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Title: Men Against the Sea (1933)
Author: Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
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Title: Men Against the Sea (1933)
Author: Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall


The Bounty Trilogy
Wyeth Edition

Comprising the Three Volumes:
Mutiny on the Bounty (1932)
Men Against the Sea (1933)
Pitcairn's Island (1934)

[This file contains only MEN AGAINST THE SEA]

by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall

Illustrations by N C Wyeth

Grosset and Dunlap, publishers: 1945

* * *


MEN AGAINST THE SEA (1933)


* * *


To the memory of
CAPTAIN JOSIAH MITCHELL
_of the Clipper Ship "Hornet"_

who, in the year 1866, after his vessel had been lost by fire,
in Lat. 2° N., 110° 10' W., safely carried fourteen of his men,
in a small open boat, to the Hawaiian Islands, a distance of
4000 miles, after a passage of 43 days and 8 hours


* * *


THE COMPANY OF THE _BOUNTY'S_ LAUNCH

Lieutenant William Bligh, _Captain_
John Fryer, _Master_
Thomas Ledward, _Acting Surgeon_
David Nelson, _Botanist_
William Peckover, _Gunner_
William Cole, _Boatswain_
William Elphinstone, _Master's Mate_
William Purcell, _Carpenter_

_Midshipmen:_
Thomas Hayward
John Hallet
Robert Tinkler

_Quartermasters:_
John Norton
Peter Lenkletter

George Simpson, _Quartermaster's Mate_
Lawrence Lebogue, _Sailmaker_
Mr. Samuel, _Clerk_
Robert Lamb, _Butcher_

_Cooks:_
John Smith
Thomas Hall



CONTENTS:

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Epilogue
The Run of the Launch




CHAPTER I


This day my good friend William Elphinstone was laid to rest, in the
Lutheran churchyard on the east bank of the river, not five cable-lengths
from the hospital. Mr. Sparling, Surgeon-General of Batavia, helped me
into the boat; and two of his Malay servants were waiting on the bank,
with a litter to convey me to the grave.

Two others of our little company, worn out by the hardships of the
voyage, and easy victims to the climate of Java, have preceded
Elphinstone to the churchyard. They were men of humble birth, but
Elphinstone should be well content to lie beside them, for they were
Englishmen worthy of the name. Lenkletter was one of the _Bounty's_
quartermasters, and Hall a cook. Mr. Sparling had dosed them with bark
and wine, doing everything in his power to save their lives; but they had
been through too much. Mr. Fryer, the master, Cole, the boatswain, and
two midshipmen, Hayward and Tinkler, were rowed four miles up the river
to attend the funeral.

After we had paid our last respects to the master's mate, I was grieved
to learn that my friends had been informed by the Sabandar that they were
to sail for Europe on the morrow, with the last of the _Bounty's_ people,
aboard the _Hollandia_, a ship of the Dutch East India Company's fleet.
Grieved for myself, I must add, but glad for the sake of the others,
whose longing for England, after an absence of nearly two years, was as
great as my own. The deep ulcer on my leg, aggravated by the tropical
climate, renders it imprudent to take passage at this time; in Mr.
Sparling's opinion I shall be unable to travel for several months. I am
grateful for the friendship of my Dutch colleague and sensible of the
deep obligations he has placed me under, yet I am taking up my pen to
ward off the sense of loneliness already descending upon me in this
far-off place.

The seaman's hospital is a model of its kind: large, commodious, airy,
and judiciously divided into wards, each one a separate dwelling in which
the sick are accommodated according to their complaints. I am lodged with
the Surgeon-General, in his house at the extremity of one wing; he has
had a cot placed for me, on a portion of his piazza shaded by flowering
shrubs and vines, where I may pass the hours of the day propped up on
pillows--to read or write, if I choose, or to sit in idleness with my
bandaged leg extended upon a chair, gazing out on the rich and varied
landscape, steaming in the heat of the sun. But now that my shipmates
will no longer be able to visit me, the hours will drag sadly. My host is
the kindest of men, and the only person here with whom I can converse,
but the performance of his duties leaves little time for idle talk. His
lady, a young and handsome niece of M. Vander Graaf, the Governor of Cape
Town, has been more than kind to me. She is scarcely twenty, and the
Malay costumes she wears become her mightily: silk brocade and jewels,
and her thick flaxen hair dressed high on her head and pinned with a comb
of inlaid tortoise shell. Escorted by her Malay girls, she often comes of
an afternoon to sit with me. Her blue eyes express interest and
compassion as she glances at me and turns to speak with her servants, in
the Malay tongue. I have been so long without the pleasure of female
company that it is a satisfaction merely to look at Mme. Sparling; were I
able to converse with her, the hours would be short indeed.

When we had buried Mr. Elphinstone, and I had asked the Surgeon-General
for writing materials, it was his wife who brought me what I required.
She took leave of me soon after; and since night is still distant, I am
beginning to set my memories in order for the task with which I hope to
while the hours away until I am again able to walk.

Of the mutiny on board His Majesty's armed transport _Bounty_, I shall have
little to say. Captain Bligh has already written an account of how the
ship was seized; and Mr. Timotheus Wanjon, secretary to the governor at
Coupang, has translated it into the Dutch language so that the
authorities in these parts may be on the lookout for the _Bounty_ in the
unlikely event that she should be steered this way. He questioned each of
us fully as to what we had seen and heard on the morning of the mutiny; I
should be guilty of presumption were I to set down an independent
narrative based upon my own knowledge of what occurred. But of our
subsequent adventures in the ship's launch I feel free to write, the more
so since Mr. Nelson, the botanist, who informed me at Coupang that he
meditated the same task, died in Timor, the first victim of the
privations we had undergone.

Never, perhaps, in the history of the sea has a captain performed a feat
more remarkable than Mr. Bligh's, in navigating a small, open, and
unarmed boat--but twenty-three feet long, and so heavily laden that she
was in constant danger of foundering--from the Friendly Islands to Timor,
a distance of three thousand, six hundred miles, through groups of
islands inhabited by ferocious savages, and across a vast uncharted
ocean. Eighteen of us were huddled on the thwarts as we ran for forty-one
days before strong easterly gales, bailing almost continually to keep
afloat, and exposed to torrential rains by day and by night. Yet, save
for John Norton,--murdered by the savages at Tofoa,--we reached Timor
without the loss of a man. For the preservation of our lives we have
Captain Bligh to thank, and him alone. We reached the Dutch East Indies,
not by a miracle, but owing to the leadership of an officer of
indomitable will, skilled in seamanship, stern to preserve discipline,
cool and cheerful in the face of danger. His name will be revered by
those who accompanied him for as long as they may live.

On the morning of April 28, 1789, the _Bounty_ was running before a light
easterly breeze, within view of the island of Tofoa, in the Friendly
Archipelago. I was awakened a little after daybreak by Charles Churchill,
the master-at-arms, and John Mills, the gunner's mate, who informed me
that the ship had been seized by Fletcher Christian, the acting
lieutenant, and the greater part of the ship's company, and that I was to
go on deck at once. These men were of Christian's party. Churchill was
armed with a brace of pistols, and Mills with a musket. I dressed in
great haste and was then marched to the upper deck. It will be understood
with what amazement and incredulity I looked about me. To be aroused from
a quiet sleep to find the ship filled with armed men, and Captain Bligh a
prisoner in their midst, so shocked and stupefied me that, at first, I
could scarcely accept the evidence of my eyes.

There was nothing to be done. The mutineers were in complete possession
of the ship, and those who they knew would remain loyal to their
commander were so carefully guarded as to preclude all possibility of
resistance. I was ordered to stand by the mainmast with William
Elphinstone, master's mate, and John Norton, one of the quartermasters.
Two of the seamen, armed with muskets, the bayonets fixed, were stationed
over us; and I well remember one of them, John Williams, saying to me:
"Stand ye there, Mr. Ledward. We mean ye no harm, but, by God, we'll run
ye through the guts if ye make a move toward Captain Bligh!"

Elphinstone, Norton, and I tried to recall these men to their senses; but
their minds were so inflamed by hatred toward Captain Bligh that nothing
we could say made the least impression upon them. He showed great
resolution; and, although they threatened him repeatedly, he outfaced the
ruffians and dared them to do their worst.

I had been standing by the mainmast only a short time when Christian, who
had been chief of those guarding Mr. Bligh, gave this business into the
charge of Churchill and four or five others, that he might hasten the
work of sending the loyal men out of the ship. It was only then that we
learned what his plans were, and we had no time to reflect upon the awful
consequences to us of his cruelty and folly. The ship was in an uproar,
and it was a near thing that Bligh was not murdered where he stood. It
had been the plan of the mutineers to set us adrift in the small cutter;
but her bottom was so rotten that they were at last persuaded to let us
have the launch, and men were now set to work clearing her that she might
be swung over the side. Whilst this was being done, I caught Christian's
eye, and he came forward to where I stood.

"Mr. Ledward, you may stay with the ship if you choose," he said. "I
shall follow Captain Bligh," I replied.

"Then into the launch with you at once," he said.

"Surely, Mr. Christian," I said, "you will not send us off without
medical supplies, and I must have some cloathes for myself."

He called to Matthew Quintal, one of the seamen: "Quintal, take Mr.
Ledward to his cabin, and let him have what cloathing he needs. He is to
take the small medicine chest, but see to it that he takes nothing from
the large one."

He then left me abruptly, and that was my last word with this misguided
man who had doomed nineteen others to hardships and sufferings beyond the
power of the imagination to describe.

The small medicine chest was provided with a handle, and could easily be
carried by one man. Fortunately, I had always kept it fully equipped for
expeditions that might be made away from the ship; it had its own supply
of surgical instruments, sponges, tourniquets, dressings, and the like,
and a hasty examination assured me that, in the way of medicines, it
contained most of those specifics likely to be needed by men in our
position. Quintal watched me narrowly while I was making this
examination. I put into the chest my razors, some handkerchiefs, my only
remaining packet of snuff, and half a dozen wineglasses, which later
proved of great use to us. Having gathered together some additional
articles of cloathing, I was again conducted to the upper deck. The
launch was already in the water; Captain Bligh, John Fryer,--the
master,--the boatswain, William Cole, and many others had been sent into
her. Churchill halted me at the gangway to make an examination of the
medicine chest. He then ordered me into the boat, and the chest and my
bundle of cloathing were handed down to me.

I was among the last to go into the launch; indeed, there were but two
who followed me--Mr. Samuel, the captain's clerk, and Robert Tinkler, a
midshipman. The launch was now so low in the water that Mr. Fryer, as
well as Captain Bligh himself, begged that no more men should be sent
into her; yet there were, I believe, two midshipmen and three or four
seamen who would have come with us had there been room. Fortunately for
us and for them, they were not permitted to do so, for we had no more
than seven or eight inches of freeboard amidships. There were, in fact,
nineteen of us in the launch, which was but twenty-three feet long, with
a beam of six feet, nine inches. In depth she was, I think, two feet and
nine inches. Each man had brought with him his bundle of cloathing; and
with these, and the supplies of food allowed us by the mutineers, we were
dangerously overladen.

But there was no time, as yet, to think of the seriousness of our
situation. The launch was veered astern, and for another quarter of an
hour or thereabouts we were kept in tow. The mutineers lined the _Bounty's_
rail, aft, hooting and jeering at us; but it was to Mr. Bligh that most
of their remarks were addressed. As I looked up at them, I found myself
wondering how a mutiny into which well over half the ship's company had
been drawn could have been planned without so much as a hint of danger
having come to the knowledge of the rest of us. I personally had observed
no sign of disaffection in the ship's company. To be sure, I had
witnessed, upon more than one occasion, instances of the rigour of
Captain Bligh's disciplinary measures. He is a man of violent temper,
stern and unbending in the performance of what he considers to be his
duty; but the same may be said of the greater part of the ships' captains
in His Majesty's service. Knowing the necessity for strict discipline at
sea, and the unruly nature of seamen as a class, I by no means considered
that Captain Bligh's punishments exceeded in severity what the rules and
necessities of the service demanded; nor had I believed that the men
themselves thought so. But they now showed a passion of hatred toward him
that astonished me, and reviled him in abominable language.

I heard one of them shout, "Swim home, you old bastard!"

"Aye, swim or drown!" yelled another, "God damn you, we're well rid of
you!"

And another: "You'll flog and starve us no more, you..."

Then followed a string of epithets it may be as well to omit. However, I
must do their company the justice to say that most of the jeering and
vile talk came from four or five of the mutinous crew. I observed that
others looked down at us in silence, and with a kind of awe--as though
they had just realized the enormity of the crime they were committing.

They had given us nothing with which to defend ourselves amongst the
savages, and urgent requests were made for some muskets. These were met
with further abuse; but at length four cutlasses were thrown down to us,
and for all our pleading we were given nothing else. This so enraged
Captain Bligh that he stood in his place and addressed the ruffians as
they deserved. Two or three of the seamen leveled their pieces at him;
and it was only the superior force of his will, I believe, which
prevented them from shooting. We heard one of them cry out: "Bear off,
and give 'em a whiff of grape!" At this moment the painter of the launch
was cast off, and the ship drew slowly away from us. I cannot believe
that even the most hardened of the mutineers was so lost to humanity as
to have turned one of the guns upon a boatload of defenseless men, but
others of our number thought differently. The oars were at once gotten
out, and we pulled directly astern; but the ship was kept on her course,
and soon it was clear to all that we had nothing more to fear from those
aboard of her.

At this time the _Bounty_ was under courses and topsails; the breeze was of
the lightest, and the vessel had little more than steerageway. As she
drew off, we saw several of the men run aloft to loose the topgallant
sails. The shouting grew fainter, and soon was lost to hearing. In an
hour's time the vessel was a good three miles to leeward; in another hour
she was hull down on the horizon.

I well remember the silence that seemed to flow in upon our little
company directly we had been cast adrift--the wide silence of mid-ocean,
accentuated by the faint creaking of the oars against the tholepins. We
rowed six oars in the launch, but were so deeply laden that we made slow
progress toward the island of Tofoa, to the northeast of us and distant
about ten leagues. Fryer sat at the tiller. Captain Bligh, Mr. Nelson,
Elphinstone,--the master's mate,--and Peckover, the gunner, were all
seated in the stern sheets. The rest of us were crowded on the thwarts in
much the same positions as those we had taken upon coming into the
launch. Bligh was half turned in his seat, gazing sombrely after the
distant vessel; nor, during the next hour, I think, did he once remove
his eyes from her. He appeared to have forgotten the rest of us, nor did
any of us speak to remind him of our presence. Our thoughts were as
gloomy as his own, and we felt as little inclined to express them.

My sympathy went out to Mr. Bligh in this hour of bitter disappointment;
I could easily imagine how appalling the ruin of his plans must have
appeared to him at a time when he had every expectation of completing
them to the last detail. We had been homeward bound, the mission of our
long voyage--that of collecting breadfruit plants in Otaheite, to be
carried to the West Indies--successfully accomplished. This task,
entrusted to his care by His Majesty's Government through the interest of
his friend and patron, Sir Joseph Banks, had deeply gratified him, and
well indeed had he justified that trust. Now, in a moment, his sanguine
hopes were brought to nothing. His ship was gone; his splendid charts of
coasts and islands were gone as well; and he had nothing to show for all
the long months of careful and painstaking labour. He found himself cast
adrift with eighteen of his company in his own ship's launch, with no
more than a compass, a sextant, and his journal, in the midst of the
greatest of oceans and thousands of miles from any place where he could
look for help. Small wonder if, at that time, he felt the taste of dust
and ashes in his mouth.

For an hour we moved slowly on toward Tofoa, the most northwesterly of
the islands composing the Friendly Archipelago. This group had been so
christened by Captain Cook; but our experiences among its inhabitants,
only a few days before the mutiny, led us to believe that Cook must have
called them "friendly" in a spirit of irony. They are a virile race, but
we had found them savage and treacherous in the extreme, as different as
could be imagined from the Indians of Otaheite. Only the possession of
firearms had saved us from being attacked and overcome whilst we were
engaged in wooding and watering on the island of Annamooka. Tofoa we had
not visited, and as I gazed at the faint blue outline on the horizon I
tried, with little success, to convince myself that our experiences there
might be more fortunate.

Many an anxious glance was turned in Captain Bligh's direction, but for
an hour at least he remained in the same position, gazing after the
distant ship. When at length he turned away, it was never to look toward
her again. He now took charge of his new command with an assurance, a
quiet cheerfulness, that heartened us all. He first set us to work to
bring some order into the boat. We were, as I have said, desperately
crowded; but when we had stored away our supplies we had elbowroom at
least. Our first care was, of course, to take stock of our provisions. We
found that we had sixteen pieces of pork, each weighing about two pounds;
three bags of bread of fifty pounds each; six quarts of rum, six bottles
of wine, and twenty-eight gallons of water in three ten-gallon kegs. We
also had four empty barricos, each capable of holding eight gallons. The
carpenter, Purcell, had succeeded in fetching away one of his tool
chests, although the mutineers had removed many of the tools before
allowing it to be handed down. Our remaining supplies, outside of
personal belongings, consisted of my medicine chest, the launch's two
lugsails, some spare canvas, two or three coils of rope, and a copper
pot, together with some odds and ends of boat's gear which the boatswain
had had the forethought to bring with him.

To show how deeply laden we were, it is enough to say that my hand, as it
rested on the gunwale, was repeatedly wet with drops of water from the
small waves that licked along the sides of the boat. Fortunately, the sea
was calm and the sky held a promise of good weather, at least for a
sufficient time to enable us to reach Tofoa.

Reliefs at the oars were changed every hour, each of us taking his turn.
Gradually the blue outline of the island became more distinct, and by the
middle of the afternoon we had covered well over half the distance to it.
About this time the faint breeze freshened and came round to the
southeast, which enabled us to get up one of our lugsails. Captain Bligh
now took the tiller and we altered our course to fetch the northern side
of the island. Not eighteen hours before I had had, by moonlight, what I
thought was my last view of Tofoa, and Mr. Nelson and I were computing
the time that would be needed, if all went well, to reach the islands of
the West Indies where we were to discharge our cargo of young breadfruit
trees. Little we dreamed of the change that was to take place in our
fortunes before another sun, had set. I now cast about in my mind, trying
to anticipate what Captain Bligh's plan for us might be. Our only hope of
succour would lie in the colonies in the Dutch East Indies, but they were
so far distant that the prospect of reaching one of them seemed
fantastic. I thought of Otaheite, where we could be certain of kindly
treatment on the part of the Indians, but that island was all of twelve
hundred miles distant and directly to windward. In view of these
circumstances, Mr. Bligh would never attempt a return there.

Meanwhile we proceeded on our way under a sky whose serenity seemed to
mock at the desperate plight of the men in the tiny boat crawling beneath
it. The sun dipped into the sea behind us, and in the light that streamed
up from beyond the horizon the island stood out in clear relief. We
estimated the peak of its central mountain to be about two thousand feet
high. It was a volcano, and a thin cloud of vapour hung above it, taking
on a saffron colour in the afterglow. We were still too far distant at
sunset to have seen the smoke of any fires of its inhabitants. Mr. Bligh
was under the impression that the place was uninhabited. All eyes turned
toward the distant heights as darkness came on, but the only light to be
seen was the dull red glow from the volcano reflected upon the cloud
above it. When we were within a mile of the coast, the breeze died away
and the oars were again gotten out. We approached the rocky shore until
the thunder of the surf was loud in our ears; but in the darkness we
could see no place where a landing might be made. Cliffs, varying in
height from fifty to several hundred feet, appeared to fall directly to
the sea; but when we had coasted a distance of several miles we
discovered a less forbidding spot, where we might lie in comparative
safety through the night.

There was but little surf here, and the sound of it only served to make
deeper and more impressive the stillness of the night. Our voices sounded
strangely distinct in this silence. For all the fact that we had not
eaten since the previous evening, none of us had thought of food; and
when Bligh suggested that we keep our fast until morning, there was no
complaint from any of the company. He did, however, serve a ration of
grog to each of us, and it was at this time that I had reason to be glad
of putting the wineglasses into my medicine chest, for we discovered that
we had but one other drinking vessel, a horn cup belonging to the
captain. The serving of the grog put all of us in a much more cheerful
frame of mind--not, certainly, because of the spirits it contained, but
rather because it was a customary procedure and served to make us forget,
for the moment at least, our forlorn situation. Two men were set at the
oars to keep the boat off the rocks, and Captain Bligh commended the rest
of us to take what rest our cramped positions might afford. The light
murmur of talk now died away; but the silence that followed was that of
tired but watchful men drawn together in spirit by the coming of night
and the sense of common dangers.



CHAPTER II


Throughout the night the launch was kept close under the land. I had as
my near companions Elphinstone,--the master's mate,--and Robert Tinkler,
youngest of the _Bounty's_ midshipmen, a lad of fifteen. The forebodings of
the older part of our company were not shared by Tinkler, whose natural
high spirits had thus far been kept in check by his wholesome awe of
Captain Bligh. He had no true conception of our situation at this time,
and it speaks well for him that when, soon enough, he came to an
understanding of the dangers surrounding us, his courage did not fail
him.

He had slept during the latter part of the night, curled up in the bottom
of the boat with my feet and his bundle of cloathing for his pillow.
Elphinstone and I had dozed in turn, leaning one against the other, but
our cramped position had made anything more than a doze impossible. We
were all awake before the dawn, and as soon as there was sufficient light
we proceeded in a northeasterly direction along the coast. It was a
forbidding-looking place, viewed from the vantage point of a small and
deeply laden ship's boat. The shore was steep-to, and we found no place
where a landing might have been made without serious risk of wrecking the
launch. Presently we were out of the lee, and found the breeze so strong
and the sea so rough that we turned back to examine that part of the
coast which lay beyond the spot where we had spent the night. About nine
o'clock we came to a cove, and, as there appeared to be no more suitable
shelter beyond, we ran in and dropped a grapnel about twenty yards from
the beach.

We were on the lee side here, but this circumstance alone was in our
favour. The beach was rocky, and the foreshore about the cove had a
barren appearance that promised nothing to relieve our wants. It was shut
in on all sides by high, rocky cliffs, and there appeared to be no means
of entrance or exit save by the sea. Captain Bligh stood up in his seat,
examining the place carefully whilst the rest of us awaited his decision.
He turned to Mr. Nelson with a wry smile.

"By God, sir," he said, "if you can find us so much as an edible berry
here, you shall have my ration of grog at supper."

"I'm afraid the venture is safe enough," Mr. Nelson replied.
"Nevertheless, I shall be glad to try."

"That we shall do," said Bligh; then, turning to the master, "Mr. Fryer,
you and six men shall stay with the launch." He then told off those who
were to remain on board, whereupon they slackened away until we were in
shallow water and the rest of us waded ashore.

The beach was composed of heaps of stones worn round and smooth by the
action of the sea, and, although the surf was light, the footing was
difficult until we were out of the water. Robert Lamb, the butcher,
turned his ankle before he had taken half a dozen steps, and thus
provided me with my first task as surgeon of the _Bounty's_ launch. The man
had received a bad sprain that made it impossible for him to walk. He was
supported to higher ground, where Captain Bligh--quite rightly, I
think--gave him a severe rating. We were in no position to have helpless
men to care for, and Lamb's accident was the result of a foolish attempt
to run across a beach of loose stones.

The land about the cove was gravelly soil covered with coarse grass,
small thickets of bush, and scattered trees. The level ground extended
inland for a short distance, to the base of all but vertical walls
covered with vines and fern. Near the beach we found the remains of an
old fire, but we were soon convinced that the cove was used by the
Indians only as a place of occasional resort.

Mr. Bligh delegated his clerk Samuel, Norton, Purcell, Lenkletter, and
Lebogue as a party to attempt to scale the cliffs. Purcell carried one of
the cutlasses, the others provided themselves with stout sticks. Thus
armed, they set out; and were soon lost to view amongst the trees. They
carried with them the copper kettle and an Indian calabash we had found
hanging from a tree near the beach. The rest of us separated, some to
search for shellfish among the rocks, others to explore the foreshore.
Nelson and I bore off to the left side of the cove, where we discovered a
narrow valley; but we soon found our passage blocked by a smooth wall of
rock, thirty or forty feet high. Not a drop of water could we find, and
the arid aspect of the valley as a whole showed only too plainly that the
rainfall, on this side of the island at least, must be scant indeed.

Having explored with care that part of the cove which Bligh had asked us
to examine, we sat down to rest for a moment. Nelson shook his head with
a faint smile.

"Mr. Bligh was safe enough in offering me his tot of grog," he said. "We
shall find nothing here, Ledward--neither food nor water."

"How do you feel about our prospects?" I asked.

"I have not allowed myself to think of them thus far," he replied. "We
can, undoubtedly, find water on the windward side, and perhaps food
enough to maintain us for a considerable period. Beyond that..." He broke
off, leaving the sentence unfinished. Presently he added: "Our situation
is not quite hopeless. That is as much as we can say."

"But it is precisely the kind of situation Bligh was born to meet," I
said.

"It is; I grant that; but what can he do, Ledward? Where in God's name
can we go? We know only too well what treacherous savages these so-called
'Friendly Islanders' are: our experiences at Annamooka taught us that. I
speak frankly. The others I shall try to encourage as much as possible,
but there need be no play-acting between us two."

Nelson talked in a quiet, even voice which made his words all the more
impressive. He was not a man to look on the dark side of things; but we
had long been friends, and, as he had said, there was no need of anything
but frankness between us as we canvassed the possibilities ahead.

"What I think Bligh will do," he went on, "is to take us back to
Annamooka--either there or Tongataboo."

"There seems to be nothing else he can do," I replied, "unless we can
establish ourselves here."

"No. And mark my words--sooner or later we shall have such a taste of
Friendly Island hospitality as we may not live either to remember or
regret...Ledward, Ledward!" he said, with a rueful smile. "Think of our
happy situation a little more than twenty-four hours back, when we were
talking of home there by the larboard bulwarks! And think of my beautiful
breadfruit garden, all in such a flourishing state! What do you suppose
those villains will do with my young trees?"

"I've no doubt they have flung the lot overboard before this," I replied.

"I fear you are right. They jettisoned us; it is not likely that their
treatment of the plants will be any more tender. And I loved them as
though they were my own children!"

We returned to the beach, where we found that the others had been no more
successful than ourselves; but the exploring party had gotten out of the
cove, although how they had managed it no one knew. Captain Bligh had
found a cavern in the rocky wall, about one hundred and fifty paces from
the beach; and the hard, foot-trampled ground within showed that it had
been often used in the past. The cavern was perfectly dry; not so much as
a drop of water trickled from the rocks overhead. One find we made there
was not of a reassuring nature. On a shelf of rock there were ranged six
human skulls which, an examination convinced me, had been those of living
men not more than a year or two earlier. In one of these, the squamosal
section of the temporal bone had been crushed, and another showed a
jagged hole through the parietal bone. I was interested to observe the
splendid teeth in each of these skulls; there was not one in an imperfect
condition. These relics, gleaming faintly white in the dim light of the
cave, were eloquent in their silence; and I have no doubt that they might
have been more eloquent still, could they have conveyed to us information
as to how they came to be there.

Shortly after midday the exploring party returned, utterly weary, their
cloathing torn and their arms and legs covered with scratches and
bruises. In the kettle they had about six quarts of water, and three more
in the calabash. This they had found in holes amongst the rocks; but they
had discovered neither stream nor spring, nor any sign of people. They
had gone a distance of about two miles over rough ground where it was
plain, they said, that no one had lived or could live. It was the opinion
of all that the island was uninhabited. We then returned to the launch,
for there appeared to be no chance of bettering ourselves here.

Again on the boat, we broke our fast for the first time since leaving the
_Bounty_. Each man had a morsel of bread, a tasty bit of pork, and a glass
of water. It was a short repast, and as soon as the last man had been
served, we got in the grapnel and rowed out of the cove.

"We must try to get around to the windward side," said Bligh. "I fancy we
shall find water there. Do you agree, Mr. Nelson?"

"It seems likely," Nelson replied. "As we were approaching yesterday, I
observed that the vegetation appeared much greener to windward."

The wind was at E.S.E., and as we drew out of the shelter of the land it
blew strong, with a rough, breaking sea. Close-hauled on the starboard
tack, the launch heeled to the gusts, while water poured in over the lee
gunwale and the people worked hard with the bails. Bluff-bowed, and
deeply laden as she was, our boat buried her nose in each breaking wave,
sending up great sheets of spray. Even Mr. Bligh began to look anxious.

"Stand by to come about!" he shouted, and then: "Hard alee!"

The launch headed up into the seas, while the halyards were slacked away
and the gaffs passed around to the starboard sides of the masts. The
sails slatted furiously as we bore off on the other tack.

Then, perceiving the danger in the nick of time, Bligh roared: "Over the
side with you--those who can swim!"

It was no pleasant prospect, leaping into a sea so rough; but about half
of our number sprang into the water to fend for themselves. The launch
was so heavy that she answered her helm but sluggishly, and, though the
foresail was backed, she was slow in bearing off. Caught directly in the
trough of the sea, I am convinced that she would have foundered had we
not obeyed Bligh instantly.

By the grace of God and the captain's skill, she bore off without
filling. The swimmers scrambled in over the gunwales; the sails were
trimmed once more, and we ran back to the shelter of the land.

We proceeded for several miles beyond the cove, and were presently
rejoiced to see a clump of coconut palms standing out against the sky on
the cliffs above us; but they were at such a height that we despaired of
reaching them; furthermore, there was a high surf to make landing
difficult. But young Tinkler and Thomas Hall were eager to make the
attempt, and Bligh consented that they should try. We rowed as close to
the rocks as we dared, and the two, having removed their cloathes, sprang
into the sea, carrying with them each a rope that we might haul them back
in case they came to grief. We might have spared ourselves the anxiety.
They were as much at home in the water as the Indians themselves. We saw
them disappear in a smother of foam, and when next seen, they were well
out of danger and scrambling up the rocks. In less than an hour's time
they returned to the shore with about twenty coconuts, which they
fastened in clusters to the line, and we then hauled them to the boat.

We rowed farther along the coast, but, toward the middle, of the
afternoon, having found no shelter, nor any signs of water, Captain Bligh
deemed it best to return to the cove for the night. We reached our
anchorage about an hour after dark. It is hardly necessary to say that
every man of us was now ravenously hungry. Captain Bligh issued a coconut
to each person; and the meat of the nut, together with the cool liquid it
contained, proved a most welcome, but by no means a satisfying, meal.

The following morning we made our third unsuccessful attempt to get round
by sea to the windward side of the island. The sky was clear, but the
wind was not diminished, and we were set to bailing the moment we were
out of shelter of the land. This third experience made it only too clear
that we could not hope to go counter to a heavy sea in our deeply laden
boat, and we were thankful indeed that we had a refuge at hand. There was
nothing we could do but return to the cove.

Bligh was determined that we should keep our meagre supply of food and
water intact, and although, in view of the unsuccessful expedition of the
day before, we had little hope of finding anything on this side of the
island, we decided to try again. Therefore, Mr. Bligh, Nelson,
Elphinstone, Cole, and myself set out to examine the cliffs once more,
and we were so fortunate as to discover a way to and from the cove
evidently used by the Indians themselves. In a narrow gully which had
escaped earlier notice, we found some large, woody vines firmly attached
in clefts of the rock and to trees overhead. We could see in the walls of
the cliff footholds which the Indians had constructed to assist them in
making the ascent. We stood for a moment examining this crude ladder.

"Shall I try it, sir?" Elphinstone asked.

"You stand an excellent chance of breaking your neck, my lad," Bligh
replied; "but if the Indians can do it, we can."

Elphinstone climbed a little way until he could reach the vines, which
were of the thickness of a man's forearm. Finding that they could easily
support his weight, he proceeded, while we watched him from below. After
an all but vertical climb of forty or fifty feet, he reached a ledge of
rock that gave him a resting place, where he turned and called down to
us.

It was, in all truth, a perilous climb, particularly so for Cole, who was
a heavy man and encumbered with our copper kettle, which he carried over
his shoulder. A series of gigantic natural steps brought us at last to
the summit, between three and four hundred feet above the sea. The latter
part of the climb had been less difficult; but, for all that, we little
relished the thought of a return.

From this vantage point we had an excellent view of the volcano, which
appeared to rise from somewhere near the centre of the island. The
intervening country was much cut up by ridges and gullies, and had an
even more desolate look than when viewed from the sea. Nevertheless, we
set out in the direction of the central mountain, and presently entered a
deeper gully that appeared to offer a promise of water; but all that we
found were a few tepid pools amongst the rocks, so shallow that it was
tedious work scooping the water into the kettle with our coconut-shell
ladle. We collected in all three or four gallons. Leaving our kettle
here, we went on; and presently came to some abandoned huts, fallen to
ruin, and near them what had once been a plantain walk, but so concealed
by weeds and bushes that it was a near thing we had missed it. We got
three small bunches of plantains, which we slung to a pole, for carrying
in the Indian fashion. We continued inland for another mile, but the
country became more and more arid, covered in places by ashes and lava
beds where only a few hardy shrubs found nourishment. Evidently, we could
hope for nothing more in this direction, so we returned, taking up our
kettle on the way, and it was near noon before we reached the cliffs
above the cove. Bligh, Nelson, and myself had each a bunch of plantains,
fastened across our backs with pieces of rope. Elphinstone and Cole took
charge of the kettle of water, and I still wonder that they were able to
carry it down without, I believe, the loss of so much as a drop of the
precious supply.

It was but natural that the thought of food should by this time be
uppermost in every man's mind. Realizing the need of sustaining our
strength, Captain Bligh allowed us the most substantial meal we had yet
enjoyed, consisting of two boiled plantains per man, with an ounce of
pork and a wineglass of water. We had combed the beach all round the cove
for shellfish without finding so much as a sea snail. As it was
impossible to leave the cove on account of the heavy sea, another
exploring party was sent out after dinner, but they returned at sunset
without having had any success. There yet remained one direction in which
none of our parties had gone--toward the northwest--and the following
morning near half of our party, who had spent the night in the cavern
that they might have a more refreshing sleep, were sent out in a last
attempt to secure food and water. Mr. Fryer was in charge of the
expedition, and Captain Bligh ordered him not to return until he was
convinced that we had nothing to hope for in that direction.

They were gone a full five hours, returning about ten o'clock,
empty-handed, and with Robert Tinkler missing. He had become separated
from the others, Fryer said, shortly before the decision to return was
made. Bligh flew into a passion at this news.

"What, sir?" he roared at Fryer. "Do you mean to say that you, the ship's
master, cannot keep a party of seven together? Damn your eyes! Must I go
_everywhere_ with you? Get you back at once and find him! Go, the lot of
you, and don't come back without him!"

Silently the men set out; but they had not reached the foot of the cliffs
when they heard a shout from above--and presently came Tinkler, carrying
an Indian calabash containing about a gallon of water, and followed by an
Indian woman and two men. The men had a cluster of husked coconuts on a
pole between them.

This good fortune came at a time when it was needed, and I was glad to
see that Bligh, who had been cursing the lad during his absence, forgot
his anger and commended him warmly. Tinkler was pleased as only a boy can
be who has succeeded in a matter in which his elders have failed. He had
discovered the Indians near a hut in a small, hidden valley, and had made
them understand that they were to come with him, bringing food and water.

