Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/452

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Chapter 24.


Flinders continued to reside at the Garden prison till August, 1805. In that month he was informed that the Governor was disposed to permit him to live in the interior of the island, if he so desired. This change would give him a large measure of personal freedom, he would no longer be under close surveillance, and he would be able to enjoy social life. He had formed a friendship with an urbane and cultivated French gentleman, Thomas Pitot, whom he consulted, and who found for him a residence in the house of Madame D'Arifat at Wilhelm's Plains.

Here commenced a period of five years and six months, of detention certainly, but no longer of imprisonment. In truth, it was the most restful period of Flinders' whole life; and, if he could have banished the longing for home and family, and the bitter feeling of wrong that gnawed at his heart, and could have quietened the desire that was ever uppermost in his mind to continue the exploratory work still remaining to be done, his term under Madame D'Arifat's roof would have been delightfully happy.

Those twenty months in Port Louis had made him a greatly changed man. Friends who had known him in the days of eager activity, when fatigues were lightly sustained, would scarcely have recognised the brisk explorer in the pale, emaciated, weak, limping semi-invalid who took his leave of the kind-hearted sergeant of the guard on August 19th, and stepped feebly outside the iron gate in company with his friend Pitot. A portrait