From England to Tahiti
It was a cold day in December, 1787. There was a strong wind and a green sea. Three men and a boy stood on the deck of the little ship, HMS Bounty. Behind them, on the land, were some hills and small white houses. The ship moved slowly out to sea.
The boy, Peter Heywood, was fourteen years old. He was a young officer, and he was happy and excited.
'England looks very small, Mr Christian,' he said. Fletcher Christian smiled at him. Christian was a tall young man with black hair and a long tired face. 'England is small,' he said. 'But we're going to some much smaller islands. Tahiti. The Friendly Islands. They're small, but they're very warm and beautiful.'
A sailor, John Adams, laughed. 'That's right, Mr Christian, sir,' he said.
'Good food, warm sun, blue skies - and hot, beautiful women, too! I want-'
'Be quiet, man!' someone shouted. Christian and Hey wood looked behind them. They saw the captain, William Bligh. He was a small man with brown hair. Christian knew Bligh well; they were friends. But Bligh was a captain now, so things were different. The Bounty was his first ship, and it was very important to him.
'Don't talk about women on my ship, Adams!' he said angrily. 'Be quiet, and sail this ship! Do you hear?'
'Yes, sir,' said Adams quietly.
'Now, listen to me, Mr Christian. And you, too, Mr Heywood.' Bligh stood very near them, but he didn't speak quietly. All the sailors could hear him. 'I'm the captain of this ship-remember that! We're going thirty thousand kilometres through bad weather and very bad seas, and I don't want any accidents. You are officers, so you don't talk to sailors about women or drink, or anything! You must work hard, and your sailors must work hard, too. Do you understand me, Mr Christian?'
'Yes, sir,' said Christian. But he didn't look happy.
'Good. And you, Mr Heywood?'
'Yes, sir.' The boy looked at Bligh, afraid. Then Bligh smiled.
'Is this your first time at sea, boy?'
'Well, you must work hard, and listen to me. One day, perhaps, you can be a captain too. Would you like that?'