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فصل 04

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Pandora

On 14th March 1790, Bligh and his men arrived in England. When he told the story of the mutiny, English people were very angry. They sent Captain Edwards, in the Pandora, to Tahiti.

On 23rd March 1791, the Pandora arrived in Tahiti. Captain Edwards and his men looked carefully at the island. They could see a lot of trees and small houses, but no English ship. Then, a small canoe came out to the Pandora. The three men in the canoe shouted and smiled.

‘I think they’re Englishmen, sir,’ a sailor said.

‘All right,’ Captain Edwards said. ‘They can come on the ship. Perhaps they can tell us something.’

The three men were brown and strong, but they wore English sailors’ hats and trousers. One of them - a boy, about eighteen years old - smiled at Edwards.

‘Good morning, sir! My name is Peter Heywood - I’m a young officer from the Bounty. This is Mr Stewart, and Joseph Coleman, a sailor.’

‘Yes, I see,’ said Edwards. ‘Three of you? Where are your friends? Where is Mr Christian and the Bounty?’

Heywood looked worried. ‘Mr Christian? He sailed away in the Bounty, sir, a year ago, I think. But we didn’t go with them. We waited - for you. We aren’t afraid.’

‘I see,’ Edwards said. He looked at them carefully. ‘All right, then. Tell me your story. What happened, after Christian put Captain Bligh in the launch?’

‘Well, sir,’ Heywood said. ‘We threw the breadfruit trees into the sea, and sailed here, to Tahiti. Otoo, the King of Tahiti, was good to us, and a lot of men wanted to stay here. But Mr Christian was afraid. “We can’t stay here,” he said, “because a ship is going to come from England.” So Otoo gave us a lot of pigs, and goats and food, and we sailed to a different island, Toobouai. Some islanders from Tahiti came with us-eight men, nine women, and seven boys. But the people of Tooboaui didn’t like us, and some of us didn’t like Mr Christian. So Mr Christian sailed the Bounty back to Tahiti, and left sixteen of us here.’

‘And then?’ Captain Edwards was excited. ‘What did Mr Christian do?’ he asked.

‘He sailed away in the Bounty, sir.’

‘I see. And how many men went with him?’

‘Nine sailors, I think, sir. But they took seven Tahitian men and twelve women, too.’

‘I see,’ Edwards said. He looked at them angrily. ‘Sixteen men stayed on Tahiti, and three of you are here. So where are the other thirteen? Are they waiting for me, too, on the island?’

‘Er… well, yes, sir… I mean…’ Peter Heywood stopped. He was worried and afraid.

‘They were here, but they aren’t here now,’ said George Stewart quickly. He put his hand on Peter Heywood’s arm. ‘They sailed away too.’

‘Oh, did they?’ Captain Edwards asked. ‘When?’

Heywood and Stewart both spoke at once.

‘Four days…’

‘Two weeks…’

‘… ago, sir,’ they said. Then they stopped.

Edwards watched them. ‘I see,’ he said slowly. ‘First you are in a mutiny, and now you tell me things that are not true! Sailor!’

‘Yes, sir,’ one of the Pandora’s sailors answered.

‘Put these three men in chains. They are prisoners.’

‘But sir!’ Peter Heywood said. ‘We didn’t run away! We came to tell you our story. And Mr Stewart has a wife!’

‘A wife?’ Captain Edwards laughed. ‘Is she at home in England?’

‘No, sir. Here,’ Mr Stewart answered. ‘She’s a Tahitian woman. Her name is Peggy - Mrs Peggy Stewart. And we have a daughter.’

Edwards laughed again. ‘A Tahitian woman! I’m sorry for her! But don’t worry. She can come on the ship and see you in your new prison. Look behind you. We have a wonderful prison for you and your friends. Look!’

The three sailors looked behind them. On the deck of the Pandora was a wooden box, about two metres high and four metres long. It had a small door, but no windows. The Pandora’s sailors put the prisoners in the box, with chains on their arms and legs. Captain Edwards laughed.

‘There! Are you happy now? You can stay there, all the way to England!’

‘But… my wife! My little daughter!’ Stewart said. The door closed in his face. ‘We didn’t put Bligh in the launch - Christian did! We came to tell you everything!’

Edwards laughed, and Peter Heywood said nothing.

Captain Edwards caught eleven more men, and put them in the Pandora’s box, too. Their Tahitian wives and children came onto the Pandora and cried, but Captain Edwards didn’t open the door. For three months, the Pandora sailed to different islands, and the prisoners stayed in the box. But Edwards couldn’t find Christian or the Bounty, and so he began to sail home.

Near Australia, the Pandora hit the Barrier Reef. Water came into the ship, and the sailors couldn’t stop it. After twelve hours, Captain Edwards said: ‘We must leave the ship! Get into the boats, men!’

The prisoners could hear the noise outside, and water came in through the door. Captain Edwards took three prisoners out, but then he closed the door.

‘What about us?’ Peter Heywood shouted. ‘Please, Captain, open the door! Why are you leaving us in here?’

‘Be quiet, boy!’ said Captain Edwards. ‘We’re working hard now - the ship is sinking!’

‘But we’re going to die - we can’t move!’ George Stewart shouted. ‘Open the door!’

But Edwards closed the door, and no one helped them. Outside, the first sailors got into the boats, and rowed away. Inside the box, the prisoners hit the walls, and shouted. But they couldn’t move, because of the chains.

After an hour, a sailor opened the door and helped them out of their chains. But there was very little time. All of them got their legs free, but some couldn’t get their arms free. Peter Heywood was nearly the last man to get out. In the sea, he held on to some wood. He saw George Stewart and four other prisoners. They couldn’t swim, because of the chains on their arms.

‘Help me, Peter!’ Stewart called. But the sea took Stewart away. Peter Heywood never saw his friend again.

Peter Heywood landed on a small island with some prisoners, Captain Edwards and the Pandora’s sailors. They had four boats, but only one small barrel of water and some bread. Like Captain Bligh, they sailed to the Dutch island of Timor. Then a Dutch ship took them to England. They arrived on 19th June 1792.

Peter Heywood looked across the water at the green hills and small houses. ‘Home,’ he said quietly to a Dutch sailor. ‘England is very beautiful, you know. I left here five years ago!’

‘Are you going to see your family?’ the Dutchman asked.

‘Not yet,’ Peter answered. ‘I must go to my trial first. And the punishment for mutiny, you know…’

He stopped. The wind moved his brown hair. The Dutchman put a hand on his arm.

‘I know, Peter,’ he said sadly. ‘The punishment for mutiny… is death.’

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