Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/263

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

some length, and found no beauty to compensate for a very fatiguing walk of upwards of four miles, which, combined with that of the morning, quite finished me. I could not even sit up for the evening himènes, which was a matter of real regret, as the singers here are considered the very best in the group. Several of the women have very fine falsetto voices.

To my great delight, in apportioning our quarters, M. Hardouin, A.D.C., awarded me a tiny house all to myself—the owners kept only the outer room; and when they went off to join the himènes they locked the door to keep their charge safe. Happily one of my friends on the Seignelay had lent me a mosquito-net, so I slept the blessed, dreamless sleep of the weary.

In the morning at 6 a.m., as I was dressing leisurely for 7 o'clock coffee, Queen Marau rushed in to say the admiral was all ready for a 6 o'clock start. Thereupon followed a horrid hurry-scurry to get ready, and a four miles' row back to the vessel. At 7.30 she was under way, and at 10 a.m. we were at anchor in Papeete harbour.

Altogether this has been a most tantalising expedition, an unsatisfactory hurrying over scenes of surpassing beauty. Mrs Brander says that if I will stay some time longer in Tahiti she will take me back there and let me pasture at leisure in that artists' paradise. Fain would I linger,—indeed all manner of delightful ploys are proposed, but all involve time, and I have promised to meet Lady Gordon at Christmas, either at Auckland or Sydney, according to what I hear at Honolulu, so I must not lose the chance of the first vessel to the Sandwich Isles.

Tuesday, 6th.

It has been decided that one of Mrs Brander's vessels, the Maramma (i.e., the Moon), is to start for Honolulu on Saturday, so that settles the time of my departure from Tahiti. It is also announced that on Thursday the Seignelay is to be sent off to the Marquesas, to convey a force of gendarmes to inquire into some recent outbreaks of cannibalism. Mrs Brander has been most kindly renewing her invitation to me to stay with her till the next trip of the Maramma to Honolulu—a matter of two