EPILOGUE: THE FINDING OF THE DIAMOND
2. CHAPTER II
The Statement of THE CAPTAIN (1849)
I am requested by Sergeant Cuff to set in writing certain facts,
concerning three men (believed to be Hindoos) who were passengers,
last summer, in the ship BEWLEY CATSLE, bound for Bombay direct,
under my command.
The Hindoos joined us at Plymouth. On the passage out I heard no complaint
of their conduct. They were berthed in the forward part of the vessel.
I had but few occasions myself of personally noticing them.
In the latter part of the voyage, we had the misfortune
to be becalmed for three days and nights, off the coast
of India. I have not got the ship's journal to refer to,
and I cannot now call to mind the latitude and longitude.
As to our position, therefore, I am only able to state
generally that the currents drifted us in towards the land,
and that when the wind found us again, we reached our port in
twenty-four hours afterwards.
The discipline of a ship (as all seafaring persons know)
becomes relaxed in a long calm. The discipline of my ship
became relaxed. Certain gentlemen among the passengers got some
of the smaller boats lowered, and amused themselves by rowing about,
and swimming, when the sun at evening time was cool enough
to let them divert themselves in that way. The boats when done
with ought to have been slung up again in their places.
Instead of this they were left moored to the ship's side.
What with the heat, and what with the vexation of the weather,
neither officers nor men seemed to be in heart for their duty while
the calm lasted.
On the third night, nothing unusual was heard or seen by the watch on deck.
When the morning came, the smallest of the boats was missing--and the three
Hindoos were next reported to be missing, too.
If these men had stolen the boat shortly after dark (which I have
no doubt they did), we were near enough to the land to make it vain
to send in pursuit of them, when the discovery was made in the morning.
I have no doubt they got ashore, in that calm weather (making all due
allowance for fatigue and clumsy rowing), before day-break.