Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/199

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
163
FOUR THOUSAND MILES

No inkling of the conspiracy was conveyed to the quarterdeck, and Bligh wrote, after the event:

 

The women of Tahiti are handsome, mild, and cheerful in manners and conversation, possessed of great sensibility, and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and beloved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise and even made them promises of large possessions. Under these circumstances it ought hardly to be the subject of surprise that a set of sailors, most of them without home ties, should be led away where they had the power of fixing themselves in the midst of plenty and where there was no necessity to labor and where the allurements to dissipation are beyond any conception that can be formed of it. The utmost, however, that a commander could have expected was desertions, such as have always happened more or less in the South Seas, and not this act of open mutiny, the secrecy of which was beyond belief.

 

It was a bloodless uprising and conducted with singular neatness and despatch. At sunrise of April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian and an armed guard entered the commander's cabin and hauled him out of bed in his night-shirt. His arms were bound, and he was led on deck, where he observed that some of his men were hoisting out a boat. Those of the ship's company who had remained loyal, seventeen officers and men, were already clapped under hatches to await their turn in the very orderly program. A few of the mutineers