Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/252

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Evidently drunkenness is no longer admired as a kingly attribute, for the Raiateans banished the present Tamatoa, who was formerly their king, because of his disagreeable habit of taking pot-shots at his subjects when he was very far gone. I am happy to say he does not now indulge in this obnoxious practice, which would be particularly dangerous to us, as he lives in the next house, and frequently entertains us with wild rollicking songs, which, however, are not nearly so hateful as his habit of beating a large drum for several hours at a time! an entertainment which must be particularly trying to his sweet gentle wife, the charming Moë, concerning whom even the Frenchmen always speak with unbounded respect, and whose faithful love to her jovial but very trying spouse has continued unshaken, notwithstanding all the homage of one sort or another with which she has been loaded, including that of the author of 'South Sea Bubbles.'

Just now every one is anxious about her, for she is daily expecting a small addition to her family, and is exceedingly ill with influenza—a very violent form of which has recently broken out, severely affecting lungs and throat. It is a real epidemic. A number of people have died from it, and such a multitude are suffering, that the town seems morne and sad. Even the band is deserted and the church is empty. Tamatoa himself, and the queen's two sisters, Titaua Brander and Moetia Attwater, are among the sufferers. Mrs Miller and her grown-up sons, Mme. Fayzeau and her children, and all Mrs Green's children, are really very ill—high fever accompanied by utter prostration of strength being among the symptoms.

It is a most extraordinary fact that on every one of the Polynesian groups the natives declare that influenza was never known till white men came; and now it is one of the regular scourges of the Pacific, returning almost every year in a greater or less degree, but occasionally proving very severe and fatal, especially to old folk. It is generally preceded by westerly or southerly winds, and passes off as the steady trade-winds set in bringing fine settled weather. It first appeared in Samoa in 1830, just when the first missionaries Williams and Barff touched the group, and was of course attributed