Presently they began knocking stones together, by which the men knew they intended to make an attack upon them. They made haste to get all the things into the boat, and all but one, named John Norton, succeeded in reaching it. The natives rushed upon this poor man and stoned him to death.
Those in the boat put to sea with all haste, but were again terribly alarmed to find themselves followed by natives in canoes from which they renewed the attack.
Many of the sailors were a good deal hurt by stones, and they had no means at all with which to protect themselves. At last they threw some clothes overboard; these tempted the enemy to stop to pick them up, and as soon as night came on they gave up the chase and returned to the shore.
All the men now begged Captain Bligh to take them toward England; but he told them there could be no hope of relief until they reached Timor, a distance of full twelve hundred leagues; and that, if they wished to reach it, they would have to content themselves with one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water a day. They all readily agreed to this allowance of food, and made a most solemn oath not to depart from their promise to be satisfied with the small quantity. This was about May 2.
After the compact was made, the boat was put in order, the men divided into watches, and they bore away under a reefed lug-foresail.
A fiery sun rose on the 3d, which is commonly a sign of rough weather, and filled the almost hopeless derelicts with a new terror.
In an hour or two it blew very hard, and the sea ran so high that their sail was becalmed between the waves; they did not dare to set it when on the top of the sea, for the water rushed in over the stern of the boat, and they were obliged to bale with all their might.
The bread was in bags, and in the greatest danger of being spoiled by the wet. They were obliged to throw some rope and the spare sails overboard, as well as all the clothes but what they wore, to lighten the boat; then the carpenter's tool-chest was cleared and the bread put into it.
They were all very wet and cold, and a teaspoonful of rum was served to each man, with a quarter of a breadfruit which was so bad that it could hardly be eaten; but the captain was determined at all risks to keep to the compact they had entered into, and to make their provisions last eight weeks.
In the afternoon the sea ran even higher, and at night it became very cold; but still they did not dare to leave off baling for an instant, though their legs and arms were numb with fatigue and wet.
In the morning a teaspoonful of rum was served to all, and five small cocoanuts divided for their dinner, and every one was satisfied.
When the gale had subsided they examined the bread, and found a great deal of it had become mouldy and rotten; but even this was carefully kept and used. The boat was now near some islands, but they were afraid to go on shore, as the natives might attack them; while being in sight of land, where they might replenish their poor stock of provisions and rest themselves, added to their misery.
One morning they hooked a fish, and were overjoyed at their good fortune; but in trying to get it into the boat it was lost, and again they had to content themselves with the damaged bread and small allowance of water for their supper.
They were dreadfully cramped for room, and were obliged to manage so that half their number should lie down in the bottom of the boat or upon a chest, while the others sat up and kept watch; their limbs became so stiff from being constantly wet, and from want of space to stretch them in, that after a few hours' sleep they were hardly able to move.
About May 7, they passed what the captain supposed must be the Fiji Islands, and two large canoes put off and followed them for some time, but in the afternoon they gave up the chase. It rained heavily that day, and every one in the boat did his best to catch some water, and they succeeded in increasing their stock to thirty-four gallons, besides having had enough to drink for the first time since they had been cast adrift; but the rain made them very cold and miserable, as they had no dry clothes.
The next morning they had an ounce and a half of pork, a teaspoonful of rum, half a pint of cocoanut milk and an ounce of bread for breakfast, which was quite a large meal for them.
Through fifteen weary days and nights of ceaseless rain they toiled, sometimes through fierce storms of thunder and lightning, and before terrific seas lashed into foam and fury by swift and sudden squalls, with only their miserable pittance of bread and water to keep body and soul together.
In this rain and storm the little sleep they got only added to their discomfort, save for the brief forgetfulness it brought; for they had to lie down in water in the bottom of the boat, and with no covering but the streaming clouds above them.
The captain then advised them to wring their clothes through sea-water, which they found made them feel much warmer for a time.
On May 17 every one was ill and complaining of great pain, and begging for more food; but the captain refused to increase their allowance, though he gave them all a small quantity of rum.
Until the 24th they flew before the wild seas that swept over stem and stern of their boat and kept them constantly baling.
Some of them now looked more than half dead from starvation, but no one suffered from thirst, as they had absorbed so much water through the skin.
A fine morning dawned on the 25th, when they saw the sun for the first time for fifteen days, and were able to eat their scanty allowance in more comfort and warmth. In the afternoon there were numbers of birds called boobies and noddies near, which are never seen far from land.
The captain took this opportunity to look at the state of their bread, and found if they did not exceed their allowance there was enough to last for twenty-nine days, when they hoped to reach Timor.
