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CHAPTER VIII

FRIGATES THAT VANISHED IN THE SOUTH SEAS

WHEN our forefathers were fighting in the Revolution, which was not so very long ago in history, the world was a vastly entertaining place for a man who loved to wander in quest of bold adventures. Nowadays the unknown seas have all been charted, and it is not easy to realize that a great part of the watery globe was unexplored and trackless when George Washington led his ragged Continentals. There were no lean, hard-bitted Australian troops to rally to the call of the mother country when England was fighting most of Europe as well as the American Colonies, because not a solitary Briton had then set foot upon the mighty continent of the South Pacific.

For three centuries the high-pooped merchant ships and the roving buccaneers of all flags had been sailing on the trade routes to the New World and to the East Indies, but scarcely a solitary keel had furrowed the immense expanse of blue water which is called the South Seas. Daring traders as were

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