I was concerned. In every respect it has been a most delightful trip,—good weather, good roads, and most agreeable company. I cannot tell you how often I longed to have you with us (remembering how you love driving, and that carriages are an unknown luxury in Fiji)!
The admiral had a capital carriage and excellent horses, and such a jovial great half-caste driver. And the broad grass drives along the shore, generally skirting the sea or passing through the heavenly orange-groves, are so delicious, and you glide along so silently through ever-changing scenes of beauty. How you would have enjoyed it all!
Besides the royal party and a few native chiefs, there were about twenty French officers and the admiral's excellent brass band, consisting of twenty sailors, who have been trained and are kept well up to the mark by M. D'Oncieue de la Battye, the admiral's chef d'étât-major, who is an excellent musician, and a most agreeable companion—which was fortunate, as either he or M. Hardouin, the A.D.C., always occupied the third seat in the carriage. Everything on the whole expedition was admirably arranged; and although we were such a very large party, there was always good accommodation provided, and everything was done comfortably.
Each district possesses a very large cheferie or fareo,—i.e., a very large native house built for public purposes—meetings, and the accommodation of strangers. Like all the native houses here, they consist chiefly of a heavy thatch-roof, rounded at both ends, supported on a mere framework of posts, and leaving the sides all open, save at night, when they are screened in. They generally have good wooden floors, often smooth enough to dance upon.
The first of these at which we stopped was most beautifully decorated, and tables spread for 300 persons, the chief's family supplying that for les gros bonnets—and each family in the district taking entire charge of one table. At other places we found the feast spread in temporary houses, but everywhere it was gracefully done.
Our night quarters were also most comfortably arranged, and I