I had eighteen persons with me in the boat. There remained on board the Bounty twenty-five hands, the most able men of the ship's company. Having little or no wind, we rowed pretty fast towards Tofoa, which bore northeast about ten leagues from us. While the ship was in sight, she steered to the west-north-west; but I considered this only as a feint; for when we were sent away, "Huzza for Otaheite!" was frequently heard among the mutineers.
It will very naturally be asked, What could be the reason for such a revolt? In answer to which, I can only conjecture that the mutineers had flattered themselves with the hopes of a more happy life among the Otaheitans than they could possibly enjoy in England; and this, joined to some female connections, most probably occasioned the whole transaction. The women at Otaheite are handsome, mild and cheerful in their manners and conversation, possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people, that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these, and many other attendant circumstances equally desirable, it is now perhaps not so much to be wondered at, though scarcely possible to have been foreseen, that a set of sailors, most of them void of connections, should be led away: especially when, in addition to such powerful inducements, they imagined it in their power to fix themselves in the midst of plenty, on one of the finest islands in the world, where they need not labor, and where the allurements of dissipation are beyond anything that can be conceived.
FATE OF THE CASTAWAYS
My first determination was to seek a supply of breadfruit and water at Tofoa, and afterwards to sail for Tongataboo, and there risk a solicitation to Poulaho, the king, to equip our boat, and grant us a supply of water and provisions, so as to enable us to reach the East Indies. The quantity of provisions I found in the boat was a hundred and fifty pounds of bread, sixteen pieces of pork, each piece weighing two pounds, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine, with twenty-eight gallons of water, and four empty barrecoes.
We got to Tofoa when it was dark, but found the shore so steep and rocky that we could not land. We were obliged, therefore, to remain all night in the boat, keeping it on the lee-side of the island, with two oars. Next day (Wednesday, April 29) we found a cove, where we landed. I observed the latitude of this cove to be 19 degrees 41 minutes south. This is the northwest part of Tofoa, the north-westernmost of the Friendly Islands. As I was resolved to spare the small stock of provisions we had in the boat, we endeavored to procure something towards our support on the island itself. For two days we ranged through the island in parties, seeking for water, and anything in the shape of provisions, subsisting, meanwhile, on morsels of what we had brought with us. The island at first seemed uninhabited, but on Friday, May 1, one of our exploring parties met with two men, a woman, and a child: the men came with them to the cove, and brought two cocoanut shells of water. I endeavored to make friends of these people, and sent them away for bread-fruit, plantains, and water. Soon after, other natives came to us; and by noon there were thirty about us, from whom we obtained a small supply. I was much puzzled in what manner to account to the natives for the loss of my ship: I knew they had too much sense to be amused with a story that the ship was to join me, when she was not in sight from the hills. I was at first doubtful whether I should tell the real fact, or say that the ship had overset and sunk, and that we only were saved: the latter appeared to be the most proper and advantageous for us, and I accordingly instructed my people, that we might all agree in one story. As I expected, inquiries were made about the ship, and they seemed readily satisfied with our account; but there did not appear the least symptom of joy or sorrow in their faces, although I fancied I discovered some marks of surprise. Some of the natives were coming and going the whole afternoon.
Towards evening, I had the satisfaction to find our stock of provisions somewhat increased; but the natives did not appear to have much to spare. What they brought was in such small quantities, that I had no reason to hope we should be able to procure from them sufficient to stock us for our voyage. At night, I served a quarter of a breadfruit and a cocoanut to each person for supper; and a good fire being made, all but the watch went to sleep.
Saturday, 2d.—As there was no certainty of our being supplied with water by the natives, I sent a party among the gullies in the mountains, with empty shells, to see what could be found. In their absence the natives came about us, as I expected, and in greater numbers; two canoes also came in from round the north side of the island. In one of them was an elderly chief, called Macca-ackavow. Soon after, some of our foraging party returned, and with them came a good-looking chief, called Egijeefow, or Eefow.
Their affability was of short duration, for the natives began to increase in number, and I observed some symptoms of a design against us. Soon after, they attempted to haul the boat on shore, on which I brandished my cutlass in a threatening manner, and spoke to Eefow to desire them to desist: which they did, and everything became quiet again. My people, who had been in the mountains, now returned with about three gallons of water. I kept buying up the little bread-fruit that was brought to us, and likewise some spears to arm my men with, having only four cutlasses, two of which were in the boat. As we had no means of improving our situation, I told our people I would wait till sunset, by which time, perhaps, something might happen in our favor; for if we attempted to go at present, we must fight our way through, which we could do more advantageously at night; and that, in the meantime, we would endeavor to get off to the boat what we had bought. The beach was lined with the natives, and we heard nothing but the knocking of stones together, which they had in each hand. I knew very well this was the sign of an attack. At noon I served a cocoanut and a bread-fruit to each person for dinner, and gave some to the chiefs, with whom I continued to appear intimate and friendly. They frequently importuned me to sit down, but I as constantly refused; for it occurred both to Nelson and myself that they intended to seize hold of me, if I gave them such an opportunity. Keeping, therefore, constantly on our guard, we were suffered to eat our uncomfortable meal in some quietness.
After dinner, we began, by little and little, to get our things into the boat, which was a troublesome business, on account of the surf. I carefully watched the motions of the natives, who continued to increase in number; and found that, instead of their intention being to leave us, fires were made, and places fixed on for their stay during the night. Consultations were also held among them, and everything assured me we should be attacked. I sent orders to the master that, when he saw us coming down, he should keep the boat close to the shore, that we might the more readily embark.
The sun was near setting when I gave the word, on which every person who was on shore with me boldly took up his proportion of things and carried them to the boat. The chiefs asked me if I would not stay with them all night. I said "No, I never sleep out of my boat; but in the morning we will again trade with you, and I shall remain till the weather is moderate, that we may go, as we have agreed, to see Poulaho, at Tongataboo." Macca-ackavow then got up and said, "You will not sleep on shore, then, Mattie?" (which directly signifies, we will kill you); and he left me. The onset was now preparing: every one, as I have described before, kept knocking stones together; and Eefow quitted me. All but two or three things were in the boat, when we walked down the beach, every one in a silent kind of horror. We all got into the boat, except one man, who, while I was getting on board, quitted it, and ran up the beach to cast the stern-fast off, notwithstanding the master and others called to him to return, while they were hauling me out of the water.
I was no sooner in the boat than the attack began by about two hundred men; the unfortunate poor man who had run up the beach was knocked down, and the stones flew like a shower of shot. Many Indians got hold of the stern rope, and were near hauling the boat on shore, which they would certainly have effected, if I had not had a knife in my pocket, with which I cut the rope. We then hauled off to the grapnel, every one being more or less hurt. At this time I saw five of the natives about the poor man they had killed, and two of them were beating him about the head with stones in their hands.
We had no time to reflect, for, to my surprise, they filled their canoes with stones, and twelve men came off after us to renew the attack; which they did so effectually, as to nearly disable us all. We were obliged to sustain the attack without being able to return it, except with such stones as lodged in the boat. I adopted the expedient of throwing overboard some clothes, which, as I expected, they stopped to pick up; and as it was by this time almost dark, they gave over the attack, and returned towards the shore, leaving us to reflect on our unhappy situation.
The poor man killed by the natives was John Norton: this was his second voyage with me as a quarter-master, and his worthy character made me lament his loss very much. He has left an aged parent, I am told, whom he supported.
We set our sails, and steered along shore by the west side of the island of Tofoa, the wind blowing fresh from the eastward. My mind was employed in considering what was best to be done, when I was solicited by all hands to take them towards home; and when I told them that no hopes of relief for us remained, except what might be found at New Holland, till I came to Timor, a distance of full twelve hundred leagues, where there was a Dutch settlement, but in what part of the Island I knew not, they all agreed to live on one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water per day. Therefore, after examining our stock of provisions, and recommending to them, in the most solemn manner, not to depart from their promise, we bore away across a sea where the navigation is but little known, in a small boat, twenty-three feet long from stem to stern, deep laden with eighteen men. I was happy, however, to see that every one seemed better satisfied with our situation than myself.
Our stock of provisions consisted of about one hundred and fifty pounds of bread, twenty-eight gallons of water, twenty pounds of pork, three bottles of wine, and five quarts of rum. The difference between this and the quantity we had on leaving the ship was principally owing to our loss in the bustle and confusion of the attack. A few cocoanuts were in the boat, and some bread-fruit, but the latter was trampled to pieces.
