But The Element Of Probability In
The Various Stories Evaporated On Investigation.
north from Port Jackson in the INVESTIGATOR in 1802, kept a sharp
lookout on the Barrier Reef, the possibility of finding some trace
being "always present to my mind." But no definite news came.
A new French voyage of exploration came down to the Pacific in 1817,
under the command of Louis de Freycinet, who had been a lieutenant in
Baudin's expedition in 1800-4. The purpose was not chiefly to look for
evidence concerning Laperouse, though naturally a keen scrutiny was
maintained with this object in view.
An extremely queer fact may be mentioned in connection with this
voyage. The URANIE carried a woman among the crew, the only one of her
sex amidst one hundred men. Madame de Freycinet, the wife of the
commandant, joined at Toulon, dressed as a ship's boy, and it was given
out in the newspapers that her husband was very much surprised when he
found that his wife had managed to get aboard in disguise. But Arago,
one of the scientific staff, tells us in his Memoirs, published in
1837, that - as we can well believe - Freycinet knew perfectly who the
"young and pretty" boy was, and had connived at her joining the ship as
a lad, because she wanted to accompany her husband, and the authorities
would have prevented her had they known. She continued to wear her
boy's dress until after the ships visited Gibraltar, for Arago informs
us that the solemn British Lieutenant-Governor there, when he saw her,
broke into a smile, "the first perhaps that his features had worn for
ten years." If that be true, the little lady surely did a little good
by her saucy escapade.
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