That afternoon some noddies came so near the boat that one was caught. These birds are about the size of a small pigeon; it was divided into eighteen parts and given by lot. The men were much amused when they saw the beak and claws fall to the lot of the captain. The bird was eaten, bones and all, with bread and water, for dinner.
Now they were in calmer seas, they were overtaken by a new trouble.
The heat of the sun became so great that many of them were overcome by faintness, and lay in the bottom of the boat in an apathetic state all day, only rousing themselves toward evening, when the catching of birds was attempted.
On the morning of the 28th the sound of breakers could be heard plainly; they had reached the Great Barrier Reef, which runs up much of the east coast of Australia.
After some little time a passage nearly a quartar of a mile in width was discovered through the reef, and they were carried by a strong current into the peaceful waters which lie within the Barrier.
For a little time they were so overjoyed that their past troubles were forgotten. The dull blue-gray lines of the mainland, with its white patches of glaring sandhills, could be seen in the distance, and that afternoon they landed on an island.
They found the rocks around it were covered with oysters and huge clams, which could easily be got at low tide. Some of their party sent out to reconnoitre returned greatly pleased at having found plenty of fresh water.
A fire was made by help of a small magnifying-glass. Among the things thrown into the boat from the ship was a small copper pot; and thus with a mixture of oysters, bread, and pork a stew was made, and every one had plenty to eat.
The day after they landed was the 29th of May, the anniversary of the restoration of King Charles II, and as the captain thought it applied to their own renewed health and strength, he named it Restoration Island.
After a few days' rest, which did much to revive the men, and when they had filled all their vessels with water and had gathered a large supply of oysters, they were ready to go on again.
As they were about to start, everybody was ordered to attend prayers, and as they were embarking about twenty naked savages came running and shouting toward them, each carrying a long barbed spear, but the English made all haste to put to sea.
For several days they sailed over the lakelike stillness of the Barrier reef-bound waters, and past the bold desolations of the Queensland coast, every headland and bay there bearing the names Cook gave them only a few years before, and which still tell us by that nomenclature each its own story of disappointment and hope.
Still making way to the north, they passed many more islands and keys, the onward passage growing hot and hotter, until on June 3, when they doubled Cape York, the peninsula which is all but unique in its northward bend, they were again in the open sea.
By this time many of them were ill with malaria; then for the first time some of the wine which they had with them was used.
But the little boat still bravely made its way with its crew, whose faces were so hollow and ghastly that they looked like a crew of spectres, sailing beneath the scorching sun that beat down from the pale blue of the cloudless sky upon a sea hardly less blue in its greater depths. Only the hope that they would soon reach Timor seemed to rouse them from a state of babbling delirium or fitful slumber.
On the 11th the captain told them they had passed the meridian of the east of Timor; and at three o'clock on the next morning they sighted the land.
It was on Sunday, June 14, when they arrived at Company Bay, and were received with every kindness by the people.
Thus ended one of the most remarkable voyages that have ever been made. They had been sent out with provisions only sufficient for their number for _five_ days, and Captain Bligh had, by his careful calculation and determination to give each man only that equal portion they had agreed to accept, made it last for _fifty_ days, during which time they had come three thousand six hundred and eighteen nautical miles.
There had been days when the men were so hunger-driven that they had besought him with pitiful prayers for more to eat, and when it was his painful duty to refuse it; and times, as they passed those islands where plentiful food could be got, when he had to turn a deaf ear to their longings to land. He had to endure the need of food, the cramped position, the uneasy slumber, as did his men; as well as the more perfect knowledge of their dangers. There had been days and nights while he worked out their bearings when he had to be propped up as he took the stars or sun.
It was, therefore, Captain Bligh's good seamanship, his strict discipline and fairness in the method of giving food and wine to those who were sick, that enabled them to land at Timor with the whole of their number alive, with the exception of the one man who was stoned to death by the savages at Tofoa.
THE TWO BOY HOSTAGES AT THE SIEGE OF SERINGAPATAM
In the year 1791, Lord Cornwallis, then Governor-General of India, made preparations for a final and decisive campaign against Tippoo.
He had not proved himself a successful commander in America, where he was compelled to surrender himself and army to Washington; but this time fortune was to follow his arms. His great object was to capture the principal stronghold of the tyrant, Seringapatam; with this in view he proceeded to reduce all the intermediate fortresses, and in February, 1792, appeared in sight of the famous city, in the dungeons of which many a British soldier had suffered both a weary imprisonment and a cruel death.
The army gazed with admiration and wonder on this magnificent Oriental city, its vast extent of embattled walls bristling with cannon, on the domes of its mosques which rose above them, on the cupolas of its splendid palaces and the lofty facades of the great square pagodas. It was garrisoned by no less than 45,000 men, while beneath its walls were encamped the troops of the sultan. To attempt the capture of so strong a place seemed an impossibility.