Sunday, 3d.—At daybreak the gale increased; the sun rose very fiery and red—a sure indication of a severe gale of wind. At eight it blew a violent storm, and the sea ran very high, so that between the seas the sail was becalmed, and when on the top of the sea, it was too much to have set; but we could not venture to take in the sail, for we were in very imminent danger and distress, the sea curling over the stern of the boat, which obliged us to bail with all our might. A situation more distressing has perhaps seldom been experienced.
Our bread was in bags, and in danger of being spoiled by the wet: to be starved to death was inevitable, if this could not be prevented. I therefore began to examine what clothes there were in the boat, and what other things could be spared; and having determined that only two suits should be kept for each person, the rest was thrown overboard, with some rope and spare sails, which lightened the boat considerably, and we had more room to bail the water out.
Fortunately the carpenter had a good chest in the boat, in which we secured the bread the first favorable moment. His tool-chest also was cleared, and the tools stowed in the bottom of the boat, so that this became a second convenience.
I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person (for we were very wet and cold), with a quarter of a bread-fruit, which was scarce eatable, for dinner. Our engagement was now strictly to be carried into execution, and I was fully determined to make our provisions last eight weeks, let the daily proportion be ever so small.
Monday, 4th.—At daylight our limbs were so benumbed, that we could scarcely find the use of them. At this time I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person, from which we all found great benefit. Just before noon, we discovered a small flat island, of a moderate height, bearing west-south-west four or five leagues. I observed our latitude to be 18 degrees 58 minutes south; our longitude was, by account, 3 degrees 4 minutes west from the island of Tofoa, having made a north 72 degrees west course, distance ninety-five miles, since yesterday noon, I divided five small cocoanuts for our dinner, and every one was satisfied. During the rest of that day we discovered ten or twelve other islands, none of which we approached. At night I served a few broken pieces of breadfruit for supper, and performed prayers.
Tuesday, 5th.—The night having been fair, we awoke after a tolerable rest, and contentedly breakfasted on a few pieces of yams that were found in the boat. After breakfast we examined our bread, a great deal of which was damaged and rotten; this, nevertheless, we were glad to keep for use. We passed two islands in the course of the day. For dinner I served some of the damaged bread, and a quarter of a pint of water.
Wednesday, 6th.—We still kept our course in the direction of the North of New Holland, passing numerous islands of various sizes, at none of which I ventured to land. Our allowance for the day was a quarter of a pint of cocoanut milk, and the meat, which did not exceed two ounces to each person. It was received very contentedly, but we suffered great drought. To our great joy we hooked a fish, but we were miserably disappointed by its being lost in trying to get it into the boat.
As our lodgings were very miserable, and confined for want of room, I endeavored to remedy the latter defect by putting ourselves at watch and watch; so that one-half always sat up while the other lay down on the boat's bottom, or upon a chest, with nothing to cover us but the heavens. Our limbs were dreadfully cramped, for we could not stretch them out; and the nights were so cold, and we so constantly wet, that after a few hours' sleep, we could scarcely move.
Thursday, 7th.—Being very wet and cold, I served a spoonful of rum and a morsel of bread for breakfast. We still kept sailing among the islands, from one of which two large canoes put out in chase of us; but we left them behind. Whether these canoes had any hostile intention against us must remain a doubt: perhaps we might have benefited by an intercourse with them; but, in our defenceless situation, to have made the experiment would have been risking too much.
I imagine these to be the islands called Feejee, as their extent, direction, and distance from the Friendly Islands answer to the description given of them by those islanders. Heavy rain came on at four o'clock, when every person did their utmost to catch some water, and we increased our stock to thirty-four gallons, besides quenching our thirst for the first time since we had been at sea; but an attendant consequence made us pass the night very miserably, for, being extremely wet, and having no dry things to shift or cover us, we experienced cold shiverings scarcely to be conceived. Most fortunately for us, the forenoon, Friday 8th, turned out fair, and we stripped and dried our clothes. The allowance I issued to-day was an ounce and a half of pork, a teaspoonful of rum, half a pint of cocoanut milk, and an ounce of bread. The rum, though so small in quantity, was of the greatest service. A fishing-line was generally towing from the stern of the boat, but though we saw great numbers of fish, we could never catch one.
In the afternoon we cleaned out the boat, and it employed us till sunset to get everything dry and in order. Hitherto I had issued the allowance by guess, but I now made a pair of scales with two cocoanut shells, and having accidentally some pistol-balls in the boat, twenty-five of which weighed one pound, or sixteen ounces, I adopted one ball as the proportion of weight that each person should receive of bread at the times I served it. I also amused all hands with describing the situation of New Guinea and New Holland, and gave them every information in my power, that, in case any accident happened to me, those who survived might have some idea of what they were about, and be able to find their way to Timor, which at present they knew nothing of more than the name, and some not even that. At night I served a quarter of a pint of water and half an ounce of bread for supper.
Saturday, 9th.—About nine in the evening the clouds began to gather, and we had a prodigious fall of rain, with severe thunder and lightning. By midnight we caught about twenty gallons of water. Being miserably wet and cold, I served to the people a teaspoonful of rum each, to enable them to bear with their distressed situation. The weather continued extremely bad, and the wind increased; we spent a very miserable night, without sleep, except such as could be got in the midst of rain. The day brought no relief but its light. The sea broke over us so much, that two men were constantly bailing; and we had no choice how to steer, being obliged to keep before the waves, for fear of the boat filling.
The allowance now regularly served to each person was 1-25th of a pound of bread, and a quarter of a pint of water, at eight in the morning, at noon, and at sunset. To-day I gave about half an ounce of pork for dinner, which, though any moderate person would have considered only as a mouthful, was divided into three or four.
All Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the wet weather continued, with heavy seas and squalls. As there was no prospect of getting our clothes dried, my plan was to make every one strip, and wring them through the salt water, by which means they received a warmth that, while wet with rain, they could not have. We were constantly shipping seas and bailing, and were very wet and cold during the night. The sight of the islands which we were always passing served only to increase the misery of our situation. We were very little better than starving, with plenty in view; yet to attempt procuring any relief was attended with so much danger, that prolonging of life, even in the midst of misery, was thought preferable, while there remained hopes of being able to surmount our hardships. For my own part, I consider the general run of cloudy weather to be a blessing of Providence. Hot weather would have caused us to have died with thirst, and probably being so constantly covered with rain or sea protected us from that dreadful calamity.
Saturday, 16th.—The sun breaking out through the clouds gave us hopes of drying our wet clothes; but the sunshine was of short duration. We had strong breezes at south-east by south, and dark gloomy weather, with storms of thunder, lightning, and rain. The night was truly horrible, and not a star to be seen, so that our steerage was uncertain.
Sunday, 17th.—At dawn of day I found every person complaining, and some of them solicited extra allowance, which I positively refused. Our situation was miserable; always wet, and suffering extreme cold during the night, without the least shelter from the weather. Being constantly obliged to bail, to keep the boat from filling, was perhaps not to be reckoned an evil as it gave us exercise.
The little rum we had was of great service. When our nights were particularly distressing, I generally served a teaspoonful or two to each person; and it was always joyful tidings when they heard of my intentions.
The night was dark and dismal, the sea constantly breaking over us, and nothing but the wind and waves to direct our steerage. It was my intention, if possible, to make to New Holland, to the southwest of Endeavor Straits, being sensible that it was necessary to preserve such a situation as would make a southerly wind a fair one; that we might range along the reefs till an opening should be found into smooth water, and we the sooner be able to pick up some refreshments.
Monday and Tuesday were terrible days, heavy rain with lightning. We were always bailing. On Wednesday the 20th, at dawn of day, some of my people seemed half dead. Our appearance was horrible, and I could look no way but I caught the eye of some one in distress. Extreme hunger was now too evident; but no one suffered from thirst, nor had we much inclination to drink—that desire, perhaps, being satisfied through the skin. The little sleep we got was in the midst of water, and we constantly awoke with severe cramps and pains in our bones.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we were in the same distressed condition, and I began to fear that such another night or two would put an end to us. On Saturday, however, the wind moderated in the evening, and the weather looked much better, which rejoiced all hands, so that they ate their scanty allowance with more satisfaction than for some time past. The night also was fair; but being always wet with the sea, we suffered much from the cold.
Sunday, 24th.—A fine morning, I had the pleasure to see produce some cheerful countenances; and the first time, for fifteen days past, we experienced comfort from the warmth of the sun. We stripped, and hung our clothes up to dry, which were by this time become so threadbare, that they would not keep out either wet or cold.
