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FOUR THOUSAND MILES

Every sturdy British sailor was leaving a sweetheart on the beach of langurous Tahiti, where the unspoiled, brown-skinned women were as kind as they were beautiful, and where every dream of happiness was attainable. These were the first white men who had ever lingered to form sentimental attachments in that fortunate isle, and they left it reluctantly to endure the bitter toil and tyranny that were the mariner's lot.

Nor was Lieutenant Bligh a commander to soothe their discontent. His own narrative would lead you to infer that his conduct was blameless, but other evidence convicts him of a harsh and inflexible temper and a lack of tact which helped to bring about the disaster that was brewing in the forecastle and among the groups of seamen who loafed and whispered on deck during the dog-watches. The explosive crises of life are very often touched off by the merest trifles and a few cocoanuts appear to have played a part in the melodramatic upheaval of the Bounty's crew. Boatswain's Mate James Morrison kept a journal in which he set down that Lieutenant Bligh missed some of his own personal cocoanuts, which had been stowed between the guns.

The sailors solemnly denied stealing them, and the irate commander questioned Fletcher Christian, the master's mate, who indignantly protested: