Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/179

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153
GREY SHADOWS.

but though the dress of Oceania is very becoming to the young and beautiful, the world of Sydney is hardly up to it,—and besides, I fear it would be scarcely suitable for old grand-aunts (presque grand'mère), as one of my French friends put it yesterday! It certainly is rather a shame to let you have all this trouble, while I have the fun of exploring such strange lands; but it is a sort of division of labour, whereby you pay your tax to the family locomotive demon, who drives all the rest of us so hard, but leaves you in peace in Britain, to do your share of wandering by deputy.

Now, as it is getting late, I must turn in, as I want to be up at grey dawn to see beautiful Moorea (the Eimeo of our childhood), and we shall sail close past it, as we make Papeete harbour. So good-night.


In Harbour, Papeete, Tahiti,
Sunday Morning, 7th Oct.

Well, we have reached Tahiti, but really I am beginning to fear that, like most things to which we have long looked forward, this is likely to prove disappointing. We came in this morning in a howling storm, un gros coup de vent, and everything looked dismal. Though we coasted all along Moorea, the envious clouds capped the whole isle, only showing a peak here and there. Certainly such glimpses as we did catch were weirdly grand; huge basaltic pinnacles of most fantastic shape towering from out the sea of billowy white clouds, which drifted along those black crags. And below the cloud canopy lay deep ravines, smothered in densest foliage, extending right down to the grey dismal sea, which broke in thunder on the reef. With strong wind and tide against us as we crossed from Moorea to Tahiti, you can fancy what a relief it was when, passing by a narrow opening through the barrier-reef, we left the great tossing waves outside, and found ourselves in this calm harbour, which to-day is sullen and grey as a mountain-tarn. At first we could see literally nothing of the land; but it is now a little clearer, and through the murky mist we see a fine massive mountain rising above a great gorge beyond the town. But in