This afternoon we had many birds about us which are never seen far from land, such as boobies and noddies. As the sea began to run fair, and we shipped but little water, I took the opportunity to examine into the state of our bread, and found that, according to the present mode of issuing, there was a sufficient quantity remaining for twenty-nine days' allowance, by which time I hoped we should be able to reach Timor; but as this was very uncertain, and it was possible that, after all, we might be obliged to go to Java, I determined to proportion the allowance so as to make our stock hold out six weeks. I was apprehensive that this would be ill received, and that it would require my utmost resolution to enforce it; for small as the quantity was which I intended to take away for our future good, yet it might appear to my people like robbing them of life; and some, who were less patient than their companions, I expected would very ill brook it. However, on my representing the necessity of guarding against delays that might be occasioned in our voyage by contrary winds or other causes, and promising to enlarge upon the allowance as we got on, they cheerfully agreed to my proposal. It was accordingly settled that every person should receive 1-25th of a pound of bread for breakfast, and the same quantity for dinner; so that, by omitting the proportion for supper, we had forty-three days' allowance.
Monday, 25th.—At noon some noddies came so near to us, that one of them was caught by hand. This bird was about the size of a small pigeon. I divided it, with its entrails, into eighteen portions and by a well-known method at sea, of "Who shall have this?"  it was distributed, with the allowance of bread and water for dinner, and ate up, bones and all, with salt water for sauce. I observed the latitude 13 degrees 32 minutes south; longitude made 35 degrees 19 minutes west, course north 89 degrees west, distance one hundred and eight miles.
In the evening, several boobies flying very near to us, we had the good fortune to catch one of them. This bird is as large as a duck. I directed the bird to be killed for supper, and the blood to be given to three of the people who were most distressed for want of food. The body, with the entrails, beak, and feet, I divided into eighteen shares, and, with an allowance of bread, which I made a merit of granting, we made a good supper, compared with our usual fare.
Sailing on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I at length became satisfied that we were approaching New Holland. This was actually the case; and after passing the reefs which bound that part of the coast, we found ourselves in smooth water. Two islands lay about four miles to the west by north, and appeared eligible for a resting-place, if for nothing more; but on our approach to the nearest island, it proved to be only a heap of stones, and its size too inconsiderable to shelter the boat. We therefore proceeded to the next, which was close to it, and towards the main. We landed to examine if there were any signs of the natives being near us: we saw some old fireplaces, but nothing to make me apprehend that this would be an unsafe situation for the night. Every one was anxious to find something to eat and it was soon discovered that there were oysters on these rocks, for the tide was out; but it was nearly dark, and only a few could be gathered. I determined, therefore, to wait till the morning, when I should know better how to proceed.
Friday, 29th.—As there were no appearances to make me imagine that any of the natives were near us, I sent out parties in search of supplies, while others of the people were putting the boat in order. The parties returned, highly rejoiced at having found plenty of oysters and fresh water. I had also made a fire by the help of a small magnifying glass; and, what was still more fortunate, we found among a few things which had been thrown into the boat, and saved, a piece of brimstone and a tinder-box, so that I secured fire for the future.
One of the people had been so provident as to bring away with him from the ship a copper pot: by being in possession of this article, we were enabled to make a proper use of the supply we now obtained; for, with a mixture of bread, and a little pork, we made a stew that might have been relished by people of far more delicate appetites, and of which each person received a full pint. The general complaints of disease among us were a dizziness in the head, great weakness of the joints, and violent tenesmus.
The oysters which we found grew so fast to the rocks, that it was with difficulty they could be broken off, and at length we discovered it to be the most expeditious way to open them where they were fixed. They were of a good size, and well tasted. To add to this happy circumstance, in the hollow of the land there grew some wire-grass, which indicated a moist situation. On forcing a stick about three feet long into the ground, we found water, and with little trouble dug a well, which produced as much as our necessities required.
As the day was the anniversary of the restoration of King Charles II., I named the island Restoration Island. Our short stay there, with the supplies which it afforded us, made a visible alteration for the better in our appearance. Next day, Saturday the 30th, at four o'clock, we were preparing to embark, when about twenty of the natives appeared, running and hallooing to us, on the opposite shore. They were each armed with a spear or lance, and a short weapon which they carried in their left hand. They made signs for us to come to them, but I thought it prudent to make the best of our way. They were naked, and apparently black, and their hair or wool bushy and short.
Sunday, 31st.—Many small islands were in sight to the northeast. We landed at one of a good height, bearing north one-half west. The shore was rocky, but the water was smooth, and we landed without difficulty. I sent two parties out, one to the northward, and the other to the southward, to seek for supplies, and others I ordered to stay by the boat. On this occasion fatigue and weakness so far got the better of their sense of duty, that some of the people expressed their discontent at having worked harder than their companions, and declared that they would rather be without their dinner than go in search of it. One person, in particular, went so far as to tell me, with a mutinous look, that he was as good a man as myself. It was not possible for me to judge where this might have an end, if not stopped in time; therefore, to prevent such disputes in future, I determined either to preserve my command, or die in the attempt; and seizing a cutlass, I ordered him to take hold of another and defend himself, on which he called out that I was going to kill him, and immediately made concessions. I did not allow this to interfere further with the harmony of the boat's crew and everything soon became quiet. We here procured some oysters and clams, also some dog-fish caught in the holes of the rocks, and a supply of water.
Leaving this island, which I named Sunday Island, we continued our course towards Endeavor Straits. During our voyage Nelson became very ill, but gradually recovered. Next day we landed at another island, to see what we could get. There were proofs that the island was occasionally visited by natives from New Holland. Encamping on the shore, I sent out one party to watch for turtle, and another to try to catch birds. About midnight the bird party returned, with only twelve noddies, birds which I have already described to be about the size of pigeons; but if it had not been for the folly and obstinacy of one of the party, who separated from the other two, and disturbed the birds, they might have caught a great number. I was so much provoked at my plans being thus defeated, that I gave this offender a good beating. This man afterwards confessed that, wandering away from his companions, he had eaten nine birds raw. Our turtling party had no success.
Tuesday and Wednesday we still kept our course northwest, touching at an island or two for oysters and clams. We had now been six days on the coast of New Holland, and but for the refreshment which our visit to its shore afforded us, it is all but certain that we must have perished. Now, however, it became clear that we were leaving it behind, and were commencing our adventurous voyage through the open sea to Timor.
On Wednesday, June 3rd, at eight o'clock in the evening, we once more launched into the open ocean. Miserable as our situation was in every respect, I was secretly surprised to see that it did not appear to affect any one so strongly as myself. I encouraged every one with hopes that eight or ten days would bring us to a land of safety; and after praying to God for a continuance of His most gracious protection, I served an allowance of water for supper, and directed our course to the west-south-west, to counteract the southerly winds in case they should blow strong. For six days our voyage continued; a dreary repetition of those sufferings which we had experienced before reaching New Holland. In the course of the night we were constantly wet with the sea, and exposed to cold and shiverings; and in the daytime we had no addition to our scanty allowance, save a booby and a small dolphin that we caught, the former on Friday the 5th, and the latter on Monday the 8th. Many of us were ill, and the men complained heavily. On Wednesday the 10th, after a very comfortless night, there was a visible alteration for the worse in many of the people, which gave me great apprehensions. An extreme weakness, swelled legs, hollow and ghastly countenances, a more than common inclination to sleep, with an apparent debility of understanding, seemed to me the melancholy presages of an approaching dissolution.
Thursday, 11th.—Every one received the customary allowance of bread and water, and an extra allowance of water was given to those who were most in need. At noon I observed in latitude 9 degrees 41 minutes south; course south 77 degrees west, distance 109 miles; longitude made 13 degrees 49 minutes west. I had little doubt of having now passed the meridian of the eastern part of Timor, which is laid down in 128 degrees east. This diffused universal joy and satisfaction.
Friday, 12th.—At three in the morning, with an excess of joy, we discovered Timor bearing from west-south-west to west-north-west, and I hauled on a wind to the north-north-east till daylight, when the land bore from south-west by south to north-east by north; our distance from the shore two leagues. It is not possible for me to describe the pleasure which the blessing of the sight of this land diffused among us. It appeared scarcely credible to ourselves that, in an open boat, and so poorly provided, we should have been able to reach the coast of Timor in forty-one days after leaving Tofoa, having in that time run, by our log, a distance of 3,618 miles and that, notwithstanding our extreme distress, no one should have perished in the voyage.
