imagining that it could be quite in earnest; but when at length we all became convinced that it really was so, we agreed that there really could be no reason for refusing so rare a chance of an expedition, which will be to me most delightful.
So I am actually to embark this afternoon, Lady Gordon and dear little sailor Jack, and Captain Knollys, accompanying me on board, to see me fairly started.
This evening we sail for the Friendly Isles (Tonga), and thence proceed to the Navigator's Isles (Samoa), where there have been serious disturbances, and where my friend Mrs Liardet, wife of the British Consul, has for some time had about thirty chiefs living in sanctuary in her house. I have long promised to visit her, should an opportunity arise, so this is an admirable one. I shall probably take a return passage thence in a German ship, and rejoin Lady Gordon at Loma Loma, a point in this group, about one hundred miles from here.
My French friends urge my going on to Tahiti, the loveliest isle in the South Seas; but the utter uncertainty of how to get back thence, either here or to Tasmania, where Lady Gordon hopes to spend Christmas, makes me hesitate. If I could reach the Sandwich Isles, I should then be on the direct line of the Pacific mail-steamers; but Tahiti is utterly out of the world, and till the Seignelay arrives there, she will not receive her further orders, and may perhaps be sent to Valparaiso, which has no attractions for me. So my line of march is at present somewhat undecided. I think I shall almost certainly return here from Samoa; but as B. long ago said, of my wandering propensities, that I was just like a knotless thread, I may perhaps slip through, and you may hear of my vanishing into space!
This place is looking lovely. It has improved wonderfully in these two years, and has become so very homelike and pleasant, that I quite grudge leaving it, with even the vague feeling of uncertainty which attaches to any long journey; and though we all expect to return here, after a winter in Tasmania, still, so many contingencies may arise, that one always feels a home in the colonies to be a very insecure tenure.