Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/266

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is endeavouring to introduce. It is greatly due to his care that the mangoes of Tahiti have been brought to such perfection. The conversation turned on many subjects of interest. Amongst other things, speaking of the effect of many mingled sounds, he told us of the deafening noise produced by the cries of sea-birds on some of the isles where he has touched, on one of which he witnessed a strange instance of combined action by myriads of sea-birds and herons; the former, diving simultaneously, produced a noise like a thunder-clap as they struck the water. The dignified herons profited by their neighbours' work, and waited on the shore ready to catch the startled fish as they fled affrighted from the divers.

This evening the admiral invited Mrs Miller, Madame Fayzeau, and myself, to dine on board La Magicienne. She is a very fine old fashioned-frigate, with vast accommodation, splendid broad decks of great length. The admiral has a large dining-room, and a sitting-room the size of an average drawing-room, with four large square windows opening into a gallery round the stern—a charming lounge in fine weather. Commandant Beïque has rooms equally pretty, on the same level, each with a large square window (I cannot call them ports). They are so high above the water that they scarcely ever have to be closed—a true boon in the tropics. I never saw so roomy a ship. With all her big guns, five hundred sailors, and thirty officers, there was no symptom of crowding. Amongst the officers are two belonging to the Peruvian navy, who have come to study the French system of navigation. One of these is remarkable for his diminutive size and extraordinary strength; the biggest men in the ship cannot wrestle with him, nor fight him (in sport).

After dinner we adjourned to Government House grounds to hear the band play, as usual; then all walked back by the shore to the British consulate, for a farewell evening, and finished it here in this sweet home-like nest. I do grieve that it should be the last evening, the more so as I am beginning to believe that what all my friends here agree in saying must be true—namely, that when I made my vague calculation of reaching Sydney for Christmas, it was on the principle of Jules Verne's 'Round the World