I have already mentioned that I knew not where the Dutch settlement was situated, but I had a faint idea that it was at the south-west part of the island. I therefore, after daylight, bore away along shore to the south-south-west, which I was the more readily induced to do, as the wind would not suffer us to go towards the north-east without great loss of time.
We coasted along the island in the direction in which I conceived the Dutch settlement to lie, and next day, about two o'clock, I came to a grapnel in a small sandy bay, where we saw a hut, a dog, and some cattle. Here I learned that the Dutch governor resided at a place called Coupang, which was some distance to the north-east. I made signs for one of the Indians who came to the beach to go in the boat and show us the way to Coupang, intimating that I would pay him for his trouble; the man readily complied, and came into the boat. The Indians, who were of a dark tawny color, brought us a few pieces of dried turtle and some ears of Indian corn. This last was the most welcome, for the turtle was so hard, that it could not be eaten without being first soaked in hot water. They offered to bring us some other refreshments, if I would wait; but, as the pilot was willing, I determined to push on. It was about half-past four when we sailed.
Sunday, 14th.—At one o'clock in the morning, after the most happy and sweet sleep that ever men enjoyed, we weighed, and continued to keep the east shore on board, in very smooth water. The report of two cannon that were fired gave new life to every one; and soon after, we discovered two square-rigged vessels and a cutter at anchor to the eastward. After hard rowing, we came to a grapnel near daylight, off a small fort and town, which the pilot told me was Coupang.
On landing, I was surrounded by many people, Indians and Dutch, with an English sailor among them. A Dutch captain, named Spikerman, showed me great kindness, and waited on the governor, who was ill, to know at what time I could see him. Eleven o'clock having been appointed for the interview, I desired my people to come on shore, which was as much as some of them could do, being scarce able to walk; they, however, were helped to Captain Spikerman's house, and found tea, with bread and butter, provided for their breakfast.
The abilities of a painter, perhaps, could seldom have been displayed to more advantage than in the delineation of the two groups of figures which at this time presented themselves to each other. An indifferent spectator would have been at a loss which most to admire—the eyes of famine sparkling at immediate relief, or the horror of their preservers at the sight of so many spectres, whose ghastly countenances, if the cause had been unknown, would rather have excited terror than pity. Our bodies were nothing but skin and bone, our limbs were full of sores, and we were clothed in rags: in this condition, with tears of joy and gratitude flowing down our cheeks, the people of Timor beheld us with a mixture of horror, surprise, and pity.
The governor, Mr. William Adrian Van Este, notwithstanding extreme ill health, became so anxious about us, that I saw him before the appointed time. He received me with great affection, and gave me the fullest proofs that he was possessed of every feeling of a humane and good man. Though his infirmity was so great that he could not do the office of a friend himself, he said he would give such orders as I might be certain would procure us every supply we wanted. A house should be immediately prepared for me, and with respect to my people, he said that I might have room for them either at the hospital or on board of Captain Spikerman's ship, which lay in the road. . . .
FATE OF THE MUTINEERS—COLONY OF PITCAIRN'S ISLAND
The intelligence of the mutiny, and the sufferings of Bligh and his companions, naturally excited a great sensation in England. Bligh was immediately promoted to the rank of commander, and Captain Edwards was despatched to Otaheite, in the Pandora frigate, with instructions to search for the Bounty and her mutinous crew, and bring them to England. The Pandora reached Matavai Bay on the 23d of March, 1791; and even before she had come to anchor, Joseph Coleman, formerly armorer of the Bounty, pushed off from shore in a canoe, and came on board. In the course of two days afterwards, the whole of the remainder of the Bounty's crew (in number sixteen) then on the island surrendered themselves, with the exception of two, who fled to the mountains where, as it afterwards appeared, they were murdered by the natives.
Nearly twenty years elapsed after the period of the above occurrences, and all recollection of the Bounty and her wrecked crew had passed away, when an accidental discovery, as interesting as unexpected, once more recalled public attention to that event. The captain of an American schooner having, in 1808, accidentally touched at an island up to that time supposed to be uninhabited, called Pitcairn's Island, found a community speaking English, who represented themselves as the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty, of whom there was still one man, of the name of Alexander Smith, alive amongst them. Intelligence of this singular circumstance was sent by the American captain (Folger) to Sir Sydney Smith at Valparaiso, and by him transmitted to the Lords of the Admiralty. But the government was at that time perhaps too much engaged in the events of the continental war to attend to the information, nor was anything further heard of this interesting little society until 1814. In that year two British men-of-war, cruising in the Pacific, made Pitcairn's Island, and on nearing the shore, saw plantations regularly and orderly laid out. Soon afterwards they observed a few natives coming down a steep descent, with their canoes on their shoulders, and in a few minutes perceived one of these little vessels darting through a heavy surf, and paddling off towards the ships. But their astonishment may be imagined when, on coming alongside, they were hailed in good English with, "Wont you heave us a rope now?" This being done, a young man sprang up the side with extraordinary activity, and stood on the deck before them. In answer to the question "Who are you?" he replied that his name was Thursday October Christian, son of the late Fletcher Christian, by an Otaheitan mother; that he was the first born on the island, and was so named because he was born on a Thursday in October. All this sounded singular and incredible in the ears of the British captains, Sir Thomas Staines and Mr. Pipon; but they were soon satisfied of its truth. Young Christian was at this time about twenty-four years old, a tall handsome youth, fully six feet high, with black hair, and an open interesting English countenance. As he wore no clothes, except a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw-hat ornamented with black cock's feathers, his fine figure and well-shaped muscular limbs were displayed to great advantage, and attracted general admiration. His body was much tanned by exposure to the weather; but although his complexion was somewhat brown, it wanted that tinge of red peculiar to the natives of the Pacific. He spoke English correctly both in grammar and pronunciation; and his frank and ingenuous deportment excited in every one the liveliest feelings of compassion and interest. His companion was a fine handsome youth, of seventeen or eighteen years of age, named George Young, son of one of the Bounty's midshipmen.
The youths expressed great surprise at everything they saw, especially a cow, which they supposed to be either a huge goat or a horned sow, having never seen any other quadrupeds. When questioned concerning the Bounty, they referred the captains to an old man on shore, the only surviving Englishman, whose name, they said, was John Adams, but who proved to be the identical Alexander Smith before-mentioned, having changed his name from some caprice or other. The officers went ashore with the youths, and were received by old Adams (as we shall now call him), who conducted them to his house, and treated them to an elegant repast of eggs, fowl, yams, plantains, bread-fruit, etc. They now learned from him an account of the fate of his companions, who, with himself, preferred accompanying Christian in the Bounty to remaining at Otaheite—which account agreed with that he afterwards gave at greater length to Captain Beechey in 1828. Our limits will not permit us to detail all the interesting particulars at length, as we could have wished, but they are in substance as follows:—
It was Christian's object, in order to avoid the vengeance of the British law, to proceed to some unknown and uninhabited island, and the Marquesas Islands were first fixed upon. But Christian, on reading Captain Cartaret's account of Pitcairn's Island, thought it better adapted for the purpose, and shaped his course thither. Having landed and traversed it, they found it every way suitable to their wishes, possessing water, wood, a good soil, and some fruits. Having ascertained all this, they returned on board, and having landed their hogs, goats, and poultry, and gutted the ship of everything that could be useful to them, they set fire to her, and destroyed every vestige that might lead to the discovery of their retreat. This was on the 23d of January 1790. The island was then divided into nine equal portions amongst them a suitable spot of neutral ground being reserved for a village. The poor Otaheitans now found themselves reduced to the condition of mere slaves; but they patiently submitted, and everything went on peacefully for two years. About that time Williams, one of the seamen, having the misfortune to lose his wife, forcibly took the wife of one of the Otaheitans, which, together with their continued ill-usage, so exasperated the latter that they formed a plan for murdering the whole of their oppressors. The plot, however, was discovered, and revealed by the Englishmen's wives, and two of the Otaheitans were put to death. But the surviving natives soon afterwards matured a more successful conspiracy, and in one day murdered five of the Englishmen, including Christian. Adams and Young were spared at the intercession of their wives, and the remaining two, M'Koy and Quintal (two desperate ruffians), escaped to the mountains, whence, however, they soon rejoined their companions. But the further career of these two villains was short. M'Koy, having been bred up in a Scottish distillery, succeeded in extracting a bottle of ardent spirits from the tee root; from which time he and Quintal were never sober, until the former became delirious, and committed suicide by jumping over a cliff. Quintal being likewise almost insane with drinking, made repeated attempts to murder Adams and Young, until they were absolutely compelled, for their own safety, to put him to death, which they did by felling him with a hatchet.
