The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

MUTINY ON THE BOOBIE

boobie pair in flightWith no idea why a seabird would get so upset over the year designation, Mare gazed at Talli quizzically. After a moment, she turned to Dooley. “Out here, we don’t have much use for calendars, but that sounds about right.

Talli listened with mounting dread. “What’s the significance?” he asked Dooley.

Dooley nodded down toward the small wooden boat. “My guess is that’s the launch from His Majesty’s Armed Vessel Bounty.”

“And that’s important, why?” Talli wanted to know.

“It’s not especially important,” Dooley admitted. “A footnote in history except for the books and movies about the mutiny.”

Mare looked at Dooley in disbelief. “Somebody wrote a book about these sorry blokes? Why?”

Dooley shrugged and nodded agreement with her. “Ya got me. Humans write books about all sorts of seemingly odd things.”

Mare looked back down at the boat, and then at Dooley.”You obviously know more about them than I do. I’ve just been watching them from up here.”

“The Bounty was a small merchant vessel owned by the British Navy,” he explained. “They were sent to the South Pacific to gather breadfruit plants. But, before the mission could be completed, a dispute broke out between Lieutenant William Bligh, the captain, and his sailing master, Fletcher Christian.”

“Now I remember something about it,” Talli cut in. “The famous Mutiny on the Bounty.”

“Exactly,” Dooley agreed. “The mutineers ordered Bligh and fifteen others into the launch and set them adrift. That must be Bligh and the seamen who stood with him in the boat.”

“If they’re so famous,” asked Mare, “Why are they adrift at sea starving to death?”

“Starving to death?” repeated Dooley. “They don’t starve to death.”

Mare shrugged. “They’ll be happy to hear that. Right now, they haven’t eaten for eleven days.”

Dooley considered the situation for a long moment, and then turned to Talli. “C’mon, Bro. Let’s go fishing.”

Talli broke into a huge smile. “Now you’re talkin’, dinner!”

“Not for us,” Dooley corrected.

“Huh?” grunted Talli.

“For them.” he gestured toward the small boat as he spotted something beneath the surface of the water. “Squid!” he cried.

Blue footed booby hunting for fishDooley dove into the sea and emerged moments later with a squid in his beak. He flew toward the launch.

 

Aboard the launch, Lieutenant Bligh was wearing the remnants of his British naval officer’s uniform. Weak from hunger, Bligh shielded his eyes as he looked up to the bright sky. He blinked twice. He thought he saw a bird flying toward him.

“By Jove, I think I’m seeing things,” Bligh said in an upper crust British accent.

Billy Byrnes, an able seaman, turned to Bligh. In a thick cockney accent he asked, “What’s that, cap’n?”

Bligh weakly raised an arm to point toward Dooley in flight. “That,” he said.

Billy slowly followed Bligh’s gesture. What he thought he saw was a strange looking bird flying directly toward them with something hanging out of its beak. “Blimey,” he muttered. “What’s with that bloody bird?”

“You see it, too?” asked Bligh.

Dooley swooped in low over the launch and dropped the still struggling squid toward the open boat.

The squid dropped from the sky and landed on the face of Bob Miller, another Bounty sailor.

Bob, who appeared unconscious, close to death seconds earlier, startled awake. “What the . . . ” he shouted as he ripped the squid from his faced and hurled it into the ocean.

Shocked, Billy shouted, “You fool! That was food!” as he dove off the side of the boat and swam awkwardly to retrieve the squid.

With all of the commotion, the rest of the men on the boat sat up, alert. They saw Talli approach with a squid in his beak. He joined Dooley circling the launch.

Dooley nodded toward the launch, “Okay, drop it and let’s grab a few more.”

Reluctantly, Talli flew toward the small boat muttering to himself, “Sure, let’s waste a perfectly good squid on these humans who can’t even figure out how to fish for themselves.”

 

Bligh continued looking up in the sky, shielding his eyes with his hand. “All right, men,” Bligh ordered. “Look alive, there. We may get lucky and these birds might accidently drop something else our way.”

Poor Bob Miller couldn’t believe he had thrown away the first food they’d seen in nearly two weeks. He apologized to Bligh, his shipmates, and finally to the birds flying overhead.

Meanwhile, Billy Byrnes grabbed onto the gunwale. “Sorry, Cap’n,” he said. “I couldn’t catch the blighter.”

Before Bligh could say something empty, like “good try,” he saw Talli approaching the boat low off the water.

“Am I delirious?” he asked. “It looks like another of those odd birds is going to fly right over our launch.”

As Bligh and the crewman watched in stunned silence, Talli flew over the boat and dropped the still struggling squid. It landed on the bottom of the launch.

“Blimey,” Byrnes said as he watched from the water.

While several of the crewmen pulled Byrnes back into the boat, Dooley dropped another squid that landed directly on Bligh’s shoulder.

Astonished, Bligh stuttered, “I’ve-I’ve never even heard of such a thing. They’re actually feeding us.”

By the time the boobie brothers flew away, half a dozen squid and a couple of flying fish that Dooley had spotted when squid became scarce promised to feed the crew for several days.

Bligh and the crewman watched Dooley and Talli finally fly away.

Bligh turned to the sailors, “It’s a miracle, I tell you. Men,” he announced. “We’re going to make it!”

 

“So how did they make out? Were they worth the food we gave them?” Talli asked.

“It’s really a remarkable story,” Dooley began. “Bligh and his men sailed that open boat more than four thousand miles to the Dutch port of Koupang. It took them forty-seven days and the only man he lost was killed by some other humans when they stopped at an island to get food and water early in the voyage.”

“Hmm,” replied Talli. “I still think we didn’t need to give them both flying fish. That big one looked quite tasty.”

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Come back next Friday to follow the boobie brothers next adventure.

© 2013, 2018 Sawyer Creative, LLC

 

 

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