The men were strongly made, bold-looking fellows, and appeared not at all
surprised to find us there. They were unarmed, and naked except for a
kirtle of tapa about the middle. The woman was a handsome wench of about
twenty, and carried a child on her hip. They put down their load of
coconuts and squatted near by, looking at us without the least sign of
fear.

After our long sojourn at Otaheite, a good many of us had a fair
knowledge of the Indian language as spoken there. We had already found
that the speech of the natives of Annamooka, although allied to that of
the Otaheitians, differed greatly from it; nevertheless, we could, after
a fashion, converse with these people. Mr. Nelson was the best linguist
amongst us, and he now questioned the men, asking first about the number
of inhabitants on the island and the possibility of procuring food and
water. One of them replied at length. Much of what he said was
unintelligible, but we understood that there was a considerable
population on .the windward side of the island, and that little was to be
had in the way of refreshment on this side.

Presently they rose, giving us to understand that they would fetch others
of their countrymen. We were in no position to be lavish with gifts, but
Captain Bligh presented them with some buttons from his coat, which they
accepted stolidly and then departed.

As soon as they had gone, Mr. Bligh made a collection of whatever small
articles we could spare from our personal belongings, to be used in trade
with the Indians. We gave buttons, handkerchiefs, clasp knives, buckles,
and the like. Mr. Bligh also prepared us for defense. Fryer and five
others were to remain in the launch in readiness for any emergency. The
master had one of our cutlasses, and the others were to be carried by
Bligh, Purcell, and Cole, the strongest men of the shore party; the rest
of us cut clubs for ourselves, but these were to be kept hidden in the
cavern, and, if possible, our trading was to be done directly in front of
the cavern, so that we should always have the Indians before us.

There were, then, thirteen of us on shore, with six men in the launch at
a distance of one hundred and fifty yards. We should have been glad to
keep the parties closer together, but Mr. Bligh thought best to have the
shore party where it could not be surrounded, and we had the launch in
view so we could watch over the situation there. Thus prepared, we waited
with anxiety for the arrival of visitors.

They were not long in coming. I had often remarked, at Otaheite, with
what mysterious rapidity news spreads among the Indians. So it was here;
scarcely an hour had passed before twenty or thirty men had come down the
cliffs; others came by canoes which they carried up the beach, and by the
middle of the afternoon there were forty or fifty people in the cove.
They were like the natives we had seen at Annamooka, well-set-up,
hardy-looking men, with a somewhat insolent bearing; but we were relieved
to see that they were unarmed, and their intent appeared peaceable
enough. They were going back and forth continually, now squatting on the
beach looking at the launch, now returning to the cavern to look at us.
Of food and water they had little, but before evening we had bought a
dozen of breadfruit, and several gallons of water. By means of Captain
Bligh's magnifying glass we made a fire near the mouth of the cavern,
where we cooked some of the breadfruit for our immediate needs, the
natives looking on and commenting, in what appeared to be a derisive
manner, on our method of doing so. No women were amongst them, nor any of
their chief men, but they gave us to understand that one of these latter
would visit us the next day.

Shortly after sunset they began to leave the cove, and the last of them
had gone before darkness came on. This was an encouraging circumstance;
for had they intended mischief, we thought, they would certainly have
remained to attack us in the night. We supped upon a quarter of a
breadfruit per man, and a glass of water, in better spirits than we had
been at any time since the mutiny. A guard was set at the entrance of the
cavern, and the rest retired to sleep, comforted by Captain Bligh's
assurance that the morrow would be our last day in this dismal spot.



CHAPTER III


Captain Bligh had the enviable faculty of being able to compose his mind
for sleep under almost any conditions. I have known him to go without
rest for seventy-two hours together; but when a suitable occasion
offered, he could close his eyes and fall at once into a refreshing
slumber, though he knew that he must be awakened a quarter of an hour
later. On this night he could hope for an undisturbed rest, and scarcely
had he lain down when his quiet breathing assured me that he was asleep.
As for myself, I was never more wakeful, and presently left the cavern to
join the sentinels outside. They were stationed twenty or thirty yards
apart, so that they might command a view in whatever direction. It was a
beautiful night, and the cove, flooded with moonlight, seemed an
enchanted spot. To the north lay the open sea, at peace now, for the wind
had died away toward sunset. The long swells swept majestically in,
breaking first along the sides of the cove, the two waves advancing
swiftly toward each other and meeting near the centre of the beach, where
the silvery foam was thrown high in air.

As I looked about me I was reminded of certain lonely coves I had seen
along the Cornish coast, on just such nights, and I found it hard to
realize how vast an ocean separated us from home.

Mr. Cole was in charge of the guard; he stood in the deep shadow of a
tree not far from the cavern. I had a great liking for the boatswain; we
had been friends almost from the day the _Bounty_ left Spithead, and there
was no more competent and reliable seaman in the ship's company. He was a
devout man, with a childlike trust in God which only exceeded his trust
in Captain Bligh. He never for a moment doubted the captain's ability to
carry us safely through whatever perils might await us. It comforted me
to talk to him, and when I returned to the cave it was in a more hopeful
frame of mind.

I had a fixed belief in the treacherous nature of the misnamed Friendly
Islanders, and fully expected we should be attacked during the night. I,
of course, kept my misgivings to myself, and the following morning they
seemed a little absurd. We were astir at dawn, and there was a feeling of
hopefulness and good cheer throughout the company. We even looked forward
with pleasure to the return of the Indians; knowing now our needs, we
felt that they would supply them, and that we should be able to leave the
cove by early afternoon.

The sun was two hours high before the first of the natives came down the
cliffs at the back of the cove; and shortly afterwards two canoes
arrived, with a dozen or fifteen men in each. We were greatly
disappointed to find that they had brought only a meagre supply of
provisions; we were, however, able to purchase a little water and half a
dozen breadfruit. One of the canoe parties treated us with great
insolence. They had with them half a dozen calabashes filled with
water,--much more than enough for their own needs during the day,--but
they refused to trade for any part of it. They well knew that we were on
short rations of water, and taunted us by drinking deeply of their own
supply while we stood looking on. Fortunately it was Nelson and not Bligh
who was attempting to trade with this party. Bligh had little of the
diplomat in his character, and had he been present his temper might have
gotten the better of him; but Nelson remained cool and affable, and,
seeing that nothing was to be gotten from these men, soon left them to
themselves.

Upon returning to the cavern, we found Bligh trying to converse with a
party, headed by an elderly chief, which had just arrived from inland.
The chief was a stern-looking old man, well over six feet, whose robe of
tapa cloth, draped in graceful folds about his person, proclaimed his
rank; but had he been naked he could have been recognized at once as a
man of superior station. In one hand he carried a spear of ironwood,
barbed with bones of the stingray's tail, and tucked into a fold of his
robe at the waist was what appeared to be a comb with long wooden teeth.
Bligh looked around with relief at our approach.

"You have come in good time, Nelson; I was about to send for you. See
what you can make of this man's speech."

Nelson then addressed him in the Otaheitian language, while most of our
company and between thirty and forty of the natives stood looking on. The
chief replied with a natural grace and eloquence common to the Indians of
the South Sea, but there was a look of cruelty and cunning in his eye
that belied his manner. I gave him close attention, but although I
somewhat prided myself upon my knowledge of the Otaheitian tongue, I
found it of little use to me in listening to the Friendly Island speech.
Nelson, however, had a quick ear to detect affinities and an agile mind
to grasp at meanings, and it was plain that he and the chief could make
themselves fairly well understood. Presently he turned to Bligh.

"He has either seen us at Annamooka or had heard of our being there," he
said. "I can understand only about half of what he says, but he wishes to
know how we lost the ship, and where."

We were prepared for that question. Mr. Bligh had at first been undecided
how to account for our presence here, in case Indians should be met with.
We could not hope to be believed if we should say that the ship was at
hand, for they could see for themselves that she was not; therefore, he
instructed us to say that the vessel had been lost, and that we alone had
been saved from the wreck. This, we knew, was a dangerous confession to
make, but circumstances forced it upon us.

I watched the man's face while Nelson was relating the story, but he
remained impassive, showing neither interest in nor concern for our
plight. Nelson was puzzled for a time by the man's next inquiry, but at
length grasped the meaning of it.

"He wishes to see the thing with which you bring fire from the sun," he
said. Bligh was reluctant to bring forth his magnifying glass again, well
knowing how the Indians would covet such a precious instrument;
nevertheless, he thought it best to humour the chief. Some dry leaves
were gathered and crumbled into a powder. Our visitors gathered round,
looking on with intense interest whilst Bligh focused the rays of the sun
upon the tinder; and when they saw smoke emerge, and the small flame
appear, a murmur of astonishment ran through the crowd. The chief was
determined to possess this wonder worker, and when Bligh refused him, his
vexation and disappointment were only too apparent. He then asked for
nails, the most acceptable article of barter with the natives of the
South Sea, but the few parcels we possessed could not be parted with, and
Nelson was instructed to tell him that we had none.

Whilst this conversation was taking place, other Indians were arriving,
amongst them a chief whose rank appeared to be equal to, if not higher
than, that of the first; he showed no deference to the older man, and we
observed that the crowd of natives around us, immediately they saw him,
opened a lane through their ranks so that he and his followers might
approach. He was a man of about forty, of commanding presence. As he
entered the open space where we stood, he glanced keenly from one to
another of us. Then he walked up to Captain Bligh, but I noticed that he
omitted, as the older chief had done, the ceremony of rubbing noses--a
formal courtesy which had never been omitted heretofore, when we had the
_Bounty_ at our backs.

None of us could recollect having seen either of these chiefs at
Annamooka. We learned that the name of the elder man was
Maccaackavow,--at least, that is as near as I can come to the sound of
the name,--and the other was called Eefow. We gathered that both came
from the island of Tongataboo. When Bligh informed them that we proposed
to go either to that island or to Annamooka, Eefow offered to accompany
us as soon as the wind and sea should moderate. Bligh invited them into
the cavern, where he presented each with a knife and a shirt.

It was at this time that I took up one of the skulls we had found there,
and, bringing it to the chief Eefow, asked, in the Otaheitian dialect,
whence it came. His face lit up at the question, and he replied: "Feejee,
Feejee." He then went on, with great animation, to explain about them;
and we understood that he himself had been the slayer of two of these
victims. Captain Bligh was greatly interested in this narration, for when
he had visited the Friendly Islands with Captain Cook he had gathered
much information about a great archipelago, unknown to Europeans, called
"Feejee" by the Indians, and which was not far distant from the Friendly
Islands. He had Nelson question Eefow at length about Feejee, and was
told the group comprised a vast number of islands, the nearest of which
lay about a two days' sail from Tofoa. When we came out of the cavern,
Bligh had Eefow point out their direction, and the chief showed him what
bearings should be taken to sail toward them from Tofoa. The direction
was to the west-northwest, which confirmed what Bligh had already been
told.

This conference in the cavern had gone most prosperously, and we were
encouraged to hope that our fears were groundless with respect to the
Indians' intentions toward us. Another favourable incident occurred at
this time: A man named Nageete, whom Mr. Bligh remembered having seen at
Annamooka, came forward and greeted him in the most friendly manner.
Although not a chief, he appeared to be a personage of some importance,
and Bligh made much of him, taking care, however, to distinguish between
his attitude toward Nageete and that toward the chiefs. With this man's
help we were able to add considerably to our stock of water, enough for
our immediate needs, so that we could keep the launch's stock intact; and
we also purchased a few more breadfruit and a half-dozen large yams; but
our scant supply of articles for trade was soon exhausted. Thereafter
they would give us nothing; not so much as half a breadfruit would they
part with unless payment were made for it.

Under these circumstances, we were at a loss what to do; we had parted
with everything we could spare and were still in great need of food and
water. Bligh appealed to the chiefs, again explaining our predicament.
Nelson was as eloquent as possible, but the effect was negligible.

When he had finished, Macca-ackavow replied: "You say you have nothing
left, but you have the instrument for making fire. Let me have that and
my people here shall give you all they have."

But this request Bligh could not, of course, comply with; we had no flint
and steel amongst us, and none of us was able to kindle fire by friction,
in the Indian fashion. Macca-ackavow became sullen at our refusal to part
with the magnifying glass.

Eefow then said: "Let us see what you have in your boat." But again Bligh
refused, for the few tools and parcels of nails we had there were only
less necessary than food itself.

So matters went until toward midday.

For our dinner we had each a small piece of cooked breadfruit, and sliver
of pork. Bligh invited the chiefs to join our meal, which they did. It
was a most uncomfortable repast. We were all sensible of a change in the
attitude of the Indians: small groups conferred among themselves, and the
two chiefs, whilst eating with us, conversed in what appeared to be some
special and figurative speech, so that not even Nelson could understand a
word that was said.

Fifteen of our company were on shore at this time; Fryer, with three men,
remained with the launch, which still lay at a grapnel just beyond the
break of the surf. We estimated that there were well over two hundred
Indians around us, and not a woman amongst them. Fortunately, only the
chiefs and two or three of their immediate retainers were armed.

The chiefs now left us and went amongst their people. Bligh took the
occasion to inform us of his plans and to instruct us as to what our
behaviour toward the natives should be throughout the afternoon.

"It is not yet clear," he said, "that they have formed a design against
us, and we must act as though we had no suspicion of any such intent; but
be on your guard, every man of you...Mr. Peckover, you shall select three
men and carry what supplies we have to the launch; but perform this
business in a casual manner. Let there be no haste in your actions. We
shall leave the cove at sunset, whether or no Eefow accompanies us, and
make our way to Tongataboo, but I wish the Indians to be deceived on this
point until we are ready to embark."

We had a fire going near the cavern, and the breadfruit had been cooked
as we bought it. Peckover chose Peter Lenkletter, Lebogue, and young
Tinkler to assist him, and they now began carrying down the supplies, a
little at a time. This was dangerous work, for they had to run the
gantlet of many groups of savages collected between us and the launch,
and it was performed with a coolness deserving of high praise. Tinkler,
who was no more than a lad, behaved admirably, and he was immensely proud
that he had been chosen for the task over the other midshipmen.
Meanwhile, Bligh sat at the mouth of the cavern, keeping a watchful eye
upon all that went on and, at the same time, writing in his journal as
quietly as though he were in his cabin on the _Bounty_. The rest of us
busied ourselves with small matters, to make it appear that we expected
to spend the night ashore. Nageete, who had strolled away after our
midday meal, returned after a little time, apparently as well disposed as
ever. He asked what our intentions were, and was told that 'we should
wait until Eefow was ready to accompany us to Tongataboo, but that we
hoped, in case the weather favoured, he would consent to go on the
following day.

Nageete then said: "Eefow will go if you will give him the fire maker;
and you should let him have it, rather than Macca-ackavow, for he is the
greater chief."

Bligh might have resorted to guile, making a promise of the coveted
glass, but this he refused to do, telling Nageete that under no
circumstances could he part with it.

Presently the two chiefs rejoined us, and Bligh, with Nelson to
interpret, questioned them further about the Feejee Islands, doing
everything possible to keep our relations with them on a friendly and
casual footing.

Whilst this conversation was taking place, an incident occurred that
might easily have proved disastrous. There was a great crowd of Indians
along the beach. Of a sudden, a dozen or more of them rushed to the line
which held the launch to the shore and began to haul it in. We heard a
warning shout from Peckover, who was just then returning with his party.
Bligh, cutlass in hand, rushed for the beach, the rest of us, including
the chiefs, following. His courage and force of character never showed to
better advantage than on this occasion. We were vastly outnumbered, and
might easily have been attacked and slain; but Bligh so overawed them by
his manner that they immediately let go the rope, and Fryer and those
with him hauled the launch back to its former position. This move of the
Indians was made, I think, without the knowledge of the chiefs. However
that may be, they at least ordered the men away from that
vicinity,--Bligh having insisted upon this,--and all became quiet again.

It would have been well could we have embarked then and there; and Bligh
would have had us make a rush for it, I think, had it not been that Cole
and three others had been sent inland in the hope of finding a few more
quarts of water. They had not yet returned, so we made our way back to
the cavern to wait for them.

Then followed an anxious time. It became more and more apparent that we
were to be attacked, and that the savages were merely biding a favourable
opportunity. We were equally sure that the chiefs were of one mind about
this and that they had informed their followers that we were to be
destroyed.

"Keep well together, lads," said Bligh quietly. "See that none of them
comes behind us. Damn their eyes! What are they waiting for?"

"I believe they're afraid of us, sir," said Fryer. "Either that, or they
hope to take us by surprise."

We had not long to wait for evidence of their intentions. Savages,
although they invariably recognize and respect the authority of their
chiefs, lack discipline, and when a course of action is decided upon, are
impatient to put it into effect. So it was here. Shortly after this, we
heard, from a distance, an ominous sound: the knocking of stones
together, which we rightly supposed was a signal amongst them previous to
an attack. At first only a few of them did this, but gradually the sound
spread, increasing in volume, to all parts of the cove; at moments it
became all but deafening, and then would die away only to be resumed with
even greater insistence, as though the commoners were growing
increasingly impatient with their chiefs for withholding the signal for
slaughter. The effect upon our little band may be imagined. We believed
that our last hour had come; we stood together, a well-knit band, every
man resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible.

It was late afternoon when Cole and his party returned with about two
quarts of water which they had collected amongst the rocks. Mr. Bligh had
kept a record of everything we had been able to secure in the way of
provision, and the water we had either bought or found for ourselves had
been just sufficient for our needs. We had added nothing to our
twenty-eight gallons in the launch, but neither had we taken anything
from that supply. Now that the shore party was again united, we waited
only for a suitable opportunity before making an attempt to embark.
Meanwhile, the clapping of stones went on, now here, now there, and yet
it was necessary for us to keep up the pretense that we suspected
nothing.

Nageete, who had been with us during this time, was becoming increasingly
restless and was only seeking some pretext for getting away, but Bligh
kept him engaged in conversation. We were all gathered before the
entrance of the cavern in such a way that the Indians could not pass
behind us. For the most part, they were gathered in groups of twenty or
thirty, at some distance, and we saw the two chiefs passing from group to
group. Presently they returned to where we stood, and I must do them the
credit to say that they were masters at the art of dissembling. We asked
them the meaning of the stone clapping, and they gave us to understand
that it was merely a game in which their followers indulged to while away
the time. They then attempted to persuade Captain Bligh and Nelson to
accompany them away from the rest of us, as though they wished to confer
with them in private, but Bligh pretended not to understand. We were all
on our feet, in instant readiness to defend ourselves; nevertheless, I
believe that we did succeed by our actions--for a time at least--in
convincing the chiefs that we were ignorant of their intentions.
Immediately they returned to us the clapping of stones had ceased, and
the ensuing silence seemed the more profound.

Eefow then asked: "You will sleep on shore tonight?"

Captain Bligh replied: "No, I never sleep away from my boat; but it may
be that I shall leave a part of my men in the cavern." Our hope was, of
course, that we could persuade the Indians of an intention to remain in
the cove until the following day. I think there must have been a
difference of opinion between the two chiefs as to when the attack upon
us should be made, and that the elder one was for immediate action and
Eefow for a night attack. They again conversed together in their
figurative speech, of which we understood nothing.

Bligh said to us, very quietly: "Be ready, lads. If they make a hostile
move, we will kill them both and fight our way to the launch."

We were, of course, in the unfortunate position of not being able to
begin the attack, and yet we were almost at the point where action,
however desperate, would have seemed preferable to further delay.

Eefow now turned again to Nelson. "Tell your captain," he said, "that we
shall spend the night here. To-morrow I will go with you in your boat to
Tongataboo."

Nelson interpreted this message, and Bligh replied: "That is good." The
chiefs then left us; but when they had gone a distance of fifteen or
twenty paces, Macca-ackavow turned with an expression on his face that I
shall not soon forget.

"You will not spend the night ashore?" he again asked.

"What does he say, Nelson?" asked Bligh.

Nelson interpreted.

"God damn him, tell him no!" said Bligh.

Nelson conveyed this message at some length, and in a more diplomatic
manner than Bligh had used. The chief stood facing us, glancing, swiftly
from side to side amongst his followers. Then he again spoke, very
briefly; and having done so, strode swiftly away.

"What is it, Nelson?" asked Bligh.

Nelson smiled grimly. "'_Te mo mate gimotoloo_,'" he replied. "Their
intentions are clear enough now. It means: 'Then you shall die.'"

Bligh's actions at this time were beyond praise. To see him rise to a
desperate occasion was an experience to be treasured in the memory. He
was cool and clear-headed, and he talked quietly, even cheerfully, to us.

"It is now or never, lads," he said. "Halt, serve out quickly the water
Mr. Cole has brought in."

The calabash was passed rapidly from hand to hand, for we knew it would
be impossible to get the water to the launch; each man had a generous
sup, and it was needed, for we had been on short rations for three days.
All this while Bligh had kept a firm grip with his left hand on Nageete's
arm, holding his cutlass in his right. He was determined that, if we were
to die, Nageete should die with us. The man's face was a study. I have
not been able to determine in my own mind, to this day, whether he was
playing a part or was genuinely friendly towards us. I imagine, however,
that he had a heart as treacherous as those of his countrymen.

Bligh had already instructed us in what order we should proceed to the
beach. Cole, also armed with a cutlass, took his station with the captain
on the other side of Nageete; and the rest of us fell in behind, with
Purcell and Norton bringing up the rear.

"Forward, lads!" said Bligh. "Let these bastards see how Englishmen
behave in a tight place!"

We then proceeded toward the beach, everyone in a kind of silent horror.

I believe it was the promptness, the unexpectedness of our action alone
that saved us. Had we shown the least hesitation, we must have all been
slain; but Bligh led us straight on, directly toward one large group of
Indians who were between us and the launch. They parted to let us
through, and I well remember my feeling of incredulous wonder at finding
myself still alive when we had passed beyond them. Not a word was spoken,
nor was a hand lifted against us until we reached the beach.

Fryer had, of course, seen us coming, and had slacked away until the
launch was within half a dozen paces of the beach, in about four feet of
water.

"In with you, lads! Look alive!" Bligh shouted. "Purcell, stand by with
me--you and Norton!"

Within half a minute we were all in the boat, save Bligh and the two men
with him. Nageete now wrenched himself free from Bligh's grasp and ran up
the beach. The captain and Purcell made for the boat, wisely not
attempting to bring in the grapnel on shore; but Norton, who Bligh
thought was immediately behind him, ran back to fetch it. We shouted to
him to let it go; but either he did not or would not hear.

The Indians by this time had been roused to action, and they were upon
Norton in an instant, beating out his brains with stones. Meanwhile we
had hauled Bligh and Purcell into the boat and got out the oars. The
natives seized the line which held us to the shore; but Bligh severed it
with a stroke of his cutlass, and the men forward quickly hauled us out
to the other grapnel and attempted to pull it up. To our dismay, one of
the flukes had caught and two or three precious minutes were lost before
it was gotten clear. It was fortunate for us that the savages were
unarmed; had they been possessed of spears, or bows and arrows, the
chance of any man's escaping would have been small indeed. The only
spears amongst them were those carried by the two chiefs. Macca-ackavow
hurled his, which passed within a few inches of Peckover's head and fell
into the water a dozen yards beyond us.

But whilst they had no man-made weapons, the beach offered them an
inexhaustible supply of stones, and we received such a shower of these
that, had we not been a good thirty yards distant, a number of us might
have met Norton's fate. As it was, Purcell was knocked senseless by a
blow on the head, and various others were badly hurt. The speed and
accuracy with which they cast the stones were amazing. We protected
ourselves as well as we could with bundles of cloathing which we held
before us. Meanwhile the men forward were hauling desperately on the
grapnel, which at last gave way and came up with one fluke broken. Bligh,
at the tiller, was in the most exposed position of any; that he escaped
serious injury was due to the efforts of Elphinstone and Cole, who
shielded him with floor boards from the stern sheets.

We now began to pull away from them, but the treacherous villains were
not done with us yet. They got one of their canoes into the water, which
they loaded with stones, whereupon a dozen of them leaped into her to
pursue us. Our six men at the oars pulled with all their strength, but we
were so heavily laden that the savages gained swiftly upon us.
Nevertheless, we had got out of the cove and beyond view of the throng on
the beach before we were overtaken. They now had us at their mercy, and
began throwing stones with such deadly accuracy that it seemed a miracle
some of us were not killed. A few of the stones fell into the boat and
were hurled back at them; we had the satisfaction of seeing one of their
paddlers struck squarely in the face by a stone cast by the boatswain.
However, that was a chance shot: we should have been no match for them at
this kind of warfare even had we possessed a supply of ammunition.

In the hope of distracting their attention from us, Mr. Bligh threw some
articles of cloathing into the water; and to our joy they stopped to take
them in. It was now getting dark, and, as they could have had but a few
stones left in the canoe, they gave over the attack, and a moment later
disappeared past the headland at the entrance to the cove. We were by no
means sure that others would not attempt to come after us, so we pulled
straight out to sea until we caught the breeze. With our sails set, we
were soon past all danger of pursuit.

I was busy during the next hour caring for our wounded, of whom there
were nine in all. Purcell was badly hurt. He had been struck a glancing
blow on the head, which laid open his scalp and knocked him unconscious,
but, by the time I was able to attend to him, he was again sitting up,
apparently but little the worse for a blow that would have killed most
men. An examination of the wound assured me pretty well that the skull
had not been fractured. It was necessary to take half a dozen stitches in
the scalp. Elphinstone had had two fingers of his right hand broken while
protecting Captain Bligh, and Lenkletter had been deeply gashed across
the cheek bone. The other wounds were bruises, the worst being that of
Hall, who had been struck full on the right breast and nearly knocked out
of the launch.

It can be imagined with what feelings of gratitude to God we watched the
island of Tofoa dropping away astern. Now that we had time to reflect, a
truer sense of the horror of the situation from which we had so narrowly
escaped came home to us. The death of Norton cast a gloom upon all our
spirits, but we avoided speaking of him then; the manner of his death was
too clearly in mind, and it seemed that we could still hear the yells of
the savages who had murdered him. Captain Bligh took his loss very much
to heart and blamed himself that he had not thought to inform us,
beforehand, to give no heed to the grapnel on shore. But he was by no
means at fault. What the situation would be on the beach could not have
been foretold, and poor Norton himself should have seen the folly of
trying to save the grapnel. Nevertheless, his was an act of heroism such
as few men would have been capable of attempting.

The wind, from the east-southeast, freshened as we drew away from the
land; the darkness deepened, and soon Tofoa was lost to view save for the
baleful glare from its volcano, reflected on the clouds above. Meanwhile
we had gotten the boat in order and had taken the places Captain Bligh
had assigned to us for the night. With respect to food, we still had our
one hundred and fifty pounds of bread, short of a few ounces eaten at
Tofoa, twenty pounds of pork, thirty-one coconuts, sixteen breadfruit,
and seven yams; but both the breadfruit and the yams, which had been
cooked on shore, had been trampled under our feet during the attack.
Nevertheless, we salvaged the filthy mess and ate it during subsequent
days. As already related, we still had twenty-eight gallons of water--the
same amount we had carried away from the Bounty--but we had left only
three bottles of wine, and five quarts of rum.

I am not likely to forget the conference we then held to determine our
future course of action. We were running, of necessity, before the wind,
in a direction almost the opposite to that of Annamooka or Tongataboo,
and Fryer, who was the first to speak, earnestly begged Captain Bligh to
continue this course--to proceed with us in the direction of home.

"We know what we have to expect of the savages, sir," he said. "Without
arms, our experience at Tofoa will only be repeated on other islands, and
we could not hope to come off so fortunate again."

Other voices were joined to the master's; there was no doubt as to the
general desire of our company to brave the perils of the sea rather than
those certain to be met with on land. Bligh was willing to be persuaded;
in fact, I am sure that he himself would have proposed this change of
plan had no one else spoken of it. Nevertheless, he wished us to be fully
aware of the dangers ahead of us.

"Do you know, Mr. Fryer," he asked, "how far we must sail before we shall
have any expectation of help?"

"Not exactly, sir."

"To the Dutch East Indies," Bligh went on; "and the first of their
settlements is on the island of Timor, a full twelve hundred leagues from
here."

A moment of silence followed. Not one of us, I believe, but was thinking:
"Twelve hundred leagues! What hope, then, have we?"

"Even so," said Bligh, "our situation is by no means hopeless. Granted
that every man of you gives me his full support, I believe we shall reach
Timor."

"That you shall have, sir!" said Peckover. "What do you say, lads?" There
was a hearty agreement to this.

"Very well," said Bligh. "Now let me tell you, briefly, what we are
likely to have in store. First, as to favouring elements: we are at a
most fortunate time of year; we can count upon easterly winds for as long
as we shall be at sea. The northwest monsoon should not commence before
November, and long before that time we shall have reached Timor, or be
forever past the need of reaching it. The launch is stoutly built; deeply
laden as we are, we need not fear her ability to run before the wind. Her
performance at this moment is a promise of what she can do. As to the
perils we must meet--"

He paused while reflecting upon them. "Of those I need not speak," he
went on. "They are known to all of you. But this I will say: If we are to
reach Timor, we must live upon a daily allowance of food and water no
more than sufficient to preserve our lives. I desire every man's
assurance that he will cheerfully agree to the amount I shall decide
upon. It will be small indeed, but we can be almost certain of
replenishing our water many times before the end of the voyage. However,
that remains to be seen, and I shall not anticipate doing so in deciding
what each man's portion shall be. Mr. Fryer, have I your solemn promise
to abide by my judgment in this matter?"

"Yes, sir," Fryer replied promptly.

Mr. Bligh then called each man by name, and all agreed as Fryer had done.

These matters having been decided, we fell silent, and so remained for
some time; then Cole, who was seated amidships, said: "Mr. Bligh, we
should be pleased if you would ask God's blessing upon our voyage."

"That I shall do, Mr. Cole," Bligh replied.

Never, I imagine, have English seamen been more sensible of the need for
Divine guidance than the eighteen men in the _Bounty's_ launch. We waited,
our heads bowed in the darkness, for our leader to speak.

"Almighty God. Thou seest our afflictions. Thou knowest our need. Grant
that we may quit ourselves like men in the trials and dangers that lie
before us. Watch over us. Strengthen our hearts; and in Thy divine mercy
and compassion, bring us all in safety to the haven toward which we now
direct our course. Amen."

The watch for the early part of the night was now set, and the rest of us
arranged ourselves for sleep as well as we could. The wind blew with
increasing freshness, but the launch behaved well. The moonlit sea before
us seemed to stretch away to infinity.

"Slack away a little, Mr. Cole," Bligh called.



CHAPTER IV


The sea was calm, though there was a fresh breeze at east. Now that Tofoa
had been lost to view, every man in the boat, I believe, felt, for the
first time since casting off from the _Bounty_, a faint thrill of hope. I
was fully aware of the immense remoteness of the Dutch East Indies, and
of the difficulties and dangers through which we should be obliged to
pass were we to reach those distant islands; but Mr. Bligh's confident
manner, and his calmness during our perilous escape from the savages,
convinced me of our good fortune in being under his command.

Heavily laden as she was, and with only the reefed lug foresail set, the
boat sailed fast to the westward. Mr. Bligh was at the tiller, with
Peckover beside him; Fryer, Elphinstone, Nelson, and I sat in the stern
sheets. The two midshipmen on the thwart were already asleep; but
Tinkler, who had been chosen for Peckover's watch, was making prodigious
efforts to keep awake. The gunner noticed the lad's yawns.

"Get you to sleep, Mr. Tinkler," he said gruffly; "I shan't need you
to-night."

There was little talk among the men forward, though nearly all were
awake. The slower-witted, I suppose, were only now arriving at a full
realization of what lay before us. I heard frequent groans from those who
were nursing bruises, and indeed my own injured shoulder was so painful
as to preclude the possibility of sleep. It may be worthy of remark that
the tincture of Arnica montana, of which I had a small supply, proved of
great value to those of us who had been hurt.

Calm as the sea was, the launch was so deep that we shipped quantities of
water as we ran clear of the land and began to feel the long roll of the
Southern Ocean from east to west. Peckover set two men--Lebogue and
Simpson--to bailing. Toward midnight, as the sea grew higher, they had
all they could do to keep her clear of water, and became so fatigued that
Peckover ordered others to relieve them. He pulled out his large silver
watch, scrutinized it intently, and returned it to his pocket.

"What hour have you, Mr. Peckover?" asked the captain. "I can't make out,
sir."

Bligh glanced up at the stars. "Mr. Fryer, you have had no sleep?" he
asked.

"Not yet, sir."

"Take the tiller, if you please; I shall try to rest, and I recommend you
to do the same at four o'clock."

They changed places, moving gingerly in the pitching boat, and Bligh made
himself as comfortable as possible. Hayward and Hallet rubbed their eyes
as they were wakened to their turns at the bailing; they drew their
jackets around them, shivering at the spray which flew constantly over
the quarters.

Toward morning the wind chopped round from N.E. to E.S.E., and blew very
cold, while the sea grew high and confused, breaking frequently over the
stern of the launch. Mr. Bligh was aware of the change instantly, and
took the tiller from the master's hands. Four men were now required to
throw out the water, which came in sheets over the transom and quarters
of the boat. At dawn the sky was overcast with low, dirty clouds,
scudding fast to the westward, and the sun rose red and ominous. We were
a sorry crew in the light of this Sunday morning; haggard-eyed, wet to
the skin with salt spray, and so stiff that some could scarcely
straighten their legs. Nelson tried to smile; his teeth chattered so
violently that he stammered when he spoke.

Mr. Bligh's face looked drawn in the gray light, but his eyes were cool
and alert. Each wave sent sheets of wind-driven spray into the boat;
presently a sea greater than the others swung us high and curled over the
transom. Above the roaring of the waves I heard faint cries and curses
from the men as a rush of water swept forward in the bilges. Then, while
I plied a coconut shell, snatched up in an instant, I heard Bligh's
voice, audible in the calm of the trough. He was shouting to Hall, who
sat with Lamb in the bows:--

"The bread! The bread!"

The man had been crouching with his head in his arms, shivering with the
cold. He stared aft dazedly. Our bread had been stowed in the bow of the
launch, the place least exposed to the driving spray. It was in three
bags, and had been covered with the spare mainsail.

"Aye, aye, sir!" Hall shouted back, bending down to raise the canvas and
examine what was beneath. A moment later he straightened his back. "One
sack is wet, sir!" he shouted. "The lot will be spoiled if it's left
here!"

Bligh glanced fore and aft. "Mr. Purcell!" he called.

The carpenter was plying a scoop close beside his chest. Another wave was
passing beneath us, bringing fresh sheets of spray, but no solid water
this time. He passed the scoop to the man behind him, who began to bail
at once.

"Aye, sir," he said.

"Clear your chest of tools; place them in the bilges."

The carpenter removed the tray of small tools, and the heavier ones
beneath.

"Now, lads, look alive!" Bligh shouted when all was ready. "Wait till I
give the word. One sack at a time! Hall, you and Smith pull out the first
and pass it to Lebogue! Then aft to the chest, hand to hand. Mr. Hayward,
open the chest when the time comes. Mr. Purcell will cut the seizing and
dump the bread in loose. Work fast! It'll be empty bellies otherwise!"

