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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Eleanor revisits St Helena

... and defies her husband after they arrive at Ascension Island ...

We now got into the strong south-east trade winds, and made great progress towards the Cape of Good Hope, off which place the Varuna parted from us, as she was ordered to land some stores there, and to re-join us at St. Helena. 

Five days after this the Minerva and Highland Chief parted, and left us to come on by ourselves. This was very unjustifiable on the part of our commodore: but as his ship sailed much faster than ours, he no doubt gave a sufficient reason in his logbook. 

We arrived however in safety at St. Helena on the 1st of March; the other ships had only arrived two days before. As Capt. R[oss] was intimate with Major G., commanding the garrison here, he was so good as to procure accommodations for us all at his house, where we were very comfortable as long as the ship remained. 

I frequently saw my old friend Mrs. P[orteous]. from Orange Grove; we had some pleasant rides to Longwood, and dined with the Rev. Mr. W. a brother of Mrs. G., whose house was situated in a most romantic part of the Island, from whence we commanded the most magnificent views of rugged nature.

We were not allowed to proceed from hence without convoy, particularly as Col. B[rooke], the governor, who was obliged to proceed to England on account of ill health, was to sail in the Highland Chief, the only ship which had room.

On the 9th of March we were much gratified by the arrival of H. M.’s ship Buffalo, from Port Jackson, having on board our old and worthy friend Gov. H[unter]., with his nephew and niece, Capt. and Mrs. K[ent].; they had come from the Cape in company with the Varuna, to convoy us to England. Now all was bustle once more, preparing for our departure for our native land. 

As Gov. H. had the direction of the ships, he intended touching at the Island of Ascension to procure some turtle; accordingly on the 16th of March we sailed from St. Helena, and in five days anchored at the island of Ascension. 

It appeared as if recently burnt to a brown cinder; not the smallest verdure could be seen from where the ship lay. Before dark a boat was sent from each ship to assist in turning the turtle, as it was agreed to share them among the different ships. 

Next day our friends from the Buffalo dined with us, and in the evening it was proposed that the ladies should land, just have it to say that they had been upon the island. This proposal did not meet my husband’s approbation: however we persevered, and got a wetting without having the gratification of landing at all; as the boat was nearly swamped in the surf. 

Mrs. K. was much alarmed; and had it not been for the exertions of her brother, Lieut. B. K., who was on shore with the seamen, our adventure might have ended seriously. As an aggravation of our disappointment, when we came on board no one pitied us; they all said we could have expected nothing else, from the great surf that continually rolled on the shore.

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