Adams and Young were at length the only surviving males who had landed on the island, and being both of a serious turn of mind and having time for reflection and repentance, they became extremely devout. Having saved a Bible and prayer-book from the Bounty, they now performed family worship morning and evening, and addressed themselves to training up their own children and those of their unfortunate companions in piety and virtue. Young, however, was soon carried off by an asthmatic complaint, and Adams was thus left to continue his pious labors alone. At the time Captains Staines and Pipon visited the island, this interesting little colony consisted of about forty-six persons, mostly grown-up young people, all living in harmony and happiness together; and not only professing, but fully understanding and practicing, the precepts and principles of the Christian religion. Adams had instituted the ceremony of marriage, and he assured his visitors that not one instance of debauchery and immoral conduct had occurred amongst them.
The visitors having supplied these interesting people with some tools, kettles, and other articles, took their leave. The account which they transmitted home of this newly-discovered colony was, strange to say, as little attended to by government as that of Captain Folger, and nothing more was heard of Adams and his family for nearly twelve years, when, in 1825, Captain Beechey, in the Blossom, bound on a voyage of discovery to Behring Strait, touched at Pitcairn's Island. On the approach of the Blossom, a boat came off under all sail towards the ship, containing old Adams and ten of the young men of the island. After requesting and obtaining leave to come on board, the young men sprung up the side, and shook every officer cordially by the hand. Adams, who was grown very corpulent, followed more leisurely. He was dressed in a sailor's shirt and trousers, with a low-crowned hat, which he held in his hand in sailor fashion, while he smoothed down his bald forehead when addressed by the officers of the Blossom. The little colony had now increased to about sixty-six, including an English sailor of the name of John Buffett, who, at his own earnest desire, had been left by a whaler. In this man the society luckily found an able and willing schoolmaster. He instructed the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and devoutly co-operated with old Adams in affording religious instruction to the community. The officers of the Blossom went ashore, and were entertained with a sumptuous repast at young Christian's, the table being spread with plates, knives and forks. Buffett said grace in an emphatic manner; and so strict were they in this respect, that it was not deemed proper to touch a morsel of bread without saying grace both before and after it. The officers slept in the house all night, their bedclothing and sheets consisting of the native cloth made of the native mulberry-tree. The only interruption to their repose was the melody of the evening hymn, which was chanted together by the whole family after the lights were put out; and they were awakened at early dawn by the same devotional ceremony. On Sabbath the utmost decorum was attended to, and the day was passed in regular religious observances.
In consequence of a representation made by Captain Beechey, the British government sent out Captain Waldegrave in 1830, in the Seringapatam, with a supply of sailors' blue jackets and trousers, flannels, stockings and shoes, women's dresses, spades, mattocks, shovels, pick-axes, trowels, rakes, etc. He found their community increased to about seventy-nine, all exhibiting the same unsophisticated and amiable characteristics as we have before described. Other two Englishmen had settled amongst them; one of them, called Nobbs, a low-bred, illiterate man, a self-constituted missionary, who was endeavoring to supersede Buffett in his office of religious instruction. The patriarch Adams, it was found, had died in March, 1829, aged sixty-five. While on his deathbed, he had called the heads of families together, and urged upon them to elect a chief; which, however, they had not yet done; but the greatest harmony still prevailed amongst them, notwithstanding Nobb's exertions to form a party of his own. Captain Waldegrave thought that the island, which is about four miles square, might be able to support a thousand persons, upon reaching which number they would naturally emigrate to other Islands.
Such is the account of this most singular colony, originating in crime and bloodshed. Of all the repentant criminals on record, the most interesting, perhaps, is John Adams; nor do we know where to find a more beautiful example of the value of early instruction than in the history of this man, who, having run the full career of nearly all kinds of vice, was checked by an interval of leisurely reflection, and the sense of new duties awakened by the power of natural affections.
 One person turns his back on the object that is to be divided; another then points separately to the portions, at each of them asking aloud, "Who shall have this?" to which the first answers by naming somebody. This impartial method of division gives every man an equal chance of the best share.
THE WRECK OF THE ROYAL CAROLINE
From "The Red Rover," BY JAMES FENNIMORE COOPER
Our watchful adventurer captain was not blind to these sinister omens. No sooner did the peculiar atmosphere by which the mysterious image that he so often examined was suddenly surrounded, catch his eye, than his voice was raised in the clear, powerful, and exciting notes of warning.
"Stand by," he called aloud, "to in-all-studding-sails! Down with them!" he added, scarcely giving his former words time to reach the ears of his subordinates. "Down with every rag of them, fore and aft the ship! Man the top-gallant clew-lines, Mr. Earing. Clew up, and clew down! In with every thing, cheerily, men!—In!"
This was a language to which the crew of the Caroline were no strangers, and it was doubly welcome, since the meanest seaman amongst them had long thought that his unknown commander had been heedlessly trifling with the safety of the vessel, by the hardy manner in which he disregarded the wild symptoms of the weather. But they undervalued the keen-eyed vigilance of Wilder. He had certainly driven the Bristol trader through the water at a rate she had never been known to go before; but, thus far, the facts themselves gave evidence in his favour, since no injury was the consequence of what they deemed temerity. At the quick sudden order just given, however, the whole ship was in an uproar. A dozen seamen called to each other, from different parts of the vessel, each striving to lift his voice above the roaring ocean; and there was every appearance of a general and inextricable confusion; but the same authority which had so unexpectedly aroused them into activity, produced order from their ill-directed though vigorous efforts.
Wilder had spoken, to awaken the drowsy and to excite the torpid. The instant he found each man on the alert, he resumed his orders with a calmness that gave a direction to the powers of all, and yet with an energy that he well knew was called for by the occasion. The enormous sheets of duck, which had looked like so many light clouds in the murky and threatening heavens, were soon seen fluttering wildly, as they descended from their high places, and, in a few minutes, the ship was reduced to the action of her more secure and heavier canvas. To effect this object, every man in the ship exerted his powers to the utmost, under the guidance of the steady but rapid mandates of their commander. Then followed a short and apprehensive pause. All eyes were turned towards the quarter where the ominous signs had been discovered; and each individual endeavored to read their import, with an intelligence correspondent to the degree of skill he might have acquired, during his particular period of service on that treacherous element which was now his home.
The dim tracery of the stranger's form had been swallowed by the flood of misty light, which, by this time, rolled along the sea like drifting vapour, semi-pellucid, preternatural, and seemingly tangible. The ocean itself appeared admonished that a quick and violent change was nigh. The waves ceased to break in their former foaming and brilliant crests, and black masses of the water lifted their surly summits against the eastern horizon, no longer shedding their own peculiar and lucid atmosphere around them. The breeze which had been so fresh, and which had even blown with a force that nearly amounted to a gale, was lulling and becoming uncertain, as it might be awed by the more violent power that was gathering along the borders of the sea, in the direction of the neighbouring continent. Each moment, the eastern puffs of air lost their strength, becoming more and more feeble, until, in an incredibly short period, the heavy sails were heard flapping against the masts. A frightful and ominous calm succeeded. At this instant, a gleam flashed from the fearful obscurity of the ocean, and a roar, like that of a sudden burst of thunder, bellowed along the waters. The seamen turned their startled looks on each other, standing aghast, as if a warning of what was to follow had come out of the heavens themselves. But their calm and more sagacious commander put a different construction on the signal. His lip curled, in high professional pride, and he muttered with scorn,—
"Does he imagine that we sleep? Ay, he has got it himself, and would open our eyes to what is coming? What does he conjecture we have been about, since the middle watch was set?"
Wilder made a swift turn or two on the quarter-deck, turning his quick glances from one quarter of the heavens to another; from the black and lulling water on which his vessel was rolling, to the sails; and from his silent and profoundly expectant crew, to the dim lines of spars that were waving above his head, like so many pencils tracing their curvilinear and wanton images over the murky volumes of the superincumbent clouds.
"Lay the after-yards square!" he said, in a voice which was heard by every man on deck, though his words were apparently spoken but little above his breath. The creaking of the blocks, as the spars came slowly and heavily round to the indicated position, contributed to the imposing character of the moment, sounding like notes of fearful preparation.
"Haul up the courses!" resumed Wilder with the same eloquent calmness of manner. Then, taking another glance at the threatening horizon, he added slowly but with emphasis, "Furl them—furl them both. Away aloft, and hand your courses!" he continued in a shout; "roll them up, cheerily; in with them, boys, cheerily; in!"
