Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/394

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305
TO ILE-DE-FRANCE

in the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica informed him that the principal harbour, Port Louis, was on the north-west side, and thither he intended to steer.

On December 15th the peaks of the island showed up against the morning sky. At noon the Cumberland was running along the shore, close enough to be observed, and made a signal for a pilot from the fore-topmast head. A small French schooner came out of a cove, and Flinders, wishing to speak with her to make enquiries, followed her. She ran on, and entered a port, which proved to be Baye du Cap (now Cape Bay) on the south-west coast. Flinders steered in her wake, thinking that she was piloting him to safety. The truth was that the French on board thought they were being pursued by an English fighting ship, which meant to attack them; and immediately they came to anchor, without even waiting to furl sails, they hurried ashore in a canoe and reported accordingly. Thus from the very beginning of his appearance at Ile-de-France, was suspicion cast on Flinders. So began his years of sore trouble.

It was evident from the commotion on shore that the arrival of the Cumberland had aroused excitement. Flinders saw the people from the schooner speaking to a soldier, who, from the plumes in his hat, appeared to be an officer. Presently some troops with muskets appeared in sight. Apparently orders had been given to call out the guard. Flinders concluded that a state of war existed, and hastened to inform the authorities by sending Aken ashore in a boat, that he had a passport, and was free from belligerent intentions.

Aken returned with an officer, Major Dunienville, to whom the passport was shown, and the necessities of the Cumberland explained. He politely invited Flinders to go on shore and dine with him. It was