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THE INTERPRETER'S MISTAKE.
for there was certainly no use in prolonging the interview. Still, as punishment was considered due according to our laws, Sir Peter and the Senior Captain of the Squadron determined to shell the village near which the murder was committed. This, as stated above, was done next morning. Three shells, one of which exploded before reaching the shore, were thrown, to warn any stragglers to clear out. The "Diamond" and "Raven" then sent an armed boat each, and fired a few huts. Signals were then given to proceed on our cruise, and no sooner had we shaped course than the natives appeared on the beach again. We closely scanned their movements through the glasses but could not discern any signs of distress. I do not think a single native was hurt during the fracas; in fact, the Commanders never intended to take life, but simply to administer a wholesome lesson. Another incident happened on the previous day which I must not forget to mention.
During the interview with the old chief the interpreter from Dinner Island recognized among the bystanders, from his red hair, a man named Baelala, who he made certain had taken an active part in the murder of Captain Fryer at Hoop Iron Bay, and so positive was he that it was determined to capture and take Baelala on board. The arrest was cleverly effected on trading being commenced, and he was shipped on board the "Diamond," handcuffed, and a sentry placed over him, his wretched wife making the beach resound for hours with shrieks of terror and grief.
On reaching Hoop Iron Bay a couple of days afterwards, it was found that the interpreter had made a grievous mistake. A party landing to parley with the natives, the real Baelala turned up. There could be no mistake this time, as the narrative will show, and to make amends it was determined to send the innocent man back to his home immediately. The mistake was interpreted to him, and after being loaded with presents, Mr. Chalmers personally conducted him to Negarera Bay, the "Raven" being told off for that duty. The joy of his poor wife and friends on his return may be better imagined than described.