Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/300

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that you could look on the lovely scene on which my eyes rest with the first glimmer of dawn, and which now lies outspread before me, as I sit in this cool verandah opening off my large bedroom on the upper storey! It is a verandah all closed in with jalousies, screening its occupants from the outside world; while they, themselves unseen, look down on the brightest, most animated scene you can imagine.

Long before sunrise the pretty native boats, with double sails, arrive from all parts of the isle, bringing their cargo of fish and fruit for the market, which is held in a large building in the town. But as the boats are unloaded, their wares are outspread on the grass just below these windows, and the most active housewives and purveyors for the ships come here to secure the first choice of luscious fruits and of fishes, as beautiful to the eye as they are tempting to the palate. These are of every shade of blue and green, scarlet and crimson, and pale yellow with lilac stripes. The large bright-green fish are generally eaten raw; and occasionally the purchasers, whose appetites are sharpened by the fresh morning air, cannot resist an early breakfast al fresco. The air is balmy and delicious, like a heavenly midsummer morning in Europe; and all the girls have light woollen shawls. (Real Scotch tartans are in high favour, and are worn in true Highland fashion, over one shoulder and round the body.)

The fruit-supply is brought in large baskets. Just now there are quantities of mangoes, oranges, and Abercarder pears (des avocats they are called here, where French permeates all things, as it did in England when the Norman conquerors changed Saxon oxen, sheep, and hens, to beef, mutton, and fowls). But these minor fruits are trifling luxuries. The mainstay of life is the faees or wild banana, which here takes the place of the yams and taro of the groups further west.

I think I have already described this peculiar plant, which bears its enormous bunch of fruit growing upright from the centre of its crown of large leaves, instead of drooping below them, as is the manner of all other bananas and plantains. These clusters vary from two to four feet in length; and I constantly see a bunch so