Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/245

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from the pitiful fragments of La PĂ©rouse's frigates. There was much iron and copper, broken chinaware, silver plate stamped with the lilies of France, a ship's bell, several brass cannon, and pewter dishes also bearing the fleur-de-lis. On the bronze bell was the emblem of the holy cross between images of the Saviour and the Virgin Mary, and so the symbols of religion, of faith, of suffering, and of consolation had been preserved for those survivors who grew old and died on these undiscovered islands of the South Seas.

It was evident that the frigates had driven ashore on two different islands of the group, and Captain Dillon visited the scenes of both disasters. Native divers explored the reefs and found cannon embedded in the sand and massive oaken timbers and other memorials which enabled him to fix the position of the ships. Of the stockade and the launching-ways upon which the stout-hearted French seamen had built their little schooner not a trace could be found. During forty years of luxuriant growth the jungle had obliterated man's handiwork, and the logs had rotted into mold.

The extraordinary fact was noted that the survivors who lingered into old age on these islands had left no written record or message behind them, not a word to indicate who they were. Lacking