Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/228

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tribution of hospitality, when to each young lieutenant had been assigned so luxuriant a couch.

The drive along the peninsula was most lovely. Always by the broad green road running close to the sea, and passing through richest foliage of all sorts and forms; crossing crystalline streams which flowed down beautiful glens, with great shapely hills on either side, and some lonely peak towering at the head of the dark ravine. We came to one broad river whence the view was so lovely that the admiral most kindly decided to let one of the carriages wait while I sketched; an arrangement highly satisfactory to its occupants, who went off for a bathe in the clear delicious stream, while I stood on the bridge and worked diligently till the last of our heavy baggage-carts came across, and proved to be the last straw which that poor bridge could bear. An ominous crack, then a crash, and the heavy fourgon had broken through the bridge, but happily rested on the strong cross timbers, and with infinite trouble it was unloaded and raised. Then the bridge had to be repaired, as we were to retrace the same road in the afternoon; when the other end gave way and broke down, happily without doing serious damage.

A short drive brought us to Tautira, a large, very pretty village, where the men were playing at spear-throwing. This is the first place where we have seen any sort of game played. The admiral, according to his custom, inspected the schools, and pronounced a verdict not altogether encouraging on the work of a young priest, who was setting the children to such useful tasks as copying "mon âme est souillé de péchés![1] off a large black slate; they being almost as ignorant of French as he of Tahitian. The admiral discourages the teaching of French, especially to the girls, rightly judging that such knowledge will prove by no means to their moral weal.

We were, as usual, most hospitably entertained with all the village could give, of fish and fruit, flesh and fowl. Everywhere those excellent white crayfish, the varo, are our chief delicacy. Here and there pine-apples are produced, but they are very poor,

  1. My soul is defiled with sin.