches which revealed not only the naked forms of the savages now trying to scale the palisade, but also the dead and wounded who had fallen from the white men's first fire, and who lay on the edge of and in the bottom of the moat. So irresistible, however, was the rush of the assailants, that fifteen or sixteen of them succeeded in clambering over the stockade and jumping down into the fort. Armed with a short stabbing spear in the left and a heavy ebony-wood club in the right hand, these daring fellows made a rush at Christian, McCoy, and Smith, who were firing through the palisade at the swarm of yelling savages outside. Loud warning cries from Mahina and Alrema made Christian turn suddenly, but too late to avoid a vicious thrust from a spear, which passed through his left arm. Then came the report of a pistol close to him—the rush of foemen bore him back to the palisade bruised, stunned, and bleeding, and there he fell exhausted.

Flinging the blazing torches into the centre of the fort, the women with knives and cutlasses in their hands, sprang down from where they stood to help their white husbands; and while some continued to fire at point-blank range into the thick mass of natives outside, the rest of the white men and Tahitians made short work of those within. Soon not one was left alive; the women, at the command of Mahina, seized all their dead bodies, save one, dragged them to the

  ― 111 ―
top of the palisade and with cries of contempt hurled them over among the assailants.

For nearly ten minutes more the Tubuaians sought to force an entrance through the stout logs, heedless of the fire from the seamen's muskets, which were thrust through the spaces and discharged with deadly effect. Seizing the musket barrels the valorous savages by sheer strength tore them from the hands of those who held them, then with cries of defiance thrust their spears through the same apertures. By this time three of the white men had received severe wounds, and Young was just about to remove one of the four-pounders from where it was mounted to that part of the palisading where the assault was heaviest, when the Tubuaians broke and fled.

“Whew!” said Young, wiping his powder-blackened face and addressing Christian, whose arm was being bound up by Mahina and Talalu, “that was warm while it lasted. Not badly hurt, I trust, Christian?”

“No,” answered the leader, “only a thrust from a spear through the arm; the rascal meant it for my heart, though,” and then he closed his eyes from weakness. Round him stood the seamen, stripped to their waists, with cutlasses and muskets gleaming in the dying light of the torches which still lay burning on the ground. With one hand leaning on her husband's shoulder, in the other a cutlass bloody from hilt to point, was Alrema. Like the men around her she was bare to the waist, and her shapely arms and bosom were as ensanguined as the weapon she carried.

“Nay, Etuati,” she panted with a smile when

  ― 112 ―
the light shone on her all but nude figure, and startled Young, “'tis not my blood that thou seest; not once did a spear touch me. Ah, these dogs of Tubuai! Ah, my husband, thou didst not know that in our country we women go to war side by side with our husbands and our lovers.”

Stern and callous as he was by nature, the young man shuddered visibly as he looked at the shocking appearance of his young wife; stretching out his hand he unclasped hers from the cutlass, and gently led her towards the hut in which she slept.

Christian rose to his feet and was about to follow them when Mahina stayed him. “Dost thou know whose was the hand that sent the spear?” she asked. “Come with me and I will show thee.”

In the middle of the stockade lay a naked savage. By the light of the torch held by Mahina, Christian saw the tatooing on the dead man's back and legs, and knew that he was a Tahitian.

Stooping down, Mahina turned the body over, and pointed to the face.

“Pipiri!” exclaimed Christian.

“Aye, Pipiri the Areoi; he who swore to have thy life and mine.”

“Poor devil,” said Christian in English, and then to Mahina, “he hath a bullet hole through his chest. Who killed him?”

“I,” she answered, holding out Young's pistol—the pistol with which he had once sworn to kill Captain Bligh.

  ― 113 ―

Chapter XIII Farewell to Tubuai

FOR a few days after the battle the white men remained undisturbed in the fort; but instead of the elation that might have been expected from such a decisive victory, there now fell upon the mutineers a strange, brooding feeling of discontent.

Stewart and Heywood, ever bent upon retaking the ship and returning with her to England, had again succeeded in alienating some of the men from Christian, whose disregard of their wishes to remain at Tahiti had aroused their resentment.

