Here he related what he had seen to his father. The father went and looked in upon Jo’s solitude. He happened to have seen Bumpus during the great fight, and knew him to be one of the pirates. The village rose en masse. Some of the worst characters in it stirred up the rest, went to the widow’s cottage, and demanded that the person of the pirate should be delivered up.
The widow objected. The settlers insisted. The widow protested. The settlers threatened force. Upon this the widow reasoned with them; besought them to remember that the missionary would be back in a day or two, and that it would be well to have his advice before they did anything, and finally agreed to give up her charge on receiving a promise that he should have a fair trial.
Bumpus was accordingly bound with ropes, led in triumph through the village, and placed in a strong wooden building which was used as the jail of the place.
The trial that followed was a mere mockery. The leading spirits of it were those who had been styled by Mr. Mason, “enemies within the camp.” They elected themselves to the offices of prosecutor and judge, as well as taking the trouble to act the part of jurymen and witnesses. Poor John Bumpus’s doom was sealed before the trial began. They had prejudged the case, and only went through the form to ease their own consciences and to fulfil their promise to the widow.
It was in vain that Bumpus asserted, with a bold, honest countenance, that he was not a pirate, that he never had been, and never would be a pirate; that he didn’t believe the Foam was a pirate—though he was free to confess its crew “wos bad enough for anything a’most;” that he had been hired in South America (where he had been shipwrecked) by Captain Gascoyne, the sandal-wood trader; that he had made the voyage straight from that coast to this island without meeting a single sail; and that he had never seen a shot fired or a cutlass drawn aboard the schooner.
To all this there was but one coarsely-expressed answer,—“It is a lie!” Jo had no proof to give of the truth of what he said, so he was condemned to be hanged by the neck till he should be dead; and as his judges were afraid that the return of the Wasp might interfere with their proceeding, it was arranged that he should be I executed on the following day at noon.
It must not be imagined, that, in a Christian village such as we have described, there was no one who felt that this trial was too hastily gone into, and too violently conducted. But those who were inclined to take a merciful view of the case, and who plead for delay, were chiefly natives, while the violent party was composed of most of the ill-disposed European settlers.
The natives had been so much accustomed to put confidence in the wisdom of the white men since their conversion to Christianity, that they felt unable to cope with them on this occasion; so that Bumpus, after being condemned, was led away to his prison, and left alone to his own reflections.