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FRIGATES THAT VANISHED

and L'Astrolabe, commanded by M. de la Pérouse as well as after their crews, and to obtain every information which may ascertain their existence or their shipwreck; so that in case M. de la Pérouse, and his companions should be found, no matter in what place, there shall be given to them every assistance, and all means procured for them, that they may be enabled to return to their country with whatever may belong to them.

It is further decreed that the King be entreated to direct that one or more vessels be equipped and several learned and experienced persons embarked therein, to the commanders of which may be given in charge the double mission, to search after M. de la Pérouse and also at the same time to render this expedition useful and advantageous to navigation, to geography, and to the arts and sciences.
 

This hope of rescue appealed to the quick imagination of France. La Pérouse was a national hero. It was argued, with good reason, that he might be waiting on some solitary island of those empty seas where topsails had never yet lifted above the blue horizon. Again two frigates were elaborately fitted out at Brest, and rechristened, with a pretty touch of sentiment, la Recherche (The Research) and L'Esperance (The Hope) . They sailed early in 1791, touching at the Cape of Good Hope, where the vice-admiral in command got wind of a curious rumor that "near the Admiralty Islands in the Pacific Ocean the captain of a British sloop-of-war had