Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/201

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
165
FOUR THOUSAND MILES

any regard for them, you would have thought of them before now and not behaved so like a villain. I have been used like a dog all this voyage and am determined to bear it no longer. On you must rest the consequences."

This ended the argument, and the boat was soon cast adrift, while the mutineers shouted a cheery farewell, and then roared out "Huzza for Tahiti!" while the Bounty swung off and filled away with a pleasant breeze. Lieutenant Bligh assumed that it was the deliberate intent to leave him to perish, because dead men tell no tales; but if this were true, the mutineers would not have been so careful to stock the boat with food and water and stores to last the party at least a fortnight without severe hardship.

They were within easy sailing distance of peopled islands, on some of which they might hope to find a friendly reception. By drowning them, Fletcher Christian could have obliterated all traces of the mutiny, and the Bounty would have vanished from human ken, gone to the port of missing ships. So infrequented were the islands of the South Seas that the mutineers might have lived and died there unmolested and unsought. Fletcher Christian was too humane a man for such a deed, the most upright and pious outlaw that ever risked the gallows.