All but those bailing waited in suspense until the launch's bow shot up
and she jogged back into the next trough.

"Now!" shouted Bligh.

Off came the sail; the sack was passed swiftly aft from hand to hand, cut
open with a touch of the carpenter's clasp knife, and dumped into the
open chest. Hayward closed the lid with a snap. The sail was safely
tucked about the two remaining sacks before we felt the lift of the
following wave. In the momentary lulls between succeeding waves, the
other sacks came aft and their contents were safely stowed.

Every man in the boat, I believe, must have drawn a sigh of heartfelt
relief. Small as our supply of bread was for such a voyage as lay before
us, it was all that stood between us and certain death by starvation. It
had been stowed in the chest not a moment too soon.

The seas grew so high that our scrap of sail hung slack from the yard
when in the trough, filling with a report like a musket shot as the
following sea raised us high aloft. Then the launch would rush forward
dizzily, while water poured in over the quarters, and the straining sail,
small as it was, threatened to snap the unstayed mast. Mr. Bligh crouched
at the helm with an impassive face, turning his head mechanically to
glance back as each rearing sea overtook us. Had he relaxed his vigilance
for a moment, or made a false motion of the tiller, the boat would have
broached to and filled instantly. All hands were now obliged to bail,
those who had nothing better throwing out the water with coconut shells.
We were greatly hampered by the coils of rope, spare sails, and bundles
of cloathing in the bilges. The force of the gale increased as it veered
back to east and to northeast; it was soon apparent to all hands that our
sail was too much to have set.

"We must lighten her, Mr. Fryer!" Bligh shouted above the roar of wind
and sea. "Each man may keep two suits of cloathing--jettison the rest!
And heave overboard the spare foresail and all but one coil of rope!"

"Aye, sir!" replied the master. "Can we not shorten sail? I fear we'll
drive her under with but a single reef!"

Bligh shook his head. "No, she'll do. Over with the spare gear!"

His orders were carried out with an alacrity which showed that those
under him realized the imminence of our danger. Though the weight of what
we cast away would scarcely have exceeded that of a heavy man, the boat
rode better for it, and the clearing of the bilges enabled six of us,
bailing constantly, to keep her dry. A quarter of a cooked breadfruit,
much dirtied and trampled during our naval engagement with the Friendly
Islanders, was served out to each man with half a pint of water.

It was close on noon when the wind veered once more to E.S.E.; and as we
could do nothing but run straight before it, the boat was now steered
W.N.W.--in which direction, the Indians had informed us, lay the group of
large islands they called Feejee. The sea was now higher than ever, and
the labour of bailing very wearisome, but I was losing my dread of the
boat foundering, for I perceived that since we had lightened her she rode
wonderfully well, and was in little danger with a skillful hand at the
helm. At twelve o'clock by the gunner's watch, Mr. Bligh had his sextant
fetched out, and with two of us holding him propped up in the stern
sheets, he managed to observe the altitude of the sun. Elphinstone was at
the tiller, and I noticed with relief that he steered with confidence and
skill. Our lives, from moment to moment, depended upon our helmsman. Had
there been an awkward or timid man in his place, our chances would have
been small indeed.

"We have done well," said the captain, when he had returned to the stern
sheet..."Ah, well steered, Mr. Elphinstone! Damme! Well steered!"

A great sea lifted us high and passed under the launch, roaring and
foaming on both sides. As we dropped into the calm of the trough, Mr.
Bligh went on: "You see how she behaves, lads? She'll see us through if
we do our part! By God, she will! Mr. Fryer, by my reckoning, we have run
eighty-six miles since leaving Tofoa."

The wind was our friend as well as our enemy. Captain Bligh's feeling for
the launch was shared by every man of us; we were beginning to love her,
now that we knew something of her qualities.

"We must have a log," Bligh added. "Mr. Fryer, I count on you and the
boatswain to provide us with a line, properly marked. Mr. Purcell, see
what you can do to make us a log chip."

When we had eaten our dinner of five small coconuts, the carpenter took
apart the tray from his chest; and from its bottom--a piece of thin oaken
plank--he sawed out a small triangle, about six inches on a side. One
side was weighted with a bit of sheet lead, and a hole was bored at each
corner. The whole made what seamen call a "chip."

We had on board two stout fishing lines, each of about fifty fathoms
length. One was kept towing behind the boat with a hook to which a bit of
rag had been made fast. From the other, Fryer made a bridle for the log
chip, measured off twelve fathoms, and marked the place with his thumb.
The boatswain had been twisting some bits of a handkerchief; as the
master held out the line, he rove a bit of the rag through the strands
and knotted it fast. Then, with the carpenter's rule, Fryer measured off
very carefully twenty-five feet. At this point the boatswain made fast
another bit of rag, with a trailing end, in which he tied one knot. This
was repeated, tying two knots, three knots, and so on until there were
eight knots in the last rag.

"Will eight be enough, sir?" Fryer asked.

The captain was at the tiller, glancing back over his shoulder at the
wave behind us. When it had passed under us, he replied in the sudden
calm: "Aye, eight will do. Mr. Peckover, take your watch in the lee of
the chest there, and practise counting seconds with Mr. Cole. You'll soon
have the hang of it, I'll be bound!"

I heard them for a long time, as we sank into the troughs between the
seas, counting monotonously: "One-an', two-an', three-an', four-an'..."
At last the gunner called back: "Mr. Bligh!"

"Aye; are you ready?"

"We'll not be a second off, sir!"

"Then heave the log!"

Peckover coiled the line in his right hand to pay out freely, while the
boatswain took his place at the starboard quarter. At a sign from the
gunner he cast the log chip into the sea, and as the twelve-fathom mark
passed through his fingers he began to count. At the fifteenth second he
gripped the line and turned to Mr. Bligh.

"Four and a half, sir," he reported, beginning to pull in the line.
"Good! From now on, let the mate of the watch heave the log every hour. I
shall reckon our longitude each day with the aid of Mr. Peckover's watch,
and we can check the results by dead reckoning."

Crouched in the stern sheets, shivering and wet to the skin, I caught
Nelson's eye as I turned my back to the spray. His thoughts, perhaps,
like my own, were of the change in Bligh. He was above all a man of
action, and seemed happy only in situations which demanded the exercise
of his truly great qualities of skill, courage, and resourcefulness. He
was born to lead men in peril or in battle, and now, in the boat, with
the sea for enemy and his task the preservation of his men's lives, he
was at his best--cheerful, kindly, and considerate to a degree I should
have believed impossible a fortnight before.

The weather continued very severe during the afternoon and throughout the
night; Captain Bligh held the tiller for eighteen hours. Though we had
not yet begun to suffer greatly for lack of food, the night was a
miserable one. At sunset the wind veered a little to the southward and
blew so chill that I found it impossible to sleep. Laborious as the task
of bailing was, we seized the scoops gladly when our turns came, for the
hard work warmed us.

By nine o'clock the wind had blown the sky clear; the moon, sinking
toward the west, cast a cold, serene light on the roaring sea. Each time
the boat was flung aloft, we gazed out over miles of angry water,
tossing, breaking, and ridged with great waves running to the west. Had
not every bone in my body ached with the cold, I think I might have felt
a kind of exultation at the majesty of the spectacle, and in the thought
that our boat, small and frail as she was, could carry us safely over
such a sea. And I was aware of what might be termed a cosmic rhythm in
the procession of the waves. They passed under us with great regularity,
the interval being about the time it took me to count ten, very slowly;
they seemed to be about two hundred yards from crest to crest, and I
estimated that they passed us at not less than thirty miles an hour. Hour
after hour we alternated between fierce wind and spray and the roar of
breaking water on the crests, and the calm of the black troughs, where
the launch all .but lost steerageway.

Mr. Bligh was silent during the night; his task was too exacting to
permit of speech. He must have suffered more than any of us, for the
movements required to steer the boat were too slight to warm his blood.
The moon, sinking ever lower ahead of us, shone full on his face; his
expression was calm and alert, though he could not suppress a strong
shuddering.

At last the moon went down on our larboard bow. The stars shone with the
cold light of an autumn evening at home. The waves roaring about us broke
in sheets of pale fire, so that at times I could distinguish the faces of
my companions in the eerie light.

Nelson and I had returned to the stern sheets after a long trick with the
bails. We were in the calm between two seas at the time. Glancing over
the side, I saw swift shapes of fire gliding back and forth alongside the
boat: a dozen, a score of them--darting ahead, veering this way and that,
disappearing under the boat. One of them came to the surface within a
yard of us, snorted loudly, and shot ahead.

"Porpoises!" Nelson exclaimed.

"Aye," said the captain; "my mouth waters at the thought of a porpoise
steak, no matter how raw!"

Gripping the gunwales, we gazed over the side, thinking less of the
beauty of the phosphorescent tracks than of the abundance of food so near
at hand--food we were powerless to secure. The seas overtook us with a
regularity that lightened Bligh's task at the tiller. He seemed not to
feel the piercing chill of the air that penetrated our drenched cloathes.
The splendid performance of the launch engaged his whole attention.
Though trembling with cold, I caught something of his own exhilaration as
I watched the great seas rearing their backs in the starlight and
sweeping toward us.

"How well she rides!" said Nelson, between chattering teeth.

"I watched her building," Bligh replied proudly; "I inspected every
strake and frame that went into her! A stancher boat was never built!
Were she decked and reasonably laden, I could take her round the world."

When our turn came to bail once more, my legs were so benumbed that I had
difficulty in getting forward, and Nelson had to be helped to his feet.
The sky was turning gray when we were relieved once more.

The captain ordered a teaspoonful of rum to be served out. This revived
us wonderfully, and we breakfasted on some bits of cooked yams found in
the bottom of the boat. The weather was abating, although the sea would
still have appalled a landsman, and the rising sun warmed us sufficiently
to give us the use of our stiffened limbs.

By eight o'clock, when the boatswain hove the log, the wind had moderated
to a fresh breeze, and so little spray was coming aboard that those
forward were able to dry their cloathes. Captain Bligh glanced down at
the compass and beckoned to Elphinstone.

"Take the helm," he said. "Keep her W.N.W. We should raise the land soon,
unless the Indians are liars."

He flexed the muscles of his arm, stiffened by cold and his long night's
work, and went on, addressing us all: "We have come through a bad night.
In these latitudes, we may sail all the way to Timor without again being
so sorely tried. You have borne up well, my lads, and we can depend upon
the launch. My word for it! If we husband our provisions as agreed upon,
we shall all reach home!"

"Never fear, sir," Cole ventured to remark. "We're with ye to a man. And
thank God for Captain Bligh to lead us--eh, lads?"

There was a hearty chorus from the people: "Aye!"

"Well spoken!"

"Ye can lay to that!"

As the morning advanced we sighted several flocks of birds, hovering over
shoals of fish--a sure indication of land. Once we passed through the
midst of a school of tunnies, leaping and thrashing the sea into foam,
yet none would seize our hook. We were now keeping a sharp lookout, and a
little before noon land was discovered--a small flat island, bearing
southwest, about four leagues distant. Other islands appeared, and by
three in the afternoon we could count eight on the horizon, from south
around through the west to north.

"The Feejee Islands," said Mr. Bligh, who had been awakened from a
refreshing sleep by the first shout of "Land!"

"We are the first white men to set eyes on them!"

"Can't we land here, sir?" asked the carpenter.

"Spoken like a fool, Mr. Purcell," said Bligh bluntly. "You've a short
memory if you've so soon forgotten Tofoa! We could commit no greater
folly than to land here. Captain Cook never saw these islands; but when I
was master of the Resolution, in 1777, he learned much of their
inhabitants from the Friendly Islanders. They are known to be fierce and
treacherous, and eaters of human flesh. No. We shall keep well clear of
these fellows!"



CHAPTER V


Toward evening we raised three small islands to the northwest, about
seven leagues distant, passing them at nightfall, when we snugged down to
a reefed foresail. Had our circumstances been happier, I might have
enjoyed more fully .the emotion aroused by sailing an unknown sea,
studded with islands on which no European had hitherto laid eyes.

Nelson was possessed of that most precious of gifts: an inquiring and
philosophical turn of mind. Even in our situation, with not one chance in
a thousand, as it seemed, of seeing England again, he was able to derive
pleasure from the contemplation of the sea and the sky by day, and the
stars by night. He regarded each island we passed, no matter how distant,
with an inquiring eye, speculating as to whether it was of volcanic or of
coralline formation, whether it was inhabited, and what vegetation might
spring from its soil. When we passed shoals of fish, he named them, and
the birds diving and hovering overhead. And what little I know of
astronomy was learned from Nelson during the long nights on the _Bounty's_
launch.

Though the wind freshened after dark and kept us pretty wet throughout
the night, the sea was not rough and we managed to get a little sleep by
putting ourselves at watch and watch, half of us sitting up, whilst the
others stretched out in the boat's bottom. I found it a great luxury to
be able to extend my legs, and, although shivering with cold, I slept for
nearly three hours, and awoke much refreshed. At daybreak all hands
seemed better than on the morning before. We breakfasted on a quarter of
a pint of water each and a few bits of yam, the last of those we had
found in the bottom of the boat.

During the early hours of the morning the wind moderated, and Mr. Bligh
ordered the chest opened in order to examine the bread. One of the sacks
was well dried, and the bread which had been wet on the first night was
spread out in the sun. When it had been thoroughly dried, we carefully
sorted our entire supply, placing all that was damaged or rotten in the
sack, to prevent the rot from infecting what was still good. This damaged
bread was to be eaten first.

After Captain Bligh had taken his observation at noon, he informed us
that our latitude was eighteen degrees, ten minutes, south, and that,
according to his reckoning, we had run ninety-four miles in the
twenty-four hours past. It was cloudy to the westward, but Lebogue and
Cole, old seamen both, believed that they could discern high land in that
direction, at a place where the clouds seemed fixed.

We had been through so much since leaving the _Bounty_ that I had scarcely
given a thought to what I ate; now, casting up the total of what I had
had in the seven days past, I perceived that the whole of it was no more
than a hungry man, in the midst of plenty, would have eaten at a meal.
Our scant rations had had their effect--cheeks were pinched and eyes
unnaturally hollow and bright. There were no complaints of hunger as yet;
the men were cheerful as they drank their sups of water and ate their
bits of damaged bread.

It blew fresh from E.S.E. in the afternoon, and the sea began to break
over the transom and quarters once more, forcing us to bail. Though
choppy, the sea was flat, and old Lebogue stood on the bow thwart,
shading his eyes with his hand as he gazed ahead. Suddenly he turned aft.

"Mr. Bligh!" he hailed in a subdued voice.

"Yes?"

"There's a monstrous great tortoise asleep, scarce two cable-lengths
ahead! Let me conn ye on to him, sir, and I'll snatch his flipper! Many a
one I've caught in the West Indies!"

Bligh nodded, with his eyes fixed on Lebogue. "Let no man make a sound,"
he said.

We were running at about four knots, and since the boat would almost
certainly have filled had we turned broadside to the sea, there was no
time to prepare a noose or to consult as to the surest method of
capturing the tortoise. I knew that the slightest sound of our feet on
the boat's bottom, or knock against her sides, would awaken the animal at
once and send him away in alarm. Bligh was alert at the tiller, steering
in accordance with the movements of Lebogue's arm. Not a word was spoken;
we scarcely dared turn our heads. Once, glancing out of the corner of my
eyes as the stern was lifted by a breaking wave, I caught a glimpse of
the broad, arched back of the sleeping tortoise, close ahead on our
starboard bow. Lebogue waved to starboard a little and then raised his
arms as a signal to hold the course. Next moment he stepped softly down
from the thwart and leaned far over the gunwale, whilst I heard the
animal's powerful thrashing in the sea.

The tortoise was immensely heavy and strong, but Lebogue was a powerful
man and determined not to let go. Before Smith or Lenkletter could seize
his legs,--before any of us, in fact, could realize what was
happening,--the tortoise had pulled him clean over the gunwale and into
the sea.

A shout went up. With an oath, Mr. Bligh pushed the tiller into the
master's hands and sprang to the side. "Hold me!" he shouted to
Elphinstone, as he plunged his arms into the sea, straining every muscle
to hold fast to Lebogue, whom he had seized by the collar of his frock.
Three of us heaved the man in over the stern. He thought nothing of the
wetting, but cursed his bad luck in not having captured the tortoise.
Bligh praised his tenacity, and blamed the men seated near him for not
holding fast to their mate.

"Had you acted promptly," he said, "instead of sitting there all agape,
we should have had a feast to-night, and a supply of meat for many
days!...Get forward, Lebogue...Samuel, give him a spoonful of rum! He has
earned it, by God!"

Warmed by his sup of spirit, Lebogue sat with Peckover and Cole,
lamenting his lack of success, and planning what to do should another
tortoise appear. "A monster," I heard him remark; "all of two
hundredweight! Hold fast to my legs if we raise another--I'll never let
go! Damn my eyes! To think of the grub we've lost! Did 'ee ever taste a
bit of calipee?"

Bligh turned to Nelson. "Calipee!" he said, with a wry smile. "Were you
ever in the West Indies, Mr. Nelson?"

"No, sir."

"I was four years in that trade, in command of Mr. Campbell's ship
_Britannia_. By God, sir, those planters live like princes! When at anchor
I was frequently asked to dine ashore. They used to disgust me with their
stuffing and swilling of wine. Sangaree and rum punch and Madeira till
one marveled they could hold it all. And the food! Pepper pot, turtle
soup, turtle steaks, grilled calipee; on my word, I've seen enough, at a
dinner for six, to feed us from here to Timor!"

Nelson smiled ruefully. "I could do with one of those dinners tonight,"
he said.

"I feel no great hunger," said Bligh, "though I would gladly have eaten a
bit of raw steak."


A little before sunset the clouds broke, and we discovered land
ahead--two high, rocky islands, six or eight leagues distant. The
southerly island appeared of considerable extent and very high; though
the light was too dazzling to see clearly, I thought it fertile and well
wooded. Desiring to pass to windward of the smaller island, we hauled our
wind to steer N.W. by N. At ten o'clock we were close in with the land,
and could see many fires ashore. It was too dark to see more than that
the island was high and rugged, and that it was inhabited; by midnight,
much to our relief, we had left it astern.

We were cold and miserable during this night, and welcomed the exercise
of bailing, but toward morning the wind moderated and the sea went down.
At daybreak islands were in sight to the southwest, and from northwest to
north, with a broad passage, not less than ten leagues wide, ahead of us.
Our allowance for this day was a quarter of a pint of coconut water and
two ounces of the pulp for each man. We now suffered thirst for the first
time in the launch.

The islands to the southwest and northwest, between which we were
steering, appeared larger than any we had seen in this sea. Though many
leagues distant, their foreshores seemed richly wooded, and I thought I
could perceive vast plains and far-off blue mountain ranges in the
interior.

By mid-afternoon we were well between the two great islands. The wind now
moderated to a gentle breeze from the east, and the sea became as calm as
it is within the reefs of Otaheite.

Nelson could not take his eyes off the island to the south. "I would give
five years of my life," he said regretfully, "for an armed ship and
leisure to explore this archipelago."

"And I!" remarked the captain. "Yon island would make ten of Otaheite!
And the land to the north seems larger still. 'Five' years! I would give
ten for a ship! No such group has yet been discovered in this seal"

Before sunset, we were amazed, on looking over the side, to perceive that
we were sailing over a coral bank on which there was less than a fathom
of water. Had there been the least swell to break on the shoal, we should
have been aware of it long before and sailed clear. Since there was
nothing to fear save grounding, we continued on our course, keeping a
sharp lookout ahead. The launch moved slowly, through water clear as air;
I could see every detail of the bottom. It was flat as a table, strewn
with dead coral, and barren of life, seeming to extend for about a mile
on either side of us. Twilight was giving way to dark when we came to the
end of the shoal, which dropped off abruptly into deep water, as do
nearly all of the coral banks in the South Sea. A rain squall, that came
on after dark, wet us to the skin and was over before we could catch more
than a gallon of water. Then a cold breeze, like the night wind the
people of Otaheite call _hupé_ blew down from the great valleys of the high
land south of us. Though the sea was calm, we passed a wretched night,
after a dinner of an ounce of damaged bread.

At daybreak our limbs were so cramped that some of the men could scarcely
move. Mr. Bligh issued a teaspoonful of rum and a quarter of a pint of
water, measured in his little horn cup. There was some murmuring when the
morsels of damaged bread were served out. Purcell finished his bit at a
single bite and a swallow, and sat shivering glumly on the thwart.

"Can't we have a bit more, sir?" Lamb begged in a low voice, of Fryer.
"I'm perishin' with famine!"

"Aye!" put in Simpson. "I'd as soon be knocked on the head by cannibals
as die slow the like o' this."

Bligh's quick ear caught their words. "Who's that complaining up
forward?" he called. "Let them speak to me if they've anything to say."
There was an immediate silence in the bows.

"I wish to hear no more such talk," Bligh continued. "We'll share alike
in this boat, and no man shall fare better than his mates. Mind you that,
all of you!"

A fresh breeze was making up from the east. We set the mainsail and were
running at better than five knots when they hove the log. Distant land of
great extent was now visible to the south and west, and a small island,
round and high, was discovered to the north. The great island we had
left, which bore more the appearance of a continent than an island, was
still in sight.

We had pleasant sailing that day. The roll of the sea from east to west
seemed to be broken by the land behind us; though the breeze filled our
sails and drove us along bravely, we shipped scarcely any water. I
exchanged places with one of the men forward, and stationed myself in the
bows, where I could watch the flying fish rising before the launch's
cut-water.

These fish were innumerable in the waters of Feejee; I forgot my hunger,
and our well-nigh hopeless situation, in the pleasure of watching them.
The large solitary kind interested me most, for it was their custom to
wait until the boat was almost upon them before taking flight. A few
powerful strokes of the tail sent them to the surface, along which they
rushed at a great pace with the body inclined upward and only the long
lower lobe of the tail submerged. When they had gained sufficient speed,
the tail left the water with a final strong fillip, while the fish
skimmed away through the air, steering this way and that as it pleased.

The sun was hot toward noon, and, like the others, I suffered from
thirst, thinking much of the quarter of a pint of water I was soon to
enjoy. As I was turning to go aft, a flying fish rose in a frenzy within
ten yards, just in time to escape some large pursuer. There was a dash of
spray and a blaze of gold and blue in the sea. The flying fish sped off
to starboard, while a swift cleaving of the sea just beneath showed where
the larger fish kept pace with its flight. It fell at last. I saw a
flurry of foam, and a broad tail raised aloft for an instant.

The boatswain was on his feet. "Dolphin!" he exclaimed.

We were in the midst of a small school of them; the sea was ablaze with
darting blue and gold.

Cole went aft eagerly. "I'll put a fresh bit of rag on the hook, sir," he
remarked to Mr. Bligh. He began to pull in the line as he spoke, and when
the hook came on board, he opened his clasp knife and cut off the bit of
dingy red rag which we had hoped for so long a fish might seize.

"Try this," said the captain, taking a handkerchief of fine linen from
his pocket.

We watched eagerly while the boatswain tore the handkerchief into strips
and seized them on to the shank of the hook, so that the ends would trail
behind in the semblance of a small mullet or cuttlefish. When all was
ready, he paid out the line, jigging the hook back and forth to attract
the attention of the fish.

"Damn my eyes!" said Peckover in a low voice. "They've left us!"

"No, there they are!" I exclaimed.

A darting ripple appeared just behind the hook and sheered off. Cole
pulled the line back and forth with all his art. The long dorsal fin of a
dolphin clove the water like lightning behind the hook. The line
straightened.

"I've got him!" roared Cole, while every man in the boat shouted at once.

The fish rushed this way and that, leaping like a salmon; but Cole's
brawny arms brought him in hand-over-hand.

"Take care!" shouted Bligh; "the hook's nearly out of his mouth!" Cole
shortened his grip on the line and hove the fish aboard in one great
swing. While still in the air, I saw the hook fall free; next moment the
fish struck the floor of the shallow cockpit. Whilst Hallet, who sat
closest, was in the act of falling on the dolphin with outstretched arms,
it doubled up like a bow, gave a single powerful stroke of its tail on
the floor, and flew over the gunwale and into the sea.

Tears came to Hallet's eyes. Miserably disappointed as I was, I could
scarcely restrain a smile at the sight of Cole's face. Bligh gave a
short, mirthless laugh. Those of the men who had risen to their feet to
watch sat down in silence, and for a long time no one spoke. Cole let out
his line once more, but the fish had left us, or paid no further
attention to the hook.

Early in the afternoon, we hauled our wind to pass to the northward of
the long, high island to the westward. It may have been one island, or
many overlapping one another; in any case, it appeared of vast extent,
stretching away so far to the southward that the more distant mountain
ridges were lost in a bluish haze. The land was well wooded, and as we
drew near I could distinguish plantations of a lighter green, regularly
laid out. We were obliged to approach the land more closely than we
desired, in order to pass through a channel that divided it from a small
islet to the northeast.

When in the midst of this channel and no more than five miles from the
land,--here distinguished by some high rocks of fantastic form,--we were
alarmed to see two large canoes, sailing swiftly alongshore, and
evidently in pursuit of us. They were coming on fast when the wind
dropped suddenly, forcing us to take to our oars. The savages must have
done the same, for they continued to gain on us for an hour or more. Then
a black squall bore down from the southeast, preceded by a fierce gust of
wind. It may convey some idea of the rain which fell during this squall
when I say that in less than ten minutes' time, with the poor means of
catching water at our disposal, we were able to replace what we had drunk
from the kegs, to fill all of our empty barricos, and even the copper
pot. While some of the people busied themselves with this work, others
were obliged to bail to keep the water down in the bilges. The squall
passed on, and a fresh breeze made up at E.S.E. We hastened to get sail
on the launch, for as the rain abated one of the canoes was perceived
less than two miles from us and coming on fast. She had one mast and
carried a long narrow lateen sail, something like those of the large
Friendly Island vessels we had seen at Annamooka. Had the sea been rough
she would have overtaken us within an hour or two, but the launch footed
it fast to the northwest, with her mainsail loosed and drawing well. I
felt pretty certain, from the accounts I had heard, that if captured we
should probably be fattened for the slaughter, like so many geese.

As the afternoon drew on, the canoe gained on us. Most of the people kept
their eyes fixed on her anxiously, but Bligh, who was at the tiller,
striving to get the most out of his boat, maintained an impassive face.

"They may wish to barter," he said lightly; "yet it is better to chance
no intercourse with them. If the wind holds, night will fall before they
can come up with us."

Nelson scarcely took his eyes off the canoe, though interest, and not
fear, aroused him. The Indian vessel was at this time scarce a mile away.

"A double canoe," he remarked, "such as the Friendly Islanders build. See
the house on the platform between. I spent a day at sea in such a vessel
when I was with Captain Cook. They are manoeuvred in a curious fashion;
instead of tacking as we do, they wear around."

"I wish they would treat us to an exhibition of their skill," I replied.

"How many do you reckon are on board of her?"

"Thirty or forty, I should say."

Just before sundown, when the canoe had come up to about two
cable-lengths astern of us, it fell dead calm. The land at this time bore
S.S.W. about eight miles distant, with a long submerged reef, on which
the sea broke furiously, jutting out to the north. We were not a mile
from the extremity of this reef, with a strong current setting us to the
west.

"Down with the sails, lads!" Bligh commanded. "To the oars!"

There was no need to urge the men; the halyards were let go in a
twinkling, and the strongest amongst us--Lebogue, Lenkletter, Cole,
Purcell, Elphinstone, and the master--sprang to the oars and began to
pull with all their might.

The Indians had wasted no time. Instead of paddling, as I now perceived,
they sculled their vessel in a curious fashion, standing upright on the
platform between the two hulls, and plying long narrow paddles not unlike
our oars, which seemed to pass down through holes in the floor. Only four
men were at these sculls, but they were frequently relieved by others and
drove the heavy double canoe, not less than fifty feet long, quite as
fast as our six could row the launch. There was now much clamour and
shouting amongst the savages, those not sculling gazing ahead at us
fiercely. One man, taller than the others, and with an immense shock of
hair, stood on the forward end of the platform, shouting and brandishing
a great club in a kind of dance. His gestures and the tones of his voice
left no doubt as to their intentions.

Our oarsmen pulled their best, for every man in the boat felt pretty
certain that it was a case of row for our lives.

At the end of half an hour, Mr. Bligh perceived that the master, a man in
middle age, was weakening. He made a sign to Peckover to relieve him, and
the gunner took the oar without missing a stroke. The sun went down over
the empty ocean on our larboard bow, and the brief twilight of the
tropics set in. The Indians were still gaining.

Working furiously at their sculls, they were driving their vessel closer
and closer to the launch. When twilight gave place to dusk, they were not
more than a cable-length astern. The tall savage, whom I took to be their
chief, now dropped his club and strung a bow brought forward to him.
Fitting an arrow to the string, he let fly at us, and continued his
practice for ten minutes or more. Some of the arrows struck the water
uncomfortably close to the boat. One fell just ahead of us and floated
past the side; it was nearly four feet long, made of a stiff reed, and
pointed with four or five truly horrible barbs, designed to break off in
the wound.

As I glanced down at this arrow, barely visible in the dusk, I heard an
exclamation from Nelson, sitting next to me, and turned my head. The moon
was at the full, and it was rising directly behind the Feejee canoe,
throwing into relief the black figures of the savages, some sculling with
furious efforts, others prancing about on her deck as they shouted like a
pack of devils.

Then, for no reason we could make out, unless he acted in accordance with
some superstition concerning the moon, the chief turned to shout
unintelligible words to his followers. The scullers ceased their efforts
and began to row slowly and steadily; the canoe bore off, turned in a
wide circle, and headed back toward the land. Ten minutes later we were
alone on a vast, empty, moonlit sea.



CHAPTER VI


On the morning of May the eighth, I awoke from a doze to find the sun
half an hour high and rising in a cloudless sky. A more blessed sight
could scarcely be imagined, for we had been drenched to the skin the
whole of the latter part of the night. Nelson, who was beside me, was
already awake, and motioned me to silence, nodding toward Captain Bligh,
who was sleeping with his legs doubled under him on the floor in the
stern sheets, his head pillowed on one arm, which rested on the seat.
Fryer was at the tiller, with Peckover beside him, and Cole and
Lenkletter sat forward by the mast. All the others were asleep. A gentle
breeze blew; the launch was slipping quietly along, and before us
stretched a great solitude of waters that seemed never to have known a
storm.

Not a word was spoken. We basked in the delicious warmth, and we could
see the huddled forms around us relax as they soaked it up in their
sleep. Captain Bligh was having his first undisturbed rest since we had
left Tofoa, and we were all desirous that he should have the full good of
it. His cloathing was as bedraggled as ours, and his cheeks were covered
with a ten days' growth of beard; but although his face was pale and
drawn, it lacked the expression of misery which was becoming only too
apparent upon the faces of the others.

Nelson whispered to me: "Ledward, merely to look at him makes me believe
in Timor." I well understood what he meant. Waking or asleep, there was
that about Bligh which inspired confidence. Had we been astride a log
with him, instead of in the launch, I think we might still have believed
in Timor.

He slept for the better part of three hours, and, by the time he awoke,
most of the others were stirring, enjoying the precious warmth of the
sun, but taking good care to say nothing of our luck. Even Nelson and I
were seamen enough to know that the matter should not be spoken of: that
to praise good weather is to tempt it to depart. As soon as we were
thoroughly warmed and had dried our clothing, we set to work cleaning the
boat and stowing our possessions away in better order than we had been
able to do thus far.

Captain Bligh took the occasion to provide himself with a pair of scales
for weighing our food. Thus far, our daily ration had been measured by
guess, but a more exact method was necessary, both to prevent the
grumbling of those who thought they had received an amount smaller than
their share, and also to ensure that our food should see us through. Two
or three pistol balls had been discovered under the battens in the bottom
of the boat. The weight of these balls was twenty-five to the pound, and
after a careful estimate of our entire amount of provisions, Bligh
decided that each man's portion of bread at a meal should be equal to the
weight of one ball. For scales the half shells of coconuts were used,
carefully balanced against each other at the ends of a slender bar of
wood to which a cord was attached, a little off the centre, as one of the
coconut shells was a trifle heavier than the other. The carpenter made
the scales, which served our purpose admirably, but it was a woeful sight
to all to see how little of the bread was needed to balance the pistol
ball. Our allowance of food was now fixed at one twenty-fifth of a pound
of bread and a quarter of a pint of water per man, to be served at eight
in the morning, at noon, and at sunset. What remained of the salt pork
was saved for occasions when we should be in need of a more substantial
repast. We still had several coconuts, and, while they lasted, used the
meat of these in place of bread, and the liquid in the nuts instead of
water; but, as I remember it, we ate the last of them on the tenth of
May.

The method of serving our food was this: A portion of bread, of an amount
about sufficient for the company, was taken from the chest and handed
back in a cloth to Captain Bligh, who usually weighed out the eighteen
rations, and they were then passed along from hand to hand. The water,
which was stored amidships, was measured, usually by Fryer or Nelson or
myself, while Mr. Bligh was weighing the bread, the cup used being a
small horn drinking-vessel; and the water was then poured into one of the
wineglasses, and handed to the men as they received their bread. It was
curious to see the manner in which they accepted and dispatched their
food. It was "dispatch" indeed, with most of them; their meal would be
finished in an instant.

Purcell was among this number. No matter how miserable I might be, I
found relief in watching him receive his tiny morsel. It was always with
the same expression of amazement and injury. He would hold the bread in
the palm of his huge hand for a few seconds, peering at it from under his
shaggy eyebrows as though not quite certain it was there. Then he would
clap it into his mouth with an expression of disgust still more comical,
and roll up his eyes as though asking heaven to witness that he had not
received his due allowance.

Some followed Mr. Bligh's example. He soaked his bread in a coconut
shell, in his allowance of water, and then ate it very slowly so that he
had the illusion, at least, of having enjoyed a meal.

Samuel, Bligh's clerk, followed a practice that did, in fact, provide him
with what might be called the ghost of a meal. With the exception of his
breakfast allowance of water, he would save his food and drink until the
evening, when he had it all at once. This was, of course, a legitimate
privilege, but I think Samuel's reason for exercising it was that he
wished to gloat over his food while some of his near companions looked
hungrily on. I must give him credit for his self-restraint; but in Samuel
it did not, somehow, appear to advantage. I can still hear old Purcell's
exasperated voice: "Damn your eyes, Samuel! Don't lick your chops over
it! Eat and be done with it like the rest of us!"

Cole never failed to say grace before he partook of his food, however
tiny the amount. His little prayer, delivered in a low voice, was audible
to those who sat next him in the boat. I heard it, many's the time; and
it was always the same: "Our Heavenly Father: We thank Thee for Thy
ever-loving care, and for these Thy bounties to the children of men."

One might easily have imagined, from the simple, earnest manner of the
old fellow, that he had just sat down to a table spread with all the good
things of life, and that he considered such largess far beyond his
deserts.

The afternoon continued fine, with the same gentle breeze, carrying us
smoothly in the direction we would go. At midday Bligh took our position.
By our log we had sailed sixty-two miles since noon of the seventh, the
smallest day's run we had yet made; but we were content that it should be
so, for we had comfort from the sun's warmth and rest from the weary work
of bailing.

