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Title: The Mutineer. A Romance of Pitcairn Island
Author: Becke, Louis (1855-1913) and Jeffery, Walter (1861-1922)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606911.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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Title: The Mutineer. A Romance of Pitcairn Island
Author: Becke, Louis (1855-1913) and Jeffery, Walter (1861-1922)



CONTENTS:

PART I

I. THE HEART OF A SAVAGE
II. THE CUTTING OF THE CABLE
III. WHITE MEN AND BROWN WOMEN
IV. THE FIRST SAILING OF THE "BOUNTY"
V. THE LAST STRAW
VI. THE RUBICON
VII. MUTINY
VIII. "HURRAH FOR TAHITI!"
IX. THE COUNCIL IN THE CABIN
X. PIPIRI THE AREOI
XI. TOGETHER AGAIN
XII. THE END OF PIPIRI
XIII. FAREWELL TO TUBUAI
XIV. THE LAST SAILING OF THE "BOUNTY"

PART II

XV. THE SEARCH FOR A RESTING-PLACE
XVI. THE FLIGHT OF THE KANPU
XVII. THE STORY OF AFITA
XVIII. BOUNTY BAY
XIX. HEWERS OF WOOD AND DRAWERS OF WATER
XX. MAHINA'S FIRST-BORN
XXI. THE FIRST TO DIE
XXII. A LOYAL FRIEND
XXIII. THE OPPRESSOR
XXIV. THE QUARREL
XXV. THE REVOLT OF TALALU
XXVI. NAHI'S MESSAGE
XXVII. ALREMA'S SONG
XXVIII. "HIS HEART'S DESIRE"
XXIX. THE TONGUE OF A WOMAN
XXX. AFTER THE STORM
XXXI. "MINE THE HAND!"
XXXII. NAHI'S REVENGE
XXXIII. THE BREW OF DEATH
XXXIV. "TRY TO FORGET THE PAST"
XXXV. THE LAST SHOT ON AFITA


* * * * *




PART I



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 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 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 Peretane 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, thy enemy?"

"How can I help it? Am I not the King's officer? 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 Tina, 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 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 Tina, 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 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 Afita--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 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,'
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."

"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, 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.



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 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.

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 moonlight...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.

"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 plumd 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.
"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 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 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 Tina, 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 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 Tina 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 Tina."

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

"Tina," 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.

"What man is there of mine, oh friend of Tuti and friend of Tina,
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, Tina, whom he knew
as Umu 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 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 Tina 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 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 Tina the chief.

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



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 Tina the
chief, sat together with their arms clasped round each other's waists.
Mahina's eyes were wet with tears, but yet 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 Steua 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
Tina 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 the district of Taiarapu with Tahiti. Here
they were to conceal themselves till "the wrath of Tina 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, Etuati, 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 Pirai 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 Tina. 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 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 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 Tina'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 they
learned with alarm that Oripah and Tamiri, two of Tina's subsidiary
chiefs, had forbidden the people in any way to aid or shelter them;
and that Tina 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 Tina, "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."

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 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 Tina'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.

"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.



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 Tina 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 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 Tina 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, Tina 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 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 Tina 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 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, Tina, ask your people to get into their canoes. Aitia,
goodbye; Tina, 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 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 Tina 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 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.



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 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 of savages. To this they responded with
derisive jeers, shaking their spears and clubs and calling out "Mat!
mat!" ("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 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! 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 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."



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 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.

"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 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 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 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 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 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 plumd 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!...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. "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 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, 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."

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, 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.



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 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 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 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.

"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, 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. 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 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 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 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.



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 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 to Tubuai. 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.

"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?"

"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 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 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. An
island nearly due south of Tahiti and distant from that island about
5 1/2 degrees.



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 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.

"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 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 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 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, 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 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.

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.



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 Tina'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 her white lover and accept for her husband
Pipiri the Areoi 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 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?"

"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, 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
Afita, 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 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?"

"Because Orotetefa 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. The Areois
were an extraordinary fraternity, followers of the gods Orotetefa and
Urutetefa, and Mr. Ellis gives a full description of them in his
"Polynesian Researches." They were, he says, not only priests, and so
regarded by the people as allied to the gods themselves, but strolling
players and privileged libertines. The association was composed of
seven classes. A candidate's admission to the first class was
signalised by the slaughter of his children, as a proof of his
devotion to the principle of infanticide. Their power and influence
was beyond comprehension to the civilised mind; and their rites and
ceremonies were of so bloody and revolting a nature, so utterly
monstrous and degrading that they "appeared to have placed their
invention on the rack to discover the most hideous crimes of which it
was possible for man to be guilty." Yet for all this the natives of
the Society Islands, especially the chiefs, looked upon them with
feelings akin to veneration.



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.

Tina 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," he said with a smile, advancing to
Christian, "and where is the chief Pirai? And why hath the ship come
back so soon? Hast thou already been to Peretane and returned in three
moons?"

Fletcher Christian was quick with his answer. "Nay, Tina, friend of
my heart, we have been fortunate. See, when we neared the island that
is called Tonga we there met the great chief, he whom you call Tuti.
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 Tina, 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."

Tina 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 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, 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 Tina.

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--Tina 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. 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 Tina and his people were pleased enough when 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."

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 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--

"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 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. 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 Afita--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 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 Tina. 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 Tina 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,
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. 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.



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, 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? 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 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 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, 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.

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?"

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 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 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 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.



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 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, 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 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.

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.



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 Tina 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 Tina expressed his
delight at hearing from Christian that 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 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 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 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 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.

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, 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 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.

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 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.

END OF PART I


* * * * *


PART II


Chapter XV The Search for a Resting-Place


THE Bounty lay becalmed within a few miles of a long, low-lying atoll
densely covered with coconut trees. The wind had fallen light during
the night, but though the land was then forty miles distant, the
strong current set the ship steadily to the eastward, and now at ten
o'clock in the morning those on her decks could see between the palm
trees the pale green waters of a placid lagoon shimmering in the
bright sunlight. Fifty miles north and south it stretched, and Talalu,
who with others of his countrymen was gazing at the strange island
from the fore-yard, his dark eyes full of expectancy, called out to
Mahina and Alrema, who were on the poop deck, that he could see a
great village and many people running to and fro on the beach getting
ready their canoes to come out to the ship.

Sitting aft upon the skylight, with two charts spread out before
him, was the leader of the mutineers. Although but two weeks had
passed since the ship left Tahiti, the anxieties of his position had
already told upon Christian, and his face was drawn and haggard.
Mahina stood behind him, with her shapely hand resting upon his
shoulder, and looked with interest at the pencilled line of the ship's
course marked upon one of the charts by her husband. Opposite were
Young, McCoy and his wife, and two or three others of the mutineers,
while their wives sat on the deck and listened eagerly to what their
husbands were saying.

Turning to his comrades, Christian pointed to the larger of the two
charts.

"This island which we are now closing is called Fakarava, and there
is a good entrance into the lagoon. If you think it advisable for us
to take the ship in, it can easily be done. But I cannot see that any
good will come from our wasting the time. As you know, this is the
seventh island we have sighted since we left Tahiti, and every one has
proved unsuitable for our purpose."

"What's the matter with this one?" said Williams, who had just come
down from aloft. "It's big enough for us all, isn't it?"

"Quite," answered Christian coldly, "but, as I have pointed out to
you before, while the natives of all these islands were friendly
enough, the islands themselves were most unsuitable. They were mere
sand banks covered with coconuts, and although some of them were of
great extent, the narrow strips of land enclosing the lagoons were
barely half a mile broad. Supposing that we had stayed on one of them,
stripped and sank the ship, and lived ashore, what possible chance
would there have been of concealing ourselves if a ship entered the
lagoon, or what chance of defending our refuge? None. None at all.
Then, the productions of such places are poor; there is literally
nothing growing on them but coconuts. But, as some of you thought that
in this group we should easily find an island as fertile as Tubuai, I
acceded to your wishes, and we have spent ten days among them seeking
a suitable spot."

"I'm sorry that I was one to persuade you, sir," said Quintal. "We
ought to have stood to the south again, as you wanted to, and got
among the high islands like Tubuai. As you say, it would be folly for
us to leave the ship for any place that we can't live comfortably on."

"On this chart of Captain Bligh's," resumed the leader, "you will see
that all these islands which we are now sailing among are marked as
'low coral lagoons.' That there are others which do not appear on the
chart, and which are higher and more fertile, I have no doubt; but I
believe from what Mahina and Talalu tell me, that these, which have
not yet been discovered by any navigator, lie a long way to the south
and east. That there is one such place I am certain. But before we
listen to what my wife has to say on the matter, and before I give my
own idea as to the best course, let me remind you that to-day expires
the time we agreed to spend in cruising among the islands to the north
and east of Tahiti."

"Aye, aye, Mr. Christian," said Smith, who with his wife had now
joined the party around the skylight.

"Up to the present," resumed Christian, speaking slowly and coldly,
"you have proved loyal to me, even though dissenting from my plans. I,
like yourselves, am but a felon dodging the gallows, and it is better
that you should bear with me a little longer, till I succeed in
finding a safe resting-place for us all. Then it will be every one for
himself; I shall have no further claim on your obedience, and you none
of any nature on me."

An anxious look crept into Smith's eyes, but he had no time to say
anything.

"Remember," continued the leader, "by leaving Tahiti with me you have
cut yourself off from the last chance you might have had of saving
your necks if captured by a King's ship; that being the case, we are
all in the same plight, and your interests are also mine."

"Mr. Christian, you have acted towards us like a man. I don't regret
what has happened, and I am going to obey you as captain of this ship
till the end; and I am very much mistaken if you won't find every man
on board of her of my way of thinking."

It was Smith who spoke, and when he had finished he looked at the
others for approval. Every one of them answered heartily, "Aye, aye,
go ahead, Mr. Christian; we'll see it through under you."

A faint smile of satisfaction for a moment lit up Christian's
countenance, but the habitual melancholy, which had now settled upon
him, returned the next instant, and he continued his remarks in cold,
indifferent tones.

"Before we left Matavai Bay I had practically made up my mind that
this island"--and he placed his hand upon the smaller chart--"was the
most suitable place for us to reach. This book"--taking it from
Mahina, "was written by Captain Carteret, and this chart was made by
him when he discovered the island, thirty years ago. This is what he
says," and opening the book, he read:--

"On the morning of July 2, 1767, a young gentleman named Pitcairn,
being on the look-out at the mast head, observed a spot on the
horizon, which on approaching it next day appeared to rise like a
great pyramid out of the sea. It proved to be an island, one and a
half miles in length and four and a half in circumference, its summit
attaining a height of 1,008 feet, itself surrounded by a coral reef
and covered with trees. The coast was formed for the most part of
rocky projections, off which lay numerous fragments of stone, while a
small stream of fresh water trickled down at one end of the island.
The surf, which broke upon the shore with great violence, rendered
landing impossible, but there should be no great difficulty in fine
weather in doing so. The place seems to be uninhabited, a great number
of sea-birds hovered around, and the waters almost swarm with fish."

"That's the place for us, lads," said Quintal, with an inquiring
look at the others.

"You will see," continued Christian, "that in the big chart the
island is not shown at all, but in this rough sketch of it, drawn by
Captain Carteret, the position is given as lat. 20 2' south; long.
133 21' west."

"Why, it's more than four hundred leagues from Tahiti," began
Williams, when Christian checked him by a look.

"It is more than that, as you say, and whether Captain Carteret's
position is correct or not, I cannot tell; I think not; for it is
known that the instruments he had on board the Swallow were very
indifferent. But in another reference to the island he says that it
was visible at fifteen leagues. I think, therefore, we could scarcely
miss it, unless we ran by it in the night."

"That's true, sir," cried McCoy and Smith.

"Well, as far as I know, no one but Carteret has ever seen this
place, and its isolated position will be a safeguard to us.
Furthermore, although my wife and I have talked of the island often
enough, I was careful in leaving Tahiti to give neither Heywood nor
Stewart a hint of our future movements. Now listen to what my wife has
told me, and then decide quickly whether you will agree to our
standing to the south-east and looking for this Pitcairn."

Again the rest of the mutineers answered that they trusted him, and
would follow his advice.

"Very well, then. My wife, as Talalu and your own wives will tell
you, is not of Tahitian blood. Her ancestors were blown away to sea
from an island far away from Tahiti, which they only reached after
spending many months among these islands through which we have been
cruising for the past ten days. Their home lay, according to them,
many weeks' fast sailing to the south-east of Tahiti. Mahina, though
she knows but little of the origin of her people, yet knows that the
place they came from was called Afita, and Carteret's description of
Pitcairn, as far as I have been able to make her understand it,
tallies in the main with the description she has heard her mother give
of Afita. Remember that we have with us many Tahitians, and Tairoa-
Maina and the other Tubuaians, and it would be well to take them into
our confidence and tell them where we are going. We cannot afford to
deceive them."

He ceased speaking; then, as no one demurred to his suggestion, he
asked Young to muster all the natives aft. As soon as they had grouped
behind the white men, Christian said to his white comrades--

"My wife is, I think, a favourite with all these men. Let her talk to
them and tell them that we are about to look for the home of her
forefathers, and they will be well content."

The seamen consented, and Christian explained to Mahina what was
wanted of her. She, readily understanding, at once complied; and it
was easy to see, by the flush of pleasure upon her cheeks and her
bright smile, that the task was a pleasing one.

Placing her hand on Carteret's chart, and giving a swift glance of
intelligence and affection at Christian, she spoke.

"See, men of Tahiti and Tubuai, my husband desireth me to tell thee
of the home of my people, so that ye may know why it is the ship
stayeth so long out upon the sea. It is because that of all the lands
we have seen since we sailed we have seen none so fair to look upon as
Tahiti and Tubuai; and it is in my husband's heart to find a land that
shall be both fair to look at and good to live upon. But naught have
we yet seen but such places as this," and she pointed to the low-lying
island on the larboard side; "and so, because I have told him of the
rich land from whence my fathers came, it is in his mind that we go
there and live. And I have heard Manuhuru, my mother, speak of this
land, for there was her mother born and there she lived, until there
came a time when, with many others, she was blown out to sea and
returned no more, for their canoe was swept away by a strong south
wind for many, many days till they reached strange islands. Some were
killed by the people of these places, but my mother's mother, and four
others with her, one day stole a sailing canoe from the people of the
island called Marutea and set out again to seek their own home."

"Here's the place she speaks of," said Christian, pointing to Marutea
on the large chart, "a good eight hundred miles to the north-west of
Pitcairn Island."

Whites and natives crowded round the chart and looked at the spot
indicated by Christian.

"But again the winds and the gods were against them, and so they
sailed towards the setting sun, and on the tenth day saw the shadow of
Orohena stand out against the sea-rim, and at night they landed at
Tiarapu and dwelt there in peace among the people, who were kind to
them. But yet were their hearts always towards their own land, which,
though it be but a small place, yet is green as Tahiti, and is a land
good to live in; and sometimes when the sun sank below the sky-rim and
they watched the top of Orohena become wrapped in the white mists of
the valleys, they would look at one another and sigh and say: 'Ah,
that is like our land of Afita rising from the sea.'"

A cry broke from Tairoa-Maina, the Tubuaian chief: "Afita! Truly,
Kirisiani, thy wife and I are of one blood; for I, too, know of this
land which riseth from the sea, and is far away, towards the edge of
the world. My father came from Afita, and there are many others in
Tubuai whose fathers came from there, long, long ago, in seven canoes.
This did they because Afita, though so rich, was too small for so many
to live upon. And because of the strange blood in my veins it was that
the men of Tubuai liked me not, and I desired to come away with thee.
Let us, oh Kirisiani, go seek the land of Afita, which is far towards
the rising sun from Tubuai. For it is indeed, as thy wife sayeth, a
land good to look upon, and rich in woods, and water and fish, and
yams and bread-fruit."

For some minutes there was an excited buzzing of voices among the
natives, and the men eagerly besought Christian to lead them to the
home of his wife's people; while Edward Young and the rest of the
ship's company seemed equally interested and as anxious to learn more.
Presently Talalu, who generally acted as spokesman for his countrymen,
stepped out from the others and addressed the leader of the white men.
This man, who was the tallest and strongest of all the Tahitians on
board, had, like Smith, conceived a great admiration for Fletcher
Christian, and had evinced it in many ways since the Bounty left
Tahiti; and being a man of chiefly rank, his influence over the rest
of the natives on board was great.

"Kirisiani," he said simply, "I, Talalu, the son of Poahanehane, will
follow thee wherever thou goest, and work and fight for thee. And as I
do, so will my countrymen with thee on the ship do. This we swear by
our gods, and by the blood in our veins."

And then one by one the simple brown people crowded round Christian
and touched his hands and feet in token of their fealty to him; and
the dull, brooding shadow for a little time left his face as he shook
hands with them all in the English fashion, his example being followed
by Young and the rest of the white men.

Then Tairoa-Maina pressed forward, and the handsome chief, his black
eyes gleaming with excitement at the prospect of seeing his father's
island home, knelt at Mahina's feet and touched the deck with his
forehead.

"And I too," he said, "will go with thy husband, Mahina, and be a
true man to him; for is he not a man of a good heart? And together
shall we search for and find the land of Afita, thy land and mine. For
now, Mahina, when I hear thy voice, do I hear the voice of my father
that is dead; and it may be that thou and I are of one blood. And for
that alone would my heart be for ever towards Kirisiani, thy husband."

Christian smiled again. Despite his own morbid nature, he had grown
to like the handsome Tubuaian, and the chief's devotion to Mahina
pleased him greatly. A little behind were the rest of Mahina's
country-women, who, not comprehending the discussion, had now
surrounded her with soft murmurs of excitement, and presently
Christian, noting this, turned to his wife with a laugh--the first for
many months.

"This is well, Mahina, that thy countrymen are so with thee and me;
but what say all these women to this search for the land of Afita?"

She turned her lustrous eyes, beaming with affection, on the
mutineer. "It is not the part of a woman, unless she be a great ruler,
to say aye or nay to her master's will; and surely thou didst not
think to ask these women their thoughts on this matter. That would be
folly."

"'Tis a good doctrine, Mahina," answered Christian; "there will be
no man-and--wife quarrels to break our peace on Afita." Then, pressing
her hand, he turned away to attend to the ship.

"Here comes a fleet of canoes," called out Quintal to Young, and
almost at the same moment the glassy surface of the water stirred and
rippled to the breeze as it came darkening along from the north-east
to fill the Bounty's sails.

"Never mind the canoes," answered Young, flinging down the
mainbraces; "get the head-sheets over; and here, away to the main
deck, all you women!--out of the way and give us a pull on the
braces!"

So with many a bubbling laugh and merry jest the Tahitian women
tripped down and seized the ropes in their soft little hands; and as
the ship leaned gently over and the froth began to bubble under her
bluff old bows, Christian put the helm hard up, wore her round, and
set her head to the south-east.

Mahina, standing beside him, gazed intently into her husband's eyes
as he looked at the compass; then as he steadied the ship she watched
him inquiringly; and he nodded and smiled at her in return.

"Aye, Mahina, that is where we must go to seek for Afita; may we find
it soon." He gave over the wheel to Williams, walked quietly away,
picked up the charts and books, and went below.

But on the main-deck, as the long, palm-clad line of Fakarava, with
its white gleam of sandy beach, sank slowly below the horizon, the
white seamen and their native wives and the rest of the ship's company
sang and laughed and chattered; and as the Bounty slipped over the
long ocean rollers she spread on either side white sheets of snowy
foam, and surged along before the lusty breath of the ever--freshening
breeze.

So began the search for the land of Afita. A district in Tahiti.



Chapter XVI The Flight of the Kanpu


ON further careful study of Carteret's book and chart, the mind of
Fletcher Christian was greatly disturbed, for he knew that there was
much to fear if the position of Pitcairn had been wrongly laid down.
The currents, too, in this part of the world were but little
understood by those few navigators who had sailed among the islands;
indeed, the natives themselves were far better informed of both the
winds and currents of Eastern Polynesia than were the few European
voyagers among the various groups since the days of Carteret and Cook.

Carteret had laid down the centre of Pitcairn in lat. 20 2' south,
and long. 133 21' west; but although Christian was fairly confident
of sighting the island by keeping a careful look-out and heaving-to at
night when he got near it, he felt that his limited knowledge of the
winds and currents might lead to prolonged and tedious search.

For twenty-one days after leaving Fakarava the Bounty sailed south-
easterly. Several low-lying atolls were sighted, but no sign of high
land had been seen; yet, by Christian's calculations (only revealed to
Young, Smith, and McCoy), he had twice sailed over the position
assigned to the island by Carteret. His misgivings that a strong
current had set him too far to the eastward were daily growing
stronger. His only chronometer, through an accident, had been rendered
useless, and besides this the weather latterly was gloomy and the sun
seldom visible. The last land had been sighted eighteen days after
leaving Fakarava, and Talalu and Tairoa-Maina, who from the break of
day were continuously aloft on the lookout, assured him on that day
that no land lay further to the south-east but Afita and a little
sandy island called Oeno, about half a day's sail to the northward.
Small as this island was, they declared that the clamour of the sea-
birds, whose resting-place it was, would reveal its presence even on
the darkest night; and this alone somewhat reassured him in the hope
that he had not drifted past it or Pitcairn in the darkness. A day's
sail further to the eastward was another island which they said was
called Fenua-manu; this, too, was the home of millions of sea-birds,
whose voices stifled the beating of the surf upon the reefs, so great
were their numbers.

With his chin upon his hands, Fletcher Christian gazed moodily at
the chart before him. Mahina, who by the cabin door was watching him
with tender interest, heard him sigh wearily. Stepping up to him, she
pressed her cool hand to his forehead, and leant her cheek against his
in loving sympathy.

In the great cabin no sound broke the stillness save the swish and
swirl of the ship's wake as she slipped through the water; and
presently Christian, drawing the girl's slender figure to a seat
beside him, pointed to the chart.

"Mahina," he said, "you and three of my white comrades alone know
that the ship hath twice sailed over the place where this island of
Afita should have been; and no sign have we yet seen, not even a
drifting coconut or a piece of wood."

The girl's eyes filled with tears; for a few moments her bosom
heaved, and she tried to speak without showing her emotion; and
Christian, moody and preoccupied as he was, knew by her voice that she
felt for and sympathised with him.

"Kirisiani, I too have looked and looked and prayed to Oro and Tane
to guide the ship to Afita, but now I begin to fear that the gods have
turned aside from me."

He pressed her hand in silence, and was about to bid her come with
him on deck when the murmuring of voices at the door of the great
cabin broke in upon them, and presently Talalu, Tairoa-Maina, and two
other natives asked leave to speak with him.

"Let them wait awhile," he said sullenly, although knowing that in
the Tubuaian chief and his Tahitian comrade he had two firm friends,
who with Smith, Young, and McCoy would stand by him to the last. For
nearly half an hour he remained communing with himself and
endeavouring to think out some other course for the future, should his
search be still unrewarded on the following day.

Already the long voyage had had a bad effect upon most of the
mutineers, and only that morning he had noticed the gloomy faces and
sullen manner of the men when changing the ship's course another point
to the southward. Some of the Tahitians were suffering from the
effects of the strange food which, for weeks, they had been forced to
live upon, and the confinement told seriously on their health and
spirits. Yet, despite this, their regard for Mahina, and their faith
in, and respect for Christian were unbroken, and they would have
endured the most prolonged hardships rather than let either imagine
that they were repining. With some of the white seamen, however, these
feelings were wanting. Although there was no open expression of
discontent, more than one murmured at the delay, declaring that
Christian and Young, either through ignorance or design, were not
doing their duty to their associates.

It was no wonder, therefore, that Christian himself grew day by day
more anxious and less confident of finding this island of Carteret's.
True, the place was small and solitary, and, unless his reckoning was
very exact, might easily be missed. Twice had he sailed across
Carteret's position, and nothing had rewarded his search; and now he
felt that another day's fruitless quest would assure him either that
his observations had been incorrect or that the island had disappeared
by some convulsion of nature. Worn out with anxiety, with constant
watching, and his own sad emotions, nothing but the devotion and
tender love of Mahina had kept him from ending it all with a loaded
pistol which he always carried in his pocket.

