Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/193

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167
LA MAISON BRANDÈRE.

graceful home life, and illustrates the easy unconventional pleasures of social existence in this sweet isle.[1]

It certainly is very strange how one invariably finds home links in all corners of the earth. If there was one place more unlikely than another to do so, I should have thought it was Tahiti. But, as usual, I find myself quite en pays de connaissance. The day after I landed, Mrs Miller drove me in her nice pony-phaeton to call on Mrs Brander. I naturally expected that our conversation would be on purely insular subjects. Imagine my astonishment when, after the first greetings, this beautiful Anglo-Tahitian turned the conversation to Scotland—Morayshire, Speyside, Elgin, and many friends there—and spoke of them all from intimate personal acquaintance!

Then, for the first time, it flashed across me that the name which had become so familiar to my ear as that of la Maison Brandère, was simply that of a county neighbour in Scotland; and that Mr Brander of Tahiti was none other than a half-brother of Lady Dunbar Brander,[2] who in his early youth left Elgin and went forth to carve his fortune in foreign lands. You know how little interest people in Britain take in watching the career of such lads, unless they chance to come home to spend their gold. Mr Brander did not come home. He found in the South Seas a field for his vast energies—embarked in trade, added ship to ship till he owned a considerable fleet, and so his connection spread from group to group; and he bought lands and built stores on all manner of remote isles, and in course of time amassed a gigantic fortune. His marriage with Titaua Salmon must have tended greatly to secure his position in these isles; and so his business went on ever increasing, till at length mind and body broke down under the

  1. Soon after my return to England, I heard that this happy home had been invaded by ophthalmia of a virulent type, necessitating an immediate return to France, and long and anxious care; but nevertheless resulting in the partial blindness for life of two of those merry boys. Even the Tahitian paradise has its thorns.
  2. The late Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, in the county of Elgin, married, firstly, my father's sister, Miss Gordon Cumming of Altyre and Gordonstown; and secondly, Miss Brander, heiress of Pitgaveny, whom, consequently, we have known all our lives, and loved much.