We had sailed five hundred miles from Tofoa, nearly one-seventh of the
distance to Timor; an average better than eighty miles per day. That
number, somehow, encouraged us; we made much of it, passed it about in
talk. Five hundred miles seemed a vast distance; but we were careful to
avoid speaking of the more than three thousand miles that lay ahead.

On this day Mr. Bligh performed an act of heroism in having himself
shaved by Smith, his servant. There was neither soap nor water to soften
his beard. He sat on the floor in the stern sheets, his head held between
Peckover's knees, while Smith crouched beside him cutting through the dry
hair, stopping every moment to strop his razor. The task required the
better part of an hour; and none of us, seeing Bligh's sufferings, was
tempted to follow his example.

"By God, Smith!" he said when the ordeal was over. "I would run the
gantlet of all the savages in the South Sea rather than go through this
again. Were you ever shaved by the Indians, Mr. Nelson?"

"Once," Nelson replied. "Captain Cook and I both made the experiment on
the island of Leefooga. The native made use of two shells, taking the
hairs of the beard between them. It was a tedious task, but not so
painful as I had imagined it would be."

Bligh nodded. "I've tried it myself; and I've heard that an Indian mother
can shave her child's head with a shark's tooth on a stick, and make as
close work of it as a man could do with a razor. But I'll believe that
only when I've seen it done."

"They've great skill, the Indians," said Peckover; "but my choice is for
our own way. I'd be pleased to be sitting this minute in the chair of the
worst hairdresser in Portsmouth. I'd call it heaven, though he shaved me
with a wood rasp."

"You'll see Portsmouth again, Mr. Peckover; never doubt it," said Bligh
quietly.

A deep silence followed this statement. The men looked toward him, a
pathetic, wistful eagerness apparent on every face. All wished to
believe; and yet the chances against us seemed overwhelming. But there
was no shadow of uncertainty in Bligh's voice or manner. He spoke with a
confidence that cheered us all.

"And another thing we will see there," he went on: "Fletcher Christian
hanging by the neck from a yardarm on one of His Majesty's ships, and
every bloody pirate that joined him."

"It will be a long day, Mr. Bligh, before we have that satisfaction, if
we ever do," Purcell replied.

"Long?" Bligh replied. "The arm of His Majesty's law is long, mind you
that! Let them hide as they may, it can reach and take them by the neck.
Mr. Nelson, where do you think they will go? I have my own opinion, but I
should like yours."

This was the first time since we had lost the ship that Mr. Bligh had
made more than a passing blasphemous reference to the mutineers, or would
suffer any of us to speak of them.

"I can tell you where I think most of them will wish to go," Nelson
replied: "back to Otaheite."

"So I think," said Bligh. "May God make them bloody fools enough to do
it!"

"As they cast off the launch, sir, I plainly heard some of them shout
'Huzza for Otaheite!'" Elphinstone put in. "There was much noise at the
time, but I couldn't have been mistaken."

"Whatever the others may decide to do," said Nelson, "there is one too
wise to stop there long: Mr. Christian."

Bligh started as though he had been struck in the face. He glanced darkly
at Nelson, his eyes blazing with suppressed anger.

"Mr. Nelson," he said; "let me never again hear a title of courtesy
attached to that scoundrel's name!"

"I am sorry," Nelson replied quietly.

"Say no more," said Bligh. "It was a slip, that I know; but I could not
suffer it to pass in silence...I agree with what you say of him. He is
too wily a villain to remain in a place where he knows he will be
searched for. But you will see: the others will not follow him; and we
shall have them, like that!" He opened his hand, closing it slowly and
tightly as though he already had their several throats within his clutch.

"Aye," said Purcell sourly. "And the leader of 'em will go free. He'll
never be found."

"Say you so?" Bligh replied with a harsh laugh. "You should know me
better than that, Mr. Purcell. I pray I may be sent in search of him!
There's not an island in the Pacific, charted or not, where he can escape
me! No, by God! Not a sandy cay in the midst of desolation where I cannot
track him down! And well he knows it!"

"Where do you think he might go, sir?" asked Fryer.

"We will speak no more of this matter, Mr. Fryer," Bligh replied, and
there was an end to any discussion of the mutineers for many a day. Bligh
felt keenly the humiliation of losing his ship, and although he rarely
mentioned the _Bounty_, well we knew that the thought of her was always
present in his mind.

That same afternoon he gave us an account of what he knew of the coastal
lands of New Holland and New Guinea.

"This information is for you in particular, Mr. Fryer, and for Mr.
Elphinstone," he said. "Should anything happen to me it will devolve upon
you to navigate those waters, and you must know what I can tell you of
the course to follow. That ocean is but little known; my knowledge of it
I had from Captain Cook, when I was master of the Resolution, on his
third voyage. Our task then was largely concerned with exploration in the
Northern Hemisphere; but we had much time on our hands at sea, and
Captain Cook was kind enough to inform his officers of his earlier
explorations in the western Pacific, and of his passage through what he
named 'Endeavour Straits.' I listened with interest, but I little thought
I should ever have use for the information he gave us. Which only goes to
show, young man," he added, turning to Hayward, "that knowledge of the
sea never comes amiss to a seaman. Remember that. You never know when you
may have occasion to use it."

"Is there any other passage between those lands save by Endeavour
Straits?" Elphinstone asked.

"There may be," Bligh replied; "but if so, I've never heard of it. I need
not go into the details of my recollection of the position as given by
Captain Cook. You will find this marked on the rough chart I made from
memory whilst we were in the cave at Tofoa. It is in my journal. That
chart is all you will have to go by in steering through what Captain Cook
considered the worst area of reef-infested ocean in the whole of the
Pacific. This is the important thing to bear in mind now: Whether we will
or no, with strong winds and a heavy sea we must run before them, very
likely, farther to the north than we wish to go. Therefore, in case you
are driven north of the twelfth parallel, take every opportunity to get
to the south'ard, so that you may strike the great reef along the coast
of New Holland in the region of thirteen south. It is thereabout, as I
recall it, that Captain Cook found the passage which he named
'Providential Channel.' If you can strike it, you can coast to the
north'ard with a fair wind, in tolerably quiet waters, till you round the
northern cape of New Holland and pass through Endeavour Straits. You
shall then have open sailing all the way to Timor."

"We shan't forget, sir," Fryer replied; "but God forbid that you should
not be the one to see us through!"

"God will forbid it, I believe," said Bligh, gravely; "but in our
situation it is best to provide for every possible mishap."

"Will there be islands, sir, inside the reef at New Holland, where we can
go ashore?" Hayward asked.

"I have a clear recollection of Captain Cook speaking of various small
lands scattered over the lagoons," Bligh replied. "He found none that
were inhabited, as I remember, although he believed they were resorted to
at times by the savages. We shall certainly stop at some of them to
refresh ourselves."

"How far will New Holland be from where we are, sir?" Hallet asked.

"We will not speak of that, my lad," said Bligh in a kindly voice. "Think
if you like of the distance we have come, but never let your mind run
forward faster than your vessel. Lebogue is an old seaman. Ask him if
that is good advice."

"Aye, sir, the very best," said Lebogue, nodding his shaggy head. "It's
the only way for a quick passage, Mr. Hallet."

We fell silent again, watching Lebogue, who sat at our solitary fishing
line, which he had kept in the water nearly all the way from Tofoa. We
had no bait to spare, and Lebogue and the boatswain had tried every
conceivable kind of lure that our means afforded. He was now using one
made of the brass handle of a clasp knife and some bits of red cloth torn
from a handkerchief. It trailed after the launch at a distance of forty
or fifty yards, and was sometimes drawn closer that we might better
observe it. There had been moments of breathless expectation when some
fish of splendid size would rush toward it; but they invariably
recognized it as belonging to nothing in nature, and sheered away. It was
maddening to see fish around us--often great multitudes--and never to be
able to catch one. But Cole and Lebogue were ever hopeful. They were
continually changing the lure; but the result was always the same. On
several occasions schools of small mulletlike fish had hovered alongside
of us for a few moments. Had we been possessed of a hoop net we could,
unquestionably, have caught some of them, they were in such quantities,
but the attempt to seine them up with our few remaining hats had not been
successful. For all our bitter disappointments, both the fish and the
occasional sea birds we met with proved a boon to us. Attempts to catch
them occupied our minds. Our bellies, however, felt differently about the
matter, and would never agree that our unavailing attempts did more than
add insult to injury.

We now had both sails up; they were drawing well, and the sea was so calm
that we shipped no water. The sun went down, as it had risen, in a
cloudless sky, and darkness came on swiftly. Presently the moon rose,
flooding the lonely sea with a glory that transfigured our little boat
and everyone in her. Purcell, with his dirty rags wound round his broken
head, sat by the mast amidships, facing aft. He looked a noble, even an
heroic figure, in that light. On the day of the mutiny, as we were rowing
away from the _Bounty_, I wondered how long one small boat would hold two
such men as Captain Bligh and himself before they would be at each
other's throats. There had long been a feud between them on the ship.
Purcell had a high opinion of his ability as a carpenter, and considered
himself a monarch in his own department. He was as bullheaded as Bligh
himself, but he had the good sense to know his place and to realize that
the captain of a ship was, after all, in a position of higher authority
than the carpenter. Secretly, as I knew, he gloried in the fact that
Bligh had lost his ship, and considered it a just punishment for his
tyrannical behaviour; and yet there was no man more loyal to his
commander. On the morning of the mutiny there had not been a moment's
hesitation in deciding where his duty lay. In the launch it interested me
to observe his attitude toward Bligh, and Bligh's toward him. They hated
each other; but, in Purcell's case at least, hatred was tempered by
respect.

What a contrast the carpenter made to young Tinkler, who sat beside him!
He loved this lad as much as he hated Bligh, and being an old seaman he
invariably showed him great respect because of his rank as midshipman,
never omitting to address him as "Mr. Tinkler." And Tinkler was worthy of
respect as well as of affection. He was a plucky lad. There was never a
time, no matter how desperate our situation, when he did not play his
part like a man.

That night was the only one we had passed in any measure of comfort since
leaving Tofoa. Our cramped positions were no pleasanter than they had
been, but the boat, as well as our cloathing, was dry, and we were able
to have some hours of refreshing sleep.

The ninth of May was just such a day as the eighth had been, with a calm
sea and a light breeze from the east-southeast. Bligh had everyone roused
at dawn, and as soon as we had worked a little of the stiffness out of
our limbs, he set Cole to work, with some of us for helpers, in fitting a
pair of shrouds for each mast. Others assisted the carpenter, who was
employed in putting a weather cloth, made of some of our spare canvas,
around the boat. The quarters were raised nine inches by means of the
stern seats which were nailed to cleats along them, and the weather cloth
was of the same width, so that, when the task was finished, the boat was
as well prepared for rough weather as we could make her. This was the
carpenter's day, and he made the most of it; and I will do him the
justice to say that he did a thoroughly workmanlike job.

I was glad to hear Mr. Bligh remark: "That will do very well, carpenter."

It was high praise, coming from him; but Purcell would not have been
Purcell had he not replied: "Begging your pardon, sir, it won't do well,
but I can make no better with what we've got here."

At noon, on the ninth, we were sixty-four miles farther on our way. All
of this day we saw neither fish nor bird.

Toward the middle of the afternoon, Nelson broke a silence that seemed to
have lasted for hours. "I am constrained to speak, Mr. Bligh," he said,
with a faint smile. "This sea is so vast and so quiet that I am inclined
to doubt its reality and our own as well."

"That's a strange fancy, sir," Bligh replied; "but the sea is real
enough; I can promise you that."



CHAPTER VII


I remember Captain Bligh saying to Fryer, about noon on May the twelfth:
"I think we've seen the worst of it."

"I am sure of it, sir," Fryer replied, but he believed no more than Bligh
in the truth of the statement. It had fallen calm about half an hour
before, but the sea, as viewed from the launch, was an awe-inspiring
sight. Fryer had just relieved Bligh at the tiller, which he had held
continuously for eighteen hours.

Our shrouds for the masts and the canvas weather cloth had been fitted
none too soon; on the evening of that same day,--May the ninth,--at about
nine o'clock, wind and rain had struck us together, and all through the
night four men were continuously bailing, and there were times when every
man of us save Bligh was so employed. The sky was concealed by low gray
clouds scudding before the wind. So it remained all day and all night of
the tenth, the eleventh, and till near midday of the twelfth; and now,
although the wind had fallen, the sky was an ominous sight.

There was no break in the clouds, no signs of a lightening at any point
in the heavy canopy that overhung us, so low that it seemed almost within
reach. Nevertheless, it was calm, for the moment, at least, and the sky
withheld its rain. Our sail was dropped into the boat.

"I want two men at the oars," Bligh said.

"I'll make one, sir," Lenkletter called out, and a dozen others at the
same time. All were eager for a chance to warm their benumbed bodies.
Lenkletter and Lebogue were first chosen, but there were reliefs every
quarter of an hour so that the rest of us might enjoy the benefit of the
exercise.

"Don't exert yourselves, men," said Bligh; "merely keep her stern to the
swell."

The boat had never seemed so small to me as she did then, and I could
imagine what a speck she would have appeared in that vast ocean could one
have observed her with a sea bird's eye. The long swell, coming from the
southeast, was of a prodigious height, but without the wind there was no
menace in it. The seas moved toward us, rank after rank, with a
solemnity, a majesty, that filled the heart with awe; cold and wretched
though we were, we had a kind of solemn pleasure in watching them: seeing
our little boat lifted high on their broad backs, to find ourselves
immediately after in a great valley between them.

As a recompense for our sufferings, Captain Bligh issued an allowance of
rum, two teaspoonfuls for each man; and for our dinner that day we had
half an ounce of pork each, in addition to the bread. This made our
midday meal seem a veritable feast, and the rum gave us a little warmth.
It was the cold that we dreaded at this time, fully as much as the sea:
the wind, penetrating cloathing perpetually drenched with rain, felt
bitterly chill, as though it were blowing from fields of ice. Thanks to
Captain Bligh, we now adopted a means of combating it that proved of
inestimable service. He advised us to wring out out cloathing in sea
water. It is strange that none of us had thought of this simple expedient
before, but the fact remains that we had not. The moment we tried it we
found ourselves wonderfully comfortable in comparison with our miserable
plight before, the reason being that salt water does not evaporate in the
wind so fast as fresh.

We passed the next two or three hours tolerably well; what between taking
our turns at the oars and wringing out our cloathes from time to time, we
broke the back of the afternoon, each man secretly watching all the while
for any change that would give us reason to hope that better weather was
in store; but the only change was that the dull light became duller yet,
as the day wore on toward evening. And still there was no wind.

The silence made us uneasy. Our ears had been accustomed to the deep roar
of the wind and the seething hiss of breaking seas. God knows, we wanted
no more of such weather, but we did crave wind enough to carry us on our
way. The great swells went under us noiselessly; the only sounds to be
heard were the small human sounds within the boat--a spoken word, a
cough, a weary sigh as someone shifted his position.

It must have been toward four o'clock in the afternoon that there was
mingled with the vast quiet what was, at first, the very ghost of
sound--and yet every man of us heard it. Elphinstone, who was lying in
the bottom of the boat just before me, raised his head to look round.
"What is that?" he said.

There was no need to reply. As we rose to the swell, every head was
turned to the eastward; and there, not half a mile distant, we again saw
approaching our remorseless enemy--rain.

It came on in what appeared to be a solid wall of blackness, faintly
lighted by a dull grayish glow from the sky before it. There was no wind
immediately behind; the slowness of its approach assured us of that;
therefore, we waited in silence, while the sound increased and spread,
now deadened as we fell into the trough, more loud as we rose to the
crest of the next wave. Then, as though at the last moment it had leaped
to make sure of us, we were in the midst of it--drenched, half drowned,
gasping for breath, in a deluge such as we had never before experienced.

In an instant I lost sight of the men in the forward part of the boat.
This, I know, will scarcely be believed by those whose experience of rain
has been only in the northern latitudes, who know nothing of the enormous
weight of water released in a tropical cloudburst. The fact remains that
the launch vanished from my sight save for the after part of it where I
sat, and the men immediately before my eyes were but shadows blurred by
sheets of almost solid water. I heard Captain Bligh's voice, faintly,
above the hiss and thunder of the deluge. The words were
indistinguishable, but we well knew what we had to do. We bailed with the
desperation of men who feel the water gaining upon them even as they
bail; who feel it cover their feet and rise slowly toward their knees.
And it was not sea water that we threw over the side. It was the pure
sweet water of clouds, which men, adrift in a small boat in mid-ocean, so
often pray for in vain, with blackening lips and swelling tongues; and we
hurled it away from us with bailing scoops, coconut shells, the copper
pot, with our hats, with our cupped hands, lest this precious fluid,
which Captain Bligh had, rightly, doled out to us a quarter of a pint at
a time, should be our death. There was irony in the situation, though we
had no time to think of it then.

The darkness in the midst of the storm was almost that of night, but
presently I could once more see the outlines of the boat and the forms of
the men, and knew that the worst was over. We were a forlorn-looking
crew: the water streamed from our cloathing, which was plastered against
our bodies; from our hair and beards; and we were again chilled to the
bone.

Mr. Bligh's voice sounded unusually loud against the ensuing silence.
"Look alive, lads! Mr. Cole, close-reef the foresail, and get it on her.
There'll be wind behind this."

"Aye, aye, sir," the boatswain called back. The rest of us, with the
exception of the men at the oars, continued bailing, for there was a deal
of water yet to be got rid of.

Lebogue was working beside me. "Aye," he muttered, at Bligh's remark
about wind; "we've summ'at to come, I'll be bound."

We bailed her dry, and then had time, for a few moments, to know how cold
we were. "Wring out your cloathes," said Bligh. We were not slow to obey,
and the men nearest Lamb and Simpson performed this service for them, as
they were too weak to do it for themselves. Meanwhile the foresail had
been double-reefed and hoisted, Bligh again took the tiller, and we
waited for the wind.

We saw it coming from afar. The oily swells, that had been smooth enough
to reflect the gray light, were blackened under it. We saw it leaping
from summit to summit; but whilst it came swiftly, there was no great
weight of air at first. Our tiny bit of sail, heavy and dark with rain,
bellied out, and the launch gathered steerageway once more. The dull
light faded from the sky, and soon what was left of it seemed to be
gathered on the surface of the sea, again streaked with foam and flying
spray. Harder and harder it blew. No watch was set for the night. We well
knew there was work and to spare at hand for all of us.

Nelson touched my arm and pointed overhead. A man-of-war bird, its great
wings outspread, wheeled into the wind and hovered over us for a few
seconds, seeming to stand motionless against that mighty stream as it
looked down at us. Of a sudden it tipped, scudded away, and was lost to
view.

Fryer was seated by Mr. Bligh, watching the following seas. "Stand by to
bail!" he shouted.


I cannot recall the thirty-six hours that followed without experiencing
something of the horror I felt at the time. Wind and rain, rain and wind,
under a sky that held no promise of relief. Bad as the hours of daylight
were, those of darkness were infinitely worse, for we could see nothing.
It seemed a miracle to me that Mr. Bligh was able to keep the launch
before the seas, the more so because the wind veered considerably at
times, and he could not depend upon the feel of it at his back to tell
him how the waves were approaching. He was helped to some extent by Fryer
and Elphinstone, who crouched on their knees beside him, facing aft,
peering into the darkness; but with the clouds of spray continually in
their faces, they could see little or nothing until a sea was on the
point of boarding us.

Never, I think, could the gray dawn have been welcomed more devoutly than
it was by us on the morning of May the fourteenth; and, as though in pity
of our plight, the wind abated shortly after. There was even a watery
gleam of light as the sun rose, but our hopes and prayers for blue sky
were unavailing. Nevertheless, the clouds were higher and the look of
them less menacing than they had been for four days past.

As I looked into the faces about me I realized how frightful my own must
appear. Lamb, the butcher, and George Simpson, the quartermaster's mate,
appeared to be at the last extremity. They lay in the bottom of the boat,
unable to do aught for themselves; throughout the night just past, the
water we shipped continually had been washing around them, and it was as
much as they could do at times to raise their heads above it. Nelson,
too, was a pitiable sight. Never a strong man, the privations and
hardships we had undergone had worn him down, but the spirit within the
frail body was as tough as that of Captain Bligh himself. Never a groan
or a word of complaint came from Nelson. Weak as he was, physically, he
was a tower of strength in our company. The men who showed the fewest
signs of suffering thus far were Purcell, Cole, Peckover, Lenkletter,
Elphinstone, and the three midshipmen. Captain Bligh and the master, who
had borne the brunt of our battle against the sea, were gaunt and
hollow-eyed, but Bligh seemed to have an inexhaustible reserve of energy
to draw upon. I must not omit to speak of Samuel, Bligh's clerk, who I
had thought would be among the first to show the effects of hardship. He
was city born and bred, with the pale complexion and the soft-appearing
body usually found among men of sedentary occupations; nevertheless, he
had borne up amazingly well, both in body and spirit. He was a man wholly
lacking in imagination, and his belief in Captain Bligh was like that of
a dog in its master. He could not, I am sure, conceive of any situation,
however perilous, which Bligh was not more than equal to. I envied him
this confident trust, particularly at night. Tinkler and Hayward were
sturdily built lads, and youth gave them a great advantage over some of
the rest of us. Hallet lacked their toughness of fibre, but for all that
he played his part like a man, and deserved the more credit in that he
was compelled to fight constantly against his terror of the sea. He was
not the only one with this fear at his heart. I admit freely that my
spirits were often far sunk because of it, although I did my best to
conceal the fact.

There had been times, at night, when no man of us, unless it were
Samuel,--no, not even Captain Bligh himself,--could have believed that we
should see another dawn. The fact that we had survived the nights of the
thirteenth and fourteenth gave us new courage. We knew, now, what our
boat could do.

We were on a course, N.W. by W. Of a sudden the gray sky to the southwest
lightened, and a few moments later there was a break in the clouds. We
had all around us, as we thought, nothing but empty sea; but presently we
saw, or thought we saw, pale-blue mountains that seemed to be floating
high in air. Tinkler was the first to spy them, and before some of us
could raise our heads to look, they had again vanished in the mists.
Those who had not seen could not believe in the reality of the vision,
but an hour later, there it was again; and this time there was no doubt
in anyone's mind. Clouds of dense vapour lifted slowly, revealing a land
of lofty mountains that stood in cold blue silhouette against the gray
sky. At first we thought it one island; but as we approached we found
there were four, which bore S.W. to N.W. by W., and distant about six
leagues. The largest was, in Captain Bligh's judgment, about twenty
leagues in circuit.

We altered our course to pass a little to eastward of the most northerly
one. Bligh had only his recollection to serve him, but he believed them a
part of the New Hebrides, which Captain Cook had named and explored
during his second expedition to the South Sea, in 1774. All through the
morning we were sailing at about two knots. The sea was now so calm that
but two men were required at the bailing scoops. The rest of us feasted
our eyes upon the land. Many an anxious and appealing glance was thrown
in Captain Bligh's direction, but he gave no hint as to what his plan
was. By the middle of the afternoon we had left the larger islands well
astern, and were no more than two leagues distant from the northerly one.
The wind was again blowing fresh, and our course was altered to approach
still closer. We could see the smoke of many fires rising from the
foreshore; the thought of their warmth increased our misery.

The land was of a horseshoe shape. A ridge of high mountains, falling
steeply to the sea, enclosed a large bay with a northeasterly exposure.
We passed the entrance to this bay not more than two miles off. In about
half an hour we had rounded the northern cape, and were well in the lee.

No word had been spoken during this time. We waited with deep anxiety to
learn what Captain Bligh's intentions were.

"Trim the sails," he ordered.

We headed up, approaching to within a quarter of a mile of a small cove
that resembled, in a general way, the one at Tofoa; but here there was a
smooth sandy beach instead of a rocky one, and the vegetation was of, the
richest green; indeed, the island seemed a paradise to our famished,
sea-weary eyes. The sail was dropped and two men were set at the oars to
keep us off the land.

"Now, Mr. Purcell," said Bligh, "we will repair our weather cloth. Look
alive, for I wish to lose no more time here than is necessary."

Our weather cloth had been much damaged by the sea the night before.

A deep silence followed this order. Purcell remained where he was.
Presently he raised his head, sullenly.

"Mr. Bligh," he said, "if you mean to go on from here without giving us a
chance to refresh ourselves, I'm opposed; and there's more that feels as
I do."

For all the stiffness in his legs, Bligh got to his feet in an instant.
His lips were drawn in a thin line and his eyes were blazing with anger,
but as he looked at the forlorn figures before him the expression on his
face softened and he checked himself.

"There are more?" he asked quietly. "Who are they? Let them speak up."

"I'm one, sir," Elphinstone replied in a hollow voice; "and I'll ask you
to believe I'm speaking for others more than myself."

"We are in a pitiful state, sir," Fryer put in. "A night of rest on shore
might be the means of preserving the lives of some of us. There's sure to
be food on so rich an island."

"There's coconut trees, sir," Lenkletter put in eagerly. "Look yonder,
halfway up the slope."

A clump of coconut palms could, in fact, be seen, raising their plumed
tops above the forests that covered the steep hillsides. Bligh looked
from us to the land, and back again; presently he shook his head.

"Lads, we dare not risk it," he said. "You cannot suppose that I do not
feel for your sufferings, since I share them with you. God knows I should
be glad to rest here; but the danger is too great. We must not!"

"There's no Indians here, sir," said Purcell. "That's plain to be seen."

Bligh controlled himself with difficulty. "At the moment there are none,"
he replied; "but we have seen the smoke of many fires, and we were well
within view as we passed the bay on the northern side. Make no mistake,
we have been seen; and I will say this, which may coo! your desire to go
ashore: Captain Cook told me that the savages of the New Hebrides are
cannibals of the fiercest sort. These islands must be a part of the same
group."

"I don't fear them," Purcell interrupted, "whatever may be the case with
yourself."

Bligh jerked back his head, as though he had been struck in the face.
Purcell, always a cantankerous old rogue, had never before, dared to
speak in this fashion. Some allowance, perhaps, can be made for him under
the circumstances. Although he had borne hardships well, it is possible
that he felt the pangs of hunger more keenly than any of us.

Mr. Bligh behaved with a forbearance I had thought him incapable of
exercising. Frequently, on the _Bounty_, I had seen him fly into a passion
upon slight provocation. Now that he had ample cause for anger, he kept
himself well in hand. The reason was, I believe, that he knew how
desperately weary we were and how bitter our disappointment at being
within view of what appeared to us Eden itself, and forbidden to rest and
refresh ourselves there. No insult could have been more gross and unjust
than that of the carpenter, and he well knew it. For a moment Bligh did
not trust himself to speak. Then he said: "Set about your work, Mr.
Purcell. If you do not, by God you shall go ashore--with me, and with me
alone."

The carpenter, knowing that he was in the wrong, obeyed at once. Those
who had the strength assisted him; the rest of us kept watch on shore.

Presently Lebogue exclaimed: "Aye, sir, we've been seen, right enough!
Look yonder!"

Half a dozen savages emerged from the thick bush and came down to the
water's edge, gazing out toward us. We were directly opposite the
entrance to the cove, and could see them plainly. They were naked save
for short kirtles about the middle, and were armed with spears, bows, and
arrows. About this same time, Tinkler and Hayward discovered a path
leading up one of the hills at the back of the cove. At one point it was
in plain view, where it rounded a grassy knoll. Keeping watch upon this
place, we saw more Indians passing it as they hastened into the valley.
The beach was soon thronged, and we could faintly hear their shouts as
they ran this way and that, evidently in a state of great excitement. We
had the entire half circle of the beach within view; no canoes were to be
seen there, but we did not know what they might have concealed amongst
the trees.

In view of Purcell's bold statement of half an hour before, it was
interesting to observe his nervousness as the throng of savages
increased. Many an apprehensive glance did he throw in their direction.

"Keep your eyes on your work, sir!" Bligh ordered. "Your friends ashore
will wait for you."

Presently Tinkler, who had the keenest eyes amongst us, informed Bligh
that he had seen three or four of the Indians running up the hill,
evidently returning to the large bay on the other side of the mountains.

"They must be sending word to the people over there, sir," Fryer
remarked, anxiously. "No doubt they have canoes in the bay, and mean to
get at us by sea."

"I should think it more than likely, sir," Bligh replied, quietly.
"Nevertheless, we shall have time to finish repairing our weather cloth."

Never, I fancy, had Purcell worked more earnestly than he did upon this
occasion. Bligh watched him grimly and would allow him to skimp nothing.

Just as the work was finished, a large canoe, containing between forty
and fifty savages, appeared round the northern promontory, about a mile
distant. They had no sail, but, with ten or fifteen paddlers on a side,
they came on swiftly.

"Now, Mr. Purcell," said Bligh; "is it your desire that we let them come
up with us? You say you have no fear of them."

It was all but impossible for the carpenter ever to admit himself in the
wrong; but upon this occasion he swallowed his stubborn pride at once.

"No, sir," he replied.

"Very well," said Bligh. "Get sail on her, Mr. Cole."

For all the stiffness of our limbs, the two sails were hoisted in an
instant, and we drew away from the land. For the moment, at least, we
forgot our hunger, our wet cloathing--everything was lost sight of in the
excitement of the race. At first the savages gained rapidly, and it was
plain from their actions that their intentions were anything but
friendly: those who were not paddling brandished their weapons, and
several of them shot arrows after us, some of which fell only a little
distance astern. Then we caught the full force of the wind, and the space
between us gradually increased. Presently they gave up the pursuit; we
saw them enter the cove opposite which we had lain. We then stood away
upon the old course.

Never, I think, during the whole of our voyage, were our spirits so low
as upon this same, afternoon. The sea stretched away, gray and solitary,
and we dared not think of the horizons beyond horizons .that remained to
be crossed before we could set foot upon any shore. Most of us knew that
we were still far from halfway, even, to the coast of New Holland. At the
earliest we could not hope to reach it before another fortnight had
passed.

I now come to an incident concerning which I am most reluctant to speak,
and yet it must not be passed over in silence. There was, it seems, one
man in our company so lost to all sense of his duty toward the others as
to steal a part of our precious supply of pork. The theft amounted to one
two-pound piece, and was committed during the night of this same day.
With respect to the bread, Captain Bligh had put temptation beyond the
power of anyone: it was kept under lock and key in the carpenter's chest.
But the pork was not so guarded. It was stored, wrapped in a cloth, in
the bow. We had passed a wretched night, with a strong northeast wind, a
rough sea, and perpetual rain. There had been no sleep for anyone. At
dawn the next morning, Captain Bligh ordered a teaspoonful of rum and
half an ounce of pork for our breakfast; and it was then that the theft
was discovered. I well remember the look of horror in Mr. Cole's face as
he reported it. "There's a piece missing, sir," he said.

I should not have supposed that any man guilty of such a crime against
his comrades could have maintained an air of perfect innocence upon the
discovery of the theft; but so it was, here. Captain Bligh questioned
each of us by name, beginning with the master:--

"Mr. Fryer, did you take this pork?"

"No, sir," Fryer replied, with a sincerity that no one could doubt. The
question was repeated seventeen times, and the seventeen replies all
carried conviction.

I remember having heard, or read, that men reduced to starvation in
company sometimes lose all sense of moral responsibility, and that cases
have been known where men of integrity, under normal conditions, have
committed such crimes without any qualms of conscience, stoutly and
indignantly denying them, no matter how damning the evidence against them
might be. With us there was no evidence as to the possible culprit; most
of our company had taken turns at bailing in the bow during the night,
which was so black that one could not see one's next neighbour in the
boat.

I shall say no more of this wretched affair except that the thief,
whoever he may have been, must surely have despised himself. Captain
Bligh brought home to him the enormity of the wrong he had done his
fellow sufferers in words that he could never forget.


I believed, on the night of the fourteenth of May, that our company had
suffered to the limits of endurance. "Another night as bad as this..." I
had thought. And there were to be nine to follow--nine days and nights,
during which time we were continuously wet and all but perished with
cold. The wind shifted from southeast to northeast, now blowing half a
gale, now dying away to a dead calm when the oars would be gotten out to
keep the launch before the sea. There were moments of fugitive sunshine,
but of such brief duration that they but added to our misery, for we were
never able to dry our cloathes.

Our situation on the afternoon of May twenty-third was so like that of
the twelfth that it seemed time had stood still. We rode the same
mountainous seas, under the same lowering sky. What added to my confused
sense that we were doomed to an eternity of misery was that Mr. Bligh had
again remarked to Fryer: "I think we've seen the worst of it."

We had been on starvation rations for twenty-one days past, and, during
the whole of this time, wet to the skin and chilled to the bone. Our
bodies were covered with salt-water sores, so that the slightest movement
was agony, yet we were compelled to move constantly for the purpose of
bailing. Many of us were now too weak to raise ourselves to our feet, but
we crawled and pulled ourselves about somehow, and, knowing that our
lives depended upon it, we could still manage to throw out water.

Never before had I realized what a torment the body could be. But I must
add this: neither had I realized the toughness, the fineness, of the
human spirit under conditions that try it to the utmost. The miscreant
who had stolen the pork served only as a foil to the others, whose
conduct was such during these interminable hours of trial as has given me
a new and exalted opinion of my fellow beings. Whatever men may say in
men's despite in the future, or whatever unfortunate revelations
concerning them may come under my own observation, I shall think of the
company in the _Bounty's_ launch and retain my firm belief that, in their
darkest hours, and in situations that bear upon them even past the limits
of endurance, most men show a heroism that lifts them to heights beyond
estimation. The cynic may smile at this. I care not. I know whereof I
speak. I have seen the matter put to the proof in a company of eighteen
whose members, with two exceptions,--Captain Bligh and Mr. Nelson,--were
men such as one might find in any seacoast town in England.

I will not say that there had been no complaints, no urgent, piteous
requests for additional food. There were. I can understand better now
than I could then what strength Bligh needed to withstand the entreaties
of starving men. He fed the weakest upon wine, a few drops at a time; but
every demand for additional food was refused save upon the occasions when
a tiny morsel of pork would be added to our mouthful of bread.

I have a vivid recollection of the events of the evening and the night of
May twenty-third. Bligh had been continuously at the tiller for
thirty-six hours, and he remained there until dawn the following morning.
I sat in the bottom of the boat facing him, propped up against the thwart
immediately forward of the stern sheets. Nelson lay beside me with his
head on my knee. He was frightfully emaciated, and so weak that I
believed he had not more than twenty-four hours to live. The strongest of
our number were Mr. Bligh, Fryer, Cole, Peckover, Samuel, and the two
midshipmen, Tinkler and Hayward. The two latter were at the oars as
the last of daylight faded, keeping the launch before the sea.

It had been dead calm for more than two hours, but neither past
experience nor the look of the sky gave us reason to expect that it would
remain so. The last gray light faded quickly, and soon we were in the
complete darkness that had been our portion during so many terrible nights.

About three hours after sunset I had fallen into a doze, and only a
moment later, it seemed, I was awakened by the deep humming of the wind
and the hiss and wash of breaking sea. I heard Bligh calling to Cole,
whose station was forward by the reefed foresail, and immediately
afterward solid water came pouring over our quarters. Never had we come
so near to foundering as at that moment; indeed, for a few seconds I
thought we were lost. Bligh shouted: "Bail for your lives!" and so we
did. Not a man of us but realized that we were in the immediate presence
of disaster.