He pushed the chart away wearily, and was about to go on deck when
Mahina, who had remained, touched his arm, and with a timid,
beseeching look asked him to let Tairoa-Maina and the other natives
have speech with him.

"Come in, friends," he said, in kindly tones.

The Tubuaian chief, who, with Talalu and two other natives, had been
patiently waiting at the cabin door, came in, sat silently down, and
waited permission to speak.

"Speak, my brother," said Mahina to Tairoa-Maina. "My husband is
wearied, and would go out upon the deck to breathe the cool wind of
the night."

Pleased at the relationship assigned to him by Christian's wife, the
handsome young Tubuaian looked at them with affectionate regard, and
said he and those with him desired to speak of something in their
minds, at which they prayed him not to be angered, "for," he added,
with a grave smile, "we men of brown skin are but fools on the great
ocean when the sky is dull and there is neither sun nor moon nor stars
to guide us. But with the clever white men it is different; they are
full of wisdom to guide a ship, even if there be neither sun by day
nor stars by night. Yet in some little things we have wisdom, and that
is why we now ask that thou, Kirisiani, will listen to us--who are thy
friends."

"That I well know," said the mutineer, placing his hand on Tairoa's
shoulder. "Speak, my brother."

"Thou knowest, Kirisiani, that for many days I have climbed the masts
and watched, so that I might be the first to see the land of Afita;
and when it grew dark I have waited upon the deck and listened to hear
if the sound of beating surf came over the sea. Last night, as Talalu
and I lay on the deck, and the ship rose and fell and made no sound,
we saw first one and then another of the birds called kanpu fly
swiftly over the ship towards the westward. As we watched there came
another, and then another, and then a flock of twenty or more, and
these too all flew swiftly westwards, for we saw their shadows darken
the bright strip of water that shot out from the dying moon. Then, as
we lay down again, there came to our minds that on Oeno, the little
sandy islet but a day's sail from Afita, there do the kanpu breed in
the thick puka scrub which groweth in the sand."

"True," said Mahina quickly; "I have heard my mother say that on Oeno
the cries of the kanpu when they come home to roost at night drown
the noise of the breaking surf."

"Aye," said the Tubuaian, "and so have I been told. Yet only at
night; for in the daytime they fly to the lagoon of Fenua-manu, where
they find many fish. We talked of this as we lay on the deck, and I
desired to come and tell thee, Kirisiani, of the flight of the birds,
but feared that thou wouldst chide me for doubting thy skill to guide
the ship. But I have heard some of those with us say some little
things."

Christian smiled bitterly. "They speak truly, my friend; I cannot
find this land of Afita."

Leaning over towards him and placing his hand on Christian's, the
Tubuaian continued: "But this morning, when the lower half of the sun
was still buried in the sea, we saw many, many kanpu and katafa
flying swiftly towards it, and Afita lieth between Oeno and Fenua-manu."

Christian's eyes sparkled. "Thanks, my good friend. I see now thy
meaning. For two days have I thought that the ship hath come too far
towards the rising sun, and that the place we seek lieth westward."

"Even so think we," answered Talalu, "for the current runneth strong
towards the rising sun, and the kanpu and the katafa went westward to
rest."

For a little while Christian considered. Oeno, the sandy island which
both Mahina and Tairoa asserted was but a day's sail north and west
from Afita, was not marked in any of the two or three charts he
possessed, but Ducie Island, the "Fenua-manu," or Island of Birds, of
the natives, was, and lay due east of Oeno. And he knew the natives
relied much upon simple indications to find their position when making
long voyages at sea. He soon made up his mind.

"We will turn the ship to follow the kanpu," he said.

The natives sprang to their feet, and with animated countenances
waited for him to precede them on deck.

The Bounty, with the gentle trade-wind filling her sails, was
steering an E.N.E. course, when Christian, with Mahina and the others,
came on deck. Sitting near the wheel was Young, who had charge of the
watch.

"Young," said Christian, "I am convinced that if this island is in
existence it is to the west of us."

"So Alrema says," nonchalantly replied the young man; "but I didn't
think it worth while mentioning it."

"What do you say? Shall we keep her away?"

"Certainly--why not? As we cannot find it ourselves by the chart let
us go west by all means."

"Hands to the braces, men!" called out Christian after a moment's
hesitation. "We are going to run down to the westward."

In a few minutes the yards were hauled round, and the Bounty was
heading west by north. Telling Talalu and Tairoa to go aloft,
Christian turned to Young and Smith and related the incident of the
previous night.

About four o'clock in the afternoon, just as Christian was about to
lie down for an hour, there burst from Talalu on the fore top-gallant
yard a cry that sent a thrill through the hearts of every one on
board--

"Te fenua no Afita!" ("The land of Afita!").

There was a sudden rush aloft, Christian himself ascending the main
rigging slightly in advance of McCoy, Quintal, and Young.

"There it is, sir!" said Quintal excitedly, pointing almost right
ahead.

Then as the others saw the faint blue outline of a pyramidal peak
rising from the sea, a cheer broke from them, and the people on the
deck took it up and repeated it again and again.

"Thank God!" said Christian to Edward Young. Instinctively their
hands met, and in silence they all gazed intently at the little spot,
which at that far distance no eye but that of a seaman or a native
could distinguish from a cone-shaped cloud. Ducie Island, about ninety
miles east of Pitcairn. It is uninhabited now. The old name, Fenua--
manu, meant "The Island of Birds."



Chapter XVII The Story of Afita


TOWARDS sunset, when the Bounty was still some thirty miles distant
from the land, the trade-wind as usual died away, and by eight in the
evening the new moon shone over a sea as calm as a mountain lake.
Fearing that the easterly current would set the ship back in the night
during the continuance of the calm, Christian and Young had carefully
taken the ship's bearings just as the pale blue of the distant island
was changing to a shade of purple under the rays of the setting sun.

The knowledge that their long search was ended at last inspirited
every one on board. After supper the men gathered on the main deck,
and with their wives and their brown-skinned shipmates forgot the
weary days which had tried their tempers and forbearance so severely.
Alrema, who had an influence upon her countrymen almost equal to that
of Mahina, was in high spirits, and Young, despite his usual seeming
indifference to her vivacity and beauty, was yet secretly pleased to
see the respect with which she was treated by the others. Her conduct
during the attack on the fort at Tubuai had shown her to be possessed
of a fiery, undaunted courage; indeed, had the murmurers known that
this beautiful Tahitian girl with the dark, languorous eyes, and soft
red lips had advised Young to induce Christian to shoot them, they
would have remembered the incident of the bloody cutlass, and been
more careful of their speech in her hearing. Yet now she seemed but a
merry--hearted, mirth-loving girl, and as she raised her sweet voice
in some old Tahitian love-song, while her eyes sought those of Edward
Young, the men were struck with her bright and animated beauty.

Tired of singing and talking with the group assembled on the main-
deck, she presently ascended to the poop, where her husband sat with
Christian and Mahina discussing their plans for the future.

She seated herself beside Young, and listened till they ceased
talking--then said, clasping Mahina's hand in her own, "Tell us, oh
friend of my heart, the story of this land of Afita."

"Nay," replied Mahina, smiling and stroking Alrema's dark hair,
"'tis but little I know, and that little did I learn from my mother;
but call hither Tairoa-Maina, and let him tell the story, for he hath
more knowledge of Afita than I."

Christian's consent having been gained, the Tubuaian chief was called
upon the poop, and sat in front of the little group with his two
faithful attendants behind him; his swart, handsome features lit up
with pleasure when he was told what was wanted of him.

"Kirisiani," said Mahina, caressing her husband's cheek with her
soft, brown hand, "but for this dear friend, Tairoa-Maina, still might
we have been searching for this land of his and my father's."

"True," answered Christian frankly, "but for him we might perhaps
have never found it. Thou seest, Mahina, that in some things the white
men have not the knowledge nor judgment of thy people."

"Even so," she answered gravely, "we have no such things as those
tuhi of thine which are full of wisdom. And it is strange to us that
by looking at some little black marks thou couldst tell us of the sea
chief who saw the land of Afita thirty years ago. Yet, though we have
no wise men among us like thee and the great Tuti and Pirai, we have
memories and songs and tales which have come down from father to son;
and all that is told is remembered by the children, and they, when
they grow up, tell it to their children, so that all may know the
beginning of things since Taaroa the father of the gods and his two
sons Oro and Tane made the world."

Acquainted as he was in some degree with the wild and fabulous nature
of almost every Polynesian tradition bearing upon the ancestry of the
people, Christian was convinced by the many long conversations he had
held with Mahina about her descent that much of what she told him had
a basis of fact. The Tahitian custom of deifying their ancestors would
naturally result in confusing historical facts and rendering them
absurd, but his keen observation and quickly acquired knowledge of the
Tahitian tongue enabled him to sift out in a great measure the real
from the fabulous and visionary. He therefore, while listening to
Tairoa-Maina's story of Afita, quickly divested it of all that was
mythological and fictitious, and accepted the substance of it as fact.

To his mind much of what Mahina told him of Afita had appeared no
more than the vague traditions of native legend, but as he listened to
the Tubuaian chief's story he found a remarkable resemblance between
the two accounts.

Sitting in the light of the moon, which fell upon his symmetrical
head and shoulders and revealed the curious and delicate tracery of
the tattooing upon his polished skin, the young chief related the
Tubuaian story about the land and the people whence he came.

"Long, long ago, Kirisiani, Taaroa the Sky-Producer, and Oro and Tane
his sons, between them created new lands by dipping their hands to the
bottom of the deep sea and dragging them up above the surface, so that
the trees might grow and men live upon them. In those days there dwelt
upon Huahine a taata paari (wise man) named Poiata, who had himself
been created by the gods, and his wife Mahinihini. In the same house
lived Rumia and his wife Motupapa; only these four were on Huahine. At
the end of two years neither of the women had borne a child to their
husbands, and Poiata and Rumia, assailing them with bitter words and
blows, drove them away to the sea-shore, and bade them go swim out
into the ocean and drown.

"'Nay,' cried Mahinihini, 'give us a canoe, so that at least we may
seek some other land and hide the shame of our childlessness.'"

"But Poiata and Rumia laughed and jeered at them, and pointing to a
great shark that lay upon the water outside the reef, mockingly bade
them hold on to its fin and begone.

"Now this shark was Tahua; and the two women, who wept as they swam,
approached him silently, and clambering upon his great back, held on
to his fin while Tahua sped away with them.

"For many days he swam southward and eastward, till Mahinihini and
Motupapa saw, rising out of the sea, what seemed the fin of another
great shark; so high was it that it pierced the clouds, even as does
the peak of Orohena. But when they drew near they saw that it was land
rising up steeply from the deep sea, and on the high cliffs there
stood strange men with yellowish faces and circlets of red and green
parrots' feathers round their foreheads. As the two women gazed in
fear and trembling, Tahua the shark sank from beneath them, and they
struck out and swam to the shore. The strange men ran down the cliffs
and helped them to land, and gave them food to eat and coconuts to
drink. Seven men were they, and they said they came from a great
country to the east where the mountain-tops were for ever covered with
white clouds."

"How came they there?" asked Christian.

Tairoa-Maina shook his head. "No man knoweth. But they were pleased
to see Motupapa and Mahinihini, for there were no women with them on
the island, which they had named Afita--'the land shot up by fire from
the bottom of the sea.' So these two women became wives to the seven
men, and they bore seven children to each man. By and by, as the years
passed on, there came more of the strange people from the great
eastern land; and they were pleased with the beauty of Afita and the
great richness of the land, and dwelt with Mahinihini and Motupapa and
their husbands. Very joyously they lived together, until the people
grew so in number that breadfruit and taro and yams and plantains
began to be scarce because of the many mouths of children who cried
with hunger. And when the land would no longer hold them and famine
came, twenty-and-two score men and women sailed far away in canoes to
seek another home. Westward they sailed for ten days till a storm
separated them, and four of the canoes came to the land of Tubuai, and
four to the land of Rapa. Of those that reached the land of Rapa I
know nought, save that the chief was named Teata-rua; but of those
that came to Tubuai my father was one."

"And did he ever tell thee how appeared this Afita, this lonely
island that springeth up from the sea like the fin of a shark that
swimmeth on the surface?" asked Mahina.

"I have heard my father say," answered the chief, "that so steep are
its mountains that they shut in from the winds the rich soil of the
belly of the land; and down the sides of the hills run many streams of
water sweet to drink. And save in one place no reef ran out from the
shore."

"That does not agree with Carteret," said Young to Christian.

"And the great ocean rollers," added Mahina, "for ever dashed up
against the face of the cliffs so that no strangers could land in
their canoes, else would they be broken to pieces in the angry surf."

"But still there is one little spot on the north and north-west,"
continued the Tubuaian chief, "so small that only those who have lived
in Afita can find it, where the sea is not always rough. And on the
eastern side there is a small bay, where, when the wind is from the
west and south, the sea is quiet, and a deeply-laden canoe can land
with safety."

"Is the water deep?" asked Christian.

"Aye, so deep is it, that five fathoms from the shore the water is as
blue as the deep ocean; and close to the high cliffs swim great fish
that we in Tubuai catch only with lines a hundred fathoms in length.
Ah, Kirisiani, to-morrow wilt thou see if Mahina and I have told thee
aught but the truth."

As the pleasant tones of the chief's voice ceased there came a gentle
puff of air, which filled the ship's upper canvas, and Christian and
Young sprang to their feet, quickly followed by the natives, and
trimmed the sails for the coming breeze.

For three or four hours the Bounty slid softly over a moonlit sea;
then as dawn broke and the red sun sprang from the horizon, Fletcher
Christian and his comrades saw the island for which they had so long
sought lying before them bright and shining green upon the sunlit sea.

An hour later the ship was hove-to as close to the land as her safety
permitted, and Christian, in her one boat with Taiaro-Maina and some
white seamen, was searching for the only little bay where it was
thought a landing might be effected.



Chapter XVIII Bounty Bay


WITHIN twenty minutes of leaving the ship Christian and his boat's
crew were close under the cliffs of the island; and rowing carefully,
just outside the curl of the breaking surf, they sought the landing-
place described by the Tubuaian chief as being on the south and east
side. As the strong arms of the natives urged the boat along,
Christian looked at the grim, precipitous cliffs which rose sheer from
the thundering surf at their base, and a strange sense of loneliness
almost akin to fear came over him. The outlines of the solitary island
were savage, and the terror of its forbidding exterior was increased
by the tumult of the waves which hurled themselves with astounding
fury against its grey coral walls. Sometimes, as a huge, swelling sea
swept in like a moving wall towards them, the natives would give a
warning cry; and Christian, bringing the boat's head round to meet it,
would watch the mighty volume of water fling itself, with a hoarse
roar, high upwards against the solid face of stone, to fall back in
drenching sheets of foam upon the swirling cauldron which leapt and
eddied and boiled beneath. Here and there deep and narrow chasms split
up the vertical mass of rock, and into these gaps, many of them
terminating in caverns black as night, the sea rushed with such
irresistible force that misty spray and spume shot upward over the
very summits of the cliffs, like the belching smoke from the crater of
a volcano in the throes of a violent convulsion. Right to the verge
there drooped down in places thick clusters of a light-green coloured
creeper, whose pendants, turned yellow by the salty spray, swayed
wildly to and fro like banners waved by mysterious, invisible hands,
so fierce were the air blasts caused by the terrific inrush of water.

Scarcely speaking above a whisper, the natives rowed quickly along,
their dark eyes shining with pleasure when they saw the feathery tufts
of coco-palms showing above the dense thicket scrub, where the cliffs
were less precipitous and revealed a slight glimpse of the interior of
the island. And now, as the boat drew near the south-western point
where a high, cathedral-like rock stood, blackly-grim, amid the white
seethe of boiling surge, there came a strange wild clamour, a savage
symphony of crashing, thundering surf and hoarse guttural croaks and
shrill pipings, and from every crag and rock and jagged pinnacle along
the shore, there soared aloft a vast swarm of sea-birds, which whirled
and circled above the boat with outstretched wing and frightened eye.
Then, as if satisfied with their quick scrutiny of the strange
intruders, they rose higher in air and vanished behind the towering
cliffs.

Keeping well clear of three or four sharp-peaked rocks which raised
their black heads from the water as the receding billows uncovered
them to view, the boat at last rounded the point and Christian headed
her along the shore to the north-west; and almost at the same moment
Tairoa-Maina drew in his oar, and sprang to his feet with an exultant
shout.

"See, Kirisiani! the beach! the beach! And see, too, the leaping
torrent above. 'Tis indeed the land of Afita."

Christian, himself too excited to speak, now gave his attention to
effecting a landing; the crew took in their oars and, picking up canoe
paddles in their place, waited for the word to run the boat ashore
during a lull in the surf, which even on the sheltered beach broke
heavily. For some five or ten minutes they lay rising and falling upon
the rollers; then, seeing his opportunity, Christian gave the order,
the natives plunged their paddles into the water with swift, strong
strokes, and sent the boat spinning shoreward on the crest of a
curling wave. Twenty feet from the beach they leapt out, in another
minute the boat had touched the shingle, and the crew had hauled it
out of danger.

Directly in front of them was a winding path, long unused, which led
to a plateau beyond; Christian and Tairoa led the way up the ascent,
and they quickly gained the edge. And then even Christian could not
repress a cry of excited admiration at the marvellous beauty of the
scene. Back from the white beach, which like a strip of ivory lay
below amid the emerald green of a belt of encircling coco-palms, there
stood revealed an amphitheatre of the loveliest verdure and most
enchanting appearance, surrounded on three sides by wild and densely
wooded mountains. Westward, about a mile away across the plateau, a
lofty peak raised itself high above its less conspicuous fellows,
whose bold and romantic-looking semicircle, diversified by noble,
jutting crags and tapering peaks, encompassed the softer beauties of
the smiling valley. Scarcely more than a mile in width from east to
west, the extraordinary fertility and variety of verdure was such that
Christian and his companions gazed upon their surroundings with
feelings little short of rapture. Overhead, the lofty plumes of the
stately palms swayed and rustled to the flower--scented breath of the
trade-wind as it stirred the rich green foliage of the breadfruit
trees. Along the seaward-facing edge of the plateau clusters of
pandanus palms, with their ripe, red fruit, waved their feathery
banners to the breeze. Beyond the crowns of the murmuring palms, and
the wide outspreading branches of the tamanu and breadfruit and
pandanus trees, lay the blue, heaving bosom of the Pacific.

For some little time they remained spellbound, drinking in the beauty
of land and sea and sky around them, and listening to the music of the
mountain torrent as it would downward through its rocky bed to the
bright valley, to mingle its pure waters with the ocean. Then with a
sigh of satisfaction the leader bade his men follow him back to the
boat. A mile off he could see the Bounty, which had just gone about,
and was now standing in again, her white canvas shining in the
dazzling sunlight.

Before launching the boat, the crew threw into her a hundred or more
of young drinking coconuts, which they had hastily gathered from the
nearest trees, for the use of the women. Then, all talking together of
the richness and fertility of the island, they picked up their canoe
paddles and quickly sent the boat in safety through the breaking surf.

Christian was soon on deck and described the appearance and
capabilities of the island to the foremost of his comrades, who were
all well pleased at his account, and left their future course entirely
in his hands. He was not long, therefore, in coming to a decision.

The wind was now from the south-east and blew gently but steadily
into the little bay, so it was agreed that the ship should work round
the south-west point and be headed directly for the beach. The deep
water which ran close to the foot of the mountains all round the
island, except where a narrow strip of beach separated land and sea,
would enable them to get everything out of the Bounty likely in the
future to be useful; and the destruction of the ship, Christian knew,
would prevent his companions from yielding to any sudden impulse and
risking his and their safety by an attempt to leave the long-sought
place of refuge.

In order that Young and Brown (the gardener) might take a look at
their future home, Christian sent the boat away a second time; for the
wind being light it would be some time before he could effect the
purpose he had in view. Two hours later, when she was within a quarter
of a mile of the southern point of the little bay, the boat was seen
coming out again, and soon gained the ship. Young was greatly pleased
with the beauty of the place, and reported that he had searched for a
suitable anchorage and had found a spot where the ship would be safe
enough during the continuance of such calm weather, for the sea on
that side of the island was but moderate.

But at the word "anchorage" Christian shook his head, and Young
therefore pursued the subject no further. Brown, who had a
considerable knowledge of botany, said that he had found many plants
upon the island which were edible and would prove of value; and his
and Young's remarks confirmed Christian and the others in their
opinion that the island would, when the ship's stores were exhausted,
yield them ample provisions in all respects save that of animal food.
The varied fruits and vegetables also would be enough to support them
till the ship's stock of goats, pigs, and fowls had so increased that
they might begin to kill them with safety.

The boat being passed astern, Christian hove the ship to, called all
hands together and told them his intentions.

"I have decided to run the ship ashore, and then burn her," he said.

Without hesitation every one agreed to abide by his decision. Then
the sails of the Bounty were filled for the last time, and in a few
minutes she was heading straight for the beach.

Every heart on board beat more quickly as the old ship neared the end
of her life.

Christian, his eyes fixed upon a small rock which marked the centre
of the little bay, stood at the helm. The act of severing this last
link with the past almost unnerved him, and every moment of the ship's
progress towards the breakers seemed like an hour. Whole years of time
in the life that was now for ever gone raced swiftly in the current of
his thoughts. But this, the end for him of all his past, so lingered
in its fulfilment, that time after time he was on the point of
throwing the ship aback, saving her from destruction before it was too
late and giving him, felon as he was, a last chance to end his days,
even though a fugitive, in a foreign land; or he could return to
England, and then--a disgraceful death. With the means of escape cut
off perpetual exile faced him, and disseverance from all which was
once dear.

A slight touch upon his arm, and Mahina stood looking into his face
and reading his mind as clearly as if he had spoken aloud. With the
gentle pressure of her hand, the look of unutterable love from the
dark, tender eyes, his indecision was gone.

"Mahina," he said, "thou art right; I was wavering. To all men this
moment comes sometimes in their lives, and they often decide wrongly;
but between thee and what lieth beyond I should indeed be a fool to
hesitate."

Her lips quivered; bending her head over the wheel she kissed his
hand, and her warm tears of silent sympathy nerved him anew.

A few seconds more, and with a voice as firm as though he were about
to anchor the ship, Christian gave the word to let go the halliards
and sheets, and, while the hissing of the boiling surf breaking across
the entrance of the bay drowned the rattle of blocks and the flapping
of canvas, the Bounty ploughed through the seas towards the shore.
Wave after wave swept roaring past her on either side, their snowy
summits running level with the tops of her bulwarks; with slowness
tormenting to her expectant crew, she gradually lost her way, struck
the beach gently, ground a few feet of furrow in the glistening
pebbles and sand, and then settled into her last resting-place with
scarcely a quiver of her timbers.



Chapter XIX Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water


WITH shouts of joy the Tahitians and Tubuaians, men and women alike,
clambered from the bows of the ship to the beach; the white men caught
their enthusiasm, and they too, all but Christian, who remained with
Mahina, jumped ashore, and for a while everything was forgotten but
the one delightful truth that the weary quest for a resting-place was
ended at last.

Christian, however, soon recalled them to the need for work. Before
abandoning their old home it was necessary to build a new one. So the
ship was made as secure as possible where she lay, and while the white
men went to work to dismantle her, the brown people, with Christian
and Mahina, set about selecting a site for their dwellings.

For the first few days after landing they lived in tents and such
rough shelters as could be built with canvas and planks from the ship,
and during this time a survey was made of the island. It was then by
mutual consent divided into nine parts--one portion to each
Englishman. As for the islanders, none of the white men, except
Christian and Smith, seemed to think of them as having equal shares
and rights in the undertaking; even Mahina seemed surprised that her
husband should regard them as anything but servants and tillers of the
soil. Finding that all the other seamen except Smith were determined
against giving their brown associates any land whatever, Christian,
after a few words of expostulation, withdrew all further opposition
and let matters take their course, and the Tahitians and Tubuaians
began to build houses and prepare land for planting.

But just as axes and hoes had been served out to the natives by McCoy
and Young, and while the rest of Christian's comrades were present,
the Tubuaian chief stepped out from among the natives, and fixing his
eyes on the man Williams, who had especially resented the idea that
land should be given them, he addressed Christian. He spoke very
slowly and clearly, and even those of the mutineers whose knowledge of
the Tubuaian language was limited, could grasp the meaning of his
words.

