Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/192

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where he had sown, and was able to turn to advantage the varied knowledge he had gained in his youth.

I heard one day that the Americans, who were increasing in prosperity year by year, were now in a condition to pay their back debts, and had decided that all officers who had fought in the War of Independence should upon presentation receive all their pay with interest to date. To me this was a real peculium adventilium, for I had long since given up all hopes of ever seeing any of that money. I was glad to learn that there was a sum at my disposal, and without loss of time started for Hamburg to embark on the first vessel ready to sail for North America.

I found an American three-master of good appearance, for they had, and justly, the reputation of being very good ship builders, but, as there was not at that time any Admiralty supervision in the United States, many vessels were lost at sea through the rashness or carelessness of the sailors. I was mistaken; the ship had been newly painted, and the paint hid the faults,