|Critic (Hobart) Sat 16 Mar 1912 p. 4.|
A PIRATICAL SEIZURE.
[ By Dion.]
Seventeen prisoners went voluntarily off in the Cyprus boats besides Brown—one of the sailors whom they handcuffed, and forced to go with them. All the rest of the prisoners were forced on shore, the pirates not knowing there was such a large quantity of provisions on board as there actually was. When they took an inventory of their plunder some days afterwards, there were provisions sufficient to keep 400 men going for several months.
As soon as matters were got on an even keel on shipboard, there was some dispute as to who should assume command, and ultimately Walker, who possessed a fair nautical knowledge--or imagined he did—was appointed captain, and Ferguson, who dressed himself in Lieutenant Carew’s uniform, assumed to himself the title of lieutenaut, and Jones was rated mate. They proposed to make regulations as to the future navigation of the ship when they got to sea, and it was arranged that the crew should be uniformed in canvas clothing.
An endeavor was made to induce Morgan and Knight—two of the brig’s sailors who had been pressed into the service of the mutineers, to stand by the ship, but they refused to have anything to do with the business, and after being treated to a night’s jollification on the ship’s rum (of which there was a large supply on board), they were on the next morning put on shore to keep the others company.
The first evening on board of the brig was devoted to mirth and revelry, towards which the Government rum contributed in no small degree. During the next two or three days the prisoners on board enjoyed themselves to the top of their bent, and Pennell, Jones and Watts indulged to such an extent that the liqour had to be taken away from them. Three of prisoners signified their willingness to give Morgan and Knight—the two sailors who were landed—the jolly boat, but they were overruled by the majority, who held that if this concession were granted it might enable Lieutenant Carew to send an express to Hobart, and cause the vessel to be retaken.
At half past 5 o’clock on the Saturday morning following, the captain of the brig and the castaways on shore saw the last of her. A fair wind sprang up all sails were hoisted smartly, the crew gave three cheers, and she was out of sight in a couple of hours, and as it subsequently turned out, they brought South America, where they afterwards found out they did fare as well as they imagined.
One must now return to the castaways, who were making the best of things on the scrub-fringed shores of Recherche Bay, which at that time had not a vestige of habitation nearer to it than the prison station at “Birch’s Bay.” An attempt was made by Lieutenant Carew, who bad charge of the party, to try and get through in the direction of the Huon, but having no guide they walked round and round, and like the doomed in the Grecian Tartans, never arrived, with all their labor, nearer the attainment of their object. They returned to the camp almost dead with fatigue and with very small hopes of deliverance from their perilous situation.
Man’s power of adaptation to circumstances is a benign provision, and perhaps its most striking feature of misfortune of the marooned ones was the brave way in which Mrs Carew, the only woman of the party, kept up. Her conduct has been described as most courageous.
She had a little infant with her, and barely sufficient clothes to cover both of them, This display from a woman made the men keep a stiff upper lip, and they cast about them to devise some means to get out of their seeming hopeless predicament. Two of the most active members of the party were a couple of prisoners named Popjoy and Meakins, who, rather than join the piratical crew, jumped off the brig and swam to the shore. These two men volunteered to carry a despatch through to Hobart, and they were sent away on their journey with a day’s rations, and wished God speed; on their errand.
These two plucky fellows got through the Huon River, and while trying to swim with their clothes on their heads, they were surprised by a party of blacks, who did their level bet to spear them. Popjoy and his mate succeeded in eluding the spears by diving, and in following out these manoeuvres they lost their clothes, and were compelled to return to the camp in a state of nudity, after being two days in the bush without a bite to eat.
According to the tale related by them on their return, the blacks pursued them for several miles, and they ran blindly and wildly like men with bloodhounds on their tracks, stumbling over rocks and logs, torn now and then by the scrub, and battling up hill with straining lungs and trembling limbs until they dropped down thoroughly beaten and stupified in a dense tea tree scrub, where the natives left them. They stayed in the scrub for several hours, and then they put to themselves two very plain questions—“ Where are we; and how are we going to get back to the camp? ”