Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/306

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with great spirit. Of course the gardens are a very great attraction, and to the non-dancers are the favourite lounge. Good music, pleasant company, warm delicious nights, redolent of fragrant flowers—what more could you desire? Sometimes, when the band stops playing, we go for a moonlight row in the harbour, as far as the entrance through the barrier-reef, just for the pleasure of watching the breakers, and hearing their deafening roar.

This morning, soon after sunrise. M. Viennot called for me in his carriage, and drove me to Papawa, where he has built himself a tiny house, near a lovely bathing-place. We found all the mission families already assembled, with a few other friends, including M. Puèch, commanding Le Limier, a French man-of-war. He at once set his sailors to catch fish for our picnic; and after a preliminary luncheon, we all scattered, to bathe, or stroll, as the case might be.

I went off with a party of half-a-dozen handsome girls, of English and Tahitian birth, descendants of the early missionaries, whose children settled in the group, and married half-whites. They led the way to a delicious stream, narrow, and deep, and clear, and very still, edged with tall bulrushes. They supplied me with a bathing-dress like their own—namely, a pareo of crimson, or scarlet-and-white calico, which they wore very gracefully draped from the neck. They wove great wreaths of green fern to protect their heads from the sun, and, of course, did not neglect me in the distribution. I thought they formed a most picturesque group.

The stream was so inviting that we determined to follow it up for some distance. But the water, which at first only came to my shoulders, grew deeper and deeper, till I could not feel the ground, and I had to confess my inability to swim. So then these charming naiads clustered round me, and floated me smoothly along, as they swam a good half-mile to the upper stream. It was quite charming. Then they floated me back again, and by the time we rejoined the rest of the party, the sailors had caught a great supply of excellent little fish of many sorts, and we had a most merry feast, after which Commandant Puèch brought me home in his boat; and now I confess to being so tired, that I am