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فصل 03

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER THREE

In the launch

The launch was seven metres long, and there were nineteen men in it. Captain Bligh sat at the back of the launch, and looked at his men. The sides of the launch were only thirty centimetres above the sea.

‘Mr Hall, look at our food, please,’ Bligh said.

‘Yes, sir.’

Bligh looked away, over the sea. The Bounty was very far away now, but there was a small island, Tafua, about twenty kilometres to the west.

After some minutes, Mr Hall, a young officer, said: ‘Sir, we have 150 kilos of bread, two kilos of meat, six bottles of rum, and 126 litres of water, sir.’

‘Is that all?’ Bligh asked.

‘We have a small sail, and some coats, sir,’ Hall said. ‘That’s all.’

‘Thank you, Mr Hall,’ Bligh said. ‘It’s not much, but we’re going to Tafua, so perhaps we can find some more food and water there.’

Bligh was afraid, but he didn’t want them to see that. The men were quiet; they didn’t look angry.

Next day they landed at Tafua. They found breadfruit, bananas, and coconuts, but no water. A lot of islanders came down to the sea. ‘Where is your ship?’ they asked.

‘It sank,’ Bligh said. ‘All our friends are dead. We need food and water.’

The islanders laughed. It was not a friendly laugh. They talked quietly. More men came - soon there were nearly a hundred. They began to pick up stones.

‘Get back into the boat!’ Bligh said. ‘Quickly, now.’ But the islanders killed one man with stones. When the launch went out to sea, the islanders came after it in their canoes. They threw stones at the sailors.

‘Throw the coats into the sea,’ Bligh said. ‘Quick!’

The islanders stopped and picked the coats out of the sea. Then the canoes went back to Tafua.

‘We can’t land on any islands, then,’ Bligh said. ‘Not without a big ship, and guns.’ He looked at his men. They were quiet, and afraid. ‘We must be very careful with our food,’ he said. ‘Every man can have a small piece of bread and coconut today, and a cup of water. That’s all. When it’s cold we can have some rum. But don’t worry. Remember, I’m your captain. Listen to me, and we can stay alive.’

‘Yes, sir.’

Then the youngest, a boy called Robert Tinkler, said: ‘I want to go home.’

Bligh looked at him, and for a minute the boy was afraid, because Bligh was often angry. Then he saw a small, cold smile on Bligh’s face. ‘To England, Robert?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Well, that’s about thirty thousand kilometres away. So first, let’s find Timor. That’s much nearer. There are Dutch ships there; they can take us home.’

‘Yes, sir.’ The boy looked happier. ‘How far is it to Timor, sir?’

For a minute Bligh didn’t answer. He looked away, over the cold green sea. The wind was stronger now, and the sky was dark. ‘Oh, not far,’ he said slowly. ‘Only about seven thousand kilometres.’

Next morning the wind got stronger and stronger, and the launch went up and down over big green waves. Everyone was wet, and white water came into the launch. The sailors used the empty coconuts to throw the water back into the sea. At midday they ate five small coconuts and drank some rum, and they ate some wet breadfruit in the evening. The wind and waves were strong all night, so no one could sleep.

Next day, the bread was wet, but they didn’t throw it away. In the afternoon it rained, and they caught the water in cups and coconuts. But it rained all night, so everyone was cold and wet. The launch was small, so they could not all sleep. Most men sat up all night.

On 8th May it was sunny. The men took off their wet shirts and trousers. Bligh gave them some rum, coconut milk, and eighty grams of bread. Often he talked about New Guinea, Australia, and Timor.

There were storms for the next two weeks. Sometimes they saw the sun for an hour, but every day it rained. Big green waves threw white water into the launch. They were always wet, tired, and hungry. Three times they saw islands, but they didn’t go near them. They ate bad bread and old meat, but they had lots of rain water to drink. When they were very wet, Bligh gave his men some rum. No one could sleep for more than one or two hours.

