From further information, I learnt that Citizen Péron, the most thoughtless and most wanting in foresight of everyone aboard, had persuaded the two others to cross the island from East to West, assuring them that it was a league in width at the very most, that he had made certain of this from an examination of the chart and that, consequently, they had much more time than they needed for the excursion that he was proposing. To persuade them still further, he promised Citizen Guichenot a good collection of new plants that they would undoubtedly come upon, and Citizen Petit great variety of entertainment, which prospect he found extremely pleasant. Finally, both following Citizen Péron and agreeing to his project, they set off. They began by climbing up a fairly steep rise, from which they could see the ship clearly. This same hill, with a fairly tall tree growing on it, was taken as a landmark and they were to return to it on their way back. This, then, was the point from which they took their bearings to travel the league that constituted the distance to be covered.
After walking for about four hours on end, without the slightest interruption and in the heat of the sun, Guichenot, the gardener, said to Citizen Péron: 'The league that you spoke of is becoming very long, and I think it's time to consider going back, for we must have as far to go to rejoin the longboat as we have come since our departure'. Citizen Péron certainly felt the wisdom of this reasoning, but got out of the difficulty by saying: 'We haven't borne far enough to our left. That's what will have made our march longer. Let's go in this direction now and we'll soon reach the end'. They followed him as if he were an experienced guide; and as they went on, several natives appeared, armed with spears. At first they were frightened, having as their only defence a poor sort of gun that they had borrowed from the ship's steward and that they had found to work no longer. As the natives continued to pursue them, they agreed that it would be better to deceive them with an assured bearing than to run away, and decided then to go and meet them.
The natives likewise stopped, but seeing that the others were still advancing, they advanced too. However, their pace was slower and our men drew near enough to distinguish them one from the other. They began by signalling our three nervous ones to follow them - something that the latter took fine care not to do. As the two parties had stopped opposite each other, all the natives drew aside, with the exception of one, whom our men thought to be the chief. Undoubtedly this would have been the moment for going up to him, but as they made no move to do so, the apparent chief took a few steps forward, made great gestures to get them to go away and spoke very loudly. He was obeyed exactly, for our wandering travellers, considering themselves not numerous enough, left him in order to continue on the way that was to lead them to the coast on the other side of the island. There they finally arrived at one in the afternoon.
On this occasion the men missed the finest opportunity that had arisen to communicate with the natives, and the artist, whom I had sent expressly to draw those who could be approached did nothing but a view of the village in which dwelt the people whom we had encountered on our first landing.
After leaving the natives, the men set about looking for shells, and brought back several that were absolutely the same as those that the Naturaliste had found and collected in great numbers. This consideration alone should have been sufficient to make them think of returning, but the leader of the party - the citizen who, until now, has caused us nothing but trouble and anxiety when he has been ashore with no-one to watch over and guide him - preferred to waste the remaining time roaming along the shore, rather than return. Thus they only started back when it was certain that they would not reach the boat before the time fixed for departure, even supposing that they had taken the most direct route. However that may be, our travellers were, as a matter of fact, a little slow in thinking of returning, considering that they had neither food nor water. Night fell and added to their difficulties so much, that they lost their way completely. Pure chance was more help to them in this situation than their bearings were, for they found themselves on the opposite shore at a moment when their reckoning of the distance that they had gone put them still 3 leagues away.
Upon coming to inform me of his return, Citizen Péron told me that he was not in a state to be able to give me an account of anything and begged me to allow him, before making his report, the long rest that he was undoubtedly in great need of, since he could hardly talk and remain standing.
The rest of the day was uneventfuL Guichenot, the gardener, did not find a single plant and was ill with exhaustion, having obligingly carried throughout the whole expedition 25 to 30 pounds' weight of poor shells, collected with as much pleasure as care by Citizen Péron, who should have carried them back to the tent himself.
This is the third escapade of this nature that our learned naturalist has been on, but it will also be the last, for he shall not go ashore again unless I myself am in the same boat. And the limits that I shall set to his excursions will not be broad enough to allow him to delay the boat's departure or to stray too far.