prisoners could not have escaped if they had been released and allowed to swim for it with the rest of the crew.
His own officers and men interceded and begged permission to knock the shackles off the mutineers before the ship went down, but Captain Edwards threatened to shoot the first man who interfered with his orders, and to kill any of the captives who attempted to free themselves. He was the type of officer who is blindly, densely zealous and regards the letter of the law as to be obeyed under all circumstances. The Admiralty had told him to bring these fugitives back to England in chains. This settled the matter for him.
When the Pandora was about to plunge under, a council of officers formally decided "that nothing more could be done for the preservation of His Majesty's ship." The command was then given to quit her before she carried the crew to the bottom, but even then two sentries of the Royal Marines guarded the scuttle of "Pandora's Box" with instructions to shoot if the mutineers tried to smash their irons.
The master-at-arms was a man with a heart, as well as a ready wit, and as he scrambled over the roof of the deck-house with the sea racing at his heels, he dropped his bunch of keys through the