"I, Tairoa-Maina, am a chief. In my own land of Tubuai, for me, a
warrior and a man of good blood, to labour for others would be
shameful and degrading. But I and Talalu, who is my friend, and of as
good blood as myself, have no thoughts such as this now; our hearts
are eaten up with love for Kirisiani and his wife Mahina, and for they
alone do I and Talalu go forth to labour like slaves. Like myself,
Kirisiani is a chief in his own land, that I well know. And I know, oh
men of Peretane, that there are some among you who have evil in your
hearts."

"Cease, cease, my brother," said Mahina, taking the chief's hand.
"Well do my husband and myself know that thou and Talalu are indeed
friends to us; but, I pray thee, make no bad blood between him and the
other white men."

"You've always had too much to say," said Williams, advancing to
Tairoa savagely with his hand upon his knife. Christian sprang upon
him and gripped him by the wrist.

"Stand back, Williams. Raise your hand to that man and I'll choke
you. Do you want to begin our new life by bloodshed? Listen to me, and
weigh well my words. I have long seen how you have tried to harass and
thwart me in my endeavours for our common good; of that which is
passed I will think no more; but, by the living God, do not attempt it
again! And do not seek to injure this man Tairoa-Maina, who has been a
good friend to us all, and should in common justice have equal rights
with ourselves."

With a look of bitter hatred, Williams sullenly turned away, and
calling his wife Faito to follow him, left the others and took no
further part in their discussions.

During the following week the Bounty was stripped of everything below
and aloft, inside and outside; even her planks were removed from her
sides, and the copper, nails, bolts, and such useful articles
carefully stored on shore, and nothing of her being left out of the
water but the frame, she was set on fire. What remained of her charred
hull was floated and sunk in the bay, which from that day the white
men called Bounty Bay, and the Tubuaians Te Moega te Pahi--the
resting-place of the ship.

Although Christian relinquished the command of his fellow adventurers
as soon as they had landed, he was still tacitly recognised as their
leader, and his advice sought and taken upon many matters. For some
days the people lived in tents, and all, brown and white alike, worked
at clearing the nine portions of land, and building thereon houses,
the roofs of which were skilfully and quickly thatched by the women.
For this they used the stiff leaves of the pandanus or screw-palm,
which grew on the island in profusion, and yielded, in addition to its
strong, useful timber and leaves, quantities of rich yellow fruit.

Mahina, always a favourite with the Tahitians, had now gained very
great influence over them all, and Alrema, who was possessed of
undaunted courage and iron resolution, was equally well-liked, and was
a fitting mate for her husband, who, reckless as he was by nature,
felt and yielded to the influence of his young and beautiful wife,
whose easy manners and soft ways veiled, as he knew, a capacity for
heroic deeds where her love for him was concerned or her jealousy or
hatred was aroused. Unknown to Christian she had been, from the very
day of their return to Tahiti, a silent force working both in his and
her husband's interests to maintain their supremacy over the rest of
the white men. Nothing escaped her keen observation; danger to
Christian, she knew, meant danger to Young, and she was quick to note
and take heed of the slightest murmuring of disaffection, and to
nullify it by inducing Christian, either through Mahina or Young, to
make some concession.

Of Quintal and Williams she was especially distrustful. The former,
once an ardent supporter of Christian, had of late begun to associate
much with Williams, who was of a dangerous and savage disposition.
Faito, his wife, was a tender, delicate girl, scarcely more than
fifteen years of age; but at a period when even the roughest and
coarsest of men might have been expected to have shown her some
tenderness and consideration, she received nothing but curses for her
weakness and incapacity to attend fully to his wants.

"Perhaps," she one day said weepingly to Alrema and Mahina, as the
three were plaiting thatch for the roof of a house, "perhaps he will
again be the same to me when my child is born and I become strong
again. But to-day he cursed me because, being wearied, I lay down for
a little while, and he said that he was a fool to take such a weak
thing as I to wife."

Alrema's eye flashed and her white teeth showed through her parted
lips. "Aye, I heard the dog--and I heard more; what said he of Malama,
the wife of Kawintali (Quintal)?"

Faito covered her face with her hands; in an instant Mahina's arms
were round her waist and her head pillowed upon Mahina's bosom.

"Nay, heed him not, Faito; Malama fears him, and never wilt thou be
wronged by her."

The girl tried to smile through her tears. "It may be so; but to-day
he said that 'twas Malama who should have been wife to him, for she is
well and strong."

"Not so strong but that my knife shall eat into her heart if she
comes between thy husband and thee," said Alrema fiercely. "Her
husband is but a dull head where women are concerned; but thy husband
is as cunning as a rat. And I know that they both are evilly disposed
to Kirisiani and to my husband; they say this land of Afita is too
small for so many. By and by they shall have but a very small piece--
so small indeed that a child may step across it."

With these ominous words Alrema went away; and so began to germinate
the seeds of discontent and distrust, which later ripened to a deadly
feud.

But for some little time matters went on well enough; even those who
were secretly resentful of Christian's influence over their brown-
skinned associates yet worked willingly enough for the common good,
and performed the daily task allotted to them without murmuring.

Within three weeks, nine houses--one for each of the mutineers--were
completed, and Christian one day announced that the next joint work
would be to provide four similar dwellings, three for the Tahitians
and their wives, and one for the three Tubuaians--who, being single
men, would live together.

For some moments no one spoke--then Williams, who was sitting beside
Quintal upon the bole of a large toa tree which had been felled for
house-building, laid down his pipe, stood up, and confronted
Christian.

"You don't expect us to build houses for these natives, do you, Mr.
Christian?" he said, and Alrema, who stood near, noted the glance that
passed between him and Quintal.

"Why should we not? Are not these people as good as ourselves? Have
they not done thrice as much as we have in building our own
dwellings?"

He spoke quietly, but there was a dangerous tone in his voice, and
Young, Mahina, and Alrema, who knew now his slightest mood, looked
with anxiety for what was to follow.

"I, for one, will be damned if I work for savages," said Quintal,
rising and standing beside Williams.

"We didn't come here to work, Mr. Christian," joined in Mills, the
gunner's mate, gloomily; "I think these fellows ought to work for us,
and not we for them."

"You are all pretty much of this opinion?" asked Christian slowly,
with an inquiring glance, and in a savagely contemptuous tone of
voice.

A quick and angry murmur of assent came from all but Young and Smith,
who quietly walked apart from the others and stood beside Christian.

Then Smith, after a whispered word with Alrema and his own wife,
Terere, stepped out in front.

"I, for one, sir, will lend a hand right willingly. Give your orders,
Mr. Christian, and I'll obey them."

This brought no remark from the rest, and Young drawing his comrade
aside, said quietly, "My dear Christian, what is the use of sneering
at the men in this fashion. It is scarcely likely that British
seamen--damned lazy dogs they are, too--could be induced to work side
by side with island savages; and your manner of asking them invited
their refusal."

Pushing aside Young's restraining hand, Fletcher Christian turned to
the group of seamen, and, with flashing eyes and voice trembling with
rage and contempt, said--

"Have your own way; I have done with the lot of you, and am glad to
be clear of you. For your own sakes I have, so far, kept control. If I
led you into mutiny I stood by you and brought you to a place of
safety. I can die or live here--I care nothing which way it is. But
understand this: I will be no party to making slaves of men whom I
look upon as equal to myself--and superior to such damned soldiers as
you. Go to hell, the whole lot of you, in your own way!" Then he
walked rapidly away, followed by the trembling Mahina, and the
unmoved, undaunted Alrema.

As soon as he had disappeared among the palm-groves, Talalu, who
understood enough English to comprehend the nature of the discussion
that had taken place, turned to Young, and said in Tahitian--

"Do not quarrel about this matter, Etuati. There are plenty of us to
build houses. Our hands are strong and our hearts are not made sore
because these our friends think we alone should work on Afita. Come,
my countrymen, let us to work. Never must angry words come between us
and the white men."

A cheerful assent was the response; the natives shouldered their axes
and, followed by Tairoa and the others, walked off in single file
towards a clump of toa trees.

"Why, damn it all," said Mills, with a coarse laugh, "those fellows
have more sense than Christian! They know well enough that we ain't
the sort to work for them. Why, it's agin' nature."

For a few days after this nothing occurred to widen the breach. The
Tahitians worked with a will, lightening their labours with many a
song and merry jest; for they were by nature an amiable and kindly-
hearted people, full to overflowing of the most generous instincts and
noble impulses, and their devotion to Christian and his beautiful wife
was sufficient reason for them to toil unrepiningly for the rest of
the white men; to their simple minds, those who sought to oppress them
were of Christian's race and, as such, had a claim upon them. But
underneath all their present content there was yet a hidden current of
dissatisfaction which only the quick mind of Alrema had fathomed, and
she was a woman who meant to make use of it when the time came. So,
while the white seamen lay in their houses and ate and drank and were
waited upon by their obedient Tahitian wives, the brown men let the
white slowly but surely assume the rights of masters over them, and
uncomplainingly became hewers of wood and drawers of water.

At night when the fires were blazing and the rude lamps brought from
the ship were lighted, the islanders would assemble in front of the
white men's houses; and with the wives of the mutineers (except Alrema
and Mahina) sing old Tahitian songs such as the Bounty's people had
heard in the days when their ship floated on the placid waters of
Matavai Bay. Sometimes, when the sea was smooth, men and women
together would go down to the ledges of the cliffs and fish in the
deep waters at their base, returning home laden with many a weighty
basket. Tairoa--Maina and his two countrymen had already made a canoe,
and the marvellous ingenuity with which it was constructed with such
rough tools--for they had but axes and knives and a few chisels--
aroused the admiration even of the lazy Englishmen. The houses of the
white men, too, were monuments of the untiring patience and skill of
the Tahitians. Built of the timber of breadfruit and toa, and thatched
beautifully with the russet-coloured leaves of the pandanus palm,
oblong in shape, they bore an almost exact resemblance, inside and
out, to the dwellings in Tahiti and Tubuai. Their furniture was nearly
all of native pattern, and consisted in each house of the owner's
share of the spoils from the Bounty, with rough wooden stools and
benches made from the wood of the breadfruit, toa or tamanu tree. The
floors were first of all laid out with about a foot of smooth, seaworn
pebbles, brought by the women in baskets from the little beach where
the ship was run ashore, and then covered over with coarse mats of
coconut leaf. Over this was spread finer matting made from the
pandanus leaf, and over this again squares of canvas cut from the
Bounty's sails. Upon this a thick layer of still finer mats, brought
from Tahiti, was placed, and this formed the beds of the occupants.

The long months spent at sea upon the ship had greatly changed the
habits and customs of the Tahitians, until in some things there was
but little difference between them and their white associates--or
rather masters. But now that they were both once more on land the
Englishmen were glad to adopt, in their turn, many of the ways of the
natives, and so the two races gradually acquired from each other such
new habits and modes of life as were best suited to their altered
state.

To their white husbands the Tahitian women were always considerate
and dutiful; they ministered to the men's wants so skilfully that the
rough sailors found their days slip by in the greatest ease and
comfort, and had some sort of selfish affection for their wives. It
was contrary to the custom of Tahiti for the women to eat with the
men, or even to drink out of the same utensils as their husbands, or
partake of food which had been either handled or prepared by the
superior sex; and in this respect the laws of custom proved too strong
to be broken, even though their husbands good-humouredly urged them to
do so, they were quite content to wait upon their lords and masters
and eat by themselves afterwards. But Christian, Young, and Smith, who
regarded their wives as something better than mere chattels or objects
of selfish passion, tried hard to combat this custom, and in some
degree succeeded; so that Mahina, Alrema, and Terere all abandoned the
Tahitian habit of one regular meal on rising, and taking food and
drink at infrequent intervals during the remainder of the day, and
prepared and ate meals in the English fashion.

Although no longer on more than terms of ordinary civility with the
rest of the white men, other than Young and Smith, Christian would
come in the evenings sometimes from his house to exchange a few words
with them as they sat outside upon the grassy sward before their
dwellings listening to the Tahitians as they sang and chanted or
played music upon their reed vivos. When they were tired of singing,
the happy monotony of the long nights would be relieved by the brown
women, who, like all Polynesians, were born story-tellers, with tales
of their early childhood, the old traditions and legends of their
island homes, and about the marvellous origin and great deeds of their
ancestors. Fabulous and absurd as was much even of their history--for
it was so interwoven with their wild mythology that the seamen merely
heard it with a good-natured smile of contempt--there was yet enough
of truth in it to interest Christian and Young; and their attention
pleased the wives of the seamen greatly, and indeed helped to sow the
seeds of indifference towards their husbands, who they now began to
perceive were men in intelligence far below the one-time officers of
the Bounty.

But even the rough seamen could not fail to be amused at some of the
early Tahitian notions of England. For instance, they had somehow
acquired the idea--perhaps from travellers' tales of early voyages--
that England was once a large island, the centre of which was made of
iron; but continuous wars with other nations had resulted in all the
outside soil being shot away with cannon balls till there was nothing
left but a solid mass of iron. It was also believed that there were
ships in England forty leagues long with masts so high that they
pierced beyond the clouds, and that a young man in full health and
strength going to the masthead grew grey before he reached the deck
again; while on the great round tops of the lower masts were rich
gardens of fruit, in which men lived.

Another story told how the captain of an English ship of war, which
carried so many cannons that it took one man a year to count them, was
incensed at the conduct of the people of a certain island; so that
hooking one of the ship's anchors to a mountain, he set sail, tore the
island from its foundations, and towed it away to the region of cold,
where the people perished. But although these tales were believed by
their narrators, they would not accept the white men's stories of
stone houses many feet high and of rivers crossed by bridges of stone
with no support underneath.

As time wore on, some of the women began to adopt the semi-European
style of clothing; and this while it did not become them so well as
their own native dress, yet pleased their husbands and showed the
women's desire to render themselves attractive in the white men's
eyes.



Chapter XX Mahina's First-Born


GLOOMY and melancholy as ever, since the day of the mutiny Christian
had gradually allowed his bitter thoughts so utterly to overcome him
that even towards Mahina he showed cruel indifference. For days a word
would not escape his lips, save when his wife put some direct question
to him concerning his movements or intentions; and both Young and
Smith, attached to him as they were, now ceased their evening visits
entirely. Sometimes, when the fires were lit after sunset, Mahina--her
dark eyes filled with tears--would watch her husband go to the door of
their little dwelling, stand there for a minute or two lost in
thought, and walk silently away along the edge of the cliffs. Often
when she would have accompanied him, he quietly, but yet firmly,
pushed her hand aside, and with an impatient exclamation quickened his
steps so as to be away from her the sooner. Hour after hour would pass
while Mahina, weeping softly to herself, sat outside awaiting her
husband's return. Sometimes her solitude would be broken by the
gigantic Talalu, whose dog-like devotion to Christian led him to leave
his own house and join her in her saddened watch.

Early one morning Mahina, accompanied by Alrema and Talalu, set out
for a day's ramble in the wild, mountainous interior of the island;
Christian, scarcely noting her absence, left the house a few hours
later for his solitary haunts on the high cliffs. About sunset he
returned, and the moment his figure appeared over the ridge behind
which the little house was situated, Mahina ran to meet him with
outstretched hands, her face radiant with childish joy. Placing her
hand on her husband's arm she told him in excited tones that she and
Talalu had found traces of her ancestors in many places on the
southern portion of the island.

Flinging down his musket, Christian seated himself on the low, rough
seat erected by the side of his dwelling, and for some moments seemed
quite oblivious of Mahina's presence. At last, however, in answer to
her continued exclamations of delight, he replied bitterly--

"Trouble me not with such things, Mahina. What care I who lived here
in the past? The misery of living in the present is enough for me,"
and so saying he buried his face in his hands.

The savage energy in his voice made her tremble at first, but the
indifferent manner in which he treated the news of her discovery
touched her to the quick, and she blazed out in hot anger--

"Thou cruel Kirisiani! What have we who love thee done that thou
shouldst cease to care for us? What have I, thy wife, done that thou
shouldst so answer when I speak to thee? Were I a slave thou couldst
not insult me more than thou hast done."

Christian merely shrugged his shoulders, rose and walked back
towards the cliffs, although food had been prepared for him by his
disheartened wife.

Brushing away the tears that would still come, Mahina entered the
silent house, put out the lamp, and seated herself before the dimly-
burning fire, wondering what it was that had so changed her husband's
manner towards her and, indeed, to every one else. That he was engaged
in working alone on one of the highest spots on the island she knew,
for he had taken tools with him from time to time; but where the spot
was and what was the nature of his toil she could not even guess. He
had sternly forbidden her to follow him, and even Talalu dared not
attempt to discover his retreat.

So for many days Talalu and Mahina contented themselves with talking
over their discoveries with Tairoa-Maina, who himself a descendant of
the now extinct people of Afita, of course took a keen interest in all
that related to his ancestors.

Taking some food with them, the three one day set out to make
further explorations. On the eastern side of the island some rocks
were discovered among a dense, scrubby thicket, through which they had
to cut their way with seamen's cutlasses brought for the purpose; on
the faces of these rocks were rude drawings of birds, fishes, turtle,
and of the sun, moon and stars, besides what Tairoa-Maina said was a
chart of the islands in the surrounding ocean, showing the track to be
taken by a canoe in voyaging among them. At another spot, not far from
the high cathedral--shaped rock on the south-east point, they found in
a cave numbers of stone spear and arrow-heads. Many of these were
unused implements, and the cave in which they were found had evidently
been a storehouse for food as well as an armoury; for in its earthen
floor were a number of pits which had once been silos for the storage
of breadfruit, yams, and other food. Almost in the centre of the
island, Tairoa one day came across the very burial-places of his and
Mahina's forefathers. Round this cemetery were a number of rude images
of human figures, and huge squared blocks of stone lay about in
profusion.

At evening they returned home, full of the important discoveries
they had made, and would again have spoken to Christian on the
subject, but that his distant manner forbade them.

As the days passed this moroseness so grew upon him that there was
little doubt his mind had become diseased, and about a week after
Mahina's discoveries in the mountains he began to absent himself from
her for two or three days together.

Unknown even to his tender and devoted wife, he had furnished a
roomy cave situated in a mountain recess on the opposite side of the
island. It was his intention, he afterwards told Mahina, to hide in
this cavern should a ship of war by any chance arrive. He had stocked
it with provisions and water, and arms and ammunition, so that he
might defend himself to the last in case of discovery, for he swore
that he would never be taken alive.

The completion of his hiding-place seemed to please him somewhat, and
he now at times was more sociable with the other white men when by
chance he passed their dwellings or met any of them in his lonely
walks; and sometimes, to their great joy, he would join Talalu and the
other natives in a fishing excursion. Then, as she saw him ascending
the cliffs towards their home, Mahina's face would brighten, and she
and her girl friends would eagerly welcome him, and instantly prepare
to cook the fish he brought.

For some little time matters went on without change in Christian's
home till towards the close of the year an event occurred which
temporarily roused him from his lethargy. This was the birth of his
first child--a boy.

To Mahina's great happiness, her husband consented that the customs
of her race should be observed, and at her request he went away to his
cave to remain there till the child was born.

In the meantime, under the direction of Quintal's wife, the oldest
Tahitian woman present, the others prepared in the centre of the great
room a sort of bower of leaves and fine matting. Upon its floor was
placed a heap of heated stones, which were constantly replaced by
others as they cooled. Upon the stones were thrown great bunches of
such sweet-smelling herbs and flowers as the island afforded, and
these were from time to time sprinkled with water, so that the house
was kept filled with the perfume of the herbs. In this bower Mahina
remained till the birth of her infant; and then Christian was waited
upon by the other women and asked what amua (gifts) he had ready for
the child.

Having been previously instructed by Quintal's wife, he replied--

"This is all that I, Kirisiani of Peretane, have for mine and
Mahina's infant, for it is all that this land of Afita yields," and he
placed in their hands small quantities of breadfruit, taro, and such
other fruits as grew on Pitcairn. This was all that was expected of
him, and the women went away pleased that he had allowed them to
follow their native customs so far. In Tahiti it was the practice for
a woman to live some weeks with her new-born infant in the sacred
grounds of the maraes or temples of Oro and Tane, in order that the
favour of the gods might be assured for the child's future. But under
the influence of their white husbands the women of Pitcairn had
abandoned much of their religious ceremonies, and so this one was not
observed by Mahina, on the plea that, although they had found a marae
on the island, there was nothing to show that it had been built by
worshippers of Oro and Tane, but really because she knew that
Christian disliked her clinging to Tahitian customs.

After Christian had presented his gifts, he was followed by all the
others, each person bringing an amua either of food, live stock,
clothing or matting. These were deposited at the mother's feet, and
the ceremonies were concluded.

To Mahina's delight Christian remained constantly with her for some
weeks after this event; his manner to her and the infant was gentle
and kind, and she now began to hope that her husband's former
affection for her had not entirely died away. Poor girl, she was soon
undeceived.

One evening she and her friends were at one end of the room silently
toying with the infant; Young, Smith, and Christian were sitting
smoking on the bench outside. The evening was wonderfully clear and
still and, but for the ceaseless throbbing of the surf upon the cliffs
below, no sound disturbed the silence.

Presently she heard Young's voice addressing her husband, and (for
she now spoke English fairly well and understood it still better)
listened to hear what they were saying.

"What do you intend to call the boy?" asked Young. "Will you name
him after yourself?"

"No," answered Christian, with intense contempt; "do you think that
I will let the little savage perpetuate his father's name and shame?
She can call the brat by any name she pleases, except mine."

Both Young and Smith were silent, and the latter looked troubled.
Attached as he was to Christian, he felt that Mahina's steady devotion
had deserved better of her husband.

"You are a strange man, Christian," said Young, presently; and
calling Alrema he took her by the hand and led her away, giving
Christian only a curt "good-night." He was soon followed by Terere and
her husband; Christian remained alone outside, lost in thought, and
heard nothing of a soft sobbing within.

Midnight was long past when he rose and went inside. He thought
Mahina was asleep, but just as he laid his head upon the pillow he
felt her hand upon his forehead.

"Kirisiani, I heard thee speak to-night. Not all did I understand;
only this--that thou dost despise thy child, and wilt not give him thy
name."

"Call it by some Tahitian name, Mahina; 'tis not an English child."

"True," she answered brokenly; "but yet 'tis thy child, and his eyes
are thy eyes; and when I look into his face I see thy eyes looking
into mine, as they did when thy heart was warm with love for me, its
mother. And for this do I desire to call it by a name of thy tongue
and by no other."

"Very well," he answered, after a moment's thought, "have your own
way--stay, I have a name for it. It was born upon a Thursday in
October. Call it Thursday October, for"--and his voice grew hard and
sneering--"'tis the way they name negro children in the West Indies.
It is only fitting that this little savage should have some such
name."

And Mahina, not understanding the full meaning of his words, called
her first--born by the name given it by her husband.



Chapter XXI The First to Die


ALL day long, from the red blush of sunrise till the mantle of the
quick, tropic night enshrouded the lonely island, thousands upon
thousands of sea-birds circled round the high mountain peaks and vine-
covered crags of Afita, and filled the air with their wild clamour. At
one place, where the grim cliffs started sheer upward from the
crashing surf, they had made their rookeries upon a series of narrow
ledges which traversed the face of the rock in undulating lines from
the summit. The highest of these ledges was perhaps fifty feet from
the scrub-covered edge of the precipice; the lowest just out of the
reach of the drenching spray that in stormy weather sprang upward in
misty showers from the wild commotion of the waves beneath.

Here, with faces turned seaward, the great black frigate birds and
the blue-billed kanpu, with many other species of ocean rangers, sat
upon their eggs and hatched their young, and the weird cries of the
fledglings mingled with the hoarse, croaking notes of the parent birds
all through the night, and were borne in strange, mournful cadences
and mysterious quaverings through the darkened forest to the dwellings
of the mutineers and their brown-skinned associates.

The eggs of these birds were much relished by the white men, and it
was one of the duties of their patient wives to hazard their lives
along the line of cliffs in collecting them. Sure-footed and agile,
the women would sometimes be lowered by their companions above to the
perilous ledges full fifty feet down, fill their baskets with eggs,
and be hauled up again in safety, thinking nothing of the dreadful
death that awaited them if the rope parted or they became overwhelmed
with giddiness. The topmost ledge, where the fierce-eyed frigate birds
had made their rookery, could be reached by clambering down the cliff
and along its jagged face.

