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amount of wood and water was collected ; also a number of yams and cocoa-nuts, both of which, in that island, are the largest in the world.
“On the 26th,” continues the journal,“ we set sail, the wind being light. We made but little way during the night, and next morning, the 27th, the wind continuing in the same quarter, we altered our position very little, being within seven or eight leagues of the Island of Tofoa all day. In the afternoon Mr. Bligh came up on the quarterdeck, and missing some of the cocoa-nuts which were piled up between the guns, said they had been stolen, and that it must have been with the knowledge and connivance of the officers. They were all called up, and declared they had not seen any man touch them; to which Lieutenant Bligh replied, “Then you have taken them yourselves,' and ordered Elphinstone, the master's mate, to go down and bring up every cocoa-nut in the ship, which he did. They were very numerous, as the sailors had made large purchases on their own account. He then questioned each officer as to the number he had bought, and going up to Christian, asked him to state the number in his possession. 'I really do not know, sir,' Mr. Christian replied,' but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of stealing yours. “Yes,' said Bligh, you — hound, I do think so. You must have stolen them from ine, or you could have given a better account of them. You — rascals, you are all thieves alike, and combine with the men to rob me. You will steal my yams next. I will flog you, and make you jump overboard before we reach Endeavor Straits.'
“He then called Mr. Samuel, his clerk, ordered him to stop the grog, and only give half a pound of yams to each person the next day, or a quarter of a pound only if any were missed. All the cocoa-nuts were then carried aft, and the lieutenant went below.
“Some of the officers were heard to murmur and complain of such treatment; but Mr. Christian said nothing, and went to his cabin. In the evening Lieutenant Bligh
sent him an invitation to sup with him, which he declined, alleging in excuse that he was not well.”
Thus ended this miserable day, with its mean and trivial occurrences. Had they not been preceded by a long series of irritating proceedings, they would not have been deemed worthy of remark, and could only have been considered as painful exhibitions of a suspicious and jealous temper. But on this occasion Lieutenant Bligh had made the most unwarrantable accusations of falsehood and theft-serious imputations on the character of a gentleman, and especially galling and humiliating to an officer who stood next in command of the vessel. Occurrences such as these contributed their evil consequences in producing that grave and deplorable event which forms the principal subject of the following chapter.
The Mutiny.-Dismissal of Lieutenant Bligh.-Fletcher Christian in Command.—The Bounty sails for the Island of Toubouai. -Dissensions.Return to Tahiti. —Departure of Fletcher Christian with eight Englishmen and some Tahitian Men and Women.
The golden hue of sunset had faded from the western sky, and as night drew on the light breeze which had prevailed died away. Not a zephyr disturbed the serenity of the scene; the heavens were gemmed with brilliant constellations unknown in our hemisphere, and among them shone conspicuously the Southern Cross-meet emblem of that faith which teaches good-will to all men. A flood of moonlight illumined the sails of the Bounty, as they flapped idly against the mast, and her dark hull stood out in strong relief on the gleaming waters. So silent, so peaceful was the vast expanse, that it seemed as if the war of the elements was forever hushed in repose.
What a contrast was there between the stillness of nature and the terrible conflict raging in the breast of Fletcher Christian, as he paced the deck, brooding over his wrongs, and goaded, as it were, to madness by the coarse, unfounded accusations of the preceding morning! For many months such indignities as these had been borne with patience and forbearance; but now it seemed as if endurance had passed its utmost limits. The tyranny to which Christian had been subjected appeared more insupportable on considering how difficult, how almost impossible, it would be for him, as a junior officer, to bring his oppressor to a court-martial with any hope of success. There was but one mode of escape and as he had observed many
proofs of the irritated feelings and disaffection of the crew, he felt certain that a word from him would place his commander at his mercy. True, he should be answerable to the laws of his country—but the ocean was wide and the power of the British Government far away. In his present state of mind Christian had no inclination to consider ultimate consequences; but still he did not form any definite plan until an accidental circumstance determined his course of action.
The morning of the 28th of April, 1789, dawned on a scene of confusion and dismay on board the ill-fated Bounty. Stewart and Peter Heywood were asleep in their hammocks until, awakened by an unusual noise on deck, they beheld Thompson, one of the seamen, with a drawn cutlass in his hand, standing at the door of the cabin. demanding the reason, he said, "Mr. Christian has taken the vessel, and is going to carry Lieutenant Bligh as a prisoner to England." Peter Heywood hastily dressed himself, and going on deck, unhappily found the information but too true.
On th port side of the quarter-deck, a little before the binnacle, stood Lieutenant Bligh, without his coat, and with his hands tied behind his back, guarded by Christian, who was holding an unsheathed bayonet in one hand and a pistol in the other. To Bligh's expostulations he replied, “Ma-moo, Ma-moo!* or death will be your portion, sir." Christian then ordered the boatswain and carpenter to hoist out the large cutter, and beckoning to T. Hayward and Hallett, who had both been neglectful of their duty in the morning watch, ordered the former into the boat. “What harm have I ever done to you, Mr. Christian,” asked Hayward,“ that you should bear so hard upon me? I trust
* Tahitian for “Silence!"
you will relent." Christian was inexorable, and gave the same order to Hallett, who was in tears, and entreated, but in vain, that it might not be enforced. The master, Mr. Fryer, and the clerk, were then ordered out of the ship. The carpenter and others then interceded with Christian for the launch to be got ready, as even the large cutter could not contain the number of persons who were to go in her, together with the stores necessary for their subsistence. After a short parley this was conceded, and all hands were called to assist in getting her out. Among them was Morrison, the petty officer, who says in his journal “ that the master (Mr. Fryer), after speaking to Lieutenant Bligh, came up to him, and asked if he had been concerned in the mutiny.” He replied that he had not, as he had been awakened by the unusual noise on deck, and that the boatswain had come down to tell him the terrible state of affairs. The master then proposed to him that a party should be raised to attempt to retake the ship. Millward, Muspratt, Birkett, and other seamen readily assented, but Churchill and another mutineer, armed with pistols and cutlasses, observing them shake hands together, called to their own party to stand to their arms. Resistance was evidently useless, and Morrison records that he felt “it was as well to assist in getting out the launch, as others unconnected with the mutiny were doing.” She was soon in the water, and every man threw into her what supplies he could, while the officers were hurried over the side of the vessel.
Mr. Fryer, the master, entreated that he might remain, but Christian ordered him into the launch, and forbade any fire-arms being given to Bligh's party. The carpenter, Purcell, was allowed to take his chest of tools. Masts, sails, spare canvas, saws, nails, etc., four gangway casks of water, some bags of biscuit, twenty-six pieces of pork, two