Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/110

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gave us welcome), we ascended a pretty steep hill to the Catholic college for young men—a large and very orderly establishment. It was a pretty walk, through woods and cultivated ground. Everything seems to grow here, and some plantations are worked on a large scale with imported foreign labour. Cotton, sugar-cane, maize, coffee, nutmegs, cinnamon, arrowroot, tapioca, millet, barley, and even rice, of a sort which does not require irrigation, and can be grown on high levels. Vegetables of all sorts thrive in the French gardens, telling of industry and care; but somehow here, as in Fiji, European flowers do not repay the trouble expended on them, except for old association. Their place is taken by the datura, with its heavy-scented, white, trumpet-shaped blossoms, the gay pride of Barbadoes, various fragrant jessamines, and hybiscus of all colours.

In all these volcanic soils, water, and water only, is needed to convert the thirsty dust into most fertile earth. Here, what with perennial springs and an excessive rainfall, the mountains have an abundant water-supply; and in every ravine a clear sparkling stream is fed by countless rills and waterfalls, cool and delicious. But so dry and thirsty are the lower hills, that the generous streams, giving instead of receiving, are actually absorbed ere they reach the seaboard, and only a bed of dry stones marks the channel, by which in occasional floods the torrents rush into the ocean. Consequently all cultivation on the lower levels involves artificial irrigation.

The fish-supply here seems good. There are rock-fish in endless variety,—albicore, bonto, and a sort of salmon with white flesh, and a very delicate fish called the gar-fish, with a projecting lower jaw. When this creature grows large and strong, it sometimes unintentionally proves a very dangerous neighbour, as when startled by the approach of a canoe, it is very apt to spring on board with such force as seriously to injure any person whom it strikes with its sword-like jaw. I believe that nude natives have actually been killed by those frightened creatures. The fishers here still practise the somewhat unfair method of stupefying fish by throwing into the water the bruised seeds of the hutu, or Bar-