Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/198

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"I do not know who took your cocoanuts, sir, but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of pilfering them."

Lieutenant Bligh, who was red in the face and hot under the collar, burst out in this most unlucky tirade:

"Yes, you hound, I do; you must have stolen them from me, or you would be able to give a better account of them. You are all thieves, you scoundrels, and the officers combine with the men to rob me. I suppose you will steal my yams next, but I 'll make you sweat for it, you rascals, if I have to make half of you jump overboard before we get through Endeavor Straits."

This is one of the stories told by the boatswain's mate to extenuate the mutiny, and it may be taken for what it is worth, though with so much smoke, there was sure to be flame. At any rate, it was only a day after the cocoanut episode that Fletcher Christian, the master's mate, led the famous rebellion of the Bounty. He was a leader of extraordinary intelligence and character who had always led a godly life. Commander Bligh had provoked him beyond endurance, and he was persuaded that he could lead his comrades to a palm-shaded kingdom where they would be safe against discovery and capture.