Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/180

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general effect of beauty this is certainly not equal to Ovalau, and even the town looks little better than Levuka,[1] though it is certainly more poetic, the houses being all smothered in foliage. But then it is fine-weather foliage—all hybiscus and bread-fruit,—the former, of that very blue-green tint, which in rain looks as grey as an olive-grove; while each glossy leaf of the bread-fruit is a mirror, which exactly reflects the condition of the weather—glancing bright in sunlight, but to-day only repeating the dull hue of the leaden clouds.

For indeed it is a dreary grey day, sea and sky alike dull and colourless, all in keeping with the sad news with which the pilot greeted us as he came on board—namely, that Queen Pomare died a fortnight ago (on the 17th September); so we have just missed seeing the good old queen of my infantile romantic visions. Her eldest son. Prince Ariiaue, has been proclaimed king under the hereditary name, and is henceforth to be known as Pomare V.

But the people are all in deepest dule, and instead of the great rejoicings and balls, and himénes, and varied delights of the fête Napoléon (or rather its republican substitute, the anniversary of the Protectorate), on the 9th October, for which we had expected to find joyous crowds assembled—always ready for an excuse for music and dancing—a festival to which my friends have been looking forward all the voyage,—instead of this, we see the crowds pouring out of the native church, all dressed in the deepest mourning, from their crape-trimmed black hats, to their black flowing robes, which are worn from the throat, and with sleeves down to the wrist; they trail on the ground in sweeping trains, and are so long in front that even the bare feet are covered.

There are no flowers, no fragrant wreaths, no arrowroot crowns, no snowy plumes of reva-reva—even the beautiful raven-tresses of the women have all been cut off. This is mourning with a vengeance; and the Court circular has commanded that the whole nation shall wear the garb of woe for six months. I do hope that at least the commoners will disobey this injunction! At present all the men appear like black crows. Apparently many are dis-

  1. Capital of Fiji.