Working upon this, Stewart, little by little, brought some of these men to believe that if they aided him in recovering the ship, they would not only be given a free pardon for any actual part taken in the mutiny, but would be rewarded for their loyalty to Heywood and himself. Tired of the hardships and discomforts of settlement on an island where the natives were so hostile, and already regretting their severance from civilisation, they were not long in promising to aid the

  ― 114 ―
two midshipmen in any scheme devised to recapture the Bounty and sail her to England; or, failing that, to return to Tahiti and give themselves up to the King's ship that they knew would be sent in search of them.

Morrison, the boatswain's mate, in particular, professed his readiness at any time that Stewart and Heywood might appoint to join them in either seizing the ship and making Christian and Young prisoners, or escaping from Tubuai and returning to Tahiti, and Alexander Smith, ever on the alert in his devotion to Christian, soon discovered that a second plot had been devised by Stewart, Heywood, and Morrison to steal the boat, provision her, and escape in the night. It became evident to Christian that his authority would be gone if he did not either make some concessions, or crush the malcontents at once and for ever. After discussing the matter seriously with Smith and Young, he called the people together and addressed them.

“You all seem so discontented with this place,” said he, “and there are, I find, 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, those who wish to separate from me can go, and those who wish to remain with me can do so.”

This proposal was at once agreed to. It was also resolved to divide into two parts the ship's stores and fairly share them between the two parties; then those who chose to do so could go ashore at Tahiti,

  ― 115 ―
and those who desired to stand by Christian could accompany him in the ship to some island afterwards to be decided upon by himself and his adherents.

And so once more the worn-out old Bounty was floated out to deep water, and all hands set to work to take on board her stores and armament again. That part of their labour accomplished, Christian sent parties out to collect the remainder of the live stock, which had not been seen since the attack on the fort.

But again the islanders attacked them in such force, and with such undaunted courage and fierce resolution, that the landing-party had to retreat to the ship; and, indeed, they narrowly escaped being cut off before the boat could rescue them.

Christian, who was engaged with Mahina, Alrema, and some Tahitians in bending on the Bounty's after canvas, at once opened fire from the ship to cover the retreat of his men; as soon as the boat came alongside he ordered those in her on deck for a glass of grog, and leaving the women to guard the ship, led a strong party on shore to make a second attempt.

For nearly a mile they marched through the rich tropical forest without molestation; then there suddenly broke forth the deafening rattle of the native battle-drums, and some five hundred Tubuaians—among them many women—sprang out from their ambush and made a furious attack with clubs, spears, and slings. Fortunately the ground favoured the white men, six of whom were armed with muskets loaded with slugs, and these inflicted terrible slaughter

  ― 116 ―
at the first volley. Twice did the Tubuains make determined efforts to break through and separate the white men, but throwing down their muskets and keeping the Tahitians in the centre, the seamen drew their cutlasses and hewed and slashed at the naked bodies of the savages till the leafy ground was soaked and soddened into a bloody mire. But for the slaughter inflicted by the muskets of the Tahitians, however, the enemy would have borne them down by sheer force of numbers. Christian, whose great strength and skill in all muscular exercises had made him famous in Tahiti, fought with such courage and fury that he soon had a pile of dead and dying Tubuaians forming a breastwork around him; and, leaning his weapon over their bodies, Talalu, the big Tahitian, fired into the enemy at such close range that the natives at last wavered, broke, and fled.

So exhausted, however, were Christian and his party, many of whom were badly wounded by spear-thrusts, that all further attempt to recover the stock was abandoned, and after two or three hours' rest they returned to the ship. At the landing-place they were met by a friendly chief, named Tairoa-Maina, and two of his friends, who, always having been well-disposed to Christian, took no 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 grim satisfaction the mutineers learnt that fifty-six men and seven women had been killed and twice as many badly wounded, principally by cutlasses and musket slugs.

  ― 117 ―

Fearing to remain on the island after the ship sailed, Tairoa-Maina besought Christian as his pledged taio, or friend, to take him and his two companions away with him. To this the mutineer consented.

