Some readers may like to see the verses in which a French poet has enshrined this incident. For their benefit they are appended:—
“Un jour ayant appris que les Anglais en fuite
Se cachaient dans un bois redoutant la poursuite,
Tu laissas sur la plage aux soldats affames,
Par la peur affoles, en haillons, desarmes,
Des vivres abondantes, des habits et des armes;
Tu t’eloignas apres pour calmer leurs alarmes,
Et quand on s’etonnait: ‘Sachez qu’ un ennemi
Vaincu n’a rien a craindre, et devient un ami.’”
The passage may be rendered in English thus: “One day, having heard that the fleeing English were hidden in a forest dreading pursuit, you left upon the shore for those soldiers—famished, ragged, disarmed, and paralysed by fear—abundance of food, clothes and arms; then, to calm their fears, you removed your forces to a distance; and, when astonishment was expressed, you said: ’Understand that a beaten enemy has nothing to fear from us, and becomes a friend.’”
THE LOVE STORY OF LAPEROUSE.
“My story is a romance”—“Mon histoire est un roman”—wrote Laperouse in relating the events with which this chapter will deal. We have seen him as a boy; we have watched him in war; we shall presently follow him as a navigator. But it is just as necessary to read his charming love story, if we are to understand his character. We should have no true idea of him unless we knew how he bore himself amid perplexities that might have led him to quote, as peculiarly appropriate to his own case, the lines of Shakespeare:—
“Ay me! for ought that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth,”
During the period of his service in the East Indies, Laperouse frequently visited Ile-de-France (which is now a British possession, called Mauritius). Then it was the principal naval station of the French in the Indian Ocean. There he met a beautiful girl, the daughter of one of the subordinate officials at Port Louis. Louise Eleonore Broudou is said to have been “more than pretty”; she was distinguished by grace of manner, charm of disposition, and fine, cultivated character. The young officer saw her often, admired her much, fell in love with her, and asked her to marry him. Mademoiselle loved him too; and if they two only had had to be consulted, the happy union of a well-matched pair might have followed soon.
It signified little to Laperouse, in love, that the lady had neither rank nor fortune. But his family in France took quite a different view. He wrote to a favourite sister, telling her about it, and she lost no time in conveying the news to his parents. This was in 1775. Then the trouble began.