Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/355

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323
HAAPITI.

life! I vote that, instead of my having to do so, you should come out here and learn what true enjoyment means.

But, alas! my days in Moorea are for the present drawing to a close, for on our return this evening I found kind letters from Mrs Brander and from the governor, M. D'Oncieue, telling me of the arrival of H.M.S. Shah, and requesting that, as a good British subject, I would hasten back to share in the festivities to be held in her honour.

Sunday Evening.

A morning of peaceful delight on the silent shore, and a long afternoon stroll by myself, to drink in deep draughts of never-to-be-forgotten enjoyment, of one of the loveliest spots in all this fair creation. We had planned various pleasant expeditions for this week, but it seems best to defer them; so I am to leave my baggage here to take its chance of following me, and I am to ride to the other side of the island, whence it is probable that a boat may go across to Papeete within a day or two.

Haapiti, Isle Moorea, Monday Night.

Bidding a provisional farewell to my charming hostess and my little guides, I started in the fresh early morning, accompanied by M. Brun. The whole ride was exquisite, though in places the beautiful forest has suffered from ruthless carelessness, and many splendid old iron-wood trees stand scathed and half-burnt by accidental fires. On our arrival here, the big man of the village welcomed us to his house, and gave us breakfast.

You may remember that it was at this place that Mrs Brander, in her character of high-chiefess of the isle, gave such a picturesque welcome to the young king and queen. To-day the district was in its normal condition of quiet—no crowds, no himènes, no feasting, save and except the fatted fowl which perished on our arrival. Only the natural beauty remained, unchanged and unsurpassable. I cannot believe that even the Marquesas can be more beautiful, nor yet the nearer isle of Bora-Bora, of which the Tahitians speak as of a marvel of loveliness, with its towering rock pinnacles and