On the following day, all being in readiness, the ship well stocked with provisions, and the wind being from the S.E. the Bounty once more got under weigh. Three days later she was off the island of Maitea, a high, verdure-clad spot about seven miles in extent, lying thirty miles due east from the southern point of Tahiti.

Running in close under the lee side, Christian hove-to the ship, called all hands aft, and divided everything on board into two lots in readiness for the time of separation. Then, before the lusty trade wind, the Bounty, not waiting for the crowd of canoes that were paddling eagerly off towards her filled with natives 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.

  ― 118 ―

Chapter XIV The Last Sailing of the “Bounty”

ONCE more were the white men welcomed with unaffected joy by the simple-hearted Tahitians, who yet wondered at their second return and made many inquiries as to its cause. Among those who thronged on board were the relatives of Pipiri the Areoi; these told enigmatically by Mahina that the priest 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 he had 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 the day came Tinā and his beautiful wife, who welcomed Christian and his comrades with every demonstration of affection and esteem, though they too marvelled at the second return of the Bounty; this Christian did not attempt to explain, knowing that those Tahitians who accompanied the ship would not fail to tell their countrymen of all the events that had transpired since they sailed from Tahiti. But Tinā expressed his delight at hearing from Christian that

  ― 119 ―
many of the Bounty's crew had returned for the purpose of living among his people, and readily 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 desired all those who wished to remain on shore to go to the larboard side of the ship, and all those who intended to remain by him to the starboard. The first to step over to the larboard were Stewart and Heywood, who were at once followed by thirteen seamen. His own party Christian found to consist of Edward Young, his next in command; Mills, the gunner's mate; Brown, the gardener; Martin, McCoy, Williams, Quintal, and, of course, the faithful Alexander Smith; besides these there stepped over to starboard Tarioa-Maina, the young Tubuaian chief, his two friends, and three Tahitian men with their wives, one of whom bore in her arms a female infant. Each of Christian's white followers had with him a native wife, and thus the whole of his party totalled twenty-eight persons.

For a moment or two Christian looked from one to another of those ranged on the larboard side, then told them in an unmoved voice to get into the boat. In a 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 the starboard side, he informed them of his intention to sail in a day or two, and said he would be pleased if they would not

  ― 120 ―
visit the shore again. This they unhesitatingly promised.

That night—the 22nd of September—he went on shore in a canoe and, landing a short distance from the village, made his way to the house of the chief Tipa'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 for the last time, and bury the past. I can never forget that until that morning in April we were always good friends. Shake hands then, my lads, for the last time.”

“I am very sorry all this has happened, sir,” said young Heywood, “and only just now Stewart admitted that you were sorely tempted,” and he held out his hand.

“God knows, Christian,” said Stewart, “I bear you no malice, for I cannot forget that after we gave you our promise not to interfere with your plans I induced Heywood to join me in breaking that promise. I can only plead as my excuse that I never intended to be false to that pledge; but seeing many of the men were ripe to join me in the attempt to retake the ship I felt justified in breaking it. I can only say again that although you have damned our prospects in life I freely forgive you.”

“Not so, Stewart,” said the mutineer, “your reputation as a loyal officer shall not suffer, nor shall this boy's. You are both innocent of participating in my crime. Be guided by me. Bligh will probably reach

  ― 121 ―
England; whether he does so or not a ship will be sent out to search for us. When she arrives here, 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 I alone am responsible for the act.”

“I fear that we shall have difficulty in clearing ourselves,” answered Stewart, moodily.

“Not if you give yourselves up at once and tell the exact truth. No one, not even my followers, not even I myself, thought of mutiny until I came on deck in the morning watch, and then the temptation suddenly came upon me. You both know what a life that damned scoundrel—God forgive me if I speak of a dead man—led us all, and how he picked me out particularly for his insults and unaccountable malice.”

“That is true enough; the wonder is that you bore with him so long. But it is too late to talk of that now,” said Stewart, with a ring of sympathy in his voice; “when do you sail, and where are you going?”

