Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/346

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314
A LADY'S CRUISE

fat of the land—a clemency which certainly failed to awaken one thrill of gratitude in the would-be assassin. The pension having expired with the death of the Emperor, M. Bellemare has been obliged to seek remunerative occupation, which he has here found.

Tuesday, 11th.

Again a delightful sea-bathe, followed by real French chocolate, and then the charming little trio constituted themselves my guides, and led me by difficult, and to me undiscernible paths, over the wooded hills, and through la brousse, which consists of dense guava scrub, to various points, from which we obtained lovely views of the harbour. The walk involved an amount of severe scrambling which, even to me, was somewhat trying; but the children skipped along over rock and crag like young kids, only pausing, with charmingly pretty manners, to see if I required their aid, and bringing me all manner of treasures of fruit and flowers.

I fear no description can possibly convey to your mind a true picture of the lovely woods through which we wander just where fancy leads us, knowing that no hurtful creature of any sort lurks among the mossy rocks or in the rich undergrowth of ferns. Here and there we come on patches of soft green turf, delightfully suggestive of rest, beneath the broad shadow of some great tree with buttressed roots; but more often the broken rays of sunlight gleam in ten thousand reflected lights, dancing and glancing as they shimmer on glossy leaves of every form and shade—-from the huge silky leaves of the wild plantain or the giant arum, to the waving palm-fronds, which are so rarely at rest, but flash and gleam like polished swords as they bend and twist with every breath of air.

It has just occurred to me that probably you have no very distinct idea of the shape of a cocoa-palm leaf, which does not bear the slightest resemblance to the palmettos in the greenhouse. It consists of a strong mid-rib, about eight feet long, which, at the end next to the tree, spreads out, very much as your two clenched fists, placed side by side, do from your wrists. The other end tapers to a point. For a space of about two feet the stalk is bare;