Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/253

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225
FATAL INFLUENZA.

to their machinations. In the New Hebrides, where it proved a very serious scourge, it led to the murder of many teachers, who (as I think I have already told you) were considered to be the disease-makers.

Among those now suffering from it, is dear old Mrs Simpson, the "mother of missions" in these parts, of whose "pure Biblical English" Lord Pembroke spoke so admiringly. She is now on a visit to Mrs Brander, to whom she has been like a second mother. There I have frequently met her, and we have become great friends. She is planning that I am to visit her daughter, Mme. Valles, who is married to a retired French officer, and has a plantation on Moorea. I hope to see it in the course of a few days.


Wednesday, 31st Oct.

Alas! the influenza has done its work quickly. Only yesterday morning I was breakfasting with Mrs Brander on my return from a lovely early ride with Narii, up the Fautawa valley; Mrs Simpson was unable to appear, and afterwards a messenger came to tell Mr Green that she was very ill. In the night I was wakened by a man with a lantern standing at my open window; he brought tidings of her death.

It is a most trying moment, for this real sorrow occurs just when all those who were most devoted to the clever, good, and loving old lady, are compelled from their position to take a leading part in the festivities for the royal reception in Moorea. Mrs Brander, as chiefess of the isle, has to make every sort of festal preparation—and now, in addition to these, she has to make all arrangements for the funeral of her loved old friend, whose body will be carried to Moorea to-morrow on board the Seignelay. It will be a terrible shock for poor Mme. Valles, who to-day is preparing for all the gay doings of to-morrow, little dreaming that besides all the expected friends, whose visit would have been such a delight, one will return silent—never more to leave the isle where her lips first taught the words of life to many. . . .

We start for Moorea to-morrow morning.