For two or three days great numbers of these sea-birds had been seen
flying swiftly towards the island from the eastward, and the Tahitians
understood that the breeding season drew near, and that very shortly
the female birds would be sitting.

Early one morning Faito, the gentle, delicate-featured wife of the
coarse and brutal Williams, set out along the edge of the cliffs to
see if the frigate birds had begun to lay. She was alone. Heart-broken
as she was at her husband's cruel conduct, her loving nature impelled
her to venture her life upon the cliffs, so that she might be the
first to bring the much-coveted eggs to her savage master.

Presently, as she walked along, softly singing to herself some chant
of her Tahitian childhood, a pretty black and white kid--the progeny
of one of the goats brought to the island in the Bounty--sprang out
from the dense thicket scrub which bordered the mountain path, and
darted along the edge of the precipice.

The cry of delight that escaped from Faito at the prospect of
catching the animal reached the ears of Talalu, who was some few
hundred yards away, cutting down a toa tree.

"Take care, take care, Faito," he cried, as the girl sped swiftly
along, her black hair streaming behind her, her dark eyes glowing, and
her bare bosom panting in the excitement of pursuit--for she knew that
the capture of the kid would at least bring a pleasant word from
Williams; then, ere Talalu could shout another warning, her flying
feet caught in a creeper, and without a cry she pitched headlong over
the cliffs, with the sound of happy laughter yet upon her lips.

Dashing through the thick scrub, Talalu reached the edge of the
precipice and looked over; there, on a little pebbly beach, hollowed
out in the face of a chasm in the cliffs, he saw the dead and bleeding
body of Faito lying upon the stones.

This was the prologue to a bloody tragedy yet to be enacted on
Pitcairn.

Clambering down to the bottom of the cliffs by a devious and
dangerous route, Talalu at last gained the spot where the body of the
dead girl lay. He took it tenderly in his arms and pressed his face to
hers, with streaming eyes and sobs of pity, then slowly and
laboriously began the perilous ascent.

It was noon when he reached the settlement. Williams and Quintal were
sitting together in front of the former's house when the Tahitian drew
near with his burden.

"What the hell's the matter now?" asked the dead woman's husband
roughly, when he saw his wife's figure lying in Talalu's brawny arms;
then, brute though he was, his dark features paled when her countryman
turned Faito's dead face towards him.

"Thy wife is dead, oh worker of iron. She sought to catch a kid,
thinking to please thee. She tripped and fell--and died."

Gently laying the body down upon the couch or mats, he walked away
without a word.

The tidings of Faito's death soon brought the rest of the white men's
wives to Williams' house, sobbing as they ran. The first to fling
herself weeping upon the cold bosom of the dead girl was Nahi, the
wife of Talalu. She was a tall, slenderly built woman, with big,
passionate eyes, although she had the gentle, timid manner of a child.
Seating herself by the body of the girl, Nahi first pressed her lips
to the cold face of her friend, and then in whispered tones directed
the others in their ministrations to the dead. Towards sunset, as they
moved to and fro in the great room of the house, a figure darkened the
doorway and Williams' harsh voice broke in upon the silence.

"Hallo, Nahi," he said in English, without even glancing at the
shrouded figure upon the floor, "how are you? It's not often I catch a
sight of you--and, by God! you're too pretty a woman not to see
often."

Slowly Nahi rose to her feet. She understood every word that was said
to her, yet curbed her anger, and with downcast eyes and trembling
hands answered him in Tahitian.

"We come, Iron-worker, to mourn for Faito, thy wife."

Something in her voice, and in her trembling, yet indignant attitude,
made the callous-hearted man turn away without a further word. He
stepped to the door, stood there irresolutely for a moment, and then
disappeared into the darkness.

All through the night the mourning watchers sat beside the dead girl;
at dawn the brown men dug her grave in the garden, some distance from
the back of Williams' dwelling. Just as the sun became level with the
summit of the cliffs and shot its bright darts through the leafy
forest aisles, the little funeral procession gathered round the grave,
and Faito's body, lying upon a bier covered with garlands and wreaths
of flowers and leaves, was placed beside it. Then, one by one, each of
the men and women brought offerings of food and young drinking
coconuts and placed them by the bier, for to them the girl's soul was
hovering near, and her body would need refreshment on its long journey
to the world beyond. Nahi (who was not only a devoted friend of Faito,
but a distant blood-relation as well), seated herself beside the
grave, and in her soft Tahitian tongue, chanted stories of the dead
girl's life; she sang of her innocent childhood, of her deep affection
for her parents; of her loving, gentle nature; of her soft, tender
beauty; of her love for the white iron-worker, and her voyage with him
in the Bounty. And then the singer's soul seemed to quicken, and her
voice quivered and broke as she told the story of Faito's death; and
from those who sat around came quick, responsive sobs of grief.

When she ceased the women took keen-edged sharks' teeth, and thrust
them into their arms and shoulders till the blood poured forth, while
the men covered their faces with their hands, and bent their heads to
the ground.

For nearly an hour they sat thus, then in silence the men rose and
walked quietly away, leaving the women to mourn by themselves, in
accordance with Tahitian custom, for two days beside the grave.

That night Mahina, who was alone in the house with her child, sought
out Christian in his cave, where he had been for the past two days,
and told him of Faito's death.

"Her troubles are over," was his moody answer. "Would that I had the
courage to leap over the cliffs and so end mine. But why come and tell
me this? It concerns me not."

"She was ever my friend," answered Mahina, gently, "my friend and
thine. I pray thee come mourn with me at her burial, else will shame
fall upon me if thou art absent."

He raised his dark face to hers, and an angry gleam shone in his
eyes. "I tell thee, Mahina, thou dost but pester me. The woman is
dead. Would I were in her place."

"Thou cruel man," she said, and the tears fell quickly from her eyes
as she pressed her child to her bosom, "thou art always in this
strange mood now. Alas! what evil has happened to thee and me? What
wicked spirit has turned thy heart against us? Art thou tired of thy
wife? Is thy child, born to thee out of my great love, hateful to thy
sight?" Then the infant awoke, and she pressed it to her aching breast
to soothe its cries.

Christian sprang up from the matted couch upon which he lay, and
with the light of madness in his eyes, cursed her, her child, and
himself. "Go," he said at last, hoarsely, "go, leave me to my misery."



Chapter XXII A Loyal Friend


MAHINA went alone to the burial of her friend, and the other women,
when they saw her, knew that her sorrow was not so much for the dead
girl as for the dead love of Christian.

Returning from her husband's cave, she met Edward Young, who spoke so
kindly that her overwrought feelings brought a flood of tears, and
Young, with a strange look, had drawn her to him and bidden her be of
good courage. He would always be her friend, he said, and it grieved
him to see her sad. And Mahina, drying her tears, pressed his hand
gratefully, and in her innocent fashion placed her cheek against his
for a moment; for was he not her husband's friend and brother, and
therefore hers. And Edward Young, as she walked away, watched her with
a smile on his lips, and muttered to himself--

"The man is a fool. She is a glorious creature, and I--well I don't
suppose he cares."

On the second morning, long ere the sun had dried the glittering
diamonds of dew trembling on every leaf and blade of grass, Williams
came across the greensward towards his wife's grave and addressed the
mourning women.

"Come now," he said roughly. "Faito's had enough of this foolery, and
so have I. Put her in the ground, and make an end of it."

Then Talalu and his countrymen stepped quietly out from beneath the
shade of a great tamanu tree which stood near. They had brought their
final offerings to the dead, and as they placed these at the foot of
the grave, all the rest of the white men but Christian appeared upon
the scene.

At the harsh command of Williams, the women huddled timidly together,
looking fearfully at one another; and Talalu, leaving his countrymen,
softly besought the man to allow them to continue their funeral
customs, so that the spirit of Faito might rest in peace. Mahina, too,
joined in his pleadings.

To the brown-skinned people Williams had ever been a cruel taskmaster
for whom they worked without murmuring for the sake of his wife, whom
they loved; and now that she was dead he seemed to care nothing, and
would not even permit them to "comfort her spirit."

The remaining white men looked on in curious silence, while Talalu
and Mahina begged Williams not to interrupt them. Williams had,
however, acquired a certain influence over his countrymen, and they
were not disposed to interfere.

Again the harsh voice of the man bade the mourners cease. "Let this
folly end," he said angrily in Tahitian; "begone, and get back to
work."

The words stung Talalu to the quick, and with flashing eyes and
clenched hands he faced the white man.

"Thou dog without a heart!" he cried fiercely, "may thy mother's skin
be made into a water-bottle! Not content with our service and thy
wife's devotion, thou would'st harrow the soul of the dead with thy
harsh and cruel voice. Shame on thee for a pitiless man! Go home and
leave us with the body and the spirit of our kinswoman. She is nothing
to thee now. Thou canst not harm her body, but her spirit is tormented
by thy very presence here."

With a furious gesture Williams advanced towards him, cursing him for
an impudent slave, in the coarse language he always used towards the
Tahitians.

But quick as lightning Mahina intercepted him.

"Stop, thou low-born sailor," she said, "and leave us, as Talalu hath
desired thee, or it will go ill with thee! I swear by Oro and Tane and
the bones of my father to stab thee to the heart if thou dost but even
raise thy hand to Talalu."

Callous as the white men were, they drew back and muttered to
Williams to leave her and her fellow-mourners alone; and Williams
himself blanched before the slight figure of Christian's wife, and
with a savage threat of vengeance against Talalu, turned away,
followed by the rest of the mutineers except Young. He, walking apart
from them, seated himself on the trunk of a fallen tree near by,
called Alrema, and told her to hasten to his house and bring his
fowling-piece, as he intended to shoot some sea-birds.

As soon as her graceful figure disappeared among groves of breadfruit
between the grassy sward and the houses of the white men, Young walked
over to where Mahina sat, apart from the others.

"Dear friend of my heart," he said, taking her hand, "thou knowest
that I am thy friend, dost thou not?"

"Truly," said Mahina, "always my friend--my friend and my brother,
and the friend and brother of my husband."

A disappointed look swept over Young's face, and he dropped her hand
moodily. "Nay, not so now. It is always in my heart that he whom I
once loved as a brother hath acted cruelly to thee. Thou art a woman
fair and sweet, and to be for ever loved. And because he hath
neglected and turned his heart away from thee and thy love hath my
friendship for him grown smaller and smaller day by day."

"By and by, when the evil moods have left him, he will love me
again," said Mahina, looking straight before her, and as she spoke,
the falling tears belied her hopeful words.

For many minutes they sat thus, she weeping softly to herself, and
Young watching his opportunity to speak again. Presently he saw Alrema
returning with his fowling-piece. He rose and touched Mahina lightly
on the shoulder.

"Farewell till to-morrow," he said in a low voice. "Remember that I
am always, always thy friend--and that I love thee--he no longer
does."

She looked up with a low, startled cry, and hastily rising from her
seat, went over to the other women and took her child from Terere. The
tone of Young's words had filled her with a strange feeling of misery
and fear.



Chapter XXIII The Oppressor


FOR some time nothing happened to disturb the uneventful life of the
islanders. Mahina, with aching heart, saw Christian daily grow more
melancholy and morose, and was heedless of all else. But as the year
drew to a close her saddened face and sorrowful eyes must have touched
her husband's heart, and when the birth of her second child was
drawing near he left the cave and dwelt with her till the infant was
born and she was strong again.

"Call him Charles," he said to her as she sat with with him one
evening nursing the infant; and the words, simple as they were, filled
her still loving heart with a great joy. Twice only had she met Young
since the day of Faito's burial, and though he had tried to detain
her, she managed to get away from him; for she now felt that he cared
for her more than his loyalty to Alrema justified.

During the same year others of the mutineers became fathers. In
addition to Mahina's two there were now three other children playing
upon the matted floors of their parents' dwellings by day, and lulled
to sleep at night by the ceaseless throbbing of the surf that beat
against the stern cliffs of their island home.

The houses occupied by Christian and Mahina, Young and Alrema, and
Smith and Terere were a considerable distance from those of the other
white men. That of Christian was furthest north-west of all; indeed,
it was quite shut out of view from the rest by a short, abrupt spur
which shot eastward from the mountains almost to the verge of the
beetling cliffs.

Williams and Young lived near to each other. Some months after the
burial of Faito the former called upon his neighbour and asked him to
come outside for a few minutes. Alrema, who had noticed that her
husband and Williams were becoming very intimate, gave the visitor an
angry glance from her dark, long-lashed eyes, as he sat upon the bench
in front of the house.

"Let's go for a bit of a walk," said Williams presently as Young
joined him; "I want to have a talk with you over that little matter";
and he laughed coarsely, and by a gesture indicated his own dwelling.

Young nodded, and Alrema saw the two men saunter off together along
the cliffs. She had always disliked Williams, and thought he was in
some way responsible for her husband's manner to herself, which had so
altered of late. Passionately fond of, and fiercely jealous of him,
her quick perception of the change in his conduct filled her with a
vague, undefined alarm; and although as yet she did not doubt his
loyalty, she had seen how his face brightened visibly whenever Mahina
and her child came to visit them. Of Mahina herself she had no
misgivings; but it seemed strange that whereas in former days she had
always accompanied Young to Christian's house, he now frequently went
there alone, although she had told him that Christian was in his cave.
Mahina, too, seemed different, and her face wore a troubled, nervous
look which her friend could not understand.

After the birth of his second child Christian remained, for a time,
constantly with his beautiful wife, whose face grew radiant with
happiness. But soon his brooding mood returned to him in all its
former force, and he resumed his lonely walks along the cliffs and
spent his nights alone in his mountain cave. Mahina, Alrema knew, had
long since resigned herself to her husband's fits of gloom, yet now
she appeared more than ever a prey to melancholy. In some way Williams
seemed to be connected with this, and Alrema noticed that whenever
Young went to Christian's house Williams had preceded him there.

Taking up her infant daughter in her arms, Alrema went outside and
sat down under the shade of a breadfruit tree to wait her husband's
return. For nearly an hour she amused herself playing with the child,
till, overpowered by the soft, languorous morning air, she, pillowing
her head upon a rolled-up mat, slept.

The sun was high when she was awakened by hearing voices near. She at
once recognised Williams' harsh, and her husband's cool, quiet tones.
As they talked they were passing through the breadfruit grove and
stopped quite close to where she lay. Williams was speaking.

"Well, that's understood. You stand by me and I'll stand by you. I'm
going to get the woman I want if I have to shoot every damned red-
skinned savage on the island to get her."

"I'm not going in for anything like that," she heard her husband
reply; "I am quite content to wait till--"

"Till that lunatic jumps over the cliffs and leaves a widow for you,"
said Williams, with a coarse laugh. "Well, you've got more patience
than me. If I wanted her I'd make just as short a job of him as I mean
to make of this Talalu. Anyway, I'm going to set you a good example by
taking another wife. Man alive! what are you afraid of? She'll be
willing enough before long to come to you. She ain't the kind of woman
to stay by herself while her husband leaves her to live in a cave. I
daresay," he added, with another rude laugh, "that Alrema would lend
you a hand to talk her over. That's what I'd have made Faito do."

An angry exclamation of dissent from Young, and Alrema heard him
leave his companion and go towards the house. Then, her brain reeling
with dreadful suspicions of the man she loved and the friend she
trusted, she took up her sleeping infant and followed him.

Williams, with a wicked look upon his evil face, strode away towards
his own dwelling. He had managed to secure one of the best and most
fertile portions of the nine lots into which the island was divided,
and by his domineering conduct succeeded in making the islanders
perform more labour in its cultivation than they expended upon any
other of the mutineers' land. As he drew near his plantation he saw
the gigantic figure of Talalu and the slender, graceful form of Nahi,
his gentle wife, moving about in the garden. They were building a low
wall of coral stones to enclose the plantation, and Williams' eyes
gleamed savagely as he saw Nahi, who had just placed a stone in
position, look up at her husband's face with a smile, to which Talalu
responded with an endearing expression and a loving caress.

The white man stood for a while watching them. The woman's lithe,
supple figure, her bared bosom and long mantle of black hair falling
over her rounded shoulders fascinated and yet irritated his savage,
sensuous nature. "That fellow, that cursed, great hulking brute to
possess such a woman! And he only a slave!" He watched her white teeth
gleam, as her lips parted in an admiring smile, when Talalu, raising a
huge, jagged stone in his brawny arms, placed it lightly upon the
smaller one her slender hands had lifted.

Williams sat and waited. He knew that at noontime they would cease
working for an hour to rest and wait upon him while he ate his mid-day
meal. And then he meant to act.

Presently, Talalu, glancing up at the sun, spoke to Nahi. They ceased
their labours, and walked towards their own little dwelling of thatch.
Outside stood a hollowed tree trunk filled with water. Then Williams
saw Nahi, dropping the garment of tappa-cloth which encircled her
waist, deftly replace it by a girdle of leaves, then her husband
taking a cocoanut shell, dipped it into the water and poured it over
her shoulders again and again to wash away the dust which stained her
clear, bronzed skin. Nude to the hips, her lissome figure glinted and
shone like a polished statue of metal in the bright morning sun, as
the water ran down over her back, bosom, and legs, while her shapely
arms were raised as she held up her glossy mantle of hair. Her bath
finished, she took the coconut shell from her husband's hand and
motioned him to stoop; but Talalu, with gentle, jesting rudeness,
pushed her away, and filling the shell poured stream after stream of
the cooling water over his own body.

"That's the last time you'll ever do that for her," said Williams to
himself, as his lustful eyes revelled in the beauty of the girl's
figure. He got up, went inside and threw himself upon his couch. They
would be in presently, he knew, to bring him his dinner of yams, fish,
and birds' eggs.

Nahi came first. In one hand she carried a platter of woven coconut
leaves, upon which were a baked fish and some roasted breadfruit, in
the other a young drinking coconut. Outside, Talalu, thrusting a
pointed stake into the ground, began to husk some more nuts for the
white man to drink.

"Haeri mai" ("Come here"), his master called.

The Tahitian's huge figure stood in the doorway, holding a half-
husked coconut in his hand.

"You needn't do any work to-day, Talalu," said Williams, with a growl
of apparent good nature. "Tetihiti and Nihu are going out fishing for
Kawintali (Quintal). You may go with them. Nahi can stay. Malama
(Quintal's wife) will be here soon with her husband, and she can help
Nahi to work upon the mat she is making for the floor."

"Good," answered the unsuspecting Tahitian, with a pleased smile;
"'tis well, oh Iron-worker, that the mat be soon finished. Then will
Nahi and I carry up many baskets of fine pebbles, so that the mat may
rest flat and even on the ground."

"May you be lucky in your fishing," called Nahi, as her husband, a
minute later, passed the door, carrying his basket of fishing tackle.
Then, the white man's meal being in readiness, she took up a fan and
stood by him while he ate.

For some minutes he ate his food in silence, then motioned to the
woman to come nearer. She obeyed him with a timid glance, and a slight
tremor quivered her bare shoulders for a moment.

Suddenly Williams pushed his stool back from the table. Fixing his
eyes on Nahi's expectant face, he said to her in English--

"Nahi, my girl, I've always had a fancy for you, and I want you.
You're going to be my new wife."

With a look of wild terror she shrank back, her hands covering her
face. The next instant the man seized her by the wrists.

"Come, now, none of that, Nahi! I'm going to have you for my wife, so
don't be a fool."

"Let me go," she pleaded in Tahitian; "how can I be wife to thee? Am
I not wife to Talalu? 'Tis but a poor jest to so frighten a weak
woman."

He laughed fiercely. "'Tis no jest. Thou art my desire and I will
have thee. As for thy husband--" he made a contemptuous gesture.

The woman's eyes blazed. She tore her hands from his grasp and faced
him. "Thou coward! He is better than thou art. He is of chief's
blood--thou but a slave in thine own land," and with a sudden spring
she bounded through the open doorway and ran swiftly in the direction
of the other white men's houses.

With panting bosom and gasping breath she reached Christian's house
and darted inside. Mahina was seated on the matted floor crooning to
her youngest child; Christian, as usual, was away at his cave.

Shaking with fear and anger, Nahi, generally so calm and gentle,
flung herself at Mahina's feet and wept.

"What is this, friend of my heart?" asked Mahina, laying her infant
down and drawing the girl's head upon her lap. She listened in grave
silence until Nahi had finished her story, which ended in an earnest
appeal. "Kirisiani," she said, "was strong and powerful, and none of
the white men dared face his anger. Surely he would not let the Iron-
worker do this wrong."

"The white men, I fear, care little what becomes of us of Tahiti
now," said Mahina sadly; "yet will we go to my husband and tell him
thy trouble. Still do I fear that he will not heed thee; and then
indeed must thou go to the Iron-worker."

Nahi wept silently; when she ceased Mahina sought to comfort her,
telling her that if the Iron-worker succeeded in taking her away from
Talalu it would not be her fault--she would but yield to
circumstances.

The woman turned her tear-stained face to Mahina in open wonder.

"What! Hast thou no other words of comfort for me than these? Put
thyself in my place. How can I do this wrong to the man I love--he who
hath toiled and fought for me? Wouldst thou so wrong thy husband as to
listen to words of love from another man?"

"My husband!"--Mahina laughed bitterly. "Little does he care if other
men speak words of love to me. His heart is dead, and I am but a leaf
in his path."

"Nay," said Nahi gently, placing her hands on her friend's shoulder,
"thy Kirisiani hath still a true heart for thee. He is not as these
low-blooded dogs of sailors. He is an arii (a chief) of the same blood
as Tuti; and the sailors fear him. Come then, dear friend, and join
thy voice with mine, so that he may save me from the Iron-worker, whom
I hate and fear."

"We will go, Nahi. Yet hope for nothing. Kirisiani's love for us,
which was once so strong and hot, has grown cold. For me, who would
give my life for his, he cares naught. But a little while ago, when my
babe was born, he was kind to me and sat by my side here when the sun
sank in the sea, and let his hand rest in mine." Her soft voice
trembled in mournful pathos. "But again the black thoughts came to
him, and he left me to return to his cave. He careth for me no longer.
Yet will we go and pray him to protect thee from this evil man."

In an hour the two women reached Christian's cave at the furthest
extremity of the island. It opened from a high ridge of black, jagged,
and almost inaccessible rocks. Near by was a tiny cascade, leaping
noisily from ledge to ledge as it coursed towards the valley.

From its situation the cave commanded an extensive view of the
horizon round the whole island, and its occupant would see a sail long
before any one else on Pitcairn could discern it. Approach was so
difficult that, even if a large party succeeded in crossing the dizzy,
narrow ledge of rocks connecting it with the mountain spur beneath,
Christian could have shot every one of them before they were within a
hundred feet of his refuge.

As they passed through the little settlement on their mission, the
two women called at the other houses, and told the story of Williams'
design. Just as they reached the ridge they heard some one following
them, and looking back saw the stalwart figure of Smith, who had come
to help them in gaining Christian's assistance. Behind him came Young.

As the sound of their voices ascended to the heights, they saw
Christian emerge from the cave. He was dressed in shirt and trousers
only, and his long black hair hung, loose and neglected, about his
shoulders. For a few moments he regarded them without speaking; then
as Mahina in a timid voice said they desired to talk to him, he
descended the ridge to meet them.

"Why is this?" he asked sullenly, with an angry look at each in turn;
"am I to have no peace, no rest? Can I not live alone?"

Smith's honest, open face flushed deeply, but he said nothing; the
women should speak first, he thought, then he would try.

Nahi, in a trembling voice, told her story, and sobbingly besought
his help, and Mahina joined her in her earnest entreaties.

He heard them through in moody silence, and turned to Smith. "From
the time of our landing here, on this cursed rock, I have avoided all
interference with any of you. You have made slaves of these Tahitians,
who are better than any white man on the island except yourself and
Young. If they retaliate upon you, it will be your own faults. I don't
say that you and Young are like the rest; but yet you have permitted
those scoundrels, McCoy, Quintal, Mills, and Williams to oppress these
unfortunate people. Still, I will make one more effort for the common
good, and try to dissuade this ruffian from stealing Talalu's wife."