The horror of that experience I shall not attempt to describe; but it
had this good effect: that it aroused even the weakest from apathy, and
called into play reserves of nervous force that we did not know we
possessed. As for Captain Bligh, he displayed, throughout the whole of
this night, a courage far above my poor powers to depict. Now and then
his emaciated form would be clearly outlined for a second or two in a
glare of lightning, then swallowed up in darkness. When I had said to
Nelson, at Tofoa; that ours was a situation that Bligh was born
to meet, I little realized how truthfully I spoke. Worn down though he
was by hunger and hardship and lack of sleep, he showed no sign
of weakening to the strain. Indeed, the more desperate our situation, the
more he seemed to rejoice in it. I say this with no desire to exaggerate.
He displayed on this night an exhilaration of mind the more striking in
view of the peril of our situation. We passed through a series of violent
squalls accompanied by thunder and lightning, and I shall never forget
the vivid glimpses I had of him, one hand gripping the tiller, the other
the gunwale, the seas that threatened to swamp us foaming up behind him
and showering him with spray.

And I can still hear his voice in the darkness, heartening us all:

"We're doing a full six knots, lads! Let that warm your blood if bailing
can't do it--but don't stop bailing!"

Once, in a brief lull between storms, Fryer had suggested that a prayer
be said. "No, Mr. Fryer," he replied. "Pray if you like, but to my way of
thinking, God expects better than prayers of us at a time like this."
It was in this same lull, I remember, that Cole called back, "Sir,
shall I relieve you at the tiller?"

"Sit where you are, Mr. Cole," Bligh replied. "Do you think you can
handle her better than myself?"

"I know very well I can't," Cole replied. "I was thinking how tired you
must be."

A moment of silence followed; then we again heard Bligh's voice: "You are
a good man, Mr. Cole, and an able man. I wish there were more like you in
the service."

It was a handsome apology, and praise well deserved. I knew how it must
have warmed Cole's heart.

The pause between squalls was of short duration. There was more, and
worse, to come; and in the midst of it I saw Captain Bligh at the summit
of his career.

There was a blinding glare of lightning, followed by a peal of thunder
that seemed to shake the very bed of the deep. At that moment a
great sea flung the launch into an all but vertical position. And there
sat Bligh as on a throne, lifted high above us all, exalted in more than
a physical sense.

"Bail, lads!" he shouted. "By God! We're beating the sea itself!"



CHAPTER VIII


During the following night the severity of the weather relaxed; at dawn
the sea was so calm that for the first time in fifteen days we
found it unnecessary to bail. I had managed to sleep for two or three
hours in a miserably cramped position. When I awoke, I lay without
moving for some time, gazing in a kind of stupor at what I could see of
the others in the boat.

Nelson lay beside me. His eyes were half opened, and with his parted
lips, looking blue in the morning light, his hollow cheeks and sunken
temples, I thought for a moment, until aware of some slight sign of
breathing, that he must have died during the night. Captain Bligh sat in
the stern, beside Elphinstone, who held the tiller. Although reduced,
like the rest of us, to skin and bone, and clad, like ourselves, in
sodden rags, there was nothing grotesque in his appearance. Wear what he
might, he was still a noble figure, and suffering but added to the
dignity and firmness of his bearing.

"Come up here in the sun, Mr. Ledward," he said. "It will make a new man
of you."

I struggled to stand, but was unable to rise. Mr. Bligh helped me to the
seat beside him. He made a sign to Hayward and Tinkler to help Nelson up.
The botanist gave me a ghastly smile, designed to be cheerful.

"I feel better already," he remarked in a weak voice.

The captain now addressed all hands. "Luck's with us," he said; "we've
left the bad weather behind. Off with your cloathes, before the sun gets
too high, and give them a drying while you've the chance. The sun on our
bare hides will be as good as a glass of grog...Mr. Samuel, issue a
teaspoonful of rum all round!" He glanced about at the people
appraisingly, and then added: "We'll celebrate the good weather, lads! An
ounce of pork with our bread and water!"

Our cloathing, reduced to rags by soaking in rain and wringing out in sea
water, was hung along the gunwales to dry, and we now presented a strange
and pitiful spectacle. Our skins, from long soaking in the rain, looked
dead white, like the bellies of fish; some of the men were so reduced
that I thought it a wonder they were able to stand. Nothing was more
remarkable than their cheerfulness in bearing their afflictions. The warm
sun, not yet high enough to scorch us, was exceedingly grateful, and our
breakfast, enriched by a bit of pork, was a cheerful meal.

The morning was as beautiful as any I have known at sea. The breeze, at
E.N.E., ruffled the sea to that shade of dark blue only to be seen
between the tropics, and filled our sails bravely, without being
boisterous enough to shower us with spray. The sky was clear save for the
small, tufted, fairweather clouds on the verge of the horizon.

Mr. Fryer reached over the side and brought up a bit of coconut husk, on
which the first green beginnings of marine growth appeared. He handed it
to the captain, who examined it with interest.

"This has been removed by man," he remarked. "And look! It has not been
overlong in the sea! We're close in with New Holland, not a doubt of it!"

Nelson took it shakily from Bligh's hand. "Aye, the nut was husked by
Indians on a pointed stake. The growth of weed sprouts quickly in these
warm seas."

"Look!" exclaimed Elphinstone, pointing off to starboard.

Our heads turned, and we saw a company of the small black terns called
noddies, flying this way and that, low over the sea as they searched for
fish.

"Now, by God!" said the captain. "The land is not far off!"

The birds swung away to the west and disappeared. They were of the size
of pigeons, and their flight resembled a pigeon's flight.

"The worst of our voyage is over," said Bligh. "We shall be inside the
reefs before the weather changes. You have borne yourselves like true
English seamen so far; I am going to ask for further proofs of fortitude.
I do not know certainly that there is a European settlement on Timor, and
should there prove to be none, it would be imprudent to trust ourselves
among the Indians there. For this reason, I think all hands will agree
that we had best reduce our rations still further, in order to be able to
reach Java if necessary. My task is to take you to England. To make sure
of success, we must, from now on, do without our issue of bread for
supper."

I glanced at the men covertly, knowing that some were so reduced that
they might consider that Captain Bligh was cutting off the means of life
itself. I was surprised and pleased, therefore, to see with what
cheerfulness the captain's proposal was received.

"What's a twenty-fifth of an ounce of bread, sir?" asked old Purcell,
grimly. "I've no complaint! I'd as soon have none as what we get. I
reckon I could fetch Java with no bread at all!"

Bligh gave a short, harsh laugh. "I believe you might!" he said.

"Once inside the reefs," remarked Nelson, "we'll need little bread.
There'll be shellfish, and no doubt we shall find various fruits and
berries on the islets."

Tinkler smacked his lips, and grinned. Like the other midshipmen, he had
withstood the hardships better than the grown men. Even Hallet seemed to
have grown but little thinner.

I had violent pains in my stomach through this day and suffered much from
tenesmus, as did nearly every man in the boat. Two or three were
constantly at the gunwales, attempting what they were never able to
perform, for not one of us, since leaving the _Bounty_, had had evacuation
by stool. At nightfall I lay down in the bilges in a kind of stupor, till
dawn. I was awakened by Bligh's voice.

"Don't move!" he said.

Then I heard the voice of Smith, from the bows: "I'll have him next
time."

I opened my eyes and saw a small, black bird pass overhead, looking down
at the boat. Nelson was already awake, and whispered weakly: "A noddy!
Twice he's made as if to alight on the stem!"

"Hush!" said the captain, looking down at us.

The little tern passed overhead once more, set his wings, and slanted
down in the direction of the bow. Next moment I heard a feeble shout go
up from the people, and the sound of fluttering wings.

"Good lad!" said Bligh to the man forward. "Don't wring his neck!"

I managed to pull myself up to a sitting position while they were passing
a wineglass to Smith, who held the bird while Hall cut its throat,
allowing the blood to flow into the small glass, which was filled nearly
to the brim.

"Now pluck him," said Bligh, while the glass was being handed aft. He
motioned the midshipmen to help Nelson to sit up. "For you, Mr. Nelson,"
he went on, giving Tinkler the glassful of blood.

Nelson smiled and shook his head. "Lamb and Simpson need it more than I.
Give it to them."

"I order you to drink the blood," said Bligh, with a smile that robbed
the words of sternness..."Mr. Hayward, hold the glass for Mr. Nelson
while he drinks."

The botanist closed his eyes and took the blood with a slight grimace,
raising a trembling hand to wipe his lips. The youngsters made him as
comfortable as they could by propping his back against the thwart.

Fryer was at the tiller. The plucked noddy, no larger than a small
pigeon, was now handed to Mr. Bligh, who laid it on the carpenter's
chest, took a knife from his pocket, and divided the bird into eighteen
portions. It was done with the utmost possible fairness, though a sixth
portion of the breast was preferable to one of the feet, and I should
have preferred the neck to the head and beak.

"Come aft, Mr. Peckover," said the captain..."Face forward, Mr. Cole, and
call out when Mr. Peckover gives the word."

The boatswain turned so that he was unable to see what went on. Peckover
looked over the shares of raw bird and took up a choice bit of the
breast.

"Who shall have this?" he called.

"Mr. Bligh!" replied Cole.

"No! No!" the captain interrupted. "There must be no precedence here, Mr.
Cole: you will begin with anyone's name, at random. Should we catch
another bird, the order must be changed. The purpose of this old custom
is to be fair to all."

Peckover laid down the bit of breast and took up a wing. "Who shall have
this?"

"Peter Lenkletter!"

The wing was handed to the quartermaster. When Bligh's turn came he was
so unfortunate as to get a foot with nothing on it but the web and a
shred or two of sinew where it had been disjointed, but he gnawed this
miserable portion with every appearance of relish, am threw away nothing
but the barest bones. The head and beak fell to me; and it amazes me, as
I write, to recollect with what enjoyment swallowed the eyes, and
crunched the little skull between my teeth as sucked out the raw brains.
Small as the amount of nourishment was I fancied that it brought me an
immediate increase of strength. I was happy when Nelson got a rich, red
morsel of the breast. He wished to share it with me, and when I refused,
he lingered long over it. "The noddy eats well!" he said. "No pheasant at
home ever seemed better flavoured!"

Lamb was one of those men who seem born to make the worst of every
misfortune; he was unable to sit up, and had scarcely enough strength to
complain of the pain in his bowels. When his turn came, he got the other
foot; and Cole, who had just received a portion of breast handed it to
him. "Here," he said gruffly. "Ye need this more than me.'

"Thankee, Mr. Cole, thankee!" said Lamb in a quavering voice as he
stuffed the bit of flesh into his mouth.

The weather continued fair throughout the day, with a calm sea and a good
sailing breeze at E.N.E. It was fortunate that we were not obliged to
bail, for many of us could not have undertaken the task. Our log showed
that we were making between four and four and a ball knots. During the
afternoon we passed bits of driftwood on which the barnacles had not yet
gathered, and Elphinstone picked up a bamboo pole, such as the Indians
use for fishing rods. It was slimy with the beginnings of marine growth,
but could not have been more than two or three weeks in the sea. Purcell
took the bamboo, dried and cleaned it, sawed off the ends square, and set
to fitting and seizing a worn-out file into the large end, to make a
spear for fish.

Toward evening, a lone booby appeared astern, and circled the boat for a
long time, as if he desired to alight. We sat in suspense for ten minutes
or more. The bird was not unlike our gannets at home, with a body as
great as that of a large duck, and a five-foot spread of wings. I held my
breath each time his shadow passed over the boat; I could hear Bligh's
hearty, whispered curses when the bird came sailing in as if to alight
and then slanted away.

At last young Tinkler whispered: "Let me try, sir--with the bamboo. I've
seen the Indians at Otaheite take them so, by breaking their wings."

Bligh nodded. The bird had again turned away. The youngster crept
forward, took the spear from Purcell, and stood on a thwart. The booby
swung back toward the boat, while Tinkler waved his bamboo back and forth
gently. It was strange, as the bird turned back toward the launch, to see
how the moving spear aroused his curiosity. He came on with a rapid flap
of wings, turning his head to see better, and passed over us very low,
though still too high to be reached. Tinkler continued to move the rod
gently.

This time the booby did not rise, but turned and headed back. The
youngster held the spear with both hands, ready to strike. On came the
bird, lower than ever, his wings held rigidly. Tinkler raised the rod to
the full extent of his arms, and struck. The blow caught the booby where
one of the wings joined the body, and with a grating cry he plunged into
the sea.

"Hard up!" shouted Captain Bligh.

For the first time since leaving Tofoa, the boat was turned into the
wind. Her sails fluttered as she lulled and lost steerageway; we made a
board and came about on the other tack before we were able to pick up the
bird.

"Mr. Tinkler," said the captain; "your fishing with the Indians was not
wasted time!"

The launch shot up into the wind. Many eager hands went over the gunwale
to pick up the wounded bird. Lebogue caught him and tossed him into the
boat.

This time the blood was shared amongst Nelson, Lamb, and Simpson, who
received a full wineglass each; and when the carcass--legs, head, bones,
entrails, and flesh--was apportioned by the method of "Who shall have
this?" our shares were of a size to make us feel that we were sitting
down to a feast. Three flying fish, each about seven inches long, were
found in the bird's stomach; they were fresh, and I was overjoyed when
one fell to me. I had eaten the raw fish prepared by the Indians of
Otaheite, and found it palatable when dipped in a sauce of sea water. I
now opened my knife and scaled the flying fish gloatingly, before cutting
it into morsels which I dropped into the salt water in my coconut shell.
Nothing was wasted; I even ate the entrails, and quaffed off the bloody
salt water in which the fish had soaked.

Though we sailed well, the weather remained serene that day and during
the two days following. On Tuesday we passed fresh coconut husks and
driftwood which appeared to have been in the water no more than a week.
We had the good fortune to catch three boobies on this day; without their
blood and raw flesh I am convinced that two or three of us must have
succumbed. The sun was so hot at midday that I felt faint and sick. On
Wednesday it was apparent to all that the land was close ahead. The
clouds to the west were fixed, and there were innumerable birds about,
though we could catch none. The heat of the sun again caused much
suffering.

"Soak what rags you can spare in the sea, and make turbans of them!" said
the captain, when he heard some of the people complaining of the heat. He
laughed. "English seamen are hard to please! I'd rather be hot than cold
any day, and dry than wet, for that matter! Wring out your turbans
frequently. The cool water'll soon make you feel like fighting cocks. We
should sight the reefs to-morrow, with this breeze."

The boatswain smacked his lips. "There'll be fine pickings, sir, once we
find a passage. Cockles, and clams, and who knows what!"

"We'll find a way in, never fear. From our latitude, we should sight the
land close to Providential Channel, through which Captain Cook sailed the
_Endeavour_."

Nelson lay on the floor boards, listening to the talk as coolly as if
dining with the captain aboard the _Bounty_.

"From what I have heard Captain Cook say," he remarked, "there must be
many passages leading in to the sheltered water. No doubt we shall have
several to choose from."

"So I believe," said Bligh.

At about nine o'clock that night, the captain lay down beside me to
sleep.

"Keep a sharp lookout, Mr. Cole," he said; "we may be closer to the reefs
than we suppose."

A swell from the east had set in, but the breeze was steady and light,
and there were no whitecaps to wet us with spray. I lay half in a doze,
half in a stupor, for several hours, listening to Bligh's quiet
breathing. At last I fell asleep.

It must have been a little past midnight when I was awakened by the
boatswain's voice:--

"Mr. Bligh! Breakers, sir!"

In an instant the captain was on his feet and wide awake. I heard a
distant, long-drawn roar; and Bligh's abrupt command: "Hard alee!"

Three or four others were up by this time, ready for duty. "Close-haul
her!"

The moon was down, but the breakers were visible in the starlight as we
clawed off.

"She lays well clear," remarked the captain. "By God! What a surf! Let it
break! We'll find a way through when daylight comes!"

Many of us in the bottom of the boat were too weak or too indifferent
even to raise our heads. Bligh noticed that I stirred.

"The reefs of New Holland, Mr. Ledward! We'll be sailing calm water soon,
and stretching our legs ashore! You'll be feasting on shellfish
to-morrow, my word on it!"

I managed to turn on my side, and fell asleep once more, lulled by a new
sound: the crisp slap of wavelets under the launch's bow as she stood off
the land, close-hauled on the starboard tack.

At dawn, though the night had been warm and calm, most of the people were
dreadfully weak. The birds we had eaten had merely prolonged our lives,
without imparting any real strength. At the first signs of daylight, Mr.
Bligh gave word to slack away to the west, but it was mid-morning before
we again sighted the breakers. The wind had shifted to S.E. during the
night.

Two teaspoons of rum were issued before we drank our water and ate our
scant mouthful of bread. Heartened by the spirit and the prospect of
smooth water and food, I struggled to a sitting position. Nelson was
unable to sit up. Mr. Bligh had poured a few drops of rum between his
lips, but he had shaken his head weakly when offered bread. I could see
that the botanist, for all his courage, was at the end of his tether;
unless we could secure fresh food for him, another day or two would see
him dead. Lamb and Simpson were in a piteous state, and several others
were nearly as bad.

Toward nine o'clock a line of tossing white stretched away as far as we
could see to the north and south. The vast roll of the Pacific, broken by
the coral barrier, thundered and spouted furiously.

Not more than a hundred yards beyond the first break of the seas, Bligh
steered to the north, ordering Tinkler and Cole to trim the sheets.

"There, lads!" he said. "That should put heart in you! Never fear! We
shall soon be inside!"

It was indeed a strange and heartening sight to men in our situation to
see, just beyond the barrier of furious breakers, the placid waters of a
vast lagoon, scarce ruffled by the gentle southeast breeze. And it seemed
to me that I could perceive the outlines of land, blue and misty in the
distance, far away across the calm water.

We had rounded a point of the reef and coasted for some distance in a
northwesterly direction, when it fell calm for a few moments and the wind
chopped around to east. Bligh bore up and ordered the sails trimmed once
more, when we perceived that the reefs jutted far out to sea ahead of us.

"Forward with you, Mr. Cole!" said Bligh, and, when the boatswain stood
in the bows with a hand on the foremast, "Can she lay clear?"

Cole gazed ahead intently for a moment before he replied: "No, sir! Can't
ye point up a bit?"

Though close-hauled, the luff of the mainsail was shivering a little at
the time. Bligh shrugged his shoulders. "Hard alee!" he ordered. "Let go
the halyards and get her on the other tack!"

We had not sailed a quarter of a mile on the larboard tack, when it was
evident that we were embayed. The east wind had caught us unaware, and we
could not lay clear of the points to north or south. We turned the launch
north once more.

"Who can pull an oar?" Bligh asked.

Lenkletter, Lebogue, and Elphinstone attempted to rise, and sank back
ashamed of their weakness. Fryer, Purcell, Cole, and Peckover took their
places at the thwarts. They pulled grimly and feebly; in spite of their
courage, they had not sufficient strength to enable us to clear the point
of reef about two miles ahead.

"Now, by God!" Bligh exclaimed. "We must weather the point or shoot the
breakers--one of the two!...Mr. Tinkler! Are you strong enough to steer?
Take the tiller and point up as close as you can!"

The captain set a tholepin on the lee side, ran out an oar, and began to
pull strongly and steadily.

The prospect of shooting the breakers was enough to make the hardiest
seaman pause. I could see, from time to time, the dark, jagged coral of
the reef, revealed by a retreating sea. A moment later the same spot
would be buried deep in foaming water, rushing over the reef with the
thunder of a mighty cataract. It was incredible that our boat, small and
deep laden, could live for an instant in such a turmoil. As I glanced
ahead my heart sank. Then Tinkler shouted:--

"Mr. Bligh! There's a passage ahead, sir! Well this side of the point!"

Bligh shipped his oar and rose instantly. After a quick glance ahead, he
turned to the men. "Cease pulling, lads," he said kindly. "Providence has
been good to us. Yonder lies our channel; we can fetch it under sail."



CHAPTER IX


The passage was less than a mile ahead, and as we were now able to bear
off a little and fill the sails, we were abreast of the opening in about
a quarter of an hour. It proved to be a good two cable-lengths wide, and
clear of rocks, with a small, barren islet just inside. We entered with a
strong current setting to the westward; presently the roll of the sea was
gone, and the launch sailed briskly over waters as calm as those of a
lake at home.

I looked with longing at the islet close abreast of us. Though small and
barren, it was at least dry land. Purcell's longing got the better of
him.

"Let us go ashore, sir," he suggested, when it was apparent that the
captain was going to sail on. "Cannot we land and stretch our legs?"

Bligh shook his head. "We should find nothing there. Look ahead, man!"

Two other islands, one of them high and wooded, were now visible at a
distance of four or five leagues to the northwest; and close beyond, I
could see the main of New Holland--valleys and high land, densely wooded
in parts.

The afternoon was well advanced when we reached the first of the two
islands--little more than a heap of stones. The larger island was about
three miles in circuit, high, well wooded, with a sheltered, sandy bay on
the northwest side. From this bay, the nearest point on the main was
about four hundred yards distant. As there were no signs of Indians in
the vicinity, we beached the boat at once. For twenty-six days we had not
set foot on land.

Mr. Bligh was the first to step on shore, staggering a little from
weakness and the unaccustomed feel of firm ground. Fryer, Purcell,
Peckover, Cole, and the midshipmen followed. All these could walk, though
with difficulty. Hall, Smith, Lebogue and Samuel managed to get out of
the boat, and either staggered or crawled to a place where the sand was
soft and shaded by some small, bushy trees. The rest of us were in such a
state as forced our stronger companions to help us ashore.

Mr. Bligh now uncovered, while those who were able knelt round him on the
sand; and if ever men have offered heartfelt thanks to God for
deliverance from the perils of the sea, surely we were those men.

After a brief silence, Bligh cleared his throat and turned to the master.
"Mr. Fryer," he said, "take the strongest of the people and search for
shellfish. There should be oysters or mussels on the rocks yonder...Mr.
Peckover, you will accompany me inland...Mr. Cole, remain in charge of
the boat. Take care that no fires are lit tonight."

Nelson and I had each had a small sup of wine, administered by the
captain's hand. This, together with the prospect of something to eat and
the delight of being once more on land, gave us fresh strength. We lay
side by side. The sand was pleasantly warm, and a clump of dwarfish palms
cast an agreeable shade.

We talked but little. We needed time to accustom ourselves to the fact
that we were still alive, and to lie outstretched on dry land was a
privilege so great that we could scarcely believe it ours.

"Can you realize, my dear Ledward, that our troubles are over?" Nelson
asked, at length. "I have often heard Captain Cook speak of his passage
inside the reefs of New Holland. Among these islands we shall find
something to eat: shellfish, certainly, as well as berries and beans that
are fit for food. There should be water on some of the larger islands."

"It is curious," I replied; "at present I feel not the slightest desire
for food. I would not exchange the rest we are enjoying for the best meal
that might be set before us."

"I feel the same," he said. "It is rest we need now above everything."

We fell silent again, and remained so for a long time. A flock of large
birds, parrots of some sort, passed overhead with harsh cries and
disappeared in the direction of the main. I saw Nelson's eyes roving this
way and that as he studied the vegetation about us.

"These palms are new to me," he said; "yet I feel certain that their
hearts, like those of the coconut palm, will provide excellent salad."

Presently the sun went down, and far along the beach we saw the foraging
party returning. I knew hew weary they must be, and felt ashamed of my
own lack of strength.

"We're a useless pair, Nelson," I said. "Why were we not given stronger
bodies?"

"Never fear," he replied. "We'll soon be taking our share of labour. I
feel greatly refreshed already."

The captain and Peckover had their hats partly filled with fruits of two
sorts.

"Have a look at these, Mr. Nelson," said Bligh. "By God! We've found
little for the length of the walk. I observed that the birds eat freely
of these berries. May we not do the same?"

"Aye, they look wholesome and good. I recognize their families, but the
species are new to me. These palms, sir--cannot some of the people cut
out a few of the hearts? We'll find them delicious, I'll be bound."

"There, Peckover!" Bligh exclaimed, turning to the gunner. "That shows
the need for a botanist in every ship's company. We've walked miles for a
few berries, and Mr. Nelson finds food for us within a dozen paces of the
boat!"

"Aye," said Peckover. "I'd be pleased to have the knowledge inside Mr.
Nelson's head. We've found good water, Mr. Ledward, and plenty of it. We
can drink our fill while here."

Fryer and his men were coming up the beach--well laden, as I perceived at
a glance.

"We shall feast to-night," he called. "We've found oysters galore! And
larger and better tasting than those at home!"

"Come, lads," said Bligh; "let us turn to without waste of time."

I have never been averse to the pleasures of the table, and have had the
good fortune to partake of many excellent meals; but never do I recollect
having supped with more pleasure than on this night. Fryer had adopted
the simple expedient of opening the oysters where they grew, without
attempting to loose them from the rocks. Our copper pot held close to
three gallons, and it was more than half full of oysters of an amazing
size, soaking in their own juice. Some of the people had woven baskets of
palm fronds, an art they had learned from the Indians of Otaheite, and in
these they carried a supply of unopened oysters, prized off the rocks
with a cutlass. The fruits were excellent, particularly one kind which
resembled a gooseberry, but tasted sweeter; the palm hearts were like
tender young cabbage, eaten raw.

I recommended Nelson, Lamb, and Simpson to eat of nothing but oysters
that night,--a diet suitable to their distressed state,--and I myself
refrained from anything else. The night was warm and clear. When we had
supped, and drunk to our heart's content of the cool, sweet water of the
island, I composed myself for sleep on the sand.

The firm ground seemed still to rock and heave. But it was wonderfully
agreeable to stretch my legs out to their full extent; to lie on the warm
sand and gaze up at the stars. I was sorry for some of the people, who
had been ordered to anchor the launch in shallow water, near the sands,
and to sleep aboard of her. Mr. Bligh thought it not unlikely that
Indians might be about. Presently I closed my eyes to thank my Maker
briefly for His goodness in preserving us; a few moments later I fell
into a dreamless sleep.

I was awakened by the loud chattering of parrots, flying from the
interior of our island, where they appeared to roost, to the main. Flock
after flock passed overhead with a great clamour; the last of them had
gone before the sun was up. My companions lay sleeping close by, in the
attitudes they had assumed the night before. I saw the boatswain wade
ashore from the launch and kneel on the wet sand while he repeated the
Lord's Prayer in a rumbling voice, plainly audible where I lay. He rose,
stripped off his shirt and ragged trousers, and plunged into the shallow
bay, scrubbing his head and shoulders vigorously. Longing to follow his
example, I managed to struggle to my feet, and was pleased to discover
that I could walk.

Still splashing in the sea, Cole greeted me. "No need to ask how ye
slept, Mr. Ledward! Ye look a new man!"

I felt one when I had bathed in the cool sea water and resumed my
tattered garments, which a London ragpicker would have scorned to accept.
The others were rising as I turned inland, walking with the uncertain
gait of a year-old child.

Nelson managed to stand at the second attempt, but was forced to sink
down again immediately, doubled up with a sharp pain in his stomach.
"I've a mind to ask you to physic me," he said with a wry smile.
disappeared in the direction of the main. I saw Nelson's eyes roving this
way and that as he studied the vegetation about us.

"These palms are new to me," he said; "yet I feel certain that their
hearts, like those of the coconut palm, will provide excellent salad."

Presently the sun went down, and far along the beach we saw the foraging
party returning. I knew hew weary they must be, and felt ashamed of my
own lack of strength.

"We're a useless pair, Nelson," I said. "Why were we not given stronger
bodies?"

"Never fear," he replied. "We'll soon be taking our share of labour. I
feel greatly refreshed already."

The captain and Peckover had their hats partly filled with fruits of two
sorts.

"Have a look at these, Mr. Nelson," said Bligh. "By God! We've found
little for the length of the walk. I observed that the birds eat freely
of these berries. May we not do the same?"

"Aye, they look wholesome and good. I recognize their families, but the
species are new to me. These palms, sir--cannot some of the people cut
out a few of the hearts? We'll find them delicious, I'll be bound."

"There, Peckover!" Bligh exclaimed, turning to the gunner. "That shows
the need for a botanist in every ship's company. We've walked miles for a
few berries, and Mr. Nelson finds food for us within a dozen paces of the
boat!"

"Aye," said Peckover. "I'd be pleased to have the knowledge inside Mr.
Nelson's head. We've found good water, Mr. Ledward, and plenty of it. We
can drink our fill while here."

Fryer and his men were coming up the beach--well laden, as I perceived at
a glance.

"We shall feast to-night," he called. "We've found oysters galore! And
larger and better tasting than those at home!"

"Come, lads," said Bligh; "let us turn to without waste of time."

I have never been averse to the pleasures of the table, and have had the
good fortune to partake of many excellent meals; but never do I recollect
having supped with more pleasure than on this night. Fryer had adopted
the simple expedient of opening the oysters where they grew, without
attempting to loose them from the rocks. Our copper pot held close to
three gallons, and it was more than half full of oysters of an amazing
size, soaking in their own juice. Some of the people had woven baskets of
palm fronds, an art they had learned from the Indians of Otaheite, and in
these they carried a supply of unopened oysters, prized off the rocks
with a cutlass. The fruits were excellent, particularly one kind which
resembled a gooseberry, but tasted sweeter; the palm hearts were like
tender young cabbage, eaten raw.

I recommended Nelson, Lamb, and Simpson to eat of nothing but oysters
that night,--a diet suitable to their distressed state,--and I myself
refrained from anything else. The night was warm and clear. When we had
supped, and drunk to our heart's content of the cool, sweet water of the
island, I composed myself for sleep on the sand.

The firm ground seemed still to rock and heave. But it was wonderfully
agreeable to stretch my legs out to their full extent; to lie on the warm
sand and gaze up at the stars. I was sorry for some of the people, who
had been ordered to anchor the launch in shallow water, near the sands,
and to sleep aboard of her. Mr. Bligh thought it not unlikely that
Indians might be about. Presently I closed my eyes to thank my Maker
briefly for His goodness in preserving us; a few moments later I fell
into a dreamless sleep.

I was awakened by the loud chattering of parrots, flying from the
interior of our island, where they appeared to roost, to the main. Flock
after flock passed overhead with a great clamour; the last of them had
gone before the sun was up. My companions lay sleeping close by, in the
attitudes they had assumed the night before. I saw the boatswain wade
ashore from the launch and kneel on the wet sand while he repeated the
Lords Prayer in a rumbling voice, plainly audible where I lay. He rose,
stripped off his shirt and ragged trousers, and plunged into the shallow
bay, scrubbing his head and shoulders vigorously. Longing to follow his
example, I managed to struggle to my feet, and was pleased to discover
that I could walk.

Still splashing in the sea, Cole greeted me. "No need to ask how ye
slept, Mr. Ledward! Ye look a new man!"

I felt one when I had bathed in the cool sea water and resumed my
tattered garments, which a London ragpicker would have scorned to accept.
The others were rising as I turned inland, walking with the uncertain
gait of a year-old child.

Nelson managed to stand at the second attempt, but was forced to sink
down again immediately, doubled up with a sharp pain in his stomach.
"I've a mind to ask you to physic me," he said with a wry smile.

I shook my head. "It would be imprudent in our state of weakness. Our
pain and tenesmus are due to the emptiness of our bowels."

Bligh joined us at that moment. "Sound advice, sir," he said; "if a
layman may express an opinion. To physic men in our state would but
weaken us still more. I have suffered from the same violent pains. We'll
be quit of them once our bellies are filled." He turned to hail the
boatswain. "Come ashore, Mr. Cole, the lot of you."

Fryer was sent out with a party to get oysters, and two men dispatched
inland for fruit. Cole and Purcell were set to putting the boat in order,
in case we should find savages about. I was among four or five whom the
captain ordered to rest throughout the morning. Nelson lay beside me in
the shade.

"What the devil is Cole up to?" he remarked.

 The boatswain was wading about the launch, moving in circles and staring
 down into the water. After some time he came ashore with a long face.
 Bligh was writing in his journal, and glanced up as Cole addressed him.

"The lower gudgeon of the rudder's gone, sir," he said. "It must have
dropped off as we was entering the bay. It's not on the sand--that I'll
vouch for."

Bligh closed his journal with a snap, and stood up. "Unship the rudder.
Are you sure it's nowhere under the boat?"

"I've made certain of that, sir."

"Then lend Mr. Purcell a hand." He turned to Nelson. "We've Providence to
thank that this did not happen a few days ago! I had grummets fixed on
either side of the transom, as you observed, in case we were forced to
steer with the oars; but in severe weather it would have been next to
impossible to keep afloat with them. We should have broached-to, almost
certainly."

Presently the carpenter brought the rudder ashore.

"It's been under heavy strains, sir," he explained. "The 'screws holding
the gudgeon to the sternpost must have loosened in the wood."

"Well, what can be done?"

Purcell held out a large staple. "I found this under the floor boards. It
will serve."

"Do your best, and see that it is stoutly set. We must beach the boat and
examine her bottom to-day."

The captain took leave of us and wandered inland to search for fruit.
Purcell hammered at his staple on a rock, fitting its curve to the pintle
of the rudder. I recommended the invalids to drink frequently of water,
taking as much as they could hold, and set them an example by doing the
same.

"It's grub I need, not water!" said Lamb, making a wry face as I handed
him a coconut-shellful.

"You'll have plenty of that shortly, my lad!" I said.

Simpson crawled off for another useless attempt to perform the
impossible. "Poor devil!" Nelson said. "I'll soon be doing the same."

A little before noon the oyster gatherers returned with a bountiful
supply. Nelson and I had arranged a hearth of stones, and found strength
to gather a quantity of firewood. Bligh was soon on hand to kindle the
fire with his magnifying glass and supervise the making of the stew--our
first taste of hot food since leaving Tofoa, nearly a month before. The
people were gathered in a circle about our fireplace, staring at the pot
like a pack of wolves.

When all the oysters had been opened, we found that they and their liquor
filled the pot to within four inches of the brim. Captain Bligh ordered
Samuel to weigh out a twenty-fifth of a pound of bread for each man,
making three quarters of a pound in all. A pound of fat pork was now cut
up very fine and thrown into the stew, already beginning to bubble over a
brisk fire. I was sitting with Nelson on the lee side, inhaling savoury
whiffs of steam that drifted past.

"Let us add a quart of sea water," said the master to Mr. Bligh. "It will
serve as salt, and make the stew go further."

"No, Mr. Fryer. What with oysters and the pork, it will be salty enough
as it is."

"We could add fresh water to make more of it. There'll not be enough to
go round."

"Not enough, with a full pint each?" said Bligh impatiently. "If it will
do for me, it will do for yourself, sir."

Fryer said no more.

Presently the stew was ready. It was served out in Bligh's own coconut
shell, known to hold exactly a pint. My own shell held double that, and
when I had been served I wished with the master that the amount might
have been more. The crumbled bits of bread had boiled down to mingle with
the liquor from the oysters and the fat pork, forming a sauce an alderman
might not have despised. I tasted a small quantity with a little spoon I
had whittled out of a bit of driftwood.

