Sunday, 4th Nov.
Dearest Nell,—All the others have gone off to the Tahitian church. As I find, from long experience, that attending service in an unknown tongue tends to produce habits of the strictest inattention, I thought I might as well stay at home and have a talk with you. We returned from Moorea yesterday, and I am still very tired. This expedition has been very fatiguing, and somewhat bewildering, from the manner in which everything was hurried; there was really no time to enjoy anything; it was all a rush to get over the ground.
For some reason unknown, the admiral determined to accomplish the grand round in two days, which did not allow of a halt at half the districts. This was the more tantalising as the island is indescribably lovely, and I longed to linger at every point. The day of our start was equally hurried, and the people had received such very short notice, that they were quite unprepared for the royal visit, and somewhat disconcerted in consequence. And then the combination of mourning with ceremonial rejoicing was a very distressing element.
On Thursday morning one of the Seignelay boats came here to take me on board at 7 a.m., and soon afterwards the king and queen arrived, escorted by the admiral and many officers of La Magicienne. Mrs Brander and all her family party soon followed. But our wonted gaiety was altogether lacking, for there was a solemn presence in our midst, and we all knew that beneath the Union-jack, which was spread as a pall, lay the coffin containing the remains of one very dear to many in these isles. Her husband was buried on Moorea, near the spot where his daughter now lives; and now the two faithful workers have been laid side by side in this far country.