Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/322

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golden clusters hanging from ropes stretched across the building, and great bunches of mangoes and oranges. These last lie heaped in baskets, among cool green leaves. Sometimes a whole laden bough has been recklessly cut off. Pine-apples, bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, all are there, and baskets of scarlet tomatoes, suggestive of cool salads.

But tempting above all are the luscious mangoes, whose thin skins are ready to burst at a touch, and yield their treasure of delight to thirsting lips. Purple, or golden, or pale yellow, long-shaped or egg-shaped, I know not which to prefer; each in turn seems more delicious than any other, and the only difficulty is to stop feasting before the basket is empty! If Tahiti owns no other debt of gratitude to France, she at least has to thank a French governor for this excellent fruit, which is now so thoroughly acclimatised, that it has attained a perfection rarely equalled in any other country, and, moreover, grows so luxuriantly and bears fruit so abundantly, as to form an important item in the food of the people.

Returning from the market to a pleasant early breakfast on the cool verandah, I rested in luxurious quiet till the bells of the Roman church close by, summoned the faithful to the nine o'clock service, which I generally attend, in preference to walking in the heat to the large native Congregational church—"le temple Protestant"—where the long service, in a tongue to me unknown, is a weariness of flesh and spirit. Moreover, it lacks the picturesque element which was to me so attractive in the simple Fijian churches, where soft mats are the only furnishings required. Here the congregation are penned in hideous pews, which make it difficult, if not impossible, to kneel—a natural attitude of worship, which, in the early days of Tahitian Christianity, was as common as it now is in Fiji, but from which the modern Tahitians refrain in church, as savouring of Romish ritual!

At the Catholic church, the bishop preaches half in French, half in Tahitian, that all his hearers may carry away some message in their own tongue; and the singing by the French Sisters and their school-children is always sweet and harmonious. I cannot say the