"Damme, sir!" said Bligh, turning to Nelson. "Many's the time I've eaten
worse than this on His Majesty's ships."

"And many a better meal you have enjoyed less, I dare say," Nelson
replied.

"I've served on ships," said Fryer, "where we'd not such a meal for six
months together."

"Aye," said the captain. "Hunger's the only sauce. It was damn near worth
starving for a month to have such a relish for victuals...Do you mind
what day it is, Mr. Nelson?"

"What day? I could not be sure of telling you within a week."

"It is Friday, the twenty-ninth of May: the anniversary of the
Restoration of King Charles the Second. We shall call this Restoration
Island, in his memory. The name will serve in a double sense. We have
been restored, God knows!"

Employing some self-restraint, I managed to eat my share so as to take a
full half hour to finish it. Fryer, I observed, gulped his down in an
instant, and held out his shell for the few spoonfuls left over for every
man. Purcell and Lenkletter played the gluttons as well, and I was forced
to warn Simpson, still in a very weak state, against swallowing his food
too fast.

Nelson and I felt so much revived after dinner that we set out for a
tottering walk into the island. We found it rocky, with a barren soil,
supporting a growth of stunted trees. There were many of the small palms
whose hearts we had found good to eat; I recognized the _purau_, of
Otaheite, in a stunted form; and there were other trees which Nelson
informed me resembled the poisonous manchineel of the West Indies. About
the summit of the island, not above one hundred and fifty feet in height,
great numbers of parrots and large pigeons were feeding on the berries
here growing in abundance, but though we tried to knock them down with
stones, the birds were as hard to approach as partridges in England. We
gathered a quantity of the better sort of berries, which eat very well
indeed, and as we wandered toward the eastern side of the island we came
upon two tumbled-down huts of the Indians. These were ruder than any
Indian habitations I had seen. Nelson stooped over the blackened stones
of a fireplace to take up a roughly fashioned spear, with the sharp end
hardened in the fire.

At that moment I perceived in the sand the tracks of some large animal,
unlike the footprints of any beast known to me. Nelson examined the
tracks with interest.

"I think I can name the beast," he said: "Mr. Gore, Captain cook's
lieutenant, shot one at Endeavour River, south of here. It was as great
as a man, mouse-coloured, and ran hopping on its hind legs. The Indians
called it _kanguroo_."

"How could it have come here?" I asked. "Do they swim?"

"That I don't know. Perhaps; or it may be that the Indians stock these
islands with young ones, where they may be easily caught when required."

"Is the flesh fit for food?"

"Cook thought it was good as the best mutton. The beasts are said to be
timid, and to run faster than a horse."

As we approached the rocky shore on the east side of the island, Nelson
chose himself a long, wide palm frond, and sat down, Indian fashion, to
plait a basket. I admired the deftness of his fingers as they wove the
leaflets swiftly this way and that; in ten minutes he had completed a
stout basket, handle and all, fit to hold a full bushel.

"Now for the shellfish!" he remarked, as he rose shakily to his feet.
"Gad, Ledward! I feel a new man to-day!"

I set to work with the cutlass, opening the oysters growing here and
there on the rocks below highwater mark; with his Indian spear, Nelson
waded among the pools. I soon had three or four dozen oysters in the
basket. Nelson added two large cockles of the Tridacna kind to our bag:
the pair of them a meal for a man. It was midafternoon when we took up
our burdens and trudged back to the encampment, halting frequently to
rest.

Our stew that afternoon was a noble one--oysters, cockles, and chopped-up
heart of palm. This latter was added at Nelson's suggestion, and was the
cause of some murmuring.

"Are we to have no bread, sir?" asked the carpenter sourly.

"No," replied Captain Bligh; "we shall save our bread. Mr. Nelson says
these palm hearts are as good cooked as raw."

Fryer stood by with a gloomy face. "It will ruin the stew," he said. "The
bread was the making of it at dinner time."

"Aye, sir," put in Purcell, "give us but half the full amount. It'll be
poor stuff without the bread."

Bligh turned away impatiently. "Damn it, no!" he replied. "You're grown
queasy as young ladies on the island here! Wait till you taste the stew,
if you must complain."

Our meal was soon pronounced done, and each man received a full pint and
a half. The sauce seemed to me even better than that we had eaten at
dinner, and once the men tasted it all murmuring ceased.

At sunset, when it fell dead calm, we observed several columns of smoke
at a distance of two or three miles on the main. Bligh ordered some of
the people to pass the night in the boat, and a watch was kept on shore.

"We must be on our guard," he said; "though I believe there is small
danger of the Indians visiting us to-night. Our fire made no smoke, and
they cannot have seen the boat."

As darkness came on, Bligh went down to the beach, where Cole was on
watch, and remained for a long time seated on the sand chatting with him,
while the rest of us retired to our sleeping places.

Nelson was asleep almost at once; but returning strength had left me
wakeful, and I lay for a long time gazing at the starlit sky. Purcell and
the master lay close by, conversing in low tones. Perhaps they thought me
asleep; in any event, I could not avoid overhearing what they said. After
a time, I perceived that their talk had turned to the mutiny.

"Ungrateful?" the carpenter was saying. "Damn my eyes! What had they to
be grateful for? Christian was treated worse than a dog half the time. I
excuse none of 'em, mind! I'd be pleased to see every man of the lot
swinging at a yardarm; but I'll say this: If ever a captain deserved to
lose his ship, ours did."

"If that's your feeling, why didn't you join with Christian?" said Fryer.

"It's no love for Captain Bligh that kept me from it, I'll promise you
that," said Purcell. "He's himself to thank for the mutiny, and so I'll
say if we've the luck to get home."

"He has his faults," said Fryer. "He trusts none of his officers to
perform their duties, but must have a hand in everything. But if you
think him a Tartar, you should sail with some of the captains I've served
under. There was old Sandy Evans! The last topman off the yard got half a
dozen with a colt. He called it 'encouraging' them."

"I'd rather be flogged than cursed before my own men," growled Purcell.
"You mind what he called me before my mates in Adventure Bay? And what he
said to Christian, with all the people about, the day before they seized
the ship?"

"He's overfree with his tongue," admitted Fryer. "But what captain is
not? The Navy's no place for thin skins. Hard words and floggings are
what seamen understand." He paused for a moment. "I've served under
easier captains," he added. "He's a hard man to please. But where would
we be without him now? Tell me that. Whom would you wish in his place in
the launch?"

"I'm not saying he lacks his good points," the carpenter admitted
grudgingly.

When I fell asleep at last, their voices were still murmuring on. I awoke
feeling better than for many days past. Nelson was already up, and a
party was setting out down the beach in search of new beds of oysters.
Bligh was speaking to Purcell.

"I saw some good _purau_ trees near the summit of the island," he said.
"Take your axe and see if you can find us a pair of spare yards." He
turned to the boatswain. "Mr. Cole, see that the casks are all filled and
placed in the boat."

I went off oystering with Nelson, both of us able to walk pretty well by
now. When we returned, preparations for dinner were under way. Mr. Bligh
held in his hand the last of our pork, a piece of about two pounds'
weight, well streaked with lean. He handed it to Hall, motioning him to
cut it up for the pot.

"We'll sail with full bellies," he remarked. "Since some villain robbed
his mates of their pork, we'll put it out of his power to play that
scurvy trick again."

He looked hard at Lamb as he spoke, and it seemed to me that the man hung
his head with some slight expression of guilt.

With plenty of oysters, about a couple of ounces of pork for each man,
and the usual ration of bread, we dined sumptuously; had we had a little
pepper to season it, the stew would have been pronounced excellent
anywhere. We had scarce finished eating when the captain spoke:--

"We shall set sail about two hours before sunset. With this moon coming
on, we can avoid the danger of canoes by traveling as much as possible by
night. Mr. Nelson and I will remain to guard the launch; the rest of you
gather oysters for a sea store."

The master had just stretched out for a siesta after his dinner, and he
sat up with a gloomy expression at Bligh's words.

"Can we not rest this afternoon, sir?" he asked. "None of us has his full
strength as yet, and surely we shall find oysters at every landing
place."

"Aye," growled Purcell. "You promised us we should touch at many islands
before clearing Endeavour Straits."

"I did," said the captain; "but what assurance have you that we shall
find oysters on them? We _know_ that there are plenty here." He flushed,
controlling his temper with some difficulty. "We've naught but bread now,
and little enough of that. Fetch what oysters you wish, or none at all!
I'm tired of your damned complaints!" He turned his back and walked away
as if fearing to lose control of himself. Shamed into acquiescence, Fryer
and the carpenter now joined the others setting out along the shore.

The captain's clerk was strolling southward with a basket on his arm, and
I joined him, since Nelson was to remain with the boat.

"You know your Bible, Mr. Ledward," remarked Samuel, when we were out of
earshot of the others. "Do you recollect the passage concerning Jeshurun
who waxed fat, and kicked?"

"Aye; and it falls pat on Restoration Island!"

Samuel smiled. "Where would they be, where would we all be, without
Captain Bligh? Yet they must murmur the moment their bellies are full!
I've no patience with such men."

"Nor I." Glancing at the clerk's formerly plump body, now reduced to
little more than skin and bones, and clad in rags, I could not repress a
smile.

"Though we kick," I said, "none of us could be accused of waxing fat!"

Toward four o'clock we returned with what shellfish we had been able to
secure, and found all in readiness to sail. We took our places in the
launch, the grapnel was weighed, and we were getting sail on her, when
about a score of Indians appeared on the opposite shore of the main,
shouting loudly at us. The heads of many others were discernible above
the ridge behind them; but, to our great content, they seemed to be
unprovided with canoes. Owing to this fortunate circumstance, we were
able to pass pretty close to them, with a fresh breeze at E.S.E. They
carried long, slender lances in their right hands, and in their left
hands some sort of weapon or implement of an oval shape and about two
feet long.

These Indians were unlike any we had seen in the South Sea; they were
coal black, tall, and remarkably thin, with long, skinny legs. Two of the
men stood leaning on their spears, with one knee bent, and the sole of
the foot pressed against the inside of the other thigh--an attitude
comical as it was uncouth. Though too far off to distinguish their
features clearly, they seemed to me quite as ugly as the natives of Van
Diemen's Land.

The breeze freshened as we drew out of the lee, and the launch footed it
briskly to the north, while the hallooing of savages grew fainter and
finally died away.



CHAPTER X


Restoration Island had proved well worthy of its name. It might as
truthfully have been called Preservation Island, for there is no doubt
whatever that, had we been delayed a day or two longer in reaching it,
several of our number must have succumbed. Nelson and I would have been
two of these; we were drawing upon our last reserves of strength when we
passed through the channel into the great lagoons of New Holland. But,
after three days of rest and a sufficiency of food, we were wonderfully
restored; so much so, that we could take interest and pleasure in the
scenes before us.

Ours was, in fact, a great privilege, and I was grateful for the fact
that I had recovered strength enough to recognize it. We were coasting
the shores of a mighty continent, through waters and among islands all
but unknown to white men. Indeed, in so far as I knew, Captain Cook alone
had passed this way before us. On our left lay the main, stretching away,
we knew not how many hundreds or thousands of leagues, and wrapped in a
silence that seemed to have lain there since the beginning of time--a
deep, all-pervading stillness like that of mid-ocean on a calm day. Not
one of us, I think, but felt the vastness of this presence.

We had in view a low, barren-looking coast that appeared a complete
solitude, uninhabited and uninhabitable; and yet we knew, from our
experience of the day before, that a few bands of savages, at least, must
find sustenance there. We saw more of them before we had sailed many
miles.

A number of small islands were in sight to the northeast. Captain Bligh
directed our course between them and the main. The strait was no more
than a mile wide, and as we were passing through it, a small party of
savages like those we had already seen came down to the foreshore on our
left hand and stood regarding us.

"Now," said Bligh, "I mean to have a closer view of those fellows."

Accordingly, we steered inshore and laid the boat as close as was prudent
to the rocks. Meanwhile, the savages, observing our intent, had run away
to a distance of about two hundred yards.

Bligh shouted: "Come aboard, there!" and stood in the stern sheets waving
a shirt aloft; but not a foot would they stir from their places. They
were without a vestige of cloathing, and their bodies looked as black as
ink in the clear morning light, against a background of sand and naked
rocks. Their timidity was encouraging in our unarmed and weakened
condition; we felt that we had little to fear from any small bands of
these people.

"They'll never come," said Nelson, after we had lain at our oars shouting
and beckoning to them. "It's a pity, too, for they seem harmless enough,
and they must have ways of getting food that would be most valuable to us
could we learn what they are."

"No, we may as well proceed," said Bligh. "I should like to see them near
at hand. Sir Joseph Banks is most anxious to have a description of the
savages of New Holland. He shall have to be content with the little I can
tell him of their general appearance."

"That is a curious-looking instrument they carry in their left hands," I
observed. "What can its purpose be?"

"In my opinion, it is some sort of a spear thrower," said Nelson. "One
thing you can tell Sir Joseph," he added: "There are probably no savages
in all the South Sea more ugly and uncouth than these. What a contrast
they make to the Indians of Otaheite!"

We again hoisted sail, and steered for an island in view before us and
about four miles distant from the main. This we reached in about an
hour's time. The shore was rocky, but the water smooth. We made a landing
without difficulty, and secured our boat in a little basin, where it rode
in complete safety. We brought everything ashore, that the boat might be
thoroughly cleaned and dried--putting our water vessels and the
carpenter's chest, with its precious supply of bread, in the shelter of
some overhanging rocks.

When we had scrubbed out the boat, Mr. Bligh told off two parties to go
in search of shellfish. Purcell was placed in charge of one of these; the
other members were Tinkler, Samuel, Smith, and Hall. These men stood
waiting for the carpenter, who had seated himself on the beach with the
air of one who meant to pass the day there. The other party, in
Peckover's charge, had already gone southward along the beach. Captain
Bligh, who had accompanied them a little distance, now returned to where
the boat lay.

"Come, Mr. Purcell," he said brusquely; "set out at once with your men.
We have no time to lose here."

The carpenter remained seated. "I've done more than my share of work," he
said, in a surly voice. "You can send someone else with this party."

Bligh glared down at him. "Do you hear me?" he said. "Get you gone, and
quickly!"

The carpenter made no motion to obey. "I'm as good a man as yourself," he
replied; "and I'll stay where I am."

Nelson, the master, and myself, besides the members of the foraging
party, were the witnesses of this scene. I had long expected something of
the sort to happen, and had only wondered that an open break between
Captain Bligh and the carpenter had not come before this time. There was
a deep and natural antagonism between the two men; they were too much
alike in character ever to have been anything but enemies.

Bligh strode across the beach to where the carpenter's chest had been
placed, with two of the cutlasses lying upon it. Seizing the weapons, he
returned to where Purcell sat and thrust one of them into his hand.

"Now," he said. "Stand up and defend yourself. Stand up, I say! If you
are as good a man as myself, you shall prove it, here and now!"

There was no doubt of the seriousness of Bligh's intent. Despite the
gravity of the situation, as I think of it now, there was something
faintly comic in it as well. In the mind's eye I have the scene clearly
in mind: The sandy spit of beach, backed by the naked rocks; the little
group of spectators, their cloathes hanging in rags on their emaciated
bodies, looking on at these two, who, despite starvation and hardships
incredible, still had fight in them. At least, so I thought at first; but
the carpenter quickly showed that his relish for it was faint indeed. He
rose, holding his cutlass slackly, and gazed at Bligh with a frightened
expression.

"Stand back, you others!" said Bligh. "Up with your weapon, you mutinous
villain! I'll soon prove whether you are a man or not!"

He advanced resolutely toward the carpenter, who backed away at his
approach.

"Fight, damn you!" Bligh roared. "Defend yourself or I'll cut you down as
you stand!"

Purcell, although a larger man than Bligh, had little of the latter's
inner fire and strength. Bligh was thoroughly roused; and had the
carpenter tried to make good his boast, one or the other of them would, I
am convinced, have been killed--and I have little doubt as to which would
have been the victim. But Purcell made a complete about-face, and ran
from his pursuer, who halted and gazed after him, breathing rapidly.

"Come back, Mr. Purcell!" he cried. "You have even less spirit than I
gave you credit for! Come here, sir!...Now then; do you retract what you
have said?"

"Yes, sir," Purcell replied.

"Very well," said Bligh. "Let me have no more of your insolence in the
future. Get about your work."

It is to Bligh's credit that he never afterwards mentioned this incident.
As for the carpenter, he was willing enough to have it forever put out of
mind. He had, I believe, flattered himself that he was a match for his
commander. From this time on, the relations of the two men were on a
better footing.

The island upon which we had landed was of a considerable height. While
the foraging parties were out, Mr. Bligh, Nelson, and myself walked
inland to the, highest part of it for a better view of our surroundings;
but we could see little more of the main than appeared from below. In our
weakened condition the climb had been a fatiguing one, and we took
shelter in the shade of a great rock to recover our breath. The lagoons
were miracles of vivid colouring in the clear morning light. We could
plainly see the tiny figures of the foraging parties as they made their
way 'slowly along the shallows, searching for shellfish. Almost directly
below us was the launch, looking smaller than a child's toy in the bight
where she lay.

"There she lies," said Bligh, gazing fondly at the tiny craft. "I love
every strake of planking, every nail in her. Mr. Nelson, could you have
believed that she could have carried eighteen men such a voyage as we
have come? Could you, Mr. Ledward?"

"I was thinking of just that," Nelson replied. "We have been under God's
guidance. It must have been so."

"Aye," said Bligh, nodding gravely. "But God expected us to play our
part. We should not have had His help, otherwise."

"What distance have we come, in all, sir?" I asked.

"I have this morning reckoned it up," said Bligh. "I think I am not far
out in saying that we have sailed, from Tofoa to the passage within the
reefs of New Holland, a distance of two thousand, three hundred and
ninety miles."

"God be thanked that we have so much of the voyage behind us," said
Nelson, fervently. "This leaves us with one thousand miles ahead, does it
not?"

"More than that," Bligh replied. "As nearly as I can recollect, we have
between one hundred and fifty and two hundred miles to coast New Holland
before we reach Endeavour Straits; but once again in the open sea, we
shall have no more than three hundred leagues between us and Timor."

Nelson turned to me. "Ledward, how long can a man go, in the ordinary
course of nature, without passing stool?"

"Ten days is a long period under more normal circumstances," I replied,
"but our situation is anything but a usual one. We have had so little
food that our bodies seem to have absorbed the whole of it."

"So I think," said Bligh. "There could have been nothing in our bowels
until within a day or two past. You look another man, Mr. Nelson, now
that you have had rest and better food. We shall all have time to gain
new strength before we push off for Timor."

"I mean to survive," Nelson replied, smiling faintly; "if only to defeat
the purpose of the wretches who condemned us to this misery."

"Spoken like a man, sir," said Bligh. A cold glint came into his eyes and
his lips were set in a thin line. "By God! I could sail the launch to
England, if necessary, with nothing but water in my belly, for the sake
of bringing them to justice!"

He rose to his feet and strode back and forth across the little
flat-topped eminence where we rested; then he halted before us. Pale,
hollow-eyed, his shreds of cloathing hanging loosely upon his bones, he
yet had within him a fund of energy that amazed me. Mention of the
mutineers had stirred him as the call of a trumpet stirs an old cavalry
horse. He laughed in his harsh mirthless way. "They flatter themselves
that they have seen the last of me," he said; "the Goddamned inhuman,
black-hearted bastards! But Divine Providence sees them and will help me
to track them down!"

Nelson threw a quick, quizzical glance in my direction. Bligh was quite
unconscious of the mixture of blasphemy and reverence in his remark.

"Shall you endeavour to search for them yourself?" Nelson asked.

"Endeavour? By God, I shall more than endeavour! I shall sit on the
doorstep at the Admiralty day and night until they give me command of the
ship that is to search them out and bring them to justice. I have friends
at home who will make my interest their own. I shall not draw a quiet
breath until I am outward bound, on their trail."

"Your family may take a different view of the matter, sir," I said. "If
we are fortunate enough to reach England, Mrs. Bligh will not wish to let
you go so soon again."

"You know me little, Mr. Ledward, if you think I shall dawdle at home
with those villains unhung. Not a day shall I spend there if I have my
way. As for Mrs. Bligh, she is no ordinary woman. She will be the first
to bid me Godspeed...Let us go down," he added, after a moment of
silence. "I grudge every moment that we are not proceeding on our
way."

Nelson and I rose to follow him. Bligh stood looking toward a small sandy
cay that could be seen at a considerable distance to the northward, and
several miles farther from the main than the island upon which we then
were.

"We shall go there for the night," he said. "It will be a safer resting
place. The savages yonder must have seen us land here. They seem harmless
enough; and yet, without weapons to defend ourselves, I mean to take no
risks."

We went down by another way, to the northern side of the island, stopping
now and then to examine the shrubs and stunted trees that grew out of the
sand and among clefts in the rocks. We found nothing in the way of food
except wild beans, which we gathered in a handkerchief.

"You are sure these are edible, Mr. Nelson?" Bligh asked.

"Yes, there is not the slightest danger," Nelson replied. "They are
dolichos. The flavour is not all that might be wished, but the bean is a
nourishing food. It is of the genus of the kidney bean to which the
Indian gram belongs."

"Good," said Bligh. "Let us hope that the others have collected some as
well as ourselves."

Upon reaching the beach, we discovered an old canoe lying bottom up and
half buried in the sand. We dug away around it, but our combined strength
was not sufficient to budge it, to say nothing of turning it over. It was
about thirty feet long, with a sharp, projecting bow, rudely carved in
the resemblance of a fish's head. We estimated that it would hold about
twenty men.

"Here is proof enough," said Bligh, "that the New Hollanders are not
wholly landlubbers. In view of this find, I am all the more willing to
proceed farther from the main. We must keep a sharp lookout for these
fellows. In our weakened condition they would find us an easy prey."

We were now joined by Purcell and his party of foragers, carrying our
copper pot on a pole between them. They had had splendid luck--the pot
was more than half full of fine, fat clams and oysters. Bligh put the
carpenter at ease by greeting him in his usual manner.

"It couldn't be better, Mr. Purcell," he said. "Every man shall have a
bellyful to-day. A stew of these, mixed with dolicho beans--many a ship's
company will fare worse than ourselves this day."

I was pleased to find a healthy hunger gnawing at my stomach; nothing
could have looked more succulent than the sea food, and every man of us
was eager to be at the camp with the pot set over a good fire. It was
high noon when we joined the others. Peckover's party had just come in
with a supply of clams and oysters almost equal in amount to that in the
pot. They had also found, on the south side of the island, an abundance
of fresh water in hollows of the rocks--more than enough to fill our
vessels. Every circumstance favoured us. The sun shone in a cloudless
sky, so that Captain Bligh was able, with his magnifying glass, to kindle
a fire at once. The oysters and clams were now dumped into the pot,
together with a quart and a half of dolicho beans. The requisite amount
of water was added, and to make our stew yet more tasty, each man's usual
amount of bread was added to it. Smith and Hall, our cooks, had whittled
out long wooden spoons with which they stirred the stew as it came to a
boil, sending up a savoury steam that made the walls of our empty bellies
quiver with anticipation. When the stew had cooked for a good twenty
minutes,--the time had seemed hours to most of us,--the pot was set off
the fire; and we gathered round with our half-coconut shells, while the
cooks ladled into each man's shell all that it could hold of clams,
oysters, beans, and delicious broth; and when all had been served, there
was still enough in the pot for a half pint more, all round. The beans
were not so tasty as we had hoped, but we made a small matter of that.

After our meal we rested for an hour in the shade of the rocks. I had
just fallen into a refreshing sleep when Mr. Bligh aroused me. "Sorry to
disturb you, Mr. Ledward," he said, "but we must push on. We are too
close to the main here, and I have no desire for any night visits from
the savages."

It was then about mid-afternoon. With a light breeze, we directed our
course to a group of sandy cays which lay about five leagues off the
continental shore. Darkness had fallen before we reached them and, as we
could find no suitable landing place, we came to a grapnel and remained
in the launch until dawn. All through the night we heard the cries of
innumerable sea fowl, and daylight showed us that one of the cays was a
place of resort for birds of the noddy kind. We found that we were on the
westernmost of four small islands, surrounded by a reef of rocks, and
connected with sand banks whose surface was barely above high tide.
Within them lay a mirrorlike lagoon with a small passage, into which we
brought the launch.

This place, so far from the main, seemed designed by nature as a refuge
for men in our condition. Captain Bligh named it "Lagoon Island," and
gladdened our hearts by informing us that he proposed to spend the day
and the following night here. Unfortunately, the cays were little more
than heaps of rock and sand, covered with coarse grass and a sparse
growth of bush and stunted trees; but there were enough of these latter
to protect us from the heat of the sun.

Our forces were divided so that some could rest while others searched for
food. The lagoon abounded in fish; but try as we would, we could catch
none. This was a great trial; after repeated unsuccessful efforts, we
were forced to fall back upon oysters and clams and the one vegetable
which these islands afforded--dolicho beans. Even the shellfish were not
abundant here, and the party sent in search of them returned at about ten
in the morning with a very small number, so that our dinner this day did
little more than aggravate our hunger. During the long voyage from Tofoa
we had been so cold and miserable the greater part of the time that the
pangs of hunger were kept in check. Furthermore, the constant peril of
the sea had prevented us from dwelling upon the thought of food. The case
was altered now, and we thought of little else.

After our midday dinner, Elpinstone, with a party of four, was sent to
the islet adjoining that at which we lay, to search for sea fowl and
their eggs, for we had observed that the birds congregated at that place.
The rest of us were glad enough to take our rest, crawling into the shade
of bushes and overhanging rocks.

On this afternoon I enjoyed a long and undisturbed sleep which greatly
refreshed me; indeed, I did not waken until near sundown, just as Mr.
Elphinstone's party was returning. They came in all but empty-handed,
having gotten no birds and only three eggs. This was, evidently, not the
nesting season: they had found the islet practically deserted; the birds
were away fishing for themselves, and the few they had seen were too wary
to be caught.

"Nevertheless, we must try again," said Bligh. "They will soon be coming
home with full gullets. We can be sure of catching them at night, and
there will be a good light from the moon to hunt by...Mr. Cole, you shall
try this time. Go warily, mind! Let the birds settle for the night before
you go amongst them."

"Aye, sir, we'll see to that," said Cole. Samuel, Tinkler, Lamb, and
myself were told off to make up his party; and, having provided ourselves
with sticks, we set out for the bird island.

It was a beautiful evening, cool and fresh now that the sun had set.
There was not a breath of air stirring, and the surface of the lagoons
glowed with the colours of the western sky. Our way led over a causeway
of hard-packed sand, laid over the coral reef. It was scarcely a dozen
paces across, and curved in a wide arc across a shallow sea filled with
mushroom coral that rose to within a few feet of the surface. The bar
connecting the islands was about two miles long. Tinkler and Lamb were
soon far ahead; the boatswain, Samuel, and I followed at a more leisurely
pace, stopping to examine the rock pools along the reef for clams and
oysters, though we found nothing save a few snails, scarcely larger than
the end of one's thumb. Nevertheless, we gathered them into the bread bag
we had brought to carry back the birds.

Whilst in Mr. Bligh's company we had been careful to make no reference to
the mutiny. On one occasion, I remember, young Tinkler had ventured to
speak in defense of two of the midshipmen who had been left behind on the
_Bounty_; but Bligh had silenced him in such a manner that no one else was
tempted to bring up the subject in his presence. But now, the three of
us, freed from restraint, fell naturally into talk of the seizure of the
ship and of what had led up to it.

"What puzzles me," said Cole, "is that Mr. Christian could have made his
plan without any of us getting wind of it."

"It was a sudden resolve on his part, I am fairly certain of that," I
replied.

"That's my opinion," said Samuel. "No doubt the villain had plotted it
long before, but he bided his time before opening his mind to the
others."

Cole nodded. "Aye, it must have been so," he said. "What could have
brought him to such a mad act, Mr. Ledward? Can you reason it out? He'd
no better friend than Captain Bligh, and he must have known it in his
heart." He shook his head, wonderingly. "I'd a liking for Mr. Christian,"
he added.

Samuel stopped short and gazed at the boatswain in a horrified manner.

"'Liking,' Mr. Cole?" he exclaimed.

"Aye," said Cole. "He was hot-tempered and anything but easy under Mr.
Bligh's correction; but I never doubted him a gentleman and a loyal
officer."

"His Majesty can well spare gentlemen of Christian's kidney from his
service," I replied. "You're too lenient in your judgments, Mr. Cole.
Whatever else may be said of him, Christian is an intelligent man. He
must have known that he was condemning us to all but certain death."

"Begging your pardon, Mr. Ledward, I don't believe he did know it. He
must have been out of his mind...This I will say: Mr. Christian will
never again know peace. He'll have us on his conscience till the day of
his death."

"He'll hang," said Samuel, confidently. "Hide where he may, Captain Bligh
will find him and bring him to justice."

"Let that be as it will, Mr. Samuel," said Cole. "I'll warrant he's been
punished enough as it is."

"Do you think God could forgive him, Mr. Cole?" I asked, out of curiosity
more than for any other reason.

"He could, sir. There's no crime so black that God cannot forgive it if a
man truly repents."

"Have you forgiven him?" I then asked.

He was silent for a moment as he pondered this question. Then, "No, sir,"
he replied, grimly. "He shall never have my forgiveness for the wrong he
has done Captain Bligh."

We were now close to the bird island. Tinkler alone was awaiting us
there.

"Where's Lamb, Mr. Tinkler?" Cole asked. "I told both of you to wait for
us."

"He was here a moment ago. I ordered him to help me look for clams while
we waited. I'm damned if I know where he's got to."

"It's your place to know, Mr. Tinkler," said Samuel shortly. "Captain
Bligh shall hear of this if anything goes wrong."

"Now don't be a telltale, Samuel, for God's sake," said Tinkler
anxiously. "What did you expect me to do--throw him down and sit on his
head? He can't have gone far."

"The man's a fool," said Samuel. "He's not to be trusted out of sight."

"Aye," said Cole, "if there's a wrong way of doing a thing, Lamb will
find his way to it. We may as well wait here. There's time enough."

No Lamb appeared, for all our waiting. The afterglow faded from the sky,
and the moon, nearing the full, shone with increasing splendour, paling
all but the brightest of the stars. The birds must have sensed the
presence of enemies, for they were long in settling. They circled in
thousands over the island, filling the air with their grating cries, but
at last the deafening clamour died away and we ventured to proceed on our
expedition. The island was, roughly, a mile long and about half as wide,
and the birds appeared to have congregated for the night on the farthest
part of it. We separated to a distance of about fifty yards and had gone
but a little way when the air was again filled with their cries and the
moon all but darkened by their bodies. I could guess what had happened:
the precious Lamb, without waiting for us, had blundered in amongst the
birds, to the ruin of our plans. I saw Tinkler and the boatswain break
into a run. My own legs were not equal to the added exertion; indeed, I
had so little strength that I had drawn to the limit of it in reaching
the bird island, and it was all I could now do to walk, to say nothing of
running. By pure chance I managed to knock down two noddies that circled
low over my head. One of them was only slightly hurt, and fluttered away
from me, but I at length managed to capture it. Having done so, I myself
fell down, completely exhausted. Shortly afterward I felt an attack of
tenesmus coming on, but to my surprise and relief I discovered that I was
evacuating, for the first time in thirty-three days. Perhaps I should
pass over this matter in silence; it is not, under ordinary
circumstances, one to be referred to; but members of my own profession
will understand the interest I took both in the performance of a function
so long delayed, and the result of it. The excrement was something
curious to see--hard, round pellets not so large as sheep's turds, and
looking perfectly black in the moonlight. The amount was woefully small,
and yet I believe that it was all my bowels contained at that time. It
confirmed me in the opinion I had ventured to Mr. Nelson--that our bodies
had absorbed all but an infinitesimal amount of the little nourishment
they had received.

With my two precious birds, I now walked feebly on after my companions,
whom I at length found in one spot, gathered around the crouching form of
the recreant Lamb.

"Look at this wretch, Mr. Ledward!" Samuel shouted, his voice trembling
with rage. "Do you see what he has done?"

Cole said nothing, but stood with his arms folded, gazing at the man.
Overhead, the noddies circled about in thousands; but they were far
beyond reach. Their cries were all but deafening; we had to shout to make
ourselves heard.

But no words were needed to tell me the tale of what had happened. Lamb's
face and hands were smeared with blood, and around him lay the gnawed
carcasses of nine birds which he had caught and devoured. I must do him
the credit to say that he had made a good job of them; scarcely anything
remained but feathers, bones, and entrails. He was making some whining
appeal that could not be heard above the tumult of birds' cries. Of a
sudden the boatswain gave him a cuff that knocked him sprawling at full
length in the sand. Then Mr. Cole bent over him. "Stop here!" he roared.
"If you move from this spot, you rogue, I'll thrash you within an inch of
your life!"

We continued a quest that was now all but hopeless. The birds were
thoroughly alarmed, and although we waited for a full two hours, they
would not again settle. A few ventured down, but before we could reach
them they would take wing again. We caught but twelve in all, though we
should have returned with our bag filled.

We trudged back slowly, worn out with the fatigue of the journey and
reluctant to reach our camp, for we well knew how bitter would be the
disappointment of those awaiting our return. This was the first bird
island we had met with, and we had looked forward to a meal of roasted
sea fowl with an expectation that might have been laughable had it not
been so pathetic.

Mr. Cole carried the hag, driving Lamb on before him. The man persisted
in his abject entreaties, begging that nothing be said of the matter to
Mr. Bligh:--

"I was out o' me head, Mr. Cole. I was, straight. I was that starved--

"Starved?" said Samuel. "And what of the rest of us, you bloody thief?
Out of your head! You can tell that to Captain Bligh!" The boatswain
halted. "Mr. Samuel, we'd best not let him know the whole truth of it."

"What?" exclaimed Samuel. "Would you shield such a villain? When he's
robbed some of us, it may be, of the very chance of life?"

"It's not that I'd shield him," said Cole, "but I'd be ashamed to let
Captain Bligh know what a poor thing we've got amongst us."

"He knows already," Samuel replied. "Hasn't the man been a dead weight to
us all the way from Tofoa? He's done nothing but lie and whine in the
bottom of the boat all the voyage. We've him to thank, I'll be bound, for
the stolen pork!"

"I didn't touch it, sir! I didn't!"

"You did, you rogue! It must have been you! There's none but yourself
would have been such a cur as to steal from his shipmates!" He was, in
all truth, a wretched creature, the inestimable Lamb. I have little doubt
that Samuel was right in surmising that he was the thief of the pork. But
as that was gone, and the birds as well, I agreed with Cole that nothing
was to be gained by disclosing Lamb's gorge of raw bird flesh. Tinkler
sided with us, and Samuel at length agreed to keep that point a secret.

"But Captain Bligh shall know whose fault it was that the birds were
frightened," he said.

"Aye," said Cole. "We owe it to ourselves that that should be told." And
so it was agreed.

Captain Bligh was, of course, furious. He took the man's bird stick and
thrashed him soundly with it; and never was punishment more richly
deserved.

