In the month of October an English frigate, the Virginia, suddenly made
her appearance in the offing, with her decks cleared for action.
captain had heard of two French vessels being at Kupang, and, supposing
them to be lawful prize of war, he had clapped on all sail and descended
on the quiet little port with the joyful anticipation of finding brisk
business to do. But when he was informed that the two were exploring
ships, and had examined their passports, the English commander gallantly
expressed "his especial esteem and consideration for the object of our
voyage"; and, hearing that Captain Baudin was ill, even offered a present
of excellent wine. It was a shining, graceful little incident, pleasant
to read about in a story in which there is a surfeit of discontent,
disease, and bad feeling. The frigate, having satisfied herself that
there was no fighting to enjoy, made off without firing a shot.
After the long sojourn at Timor, it might have been expected that when
the expedition sailed for the south of Tasmania, the ships would be in a
clean and wholesome condition, the crews and staff in good health, and
the supplies of food and water abundant. But distressing fortunes
followed in Baudin's wake at every stage of the voyage. Leaving Kupang on
November 13, the vessels were only six days' sail from that port when
insufficiency of water led to revolting practices, described by Peron.
"We were so oppressed by the heat," he says, "and our ration of water was
so meagre, that unhappy sailors were seen drinking their urine.
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