top of page

Inciting Mutiny (10)

Port Royal, Jamaica, founded in 1494 by the Spanish, was the largest city in the Caribbean when the crew of the Good Hope visited it in 1688. Four years later, it would be destroyed by an earthquake, with an accompanying tsunami, leading to the establishment of Kingston, now the largest city in Jamaica.



The men of the Good Hope sailed back to their calling, leaving behind the stale smell of ale and sex in Port Royal’s tippling houses. The scent of the sea and the breadth of the open air swelled their chests with pride for their way of life independent from all others. Yusef’s departure still played on the minds of some.

“Have you no blood, man,” Edward demanded of Franz.

The frail doctor shuddered at such a direct and indicting question. Edward, reeling from his failure to disparage Yusef and Adrian, struck out at easy prey.

“Have you no blood,” Edward repeated.

“Wh- wh- what do you mean,” the bullied Franz asked. He stuttered when nervous. The doctor’s slight shoulders slumped forward. He was not accustomed to being accosted, and he shrank from it. He began to tremble while sitting on Edward’s bed.

“Where is your passion, doctor, are you dead,” the quartermaster across from him asked in a jeering way as a slur on the man’s profession.

Now Franz understood, and he fed on the strength of his sense of purpose.

“I’m passionate about achieving recognition for my scientific work,” he said. “That’s what drives me.”

Edward backed down. He had struck a common chord with the man.

“I, too, want to be recognized,” he said.

Passion, by its very nature, is not selfless. It is grubby and imbalanced, nasty and impatient, overriding the needs of others for the sake of one. No matter what the object, it reeks of selfishness. It blinds the traveler to signs in the skies and on the water; it blinds the sailor to the stars overhead. It mists over the horizon so that the future is a blur and only the colors of emotion are seen and acted upon.

When Edward discovered that Franz shared the same lust for accolades, he calculated that he had found the physician’s weak spot. Perhaps, he also had found an accomplice, he thought. Maybe the doctor would mix a poisonous concoction that would kill off Edward’s troubles. Maybe the quartermaster would find a warm place in the hearts of his men.

“Is the Good Hope’s mission helping you move toward your goal,” Edward asked, already guessing what the answer would be.

“No,” Franz answered. “We’re staying in a small area of the Caribbean, which restricts me to observing the same plants and animals. I’m seeing nothing new, and I’m not able to compare what’s here with what there is elsewhere. I had hoped that we would have been off to the South Seas by now. I’m eager to get there, but this mission of liberation keeps me here, bored and unable to attain the height of my ability. It cuts short my aspirations. I need more breadth from which to write. More, more, much more!”

“I also want to go to the South Seas. I have never been there. If we remain faithful to the mission, we’ll never get there unless the slave routes expand, and that’s not bound to happen. I wonder what we could do to get to that other part of the world still a dream to the both of us.”

As Edward asked the question, he knew the answer.

“Maybe Adrian will grow weary of his plan and propose that we seek new waters,” Franz volunteered.

“I doubt it. He’s married to the cause.”

“The men are, too, though. They voted to go with him on it.”

“Yes, but I’ve heard rumblings of discontent. We’re not the only ones tired of this.”

“Have you heard talk of mutiny?” Franz put forth.

“I haven’t confided this to anyone else,” Edward whispered, happy that the conversation had gone his way. “I have heard such talk.”

“Oh, my,” the little man gasped. “Oh, my.”

“By whom,” Franz dared to query.

“By some who want to see the ship sail a different course,” Edward lied, without implicating anyone who would contest his story.

“What would you do if such an attempt came to pass,” Franz asked. “On which side would you fall?”

Edward slowly skirted the floor with his eyes and, then, surveyed the ceiling in a grand pause before saying a word.

“I don’t know, Franz. Adrian is a good man,” he said, distancing himself from his hate and envy.

“Yes, yes. He surely is,” Franz said.

“But if his men no longer want to follow him . . .,” Edward coaxed.

“That presents a quandary, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it does,” Edward lied again, nearly bursting with delight at sowing the seeds of discontentment in the hungry, vulnerable and naive doctor. “I’m no judge of scientific genius, Franz, but if your intensity is any indication of your intelligence, I’d say you fall into the highest circle. You should be given the chance to shine, let us say. You should.”

“Why, thank you, Edward. Thank you for that,” the doctor said, blushing a delicate, pale pink befitting his temperament. He extended his hand to the quartermaster, and they shook hands on their mutual goal.

After this success, Edward began to exercise a knack for ferreting out the dissatisfied. He did not preach mutiny himself, but he assured them that they were traveling in the company of many who were doing so. He cultivated an army of silent dissenters, ready to fight against Adrian’s mission, mind you, not Adrian. The well-loved captain had stretched his men’s loyalty to its limit. What Edward did not know was that from the time of Adrian’s dream of Sarah on the caye, Adrian had been rethinking his own life. Yusef’s decision to leave the buccaneering life for a woman only heightened his anxiety over his love.

The Good Hope liberated another slaver, remanding another group of Africans. Adrian’s usual buoyancy did not follow the episode. He got only an intellectual thrill from outwitting the forces of oppression. His personal life was sorely unattended, and he knew it. What was the use of freeing others when his own chains were cutting into his spirit?

Adrian could no longer run away from himself. He could no longer pretend that his life was whole when it was not. He had to settle accounts with his past. He still loved Sarah, and he had to find out whether she was willing to share her life with him out in the eyes of society – white, black, free and enslaved. Did she dream of him? Did she miss him? Did she want him the way he wanted her, he asked himself. He could not answer these questions without seeing her. Adrian’s instincts told him to rush to Sarah’s side and surrender himself to the uncertainty of the future.

Two months after leaving Port Royal, the captain ordered the Good Hope to return. Before he tore himself from his present and threw himself into the hands of fate, he wanted to see Yusef again. He was drawn to his friend who had taken the course upon which he was about to embark. He expected to be ready to make the shift after talking with him.

bottom of page