Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/25

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5
NAVAL HOSPITALITY.

tion on the whole party by having come. Never were there such hospitable people. I have had a good deal of spoiling in the course of my life, but I never had it in such perfection as now. Every creature on board is so cordial, that it would be quite impossible not to feel so in return. I think my French is improving! I can now distinguish the Brétons from the Provençals, and both from the Parisians.

The officers are a pleasant, well-informed set, who have travelled with their eyes open, and their relations with their fine old captain are those of cordial sons with a father. It would be difficult for any one accustomed to the rigid stiffness of the British navy to understand such a condition. Even the frank kindliness with which sub-officers and men are addressed, sounds to me as unusual as it is pleasant. Life on this ship seems that of a happy family, with the filial and paternal affections unusually well developed, and M. Aube is generally the centre of a cheery group, chatting unreservedly on whatever topic may arise.

At least two of the officers are daily invited to breakfast, and two others to dinner in the captain's little cabin, all coming in their turn. And six or eight generally come in to evening tea, a ceremony which, I suspect, has been instituted specially out of deference to my supposed English habits. Besides the bishop and myself, M. Pinart is also the captain's guest, and I find him pleasant and very ready to impart his information, which, as you know, is considerable, on all scientific matters. The others have little jokes at his expense, and declare that he is more of a Yankee than a Frenchman. I can only say the combination is good.

The feeding is excellent, beginning with early chocolate. Breakfast is at 9 o'clock, and ends with coffee and liqueurs, especially most delicious Chartreuse, which some of us in an irreverent whisper call "La meilleure œuvre des moines." Dinner, with similar ending, is at 5 o'clock, and tea at 8. Antoine has orders to give me luncheon at 1, with due respect to English habits; but I find this quite superfluous; so that ceremony falls through. By the by, tell A. that his champagne-cup produced quite a sensation. It was generally set down as being de l'hydromel, and the greatest