Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/227

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A PLEASANT DAY.

shadowed by large trees, beneath which we found various kinds of large shells.

At noon we drove on to Pueu, where we were welcomed by a very large assemblage, and conducted to the cheferie or district hall, really a splendid room, with a beautiful floor: it is like a great ball-room. All the dining-tables were set at one end, while nine very pretty beds, with artistic crimson and white quilts, and mosquito-nets tied up with bright ribbons, were ranged down one side of the room. I am ashamed to say that we all took a most uncourteous fit of laughing; for really at the first glimpse the row of beds seemed to multiply, and we fancied we were all to occupy this one room; but we soon discovered that only the junior officers were to share it, and that excellent quarters had been prepared for us all in different houses. The best house of three rooms was assigned to the admiral, his son, and myself; and here I am now cosily ensconced for a chat with you. My room, which opens out into the verandah, has no doors, so my black waterproof sheet and the green tartan plaid, inseparable companion of all my wanderings east or west, act as good curtains.

This is a lovely place. In the afternoon we roamed through fragrant orange-groves, and along the beautiful shore, and I managed to secure a sketch of the village. As a matter of course there is a large Protestant church, of which all the population are members, and a tiny Roman Catholic chapel, without any congregation.

An exceedingly pretty banquet awaited us in the large cheferie, after which we strolled about in the lovely moonlight, while the village choirs sang their melodious himènes. At a very short distance they sound like full-toned cathedral chimes.


Chez M. Damian, Taravou,
Friday, 19th.

At grey dawn Queen Marau came to my room to early tea, and told me that the house which had been assigned to her and the king was so purely native, that they had no beds—only mats and pillows—no hardship in this delightful climate, but a curious dis-