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CHAPTER III

THE TRAGEDY OF THE FRIGATE MEDUSA

AMONG the countless episodes of disaster at sea, the fate of the French frigate Medusa and her people still possesses a poignant and mournful distinction. Other ships have gone down with much greater loss of life, including such modern instances as the Titanic and the Lusitania, or have been missing with all hands, but the story of the Medusa casts a dark shadow across the chronicles of human suffering, even though a century has passed since the event. There are some enterprises which seem foredoomed to failure by a conspiracy of circumstances, as if a spell of evil enchantment had been woven to thwart and destroy them. Of such a kind was this most unhappy voyage.

As an incident of the final overthrow of Napoleon, Great Britain returned to France the colonial territory of Sénégal on the west coast of Africa, between Cape Blanco and the Gambia River. A French expedition was equipped and sent out to reoccupy and govern the little settlements and clear-

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