“My dear lads,” he answered mournfully, “where I am going is a question I cannot answer, and if I could it would be better unanswered, for you will be asked what has become of me. I shall leave at daylight and probably search for some 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 is ready, and I hope to be clear

  ― 122 ―
of the bay to-morrow morning, before even a native 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 to see 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 as 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 save the heavy breathing of the mutineer. Suddenly he rose, grasped their hands without a word, and, turning away, walked slowly down to the white line of beach whereon his canoe lay.

Old Tipa'uu awaking from his sleep a few minutes later, kindled afresh the dying fire, and as the flame leapt up and illuminated the house he saw that the faces of Stewart and Heywood were wet with tears.

An hour before daylight Fletcher Christian, who had been shut up for some hours alone in his cabin, came on deck and called the hands, and ere the mists of Orohena had begun to float away before the chilly breaths of the land breeze, the Bounty's anchor was up to her bow, and, with all her canvas spread, she was slipping out of the bay.

When daylight broke the natives gave a cry of astonishment, for the ship had disappeared.

The story of those of the mutineers who remained at Tahiti can be told in a few words. Who has not

  ― 123 ―
heard of the horrors of the Pandora's “box,” the term applied to the round house built by the merciless Captain Edwards of the Pandora 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 March 23, 1791. The sailors surrendered themselves, two seamen, Thompson and Churchill excepted, for the last-named had been murdered sometime previously by Thompson, who in turn was killed by the Tahitians, not before he richly deserved death for his atrocious crimes.

The white men had occupied their time on shore in building a schooner in which some had intended to leave the island, but they were unable to put to sea for want 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 of many a Tahitian love song. When the Pandora sailed the heart-rending grief of this gentle girl affected even the rough seamen whose duty it was to force her away 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 her prisoners on the 19th of May, the little schooner sailing with her. From the day 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 hands than did the others.

  ― 124 ―

Three months were spent by the Pandora in a vain search for the Bounty and those on board, and then the frigate was headed for Timor; on August 28th, while making her way through Endeavour Strait,note she crashed on a reef, and on the 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 he made no attempt to save them with the rest of the ship's company. From the box in which they were confined the only means of egress was by a scuttle on the top.

Some of them, as the Pandora rolled and dashed them, heavily ironed as they were, from one side to the other of their dreadful prison, bruised and bleeding, cried out that they would be drowned like rats in a hole, for already the vessel was breaking up fast, but their vindictive gaoler ordered them to be quiet or they would be fired upon. Only at the last moment did he give the order to take their irons off; and then, if it had not been for the humanity of one of the Pandora's boatswain's mates, they would all have been drowned. He, brave fellow, hearing their cries, declared he would either free them or drown with them; he dropped the keys of their irons through the scuttle, 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

  ― 125 ―
Edwards mustered them it was found that thirty-one of the frigate's crew and Stewart and three of the Bounty's seamen were drowned.

Then began a long voyage to Coupang on the island of Timor, there being ninety-nine persons in all, divided between three boats. The story of their dreadful sufferings need not here be told; but after a voyage of nineteen days, on September 19th, two of the boats reached Coupang, the third arriving three 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 at Tahiti—which had early parted company with the Pandora and had arrived six weeks before, her crew having endured similar privations. From Batavia they were taken to the Cape of Good Hope, their numbers having been increased at a former place by the addition of more prisoners—the survivors of the Bryant party, eleven convicts who had escaped from Sydney.note

Embarking in the Gorgon, man-of-war, at the Cape, Edwards and his unfortunate prisoners at last reached England safely, and the mutineers were tried by court-martial. Bligh was not present, having sailed on a second voyage to Tahiti for another cargo of of breadfruit plants.

The trial ended in the acquittal of three seamen and the conviction of six others, among them

  ― 126 ―
Heywood. The general tenor of the evidence went to prove Morrison and Heywood innocent. But Bligh had left behind him statements inculpating 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 then had honourable careers, the first after attaining the rank of captain died full of years and honours in 1831, and Morrison became gunner of the Blenheim, in which ship, in 1807, he was lost with all hands.


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