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4. CHAPTER FOUR
STATE OF AFFAIRS ABOARD THE SHIP--CONTENTS OF HER LARDER--LENGTH OF SOUTH SEAMEN'S VOYAGES--ACCOUNT OF A FLYING WHALE-MAN--DETERMINATION TO LEAVE THE VESSEL--THE BAY OF NUKUHEVA--THE TYPEES--INVASION OF THEIR VALLEY BY PORTER -- REFLECTIONS--GLEN OF TIOR--INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE OLD KING AND THE FRENCH ADMIRAL
OUR ship had not been many days in the harbour of Nukuheva before I came to the determination of leaving her. That my reasons for resolving to take this step were numerous and weighty, may be inferred from the fact that I chose rather to risk my fortunes among the savages of the island than to endure another voyage on board the Dolly. To use the concise, pointblank phrase of the sailors. I had made up my mind to 'run away'. Now as a meaning is generally attached to these two words no way flattering to the individual to whom they are applied, it behoves me, for the sake of my own character, to offer some explanation of my conduct.
When I entered on board the Dolly, I signed as a matter of course the ship's articles, thereby voluntarily engaging and legally binding myself to serve in a certain capacity for the period of the voyage; and, special considerations apart, I was of course bound to fulfill the agreement. But in all contracts, if one party fail to perform his share of the compact, is not the other virtually absolved from his liability? Who is there who will not answer in the affirmative?
Having settled the principle, then, let me apply it to the particular case in question. In numberless instances had not only the implied but the specified conditions of the articles been violated on the part of the ship in which I served. The usage on board of her was tyrannical; the sick had been inhumanly neglected; the provisions had been doled out in scanty allowance; and her cruises were unreasonably protracted. The captain was the author of the abuses; it was in vain to think that he would either remedy them, or alter his conduct, which was arbitrary and violent in the extreme. His prompt reply to all complaints and remonstrances was--the butt-end of a handspike, so convincingly administered as effectually to silence the aggrieved party.
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