Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/194

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constant strain, and he died, leaving the whole care of his immense business to his young widow, who is only thirty-four now, the eldest of her nine children having been born when she was fifteen! She is the mother of as pretty a covey as you could wish to see, beginning with two lovely grown-up married daughters and one or two grandchildren, and ending with two darling little girls, one of whom bears the charming name of Paloma, the dove.

Mr Brander most wisely resolved that his wife's brothers and his own sons should have the advantage of a first-rate education in Britain. Several of the boys are still at school at St Andrews, whence Alexander, the eldest, recently came out here; but he must shortly return to England, to look after property belonging to his father.

In all these far countries people talk of a run to England and back as if it was the veriest trifle!—merely a run of fifty or sixty days, viâ San Francisco, and across the United States; or, if economy has to be considered, a voyage of 140 days in a sailing-ship round Cape Horn!

This afternoon Mme. Fayzeau took me for an exquisite drive into the country. We drove along the shore on a road of fine green turf, skirting the lovely calm lagoon, and passing by an endless succession of small wooden houses, each almost hidden in bowers of blossom and shady fruit-trees, with pleasant lawns, where merry children played, while their elders sat or lay on mats sewing, or twining wreaths, or rolling cigarettes—all suggesting lives of easy-going happiness without undue care; and the air was made musical by rippling laughter and mellifluous voices.

I scarcely know why it is that Tahitian sounds so much more attractive than the sterner Tongan tongue. Individual words are actually less liquid, because of the frequent use of the aspirate. I am told, as rather a curious fact, that whereas the Samoans and Tongans are so very profuse in their expression of the word "thanks," the Tahitians, like the New Zealanders, have no equivalent for it.

For love of his master, we went to see Commandant Aube's poor sick dog Fox, and learnt that it died very soon after his departure.