The conscious seamen took their impulses from the tones of their commander. In a moment, twenty dark forms were leaping up the rigging, with the alacrity of so many quadrupeds. In another minute, the vast and powerful sheets of canvas were effectually rendered harmless, by securing them in tight rolls to their respective spars. The men descended as swiftly as they had mounted to the yards; and then succeeded another breathing pause. At this appalling moment, a candle would have sent its flame perpendicularly towards the heavens. The ship, missing the steadying power of the wind, rolled heavily in the troughs of the seas, which began to lessen at each instant, as if the startled element was recalling into the security of its own vast bosom that portion of its particles which had so lately been permitted to gambol madly over its surface. The water washed sullenly along the side of the ship, or, as she labouring rose from one of her frequent falls into the hollows of the waves, it shot back into the ocean from her decks in glittering cascades. Every hue of the heavens, every sound of the element, and each dusky and anxious countenance, helped to proclaim the intense interest of the moment. In this brief interval of expectation and inactivity, the mates again approached their commander.
"It is an awful night, Captain Wilder!" said Earing, presuming on his rank to be the first to speak.
"I have known far less notice given of a shift of wind," was the answer.
"We have had time to gather in our kites, 'tis true, sir; but there are signs and warnings that come with this change which the oldest seaman must dread!"
"Yes," continued Knighthead, in a voice that sounded hoarse and powerful, even amid the fearful accessories of that scene; "yes, it is no trifling commission that can call people that I shall not name out upon the water in such a night as this. It was in just such weather that I saw the Vesuvius ketch go to a place so deep, that her own mortar would not have been able to have sent a bomb into the open air, had hands and fire been there fit to let it off!"
"Ay; and it was in such a time that the Greenlandman was cast upon the Orkneys, in as flat a calm as ever lay on the sea."
"Gentlemen," said Wilder, with a peculiar and perhaps an ironical emphasis on the word, "what would ye have? There is not a breath of air stirring and the ship is naked to her topsails!"
It would have been difficult for either of the two malcontents to give a very satisfactory answer to this question. Both were secretly goaded by mysterious and superstitious apprehensions, that were powerfully aided by the more real and intelligible aspect of the night; but neither had so far forgotten his manhood, and his professional pride, as to lay bare the full extent of his own weakness, at a moment when he was liable to be called upon for the exhibition of qualities of a more positive and determined character. The feeling that was uppermost betrayed itself in the reply of Earing, though in an indirect and covert manner.
"Yes, the vessel is snug enough now," he said, "though eyesight has shown us it is no easy matter to drive a freighted ship through the water as fast as one of those flying craft aboard which no man can say who stands at the helm, by what compass she steers, or what is her draught!"
"Ay," resumed Knighthead, "I call the Caroline fast for an honest trader. There are few square-rigged boats who do not wear the pennants of the king, that can eat her out of the wind on a bowline, or bring her into their wake with studding-sails set. But this is a time and an hour to make a seaman think. Look at yon hazy light, here in with the land, that is coming so fast down upon us, and then tell me whether it comes from the coast of America, or whether it comes from out of the stranger who has been so long running under our lee, but who has got, or is fast getting, the wind of us at last, while none here can say how, or why. I have just this much, and no more, to say: give me for consort a craft whose captain I know, or give me none!"
"Such is your taste, Mr. Knighthead," said Wilder, coldly; "mine may, by some accident, be different."
"Yes, yes," observed the more cautious and prudent Earing, "in time of war, and with letters of marque aboard, a man may honestly hope the sail he sees should have a stranger for her master; or otherwise he would never fall in with an enemy. But, though an Englishman born myself, I should rather give the ship in that mist a clear sea, seeing that I neither know her nation nor her cruise. Ah, Captain Wilder, this is an awful sight for the morning watch! Often and often have I seen the sun rise in the east, and no harm done; but little good can come of a day when the light first breaks in the west. Cheerfully would I give the owners the last month's pay, hard as it has been earned, did I but know under what flag the stranger sails."
"Frenchman, Don, or Devil, yonder he comes!" cries Wilder. Then, turning towards the attentive crew, he shouted, in a voice that was appalling by its vehemence and warning, "Let run the after-halyards! round with the fore-yard; round with it, men, with a will!"
These were cries that the startled crew but too well understood. Every nerve and muscle were exerted to execute the orders, to be in readiness for the tempest. No man spoke; but each expended the utmost of his power and skill in direct and manly efforts. Nor was there, in verity, a moment to lose, or a particle of human strength expended here, without a sufficient object.
The lurid and fearful-looking mist, which, for the last quarter of an hour, had been gathering in the north-west, was driving down upon them with the speed of a race-horse. The air had already lost the damp and peculiar feeling of an easterly breeze; and little eddies were beginning to flutter among the masts—precursors of the coming squall. Then, a rushing, roaring sound was heard moaning along the ocean, whose surface was first dimpled, next ruffled, and finally covered with a sheet of clear, white, and spotless foam. At the next moment, the power of the wind fell upon the inert and labouring Bristol trader.
While the gust was approaching, Wilder had seized the slight opportunity afforded by the changeful puffs of air to get the ship as much as possible before the wind; but the sluggish movement of the vessel met neither the wishes of his own impatience nor the exigencies of the moment. Her bows slowly and heavily fell off from the north, leaving her precisely in a situation to receive the first shock on her broadside. Happy it was, for all who had life at risk in that defenceless vessel, that she was not fated to receive the whole weight of the tempest at a blow. The sails fluttered and trembled on their massive yards, bellying and collapsing alternately for a minute, and then the rushing wind swept over them in a hurricane.
The Caroline received the blast like a stout and buoyant ship as she was, yielding to its impulse until her side lay nearly incumbent on the element; and then, as if the fearful fabric were conscious of its jeopardy, it seemed to lift its reclining masts again, struggling to work its way through the water.
"Keep the helm a-weather! Jam it a-weather, for your life!" shouted Wilder, amid the roar of the gust.
The veteran seaman at the wheel obeyed the order with steadiness, but in vain did he keep his eyes on the margin of his head sail, to watch the manner in which the ship would obey its power. Twice more, in as many moments, the giddy masts fell towards the horizon, waving as often gracefully upward, and then they yielded to the mighty pressure of the wind, until the whole machine lay prostrate on the water.
"Be cool!" said Wilder, seizing the bewildered Earing by the arm, as the latter rushed madly up the steep of the deck; "it is our duty to be calm; bring hither an axe."
Quick as the thought which gave the order, the admonished mate complied, jumping into the mizzen-channels of the ship, to execute with his own hands the mandate that he knew must follow.
"Shall I cut?" he demanded, with uplifted arms, and in a voice that atoned for his momentary confusion, by its steadiness and force.
"Hold!—Does the ship mind her helm at all?"
"Not an inch, sir."
"Then cut," Wilder clearly and calmly added.
A single blow sufficed for the discharge of this important duty. Extended to the utmost powers of endurance, by the vast weight it upheld, the lanyard struck by Earing no sooner parted, than each of its fellows snapped in succession, leaving the mast dependent on its wood for the support of all the ponderous and complicated hamper it upheld. The cracking of the spar came next; and the whole fell, like a tree that had been snapped at its foundation.
"Does she fall off?" called Wilder, to the observant seaman at the wheel.
"She yielded a little, sir; but this new squall is bringing her up again."
"Shall I cut?" shouted Earing from the main-rigging, whither he had leaped, like a tiger who had bounded on his prey.
A louder and more imposing crash succeeded this order, though not before several heavy blows had been struck into the massive mast itself. As before, the sea received the tumbling maze of spars, rigging, and sails; the vessel surging at the same instant, from its recumbent position, and rolling far and heavily to windward.
"She rights! she rights!" exclaimed twenty voices which had been mute, in a suspense that involved life and death.
"Keep her dead away!" added the calm but authoritative voice of the young commander. "Stand by to furl the fore-top-sail—let it hang a moment to drag the ship clear of the wreck—cut, cut—cheerily, men—hatchets and knives—cut with all, and cut off all!"
As the men now worked with the vigour of hope, the ropes that still confined the fallen spars to the vessel were quickly severed; and the Caroline, by this time dead before the gale, appeared barely to touch the foam that covered the sea. The wind came over the waste in gusts that rumbled like distant thunder, and with a power that seemed to threaten to lift the ship from its proper element. As a prudent and sagacious seaman had let fly the halyards, of the solitary sail that remained, at the moment the squall approached, the loosened but lowered topsail was now distended in a manner that threatened to drag after it the only mast which still stood. Wilder saw the necessity of getting rid of the sail, and he also saw the utter impossibility of securing it. Calling Earing to his side, he pointed out the danger, and gave the necessary order.
