Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/203

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175
THE MILITARY MASS.

The only drawback to my enjoyment of all this is the feeling that my late most kind camarades are so thoroughly out of it all. Like Rachel bemoaning her little ones, they refuse to be comforted, and nothing will induce any of them to come ashore to any place where they might by any accident meet the admiral. Of course this is rather uncomfortable for me; for though they all declare themselves most anxious that I should be lionised in the best possible manner (i.e., officially), I fear it must seem to them as if I had gone over to the enemy.

Still, there is no alternative; and the kindness which is even now arranging my future plans, is such that I can but accept it gratefully.

Having proclaimed Ariiaue and Marau, King and Queen of the Isles, the admiral is now making arrangements to escort them on a grand ceremonial round of all the districts on each of the principal isles, that they may personally receive the homage of their people. It will be a very interesting occasion, calling forth whatever still remains of old native customs. To my great delight, the admiral has asked me to join this expedition. At first I treated the suggestion as a mere civil façon de parler, no other lady having been invited; little Vaetua (Moë's daughter, the future queen) being Marau's only companion. However, on the following day an A.D.C. brought me an invitation in due form, and the Millers are delighted, and say it will be the nicest thing possible for me. So of course, now, I have definitely accepted, and am looking forward to the ploy with the greatest possible interest. There are twenty districts in Tahiti, and the intention is to visit two a-day, which will make our picnic expedition a ten days' pleasure; after which we return here to make a fresh start for the beautiful isle of Moorea.


Sunday Evening.

At eight o'clock Madame Fayzeau took me with her to the Roman Catholic cathedral for the military Mass, at which all high officials are expected to be present. Soldiers with fixed bayonets stand on either side of the altar, and others down the aisle, and