Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/412

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Chapter 22.


At four o'clock in the afternoon of December 17th the Cumberland entered Port Louis, where Flinders learnt that Le Géographe had sailed for France on the previous day. As soon as he could land he went ashore to present himself to the Governor, whom he found to be at dinner. To occupy the time until an interview could be arranged, he joined a party of officers who were lounging in a shady place, and gossiped with them about his voyage, about Baudin's visit to Port Jackson, about the English settlement there, "and also concerning the voyage of Monsieur Flindare, of whom, to their surprise, I knew nothing, but afterwards found it to be my own name which they so pronounced."

In a couple of hours he was conducted to Government House, where, after a delay of half an hour, he was shown into a room. At a table stood two officers. One was a short, thick man in a gold-laced mess jacket, who fixed his eyes sternly on Flinders, and at once demanded his passport and commission. This was General Decaen. Beside him stood his aide-de-camp, Colonel Monistrol. The General glanced over the papers, and then enquired "in an impetuous manner," why Flinders had come to Ile-de-France in the Cumberland, when his passport was for the Investigator. The necessary explanation being given, Decaen exclaimed impatiently, "You are imposing on me, sir! It is not probable that the Governor of New South Wales should send away the commander of a discovery expedition in so small a vessel." Decaen's own manuscript Mémoires show that when this story was told to him, he thought it "