"The spar cannot stand such shocks much longer," he concluded; "should it go over the bows, some fatal blow might be given to the ship at the rate she is moving. A man or two must be sent aloft to cut the sail from the yards."
"The stick is bending like a willow whip," returned the mate, "and the lower mast itself is sprung. There would be great danger in trusting a hand in that top, while these wild squalls are breathing around us."
"You may be right," returned Wilder, with a sudden conviction of the truth of what the other had said. "Stay you then here; if any thing befall me, try to get the vessel into port as far north as the Capes of Virginia, at least;—on no account attempt Hatteras, in the present condition of——"
"What would you do, Captain Wilder?" interrupted the mate, laying his hand on the shoulder of his commander, who had already thrown his sea-cap on the deck, and was preparing to divest himself of some of his outer garments.
"I go aloft to ease the mast of that topsail, without which we lose the spar, and possibly the ship."
"I see that plain enough; but, shall it be said that another did the duty of Edward Earing? It is your business to carry the vessel into the Capes of Virginia, and mine to cut the topsail adrift. If harm comes to me, why, put it in the log, with a word or two about the manner in which I played my part. That is the most proper epitaph for a sailor."
Wilder made no resistance. He resumed his watchful and reflecting attitude, with the simplicity of one who had been too long trained to the discharge of certain obligations himself, to manifest surprise that another should acknowledge their imperative character. In the mean time, Earing proceeded steadily to perform what he had just promised. Passing into the waist of the ship, he provided himself with a suitable hatchet, and then, without speaking a syllable to any of the mute but attentive seamen, he sprang into the fore-rigging, every strand and rope-yarn of which was tightened by the strain nearly to snapping. The understanding eyes of his observers comprehended his intention; and with precisely the same pride of station as had urged him to the dangerous undertaking four or five of the oldest mariners jumped upon the rattlings, to mount into an air that apparently teemed with a hundred hurricanes.
"Lie down out of that fore-rigging," shouted Wilder, through a deck trumpet; "lie down; all, but the mate, lie down!" His words were borne past the inattentive ears of the excited and mortified followers of Earing, but for once they failed of their effect. Each man was too earnestly bent on his purpose to listen to the sounds of recall. In less than a minute, the whole were scattered along the yards, prepared to obey the signal of their officer. The mate cast a look about him; perceiving that the time was comparatively favorable, he struck a blow upon the large rope that confined one of the lower angles of the distended and bursting sail to the yard. The effect was much the same as would be produced by knocking away the key-stone of an ill-cemented arch. The canvas broke from its fastenings with a loud explosion, and, for an instant, it was seen sailing in the air ahead of the ship, as if it were sustained on wings. The vessel rose on a sluggish wave—the lingering remains of the former breeze—and settled heavily over the rolling surge, borne down alike by its own weight and the renewed violence of the gusts. At this critical instant, while the seamen aloft were still gazing in the direction in which the little cloud of canvas had disappeared, a lanyard of the lower rigging parted, with a crack that reached the ears of Wilder.
"Lie down!" he shouted wildly through his trumpet; "down by the backstays; down for your lives; every man of you, down!"
A solitary individual profited by the warning gliding to the deck with the velocity of the wind. But rope parted after rope, and the fatal snapping of the wood followed. For a moment, the towering maze tottered, seeming to wave towards every quarter of the heavens; and then, yielding to the movements of the hull, the whole fell, with a heavy crash, into the sea. Cord, lanyard, and stay snapped like thread, as each received in succession the strain of the ship, leaving the naked and despoiled hull of the Caroline to drive before the tempest, as if nothing had occurred to impede its progress.
A mute and eloquent pause succeeded the disaster. It seemed as if the elements themselves were appeased by their work, and something like a momentary lull in the awful rushing of the winds might have been fancied. Wilder sprang to the side of the vessel, and distinctly beheld the victims, who still clung to their frail support. He even saw Earing waving his hand in adieu with a seaman's heart, like a man who not only felt how desperate was his situation, but who knew how to meet it with resignation. Then the wreck of spars, with all who clung to it, was swallowed up in the body of the frightful, preternatural-looking mist which extended on every side of them, from the ocean to the clouds.
"Stand by, to clear away a boat!" shouted Wilder, without pausing to think of the impossibility of one's swimming, or of effecting the least good, in so violent a tornado.
But the amazed and confounded seamen who remained needed no instruction in this matter. Not a man moved, nor was the smallest symptom of obedience given. The mariners looked wildly around them, each endeavouring to trace in the dusky countenance of some shipmate his opinion of the extent of the evil; but not a mouth opened among them all.
"It is too late—it is too late!" murmured Wilder; "human skill and human efforts could not save them!"
"Sail, ho!" Knighthead shouted in a voice that was teeming with superstitious awe.
"Let him come on," returned his young commander, bitterly; "the mischief is ready done to his hands!"
"Should this be a true ship, it is our duty to the owners and the passengers to speak her, if a man can make his voice heard in this tempest," the second mate continued, pointing, through the haze, at the dim object that was certainly at hand.
"Speak her!—passengers!" muttered Wilder, involuntarily repeating his words. "No; any thing is better than speaking her. Do you see the vessel that is driving down upon us so fast?" he sternly demanded of the watchful seaman who still clung to the wheel of the Caroline.
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Give her a berth—sheer away hard to port—perhaps he may pass us in the gloom, now we are no higher than our decks. Give the ship a broad sheer, I say, sir."
The usual laconic answer was given; and, for a few moments, the Bristol trader was seen diverging a little from the line in which the other approached; but a second glance assured Wilder that the attempt was useless. The strange ship (every man on board felt certain it was the same that had so long been seen hanging in the north-western horizon) came on through the mist, with a swiftness that nearly equalled the velocity of the tempestuous winds themselves. Not a thread of canvas was seen on board her. Each line of spars, even to the tapering and delicate top-gallant masts, was in its place, preserving the beauty and symmetry of the whole fabric; but nowhere was the smallest fragment of a sail opened to the gale. Under her bows rolled a volume of foam that was even discernible amid the universal agitation of the ocean; and, as she came within sound, the sullen roar of the water might have been likened to the noise of a cascade. At first, the spectators on the decks of the Caroline believed they were not seen, and some of the men called madly for lights, in order that the disasters of the night might not terminate in an encounter.
"Too many see us there already!" said Wilder.
"No, no," muttered Knighthead; "no fear but we are seen; and by such eyes, too, as never yet looked out of mortal head!"
The seamen paused. In another instant, the long-seen and mysterious ship was within a hundred feet of them. The very power of that wind, which was wont usually to raise the billows, now pressed the element, with the weight of mountains, into its bed. The sea was every where a sheet of froth, but the water did not rise above the level of the surface. The instant a wave lifted itself from the security of the vast depths, the fluid was borne away before the tornado in glittering spray. Along this frothy but comparatively motionless surface, then, the stranger came booming with the steadiness and grandeur with which a cloud is seen sailing in the hurricane. No sign of life was discovered about her. If men looked out from their secret places, upon the straitened and discomfited wreck of the Bristol trader, it was covertly, and as darkly as the tempest before which they drove. Wilder held his breath, for the moment the stranger was nighest, in the very excess of suspense, but, as he saw no signal of recognition, no human form, nor any intention to arrest, if possible, the furious career of the other, a smile gleamed across his countenance, and his lips moved rapidly, as if he found pleasure in being abandoned to his distress. The stranger drove by, like a dark vision; and, ere another minute, her form was beginning to grow less distinct, in the body of spray to leeward.
"She is going out of sight in the mist!" exclaimed Wilder, when he drew his breath, after the fearful suspense of the few last moments.
"Ay, in mist or clouds," responded Knighthead, who now kept obstinately at his elbow, watching with the most jealous distrust, the smallest movement of his unknown commander.
"In the heavens, or in the sea, I care not, provided he be gone."
"Most seamen would rejoice to sec a strange sail, from the hull of a vessel shaved to the deck like this."
"Men often court their destruction, from ignorance of their own interests. Let him drive on, say I, and pray I! He goes four feet to our one; and I ask no better favour than that this hurricane may blow until the sun shall rise."
