Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/221

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suit all tastes), excellent lobsters and crabs, huge fresh-water prawns, delicate little oysters, which grow on the roots and branches of the mangrove, which fringes some muddy parts of the shore. But most excellent of all is another product of the briny mud, altogether new to me—a hideous but truly delicious white cray-fish (cankrelat de mer, my French friends call it, varo or wurrali in Tahitian). We have all registered a solemn vow never to lose a chance of a varo feast. Then there were shell-fish and salads, and many other good things. The tables were decorated in a manner quite in keeping with the dishes served, with pillars of white banana root-stem, just like alabaster, with a fringe of large prawns at the top, and a frieze of small lobsters below—a very effective study of scarlet and white.

After the feast we all sat out in the moonlight, listening to the himène singing, which, I need scarcely say, was lovely. But of course some districts excel, and have finer voices, more practice, and a better conductor.

I have just been told that we are only thirty-five miles from Papeete. We have taken the journey in such enjoyably short stages, that we have certainly made the most of our distance. Now we are approaching the southern peninsula, which is connected with this, the main isle, by a comparatively low wide ridge. This we are to cross to-morrow.

On the Peninsula, Taravou,
Wednesday, 17th.

This morning at daybreak the admiral went off to attend Mass, and then examine the schools. He seems inclined to administer very even-handed justice between the Catholics and Protestants, which does not greatly gratify some of the priests. We spent the morning pleasantly strolling about the village of bird-cage houses embowered in the orange-groves, and gay with rosy oleanders and crimson hybiscus.

At eight we started. The weather was threatening; and soon heavy rain came on, which mocked our waterproofs, and gave us a thorough soaking, which we all bore philosophically, only regret-