Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/181

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155
SUMMARY MEASURES.

figured by foreign dress-coats; and even those who retain the national pareo (which is the Tahitian word for sulu or waist-cloth) are wearing black tappa or black calico; and their heads are closely cropped. So sadly disfiguring! and so terribly subversive of all our preconceived visions of Papeete, as the very ideal of light, and mirth, and soft sunlit colour.

The even tenor of life in Tahiti has received several startling shocks since the 24th August, when the French Admiral Serre arrived here in the steam-frigate Magicienne, bringing the new governor, M. Brunnet Millet. But, sad to say, Madame Brunnet Millet died on the voyage from sheer sea-sickness; and her poor husband, who adored her, became positively imbecile from grief, so that he had to resign office immediately on his arrival.

His natural successor would have been M. La Barbe, who, however, had made himself generally obnoxious to the Tahitians, and to the queen in particular, by the injudiciously severe penalties which he enforced for some of her son's peccadilloes. She therefore wrote to the admiral to say that if La Barbe became governor, she would at once leave Tahiti and retire to Moorea, thus leaving all business at a dead-lock. Thereupon the admiral promised that her will should be respected, and announced that he would himself assume the office of governor, till such time as a fresh appointment could be made in Paris. La Barbe remonstrated. The admiral bade him be silent. He persisted, and was immediately placed under arrest for fourteen days, at the end of which time his sword was returned to him, and he had to put it on, and go to thank the admiral formally for his goodness in restoring it! But as his presence in the Isles would thenceforth have been unpleasant, he and his wife and grown-up son, together with M. Brunnet Millet, have been shipped as passengers on board La Loire, which is now lying alongside of us, on the eve of sailing for France. She is a great big line-of-battle ship, transformed into a transport, for the conveyance of convicts from France to New Caledonia, but returns comparatively empty. So far, her passenger list does not sound cheerful!

The moment we reached our moorings, a boat was despatched in