Savants and naval officers weighed all the evidence, and were of the opinion that at least two of the survivors had been alive as late as 1824, or thirty-six years after the shipwreck, and that one of them was possibly La Pérouse. The theory was advanced that after his great adventure had been eclipsed by a misfortune so enormous, he might have been unwilling to return to France, fancying himself disgraced, and that he perhaps chose to maroon himself at Manicola when his comrades sailed away in their tiny schooner. Be that as it may, their fate was no less tragic, for the sea conquered them and left no sign or token. Long after Captain Dillon
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LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS
purpose of viewing the relics procured at Manicola which he examined minutely. The piece of board with the fleur-de-lis on it, he observed, had most probably once formed a part of the ornamental work of the Boussole's stern on which the national arms of France were represented. The silver sword handle he also examined and said that such swords were worn by the officers of the expedition. With regard to the brass guns, having looked at them attentively, he observed that the four largest were such as stood on the quarter-deck of both ships, and that the smallest gun was such as they had mounted in the long-boats when going on shore among the savages. On noticing a small mill-stone, he turned around suddenly and expressed his surprise, exclaiming, "That is the best thing you have got!" We had some of them mounted on the quarter-deck to grind our grain.