"Well spoken, Mr. Christian," said Smith. "By God! sir, I'll not see
Talalu wronged in this fashion if you'll help me; and I dare swear Mr.
Young will join us in clapping a stopper on his game."

Accompanied by Nahi and Mahina, the three men returned to the
settlement. As they walked, Young tried to speak to Mahina in a
whisper, but with a nervous look she quickened her pace and caught up
to her husband, who was in advance of them all.



Chapter XXIV The Quarrel


WHEN they reached the settlement, they found nearly all the little
community assembled outside the large storehouse.

Williams himself was not among them, neither was Talalu; but
Lunalio, a Raiatean girl, the wife of Martin, whispered to Nahi that
he was coming. A look of joy overspread Nahi's face. She knew
Williams' savage disposition and feared that Talalu had met with some
treachery as he returned with his companions from fishing. And,
indeed, Williams, with a loaded musket in his hand, had taken up his
position behind a rock on the path leading up from the cliffs,
intending to shoot the unsuspecting man as he ascended. But it so
happened that Talalu, instead of taking the mountain track, came with
his companions along the wider and more frequented path leading
directly to the storehouse; and the white man, hiding his musket among
the rocks, had waited till the natives were out of sight, and then
followed them. A quarter of an hour later he sauntered coolly towards
the assembled people, and the babble of excited tongues told him that
the Tahitians were discussing with the whites his intention to
appropriate Nahi.

A dead silence ensued the moment he made his appearance. Standing in
front of the storehouse were the white men, most of them armed with
muskets and cutlasses. Whether they were for or against him Williams
could not for the moment tell, but he had no doubt of the feelings of
the islanders, whose dark eyes blazed with hatred. A little apart from
the rest of them stood Talalu, in his hand a keen-edged turtle-spear,
and with a look of suppressed fury upon his face.

Squaring his shoulders, and placing his hands jauntily upon his
hips, Williams bade the white men a mocking good-day.

"Quite a little gathering, I see. Ain't I got an invitation, or
didn't you think my company good enough? Are you talking about me?"
and he shot a fierce glance at Fletcher Christian, who regarded him
with unmoved features.

"We are talking about you, Williams," said Christian quietly,
stepping out from the other white men. "What are you trying to do with
this man's wife? For the peace of our little community--for God's
sake--think before you go further."

"That's all very fine, Mr. Christian," he answered rudely, "but 'tis
hard if I can't do as I choose with my own."

Christian looked at him contemptuously. "Your own! What right have
you to speak of this woman Nahi as yours?"

"Who are you to question my right? You are not an officer of the
Bounty now."

Christian's face paled at the insulting words, but he restrained
himself.

"I do not ask you as a right, Williams, but as a favour, not to
attempt this thing. I am sure every man but yourself sees that you
will rue it if you do."

"That is what I told him long ago," broke in Quintal, who, rude and
overbearing as he was in some respects to the Tahitians, was never
tyrannical, and often tried to check Williams' brutality.

"I am glad to hear you say this, Quintal," said Christian. "Williams
does not seem to know what it is he contemplates." His eye fell upon
the stalwart figure of Talalu, who with gleaming eyes and clenched
hands was looking at the persecutor of his wife.

"Come here, Talalu," said Christian.

The islander looked at him for a moment; then thrusting the barbed
point of his turtle-spear into the ground, he walked slowly over to
the white man.

"What is it thou wouldst say to me, Kirisiani?" he asked in deep,
guttural tones, which quivered with passion.

"This," and Fletcher Christian's voice rang out loud and clear, as he
pointed contemptuously to Williams--"this do I say. This Williams the
Iron-worker is but a poor, uncultured slave, who knows naught that is
good, and the evil in his heart hath killed all knowledge of what is
right and just. I pray thee have patience with him, and we will try to
teach him better."

"What the hell do you mean?" asked Williams savagely, who understood
Tahitian sufficiently well to know what Christian had said. "What sort
of talk is this? Do you mean to tell this cursed, naked savage that he
is a better man than I am?"

"Better than you! By heavens, you ruffian, you are a thousand times
more of a savage than he? And I, who am to blame for bringing such men
as him from their homes and exposing them to the danger of contact
with such sweepings of the hulks as you are, will take care you do him
or his countrymen no more wrong than you have done already."

"No, no, Mr. Christian, don't talk like that," said Brown. "Williams
is as good a man as any of us, and I don't see why you should
aggravate him by such words."

"Damn such talk, I say," said Mills insolently, walking apart from
the others and standing beside Williams, "if the man wants the woman,
let him have her. He ain't got a wife, and you can't expect a white
man to go without one when one can be had for the taking."

Talalu turned upon him. "I will kill him or any other man who tries
to take my wife from me," he muttered with set lips.

"None of that, my fine fellow," said Brown in English. "Take care
what you say about killing people. You will find that we can do some
killing if we are put to it."

Williams looked at Christian with rage and hatred in his face. "What
do you think of it now, Mr. Christian? Am I to do as I like and as my
ship-mates want me to, or are you going to join with these damned
savages and try to stop me?"

"I'll tell you plainly what I will do, Williams. I will protect these
people at the hazard of my life; and though I stand alone I will
prevent this outrage, even if I fight the whole lot of you."

"He is mad to say this," whispered Edward Young to Mahina, as he
pressed her hand, "but," and he gave her a meaning look, "for your
sake, Mahina, I will stand by him." Then he stepped out and stood
beside her husband, and said--

"You'll not stand alone, Mr. Christian, while I am here. While I
don't altogether agree with you, I don't believe in Williams taking
the woman against her will. Let us come to some arrangement about
her."

"I, too, am with you, sir!" cried Smith.

"And I!" "And I!" echoed Quintal and McCoy.

"Thank you, my lads," said Christian; "I knew there were some among
us with a sense of justice."

Williams looked at the four men one after another and folded his
brawny arms across his tattooed chest.

"All right," he sneered; "there's not going to be any fighting over
this. But you can make certain of one thing. If you won't give me my
own way in this matter you may go to hell, the whole lot of you,
before I'll sweat at the Bounty's forge making tools for these cursed
savages to till your ground. And yet, by God! I'll get my own way all
the same in the end!"

Then he walked away towards his house.

"Trouble will come of this, mark my words, Mr. Christian," said
Brown. "'Tis a pity you should in-interfere with the man. You'll find
he'll have the woman in spite of you, never fear."

"Then his life will pay the penalty," answered Christian fiercely.
"You do not seem to understand, Brown, that while a single girl may be
taken by force sometimes the marriage-tie among the Tahitians is held
as sacred as among civilised people. But I think Talalu will take care
of his wife, and there are three or four men who will help him to do
so."

Then, with a few words of farewell to the islanders who thronged
around him with protestations of gratitude, he turned quickly away
with Mahina by his side.

Before they had gone a hundred yards they heard some one running
after them, and Nahi, flinging herself on the ground before Christian,
clasped her arms around his knees and kissed his feet, wetting them
with tears of gratitude.

That night Williams cooked and ate his supper alone, for Talalu and
Nahi had taken shelter in the house of Tairoa-Maina, the Tubuaian
chief.


Chapter XXV The Revolt of Talalu


FOR three days nothing happened. The people of Pitcairn, white and
brown, went about their daily occupations as usual, but there was a
suppressed excitement and an ominous calmness that augured ill for the
future, and the rift between the two parties--those who sided with
Christian, and those who supported Williams--widened slowly but
surely.

Ever since the day of the quarrel the islanders had been sulky and
suspicious in their manner to all the white men except Christian and
Smith. Young, although openly declared as Christian's taio or friend,
they regarded with distrust, even though Alrema, doubtful as she was
beginning to feel of her husband's loyalty to herself, strove to
persuade them of his goodwill towards them.

To them Christian had always been a fair and just man, refusing to
recognise any distinction between them and his white comrades. They
would have fought for and followed him to the death had occasion
arisen for the sacrifice.

Tairoa-Maina and the other Tubuaians, being unmarried, lived by
themselves in a separate house, and thither went Talalu and his gentle
wife for refuge for the time being from the savage Williams. Fearing
to remain much longer near his former master, Talalu determined to
build himself a new house among the mountains in a secluded little
valley about half a mile lower down than Christian's cave. Every
morning, axe on shoulder, accompanied by Nahi, he set out to work.

"I will live like Kirisiani," he said, when his countrymen asked him
why he desired to leave them; "even as he lives so will I. These white
men are bad masters; no longer will I work for them like a slave."

On the fourth morning after the quarrel, Williams rose from his bunk
and began to make preparations for his breakfast. The fertility of the
island was such that this gave him little labour. In his house were
supplies of breadfruit, yams, and bananas, and overhead on the cross-
beams hung strings of dried fish. In addition to these he had his
share of the stores from the Bounty, such as wine, biscuit, rice, and
salted pork, but his extravagance had left him but little of the meat,
and he uttered a savage curse when on lifting the little two-gallon
wine keg he found it empty. To procure more meant a walk to the
storehouse, some distance away; and before he could get the wine he
would have to ask Quintal, who, by common consent, was in charge of
all the stores that remained. He had always been accustomed to drink
wine with his food, and the loss of it annoyed him.

"If that cursed Talalu had been here," he thought, "this wouldn't
have happened. What right had the fellow to clear out, and take his
wife with him too? And the breadfruit and yams were cold. If Nahi were
here they would have been heated for him. Curse them both, the damned
copper-hided savages."

As he ate he worked himself into a state of savage fury. What right
had that fellow to have such a handsome woman as Nahi for his wife? If
he were out of the way she wouldn't make such a fuss; would no doubt
be proud to become the wife of a white man. Damn that fine-talking
fellow, Christian! Only for him the thing would have been done. Brown
and Mills would have stood by if Talalu made a noise about his wife
being taken. By God! he'd stand it no longer. He'd bring the pair of
them back to work at once.

His eye caught his musket, hanging on brackets over his bunk. He took
it down, loaded it, and then walked rapidly away in the direction of
the house occupied by Talalu and his wife.

With murder in his heart he reached the dwelling of Tairoa-Maina.
Neither the chief nor his two countrymen were visible, but Talalu and
Nahi were at work in the garden at the back. They were digging yams,
and the white man watched them in sullen silence for a few minutes.
Every movement of the woman's graceful figure angered him against her
husband. What was he? A slave; a cursed savage. A man who had no right
to possess a beautiful wife. He would not only have the woman, but
make the man work for him as well.

Creeping along the wall of coral stones that enclosed the garden, he
reached a spot not twenty yards from them. Then he stood up and
covered the man with his musket.

"Come back with me, you two," he called fiercely, in Tahitian; "if
you don't come outside at once, I'll kill the pair of you."

Nahi, with heart full of love, threw herself before her husband, but
Talalu said something to her in a low voice, and she turned and faced
the white man.

"Even as thou wilt, master," replied Talalu quietly, and taking
Nahi's hand he came outside the wall.

With his gun over his shoulder the white man followed them,
triumphantly smiling to himself at this proof of his power of command.

Very quietly they walked before him, till they reached his house,
then entered it, and Nahi seated herself upon the matted floor.

Williams stood in the doorway for a moment, regarding them with a
smile of victory. He intended to let them feel their position at once.

"I've a damned good mind to give you a lacing, Mister Talalu," he
said in English, "but I'll put it off for a bit and give you another
chance. But I want something to eat. You, Nahi, go to Kawintali and
ask him for some rice and wine and salted meat; and you, Talalu--"

He never spoke again. The Tahitian sprang upon him like a tiger,
seized his throat with both hands, and squeezing his windpipe, forced
him to the ground. For a minute they struggled fiercely, but the white
man, though strong and active, was but as a child in the giant's
grasp. They swayed to and fro a little, and then Williams lay upon the
ground with the brown man's knee upon his chest, making feeble efforts
to free himself from the grasp of death.

Presently he ceased to struggle, and was only conscious enough to
know that all hope was gone and his time was come. One glance from his
bloodshot eyes into the death-dealing face of the man above him told
him that.

For a little while the Tahitian relaxed his hold. Beside him, her
eyes dilated with triumphant hatred, Nahi bent over the prostrate
figure, all the bitterness of the past reflected in her dark face. She
had watched the struggle with a sense of victory. Who in the old days
at Matavai could vie with Talalu in wrestling? And when she saw the
huge form of her husband bear the slighter figure of their joint
oppressor to the earth, she laughed.

With the foam of the agony of death flecking his lips, and breathing
in awful, fitful gasps, Williams lay before them, one hand of Talalu
still gripping his throat. The musket lay upon the floor beside the
men. Williams had carried it at full cock, and the priming had been
spilt when he dropped it to meet the onslaught of Talalu.

Still keeping his hand upon the sailor's throat Talalu turned to his
wife.

"Take thou the powder horn and prime the gun," he said.

She took the horn from the peg upon which it hung and did as he told
her.

"Now put the end of the gun to this dog's temple."

She dropped upon one knee and pressed the muzzle of the gun to
William's dark forehead.

"Now pull the little piece of iron," said Talalu, "and let his black
soul depart unto the land of evil spirits."

There was a flash and the heavy musket-ball dashed out the wretched
man's brains, ploughed through the matted floor, and scattered the
coral pebbles in a white shower against the furthest side of the
house. Then Talalu, with bloodied right hand, rose to his feet and
stood regarding the body of his enemy.

Picking up the lifeless form of Williams, the Tahitian motioned to
his wife to follow, and walked towards the cliffs to the same place
where, a few months before, he had seen the wife of the dead man fall.

Standing on the jagged cliff edge, he looked down. Far below him lay
the rough, pebbly beach upon which Faito had fallen and dyed the
stones with her blood. Then he raised the white man high in his mighty
arms and cast him over with a bitter curse.

"Lie there, thou who slew thy wife with cruel words, and would have
stolen mine," he cried, as he dashed the body upon the stones.

He looked down a while longer at his dead enemy, and then, taking
Nahi's hand in his own, turned homewards.



Chapter XXVI Nahi's Message


THE report of the gun which killed Talalu's oppressor was heard by
all who happened to be in their houses at the time. Each thought it
was but a shot fired at some ocean bird winging its way seaward from
one of the many islands rookeries, and no one imagined that it was the
beginning of a fatal and bloody epoch in the history of their island
home.

But Talalu, as he returned with his wife by his side, knew that his
deed would bring forth great things in the near future, and set
himself to prepare for whatever might happen.

Half-way between the cliffs and his own dwelling, he stopped and
spoke to Nahi.

"Hasten, oh pearl of my heart, to the houses of all our countrymen
and to that of Tairoa-Maina the Tubuaian, and bid them come to me. And
this shalt thou say to them: 'Talalu sendeth greeting and saith that
"The sun hath risen a bloody red; and the white men will seek for
revenge for what hath been done." Talalu saith also "The hand to the
club, for death cometh swiftly and suddenly to men unprepared."'"

"Oh husband with the strong hand and brave heart, why should'st thou
fear? The white men are just, and will not harm thee for killing the
Iron-worker, that man of evil heart and cruel will. If I give this
message of thine, will not they think that all the men of our race are
plotting to slay them?"

The giant Tahitian placed his bloodstained hand upon his wife's
shoulder. "Do as I bid thee. I tell thee the white men will not
forgive me the death of the Iron-worker. And it is well that we be
prepared for their wrath."

"Nay," pleaded Nahi, "surely Kirisiani and Etuati and Simeti are our
friends."

"It may be so," answered Talalu bitterly. "Who can tell? Hast thou
not seen that they have no faith in each other? Dost thou not know
that Etuati, whom I once thought the true taio of Kirisiani, hath
spoken words of love to Mahina his wife?"

"That is but the custom of our country."

Talalu interrupted--"Thou dost not know, Nahi, that this our custom
of taio is held in abhorrence by men of chief's rank and blood in
Peretane, such as Etuati and Kirisiani. Often hath Kirisiani told me,
when speaking of the customs of white men, that for a man to cast the
eye of desire upon the wife of his friend is counted shame."

She bent her head in mute obedience to her husband's will. Surely
Talalu her husband, who was for ever talking to the white men of the
customs of their country, knew what was right.

So she sped quickly away, first to the house of Tairoa-Maina, and
there told the Tubuaians of Williams' death and gave her husband's
message.

Without waiting to be questioned, she added--"And see, oh men of
Tubuai, that ye bring with ye guns and powder and lead; for even as my
husband sayeth the sun hath risen a bloody red."

Then leaving the wondering and excited Tubuaians she went to the hut
of the Tahitians and gave the same warning. As she passed from house
to house the wives of the white men saw her and sought to question
her, but she evaded them and disappeared among the boscage of the
mountain forest towards the dwelling of Mahina and her husband.

Through the open doorway of the house she saw the figures of Alrema
and Mahina. They were seated together preparing their morning meal,
and Christian's two children played beside them.

Panting with excitement, Nahi threw herself upon the couch at the
further end of the room and asked for a drink. Alrema opened a young
coconut and and brought it to her.

"Why dost thou breathe so hard, my friend?" she said with a laugh.
"Drink and then come eat with us."

Nahi drank, but refused to eat. "'Tis well that I have met thee here,
Alrema."

Something in her face made them rise quickly and asked what brought
her.

She laughed nervously. "Listen thou, Alrema, wife of Etuati, and thou
Mahina, wife of Kirisiani the chief. My husband hath slain the
Iron-worker."

Mahina, with a cry of fear, clasped her infant in her arms.

"Aye, he slew him with his own gun, because he sought to take me. And
when the fire leapt from the mouth of the gun, and the lead dashed out
his brains, Talalu took up his body and carried it upon his shoulders
to the cliffs and cast it upon the stones where Faito died. And this
message hath my husband sent to the men of Tahiti and Tubuai 'The sun
hath risen a bloody red; be prepared.'"

The two others exchanged a quick responsive glance of alarm, but
Nahi, excited as she was, did not notice it.

"But thou must not tell Tahinia, nor Malama, nor Lunalio, nor any of
the women who have white husbands. Even of thee, friends of my heart,
was I frightened, but I remembered that thy husbands have ever been of
kind hearts to us of Tahiti. Did not thine, Alrema, and thine, Mahina,
and the husband of Terere seek to save me from the dog whom my husband
hath slain? And for that shall no harm come to them or to thee."

Mahina, with a terrified glance at the exultant face of Nahi, turned
appealingly to Alrema. What should she do to warn Christian? He was in
his cave. Perhaps in his lonely morning walk along the cliffs he might
meet some of her countrymen who, never thinking of all that he had
done for their welfare, might shoot or spear him.

Fearful for their husbands, Mahina and Alrema saw the lithe figure of
Nahi glide away into the darkness from Christian's lonely dwelling.
Despite the knowledge that Young was wavering in his loyalty to her,
his wife still loved him passionately, and never felt anything but
friendship for Mahina; so, urging her to go to Christian and warn him
of the impending trouble, she set out in search of Young, who had gone
fishing for the night. And Mahina, leading one child by the hand and
pressing the other to her bosom, walked quickly along the rocky path
towards the cave.

A strange silence already seemed to deaden the clear morning air.
Soon after the first rosy flush of dawn had changed the grey of the
wooded mountain sides to a living green, Matthew Quintal, gun in hand,
came along the path from his house towards the cliffs, wondering why
he had met none of the brown men on their way to their work in the
white men's gardens. He was going towards a great toa tree which grew
in a little valley near Martin's house, where at early morning many
frigate birds roosted, for he had promised Malama to shoot some for
her, and wanted Isaac Martin to join him.

But ere he came in sight of the shipmate's house Martin met him. His
thin, sallow face wore an anxious look, and to Quintal's surprise he
carried a pistol and cutlass as well as a musket.

"I was going to look for you, Mat," he said; "there is something in
the wind. One of the Tahiti men was here a little while ago telling my
wife that Talalu had killed Jack Williams. Didn't you know it?"

"No!" replied Quintal with a startled exclamation and look of alarm.
"What had we better do?"

"Let us go and tell the others. There's going to be fighting, I can
see. Every one of those fellows thinks a lot of Talalu, and as far as
I can make out only we two know that Williams is dead. We'll find them
all working at Young's."



Chapter XXVII Alrema's Song


YOUNG was building a new storehouse upon his ground, and thither went
the two men. As soon as they emerged from the forest path upon Young's
clearing they could see him with Smith and Brown at work.

None of the Tahitians had appeared to assist them, and the three men
were discussing the cause of their absence. Young, who had been
fishing in the Bounty's boat all night off the south end of the
island, was in a bad temper. He had been obliged to land at an
inconvenient spot through the sea rising suddenly, and on returning
home just after daylight found that Alrema was away. Such an unusual
occurrence mystified and irritated him; for how could he know that the
loving girl had waited at the usual landing-place in Bounty Bay till
past daylight, and then returned home, unhappy and anxious at the
absence of her husband?

But as Quintal and Martin came walking quickly along towards Young
and his companions, Alrema appeared on the path, far in advance of
them. She was followed closely by the wives of two of the Tahitians,
who were plainly watching her movements.

"Beware, Alrema," said one of them, "we know why thou hast come here.
Talalu hath done no wrong, and our husbands will stand by him if it
cometh to the shedding of blood."

"Aye," fiercely said the other, a short, powerful woman, whose long
hair, wetted with the morning dew that had fallen on her head as she
came through the narrow forest path, hung black and lustreless upon
her brown, naked shoulders, "and I, Toaa, will strike this knife into
thy heart if thou goest nearer to the white men," and she showed
Alrema a short broad-bladed dagger.

"Ye fools," answered Alrema contemptuously, "can I not labour in my
husband's garden without listening to thy silly threats? What doth it
concern me that Talalu hath killed the Iron-worker? Stay me not, I
tell thee. I have but come to dig yams for our morning meal."

Without further words she entered the walled enclosure, apparently
taking no heed of the three white men who were now talking earnestly
together. She meant to tell them of their danger, but how to do so
with the two women close beside her she knew not.

"Here, you two, come and help Alrema to dig yams," called out Young
angrily in English to the other women. "I'll make some of you work for
me to-day."

Fearing to disobey, they silently followed Alrema, and began to
assist her in her labours; and as they worked Alrema sang. Sweet,
clear, and loud her voice rang out in the morning air, and the white
men looked at one another in surprise, for at the end of the first
verse she added in English another line.

"Listen to my singing, white men."

The two Tahitian women near her looked up suspiciously. Unlike
Alrema, who now spoke the white men's language with perfect fluency,
they barely understood a dozen words of English. Still they kept close
and Toaa watched Young's wife narrowly. With apparent composure she
went on with her song--one of the old Tahitian love songs, half
recitative but full of melody, and presently noticed that Young and
the other men had drawn nearer, and were listening, though with
apparent unconcern.

The second verse told how a girl of Raiatea, pursuing a phantom
lover, journeyed over sea and land moon after moon, till she sank
faint and dying under a grove of coconut trees on the beach of an
unknown land, whither her quest had led her. "So she lay there faint
and dying; Bloodied were her cinnet sandals With her journey long and
weary; And her eyes were raised above her At the young nuts, thick in
clusters, Growing close, yet far beyond her; For her hands, too weak
to reach them, Bruised and bleeding Lay upon her aching bosom."  With
a swift glance at the white men she changed into English. "Listen,
white men, to my singing; Dead is Williams, Iron-worker; He was killed
at early morning, Know you not the man who slew him?"

"By God! Do you hear that?" said Young.

"Sh! wait a bit, she'll tell us more presently," whispered Smith;
"can't you see she's afraid of the other women?"

Again Alrema's bird-like notes went back into Tahitian. Striking her
spade into the ground as she sang--"And the heavens swirled about
her, With her pain, and thirst, and hunger; But her heart kept
calling, calling, For the lover who had mocked her."  She raised the
end of a yam from the rich black soil, turned round and placed it in a
basket behind her; then her voice, quivering yet strong, took up in
English the thread of warning to the listening white men. "Do you hear
me? Understand me? Go away and get your muskets; All the brown men now
are arming, Arming so that they may kill you; Go away and warn the
others."

"Thou art a vain fool," said the woman Toaa to her in a tone of
contempt; "dost thou think to charm the ears of our masters with thy
croaking voice?"

Alrema tried to laugh good-naturedly, and again went on with the
Tahitian love--song. The women, however, she feared suspected her, and
she sang the next verse quickly, while Young, Brown, and Smith with
bated breath listened for her next words in English. "See these women
working with me, They suspect me, they will kill me, If they know I
give you warning. Go away and tell the others, Leave me here to follow
quickly."

