Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/299

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267
TRUTH SEEN TOO LATE.

known to herself, she generally returns ashore either on the ninth or eighteenth night—a fact well known to the natives, who scan the beach eagerly for the broad track left on the smooth white sand by this midnight visitor.

When poor Mrs Turtle becomes aware of the presence of her natural foe, man, she generally tries to hide, and will lie motionless for hours; but should this hope prove vain, she makes for the sea at railway speed, her flippers acting as paddles, by which she jerks herself along. Should her foe outstrip her in the race, he contrives to turn her over, when she lies on her back more helpless than even a fat sheep in the like predicament.

I daresay that to all of you, in England, the accounts of these South Sea groups sound so much alike, that you can scarcely sympathise with my repining over the omission of a few. But each has its own distinctive peculiarities, which you only realise by living in it for a while, and making friends with its inhabitants.

Therefore I fear that these "lines left out" will remain to me a lifelong regret. They have all the pain that attaches to "truth seen too late," which is the crown of woe.

I only hope that you will profit by my sad experience, and that should you ever have a chance of seeing the Marquesas and the Paumotus, you will not let it slip. But such luck as visiting a French colony in a French man-of-war does not often present itself!




CHAPTER XVIII.

TAHITIAN HOSPITALITY—A SOUTH SEA STOKE—A BATHING PICNIC—THE MARQUESANS—TATTOOING—ANCIENT GAMES OF TAHITI—MALAY DESCENT—THEORY OF A NORTHERLY MIGRATION.
La Maison Brandère, Papeete,
Wednesday, 21st.

Already ten days have slipped away since we watched the Maramma sail for Honolulu, and each morning I awake with a feeling of pleasure that I am still in this delightful isle. Would