We were a sad company that evening. A fire of coals had been carefully
tended against our return, when the fowls were to be roasted, and every
man had promised himself at least two of the birds. But when Mr. Bligh
saw the miserable result of our expedition, although the twelve birds
were dressed and cooked, they were carefully packed away for future use;
and we had for supper water, the handful of sea snails we had found, and
a few oysters. Elphinstone and Hayward were then set at watch, and the
rest of us lay down to sleep.

It seemed to me that I had no more than closed my eyes when I was aroused
to find the island in a glare of light. The night was chill and the
master had kindled a fire for himself at a distance from the rest of us.
Some coarse dry grass which covered the island had caught from this, and
the fire spread rapidly, burning fiercely for a time. It was the last
straw for Mr. Bligh. We made a vain effort to beat out the flames, and
when at last they had burned themselves out, he gave the company in
general, and Mr. Fryer in particular, a dressing down that lasted for the
better part of a quarter of an hour.

"You, sir," he roared at Fryer, "who should set an example with myself to
all the rest, are a disgrace to your calling! You are the most
incompetent bloody rascal of the company! Mark my words! We'll have the
savages on us as a result of this! And serve you right if we do! What are
you worth, the lot of you? A more useless set of rogues it has never been
my misfortune to command! I send you out for birds, to an island where
they congregate in thousands. You frighten them like a lot of children,
and get none. I send you out for shellfish. You get none. I set you to
fishing. You get none. And yet you expect me to feed you! And if I close
my eyes for ten minutes, you're up to some deviltry that may be the
ruination of us all! And you expect me to take you safe to Timor! By God,
if I do, it will be thanks to none of you!"

He quieted down presently. "Get you to sleep," he said gruffly. "This may
be our last night ashore till the end of the voyage, so make the most of
it."

I lay awake for some time. Nelson, who was lying beside me, turned
presently to whisper in my ear.

"What a man he is, Ledward," he said. "It comforted me to see him in a
passion again. We'll fetch Timor. I did him a great injustice ever to
doubt it."

I had precisely the same feeling, and I thanked God, inwardly, that Bligh
and no other was in command of the _Bounty's_ launch.



CHAPTER XI


We were astir before daylight, greatly refreshed by six or seven hours of
sleep. Mr. Bligh awoke in the best of humours, intending to embark
immediately, but was irritated when he found that Lamb was too ill to go
into the launch.

"What ails the fellow, Mr. Ledward?" he asked, looking down at the man
with an expression of disgust.

Lamb was doubled up with cramps from his gorge of the night before; there
was no doubting the pain he suffered. I was tempted to let Bligh know the
truth of the matter, for my impatience with this worse than useless
fellow was equal to his own. I refrained, however, and was about to purge
him when he was seized with a violent flux. Half an hour later he was
carried into the boat and we proceeded on our way.

It was a beautiful morning, with cloudless sky, and a fresh breeze at
E.S.E. This part of the coast of New Holland lies, as our sailors would
say, "in the eye of the southeast trades"; and during the time we sailed
within the reefs we had constantly a fine, fresh sailing breeze abaft the
beam.

Mr. Fryer was at the tiller. Captain Bligh sat beside him with his
journal open on his knees, engaged in his usual occupation of charting
the coast. He glanced frequently at the compass to obtain bearings on the
points, indentations and landmarks ashore; at short intervals, without
raising his eyes from his work, he would order "Heave the log," and make
a note of the launch's speed. Nelson had told me, what I could readily
believe, that Captain Cook, in spite of Bligh's youth at that time,
considered him among the most skilled cartographers in England. And I am
confident that the officer who will one day be appointed to make a
thorough survey of this coast will be amazed at the accuracy of Bligh's
chart, drawn with only his sextant, a compass, and a rude log to aid him,
in the stern sheets of a twenty-three-foot boat, sailing fast to the
north with scarcely a halt.

All the time we sailed within the reefs of New Holland, Bligh was
absorbed in this work, to such an extent that for hours at a time he
seemed to forget our very presence. Mr. Bligh was an explorer born, but
his interest was less in the strange people and natural curiosities to be
found than in the charting of new coasts. I feel assured that there were
entire hours within the reefs when he forgot the _Bounty_, forgot the
mutiny, forgot that he was in a small unarmed boat, half starved, at the
mercy of savage tribes, and hundreds of leagues from the nearest European
settlement. His expression of interest and happiness at these times was
such that it was a pleasure merely to look at his face.

We had sailed about two leagues to the northward when a heavy swell began
to set in from the east, leading us to suppose that there must be a break
in the reefs which protect most of this shore. The sea continued rough as
we passed between a shoal, on which were two sandy cays, and two other
islets four miles to the west. Toward midday we sailed past six other
cays covered with fresh green scrub and contrasting with the main, which
now appeared barren, with sand hills along the coast. A flat-topped hill
abreast of us, Captain Bligh named "Pudding-Pan Hill"; and two rounded
hills, a little to the north, he called "The Paps." At two hours before
sunset we passed a large inlet, which Bligh longed to explore. It
appeared to be the entrance to a safe and commodious harbour.

Three leagues to the northward of this inlet, we found a small island
where we decided to spend the night. The sea was rough, the wind was now
making up in gusts, and there was a strong current setting to the north.
Though well wooded, with low scrub, the island appeared the merest pile
of rocks, with only one poor landing place in the lee of a point. A shark
of monstrous proportions swam alongside the boat for some time while we
approached the land, and as we rounded the point, some of the people saw
a large animal resembling a crocodile pass under the boat.

"Bigger'n the launch, he was," said Cole when the captain questioned him;
"with four legs and a great long tail. A crocodile, ye can lay to that,
sir."

It was a wretched anchorage, for the coral dropped in a vertical wall
from the surface to a depth of two fathoms, and the bottom was very foul.
The wind was making up, and the current swept in fast around the point.

Laying the boat alongside the rocks, Captain Bligh ordered Fryer and some
of the people to spend the night on shore, since the anchorage was too
uncertain for all to leave the boat in such weather. As we drifted fast
to leeward, the grapnel was dropped. It dragged for a moment, and
presently held as scope was paid out; then, as the weight of the launch
fetched up against it, the line parted suddenly.

"Enough scope, you fools!" roared Bligh, not knowing what had happened.
"Damn you, boatswain! What are you about, there?"

"We've lost the grapnel, sir!" Cole shouted.

"To the oars!"

The men ran out their oars and pulled with a will, for they realized as
well as the captain the dangers of being blown off-shore on such a night.
Their utmost exertions were just sufficient to gain slowly against
current and wind. Bligh made his way forward where Cole was examining the
broken line.

"A rotten spot, sir," said the boatswain; "the rust of the grapnel did
it." He opened his clasp knife and cut away the rotten line. Bligh was
peering down into the water ahead. "Hold her here!' he ordered without
turning his head."

There was something ominous about the place, and the wild red sunset; the
thought of the monsters we had seen so short a time before would have
deterred most men from doing what Bligh now did. He stripped off his
ragged shirt and trousers, seized the end of the grapnel line, and
plunged into the sea.

Cole gazed after him anxiously; then, seeing that the people had stopped
rowing for a moment in their astonishment, he roared out:--"Pull, I say!
Do you want to drag the line out of the captain's hands? Pull, damn your
blood!"

He was paying out line as he shouted, and gazing earnestly down into the
water. Captain Bligh came to the surface, drew three or four long
breaths, and dived once more. Nearly a minute passed before he
reappeared. This time he swam to the stern of the boat and pulled himself
aboard. For a moment or two he sat on the gunwale, breathing rapidly.

"By God, sir," I remarked. "I'm glad you did not ask me to dive." He
laughed grimly. "I was none too eager to go down; but I'll ask no one to
do what I fear to do myself. The thought of the monstrous shark was never
out of my mind." He shivered. "Nelson, what was that other thing we
saw--a crocodile?"

"I've little doubt of it," Nelson replied. "Captain Cook saw what he
believed were crocodiles in these waters."

Bligh shivered in spite of himself. "I'm as glad to be in the boat
again," he said. "We are in a bad position here, and these currents are
the devil; they seem to set four ways at once."

"You were fortunate to get down to the grapnel, sir," said Peckover.
"Aye, Mr. Peckover, the Indians of Otaheite are the men for that work. I
managed to get the line rove through its ring before I had to come up to
blow; but one of them would have stopped down to bend it on. We whites
are good for nothing under water."

Dusk was setting in, and we profited by what remained of daylight to eat
our small portions of the half-dressed birds left over from those
obtained on Lagoon Island. In the strong wind and current, the boat rode
uneasily to her grapnel, and we passed a wretched night. The moon, close
on to the full, set sometime before daylight; in the first gray of dawn,
Captain Bligh and some of the rest of us landed to see what we could
obtain on shore, leaving Cole and Peckover in charge of the launch.

Nelson had passed a pretty comfortable night in the lee of some rocks; I
found him awake, and he and I set out to explore the far side of the
island. As we crossed through the scrub, we found the backs of many
turtles, some of great size, and the fireplaces where the Indians had
roasted the flesh. I was engaged in a futile search for clams on a small,
sandy beach exposed to the east wind, when I heard Nelson shout.

I swung about, and saw him trying to turn over a turtle of immense size,
which had just emerged from behind some bushes and was making her way to
the water's edge.

"_Ledward!_" he shouted again, in an agonized voice.

In an instant I was at his side, but our combined strength was not enough
to raise one side of the turtle from the sand. All the time we struggled
to turn her, she was plying her flippers desperately, sending showers of
sand over us and moving rapidly toward the sea, only a few yards distant.
Her strength was prodigious; she must have weighed not less than four
hundred pounds. Perceiving the impossibility of turning her, we gave up
the attempt, and seized a hind flipper each, holding back with all our
might. But she had reached the damp sand by now, where her powerful fore
flippers could obtain a hold, and in spite of our utmost exertions she
dragged us, little by little, into the sea. Through the shallows she
went, while our grips weakened; then suddenly, as she plunged into deep
water, we were forced to let go.

Panting, and wet from head to foot, we had barely the strength to make
our way back to the sand. Once there, we sank down side by side. After a
long silence Nelson looked up at me with a wry smile.

"That was tragedy! There was a fortnight's food in the beast, Ledward!"

"All of that," I replied. "She may have laid some eggs. Let us go and
search."

Nelson shook his head. "No. I surprised her as she was beginning to dig.
She had just come up from the sea, for her back was still wet."

We fell silent once more, and at last he said: "We'll say nothing of this
to the others, eh, Ledward?"

We walked slowly back across the island, halting on a bit of rising
ground to rest. A little to the left we could see the others gathered on
the beach near the launch. Nelson lay back for a moment, his hands behind
his head, and stretched out his legs at full length.

"You'd best follow my example," he said. "It may be the last chance we
shall have."

"The last? Surely not!" I exclaimed.

"Bligh thinks we shall be clear of the coast by to-morrow or the day
after."

I managed to smile somewhat dubiously. "Between ourselves, Nelson, I'll
confess that no man in the boat can dread the prospect more than I."

"Dread it? I positively quake at the thought! God help us if we have any
more nights like those on the way to New Holland!"

We found Bligh awaiting us. The others had obtained nothing, so he hailed
the launch, and we soon set sail. The main at this place bore from S.E.
to N.N.W. half W., and a high, flat-topped island lay to the north, four
or five leagues distant.

On passing this island, we found a great opening in the coast, set with a
number of mountainous islands. To the north and west the country was
high, wooded, and broken, with many islands close in with the land. We
were now steering more and more to the west, and Captain Bligh informed
us that he was tolerably certain we should be clear of the coast of New
Holland in the course of the afternoon.

Toward two o'clock, as we were steering toward the westernmost part of
the main now in sight, we fell in with a vast sandy shoal which extends
out many miles to sea, and were obliged to haul our wind to weather it.
Bligh named the place "Shoal Cape." Just before dark we passed a small
island, or rock, on which innumerable boobies were roosting. There was no
land in sight to the north, south, or west.

Three hundred leagues of empty sea now lay between us and Timor.


The six days we had spent within the reefs of New Holland had allowed us
to sleep in some comfort at night, and to refresh ourselves with what
little the islands afforded. And, above all, the barriers of coral
shielded us from the attacks of our old enemy, the sea.

But the sea had not forgotten us, and lay in wait, on the far side of
Shoal Cape, armed with strong gales from the east and deluges of rain,
unabated for seven days. On the misery of that week I shall not dwell.

On the morning of June tenth, I was lying doubled up in the stern sheets.
Lamb, Simpson, and Nelson were in a state as bad as my own; and Lebogue,
the _Bounty's_ sailmaker, once the hardiest of old seamen, lay forward with
closed eyes. His legs were swollen in a shocking manner, and his flesh
had lost its elasticity; when it was pinched or squeezed, the impression
of one's fingers remained clear.

The breeze was still fresh, though the sea had moderated during the
night, and only two men were at the bails. Elphinstone was steering, with
Bligh at his side. The countenances of both men looked hollow as those of
spectres; but while the master's mate stared at the compass dully, the
captain's eyes were calm. Our fishing line was made fast close behind
Bligh. We had towed it constantly, day and night, for more than three
thousand miles without catching a fish, though Cole and Peckover had
exhausted their ingenuity in devising a variety of lures made from
feathers and rags. Peckover had seized a new one on our hook the night
before, employing the feathers of a booby Captain Bligh had caught with
his own hands on the fifth--the only bird we had secured since leaving
New Holland.

Bemused with weakness, I happened to glance at the line. We were sailing
at not less than four knots at the time, and I was surprised to observe
that the line, instead of towing behind us, ran out at right angles to
the boat. For a moment I did not realize the significance of this. Then I
said, in the best voice I could muster: "A fish!"

Mr. Bligh started, seized the line, rose to his feet, and began to haul
in hand-over-hand, with a strength that surprised me.

"By God, lads," he exclaimed, "this one shan't get away!"

It was a dolphin of about twenty pounds' weight. The captain brought it
in leaping and splashing, swung it over the gunwale, and fell to the
floor boards, clasping it to his chest.

"Your knife, Mr. Peckover!" he called, never for an instant relaxing his
hold on the struggling fish.

In an instant the gunner had cut the cord beneath the gills, but Mr.
Bligh held fast to the dolphin while it blazed with the changing colours
of death and its shuddering grew weaker, till it lay still and limp. The
captain rose weakly, rinsed his hands over the side, and sat down once
more, breathing fast. Peckover looked at him admiringly.

"No use his trying them jumping-jack tricks on you, sir!" he said.

"You've Mr. Ledward to thank," said Bligh. "We've towed so long without
luck, that I'll be bound no other man would have noticed it!" Peckover
was gazing down longingly at the bulging side of the fish, and Bligh went
on: "Aye, divide him up--guts, liver, and all."

Peckover knelt beside the fish, muttering to himself as he laid out
imaginary lines of division, and then changed his mind. At last he began
to cut. The people watched this operation with an eagerness which might
have been laughable under happier circumstances. Only Elphinstone, at the
tiller, had preserved an attitude of indifference throughout the affair,
gazing vacantly at the compass and up at the horizon from time to time.

Under Bligh's direction, the gunner divided the fish into thirty-six
shares, each of about half a pound. Eighteen of these were now
distributed by our method of "Who shall have this?" A fine steak fell to
me; the captain got the liver and about two ounces of flesh. Lebogue
shook his head feebly when his share was offered him, and whispered: "I'm
past eatin', lad."

I managed to turn on my side when Tinkler handed me my fish in a coconut
shell, but I was now in such a state that the sight of raw flesh revolted
my stomach. Seeing that Nelson felt the same, I did my best to make a
pretense of eating before stowing my shell away out of sight. I am not of
a rugged constitution, and it irked me to be so feeble when others were
still able to bail and work the sails. Nelson was close beside me, and he
said in a low voice: "Damme, Ledward, I cannot eat the fish."

"Nor I," I replied.

"No matter, we'll soon raise Timor."

"Mr. Samuel," said Bligh, "issue a spoonful of wine to those who are
weakest."

He was eating the dolphin's liver, and I could see that he relished the
food no more than I. But he forced himself sternly, mouthful by mouthful,
to chew and swallow it.

Toward noon, the wind shifted from E.S.E. to nearly northeast, forcing us
to lower our sails and raise them on the starboard tack. Then a black
rain squall bore down on us, filling our kegs and permitting us to drink
our fill. Those who were able wrung out their sodden rags in salt water,
and performed the same office for their weaker mates. The sky was clouded
over, and though there was a long swell from the east, the wind was light
and we shipped little water over the stern. The boatswain was staring
aft.

"Look, sir!" he exclaimed suddenly to Bligh.

Several of the people turned their heads; as I raised myself a little to
look, I heard Hallet say: "What's that?"

Directly in our wake and not more than a quarter of a mile away, a black
cloud hung low over the sea, with a sagging point that approached the
water in a curious, jerking fashion. And just beneath, the surface of the
sea was agitated as if by a small maelstrom. Little by little, the sea
rose in a conical point, making a rushing, roaring noise that was now
plainly audible; little by little, the cloud sagged down to meet it. Then
suddenly the sea and cloud met in a whirling column which lengthened as
the cloud above seemed to rise rapidly.

"Only a waterspout," said Bligh, after a glance aft. "Look alive, if I
give the word."

For a time it seemed to remain stationary, growing taller and thicker as
if gathering its force. Then it began to move, bearing straight down on
us.

"Bear up," Bligh ordered the helmsman quietly. "Aye, so!" And, as the
sails began to slat, "To the sheets, lads! Trim them flat!"

We changed our course not a moment too soon. The cloud, now overhead, was
as black as ink, with a kind of greenish pallor at its heart; we had not
sailed fifty yards, close-hauled, when the waterspout passed astern of
us, a sight of awe-inspiring majesty.

All hands save Mr. Bligh stared at it in silent consternation. The column
of water, many hundreds of feet high and thicker than the greatest oak in
England, had a clear, glassy look and seemed to revolve with incredible
rapidity. At its base, the sea churned and roared with a sound that would
have made a loud shout inaudible. I doubt if any man in the boat was
greatly afraid; we had gone through so much, and were so reduced by our
sufferings, that death had become a matter of little moment. But even in
my own state of weakness, I trembled in awe at this manifestation of
God's majesty upon the deep. Not a word was spoken till the waterspout
was half a mile distant and Bligh ordered the course changed once more.

"Ledward," remarked Nelson coolly, in a weak voice, "I wouldn't have
missed that for a thousand pounds!"

"I have seen many of them," said Bligh, "though never so close. There's
little danger, save at night..."

He shut his mouth suddenly and bent double in a spasm of pain. Next
moment his head was over the gunwale while he retched and vomited. After
a long time he rinsed his mouth with sea water, and sat up ghastly pale.

"Some water, Mr. Samuel," he managed to say. "Aye, a full half pint."

The water sent him to the gunwale once more, and during the remainder of
the afternoon Mr. Bligh was in a pitiable state. I believe that the liver
of the dolphin must have been poisonous, as is said often to be the case;
though it may be that Bligh had reached the state I was in, in which the
exhausted stomach can no longer accept food. Though constantly retching
and vomiting, and suffering from excruciating cramps, he refused to lie
down; he kept an eye on our course between his paroxysms, and directed
the trimming of the sails. At sunset he took a spoonful of wine, which
his stomach retained, and seemed better for it.

Though I no longer felt hunger or much pain, the night seemed
interminably long. The moon came up at about ten o'clock, dead astern of
us, and shone full in my face. I dozed, awoke, attempted to stretch my
cramped legs, and dozed again. Sometimes I heard Nelson muttering in his
sleep. The captain managed to doze for a time in the early hours of the
night; when the moon was about two hours up, he relieved Fryer at the
helm. The moon was at its zenith, from which I judged the time to be four
in the morning, when Bligh roused Elphinstone, and again lay down to
sleep. The wind was at east, and though the moonlight paled the stars, I
could see the Southern Cross on our larboard beam.

I had said nothing to the others of my fears, but for a day or two past I
had had reason to suspect that Elphinstone's mind was giving way under
the strain. He was as little wasted in body as any man in the launch, yet
his vacant eye, his lack of interest in what went on about him, and his
strange gestures and mutterings were symptoms of a failing mind, although
there was no reason to think him unequal to his duties. When Bligh took
him by the shoulder to waken him, he said "Aye, sir!" in a dull voice,
and took the tiller mechanically.

It was Peckover's watch; turning my head, I could see him seated with
some others forward. His shoulders were bowed, and from time to time he
nodded and caught himself, making heroic efforts to stay awake. A
continual sound of faint groans and mutterings came from the men asleep
in the bottom of the launch; dreamless sleep had been unknown to us for
many days. Soon Bligh began to snore gently and irregularly.

Elphinstone sat motionless at the tiller, staring ahead with a vacant
expression on his face. I could see his lips move as he muttered to
himself, but could hear no sound. Then for a time I dozed.

It was still night when I awoke, though close to dawn. The master's mate
was hunched at the helm, seeming scarcely to have moved since I glanced
at him last. For a time I noticed nothing out of the way; then, looking
over the gunwale, I perceived that the Cross was no longer on our beam.
It was on the larboard bow; our course had been changed from west to
southwest. Elphinstone leaned toward me.

"The land!" he whispered eagerly. "Yonder, dead ahead! Take care! Don't
waken Mr. Bligh!"

I struggled with some difficulty into a position which enabled me to look
forward. Peckover and the others sat sleeping, bowed on the thwarts.
Ahead of the launch was only the vast moonlit sea, and an horizon empty
save for a few scattered clouds.

"Timor," whispered Elphinstone, triumphantly. "God's with us, Mr.
Ledward! He caused the wind to shift to the northeast, so we're dead
before it still. You see it now, eh? The mountains and the great valleys?
A fine island, I'll be bound, where we'll find all we need!"

He spoke with such sincerity that I looked ahead once more, beginning to
doubt my own eyes; but I saw only the roll of the empty sea under the
moon. Bligh stirred and struggled to a sitting position. He took in the
situation at a glance.

"What's this, Mr. Elphinstone?" he said in a harsh voice. "Who ordered
you to change the course?"

"The land, Captain Bligh! Look ahead! I steered for it when I sighted the
mountains an hour ago."

Bligh swung about to stare over the sea. "Land?" he said, as if doubting
the evidence of his own senses. "Where?"

"Dead ahead, sir. Can't you see the great valley yonder, and the high
ridge above? It looks an island as rich as Otaheite!"

Bligh gave me a quick glance. "Go forward, Mr. Elphinstone," he ordered.
"Lie down at once and get some sleep."

To my surprise, the master's mate said no more about the land, but gave
the tiller to Bligh and made his way forward amongst the sleeping men.
His face wore the mild, vacant expression of a man walking in his sleep.

"Mr. Peckover!" called Bligh harshly.

The gunner started a little and straightened his back slowly. "Aye, aye,
sir!" he said.

"Don't let me catch you sleeping on watch again! You and those with you
might have been the ruin of us all!" The other members of the watch were
stirring, and the captain went on: "I'm going to wear. To the halyards!
Get her on the starboard tack!"

When the halyards had been slacked away and the yards of our lugsails
passed around to the larboard sides of the masts, Bligh bore up to the
west, and the men trimmed the sails to the northeast wind.

This day, the eleventh of June, seemed the longest of my life. They had
eaten the last of the dolphin the night before, and at sunrise a quarter
of a pint of water and our usual allowance of bread were issued. I drank
the water, but could not eat the bread. The captain made a grimace in
spite of himself as he raised his morsel of bread to his mouth, but he
munched it heroically, nevertheless, and contrived to keep it down. The
boatswain had administered a spoonful of wine to Lebogue, and was coming
to do the like for Nelson and me. Stepping over the after thwart with the
bottle in his hand, he came face to face with Bligh, while an expression
of horror came into his eyes.

"Sir," he said solicitously, "ye look worse'n any man in the launch. Ye'd
best have a drop o' this."

Bligh smiled at the old fellow's simplicity, and said: "I'll pay you a
handsomer compliment, Mr. Cole: you have lasted better than many of the
younger men...No, no wine for me. There are those who need it more."

Cole touched his forelock and turned to serve me, shaking his head.

I lay half dozing whilst the sun crawled interminably toward the zenith.
Sometimes I opened my eyes after what seemed the passage of hours, only
to discover that the shadow of the helmsman had shortened by no more than
an inch. My whole life, up to the time we had left Tofoa, seemed but an
instant beside the eternity I had spent in the boat, and on this day,
after a long process of slowing down, I felt that time had come to a halt
at last: I had always been sailing west before a fresh easterly breeze,
with the sun stationary and low behind the launch, and would sail thus
forever and ever, on a limitless plain of tossing blue, unbroken by any
land. And Mr. Bligh would always hold the tiller--a scarecrow clad in
grotesque rags, with a turban made of an old pair of trousers on his
head.

* * * * *

Noon came at last, and Cole took the tiller while the master and Peckover
held Bligh up to take the altitude of the sun. Owing to his own weakness
and that of the men supporting him, he had difficulty in getting his
sight; though not breaking, the sea was confused, and the launch tossed
and pitched uncertainly. After some time, he handed his sextant to the
master and sat down to work out our position. Finally he looked up.

"Our latitude is nine degrees, forty-one minutes south," he said; "that
of the middle portion of Timor. By my reckoning, we have traversed
thirteen and one-half degrees of longitude since leaving Shoal
Cape,--more than eight hundred miles,--and to the best of my recollection
the most easterly part of Timor is laid down in one hundred and
twenty-eight degrees east longitude, a meridian we must have passed."

"When shall we raise the land, sir?" the boatswain asked.

"During the night or early in the morning. We must keep a sharp lookout
to-night."

Toward sunset, when I awoke from a long doze, there were great numbers of
sea birds about. Lying on my back, I could see them passing and repassing
overhead. Tinkler contrived to strike down one booby with the spare yard
we had cut at Restoration Island, but the others took warning .at this
and avoided the boat. The bird was reserved for the next day, but I was
offered a wineglass of its blood, which I managed to swallow only to
vomit it up instantly. There was much rock weed around us, and coconut
husks so fresh that they were still bright yellow in colour.

Darkness came, and still the wind held steady and fair. Every man able to
sit up was on the thwarts, staring out over the tossing sea ahead, dimly
visible in the light of the stars.

Like a sentient being, aware that the end of her long journey was at
hand, the launch now seemed to surpass herself. With all sail set and
drawing, she raced westward, shipping so little water that there was
little need to bail. Sometimes the people were silent; sometimes I heard
them speaking in low tones. I was aware of an undercurrent of new courage
and confidence, of deep contentment that our trials were so nearly at an
end. Not once during the long voyage had their faith in Mr. Bligh waned;
he had declared that we should raise the land by morning, and that was
enough.

It must have been nearly eleven o'clock when the moon rose, directly
astern of the launch: a bright half-moon, sailing a cloudless sky. Hour
after hour, as the moon climbed the heavens, the launch ran westward,
whilst we listened to the crisp sound of water rushing under her keel.

Even old Lebogue revived a little at this time. No man of us had endured
more grievous suffering, and yet he had borne his part in the work when
others no weaker than himself lay helpless.

Bligh had taken the tiller at midnight, after an attempt to sleep; and
toward three in the morning, when the moon was high above the horizon
astern, young Tinkler stepped up on to the after thwart to peer ahead. He
stood there for some time, swaying to the motion of the boat, with hands
cupped above his eyes. Then he sprang down to face the captain.

"The land, sir!" he exclaimed in a shaking voice.

Bligh motioned Fryer to take the helm, and stood up. I heard a burst of
talk forward: "Only a cloud!"

"No, no! Land, and high land too!" Then, as the launch reared high on a
swell, we saw the shadowy outlines of the land ahead: pale, lofty, and
unsubstantial in the light of the moon, a great island still many miles
distant, stretching far away to the northeast and southwest. The captain
stared ahead long and earnestly before he spoke.

"Timor, lads!" he said.



CHAPTER XII


There were some who doubted the landfall, who could not believe that the
goal of our voyage was actually in sight. For all Mr. Bligh's quiet
assurance, and the boatswain's repeated "Aye, lad! There's the
land--never a doubt of it!" they dared not believe, lest day should come
and the dim outlines melt into the shapes of distant clouds. We hauled on
a wind to the northeast, and those who could stood on the thwarts from
time to time, their confidence in what they saw increasing from moment to
moment. Some could do no more than raise themselves to a sitting position
in the bottom of the launch, clinging to the thwarts or to the gunwales
as they stared ahead.

Veil after veil of moonlit obscurity was drawn aside, and at last, in the
clear light of early dawn, there it lay: Paradise itself, it seemed, its
lofty outlines filling half the circle of the horizon, bearing from S.W.
to N.E. by E. The sun rose, its shafts of level, golden light striking
across promontory after promontory. We saw great valleys filled with
purple shadow, and, high above the coast, forests appeared, interspersed
with glades and lawns that might well have been the haunts where our
first parents wandered in the innocence of the world.

Our capacities for joy and gratitude were not adequate to the occasion.
Mr. Bligh was, I believe, as near to tears as he had ever been in his
life, but he held himself well under control. Others gave way to their
emotion, and wept freely; indeed, we were so weak that tears came
readily. Poor Elphinstone, alone of our company, was robbed of the joy of
that never-to-be-forgotten morning; his sufferings had deprived
him--temporarily, at least--of reason. He sat amidships, facing aft,
scanning the empty sea behind us with an expression of hopeless
bewilderment, an object of commiseration to all. Despite our efforts, we
could not convince him that the land lay close ahead.

At the sunrise we were within two leagues of the coast. A land more green
and fair has never gladdened seamen's eyes; scarcely a man of us did not
long to go ashore at once. The coast was low, but on the higher regions
beyond, we saw many cultivated spots. Near one of the plantations we
observed several huts, but no people there or elsewhere. Purcell and the
master ventured to suggest to Mr. Bligh that we land, in hopes of finding
some of the inhabitants, who might inform us as to the whereabouts of the
Dutch settlement.

"I can well understand your impatience, Mr. Fryer," said Bligh; "but we
shall take no unnecessary risks. If my recollection serves me, Timor is
all of one hundred leagues in extent. I have told you that I am by no
means certain that the Dutch have a permanent outpost here. If they have,
they may have subjected only a small part of the island to their rule.
The inhabitants are, I believe, Malays, well known to be a cruel and
treacherous race. We shall place ourselves in their power only as a last
resort."

There was no disputing the wisdom of this decision. What we feared, of
course, was that no European settlement existed on the island; but we did
not permit ourselves to consider this melancholy possibility, and both
Bligh and Nelson recollected that Captain Cook had been informed that the
most easterly station of the Dutch was upon Timor.

We bore away again to the W.S.W., keeping close enough to the coast to
avoid missing any opening that might exist; but throughout the morning
neither cove nor bay did we see, nor any place where a landing might have
been effected, because of the great surf breaking all along this windward
shore.

At noon we were abreast of a high headland only three miles distant, and,
having passed it, we found the land still bearing off in a southwesterly
direction for as far as the eye could reach. Our dinner was the usual
allowance: one twenty-fifth of a pound of bread, and a half pint of
water--for Mr. Bligh was not the man to relax his vigilance until assured
that the need for vigilance was past; but the bird we had caught the
night before was divided in the customary manner. I received a portion of
the breast, which, a week earlier, I should have considered a tidbit of
the rarest sort; but now my stomach revolted at the sight and tainted
smell of the raw flesh, and I could not eat it. I gave my portion to
Peckover, and merely to see the relish with which he devoured it upset me
the more, so that I fell to retching violently. Six or seven others were
in as bad a state. Mr. Bligh gave the weakest of us a swallow of rum, of
which we still had three quarters of a bottle.

All through the afternoon the weather was hazy, and we could see no great
distance before us, but were close enough in to observe the appearance of
the coast, which was low and covered with a seemingly endless forest of
fan palms. At this time we saw no signs anywhere of cultivated spots,
and, as we proceeded, the land had a more arid look. Captain Bligh said
nothing of the matter; but I could see that he was worried lest we had
gone beyond the habitable part of the island. I know not how many times
during this day we had before us a distant promontory, beyond which
nothing of the island could be seen; but always, upon rounding it, we
found another far ahead, and the land still bearing away to the south. At
sunset, we had run twenty-three miles since noon; and in the gathering
dusk we brought to under a close-reefed foresail, in shoal water within
half a league of the shore.

We did not know how near we might be to the end of all our troubles.
Perhaps only a few miles farther, we thought, lay the Dutch settlement;
but we dared not risk sailing on, lest we should run past it in the
darkness. The excitement of the previous eighteen hours had exhausted our
little strength, and, had it been possible, I believe that Captain Bligh
would have landed here, if only to give us the refreshment of stretching
out our cramped and aching limbs. The surf on shore was not great at this
point, but we were too weak to have run our boat through it; so we lay
huddled in the launch, most of us too far spent even for conversation. In
my own case, much as I regret to admit it, I was in a weaker condition
than any of the company save Lebogue, and I had a great ulcer on my leg
that kept me in constant torment. We were all of us, in fact, covered
with sores, due to the constant chafing of our emaciated bodies against
the boards of the boat, and kept open and raw by the action of salt
water. Nelson astonished me at this time; he looked like a dying man, but
he seemed to have drawn, merely from the sight of Timor, a strength which
he was, somehow, able to impart to others. Together, he and Bligh took
over the office of looking after the sick, and I shall not soon forget
their comforting, heartening words as they made their way amongst us,
helping some poor fellow to change to a more comfortable position, and
doling out a few drops of rum or wine from the last of our precious
supply.

We were drawn together that night as never before. We had suffered so
much that we seemed of one body. Antipathies, whether small or large,
arising from our different characters, vanished quite away, and a rich
current of sympathy and common feeling ran through our forlorn little
company, making us, for that night at least, brothers indeed. I had
observed many different aspects of Mr. Bligh's character, and, profoundly
as I respected him, I had not supposed that he had in him any deep
feeling of compassion for the men under his command. On this occasion he
revealed a gentleness which quite altered my conception of his nature.
The experience brought home to me the difficulty one has in forming a
true notion of any of one's fellow creatures. They must be seen over a
long period of time, and under many and varied conditions not often
presenting themselves in sequence to a single observer. But some men are
ever the same, unchanging and unchangeable as rock, no matter what the
conditions. Cole, the boatswain, was one of these. Loyalty to his
commander, devotion to duty, sympathy for those weaker than himself, and
an abiding trust in God were the corner stones of his nature. All through
that interminable night he was ever on the alert to do some suffering man
a kindness.

About two in the morning, we wore and stood close along the coast till
daylight. Seeing no signs of habitation, we bore away to the westward,
with a strong gale against a weather current, which occasioned much sea
and forced us to resume the weary work of bailing. This fell chiefly upon
Fryer, Cole, Peckover, and two of the midshipmen, Tinkler and Hayward;
others did what little they could, sitting propped up against the
thwarts.

By this time every man of us--save Bligh, perhaps--had a feeling of
mingled fear and hatred toward the sea: as though it were not a mindless
force but a conscious one, bent upon our destruction, and becoming
increasingly enraged that we had survived its cruelty and were about to
escape. Even Bligh must have had something of the feeling, for I heard
him say to the master: "She's not done with us yet...Bail, lads!" he
called. "I'll soon have you out of this."

Once more we had before us a low coast, with points opening to the west;
and again we were encouraged to think we had reached the extremity of the
island; but, toward the middle of the morning, we found the coast
reaching on to the south a weary way ahead. Even the land, to my
distorted fancy, appeared hostile unwilling to receive us, tempting us on
with false hopes only that we might be the more bitterly disappointed.

