Elaine Forrestal

A new narrator

The excit­ing story of Rose de Freycinet’s jour­ney around the world on board l’Uranie from 1817 to 1820 now has a new nar­ra­tor. Jose was the half Mulatto son of Louis’ friend. The boy had been run­ning wild on Mau­ri­tius and his father was con­tem­plat­ing send­ing him to school in France. Think­ing that Jose would ben­e­fit from Rose’s enquir­ing mind and her knowl­edge of, and love for, the clas­sics, and that teach­ing the boy would give Rose some­thing to occupy her mind dur­ing the long months at sea, Louis agreed to add him to the ship’s com­pany. But things did not quite work out as planned.

Jose was a very reluc­tant pupil. And Rose found his lack of inter­est in learn­ing to read and write frus­trat­ing in the extreme. Nev­er­the­less they did have a lot in com­mon. Both were first-time sailors, home­sick and strug­gling to cope with the harsh­ness of life on board ship. They were both high-spirited, deter­mined and coura­geous. And they were both air­brushed out of the offi­cial records of the voy­age. For exam­ple, in the first ver­sion of artist Alphonse Pellion’s paint­ing of the camp at Shark Bay both Rose and Jose were shown sit­ting out­side Rose’s dis­tinc­tive con­i­cal tent, no doubt dur­ing one of Rose’s lessons. But in the offi­cial ver­sion, although the tent remains, there is  no sign of either Rose or Jose.

Jose has a keen mind and plenty of native cun­ning. He is already plot­ting ways to get out of the dreaded lessons by per­suad­ing Rose to tell her many excit­ing sto­ries to him instead. And just by being on board he is devel­op­ing sto­ries of his own. At the end of the new Chap­ter 4, the ship is on fire and every­one on board fears for their life. Find out what hap­pens as this new ver­sion of the story unfolds each week.

The Old Port of Toulon with the Naval dock­yards in the back­ground. ‘Uranie’ set out from here in Sep­tem­ber 1817