Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/237

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209
FURTHER PREPARATIONS.

Quite a number of the neighbours have called here to-day, and welcomed me back as if I were an old friend returning from a long journey. There is a cordiality and a heartiness about them all, which is truly delightful. How different from a return to England after a few years' absence, when the people you had supposed to be intimate friends vaguely ask you "if you haven't been somewhere abroad?" and perhaps, if they are unusually hospitable, invite you to luncheon the following week!


Friday, 26th.

This morning Narii Salmon took me on board the Seignelay to see my old friends and my old quarters. They welcomed me back most heartily, and seemed really glad that I had seen the isle to such advantage—but they themselves were all dull and sad. Time has as yet done nothing to heal their grief, and indeed the ship seems altogether changed, even externally, for she has been painted white, to match La Magicienne.

I returned with Narii to breakfast with his sister, Mrs Brander; there we were joined by the admiral, who came to make arrangements with her for the next part of the programme; for she is as sensible as she is handsome, which is saying much, and her opinions and suggestions carry great weight with every one.

Already preparations are being made for another grand expedition, for there are several lesser isles subject to the king of Tahiti; and next week the Seignelay is to convey the king and queen and their party to Moorea, the beautiful island which we passed on the morning of our arrival in Tahiti, and of which Mrs Brander is the high chiefess.

I hear that there is a chance of letters being despatched by some vessel, so I may as well close this. . . . Your loving sister.