Presently we discerned, to the southwest, the dim outlines of high land,
but in the moisture-laden air we could not be sure whether or no it was a
part of Timor. Seeing no break between it and the coast we were
following, Bligh concluded that it must be a distant headland of the
island; therefore we stood toward it, and several hours passed before we
discovered that it was a separate island--the island of Roti, as we
afterward learned.

Shortly after Mr. Bligh had altered our course to return to the coast we
had left, I lost all knowledge of what went on. The sun had been
extremely hot, and we had no protection from its rays. It may be that I
suffered a slight stroke, and this, combined with my other miseries; had
proven too much for me. At any rate, I sank into a stupor which left me a
dim consciousness of misery and of little else. Now and then I heard the
confused murmur of voices, and I vaguely remember having been roused from
frightful dreams, when I thought I was struggling alone in the sea and
upon the point of drowning, to find that I was still in the launch, being
raised up to escape the water that came over the side. I was, indeed, far
gone, powerless to do aught for myself. Then followed a period of
complete darkness, when I was nothing but an inert mass of skin and
bones; and my next recollection was of someone repeatedly calling my
name. Try as I would, I could not rouse myself sufficiently to reply. I
heard Bligh's voice: "Give him the whole of it, Mr. Nelson. He'll come
round."

And so I did. A quarter of a pint of rum was poured down my gullet. I
remember how the heat and the strength of it seemed to flow into every
part of me, clearing my brain and giving me a blessed sense of
well-being; but oh! more blessed was the sound of Nelson's voice:
"Ledward! Ledward! We're here, old fellow!"

It was deep night, the cloudless sky sprinkled with stars dimmed by the
soft splendour of the waning moon. I found myself sitting propped up in
the stern sheets. Nelson was kneeling beside me, and Cole supporting me
with his arm around my shoulders. As I turned my head, Cole said: "That's
what was needed, sir; he's coming round nicely."

I was conscious of a feeling of shame and vexation that I, the _Bounty's_
surgeon, should be in such a deplorable state--an encumbrance instead of
a help to the others.

"What's this, Nelson?" I faltered. "Damme! Have I been asleep?"

"Don't talk, Ledward," he replied. "Look! Look yonder!...Turn him a
little, Mr. Cole."

The boatswain lifted me gently so that I sat half facing forward. The
sail had been lowered, and there were six men at the oars, pulling slowly
and feebly across what appeared to be the head of a great bay, so calm
that the wavering reflection of the moon lay on the surface of the water.
Outlines of the land were clearly revealed; not half a mile away I could
see two square-rigged vessels lying at anchor, and beyond them, on a high
foreshore, what appeared to be a fort whose walls gleamed faintly in the
mild light.

"Easy, lads," Bligh called to the men at the oars, "don't exert
yourselves"; and then, to me: "How is it with you, Mr. Ledward? I was
bound you shouldn't miss this moment."

I could not speak. I hesitate to admit it, but I could not. I was weak as
a six-months' child, and now, for the first time, tears gushed from my
eyes. They were not tears of relief, of joy at our deliverance. No. I
could have controlled those. But when I looked at Mr. Bligh, sitting at
his old position with his hand on the tiller, there welled up within me a
feeling toward him that destroyed the barriers we Englishmen are so proud
of erecting against one another. I saw him then as he deserved to be
seen, in a light that transfigured him. Enough. The deepest emotions of
the heart are not lightly to be spoken of, and no words of mine could add
to the stature of the captain of the _Bounty's_ launch.

I managed at length to say: "I'm doing very well, sir," and left it at
that.

The silence of the land seemed to flow down upon us, healing our weary
hearts, filling us with a deep content that made all speech superfluous.
The launch moved forward as smoothly as though she were gliding through
air, and the faint creak of the oars against the tholepins and the gentle
plash of the blades in the water were sounds by which to measure the
vastness of this peace.

It was then about three in the morning. Nearer we came and nearer to the
little town hushed in sleep; not even a dog was astir to bay at the moon.
As we drew in we saw that the two ships were anchored a considerable
distance to the right of the fort and about a cable-length from shore. We
made out a small cutter riding near them, and not a light showing in any
of these vessels.

We turned then to approach an open space on the beach that appeared to be
a point of embarkation for boats, and Mr. Cole made his way to the bow. A
fishing line with a stone attached served as our lead line. At Mr.
Bligh's order, Tinkler began heaving it. "Six fathoms, sir," he called.
We moved slowly on into shallower water. In the moonlight we could now
see the ghostly gleam of roofs and walls, embowered in trees and
flowering shrubs whose perfume floated out to us with the cool, moist air
that flowed down from the valley of the interior.

"Way enough!" said Bligh, and then: "Drop the grapnel, Mr. Cole."

The oars were gotten in; there was a light splash as the grapnel went
over the side. The boatswain paid out the line and made fast. Our voyage
was at an end.

There were but eight of our company strong enough to sit upon the
thwarts; the others were lying or sitting, propped up in the bottom of
the boat.

"Let us pray, lads," said Bligh. We bowed our heads while he returned
thanks to Almighty God.

We lay within thirty or forty yards of the beach. A little distance to
the right, the walls of the fort rose from their ramparts of rock. All
was silent there; not so much as a gleam of light appeared anywhere in
the settlement. Captain Bligh hailed the fort repeatedly, with no result.

"Try your voice on 'em, Mr. Purcell," he said.

Purcell hailed, then the boatswain, then the two together; but there was
no response.

"By God," said Bligh, "were we at war with the Dutch, I'll warrant we
could capture the place, weak as we are, with nothing but four rusty
cutlasses. They've not so much as a sentinel on the walls."

"We've roused someone at last," said Nelson. "Look yonder."

A strange-looking man was just emerging from the shadows of the trees
lining the road that led to the beach. He was clad only in shirt and
trousers, and had what appeared to be a white nightcap on his head. He
was exceedingly fat, and walked at a waddling gait.

"Can you speak English, my good man?" Bligh called.

He came forward another pace or two, as though for a clearer view of us,
but made no reply.

"I say, can you speak English? You understand?"

Whether it were astonishment, or fear, or both, or neither, that moved
him, we were at a loss to know; but of a sudden he turned on his
incredibly short legs and waddled away at twice the speed with which he
had approached.

"Ahoy there!" Bligh called after him. "Don't go! Wait, I say!"

The man turned, shouted something in a deep, powerful voice, and
disappeared under the shadow of the trees.

"Was it Dutch he spoke, Nelson?" Bligh asked.

"Undoubtedly," said Nelson; "but that is as much as I can say...We shall
fare well here, that's plain."

Bligh laughed. "Aye, so we shall, if that fellow is an average specimen
of the inhabitants. Damn his eyes! What possessed him to run off like
that?"

"Likely he's gone for help, sir. There may be English-speaking people
here."

"Let us hope so, Mr. Fryer. Possess your souls in patience, lads. We must
not go ashore without permission, and that we shall soon have, I promise
you. Dawn is scarcely an hour off."

In a little time the Dutchman returned with another man dressed in a
seaman's uniform.

"Ahoy, there! What boat is that?" called the latter.

"Who are you?" Bligh replied. "An Englishman?"

"Aye, sir."

"Is there an English ship here?"

"No, sir."

"Then how came you in these parts, my man?" said Bligh, with something of
his old quarter-deck manner.

"I'm quartermaster's mate, sir, of the Dutch vessel yonder. Captain
Spikerman."

"Good!" said Bligh. "Listen carefully, young man! Tell your
captain--what's his name, again?"

"Spikerman, sir."

"Tell Captain Spikerman that Captain Bligh, of His Majesty's armed
transport _Bounty_, wishes to see him at his very earliest convenience.
Inform him that the matter is pressing. You understand?"

"Aye, aye, sir."

"Very well; carry him this message instantly. Don't fear to rouse him. He
will thank you for doing so."

"Aye, aye, sir. He's sleeping ashore. I'll go this instant."

We must have waited a full three quarters of an hour, although the time
seemed immeasurably longer. The delay, as we were to learn, was not
Captain Spikerman's fault. He resided in a distant part of the town, and
came as soon as he could dress.

Dawn was at hand, and the people in the town were stirring out of their
houses, when we saw him approaching with two of his officers and the man
who had carried our message. Captain Bligh stood up in the stern sheets.
His clothing was a mass of rags revealing his frightfully emaciated
limbs; his haggard, bony face was covered with a month's growth of beard;
but he held himself as erect as though he were standing on the _Bounty's_
quarter-deck.

"Captain Spikerman?" he called.

For a few seconds the little group on shore stared at us in silence.
Captain Spikerman stepped forward. "At your service, sir," he replied.

"Captain Bligh, of His Majesty's armed transport _Bounty_. We are in need
of assistance, sir. I will be grateful indeed if you will secure us
permission to land."

"You may come ashore at once, Captain Bligh. I can vouch for the
governor's permission. Your boat may be brought directly to the beach."

"Haul in the grapnel, Mr. Cole. Two men at the oars." Tinkler and Hayward
hauled it in, Cole coiling the line neatly as they did so. Peckover and
Purcell took the oars, and the launch proceeded on the last fifty yards
of a voyage of more than three thousand, six hundred miles. "Easy, Mr.
Cole! Don't let her touch!"

The boatswain fended off with our bamboo pole and attempted to leap out
to hold her, but the poor fellow had forgotten his condition. His legs
gave way and he fell into the water, holding on to the gunwale, until,
with a grim effort, he managed to get his footing. Tinkler threw a line
ashore which the English seaman of the Dutch ship took up. Captain
Spikerman and his officers stood for a moment as though powerless to
move. Then, taking in our situation, they themselves sprang into the
shallow water to draw us alongside.

"God in heaven, Captain Bligh! What is this? From what place do you
come?" Mr. Spikerman exclaimed.

"That you shall know in good time, sir," said Bligh; "but I must first
see to my men. Some of them are in a pitiable state from starvation. Is
there a place in the town where they may be cared for?"

"You may take them directly to my house. One moment, sir."

Captain Spikerman turned to one of his officers and spoke to him rapidly
in the Dutch tongue. The young man made off at once, half running along
the road to the town.

By this time a crowd of the townspeople had collected about us, and
others came from moment to moment. They were of various
nationalities,--Dutch, Malays, Chinese, and people evidently of mixed
blood,--and they stared at us with expressions of mingled horror and
pity. Meanwhile, those of us who could had gotten out of the launch; but
more than half of the company had to be carried ashore. We were taken a
little way up the beach, where mats were spread for us on the sand. There
we waited the arrival of conveyances which were to carry us to Captain
Spikerman's house, while the townspeople gathered in a wide circle,
gazing at us as though they would never have done.

Of our people, Lebogue was in the most serious condition. The old fellow
lay close beside me. He was no more than a skeleton covered with skin;
but his was a resolute spirit, and, weak as he was, he yet had within him
a strong will to live. Nelson, Simpson, Hall, Smith, and myself were in a
plight only a little less grave. Nelson tried to walk ashore, but after a
few steps his legs gave way and he was constrained to allow himself to be
carried. Hallet was very weak, but managed to keep his footing. Poor
Elphinstone's disabilities were, as I have said, mental rather than
physical. His face still wore its vacant, puzzled expression, and he
appeared to have no knowledge of his surroundings.

In a short while, Mr. Spikerman's lieutenant returned with litters and a
score of Malay chair-men. They carried us into the town, Mr. Bligh and
the stronger of the company following on foot. I have only a dim
recollection of the way we went, past shops and warehouses, and along
shaded streets, till we came to a pleasant house in an elevated situation
where Captain Spikerman lived. He and his officers were kindness itself;
I shall ever have a feeling of sincere liking for the people of the
Dutch nation because of the humane treatment we received from those
members of it who resided at Coupang. Such was the name of the
haven--which I might better call "heaven"--at which we had arrived.

When we had been bathed with warm water our sores were dressed by Mr.
Max, the surgeon of the town; whereupon we were placed in beds and given
a little hot soup, or tea, which was all that our stomachs could receive
at this time. I am speaking here of the greatest invalids amongst us, who
were cared for in one room. Captain Bligh, when he had bathed and
refreshed himself with food and a few hours' sleep, accompanied Captain
Spikerman to the house of Mr. Timotheus Wanjon, the secretary to Mr. Van
Este, the governor of the town. Mr. Van Este was at this time lying very
ill, and incapable of transacting any business.

On this day I had the sweetest sleep I have ever enjoyed in my life. The
cooling ointment with which my sores had been dressed, and the soft bed
upon which I lay, lulled me to rest within half an hour. I was aroused,
toward evening, to take a little soup and bread, but fell to sleep again
immediately after, and did not waken until about ten of the clock the
following morning.

After four days of complete rest, we were wonderfully restored, and all
except Lebogue could rise from bed and walk a little in Mr. Spiker-man's
garden. His services to us were endless; he had put us under obligations
we shall never be able to repay, but we did not, of course, wish to
discommode him longer than was absolutely necessary. All his rooms were
taken up by our company, and he was sleeping at the house of Mr. Wanjon.
Captain Bligh found that there was but one available house in the
settlement. Having examined it, he decided that we should all lodge
there. Mr. Spikerman suggested that the house be taken by Captain Bligh
for himself and his officers, and that the men be accommodated on one of
the vessels lying in the harbour, but Captain Bligh was not willing at
such a time to fare better than his men. Therefore, on our fifth day in
Coupang, we removed to our new quarters.

The dwelling contained a hall with a room at each end, and was surrounded
with a piazza. Above, there was a spacious, airy loft. One room was
reserved to Captain Bligh; Nelson, Fryer, Peckover, and myself lodged in
the other, and the men were assigned to the loft. The hall was common to
all of the officers, and the back piazza was set aside for the use of the
people. In order to simplify the matter of our victualing, the three
midshipmen readily agreed to mess with the men. Through the kindness of
Mr. Van Este, the house was furnished with beds, tables, chairs,
settees--everything, in fact, of which we stood in need; and our food was
dressed at his own house and brought to us by his servants.

Mr. Van Este expressed a desire to see Captain Bligh and some of his
officers. It was therefore arranged that Mr. Bligh, Nelson, and myself
should wait upon him, in company with Mr. Wanjon and Captain Spikerman.
We found the governor propped up in bed, so wasted by his illness that he
looked--as, indeed, he was--at death's door. His voice was exceedingly
weak, but his eyes were full of interest. Captain Spikerman acted as our
interpreter. He acquainted the governor with the circumstances of the
mutiny. Mr. Van Este was not aware of the position of Tofoa and the
Friendly Islands; in fact, I believe that he did not know of their
existence. When he had been told that we had made a voyage in the ship's
launch of above three thousand, six hundred miles, he raised a thin white
hand and said but one word in reply. Captain Spikerman turned to Mr.
Bligh.

"Mr. Van Este says 'Impossible,' Captain Bligh. You will understand that
this is only a manner of speaking, to convey his astonishment. He does
not doubt your word."

Bligh smiled faintly. "You may tell Mr. Van Este that he is right: it was
impossible; nevertheless, we did it."

He then conveyed, through Mr. Spikerman, our gratitude for the kind and
hospitable treatment we had received, and we took our leave. The governor
was far too ill to bear the fatigue of a long conversation.

This day, June the nineteenth, was remarkable for still another reason.
Mr. Max, my Dutch colleague, and I had agreed that our company need not
be kept longer on a diet. Mr. Wanjon, who himself overlooked the matter
of our victualing, had provided a feast equal to the greatness of the
occasion; and he, Captain Spikerman, and Mr. Max readily consented to
join us at table. On our way from the governor's house, we called for Mr.
Max, and then proceeded to our residence, where the men were already at
their dinner on the back piazza. Cole sat at the head of the table, with
the midshipmen on either side and the others below. Even Lebogue had
sufficiently recovered to be present. The table was loaded with food that
would have gladdened any seaman's eyes; it was a pleasure to see the
half-starved men stowing it away.

At Captain Bligh's entrance, they rose; but he at once motioned them to
be seated.

"Eat hearty, lads," he said. "There's no need to wish you good appetites,
that's plain."

"We're doin' famous, sir," Cole replied. A moment later, Captain Bligh
retired with our guests to the hall, while Nelson and I remained for a
little to look on at this memorable feast.

"I hope you'll not think we're goin' beyond reason, Mr. Ledward," said
Cole. "Better vittles I never tasted!"

"And well you deserve them, every man of you," I replied. "Eat as much as
you like."

"Aye, they'll do," said Purcell, grudgingly; "but I'd sooner set down to
a good feed of eggs and bacon. All these rich faldelals...I don't well
know what I'm eatin'."

"Trust old Chips to find fault," said Hayward.

"Here, Purcell; have some of the bread, if you don't like Dutch food,"
said Hallet. "Pass it along to him, Tinkler."

"Mr. Nelson and Mr. Ledward would like some, I'm sure," said Tinkler.
"Try a little, Mr. Nelson."

He rose and took up a large platter, set high in the middle of the table
on four tall water-glasses. Heaped on the platter was something that
resembled nothing on earth save what it was: the bread of the _Bounty's_
launch.

"Well, I'm damned!" said Nelson, with a laugh.

"Have just a crumb as an appetizer. We did, the lot of us," said Tinkler.
"Mr. Ledward, what about you?"

"Wait!" Hayward exclaimed. "Don't you give 'em a ration, Tinkler, without
weighing it. Where's Captain Bligh's scales?"

It warmed my heart to see them in such a merry mood, and the _Bounty_
bread--the sight of it, at least--was indeed the best of reminders of
misery past and done with.

"Is this, all that was left in the launch, Tinkler?" Nelson asked. "Yes,
sir."

"We've been making an estimate, Mr. Nelson," said Hayward. "What you see
on the platter would have lasted the eighteen of us another eleven days,
had we not had the misfortune of finding Coupang."

"Save for our abominable luck in landing amongst the Dutch, we might even
have got home on it," Tinkler added. "What do you think, boatswain?"

Cole looked up from his plate, holding his fork erect in his fist.

"I'll say this, Mr. Tinkler," he replied gravely. "If Captain Bligh was
forced to take us all the way to England in the launch, with no more
bread than what's on that plate, I'll warrant he could do it if we'd back
him up."

At Cole's words there was a cheer, in which every man at the table joined
heartily.

"But don't, for God's sake, suggest it, boatswain!" said Hayward in a low
voice. "He might want to try."


The dinner at the captain's table proceeded more soberly. There was food,
food, and more food: curried prawns with rice, baked fish with rice,
roast fowl with rice, and many other dishes, with excellent wine and
schnapps to wash all down. We of the _Bounty's_ launch had been so long
accustomed to thinking of wine and spirits as the most precious of
commodities, to be taken only a spoonful at a time, that it was hard to
convince ourselves that we need no longer be sparing of them. Captain
Bligh, always a moderate drinker, was still sparing; but the rest of us
did better justice to the good cheer; and our Dutch companions ate and
drank with as much zest as though they had been members of our company
all the way from Tofoa. Nelson threw a quizzical glance in my direction,
toward the end of the meal, when they were attacking new dishes with
undiminished appetite.

Our guests were naturally curious about the events of the mutiny, but
they soon realized that it was a sore subject with Mr. Bligh, which he
preferred not to discuss.

"You have our sworn affidavits, Mr. Wanjon," he remarked, at this time.
"The facts are there, attested to by every one of my men. It is not
likely that the villains will come this way, but should they do so, seize
and hold them. Let not one of them escape."

"You may set your mind at rest on that score," Mr. Wanjon replied; and
with this the discussion of the mutiny was dropped.

"I greatly desire to proceed homeward as soon as my men are fit to
ravel," Bligh remarked. He laughed in a wry manner. "We are a company of
paupers, Mr. Wanjon. We've not a shilling amongst us; not a halfpenny
bit!"

"Do not let that worry you, Captain Bligh. Mr. Van Este has instructed
me to provide you with whatever funds you may desire."

"That's uncommon kind of him. I shall draw bills on His Majesty's
Government...Captain Spikerman, is there a small vessel to be had
hereabout--one fit to carry us to Batavia? I wish to arrive there in time
to sail home with your October fleet."

"There is a small schooner lying in a cove about two leagues distant,"
Captain Spikerman replied. "She can be bought, I know, for one thousand
rix-dollars."

"Pretty dear, isn't it?" said Bligh

"She's well worth it, I assure you. She is thirty-four feet long,
perfectly sound, and would serve your purpose admirably. Should you care
to look at her, I can have her here for your inspection within a day or
two."

"Excellent," said Bligh. "I'll be greatly obliged to you."

The dinner was at an end, and presently our guests left us. Nelson was in
a jubilant mood. He had asked permission to botanize the island in the
environs of Coupang, and Mr. Wanjon not only agreed but had offered to
provide servants to accompany him on his expeditions. Nelson was in no
fit state to go abroad, and I demurred strongly against the plan.
However, he had won Captain Bligh's consent and would listen to none of
my objections. As a matter of fact, I would gladly have gone with him,
had it not been that my ulcered leg made walking out of the question.

During the next ten days he was constantly away from Coupang, returning
only occasionally to bring in his specimens. At first he appeared to
thrive upon the work, but I soon realized that he was exerting himself
far beyond his strength. Early in July he came down with an inflammatory
fever which at last confined him to his bed, whether he would or no. Mr.
Max and I both attended him, but his condition grew steadily worse. His
weakened constitution had been tried too severely, and it was soon plain
to both of us that he was dying.

He passed away on the twentieth of July, at one o'clock of the morning. I
need not say how his loss affected our company. He was respected and
loved by every one of us. In my own case, we had been friends from the
day of our first meeting at Spithead, and I had looked forward to many
years of his friendship. As for Mr. Bligh, Nelson was, I believe, one of
three or four men whom he held in his heart of hearts. I think he would
sooner have lost the half of his company than to have lost him.

We buried him the following day. His coffin was carried by twelve
soldiers from the fort, dressed in black. Mr. Bligh and Mr. Wanjon walked
immediately behind the bier; then came ten gentlemen of the town and the
officers from the ships in the harbour; and the _Bounty's_ people followed
after. Mr. Bligh read the service, and it was as much as he could do to
go through with it. The body was laid to rest behind the chapel, in that
part of the cemetery set aside for Europeans.

I recall with little pleasure the remainder of our sojourn in Coupang.
Mr. Bligh was constantly employed about the business of our departure,
and the _Bounty's_ people were daily aboard the schooner he had bought,
making her ready for sea. In my own case, I was as useless now as 4 had
been much of the time in the _Bounty's_ launch. My ulcer would not heal,
and I was forced to sit in idleness on the piazza of our dwelling,
thinking of Nelson, and how gladly he would have lived to go home with
us.

The schooner was a staunch little craft, as Captain Spikerman had assured
us. Bligh named her _Resource_, and, as we were to go along the Java coast,
which is infested with small, piratical vessels, he armed her with four
brass swivels and fourteen stand of small arms, with an abundance of
powder and shot.

On the twentieth of August, being entirely prepared for sea, we spent the
morning in waiting upon our various Dutch friends, whose kindness had
been unremitting from the day of our arrival at Coupang. Mr. Van Este,
the governor, was lying at the very point of death, and Captain Bligh was
not able to see him. Mr. Wanjon received us in his stead, and Mr. Bligh
tendered him our grateful thanks for the innumerable services he had
rendered us. Mr. Max, the surgeon, who had cared for our people when I
was unable to do so, would accept no remuneration for his attendance upon
us, saying that he had done no more than his duty. His action was typical
of that of others at Coupang who had been our hosts for more than two
months.

Throughout the afternoon our hosts became our guests on board the
_Resource_, and we showed them what small hospitalities our poor means
afforded.

Captain Bligh looked his old self again. He was now cloathed as befitted
his rank, and his hair was neatly dressed and powdered. As he stood on
the after-deck, talking with Captain Spikerman and Mr. Wanjon, I could
not but remark the contrast between his appearance now and what it had
been upon our arrival at Coupang. Nevertheless, as I observed him, I was
conscious of a curious feeling of disappointment. It may be thought
strange, but I liked him better as he was in the _Bounty's_ launch: rags
hanging from his wasted limbs, his hand on the tiller, the great seas
foaming up behind him, and the low scud flying close overhead. There he
was unique, one man in ten thousand. On the after-deck of the _Resource_,
he appeared to be merely one of the innumerable captains of His Majesty's
Navy. But well I knew in my heart the quality of the man who stood there.
Forty-one days in a ship's boat had taught me that.

Toward four of the afternoon, the last of our guests returned to the
shore. The breeze favouring, we weighed at once and stood off toward the
open sea. The beach was thronged with people waving hats and
handkerchiefs, and as we drew away the air quivered with the parting
salute from the fort. Mr. Peckover, our gunner, was rejoiced to be
employed for the first time this long while in his proper duties. Our
brass swivels replied bravely to the Dutch salutation.

As for the _Bounty's_ launch, she was towing behind, with Tinkler at the
tiller, proud of the honour conferred upon him. Peckover and I were
standing at the rail, looking down upon her in silence, thinking of her
faithful service. We loved her, every man of us, as though she were a
sentient being.

Presently Peckover turned to me. "How well she tows," he said. "She seems
to want to come. Though we had no line to her, I'll warrant she'd still
follow Captain Bligh."

"By God, Peckover," I said, "I believe she would!"



EPILOGUE


On the first of October we cast anchor in Batavia Road, near a Dutch
man-of-war. More than a score of East Indiamen were riding there, as well
as a great fleet of native prows. The captain went ashore at once, to
call on Mr. Englehard, the Sabandar--an officer with whom all strangers
are obliged to transact their business; and on the same evening we were
informed that we might lodge at an hotel, the only place in the city
where foreigners are permitted to reside.

The climate of Batavia is one of the most unwholesome in the world. The
miasmatic effluvia which rise from the river during the night bring on an
intermittent fever, or paludism, often of great severity, accompanied by
unendurable headaches. Weakened by our privations, some of us fell
immediate victims to this disorder, which was to cost Lenkletter and
Elphinstone their lives. The hotel, where I resided with the other
officers, though situated in what is considered a healthy quarter of the
city, and near the river bank, was intolerably hot, and so ill arranged
for a free circulation of air that a man in robust health must soon have
succumbed to its stifling rooms.

After one night in this place, Mr. Bligh was taken with a fever so
violent that I feared for his life. I was unable to attend him, since I
was suffering from a fever as well as from the ulcer on my leg, and Mr.
Aansorp, head surgeon of the town hospital, was sent for. By
administering bark of Peru and wine, this skillful physician so improved
Captain Bligh that within a day he was able once more to transact the
pressing business on his hands.

We had been four days at the hotel when Mr. Sparling, Surgeon-General of
Java, had the kindness to invite Captain Bligh and me to be his guests at
the seamen's hospital, on an island in the river, three or four miles
from the town. This hospital is a model of its kind, large enough to
accommodate fifteen hundred men. The sick receive excellent care and
attention, and the wards are scrupulously clean. Mr. Sparling, who had
been educated in England, listened with great interest to the account of
our voyage, and insisted that Captain Bligh send for those of his people
who were ill. Late one afternoon I was sitting on my colleague's shady
verandah. He was smoking a long black _cigarro_; I lay on a settee with my
bandaged leg stretched out on a stool. We were discussing the medical
phases of our sufferings, Mr. Sparling expressing surprise that any man
in the launch should have survived.

"You say that three of the people were forty-one days without
evacuation?" he asked. "It is all but incredible!"

"So much so," I replied, "that I hope to write a paper to be read before
the College of Surgeons. What little we ate appeared to be entirely used
up by our bodies."

"It is a miracle that you are alive. But your constitutions have been too
much impaired to withstand such a climate as this. I am concerned about
Mr. Bligh. Should he stay long..." He shrugged his shoulders, paused for
a moment, and went on: "I have never known a man of greater
determination! With such a fever, most men would be on their backs. Yet
he goes daily into the town to transact his business. I have spoken to
the governor. Mr. Bligh will be permitted to take passage, with two
others, on the packet sailing on the sixteenth of this month."

"You are kind indeed, sir! Mr. Bligh shared all of our sufferings, and,
in addition, the entire responsibility was his. The strain has impaired
his health gravely; I have feared more than once that he might leave his
bones here."

"That possibility is by no means remote," said Sparling. "There is a high
mortality here amongst Europeans. Mr. Bligh, I can see, is a man who will
attend to his duty even to the serious prejudice of his health. Do what
you can, Mr. Ledward, to urge upon him the necessity for caution."

"I have, sir," I replied; "you may be sure of that; but he cannot, or
will not, take advice."

My colleague nodded. "He's a strong-headed man, that's plain. I should
imagine that he was a bit of a tartar on the quarter-deck?" At that
moment a Malay servant appeared in the doorway, bowed, and spoke to his
master. Mr. Sparling rose.

"Captain Bligh is disembarking now," he said, as he left me. Presently he
ushered Bligh to a chair and made a sign to the servant, who brought in a
tray with glasses, and a decanter of excellent Cape Town wine.

"Let me prescribe a glass of wine," remarked Sparling. "There is no finer
tonic for men in your condition."

"Your health, sir," said Bligh, "and that of our kind hostess, if I may
propose it. I have had a hard day in the town; your house is a haven of
refuge for a weary man."

His face was gaunt and flushed, and his eyes unnaturally bright, as he
sat in one of Sparling's long rattan chairs, wearing an ill-fitting suit
of cloathes, made by a Chinese tailor in the town.

"One of your men is very low," remarked the Surgeon-General presently;
"the one we visited this morning. I fear there is little hope for him."

"Aye--Hall," said Bligh. "Poor fellow."

"The flux seems deadly in these parts," I observed.

"Yes," said Sparling. "Few recover from the violent form of the disease.
He must have eaten of some infected fruits in Coupang."

We were silent for a time, while Bligh seemed to be brooding over some
unpleasant thought.

"Ledward, I've had to part with the launch!" he exclaimed at last.
"You've sold her, sir?" I asked.

"Yes. And the schooner, too--but she meant little to me. As for the
launch, though I am a poor man, I would gladly give five hundred pounds
to take her home!"

"You could get no space for her on the _Vlydte?_"

"Not a foot! Damme! Not an inch! Not even for my six pots of plants from
Timor."

Sparling nodded. "There are never enough ships in the October fleet," he
remarked. "Every foot of space and every passage has been bespoken for
months. It was only through the governor's influence that I got passage
for you and your two men. Should my wife desire to send a few gifts of
native manufacture to her uncle at the Cape of Good Hope, I declare to
you it would be impossible at this time!"

"I had hoped to take the launch," said Bligh. "She should be placed in
the museum of the Admiralty. A finer boat was never built! I love her,
every frame and plank!"

"How did you fare at the auction?" asked Sparling.

Bligh laughed ruefully. "Damned badly!" he replied. "If I may remark upon
it, sir, your method of conducting an auction strikes me as inferior to
ours."

"Yes, from the seller's standpoint. I have attended your English
auctions. Where the bids mount higher and higher, the bidders are apt to
lose their heads."

"You should have been there, Ledward," said Bligh. "They set a high
figure at first, which the auctioneer brings down gradually until someone
bids. Small danger of losing one's head when there can be only one bid!
Several Dutch captains were on hand; half a dozen Malays, a Chinaman or
two, and some others--God knows what they may have been! There was one
Englishman present besides ourselves,--Captain John Eddie, commanding a
ship from Bengal. He'd come merely to look on, not to bid. The auctioneer
put up the schooner first, at two thousand rix-dollars. The figure came
down to three hundred, without an offer! By God, Mr. Sparling, a Scot or
a Jew would starve to death in competition with your seafaring
countrymen! At three hundred, an old Chinaman showed signs of interest,
casting shrewd glances at a Dutch captain standing close by. At two
hundred and ninety-five, Captain Eddie raised his hand. By God! I was
grateful to him for that! The price was not a third of her value, but
Eddie kept those bloody sharks from getting her. It warmed my heart to
see their disappointment."

"What did the launch fetch?" I asked.

"Let us not speak of her. Cole and Peckover were with me; they felt as
badly as I. If I could have left her here, in safe hands, until there was
a chance to send her home..." He sighed. "It couldn't be arranged. It
cost me dear to see her go!"


On the following day died Thomas Hall, our third loss since leaving the
_Bounty_. He had endured manfully our hardships in the launch, only to
succumb to the most dreaded of East Indian diseases. Lenkletter and
Elphinstone, destined also to leave their bones in Batavia, were
suffering with the same paludism that had attacked Captain Bligh.

At this time the Sabandar informed us that every officer and man must
make deposition before a notary concerning the mutiny on board the
_Bounty_, in order to authorize the government to detain her, should she
venture into Dutch waters. Bligh considered this unlikely; but his
determination to see the mutineers brought to justice was such that he
left no contingency unprovided for.

On the morning of October sixteenth I was awakened long before daylight
by sounds in Mr. Bligh's room, next to mine. He was to be rowed down the
river to go on board the _Vlydte_, and I could hear him, through the thin
wall, directing his servant, Smith, how to pack the large camphorwood box
he had purchased some days before.

In the gray light of dawn, Mr. Bligh knocked at my door and entered the
room.

"Awake, Ledward?" he asked. I struggled to sit up, but he motioned me not
to move.

"I've come to bid you good-bye," he said.

"I wish I were sailing with you, sir!"

He laughed his short, harsh laugh. "Damme! I'm by no means sure you're
not the luckier of the two! You may have the good fortune to go home on
an English ship. Yesterday I called on Captain Couvret, aboard the
_Vlydte_; we had some talk concerning the manner of navigation. They carry
no log, and scarcely steer within a quarter of a point. No wonder they
frequently find themselves above ten degrees out in their reckoning! The
state of discipline on board is appalling to an English seaman. It will
be a miracle if we reach Table Bay; once there, I hope to transfer to an
English ship."

"Permit me to wish you a good voyage, in any case."

At that moment Mr. Sparling called from the piazza: "Your boat is
waiting, Captain Bligh!"

Bligh took my hand in a brief, warm clasp.

"Good-bye, Ledward," he said. "Don't fail to call on Mrs. Bligh when you
reach London."

"I shall hope to see you, too, sir."

He shook his head. "It's not likely. If I have my way, I shall sail for
Otaheite before you reach England."

He was gone--the finest seaman under whom I have ever had the good
fortune to sail. From the bottom of my heart I wished him God Speed.



THE RUN OF THE LAUNCH

(_From the Island of Tofoa to Coupang, on the Island of Timor_)

YEAR 1789         NO. OF MILES
------------------------------

May 3                 86
    4                 95
    5                 94
    6                 84
    7                 79
    8                 62
    9                 64
    10                78
    11               102
    12                89
    13                79
    14                89
    15             (no record)
    16               101
    17               100
    18               106
    19               100
    20                75
    21                99
    22               130
    23               116
    24               114
    25               108
    26               112
    27               109
    28             (no record) Entered the Great Barrier Reef
    29                18       To Restoration Island
    30                --       At Restoration Island
    31                30       To Sunday Island
Jun 1                 10       To Lagoon Island
    2                 30
    3                 35       To Turtle Island
    4                111       Clear of New Holland
    5                108
    6                117
    7                 88
    8                106
    9                107
    10               111
    11               109
    12             (no record) Sighted Timor
    13                54       Coasting Timor
    14             (no record) Reached Coupang

        Total distance run, 3618 miles



THE END



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