Decaen, the governor of the island, that Captain Péroud was persuaded to add the force of the Bellone to that of the Sémillante.
On the 27th, accordingly, at about 9 p.m., the two ships put to sea from Port-Louis, and in about one hour afterwards were descried and chased by the Pitt, then 12 or 13 leagues south-east by east of the port. At 11 h. 30 m. the Pitt made out the strangers to be two frigates, and soon afterwards they were no longer to be seen. " Elle (the Sémillante sortit à la recherche, de l'ennemi, qui évita constamment le combat ; la nuit ayant favorisé sa fuite, il disparut. " * The English of this is, that Captains Motard and Péroud, glad at an escape to sea, left the British frigate to herself, and proceeded to excuse the service, upon which alone they had been ordered out by governor Decaen. The Sémillante and Bellone steered straight for Isle Bourbon : and, arriving off the bay of St.-Paul, took charge of several prizes and merchant vessels, which had been detained at that anchorage by the knowledge that one or two British frigates were cruising off the Isle of France. With these vessels under convoy, the French frigate and privateer made sail on their return ; and, as the Pitt, having scarcely men enough left to work the ship, had been obliged to return to Pointe de Galle, Captain Motard re-entered without difficulty the harbour of Port-Louis.
On the 7th of April, having completed the repairs which she had only partially undergone at her departure upon the successful mission we have just related, the Sémillante accompanied by the Bellone and Henriette privateers, again succeeded in putting to sea. The Bellone and Henriette, after cruising for a month or two, fell into the hands of their enemies ; but the Sémillante, in spite of her captain's fighting propensity, managed on every occasion, as the sequel will show, to avoid a similar fate. During her cruise in the Indian Ocean, the Sémillante captured eight merchant vessels, valued at upwards of 32 millions of francs. Early in the month of September, with her eight prizes in company, the Sémillante arrived in the neighbourhood of the Isle of France ; but, gaining intelligence that a strong British force was cruising off Port-Louis, Captain Motard bent his course towards Isle Bourbon. On the 9th, the Sémillante, with her valuable convoy, anchored in the road of St.-Paul's bay ; where already were lying, bound also to the Isle of France, four other vessels, prizes to some of the French cruisers.
The British force, at this time stationed off the Isle of France, consisted of the 74-gun ship Sceptre, Captain Joseph Bingham, 24-pounder 40-gun frigate (late teak-built Indiaman) Cornwallis, Captain Charles James Johnston, and 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Dédaigneuse, Captain William Beauchamp Proctor. On the
* Dict. historique, tome iv., p. 6.
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