Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/362

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are troublesome, and the only refuge from them is beneath my nets. So good-night.

La Maison Rouce, Papeete,
December 18th.

Once more I find myself "at home" beneath this hospitable roof. We started at daybreak and rowed leisurely along the lovely coast to Afareaitu (the place where I told you that Mr Ellis, the early missionary, established his first printing-press). At a short distance further we came to Nuupuru, where we landed to explore another great marae, likewise overgrown with casuarina and palm-trees. It stands on the coral-shore, which there, as in most parts of the isles, is shaded by dark trees with wide-spreading branches. Just behind this huge coral-altar, rises a gigantic rock-needle—a cyclopean natural monolith, such as might have accounted for the position of the altar, in lands where nature—worship prevailed, which, however, does not appear to have been the case in these isles.

Here we left the friendly shelter of the reef and passed into the outer ocean. Happily a fair breeze favoured us, and we entered Papeete harbour soon after noon. Great was the amazement of my native friends as they realised the huge proportions of H.M.S. Shah, probably the largest ship ever seen in these waters. I believe she weighs about 7000 tons. Certainly she makes all the other vessels in harbour look like pigmies. The little Daring is only 700 tons; Le Limier, 1000; and my trusty old ship Le Seignelay, 2000. The Shah carries nearly 700 men and 50 officers, so England is well represented. My boatman rowed right under her bows, the better to estimate her vast size.

On landing, I found that Mrs Brander and all the family had moved back to town on account of the arrival of so important a vessel, which, of course, involves much work for the house of Brander. I had just time to feed, change my dress, and accompany my hostess to the palace to "assist" at the king's state reception of Admiral De Horsey and his suite, which, of course, was as stiff as stiff could be. We had a pleasant evening, however, at the band. Lovely full moonlight.