"By heavens, that's enough!" whispered Young to his companions. "Let
us get away as quickly as possible. My wife's warning is clear enough.
We must go and tell the others."

"Here's Quintal and Martin coming down the ridge now," said Brown.
"They seem to know what's up, too."

"Go and meet them," replied Young hurriedly, "and tell them to wait
till Smith and I come. We must not let these women know that we have
any suspicion of what is wrong; listen, do you hear that?"

Alrema was singing again in English, and telling them she was sure
the two women had been sent to get powder and ball from Williams'
house.

"Off you go, Brown, but don't walk too quickly. Tell Quintal and
Martin that Smith and I will be with them in a minute or two. Then
slip through the breadfruit grove to Williams' house, and get all his
ammunition."

Presently Alrema saw with satisfaction that Brown was sauntering
away, and as soon as he was out of sight Young and Smith came over to
where the women were working.

"We are going to McCoy's house," said he, addressing Alrema quietly;
"you can stay here and cook us some yams." Then with sudden severity
he turned to Toaa and the other woman. "As for you two, stay here and
dig till we return, or 'twill be worse for your backs."

They gave him sullen glances in reply and muttered acquiescence.
Smith and Young left the garden and went to join Quintal and Martin,
but the moment they were out of the women's sight they ran, and soon
reached the other white men.

For some minutes the three women worked on in silence. Alrema picked
up her basket of yams, and was moving towards the house when Toaa
called her back.

"Whither goest thou?" she asked.

"Oh fool and dull of hearing," Alrema replied coolly. "Didst you not
hear my husband tell me to cook these yams? I haste to do his
bidding."

"Thou liest," said Toaa fiercely; "thou hast told him something in
thy cunning song," and she sprang at her, knife in hand.

But Alrema, by an agile movement, escaped the savage thrust, and,
seeing that it was now too late for concealment, leapt over the low
stone wall of the garden and fled swiftly after her husband.

With Young leading the way, the three white men ran quickly towards
the houses of the other Europeans. In a few minutes they were
overtaken by Brown, who reported that Williams' house was in the
possession of Talalu and his friends, and consequently he had not
dared attempt to enter it. By the time they reached the summit of the
rise overlooking the rest of the houses, they were joined by Alrema,
who had cleverly returned unobserved to her husband's house, fearing
that Young had not secured all the arms there. This, however, he had
done.

"Where is Christian?" asked Young, as they gained the top of the hill
and stopped to draw breath for a moment.

"In his cave," answered Martin, "but it's no use waiting for him.
Alrema says that Mahina has gone to call him. He'll be with us
presently. What are we to do?"

There was a hurried consultation, and it was quickly resolved that
Talalu must be taken prisoner and punished.

As they talked they were joined by McCoy, Christian, and Mahina.
Christian unconsciously assumed the leadership, and after deciding
upon their plan of action they proceeded in a body towards Williams'
house, determined at all risks to quell the revolt which was
threatening their safety.



Chapter XXVIII "His Heart's Desire"


IN less than half an hour the white men reached the low stone wall
enclosing Williams' house and garden, and saw that the door of his
dwelling was closed; but the two unglazed windows were opened, and
from them half a dozen brown, excited faces peered out upon the
Europeans. Each native held a musket at full cock, along the barrel of
which his eye glanced.

Suddenly Christian stopped, and help up his hand to the white men who
followed him. Then grounding his musket he spoke.

"I have come with you, because on the spur of the moment I thought it
my duty to make common cause with men of my own colour against a
common danger. I forgot that this man Williams deserved his fate. He
was a thorough-paced scoundrel, and has met, I have no doubt, his just
deserts. Therefore, I will take no part in this affair; settle it
yourselves. I leave it to you to consider, before you harm Talalu,
what you may bring upon yourselves by becoming his murderers."

Walking away from his surprised and angry fellow-countrymen, he sat
down quietly upon the wall and waited to see what would happen.

"Very well," said Edward Young contemptuously, "if you won't stand by
us in a matter like this we must do without you. For the sake of my
wife and child I will not let this fellow escape punishment. You, it
is easy to see, care naught for yours," and he glanced quickly at
Mahina, who stood near.

"Right, Mr. Young," said Quintal; "you lead us and we'll follow."

Telling the rest of the white men to stand back, Young advanced close
to the house and called to Talalu that he wished to speak to him.

The heavy wooden door swung open, and the gigantic figure of the
Tahitian faced the white man. He was stripped to the waist and held a
musket in his hand, but, seeing that Young's piece lay on the ground,
he put his down also.

"What is it that ye seek, Etuati?" he asked quietly.

"We come to seek thee; thou hast killed the Iron-worker, and we will
see justice done. No one, white or brown, must slay his fellow-man and
be allowed to escape," answered Young quickly.

"He sought to rob me of my wife. Am I a slave to suffer such a wrong
as that?"

"Let us shoot the beggar!" called out Martin and Brown together, and
Mills, too, urged Young to stand aside and let them end the matter at
once.

But Young begged them to have patience. He wished to avoid
unnecessary bloodshed.

Talalu listened quietly, his eyes fixed upon Christian, who sat with
his chin upon his hand, regarding the two parties with an aspect of
utter indifference.

"Listen," said the Tahitian to Young, "so that there may be peace
between the white men and the brown, I swear by the god of the white
men, and by the god Oro, to do in this matter as Kirisiani wills. I
know that he is a just man and will do no wrong either to me or to
thee."

"Be it so," answered Young, "speak to him and tell him this; for but
a little time ago he told me he cared naught for any of us."

He fell back to the white men, and told them of the Tahitian's
proposition. To it they all consented, feeling sure that, however much
Christian kept himself aloof from them, he would never actually take
sides against them with the islanders.

"Very well," said Christian coldly, when Young asked him to speak to
Talalu. "As I have said, I will take no side, but if Talalu wants my
opinion I will give it. Whether he acts upon it or not will not
trouble me." He walked through the little gateway up the path to the
door of the house, but half way he stopped; for the big Tahitian with
hands outstretched advanced towards him.

"Thou art a just man, Kirisiani," he said, "as just as Tuti, and I,
Talalu, son of Totaro, have no fear of thee. This do I say--mine was
the hand that slew the Iron--worker; and thou art a just man, and will
not let these thy countrymen kill me because I did that which was
right."

For a moment or two Christian hesitated, and then with a bitter laugh
replied in a cold voice--"Thou foolish man, dost thou think my
countrymen care for thy wrongs? Thou hast killed their comrade--a man
who was useful to them because of his skill. Thou art but a savage;
thy skin is brown, theirs is white; and in their eyes he of the brown
skin hath neither rights or wrongs. Therefore, oh man with the brown
skin, who hast no heart to feel, and no soul to suffer, lay down thy
weapon and feel the justice of these thy masters."

The mocking bitterness and contempt which rang through his voice cut
the faithful Talalu to the heart.

"Is this thy justice, Kirisiani? Thou, the husband of Mahina! Thou,
for whom we of the brown skins and loving hearts would lay down our
lives! Thou of whom Nahi my wife said, when I cast the Iron-worker
over the cliffs, 'Kirisiani is thy friend and will stand to thee!'
Hast thou no other answer for me but this?"

"Talk to me no more," Christian replied passionately; "I care neither
for thee, nor for these white men, nor for myself. Do as thou wilt--it
matters not to me; so that none of ye trouble me, I care not.
Farewell," and with angry impatience he turned away and was soon lost
to view. Mahina, with her infant in her arms, quickly followed,
endeavouring to overtake him.

Then Talalu, with his hands clasped together and downcast head,
returned to the house.

"Give me my gun," he said sadly to Tairoa-Maina.

Holding the weapon up over his head, he turned to Young, who had by
this time with the help of Smith succeeded in quieting the most
turbulent of his comrades.

Throwing his musket at Young's feet the gigantic Tahitian spoke--

"Do with me as it seems best to thee. I swore by Oro my god that
Kirisiani should decide between us. But his heart has turned to stone.
Do with me as you will."

Something in the despairing accents of Talalu's voice touched even
the callous heart of Young, and he could not help admiring the loyalty
to his word which made the Tahitian, savage as he was, surrender so
quietly.

"This is well," he said, picking up the man's musket from the sward.
"Come with me; I promise that no harm shall befall thee till this
thing that thou hast done hath been well considered. But say this to
thy friends in the house--if before the sun sets they do not lay down
their arms and bring them to my house, I will kill thee with my own
hands."

"Tell them that thyself," said the Tahitian proudly; "how can I, a
man, say this to them?"

Advancing to the house Young gave the natives his warning, but ere
one of them could reply Talalu sprang to his side with a haughty
gesture.

"Heed him not, my friends. The words are his, not mine. I, Talalu,
give my life because of the oath I swore to Kirisiani, who hath
deserted me. Am I a dog to buy my life from these white men because of
thy friendship for me, oh men of Tahiti and Tubuai? If I die, do thou,
Tairoa-Maina, friend of my heart, take Nahi for thy wife."

The door was shut again with a cry of defiance, and again the musket
barrels protruded through the windows.

"Leave them alone for the present," commanded Young; and with their
prisoner walking calmly before them, the white men marched away.

*   *   *   *   *

Clasping her child to her bosom, Mahina followed her husband as
quickly as her strength would permit. The events of the past few days
had exhausted her in mind and body, and she began to fear her
husband's morbid behaviour was turning into actual madness. Thrice as
she caught sight of him in the rough ascent of the rocky path had she
called his name and asked him to stop, but he seemed to take no heed.
At last when she gained the summit of the ridge which overlooked the
valley wherein his house stood, she saw him standing, his gaunt figure
silhouetted against the sky-line, with folded arms, and head sunk upon
his chest. As she came near he seemed to be asleep, for he made no
sign to show he knew of her presence.

Setting the sleeping child gently down upon a mossy cleft in the
rock, she stepped softly to him and touched his arm.

"Kirisiani," she said, panting from the long and hurried walk, "I
pray thee, come home to thy house to-night. I fear to be alone, so far
from thee."

With a savage oath, and the light of madness gleaming in his eyes, he
thrust her rudely away.

With a despairing, heart-broken cry she staggered and fell upon the
jagged rocks, and Christian, without even looking behind, resumed his
journey to his cave.

An hour later, when Mahina awoke to the consciousness of her misery,
she was alone in her husband's house with her head pillowed against
Edward Young's bosom, whilst he kissed her again and again.

"Thou art my heart's desire," he said.



Chapter XXIX The Tongue of a Woman


DARKNESS fell on the lonely island, and the muffled roar of the
breakers beating against the cliffs of Afita was the only sound that
disturbed the silence of the night.

In the big living-room of Edward Young's house Talalu sat moodily
upon a mat in one corner, wondering what had become of Nahi. His
captors, at Young's request, had not bound their prisoner, but had
left Alrema on guard over him with a loaded musket and pistol.

"Where was Nahi?" he wondered. "Why was she, the faithful, loving
wife, not with him now?" Alrema, by Young's direction, had given him
food, but it lay beside him untasted. Young himself was absent; for
soon after bringing Talalu to the house he had quietly left again.
Alrema sat at the open doorway, her pale, handsome face wearing a
disturbed expression. Where was her husband? Why was he so eager to
get away at such a time as this, when men's minds were disturbed and
the scent of blood was in the air! But for her proud and haughty
nature she would have watched his movements, and would now have gone
in search of him. But Mahina's soft, gentle face rose before her, with
her pleading eyes, and Alrema lowered her head and wept silently. How
could she kill Mahina, who had ever been her friend, and who had eyes
and heart for Kirisiani alone? And yet--ah! she could think no longer.
Perhaps her husband was gone elsewhere, and Mahina slept alone with
her children.

The long, long hours passed slowly away till midnight; then a step
crunched upon the pebbly path, and Young entered the house. His face
was calm, but Alrema saw that his dark eyes burned with unusual
brilliancy.

As he seated himself, Smith came in.

"Mr. Young," he said, "the others have just held a sort of meeting
at Brown's house, and are now coming up to demand that we wait no
longer for the Tahitians to surrender. They say their lives are in
danger while the natives have arms in their possession. I have tried
to persuade them to leave the matter to you, but they won't listen."

"All right," answered the other quietly; and Alrema noticed that he
spoke somewhat brokenly, as if out of breath. "I can do no more, but
if they insist in pursuing this quarrel to the bitter end, I must see
it through with the rest of you."

Alrema handed him a young coconut to drink. He took it from her
hand, but his eyes avoided his wife's face. Then, taking his musket
and putting a pistol in his belt, he spoke to Talalu.

"You must come with us," he said, not unkindly to the Tahitian, "so
that your countrymen may see that no harm hath been done thee. I will
try and reason with them." Then, leaving Alrema with her child, the
three men stepped out into the darkness to meet the others.

*   *   *   *   *

Nahi had not deserted her husband in his extremity. While he sat a
prisoner in Young's house, wondering why she had not come near him,
Nahi was busy with her tongue. Since nightfall she had been in
Williams' house talking to her countrymen, and with passionate
eloquence stirring their hearts to the doing of a great deed; and the
Tahitians and Tubuaians, as they watched her flashing eyes sparkle and
glow like diamonds in the faint light and listened to her fiery
appeal, shifted uneasily and muttered to one another in low tones.

"Why dost thou urge us to such a bloody deed, oh Nahi?" said Manale,
a short, stout man, who, with his musket upon his knees, sat cross-
legged on the floor. "'Tis not for blood we seek, but for the right
to live and work for ourselves, and no longer remain slaves. Thou art
but a woman, and shouldst not urge--"

"A woman!" and she clenched her hand fiercely round the hilt of the
knife she held--"a woman, yes. But thou, Manale--bulky as thou art in
body, thy heart is as the heart of a tiny fish. Will ye five be slaves
to these cruel white dogs? Shame on ye all! Is there no one among you
better than a Mahu?"

"Nay, insult us not, Nahi, with such bitter words," said Tairoa-
Maina; "we are men. It is in our minds that Kirisiani will help us."

She laughed bitterly. "Kirisiani! He whom my husband trusted before
other men--only to be betrayed! He has turned from our people, and
cares not if his countrymen rid themselves of us. Death is before ye
all, I tell thee. Will ye let these white men slay ye one by one? Have
ye not guns in thy hands? Five pieces of iron, and death lieth within
them, ready to leap out with flame and smoke. Live and be slaves! Act
and be men!"

She ceased; the lamp of tui tui nuts flickered, wavered and died out,
and darkness fell upon them.

"Let us talk," said Tairoa-Maina in a whisper to the other four.

"Aye, talk," said Nahi, "talk. And think that even now my husband
lies dead because ye have proved cowards!"

Five minutes passed; then Nahi, with fierce joy, saw them rise.

"Come thou and see us act," said Manale to her, as he touched her
arm, and they all filed out in silence.

Young and Smith, with Talalu walking between them, had scarcely gone
a hundred yards from the house when they met Quintal and McCoy coming
down the rugged path towards Young's dwelling.

"Mr. Young," said McCoy, "we have determined to clap a stopper on
this mutiny at once. We can't let these fellows take charge of the
island any longer, and we want you to come along with us and surprise
them before daybreak."

"Very well, I'm agreeable. But at the same time"--and Young laughed
ironically--"it does me good to hear you--or any of us--talk about
putting down a mutiny."

"Call it by any name you like," said McCoy, roughly. "But it won't do
for us to let this thing go on. We came to you because we know you
won't leave us in the lurch, like Mr. Christian has."

"All right; lead on. Where are the others?" said Young.

"They've gone on ahead slowly; we'll overtake them before they reach
the house."

Following Young in Indian file, the three white men and the Tahitian
walked as quickly as the night would permit along the narrow path
which wound gently up a hill thickly covered with hibiscus shrubs. So
sinuous was their course, however, that objects even a few yards ahead
could not be perceived.

No sound disturbed the silence of the island night, save for the
throbbing of the ever-restless surf and the strange, plaintive cries
of the young sea-birds in their rookeries on the cliffs.

Suddenly there rang out, and echoed and re-echoed in quavering
reverberations in the hollows of the hills, three musket shots in
quick succession, followed by the hoarse, weird clamour of tens of
thousands of birds as they rose and circled in wild alarm.

"By God!" cried Young, "we must run; that's our men firing."

"This comes of too much palavering. While we've been paying out
fathoms of talk the fight has begun," said Quintal, angrily; and the
four white men, leaving Talalu to his own devices, took to their heels
and ran excitedly in the direction of the firing, which seemed,
however, to be nearer the white men's houses than to that of the
Tubuaians.

"Looks as if our fellows had grabbed 'em while they were asleep, and
court--martialled 'em on the spot while we've been arguing over the
thing," said McCoy as he ran with the others.

But their surmises were entirely wrong. Before getting more than two
hundred yards further Smith, who was in advance, stumbled and fell
over something in the darkness; the hands he put out to save himself
plunged into a pool of blood which was oozing from the body of Brown,
who lay dead in the middle of the track, with a jagged bullet-hole
through his chest.

"By God, it's Brown!" cried Smith, feeling the man's face, "and he's
dead!"

"There's been a fight. Come on, men, for heaven's sake; we may be in
time to save the others"; and Young, followed by McCoy and Quintal,
rushed along the track in search of their comrades, and in a few
seconds had left Smith many yards behind.

Stooping down again over the body of the murdered man, Smith felt
his heart to satisfy himself that he was dead. He lifted the still
bleeding figure, carried it a few yards away from the path, and
proceeded to grope for his own musket, which he had dropped.

As he stooped a dark form silently stepped out from the thick
undergrowth lining the path. A clubbed musket was raised in the air,
and Smith fell and lay unconscious close to the corpse of his fellow-
country-man.

"Aue!" said Manale the Tubuaian to Nihu the Tahitian, who
accompanied him, "'tis Simeti whom I have slain. And I would not have
harmed him, for he hath ever been good to us. But this dog"--and he
spurned the body of the other white man--"was our enemy, and my hand
was strong with hate when I slew him."

Young and the others ran on, but only for a short distance, when
again an exclamation of horror burst from them; this time two dead men
lay in their path--Mills and Martin.

Then, before they could realise what had happened, five muskets
blazed out from a rocky ridge above, and several naked figures sprang
from their ambush with savage yells.

None of the white men were struck, but Quintal and McCoy, terrified
out of their wits, dropped their muskets and fled. The intense
darkness favoured them. They succeeded in evading the rush of their
opponents, and were soon clambering down the mountain side in the hope
of finding better shelter in the dense scrub of the valley. Young
alone stood his ground, and fired his musket at the first of the
natives who sprang upon him; but he missed his mark, and before he
could club the weapon Nihu struck him a blow on the head with a
musket, and laid him senseless.

The five figures bent over him for a moment, and talked hurriedly
among themselves.

"'Tis Etuati," said Tetihiti; "he lieth as one dead. For the sake
of Alrema, his wife, who is of my blood, let him live, oh friends";
and he warded off the musket of the savage Manale, who had pressed the
muzzle of the weapon to Young's heart. "But the other two, Makoi and
Kawintali, must die."

So they sped away in pursuit of Quintal and McCoy. A class of
degraded Tahitians, now happily extinct, who affected the dress and
manners of women.



Chapter XXX After the Storm


FOR some minutes Edward Young lay stunned upon the rocky path, a
stream of blood oozing from a severe cut in his head. Presently the
cool night air brought him back to consciousness, and, as by slow
degrees his senses returned he feared that he alone was left alive of
all the white men on the island, and it was likely enough that even
his hours were numbered. With a struggle he rose slowly and painfully,
dragging his footsteps along the road until he reached his house.
Fearful of again encountering the enraged islanders he proceeded with
the greatest caution, stopping suddenly, when at a turn in the narrow
track he saw three figures in a crouching position.

He dropped upon his hands and knees and scanned them carefully.
Presently he recognised Nahi, Alrema, and Terere. The three women were
supporting Smith, who was too badly hurt to stand upon his feet. As
Young watched, doubtful whether to approach or not, he saw a fourth
figure join them, and knew Mahina by the black mantle of hair falling
down her back.

"Is he dead, I wonder?" he muttered to himself. "Better for him if he
is. I will never surrender her again."

He rose to his feet and advanced towards them. The women gave a
startled cry, and Smith fell back upon the ground with a groan of
agony.

Alrema's arms were round Young's neck in an instant, and her fearful,
panting bosom pressed to his lovingly. "My husband, my husband," she
murmured, "thou art wounded; yet Nahi said thou wouldst be safe." She
turned fiercely upon the wife of Talalu, who covered her face with her
hands and wept.

"Alas! what have I done?" said Nahi, "the fire of anger in my
countrymen's hearts was kindled by me, and in their wrath they knew
not friend from foe."

Mahina drew near, trembling from head to foot; and Alrema, with an
agonised heart, saw her husband's hand steal out to her friend's and
give it a quick, warm pressure. Then Mahina sank upon her knees in the
darkness and wept silently. Did Alrema know that she, her friend, had
yielded, and that Edward Young no longer cared for the brave, loyal
wife who had fought and bled for him in the days gone by in Tubuai?

Alrema did know. But maddened as she was by the discovery of her
husband's faithlessness, she was yet true to Mahina; and all her love
for Young welled up fresh and strong in her heart when she felt him
swaying to and fro on his feet from weakness.

"Thou cruel Nahi," she cried bitterly, "dost thou think that thy
husband is more dear to thee than mine is to me"--a sob choked her
utterance--"he for whom my life is ever ready to be given? If he comes
to further harm I swear I will kill thee, thou false and wicked Nahi."

Nahi sprang to her feet, and her black eyes gleamed with fire as she
threw her arms wide out. "What I have done was for the love of Talalu!
But let us not waste time in words; hide thy husband and the husband
of Terere until the fury of our people hath spent itself."

It was now agreed that Young, who was only just able to walk, should
go on ahead and conceal himself in a cave in the mountains, known only
to the women, who would bring him food and water until he was safe
from pursuit or further vengeance from the brown men; and, supported
by Alrema and the trembling Mahina, the wounded man set out, and the
three toiled slowly along. Then Young began to talk.

"Leave me by myself," he said weakly in English. "You, Alrema,
return home and see to our child. Maybe she has come to harm. You,
Mahina, look for your husband, he may be dead."

"What matters it to me?" burst from Mahina. "Would that I, too, were
dead."

"Take thou my husband to the cave, Mahina."

It was Alrema who spoke, steadying her voice through unseen tears.
"Take him to the cave whilst I seek out thy husband and bring him to
thee--to thee and to his friend--his true and good friend."

The bitterness of the words, "his true and good friend," pierced the
anguished heart of Christian's wife like a knife-stab.

"Nay, nay, Alrema, leave me not, I pray thee. See, thy husband needs
us both. Stay with me; for the love I have always borne thee, stay
with me."

But Alrema only answered her with a sob, and in another instant was
gone, to fall upon her face a few yards away and weep out her shame
and bitterness of heart. "For the sake of my child," she moaned, "for
the sake of my child, neither his blood nor hers shall redden my
hand."

Then rising to her feet she went to seek Christian.

*   *   *   *   *

Smith had fainted. His wife, as soon as he returned to consciousness,
assisted him to his feet; they set out towards the cave where Young
was gone, and in another hour their journey was successfully
accomplished.

The wives of McCoy and Quintal--Puni the Huahine woman, and Malama--
meantime sat alone in their houses, weeping at the thought of the fate
which they felt sure had overtaken their husbands. Nahi, on her way to
seek Talalu had called in and spoken words of encouragement which
somewhat allayed their fears. She promised that she would restrain her
countrymen from further attacking the white men; then still fearful as
to what had become of her own husband, she quickly ran the rest of the
distance to her little dwelling in Williams' enclosure. When she
entered she found the gigantic Tahitian quietly seated cross-legged
upon a mat, with his musket beside him, eating his supper. She
embraced him tenderly and began to tell him of all that had happened.

He interrupted her in the middle of her recital. "I know all, Nahi. I
was hidden in a clump of trees and saw all that took place between
thee and the wounded white men. And now that thou hast returned in
safety I myself will go to Manale and the others, and stay their hands
from further killing. Enough blood has been shed."

Towards dawn the islanders returned from their fruitless search for
McCoy and Quintal, and as they filed one by one into Williams' house
they were met by Talalu, who had just missed them in the darkness.

