THE PITCAIRN MASSACURE
- PART 2
Manarii and Niau stopped about five feet away and waited for young Teimura who had abandoned his gun and recovered Manarii's axe. Knowing he could not swing the weapon without endangering his friends Teimura put it down and advanced. Tstahiti was still lopping along in the distance to one side trying to reload the musket.
Niau moved to Christian's right. who turned slightly toward him. Manarii moved to his left. Christian turned back. Teimura moved closer. Christian turned slightly toward Niau and Manarii edged in. Christian made a grunting sound. Maybe he was trying to speak thought Niau who cocked an ear. But the sound came out as a kind of fearful groan. Christian took a step toward Manarii and Niau stepped in and hit Christian in the throat.
Christian croaked and swung at Niau. Niau had moved out of reach but Manarii was now on the inside of Christian's arm. Manarii punched him, hitting him in the body. One solid blow followed the other with the flat sound of flesh thudding into flesh. Christian croaked again and squeezed his arms around Manarii. When he did, Niau and Teimura were behind him, hitting him in the kidneys with left and right punches. The blows thudded home without any seeming effect. Christian squeezed Manarii harder and for a moment Manarii thought he was going to snap. In desperation Manarii chopped both hands along the edge of Christian's jaw, near where his head joined his neck. Christian squeezed harder. Manarii was beginning to see spots. He put both hands under Christian's chin and pressed back against his circling grasp, pushing his head back very slowly. Niau stepped around and, one finger at a time, began to pry Christian's hands loose from each other. It worked, the grip broke, and Manarii pushed free.
Niau hit the white man with his left and right fists. It snapped Christian's head back but that was all. Niau stepped away shaking his right hand. As he did Christian caught him with the back of his right hand. It was a huge blow and Niau went reeling away and down.
Manarii kicked at Christian's groin but Christian half turned and Manarii half missed. It gave Niau time to recover a little and scramble to his feet. Manarii was covered with blood and so was Niau. They were all bleeding and smeared with each other's blood. Christian was breathing hard. He seemed to be having trouble, as if his throat were closing where Niau had caught him so many times earlier.
Niau circled in at Christian, bobbing a little. "Come on," rasped Christian. He spat blood at the still smiling Niau. Manarii circled the other way. Manarii and Niau kept narrowing the circle. Finally they were too close and Christian got hold of Niau. Manarii jumped on Christian's back and tried to set a hold . Christian was too big and too strong for Manarii and he broke the grip with a bunched shrug. But it gave Niau time to get loose and pound two more blows into Christian's throat. Christian grunted in pain.
Manarii still clung to Christian's back. They were both slippery with sweat now, and blood, and rancid with body odour and exhaustion. Manarii got one arm partly under Christian's chin but he couldn't raise it. Christian reached behind him with his right arm and grabbed Manarii by the arm. Then from the side Niau hit him again, twice in the throat, and for once Christian reacted as if the pain was real. Manarii felt the tremor run through Christian's body, and the croak was more anguished. Niau was making progress with his attack to the throat.
Christian hauled Manarii up over his shoulder with one arm, got his hand inside his thigh and threw him at Niau. They both went down and Christian came at them kicking. He caught Manarii in the ribs and again Manarii saw stars. Niau rolled away. Then Manarii was up and Niau was up and both were moving again in their closed circle. Christian's chest heaved as he dragged air in. Manarii spat out a tooth.
"Mr Christian, we get him now," said Manarii
Niau wiped blood from his eyes, "I hope."
They moved in again. Christian swung a massive blow at Manarii, but slow. He was tired. And was having trouble breathing. Manarii ducked under the arm and hit Christian in the stomach. Christian chopped down on my with his fist but missed again, and Niau him in the kidneys with hard expert blows. Christian groaned and turned, but slowly, ponderously, like the last lurch of a broken machine.
Then the youth Teimura raced in and hit Christian in the neck behind the ear throwing his fist like a sling from as far back as he could pull it, letting his whole weight go into the blow. They had Christian now and Manarii wanted to end it .Christian staggered, and half turned back. Niau hit him as Teirmura had, haymaker right hand blows, and Christian staggered again. Manarii stepped in close and hit again in the solar plexus, right elbow, delivered in swinging sequence against the back of Christian's neck. Christian turned again, swinging his arm like a tree limb. He knocked Manarii sprawling.
Then he lurched at Manarii. Manarii hammered two fists on his nose but he got hold of Manarii with his left hand. Christian held Manarii by the arm and began to club him with his right fist. Manarii covered up, pulling his head down inside his shoulders as far as he could, keeping his arms beside his head and elbows covering his body. I t didn't help him much as he felt something tear in his left forearm. It didnt hurt much , just a snap of muscle separating from bone.
Meanwhile Teimura drove the side of his right fist into Christian's windpipe as hard as he could and brought his forearm around and hit at the jawbone. Christian gasped. Then Niau was behind and kicked. The side of Niau's foot caught Christian in the small of his back. He bent back, half turned, and Niau hit him a rolling, stinging blow on the jaw. Christian loosened his grip on Manarii, buckled at the knees and toppled forward, his face on the ground. Manarii stepped back out of the way as he fell.
Niau was swaying slightly as he stood on the other side of Christian's fallen body. His face and chest and arms were covered with blood and sweat, his left eye was torn so badly that the pink inside showed. His right eye was closed. A part of his lower face moved as if he was trying to smile. He looked down at Christian and spit blood.
