Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/115

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fort. I have vainly tried to impress some of my friends with a due estimate of these men's antecedents, but to no purpose; and I hear their words quoted as gospel.

So great was the hubbub and perturbation from one end of "the beach" to the other, that our proposed picnic was very near being given up. However, wiser counsels prevailed, and angry feelings were smoothed over the more readily, as none of the principals were present. The party consisted of about a dozen ladies, and half as many French officers. Three of the sisters (Sœur Marie, Sœur St Hilaire, and Sœur Sept Martyrs) brought their little family of about sixty Samoan girls, who executed dances for our amusement as we sat on the pleasant turf at the spot selected for luncheon—a grassy lawn embowered in golden alamanders and scarlet hybiscus, and other bright blossoms, which soon adorned the tawny heads of the scholars. The dances were monotonous and ungraceful, as usual here, degenerating into hideous grimaces. They have none of the attraction of the beautiful Fijian dances. Nor have these damsels such pretty manners as the maidens in the Fijian schools. The little Doctor was considerably astonished (though he bore the shock philosophically) when a forward young woman danced up to him, and snatching off his hat, transferred it to her own well cocoa-nut-oiled head, while another patted his face with both hands, amid applausive laughter from her companions. But these were, happily, exceptional; and many of the girls appeared gentle and modest, and several were very pretty, with lithe figures and splendid eyes. But they all have beautiful dark-brown eyes.

A great feed, Fa-Samoa, was next spread on the grass, on layers of fresh green banana-leaves. There were roast sucking-pigs, and pigeons stewed in taro leaves, or else baked on hot stones in earth ovens; cray-fish, and prawns, and divers kinds of fish; pine-apples, bananas, and oranges; salad of cocoa-palm, like most delicious celery; bread-fruit prepared in various ways—boiled, baked, and roast in wood-ashes; wonderful native puddings, made of ripe plantains, taro, bread-fruit, and other materials, each beat up fine, and baked separately, then all worked together with the creamy juice extracted from ripe cocoa-nut, which, when heated, turns to