In a few words he so worked upon their feelings that they readily
agreed to do no further harm to the remaining white men, and consented
to meet and discuss their future relations towards each other.

Christian, slumbering in the loneliness of his mountain cave, had
heard the report of the muskets and guessed what was happening; but he
was perfectly indifferent as to how the quarrel might end, and so
remained where he was. About two or three hours before dawn he felt a
touch upon his arm and saw a woman's figure bending over him.

"What now?" he said angrily, thinking it was Mahina who had disturbed
him.

"I have come, Kirisiani, to tell thee that three of the white men are
dead, and Simeti and Etuati wounded. Didst thou not hear the guns?"

"I heard them, Alrema, but it is naught to me."

"Naught to thee? Hast thou no thought to ask if Mahina and thy
children be alive or dead?"

He laughed bitterly. "None. What care I for Mahina? Dost thou think I
am blind? Hast thou not seen what I have seen?"

The woman sank on her knees beside him, and, taking his hand in hers,
wept passionately. "Aye, I know it now. But yet Mahina is my friend,
else had I killed her. And because of that and for my great friendship
for thee have I brought thy two children, so that thou mayest take
them to their mother."

"Where is she?" asked Christian as he rose, and with steel and flint
lit the rude lamp of coconut oil.

"She is waiting for thee in the cave with Simeti and my husband. And
see, this do I swear--only because I bade her stay and help the
wounded men did she remain away from thy house and children. Else
would she have come, and with them sought thee here."

Christian regarded her for a moment or two in silence. He admired
her intense loyalty and devotion to Mahina, which was put to such a
test, and so restrained himself from sneering at her weakness.

"Where are my children?" he asked.

"They wait outside. I feared to bring them to thee till we had
spoken together a little."

"Bring them in," he said, "and stay with them here till I return."

She placed her hand upon his shoulder. "Thou wilt hurt neither my
husband nor Mahina?" she said beseechingly.

"No," he said in a low voice, "neither. For the sake of these, my
children, I will not."

She took his hand and kissed it again. "Forgive her, Kirisiani. When
thou didst cast her aside from thee on the cliffs she became in the
hands of my husband, who is a cunning man, as a twig that is bent by
the fingers of a child. Only for this she had remained true to thee
and he true to me."

Again he laughed with bitter scorn. "All women are alike, and all
men are false to their friends and their duty when a woman's face
comes between. Stay here till I return."

Just as dawn broke, Christian, guided by the directions Alrema had
given him, found and entered the cave, and was greeted with an
exclamation of joy from Smith; Young, who lay upon a couch of leaves,
merely nodded to him and said nothing. Mahina was not visible.

"I am glad to find you both alive--both," he added, with a steady
glance at Edward Young, whose eyes dropped before his, "although if
every white man on the island had been killed it would have been but
justice. How can these people trust men who, even among themselves,
are guilty of the blackest treachery to each other?"

For a little while no one spoke; then came a murmur of voices
outside, and Talalu stood before the three white men.

"This is my message to ye, oh white men who were once my friends;
these are the words of Temua, Nihu, the men of Tubuai, and I, Talalu.
Let there be peace between us. We sought not blood; only when it was
forced upon us did we fight and kill. Let there be peace."

"I blame neither thee nor them," said Christian quietly, "and now I
tell these two men here, who were once my friends, but whom I wish to
see no more, that they will do well to make peace with thee and thy
countrymen."

Without a word of farewell he turned and left them with Talalu, who,
as both Young and Smith saw, was unfeignedly glad at their escape; and
they in their turn were relieved to hear that McCoy and Quintal were
safe.

As the sun rose they heard plaintive notes of wailing for the dead
rising from the valley below, and soon after, Nahi and some of the
Tahitian men came, unarmed, to tell them that their comrades' graves
were being dug.

Still weak from loss of blood, Young and Smith managed to leave
their retreat and, assisted by the now friendly Tahitians, reach the
valley, where they saw standing round the three bodies a little group
of brown people. As they drew near, Manale stepped out from the others
and offered his hand to Young.

"Is it peace between us?" he asked.

"It is peace," said Young and Smith, both taking his hands.

Presently they were joined by McCoy and Quintal; and the bodies of
the slain men, having been wrapped in mats by the women, were placed
in their graves in silence, broken only by the sobs of their wives.

Walking slowly away from the cave, Fletcher Christian, with white,
despairing face, went first to his house, intending to bring away some
further articles for his own use in his retreat. The door was closed,
but not fastened on the inside. Pushing it open, he saw the figure of
his wife upon her couch. She had been weeping, and as he entered the
room trembled in every nerve; then, ere he could restrain her, cast
herself at his feet and flung back her head.

"Kill me," she cried; "kill me, else will I die as did Faito."

He drew back from her coldly. "Thou art but a woman, and men do not
kill women in my country, even though they be false to their husbands.
Listen to me. So that I never see thy face again I am content. But
still would I see my children sometimes. Therefore with thee they
shall remain, and sometimes will I come to them."

In another moment he was gone, and Mahina looked wildly after his
retreating figure. Then she swayed and fell, and an hour after Alrema,
with tears of pity filling her star-like eyes, came in with the
children and embraced her friend lovingly.

"He will yet love thee again," said the loyal girl--"'tis but a
black cloud that will vanish. And see, I too forgive thee."



Chapter XXXI "Mine the Hand!"


A MONTH had elapsed. To Mahina it was a month of misery.

With her children she passed her days and nights in solitude, broken
only by visits from Talalu and Alrema, who both knew the secret of her
suffering. Once or twice only had she caught sight of Christian as he
wandered about his cliffs at dusk, and had been impelled by her love
to follow and speak to him; but with a cold gesture of indifference he
had waved her back and walked slowly on, oblivious to her heart--wrung
sobs.

And not to Mahina alone had come suspense and grief; Alrema suffered
too, for her husband now neglected her for the company of McCoy and
Quintal. Since the deaths of Brown, Mills, and Martin, a period of
incessant watchfulness and suspicion had ensued--the white men dreaded
the brown, the brown suspected the white. Edward Young, fearful of
more bloodshed, had tried to persuade the islanders to give their arms
up to him; but this, though they repeated their assurance of good will
towards the seamen, they refused to do.

"To Kirisiani alone will we give up our guns," said one of the
Tubuaians, "for in him alone have we faith. And Kirisiani himself
saith that there is no faith or honour in any among ye. Thou, Etuati,
who wert once his sworn taio, knowest if he speaketh truth."

Young winced at the native's words, but said nothing. His mad
infatuation for Mahina still remained, yet he was sensible of his own
degradation and treachery to Christian, and a sense of shame kept him
from approaching Mahina since that fatal evening. Mahina herself,
though the man had acquired a strange power over her, forcing her to
believe his passionate declaration of love, trembled with fear lest
she should see him again.

Talalu, ever faithful both to her and her husband, was the one man on
the island with whom Christian now held converse, and the big-hearted
fellow more than once sought him out in his retreat and tried to
induce him at least to meet and speak to his wretched wife.

"She is but a woman, Kirisiani; and see, oh friend, her heart is
eaten up for love of thee. Canst thou not take her to thee again? Thou
art strong; she is weak. Are women of Peretane never unfaithful?"

But Christian, though he listened to the friendly Tahitian, would
answer, "Let it be as it is--she is nought to me, nor I to her."

One night as the two sat together on the edge of the cliffs, looking
over the wide expanse of star-lit ocean, the Tahitian began to talk of
the condition of affairs between his countrymen and the whites, and
urged Christian to destroy, if possible, the growing unrest and
suspicion which disturbed both parties.

"Thy countrymen," he said, "go about in fear of us, with their
muskets ever to their hands. Thou, who art a chief among them, canst
still make them listen to thee; then will they forget all that is
past, for we of Tahiti and Tubuai do not seek more bloodshed."

"I can do nothing for thee, Talalu. Bitterly do I repent the misery
and death that I have wrought to white men and brown; but I can do
nothing--no longer will I interfere between thy people and my
countrymen."

One night all that remained of the mutineers assembled in Young's
house. The last to enter was Smith, accompanied by Terere, whom he
placed outside to watch. The door was carefully closed, and the men
sat on the rough wooden benches which, with a table, formed the
furniture of the living room. For some minutes they conversed in low
tones; then Young rose and spoke.

"We can delay no longer," he said. "The Tahitians, my wife will tell
you, intend to attack us at daybreak. They firmly believe that we
shall not rest until we have avenged the murder of our countrymen."

The other men looked at each other and nodded acquiescence.

"Yesterday, so Alrema says, they came to the horrible resolution of
killing us all except Christian. Him they look upon as mad, and, as
you know, they have a curious feeling of regard for mad people. They
consider the insane as inspired and protected by the gods, and their
lives are held sacred. Now, God knows, I have no wish to see more
bloodshed on this island; but," and here Young's face paled and his
words came slowly, "it seems to me that my wife's advice, however
dreadful it may appear, should be followed. Either they or we must
die."

McCoy struck the table with his huge, heavy fist. "Speaking for
myself and Mat Quintal, I think we ought to have done it long ago. Mr.
Christian's damned fine ideas about the rights o' these bloody-minded
savages is all very well when you haven't got to live with them. I am
for settling it at once."

"I don't agree with you," said Smith, "but I suppose my opinion won't
alter the matter one way or another. Since Mr. Christian won't have
anything to do with us, I am willing to look to Mr. Young as our
leader. If he considers it necessary for our safety to murder these
people--why I've gone too far to hold back now."

"Murder is an ugly name, Smith," said Young quickly, "and I've no
mind to accept your help. McCoy, Quintal, and myself can do what is to
be done without you. We must either kill or be killed."

"Aye, aye, Mr. Young," said Quintal approvingly. "Smith had better go
to his friend, Mr. Christian, and live in his cave. We three can
settle this business. We don't want any white-livered man among us at
a time like this."

With a fierce glance Smith sprang to his feet. "Damn you, Quintal,
you are too ready with your tongue. I'm no more white-livered than you
are. You knew that when we took the ship off Tofoa. If Mr. Young says
the word I am ready to fight, or murder, or whatever you like to call
it, all the Tahitians myself. To my mind he's a King's officer still--
leastways so far as my obedience to him goes. Say what is to be done,
and I'll have a hand in the doing of it."

"Words, words, idle words, and nothing is done. In a little time it
may be too late. While ye talk, and talk, I, Alrema, will alone do the
deed. Mine shall be the hand to strike."

Alrema was sitting in a corner of the house, her dark eyes watching
with intense interest each movement of the white men, and listening to
every word spoken; and her husband, as he turned towards her, saw in
her eyes the look he had seen long ago on Tubuai, when she held in her
hand a blood-stained cutlass.

"I alone will do it," and seizing an axe from a tool-rack on the wall
she waved her hand to the whites, opened the door, and was gone.

Picking up their muskets the four men hastily followed Alrema along
the narrow track which led to the dwelling of her countrymen and the
house of Williams.

At the doorway of Williams' house sat the huge Talalu, musket in
hand, keeping watch while his countrymen slept. For some weeks they
had never rested without setting a watch, for their wives warned them
continually that the white men were dangerous and were plotting
mischief. Nahi, who seemed animated by the bitterest feeling of hatred
against all the whites save Christian, had continually declared that
sooner or later the remaining Englishmen would avenge the deaths of
their comrades by a sudden massacre. Her repeated warning had so
worked upon the fears of her countrymen as to force them into
believing its truth, and they resolved to be beforehand with the white
men.

"Kill them, kill them," she urged. "Only when their blood runs shall
we be safe."

So they sat together in the darkened room and agreed to make an
attack next morning at daybreak, in which Nahi and the wives of the
Tahitians were to take part. After arranging the details, the plotters
lay down to sleep, leaving Talalu on watch. He was to call them at
dawn; and as the brown men spread their mats upon the gravelled floor,
Nahi whispered in his ear, "To-morrow, my husband, those who sought
thy life will be silent for ever."

But Nahi little knew that Alrema, ever on the alert, had learned from
Puni the danger that overhung the white men, and had guarded against
it.

Talalu, sitting dreamily on the doorstep of the house, with his
musket across his knees, woke with a start. Surely a footstep rustled
the dead pandanus leaves that lay along the path? He opened his half-
closed eyes and listened. Nothing broke the stillness but the
murmuring hum of the surf, and the strange weird rustle of the wind as
it soughed through the groves of pandanus and coco-palms. He bent his
head again and dozed, then in an instant was upon his feet. Some one
was approaching, for this time he heard clearly the crackling of dead
leaves underfoot.

Leaning on his musket his keen eye eagerly scanned the darkness of
the night. A soft footfall behind him--and it was too late. Before he
could rise and face the intruder, or call an alarm, Alrema's axe had
cleft his skull in halves, and the watcher's cry of warning mingled
with his dying groan.

Swinging the weapon over her head, Alrema, followed by the white men,
dashed into the house, and then, in the dim light of the flickering
lamp, began a horrible slaughter of the sleeping men. Manale, who lay
nearest the door, fell as he rose, beneath a blow from Alrema's axe,
which sank deep into the broad, naked bosom; and three shots from the
white man's muskets did the rest of their bloody work.

One of the Tubuaians alone succeeded in leaping past his assailants
and gaining the door; but Young drew a pistol from his belt, sprang
before him and pointed the weapon at his head.

"Shoot!" cried Alrema, "shoot! spare none, so that we may have peace
afterwards."

The savage thirst for slaughter in her voice steadied the wavering
hand that but for her would have spared. For a moment he hesitated,
then aimed the pistol at the Tubuaian's breast, pulled the trigger,
and the last of the brown men fell upon his face on the blood-stained
mats.



Chapter XXXII Nahi's Revenge


TOO terrified to aid their husbands, and each moment expecting to
share their fate, the wives of the murdered men crouched together in
horror at one end of the room, nor could all the endeavours of the
Englishmen soothe their fears. At last Young and his companions went
away and left them with their dead. Alrema, fearless as she was, went
with them, for there was in Nahi's face a look of such deadly hatred
that even her iron-souled nature quailed before it.

At sunrise next morning two people alone on the island knew nothing
of what had happened--Fletcher Christian and Mahina. That morning she
sat beside him in the cave, fanning his flushed face and aching head,
for he was ill and suffering in mind and body. Two days before, at
sundown, as he wandered along the wild and rugged track leading to his
mountain retreat, she had watched him unseen, and saw that he
staggered as he walked and had scarce strength enough to drag his
weary feet along. She waited till darkness set in and then followed,
her heart beating fast in an agony of hope and fear. Peering
cautiously in she saw her husband fling himself upon his couch and
mats and lie there, his face turned away from her, breathing heavily
and painfully. For some minutes she stood and watched him with tears
of loving pity filling her eyes. Her husband! He whose love was once
hers, and might yet be again! And he was ill and weak. Surely he would
not curse her now?

Softly she crept in through the darkness and sat near him, longing
yet fearing to speak; but soon she knew by his low mutterings and the
way in which he flung his arms about that he was ill of fever. She had
surmised as much when she saw him going towards the cave, and knew how
perfectly helpless even a strong man became in a few hours from the
first attack.

Quickly she made her way in the darkness back to her house, filled a
small basket with some ripe limes, roused her children, and, leading
one and carrying the other, returned as quickly as possible.

Short as was her absence, she knew as soon as she entered the cave by
the sound of Christian's breathing that he was much worse. Placing the
children--of whose fretful cries her husband seemed quite
unconscious--by themselves in a corner, she quickly cut some of the
limes in halves and squeezed them into a coconut-shell, with a little
water. Then she raised Christian's head upon her knees, and the
fever--stricken man, suffering from the agonies of a burning thirst,
eagerly drank the life--giving draught. All that night she sat beside
him, cooling his aching head and giving him at short intervals a
mouthful of lime-juice. Towards morning the violence of the fever
abated. He slept, and Mahina was happy as she watched.

The dawn came, and Christian's breathing grew soft and regular.
Mahina took his hand in hers, and raised it to her lips; then,
overcome by weariness, she lay beside him and slept too.

As the first streaks of sunlight, piercing the mountain mists, lit
up the dark and jagged rocks which hid the cave within their bosom,
Christian awoke, and knew that the fever was gone. Then a cry escaped
him, as he saw the sleeping figures of his wife and children; and the
basket of limes and the wet bandage just fallen from his temples told
him all. She had come to him when he was ill and suffering; come to
him when his last words to her had been a curse. A great pity welled
up in his heart as he looked at her pale, worn face, so full of pain
and suffering. Her thick mantle of black hair seemed like a funeral
pall to her body, now so weak and thin.

A blade of yellow sunshine shot in through the mouth of the cave; it
touched her face and glorified it with a strange radiance, and
Fletcher Christian's better nature came back to him once more.

Sinking quietly back upon his pillow he reached out his hand and
placed it gently upon her head.

"Mahina!"

A broken cry of trembling happiness, then in an instant she was on
her knees before him, with her hands clasped tightly together, and a
look of unutterable yearning in her dark, sad eyes. He drew her to him
and kissed her lips.

"Thou art my wife," he said.

With streaming eyes she flung her arms round his neck and sobbed out
her joy to live again upon her husband's bosom.

All that morning she remained in the cave, for Christian was still
weak from the fever. In the afternoon, to her great joy he told her
that henceforward she and the children should remain with him there,
as he had no desire to return and live in the valley. Mahina eagerly
set about removing all their possessions to the new home. When she
returned, the sight of Christian playing with and caressing her
children filled her with a wild sense of happiness, and already her
face was glowing with all the old beauty which had once fascinated the
man she loved.

In her excitement about removing the contents or their old house,
Mahina did not notice the absence of the people from the village. That
night, however, when after so many months of misery she and her
children lay beside her husband, she talked with Christian of the
growing suspicion and hatred now again rending the life of the little
community.

"Only thee of all the white men do my people trust," she said. "Wilt
thou not yet come and decide between them and thy countrymen, ere it
be too late? Is it not better, my husband, for all men to dwell
together in peace? A hot word leadeth to a blow, and the hand toucheth
the musket, and death leaps out from the hollow iron."

"True, Mahina," he answered mournfully; "I alone am to blame for the
bloodshed in Afita. But never more will I interfere."

How long they had slept they knew not, when suddenly they awoke to
the report of firearms.

"What new horror is this?" muttered Christian to himself, as he
hastily rose and dressed.

"'Tis my countrymen who have again attacked the white men," answered
Mahina, trembling with fear lest her people should seek Christian's
life in their mad lust for slaughter, and her newly-found happiness
come to a sudden end.

"'Tis as likely that the white men have attacked the brown," answered
Christian bitterly. "Are we not all rebels and murderers?"

Determined to shoot the first man who should attempt to enter with
hostile intent, he took a stool to the mouth of the cave, and sat
there musket in hand, waiting for the dawn. No further sound reached
them from the valley, and they were beginning to hope that they had
heard only the Tahitians discharging their pieces to frighten away
"evil spirits," but as the day broke, they saw the figure of Alrema
clambering up the path along the ridge.

"What has happened?" cried Mahina to the girl.

"Alas! Mahina, the white men are well, but all or our countrymen and
the men of Tubuai are dead; the white men have slain them all. And
their wives have now fled in fear and hidden themselves."

In a few words she told her dreadful story, and added how, when
daylight came, the wives of McCoy and Smith, going to comfort the
widows of the murdered men, found nothing there but the cold bodies of
the victims--the women had fled. So while the four seamen buried those
whom they had slain, their wives went in search of the missing women,
and Alrema had come to the cave, thinking that they might have taken
refuge with Christian.

"Thou cruel murderess," said Christian sternly to Alrema, "so thine
was the bloody hand which took the life of Talalu! May the gods punish
thee, thou cruel and wicked woman!"

His savage words terrified her, and she shrunk back in alarm.
Disdaining further speech with her, Christian turned to Mahina.

"Come, Mahina, let us seek for these poor creatures who in the
madness of their despair and terror may do themselves injury."

Leaving the sleeping children, and closely followed by Alrema,
Christian and Mahina began to descend the mountain by the narrow and
intricate path winding to the plain. Sometimes it led through huge
crevices in the rock, which shut out the light on either side, and
left only a patch of blue sky overhead; sometimes it ran sharply over
the dizzy summit of the broken mountain, from whence they could see
the surf-beaten beach below.

Suddenly the quick seaman's eye of Christian detected moving figures
on Bounty Beach, and he stopped and gazed intently down. Away from the
wash of the waves the Bounty's boat lay bottom upwards, rapidly
falling into decay from disuse; and the figures he had seen were
turning it over upon its keel.

Even while he looked he saw the three women, the moment they had
turned the boat over, begin to drag her towards the water; but they
were not strong enough to make much progress in their efforts.

A cry of pity escaped Mahina.

"What would they do?" she said. "The boat is old and rotten, and
they seek to drag it to the water! Save them, my husband, ere they die
by the sharks."

"Nay, it is I who have filled them with fear, and 'tis I who will
save them from death!" And Alrema bounded down the dangerous path, her
long, black hair flying about her naked shoulders as she sprang from
ledge to ledge, thoughtless of danger to herself in her effort to
avert this last calamity.

Christian and Mahina followed closely, but when Alrema gained the
beach the women had succeeded in floating the boat and, using her
bottom boards as paddles, had sent her some little distance from the
shore.

"Come back, come back, thou foolish Nahi!" Alrema cried frantically
from the beach. "Come back; I swear by the gods that no harm shall
come to thee!"

A heavy roller lifted the boat and carried her back for some
distance shoreward, and the women had all they could do to keep her
from broaching to; but Nahi while she paddled looked over her shoulder
at Alrema and cursed her bitterly.

"Thou murderess!" she cried, "rather will we drown or go into the
bellies of the sharks than live in this bloody land of Afita with
thee."

Alrema took no heed of her words, but cast off her waist-cloth of
tappa and plunged into the sea. She could see that there was a brief
lull in the succession of rollers tumbling in upon the beach, and
that, poor as their boards were, the women would succeed in getting
out to deep water unless she managed to reach the boat quickly.

"Paddle, paddle," panted Nahi to the others; "let not the red-handed
woman touch the boat!" and she plunged her board into the water with
all her strength--it broke in halves, and the boat broached to.

She stood up in the stern, with despair in her eyes, and looked
round her. Already Alrema was within a few feet of the boat, and in
imploring tones was calling to the women to return, when Nahi spoke to
her two companions in a low voice. They looked inquiringly at her, and
she answered their looks with an impatient gesture to cease paddling.

Panting, and now almost exhausted, Alrema at last gained the boat,
put out her right hand and grasped the gunwale.

"Come," she said faintly, "come back with me, Nahi."

Looking down at her with savage hatred, the wife of Talalu smiled
cruelly at the pleading face.

"Aye," she answered, "I come." And, without another word she sprang
out of the boat, clasped her arms round Alrema's neck, and uttering a
curse with her last breath, dragged her enemy to death with her
beneath the water.



Chapter XXXIII The Brew of Death


A FORTNIGHT after the last of the tragedies which had marked the life
of the island dwellers, Christian withdrew himself for ever from all
association with the rest of the white men, and spent his whole time
in the cave, scarce speaking even to his now heart-broken wife, though
her patient, winning ways won from him sometimes a mute caress.

By day she watched with the tenderest solicitude over her husband's
lonely wanderings; by night she listened to the strange mutterings
which broke his sleep; torturing her mind with dread that the end of
her brief happiness was near.

The other women still lived in constant fear of some new horror, and
when the white men's wives had performed their daily round of tasks
for their husbands' homes, they gathered together in the dusk of the
evening with the widows of the murdered men, and tremblingly asked
each other what the morrow would bring forth--would it be death for
all? Nothing that the white men could say could quiet their fears; and
at last in their extremity they came to the resolution to poison all
the white men who remained, lest their masters should plan some new
attack upon them.

But as soon as they had come to this determination, some of them,
fearful that their plans might miscarry, and their intended victims
retaliate upon them with some dreadful punishment, secretly informed
Young, Smith, McCoy, and Quintal of the plot. At first the white men
listened incredulously, and when they did believe the story they
understood that the women had been driven to this horrible device
through fear alone, and not from any desire for vengeance upon their
husbands' murderers. And so when one by one the plotters confessed and
begged for forgiveness, Young and the others not only readily granted
it, but tried hard to persuade them that their terror was groundless.

