Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/176

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story of how Captain Cook discovered those isles of beauty, and named them after the "Royal Society" which had sent him to explore these unknown seas. The Tahiti of to-day is doubtless a very different place from the Otaheite of 1774.

Of course, in a highly organised French colony much of the old romance must have passed away with its dangers. But the natural loveliness of the isle cannot have changed, and I look forward with great delight to seeing it all.

Every one speaks in the highest terms of Mr Miller, our long-established English consul, and his charming Peruvian wife (so Lord Pembroke describes her). Both are intimate friends of Captain Aube and the bishop, who will commit me to their care on arriving. I have also an excellent introduction to Mr Green, the head of the London Mission; and M. Vernier, of the French Protestant Mission, was once for some months at Inveraray. I hear golden opinions both of Mrs Green and Mme. Vernier, and of M. and Mme. Viennot, of the same mission. So amongst them all, I have no doubt that I shall be all right.

But I cannot quite forget what a hideous future lies beyond. The total distance I have travelled in this large comfortable steamer, from Fiji to Tahiti, including trips from isle to isle, has been 2985 miles. From Tahiti (after this good ship has sped on her way to Valparaiso) there remain two courses before me—either to go to New Zealand, 3000 miles, or to Honolulu, 3200 miles,—in either case in a small sailing vessel, starting at some uncertain period. There is a monthly mail to San Francisco, but that is only a schooner of about 120 tons; and viâ San Francisco would be rather a circuitous route to Sydney! where I expect to meet Lady Gordon somewhere about Christmas. It is a hideous prospect, but I have too much faith in my luck to be deeply concerned about it. The worst of it all is, that I cannot possibly receive any letters till I arrive in Sydney, which may, I fear, be some time hence.

As my wardrobe will by that time be considerably the worse for wear, you will do well to send out a box of sundry garments to await my arrival, otherwise I shall be reduced to appearing in a graceful drapery of tappa, with fringes of crimson dracæna leaves;