Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/238

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A LADY'S CRUISE.

CHAPTER XV.

THE SEMAPHORE—IMMUTABLE TIDES—THE CORAL-REEF—SPEARING FISH—NETTING—CATCHING SHARKS—A ROYAL MAUSOLEUM—SUPERSTITIONS OF EAST AND WEST—CENTIPEDES—INTOXICATING DRINKS—INFLUENZA—DEATH OF MRS SIMPSON.
Chez the Rev. James Green, Oct. 27th.

I have had a day after my own heart. In the early morning Mr Green drove me to the foot of the semaphore hill, up which I toiled, and gave myself into the care of the old sailor who lives there, watching the horizon for the first glimpse of a sail, and then hoists signals by which the good folk of Papeete learn from what direction the new-comer may be expected. Then, as she draws nearer, the signals reveal her class and her nationality.

I remained for several hours, working up an elaborate drawing, begun soon after my arrival. The view of the town and harbour, as seen from this point, is truly lovely, and the effect of a coral-reef, as you look down on it from a height, is always fascinating. Every conceivable tint seems to play beneath the surface—browns and golds blending with pale aqua-marine and sparkling emerald, while turquoise and cerulean pass into delicate lilac and purply blue. The reef appears from the semaphore to lie in the form of a horse-shoe, so that it literally suggests a rainbow beneath the waters.

By the time Mr Green came to drive me back to breakfast, I was truly glad to escape from the blazing sun, and to rest in this pleasant home during the hot hours.

Late in the afternoon Narii lent us a boat, in which we rowed out to the reef, always to me one of the most enchanting ploys that can be conceived; and here it gains an additional charm from an extraordinary phenomenon in the tides, which I am told occurs throughout the Society Isles, but in no other place that I ever heard of—namely, that they never vary from one year's end to another. Day after day they ebb and flow with unchanging regularity. At noonday and at midnight the tide is invariably at the