Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/234

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seen men dressed in the European style and in what he took to be French uniforms."

This fanned the spark of expectation and seemed a promising trail to follow, but the most careful search failed to confirm the report. Among the reefs and islands the frigates cruised in vain until they had been away from home more than two years. Then without finding a trace of La Pérouse and all his gallant officers and patient, resolute seamen, they sailed to the Dutch East Indies. There they received amazing news from their beloved France. Louis XVI had been beheaded, and the agonized republic was at war with the armies of Europe. The Dutch officials of Sourabaya, regarding all Frenchmen as lawful enemies, held the crew of the frigates as prisoners, and this was the end of the search for La Pérouse.

The people of storm-tossed France had other things to think of, and they forgot all about the lost explorer and his ships' companies. There was reason to believe that some of them were alive when the two frigates had been trying to find them. In 1791 Captain Edwards was roaming the South Seas in the British frigate Pandora, whose mission was to run down and carry home for punishment the famous mutineers of the Bounty. He sighted the island of Vanikoro and ran along its shore, no more