But every hour, Bligh held a long rope over the side. The rope had knots in it. The men watched carefully. The knots went behind the launch, and Bligh looked at his watch. ‘We’re going quickly today,’ Bligh told them, and wrote in a little book.

‘We’re going about one hundred and sixty kilometres every day,’ he told his men. ‘But we can’t always sail west, because of the wind. So, I’m sorry, but today we can only have forty grams of bread.’

‘Bad bread, too,’ said one man, Purcell.

‘Yes, but it keeps us alive,’ Bligh answered angrily. Then he laughed. ‘Look-up there!’ he said.

There was a bird on the front of the launch. Its small yellow eye looked at them. Carefully, two sailors opened their hands, very slowly. The bird didn’t move. One man put his hand on it. The bird moved away. But at the same time, his friend caught the bird’s feet, and killed it.

The sailors laughed and shouted. It was only a very small black and white bird, but it was food! Good food!

‘I caught it!’ the first sailor said.

‘No, you didn’t!’ the other man said. ‘I did!’

‘Be quiet!’ Bligh said. ‘Give it to me.’ He cut the bird with his knife, and caught its red blood in a cup. The men drank the blood. Then Bligh cut the bird into eighteen pieces and put them in front of him.

‘Right,’ he said. ‘Fryer, sit here, with your back to the bird. Now, I have one piece of the bird in my hand.’ He held up a piece of its leg. ‘Tell me, Fryer, who shall have this?’

‘Ledward,’ Fryer said.

‘All right.’ Bligh gave the piece to Ledward, and picked up a second piece. ‘And who shall have this?’

‘Hall.’

‘All right.’ No one was angry, because Fryer couldn’t see the pieces. Everyone watched. Bligh picked up the bird’s head and feet. ‘Who shall have this?’ he asked.

‘Bligh,’ Fryer answered. Everyone laughed, and Bligh looked at the head and feet sadly. ‘Oh well,’ he said. ‘I know it’s good for me.’ Slowly, he began to eat them.

That evening, they caught a bigger bird, and ate that too. Next day they caught one more. Everyone was happy.

‘Why are all these birds here?’ the boy Robert asked.

Bligh smiled. ‘Because we are near land,’ he said.

On 28th May, at midnight, they saw white water in front of them.

‘The Barrier Reef,’ Bligh said. ‘A line of rocks underwater. We must be careful - ships often sink here! Take down the sail, and move slowly. We must find a way through!’

They sailed slowly near the white angry water. Then, after four hours, they found a way through. Behind the Barrier Reef, the sea was blue and quiet. They sailed quietly to a small island.

They could sleep on the island, and walk about. They began to look stronger. But they were two thousand kilometres from Timor, so they could not stay long. After six days they went to sea again - west, towards Timor. The sun was very hot, and two men were ill. Bligh gave them some rum, and the blood of birds. ‘But they can’t live much longer in a little boat like this,’ he thought. ‘We’re all tired and hungry - someone is going to die soon.’

But it was not far now. Every hour Bligh held the rope over the side, and wrote in his little book. He watched the sun and the sea and the sky. And then, on 11th June, Bligh said: ‘You cannot see it, but south of us, there’s a big island called Timor.’ They laughed and smiled and sang. Next day, they saw the island - green trees and hills. Two days later, they came to a town called Caupang. There were some Dutch sailors by the sea. Bligh and his men walked up to them.

‘Who are you?’ a Dutch officer asked. ‘You look hungry, and ill. Where are you from?’

‘I’m Captain William Bligh, of the English ship HMS Bounty. These men are English sailors. We left Tafua forty-one days ago.’

‘Tafua?’ the Dutch officer asked. ‘Where is that?’

‘It is a small island, about seven thousand kilometres away. We came in that small launch.’

‘My God! Forty-one days - in that!’ The Dutchman looked at the launch, and for a minute he said nothing. Then he asked: ‘Did many of you die?’

Bligh smiled. ‘Oh no. Only one, and the islanders on Tafua killed him. Seventeen men left Tafua with me, and seventeen men are here now. Alive.’

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