Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/259

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RECEPTION AT HAAPITI.

was dressed entirely in black, only relieved by a most becoming crown of glossy white arrowroot, with a plume of snowy reva-reva. Immediately after her followed the gentlemen of her family, wearing very beautiful tiputas of bread-fruit bark cloth, covered with ornaments and flowers made of arrowroot and bamboo fibre, and all fringed with the delicate reva-reva. They made an address and sang the himènes of welcome which should have greeted the royalties on their landing. Then the chiefs presented their beautiful garments to the principal persons present, and all the people laid their yellow scarves and pretty hats at their feet. One of the tiputas was intended for me, but as I sat apart to see the general picture, it was unfortunately given to some one else; but Mrs Brander reserved for me a most delicate hand-screen of the finest fibre.

Then followed a great dinner, admirable in every respect, the pretty booth being illuminated by a multitude of Chinese lanterns; and the himène singing, which was continued at intervals all the evening, was particularly good. The sleeping arrangements were less satisfactory, there having been no time to make preparations for so large a party; so my hostess had only reserved one tiny room for herself, two children, two native women, and me. It was a foreign house, with windows. These were tightly closed, and a bright lamp kept burning all night,—both circumstances fatal to all chance of sleep,—so I preferred a shake-down in the sitting-room. Unfortunately, my experience of the luxuries of Tahiti had induced me to travel without my own mosquito-net; and the attacks of these persistent foes, combined with the perpetual movement of locomotive women, incessantly opening the door at my head and admitting a stream of bright light, effectually banished all hope of sleep. It was a night of feverish unrest,—a bad preparation for the morrow.

Again came a hurried morning start in good native boats,—the coast, beautiful as that of yesterday. We had a strong wind and tide against us, and made slow progress. After a severe pull of three hours, we stopped at a point where the rowers landed to rest and get cocoa-nuts; but hordes of mosquitos attacked and routed