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Sunday, 1 May, 1898


This morning, we bade our final farewells to dry land. “Good luck. . . Think of us . . Do not get hit by a cannon. . . Enjoy yourself . . . At least do not get bored. . . Goodbye . . ”

Superb weather, calm, smooth. At 11 o’clock, we descend  the river. Saigon disappears. We make a turn for Cape Saint Jacques. On course for Manila. The sky is extremely clear. I reminisce on past departures, some joyful, others painfully silent, and often melancholic. Even the more cheerful ones have mixed emotions about venturing into the unknown. Ours is a life full of the unexpected, a life imbued with a strange spell.

French battleships rarely go to Manila. However, the Isley recently stopped there for 80 days. I have heard it said that the Philippines is like a fairyland. But the Spaniards there are detested by the natives and the Americans are undoubtedly fomenting an insurrection. Perhaps I shall witness both a naval battle and a civil war.