Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/216

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iron-wood trees (casuarina). At 7 o'clock our procession started; every one cheery and good-tempered; on every side hearty greetings—"Yarra na! Yarra na!" and sounds of careless laughter, and merry voices. There is certainly a great charm in this pretty liquid language, and in the gentle affectionate manner of the people, who seem to be overflowing with genial kindliness.

As usual, our path lay through such bowers of endlessly varied foliage as to form one continuous panorama of delight. No painter's brush could produce such infinite shades of green as are here multiplied,—from the delicate tender hues of the silky young banana-leaves, ranging through every description of dark-green and bright-green, blue-green and sunlit yellow, till the eye is fain to rest on the sombre hair-like foliage of the iron-wood trees, which grow on the very brink of the sea, their long tresses literally drooping to the water.

We passed through plantations of coffee, not close-clipped as in Ceylon, but growing tall and rank, and overshadowed by cocoa-palms,—yet loaded with bright scarlet berries. The coffee shrubs are here made to do double duty, and serve as props for the vanilla, which is trained to creep all over them, its fragrant pods intermingling with the coffee cherries.

The broad road of soft green turf next led us through groves of luxuriant bread-fruit trees with large pale-green fruit, dark mango-trees and orange-trees alike laden with their half-ripe crop, and here and there we passed a fragrant rose-apple tree, the fruit of which tastes exactly like the scent of roses. But of all heavenly perfumes, commend me to the blossom of the Tahitian chestnut, a noble forest-tree, with rich dark foliage, standing out in strong relief from the cool grey-greens of the hybiscus, with the lemon-coloured blossoms, which clothes the base of the mountains.

Beyond that belt of cool shadow the great green hills tower in strange fantastic form, seamed by deep valleys, down which pour crystal streams, so numerous that the sparkling air seems to re-echo the musical voice of many waters. Every weird fantastic rock-pinnacle is draped by clinging vines, infinite in their variety, and all alike lovely; and the clear sunlight playing on the golden green