Worn with the results of a fever which, soon after the tragic end of
his wife, had wasted his once great strength and muscular frame,
Edward Young was now greatly changed. As he listened to the women's
tale he raised his hands above his head, and swore by their gods and
the Christ-God of the white men that no harm should come to them.

"Let us who are left dwell together in peace," he said.

With fresh hope kindled in their bosoms, the poor women bent their
heads to the ground and kissed his feet, and swore to work for and
obey him and the other white men to the end of their lives.

So the months went by in quiet and uneventful life, and although the
little community at the settlement sometimes saw Mahina and her two
children, her husband never came near them. Twice he and Young met,
and the latter's face flushed deeply at the memory of the past, but
Christian spoke to him calmly, without a sign of either anger or
bitterness, and then went on his way indifferent to all around him.

Young himself had now so far succeeded in controlling his passion for
Mahina as to marry the widow of one of the murdered Tahitians, and
sought by his conduct to make her and the other women feel that their
lives were in no danger. The terrible fate of Alrema had had a good
and lasting effect upon his reckless nature, and there now seemed no
likelihood of a further tragedy breaking the monotony of existence on
the lonely island. Christian lived entirely in his cave, but
occasionally worked with Mahina in the garden of their deserted house,
and cheerfully gave part of its yield to those of the community whose
lands were not so fruitful.

*   *   *   *   *

Three years passed, then there came a change. One evening McCoy
walked over to Quintal's house, accompanied by Puni, his Huahine wife.
Quintal and his wife Malama were rolling into a cylindrical shape a
bundle of wild tobacco leaf, while their little half-blood son lay
asleep.

Seating himself cross-legged on the matted floor beside his comrade,
and briefly nodding to Malama, McCoy said, "I'm sick of this damned
life, Mat; the same round day after day, night after night--no change,
no pleasure. Young and Smith don't have much to say to us, and
Christian is as good as a dead man, for all he has to do with us."

"I'm as tired of it as you are, Bill," answered Quintal; "but what
are we to do? We can't leave here even if we had a good boat--we dare
not."

"No, I know that well enough; but I've an idea how we can make a life
a little pleasanter--for us two, at any rate."

"How?"

"Do you remember once I was telling Brown about a ship's company that
was cast away at Martinique, or some island near there, who found a
plant, out of which they made barrels and barrels of good grog?"

"Well, this isn't Martinique."

"No; but the same plant grows here. Just before poor Will Brown was
killed he told me--it's the thing the women call ti. Why, it's
growing all over the island--there's acres of it in the little valley
at the back of Tautumah."

"How are we going to make it?" said Quintal, with sudden interest.
"It would be a glorious thing to have a taste of grog again."

"With the Bounty's copper boiler and my knowledge of the thing. I
worked in a distillery in Dublin when I was a boy, and it'll go hard
if I can't make a still."

"I'm with you, my hearty. Come on, it's a fine night--let us go and
get the copper out of the store house. We'll make a cradle for it, and
Malama and Puni here can carry it up at once. If you can make grog out
of ti root I'll say you're a damned clever fellow."

A week later McCoy rushed into Quintal's house, "It's done, Mat, I've
got good spirit; come and try it."

Quintal did try it, not once, but several times. An hour afterwards
he and his comrade reeled up to Young's house, where Smith was seated
at the table, receiving instruction in reading and writing from Young.
Of late this manner of passing their evenings had become a settled
thing between them. What few books were on board the Bounty when
Christian had run her ashore had been quietly taken possession of by
Smith, and from these, with the aid of Young and his own intelligence,
he was rapidly improving himself.

As he and Young sat together at the table their women occupied
themselves in stitching clothes made from tappa cloth, and as they
worked they spoke in low tones, lest they should disturb their white
husbands.

With a drunken laugh, McCoy, followed by Quintal, staggered into the
dimly--lighted room, and, steadying himself with one hand on the
table, addressed Young and Smith.

"Come and have a glass of grog, Mr. Young," he hiccoughed.

"Yes, come along and drink confusion to the King, and bring the women
with you," cried Quintal, leering amiably at Terere and Young's wife,
who had sprung to their feet in alarm; "it's good liquor we've got--
none of your Bounty slops, none of Old Grog's slush, but the real
thing."

"Why, these fellows are drunk or mad," exclaimed Young, with a look
of astonishment at Smith.

"Where could they get drink?" answered Smith, looking first at one
and then at the other. They met his expression of wonder with coarse
guffaws.

"Get it! Why, you damned fools, we made it! I made it! What's your
book learning amount to? It couldn't teach you to make prime liquor
like it," said McCoy, who was ready to quarrel with any one.

"If you have found a way of making spirit, it is about the worst
thing you could have done. You'll kill yourselves with it," said
Young, who remembered that both McCoy and Quintal were several times
punished while on the Bounty for drunkenness.

McCoy answered with a curse, Quintal made a threatening gesture, and
a desperate quarrel would have ensued, but Smith interfered; and
finally, to pacify the drunken men, he and Young went across to
McCoy's house to taste his brewing.

It was fortunate for both Young and Smith that each conceived a
dislike for the fiery liquor at the first taste. When McCoy and
Quintal, with drunken insistence, urged them to make a night of it,
and kept swallowing drink after drink, the other two surreptitiously
threw theirs on the ground. Promising to return later on, they at last
managed to escape, and get back to their frightened wives.

On the following evening the drunkards, who had slept till near noon,
again appeared. This time they were so savage in their demeanour, and
threatened such fearful villainies, that the other two men feared
bloodshed, and hid themselves with their wives in a thicket near the
house. For two days and nights the two seamen continued their drinking
bout; each evening their drunken yells and horrid blasphemies reached
even the dwellers in Christian's cave, and made Mahina tremblingly
press her infant to her bosom.

On the morning of the third day, McCoy in his frenzy, rushed from his
house, followed by the equally maddened Quintal, took the path along
the edge of the cliffs, and, reaching the highest peak, threw himself
headlong upon the rocks below.

A hideous laugh of approval came from Quintal as he saw McCoy leap to
death, then, with a look of insane cunning, muttering and gibbering to
himself, he returned to the settlement, and went inside his house.
There he poured out a pannikin of the fiery liquid, and tossed it off;
then, picking up an axe and a burning brand, set off at a run towards
the other houses. His dreadful appearance and the wild curses he
shouted upon every one sent the Tahitian women fleeing before him to
seek refuge with Smith and Young, who rushed to the doorway and saw
the demented creature destroying Williams' house with his axe. In a
few minutes he had utterly wrecked it, and then, flinging down his
weapon, he advanced towards Young's house, waving the firebrand in his
hand.

Apparently unconscious that his movements were watched, he sprang
over the low stone wall and made straight for the house, looking at
the thick drooping thatch, and grinning like a fiend.

"Stand back," cried Young, as musket in hand he pushed past Smith and
the terrified women, and faced Quintal, "stand back, Quintal, and
throw away that firestick, or, as God is above me, I will shoot you!"

A mocking laugh was the wretch's answer; he staggered past, and
seizing a bunch of the light, dry thatch in his left hand thrust the
firestick into its centre.

"I'm going to burn your--" He never finished, for Young, raising his
musket, fired, and shot the miserable man dead.



Chapter XXXIV "Try to Forget the Past"


CHRISTIAN, as soon as he heard of the death of Quintal, bitterly
reproached himself as the cause; his old brooding manner returned to
him in all its former intensity, and, nothing that Mahina or Smith
said could soften the feeling of passionate remorse which now took
possession of him."

"God knows, Mr. Christian," said Smith to the mutineer in an
endeavour to rouse him from his melancholy, "you have nothing to
reproach yourself with. You are not responsible for what led to the
death of these men. If my musket had been loaded I would have shot
Quintal myself; and I am no lover of bloodshed."

Christian made no answer, but buried his face in his hands; and
presently Smith, seeing that he seemed to have become unconscious of
his presence, returned to his house. Descending the ridge he met Young
coming up. His face was very pale, and Smith saw that he was suffering
deeply.

"You shouldn't overtax yourself like this, Mr. Young," he said.
"Where are you going?"

A deep flush dyed Young's sallow face. "I am going to Christian. Do
you think he will see me?"

Smith looked at him curiously for a moment, then held out his hand,
"I am sure he will, sir. God knows you have done him bitter wrong, but
he said to me only the other day, when he was speaking of his wife,
that he had too many sins upon his own head to judge either you or
her."

Edward Young's hand trembled a little as he leaned upon his stick;
and without another word he turned and went towards Christian's cave.

The dead silence of the place oppressed him, and the sight of
Christian's figure, as he sat with his hands to his face at the
entrance to the cave, made him hesitate and shook his resolution, but
only for a moment. He took a few quick steps and touched the man who
had once been his friend on the shoulder. Christian raised his head
and looked at him.

"I have come to you, Christian, for the last time. I am not a
sentimental fool, but I feel that if you would once more give me your
hand and think of me, not as the cowardly scoundrel I have proved, but
as your old and trusted messmate of days gone by, I should be less
miserable. I feel that I am a dying man--will you forgive and forget?"

Only the sound of Young's panting breath was heard for a few moments,
and then Fletcher Christian stood up and held out his hand.

"I forgive you freely, Young. Not for the sake of our comradeship in
crime, but in the knowledge that I, too, need forgiveness in the sight
of God for the bloody deeds that my mad folly and hasty temper have
brought about. There is my hand."

For a little time neither of them spoke. Young, looking at the gaunt
figure of his old shipmate, was filled with pity.

His memory flew back to the days at Matavai when the young officer
had vanquished in friendly contest the picked wrestlers of Tahiti, and
Tina and the gentle Aitia had praised his strength and courage. And
Christian, as he listened to Young's laboured breath and almost
whispered tones, knew that his time was not far off, yet that for them
both there was at least some hope of a brighter future, short as it
might be.

Presently Young, with his hand on Christian's shoulder, broke the
silence.

"Let us try, old friend, to reconcile ourselves to our lot. I have
not long to live, but by God's help will try to lead a better life
than I have done. I think it is Smith's teaching... And so I want you
to come down to the settlement and live with us again... The men who
were ever a disturbing influence here are dead--one by my hand... You
alone can inspire all that are left of us with hope for the future.
What is there to keep you from us now?"

"Remorse, Young--the misery of my thoughts--the constant dread--but
there, my dear fellow, leave me to myself. You and Smith alone, of all
the fated wretches who participated in my villainy, have striven to
lead decent lives. If the others had been like you, our life here
would have been different. It is too late now; I cannot bear to think
of it. My crime was bad enough when I saw it in all its hideousness
five minutes after that morning off Tofoa, but now--"

"Christian," and Young's voice took a deep earnestness, "you
suffered under Bligh as none of us suffered. I, aye, and Smith too,
were equally guilty with you and the mutiny was no crime."

"No crime! Is it no crime to have been the murderer of nineteen
persons?--nineteen of my fellow-countrymen turned adrift to die of
the horrors of hunger and thirst in an open boat!"

"They may have reached land."

A faint light came into Christian's eyes--"Young, if I could but
dare to hope it! God knows I would give my life twenty times over to
know it. But, even if they did, all England knows the infamy of
Fletcher Christian, the disgraced mutineer... But what difference does
it make? Have I not the blood of those who landed here with me upon my
soul?"

He rose from his seat and paced to and fro in the gathering dusk,
and Young could see that his emotion had for the time mastered him.

"Come," he said at last, "try to forget the past. Once more I
implore you, Christian, to return to the settlement. Your wife"--and
he turned his face away as he spoke as if fearful that even darkness
could not hide the burning flush of shame upon his cheeks--"your wife
is in no fit state to live here. The dreadful loneliness of it is
killing her."

A step sounded near, and the next moment Smith joined them.

"Aye, indeed, Mr. Christian. She was never a strong woman, and her
time is near. Surely you will let her come and be tended by our
women?"

The sincerity of the appeals touched him at last. "You are right,
Smith. God bless you, old friends both, for making me think of her a
little. Yes, we will come and dwell in the settlement till the child
is born."

The next day Mahina came down from the cavern with a great joy in
her heart; for the loneliness of her life, even with her husband to
watch over her, robbed her of both health and strength, and she loved
to hear the sound of her countrywomen's voices.

A few weeks afterwards her third child was born; and while the other
two played with the children of McCoy, Quintal, and Young, Mahina was
tenderly nursed and cared for by the Tahitians till she grew strong
again.

But soon, unable to conquer his aversion to the society of his
fellow-men, Christain again left her to return to his cave, bidding
her to follow him when she was well enough.

*   *   *   *   *

The first day of the nineteenth century came in as did most days at
Pitcairn--a flush of sunlight melting the mists of the mountain tops,
piercing the dark shades of the wooded valleys with broad blades of
golden light, and rousing the sleeping rookeries of sea-birds into
clamorous life. Long ere the glittering dews of the night that hung in
beady drops from every leaf and blade of grass had quivered and fallen
to the first breaths of the trade-wind, Christian awoke from his
broken slumbers, and was moodily taking his accustomed walk along the
eastern cliffs.

Whath ad happened in the world he had left behind? he thought. Was he
accounted as long since dead? Was there one living soul in all England
whose thoughts went out to him sometimes? Slowly he paced along buried
in thought. When he reached the end of his walk he sat on a jutting
ledge of rock overhanging the boiling surf three hundred feet below,
where his eye ranged over the wide expanse of sparkling ocean. Day
after day, for years he had looked out thus upon the bosom of the
sailless sea, and had seen nothing but the swift flight of the blue-
billed kanpu and fierce-eyed frigate birds as they sailed to and fro
or plunged from aerial heights into the deep; or far above, the snow-
white tropic birds, floating with motionless wing and gazing down at
the human figure below. Was it likely, he thought, that his refuge
would ever be discovered? Would--

He started to his feet and with dilated eyes looked at the horizon.
There, clearly within view, were the topgallant sails of a ship!

Crouching--he knew not why--upon his knees, he clutched the ledge of
rock with shaking hands and watched for nearly a quarter of an hour.
The trade-wind was fast bringing the ship nearer, and before long her
courses rose to view. A few minutes more he gazed, then, struck by a
sudden impulse, he ran along the ledge till he reached the pathway to
Bounty Bay. He bounded down the steep and fearful descent to where the
Bounty's boat was hauled up upon rough skids laid down by Young and
Smith many months before. Old as she was, the boat was not now
unseaworthy, as she had been when Nahi and the other Tahitian women
attempted to escape in her; for Smith had put her in a fair state of
repair, so that she might be used for fishing when the surf did not
break too heavily upon the shores of the little bay.

Christian tugged vainly at the boat and rocked her from side to side
in an endeavour to start her down the skids; but his strength was not
equal to the task.

He ceased his efforts, and then looked seaward, but the ship was not
visible from where he stood.

"Oh! for some help," he muttered, "but that I cannot, dare not seek;
neither Young nor Smith must see me." He thought for a moment, then
with excitement, began again to ascend the path to his cave. Panting
with his exertions he soon gained the top of the cliffs, and ran along
the dangerous path till he reached the cavern. He darted inside and
quickly reappeared with his musket and a block and tackle, which he
had often used to drag weights to his retreat. With this he hoped to
launch the boat by making one end of the tackle fast to a point of
rock just at the water's edge, and the other to her stern ringbolt.
The musket he intended to fire to attract notice from the ship should
other means fail.

Returning to the beach he was soon exerting all his strength to start
the heavy little boat down to the water.



Chapter XXXV The Last Shot on Afita.


BY this time the ship was within three or four miles of the island,
and had been seen by one of the Tahitian women. She ran back to the
settlement, and roused the little community to a state of wild
excitement by her loud cries of "A ship! a ship! A ship is coming."

Soon Young and Smith reached the cliffs, and one glance at the ocean
showed them the vessel--a ship of war, they were quick to perceive, by
the cut of her canvas and her lofty spars.

Young was scarcely able to walk, and his excitement at first
prevented him from speaking, but when he could control himself he held
a hurried consultation with Smith, who then set off for Christian's
cave to inform him of the ship's approach, while Young returned to the
settlement and told Mahina to prepare to leave the house and, with the
other women, be ready to hide herself if necessary.

They had resolved, as a first step towards safety, that every person
on the island should assemble near the cavern. The difficulty of
access and the remoteness of its situation, they thought, would afford
them all a safe retreat from such people as might land. It was hoped
by Young and Smith that, unless the vessel was a King's ship specially
sent to search for the missing mutineers, those who placed foot on
shore would not easily discover that the island was inhabited. As a
first precaution, however, some of the women were sent to remove all
traces of human occupancy from the two little beaches, and to cover up
the Bounty's boat with dead coconut branches and bushes.

Four of them departed to do this, while Mahina and her children,
with the remaining women, set out for Christian's cave.

But when they reached the cavern they found it deserted by both
Christian and Smith, and saw that no preparations had been made to
defend the narrow path leading to the stronghold.

Frightened at the absence of the two men, the terrified women ran
hither and thither, calling loudly, and seeking for traces of them;
till presently Mahina, wildly excited, sped down the path and looked
over the edge of the cliffs to the beach below. Then a cry of alarm
broke from her.

Beckoning to the others, she flew down the perilous path to the
shore. Half-way she stumbled and, but for a projecting pinnacle of
rock, would have pitched headlong to the beach. Before she recovered
herself the other women overtook her, and were peering down to
discover what it was that had so agitated her. But from where they
clustered together they could see only the billows bursting in foam
upon the black rocks below; and while they waited for Mahina to
explain there came the report of a musket from beneath.

Too far down on their way to turn back, as their rears dictated,
Mahina's companions stood trembling and hesitating, their hearts
filled with an undefined apprehension that some fresh tragedy had
occurred.

*   *   *   *   *

Smith, filled with anxiety for his leader, had hurried along the
rocky track to Christian's cave. The dreaded hour had arrived at
last--the hour that he and the other mutineers had so often feared. A
King's ship! Yes, she could be no other! His seaman's eye told him she
was a ship of war. Perhaps she was a Frenchman? That was not likely.
She was English--sent to search for them; and even if she were not,
she evidently intended to send a boat ashore. Once a landing party
from the ship ascended the cliffs they could not fail to see the
houses, and would not take long to find those who lived in them. Then
would come discovery and a disgraceful death.

But, thought he, Christian will never be taken alive; and even if the
presence of white men upon the island should be discovered, the cave
was hard to find. And still, even if the ship were in search of
Christian and his companions, the identity of the inhabitants might
not perhaps be suspected. If the worst came to the worst, they could
make a fight of it to the death in such a place as Christian's
stronghold.

So ran the quick current of his thoughts as he panted up the ridge to
the cave--then, with an exclamation of dismay, he saw that it was
untenanted.

As loudly as possible he called Christian's name, but only the
countless reverberation of his cries answered him from the desolate
solitude. A hurried glance down the path which he had just ascended
showed no human being in sight. Surely Christian could not be far off?
He must either be coming along the ridge and hidden from view, or
lying asleep somewhere along the edge of the cliffs. Perhaps he had
gone to the beach?

Hastily descending again, Smith struck across to the eastern side of
the island, till he came to a spot which overlooked Bounty Bay. He
knew that Christian, in his lonely wanderings, sometimes visited the
place, and sat for hours upon the wreckage of the Bounty's spars. A
thick, stunted growth of matted scrub and vines grew to the very edge
of the cliffs, but hastily pushing through it, the seaman looked down.
There, far below, he saw the man he sought, bending his tackle to
launch the Bounty's boat!

The next moment, too anxious even to lose time by descending the
regular path Smith, at the hazard of his life, began to scramble down
the almost precipitous face of the cliff. At last, with bleeding feet
and hands, he reached the shore.

"In God's name, Mr. Christian, what are you trying to do?" he
demanded, breathlessly.

"What am I trying to do?" repeated Christian fiercely--"I am about to
end it all. That is a King's ship, and I am going to give myself up."

"You must be mad to talk like this. Come away at once and let us get
back to the cave, or we shall all be discovered."

"It will be your own fault if you are; you and those with you may do
as you please, but I will board that ship," answered Christian wildly,
and Smith saw that he was nearly mad with excitement. As he spoke he
still strained with all his might on the tackle, and the boat, once
started, slid down the skids till her stern touched the pebbly beach.

"By God, you shan't do this! Our lives as well as yours depend upon
your hiding with us"; and Smith laid his hand on the fall of the
tackle so as to prevent Christian from unshipping the hook.

"Stand back, Smith! Stand back, I say. I swear that no longer shall
justice go unsatisfied. I will go!" As a wave dashed up, the boat
lifted and floated; he sprang past Smith, jumped in and cast off the
tackle.

Seizing hold of the gunwale, Smith exerted all his strength and drew
the boat broadside on to the beach.

"Beware, man, beware!" and Christian's eyes blazed with sudden fury--
"let go your hold, I say. I am dangerous!" Smith recognised it was no
time for words; he released his hold, jumped into the boat, and threw
himself upon the desperate man. They went down together, and the boat
rocked from side to side with the violence of their struggle. No word
was spoken, but there was in Christian's face such a look of savage
determination to overcome his friend, that Smith at last aimed a blow
at his head, thinking to stun him for a time.

Nerved with a madman's strength, the blow only seemed to rouse him to
greater fury; with a mighty effort he freed himself from Smith's left
arm, which was wound about his waist, and in another moment his hand
grasped the barrel of the loaded musket, which he drew towards him by
the muzzle.

Then Smith again threw himself upon him. There was a short, fierce
struggle, a report, and Fletcher Christian sank back with a groan--the
ball had passed through his chest.

Sick with horror, Smith staggered to his feet and raised the dying
man in his arms. He lifted him out of the boat and carried him to the
beach, where he placed him in a sitting posture; then tearing off his
shirt he sought to stanch the fearful rush of blood.

"My God, sir! my God, sir! you don't think 'twas my doing?" he asked
in anguished tones.

"No, no, my good fellow," gasped Christian, "you are not to blame. My
foot must have touched the trigger... I was mad."

Smith knelt beside him, overcome with grief and blinded by tears. He
took his leader's hand in his and tried to speak, but one look at the
gaping wound told him that the end was near.

And then there echoed from the cliffs a cry of heart-broken agony.
Mahina, springing from rock to rock, had reached the overhanging ledge
under which her husband lay, and, looking down, saw him.

Leaping to the ground, she turned upon Smith. "Thou murderer; thou
hast slain him!" she cried, and pushing him away, threw herself upon
her knees beside her husband.

"Nay, nay, Mahina," he said; "not so. My foot struck the gun... He
hath ever been my friend... Listen to me...for in a little time I
die."

Slowly and gaspingly the words came, and Mahina, with a sob of
misery, saw the grey shadows of death dimming the eyes of him she
loved so well.

"He shall not die; he shall not die!" she cried wildly to Smith and
Young, who had now joined them, and was overcome at the scene before
him. "Save him, save him, lest ye both die accursed!" then burst into
anguished weeping, as she bent her face upon her husband's knees.

"Is that you, Young?" asked Christian faintly--"my time is nearly
run, old friend," and he put out his brown, sun-tanned hand. "But,
quick; listen to me... Save yourselves while there is yet time... The
ship must be near now."

"No," said Young, pressing his hand, "she kept off quite suddenly
when within a mile of the land. I saw her stand away again to the
westward. In another hour she'll be hull down."

"Thank God!" he murmured. "Mahina. wife...come closer to me...and
you, Young and Smith, give me your hands. Promise me that no one but
yourselves shall ever know where I lie. Let no other white man point
to my grave and say, 'Fletcher Christian...mutineer.'"

He ceased, then by a dying effort, opened his arms wide.

"Mahina! My wife! Mother of my children!...it is all over now," he
sighed with his last breath, as his arms closed gently round her neck.

She pressed her cheek to his; his head sank upon her shoulder, and
then lay there in the quietness of death.

*   *   *   *   *

Years later, when Pitcairn was "discovered," the venerable man,
loved and revered by the children of the mutineers under the name of
John Adams, revealed his identity with Alexander Smith, and tremblingly
waited to hear his fate from the lips of the naval officers who had
landed on the island. The story of the death of Young from consumption
soon after that of Christian, as well as the deaths of the others of the
ill-starred company, was told by him; though, faithful to his promise,
he refused to show his leader's last resting-place; and the listeners
heard for the first time the fate of the Bounty mutineers.



THE END



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