Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/246

This page needs to be proofread.
208
LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS

paper, they might have carved upon boards the brief epitome of their story or lettered it with charcoal on bits of bark, and the kindly chiefs of Manicola would have guarded the record with care. Like ghosts of sailormen, they lived in the memories and the traditions of these South Sea Islanders. Captain Dillon made an interesting discovery while exploring the reefs, and he thus describes it:

 

Being in want of water, two men from each boat landed with the water kegs and went up to the nearest house. On passing it, one of our people called out in Spanish, "Here is a fleur-de-lis, which M. Chaigneau and I, who followed and understood him, desired him to point out. He directed our attention to the door of a house where we saw at the bottom of the threshold a decayed piece of fir or pine plank with a fleur-de-lis and other ornamental work upon it. It had probably formed part of a ship's stern and when complete exhibited the national arms of France. It was placed upon edge to barricade the passage, for the double purpose of keeping the pigs out and the children in the house. This we bought for a hatchet.

 

It was in Captain Dillon's mind that one of the survivors had gone to another island, according to the old chief's story, and so after finishing the investigation of the Manicola group, he sailed to ransack the seas near by. Nothing came of the search, and the natives whom he questioned here and there had never seen or heard of other white