Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/236

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gleaming on the glossy leaves of the bread-fruit, and the bright sword-like fronds of the palms, while the lurid smoke lent something of cloudy mystery to the whole. Add to this, the presence of all the inhabitants, who of course poured out from every bird-cage cottage along the road and joined the procession, adding their quota of mirth and chatter to the general hubbub. Of course with so many walkers we could only progress at a foot's pace, and nine miles of this at last became somewhat bewildering; it seemed as if we were moving in a strange dream. A party of native drummers added their very trying "music" to the general noise; but happily the band fell into the spirit of the thing, and though their afternoon's work fully entitled them to rest, they played at intervals all the way.

At the outskirts of the town there was a halt, and in obedience to municipal regulations every torch was extinguished, and we entered the ill-lighted town in almost complete darkness. It was a wise precaution, however, as the air was full of flying sparks, and a conflagration would make short work of the dry wooden houses. Happily the large crowd was quiet and orderly; and so far as I am aware, I myself am the only sufferer from that half-hour's darkness, during which my beloved green plaid was abstracted from the bundle in which I had placed it. I think I know the thief—at least I have the strongest reason to suspect a half-caste, in no way connected with Tahiti, save by residence. But I fear there is not the slightest hope of ever recovering it. It was a large green plaid, of "Black Watch" tartan, which has been my inseparable companion and delight for many a year, and in many a strange place. I have slept in it on the top of Adam's Peak, and in the wonderful jungle cities of Ceylon, and it has travelled to the remotest corners of Australasia and Polynesia, and many and varied are its associations with people and things.

"Oh, my plaid was dear to me!"

and deeply do I abhor the covetous thief who has robbed me, so infinitely beyond the value of a few fathoms of tartan;

"For we cannot buy with gold
The old associations."