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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.