Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/31

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11
HIGH MASS AT NUKUALOFA.

out to do a little preliminary milking, that she might give me a cup of delicious fresh milk, and with it she brought me some lovely blossoms from the little garden in which the Sisters cultivate tall French lilies and a few other flowers to mingle with the abundant pink oleanders, in their church decorations.

After vespers, the day's work being done, they came to my cell, and we all sat down on the mats and had a pleasant little gossip. I think that a breath from the outside wicked world cannot quite have lost all charm, and two at least of these ladies have evidently lived in good French society. Now they have gone to their cells, and there is not a sound in the quiet night. My door opens on to a verandah leading into the garden, and just beyond lies a peaceful burial-ground—neatly kept graves of Christian Tongans, some marked with simple crosses, and overgrown with flowers.

Now I must say good-night, as to-morrow will be a long day.

Monday 10th.

On Sunday morning I was awakened before dawn by hearing the Sisters astir. They were lighting their own tiny chapel, where, at sunrise, they had an early celebration, in order that they might not be obliged to remain fasting till the later service.

At 7.30 they brought me café au lait in my cell, and at 8 we went together to high Mass in the large native church. Of course there was a very full congregation, as, the better to impress the native mind, all the French sailors were paraded, to say nothing of all the officers, who, dressed in full uniform, were ranged in a semi-circle inside the altar-rails, on show—a very trying position, especially to the excellent captain, who, though a thoroughly good man, would scarcely be selected as a very rigid Catholic. Indeed I cannot think that devotion to the Church is a marked characteristic of this mission ship.

Accustomed only to see the good bishop in his ordinary garb of rusty black and faded purple, it was startling to see him assume the gorgeous Episcopal vestments of gold brocade with scarlet linings—the mitre, which was put off and on so frequently at different parts of the service, and all the other ecclesiastical symbols. The