Monday, February 6, 2012

My new allies, villains, fear the island

            ...We had, upon the first appearance of the boat's coming from the ship, consider'd of separating our prisoners.  We had, indeed, secured them effectually.  Two of them, of whom Burke was less assured than ordinary, I sent with Friday, and one of the three deliver'd men to my cave, where they were remote enough and out of danger of being heard or discovered, or of finding their way out of the woods if they could have deliver'd themselves.  Here they left them bound, but gave them provisions and promised them if they continued there quietly to give them their liberty in a day or two.  If they attempted their escape, they should be kill'd by the beast of the island without mercy.  As Friday's countenance can be most fierce if he wills it, they dreaded at the thought of something more bestial than he.  They promised faithfully to bear their confinement with patience, and were very thankful they had such good usage as to have provisions and light left them.
            The other prisoners had better usage.  Two of them were kept pinioned, because the captain was not free to trust them.  The other two were taken into my service, upon Burke's recommendation and upon their solemnly engaging to live and die with us.  With them and the three honest men we were seven men well armed, and I made no doubt we should be able to deal well enough with the ten that were coming, considering the captain had said there were three or four honest men among them also. 
            As soon as the mutineers got to the place where their other boat lay, they ran their boat into the beach and came all on shore, hauling the boat up after them, which I was glad to see.  I was afraid they would rather have left the boat at an anchor, some distance from the shore, with some hands in her to guard her, and so we should not be able to seize the boat.  Being on shore, the first thing they did, they ran all to their other boat.  It was easy to see they were under a great surprise to find her stript of all that was in her and a great hole in her bottom. 
            After they had mused a while upon this, they set up two or three great shouts, hallooing with all their might to try if they could make their companions hear, but all was to no purpose.  Then they came all close in a ring and fired a volley of their small arms, and the echoes made the woods ring.  But those in the cave we were sure could not hear and those in our keeping, tho’ they heard it well enough, yet durst give no answer to them.  The men were so astonished at the surprise of this, they resolv’d to go all on board again and let them know the men were all murdered and the long-boat staved.  Accordingly, they immediately launched their boat again and got all of them on board.
            Captain Burke was amazed, and even confounded at this, believing they would go on board the ship again and set sail, giving their comrades over for lost, and so he should still lose the ship, which he was in hopes we should have recovered.  But he was quickly as much frightened the other way.
            They had not been long put off with the boat but we perceived them all coming on shore again.  With this was a new measure in their conduct, which it seemed they consulted together upon, viz. to leave three men in the boat, and the rest to go up into the country to look for their fellows.  This was a great disappointment to us, for now we were at a loss what to do.  Our seizing those seven men on shore would be no advantage to us if we let the boat escape, because they would then row away to the ship and then the rest of them would be sure to weigh and set sail, so our recovering the ship would be lost.  However, we had no remedy but to wait and see what the issue of things might present.  The seven men came on shore and the three who remained in the boat put her off to a good distance from the shore, and came to an anchor to wait for them.  Friday was quite sure he could reach the boat swimming, and of this I had no doubts, but were he to do so it was my belief those on the ship would observe his attack and, again, weigh and set sail.  So it was impossible for us to come at them in the boat.
            Those that came on shore kept close together, marching towards the top of the little hill under which my habitation lay.  We could see them plainly, tho’ they could not perceive us.   Slaader, who was the principal ringleader of the mutiny, was a large and fit man with hair like tar, much like all the Moors, and his tann'd skin had been ink'd with many pictures, as was common among the more superstitious sailors, which was many of them.  Altho' I did not think of it at the time, I did realize upon reflection I had seen many of the symbols ink'd on Slaader's skin upon the trees and stones of this island in the past years...

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