Knighthead started, and cast an oblique glance, which resembled denunciation, at his companion. To his superstitious mind, there was profanity in thus invoking the tempest, at a moment when the winds seemed already to be pouring out their utmost wrath.
"This is a heavy squall, I will allow," he said, "and such a one as many mariners pass whole lives without seeing; but he knows little of the sea who thinks there is not more wind where this comes from."
"Let it blow!" cried the other, striking his hands together a little wildly; "I pray for wind!"
All the doubts of Knighthead, as to the character of the young stranger who had so unaccountably got possession of the office of Nicholas Nichols, if any remained, were now removed. He walked forward among the silent and thoughtful crew, with the air of a man whose opinion was settled. Wilder, however, paid no attention to the movements of his subordinate, but continued pacing the deck for hours; now casting his eyes at the heavens, and now sending frequent and anxious glances around the limited horizon, while the Royal Caroline still continued drifting before the wind, a shorn and naked wreck.
THE CAPTURE OF THE GREAT WHITE WHALE
From "Moby Dick," BY HERMAN MELVILLE
That night, in the mid-watch, when the old man—as his wont at intervals—stepped forth from the scuttle in which he leaned, and went to his pivot-hole, he suddenly thrust out his face fiercely, snuffing up the sea air as a sagacious ship's dog will, in drawing nigh to some barbarous isle. He declared that a whale must be near. Soon that peculiar odor, sometimes to a great distance given forth by the living sperm whale, was palpable to all the watch; nor was any mariner surprised when, after inspecting the compass, and then the dog-vane, and then ascertaining the precise bearing of the odor as nearly as possible, Ahab rapidly ordered the ship's course to be slightly altered, and the sail to be shortened.
The acute policy dictating these movements was sufficiently vindicated at daybreak, by the sight of a long sleek on the sea directly and lengthwise ahead, smooth as oil, and resembling in the pleated watery wrinkles bordering it, the polished metallic-like marks of some swift tide-rip, at the mouth of a deep, rapid stream.
"Man the mast-heads! Call all hands!"
Thundering with the butts of three clubbed handspikes on the forecastle deck, Daggoo roused the sleepers with such judgment claps that they seemed to exhale from the scuttle, so instantaneously did they appear with their clothes in their hands.
"What d'ye see?" cried Ahab, flattening his face to the sky.
"Nothing, nothing, sir!" was the sound hailing down in reply.
"T'gallant sails!—stunsails! alow and aloft, and on both sides!"
All sail being set, he now cast loose the life-line, reserved for swaying him to the main royal-mast head; and in a few moments they were hoisting him thither, when, while but two-thirds of the way aloft, and while peering ahead through the horizontal vacancy between the main-top-sail and top-gallant-sail, he raised a gull-like cry in the air, "There she blows!—there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"
Fired by the cry which seemed simultaneously taken up by the three look-outs, the men on deck rushed to the rigging to behold the famous whale they had so long been pursuing. Ahab had now gained his final perch, some feet above the other look-outs, Tashtego standing just beneath him on the cap of the top-gallant-mast, so that the Indian's head was almost on a level with Ahab's heel. From this height the whale was now seen some mile or so ahead, at every roll of the sea revealing his high sparkling hump, and regularly jetting his silent spout into the air. To the credulous mariners it seemed the same silent spout they had so long ago beheld in the moon-lit Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
"And did none of ye see it before?" cried Ahab, hailing the perched men all around him.
"I saw him almost that same instant, sir, that Captain Ahab did, and I cried out," said Tashtego.
"Not the same instant; not the same—no, the doubloon is mine, Fate reserved the doubloon for me. I only; none of ye could have raised the White Whale first. There she blows! there she blows!—there she blows! There again—there again!" he cried, in long-drawn, lingering, methodic tones, attuned to the gradual prolongings of the whale's visible jets. "He's going to sound! In stunsails! Down top-gallant-sails! Stand by three boats. Mr. Starbuck, remember, stay on board, and keep the ship. Helm there! Luff, luff a point! So; steady, man, steady! There go flukes! No, no; only black water! All ready the boats there? Stand by, stand by! Lower me, Mr. Starbuck; lower, lower,—quick, quicker!" and he slid through the air to the deck.
"He is heading straight to leeward, sir," cried Stubb, "right away from us; cannot have seen the ship yet."
"Be dumb, man! Stand by the braces! Hard down the helm!—brace up! Shiver her!—shiver her! So; well that! Boats, boats!"
Soon all the boats but Starbuck's were dropped; all the boat-sails set—all the paddles plying; with rippling swiftness, shooting to leeward; and Ahab heading the onset. A pale, death-glimmer lit up Fedallah's sunken eyes; a hideous motion gnawed his mouth.
Like noiseless nautilus shells, their light prows sped through the sea; but only slowly they neared the foe. As they neared him, the ocean grew still more smooth; seemed drawing a carpet over its waves; seemed a noon-meadow, so serenely it spread. At length the breathless hunter came so nigh his seemingly unsuspecting prey, that his entire dazzling hump was distinctly visible, sliding along the sea as if an isolated thing, and continually set in a revolving ring of finest, fleecy, greenish foam. He saw the vast, involved wrinkles of the slightly projecting head beyond. Before it, far out on the soft Turkish-rugged waters, went the glistening white shadow from his broad, milky forehead, a musical rippling playfully accompanying the shade; and behind, the blue waters interchangeably flowed over into the moving valley of his steady wake; and on either hand bright bubbles arose and danced by his side. But these were broken again by the light toes of hundreds of gay fowl softly feathering the sea, alternate with their fitful flight; and like to some flag-staff rising from the painted hull of an argosy, the tall but shattered pole of a recent lance projected from the white whale's back; and at intervals one of the cloud of soft-toed fowls hovering, and to and fro skimming like a canopy over the fish, silently perched and rocked on this pole, the long tail feathers streaming like pennons.
A gentle joyousness—a mighty mildness of repose in swiftness, invested the gliding whale. Not the white bull Jupiter swimming away with ravished Europa clinging to his graceful horns; his lovely, leering eyes sideways intent upon the maid; with smooth bewitching fleetness, rippling straight for the nuptial bower in Crete; not Jove, not that great majesty Supreme! did surpass the glorified White Whale as he so divinely swam.
On each soft side—coincident with the parted swell, that but once leaving him, then flowed so wide away—on each bright side, the whale shed off enticings. No wonder there had been some among the hunters who namelessly transported and allured by all this serenity, had ventured to assail it; but had fatally found that quietude but the vesture of tornadoes. Yet calm, enticing calm, oh, whale! thou glidest on, to all who for the first time eye thee, no matter how many in that same way thou may'st have bejuggled and destroyed before.
And thus, through the serene tranquillities of the tropical sea, among waves whose hand-clappings were suspended by exceeding rapture, Moby Dick moved on, still withholding from sight the full terrors of his submerged trunk, entirely hiding the wrenched hideousness of his jaw. But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the water; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia's Natural Bridge, and warningly waving his bannered flukes in the air, the grand god revealed himself, sounded, and went out of sight. Hoveringly, halted, and dipping on the wing, the white sea-fowls longingly lingered over the agitated pool that he left.
With oars apeak, and paddles down, the sheets of their sails adrift, the three boats now stilly floated, awaiting Moby Dick's reappearance.
"An hour," said Ahab, standing rooted in his boat's stern; and he gazed beyond the whale's place, toward the dim blue spaces and wide wooing vacancies to leeward. It was only an instant; for again his eyes seemed whirling round in his head as he swept the watery circle. The breeze now freshened; the sea began to swell.
"The birds!—the birds!" cried Tashtego.
In long Indian file, as when herons take wing, the white birds were now all flying towards Ahab's boat; and when within a few yards began fluttering over the water there, wheeling round and round, with joyous, expectant cries. Their vision was keener than man's; Ahab could discover no sign in the sea. But suddenly as he peered down and down into its depths, he profoundly saw a white living spot no bigger than a white weasel, with wonderful celerity uprising, and magnifying as it rose, till it turned, and then there were plainly revealed two long crooked rows of white, glistening teeth, floating up from the undiscoverable bottom. It was Moby Dick's open mouth and scrolled jaw; his vast, shadowed bulk still half blending with the blue of the sea. The glittering mouth yawned beneath the boat like an open-doored marble tomb; and giving one sidelong sweep with his steering oar, Ahab whirled the craft aside from this tremendous apparition. Then, calling upon Fedallah to change places with him, went forward to the bows, and seizing Perth's harpoon, commanded his crew to grasp their oars and stand by to stern.