The front of Christian's shirt was gone. His chest was covered with blood. His nose felt like it was broken. He pushed himself to his knees balanced his body with one arm and propped to his feet. He was far from finished. He stepped toward Niau.
A shot rang out. It spun Christian back and he staggered and fell to the ground.
In a strange way Fletcher felt the blow almost gratefully. The force of the musket ball cast him forward and he toppled over sprawling again to his hands and knees. He felt no sharp pain, just the strange numbness that accompanies a mortal blow. Not that he knew that. All he felt was surpriseand he was curious. He turned his head to ask, to understand, to see why he was down. The axe caught him full in the neck. It shattered his spine and his body collapsed.
"Dear me, oh dear me!" he groaned. Fletcher Christian was never one to blaspheme or curse.
An able seaman once said of Christian 'He was a gentleman sir, a brave man; and every officer and seaman on board the ship would have gone through fire and water to have served him. I would still wade up to my armpits in blood to serve him. As much as I have lost and suffered by him, if he could be restored to his country, I would be the first to go without wages in search of him. Everyone under his command did their duty at a look from Mr Christian. Mr Christian was always good natured and I never heard him say 'damn you' to any man on board the ship!...'
Fletcher felt the damp soil clinging to the side of his face and from the edges of his vision watched helplessly as the axe and club was raised. Again there was no sharp pain but things did get darker and darker upon each succeeding blow. Finally, like sparrow's feathers in a winter's wind, his eyelids fluttered and stilled. He no longer existed in that body and his assailants beat his brains out.
And then some more.
Their ardour cooled while the splattered blood of their most important victim darkened and dried on their tunics. Mr Christian was dead and the four Tahitian men smiled at each other in relief, and hid their shaking hands. This killing was hard work thought the young Teimuraand it was not over.
It was over for Christian though and just two days before his twenty ninth birthday. A birthday his mother and older brother might rememberbut few others.
After Christian Adams
should have been easy. However the Tahitian's were losing their appetite
for revenge for, in all their unworldiness, they knew the letting of blood
is a vocation not a pastime and they began to feel a tiredness, not in
the lust for blood, it was more an emotional exhaustion.
Meanwhile Adams was blissfully
unaware of the goings on and worked hard in his plantation. It was near
to harvest time for his yams. He heard a shout and looked up to see his
servant Tevaruia running towards him.
Tevaruia thought he yelled,
"How can you keep working at a time like this?" But his English
was poor and Adam's Tahitian even worse and Adams failed to understand.
He did however realise something was amiss by the agitated manner of his
servant's behaviour. He dropped his spade and planted his hands on his
hips. He watched puzzled as the other three Tahitians emerged from the
bush. This time they wasted little time disguising their intentions. Niau
discharged a musket at Adams and the ball struck Adams in the neck and
shoulder. He fell to the ground clutching at the wound. The four advanced
and began to beat him with their clubs. Adams knew it was to be a life
and death struggle and he writhed about avoiding the worst of the blows.
He broke two fingers trying to ward off one blow then twice more the Tahitians
tried to shoot him. Twice more the muskets misfired. During a lull and
in desperation the bloody Adams heaved himself up and careered off into
the bushes. The superstitious Polynesian's were amazed, and growing weary.
Somehow they convinced each other some magic protected Adams so they shouted
to him to give himself up, promising to do him no further harm.
Weak from the loss of
blood and not knowing how much longer he could last Adams had little choice.
He surrendered and collapsed. The Polynesians carefully, even tenderly
lifted him up and carried him to Young's house. Only four of the nine Europeans
remained alive. Young and Adams in the village, McKoy and Quintal hiding
in the mountains. Christian, Mills, Brown, Martin and Williams were all
dead. The 'day of the massacre' was over - but it was not to be the end
of the Pitcairn killings.
In the days that followed
the Tahitian men began to fight among themselves over who should have which
woman (a habit learnt from the Europeans). Teimua and Manarii were both
interested in Young's consort Teraura and one night when Teimura was accompanying
Teraura's singing on his nose flute Manarii shot him dead. Titahiti and
Niau resented his murder and Manarii disappeared into the mountains where
he joined McKoy and Quintal. It was like joining a with two tiger snakes
for McKoy and Quintal were suspicious of his motives and would only accept
him if he delivered them his musket. He did and they shot him dead.
Meanwhile, back down the
mountain the Polynesian women, many of who were strongly attached to the
European men, decided to take their revenge on the surviving Polynesian
men. Ned Young agreed and Teraura lopped off Titahiti's head with an axe
while he was lying with Teatuahitea. Young shot Niau in similar circumstances
of sexual preoccupation.
Of the two most selfish
and violent Europeans the drunken McKoy fell to his death from a cliff
and Quintal was killed with an axe by Young and Smith in the midst of one
of his many drunken rages. So Midshipman Ned Young, an eager mutineer and
the man who Adams came to believe planned the massacre finally died of
a chest ailment - possibly consumption. This left Adams the sole male survivor
of the first European attempt to live in a paradise of sparkling blue waters,
of clear skies and a plentiful supply of food.
Finally he stood by the
grave-side of Ned Young. The ship's bible was wide open in his hand and
he looked around at the bowed heads off the nine Polynesian women. The
shrieks of six healthy children competed with a flock of passing gulls
as they frolicked nearby.
Adams had never heard
of Voltaire but still he thought, 'if God did not exist it would surely
be necessary to invent him now,' but since he was neither French nor
yet a philosopher he said nothing of that and simply read the service.
As he did the words took on a new purpose and meaning. So the next chapter
in the experiment began - a chapter full of peace prayer and religious