Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/368

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a prettier scene could not be imagined. The dancing folk did dance to their hearts' content; and those who, like myself, hold the Eastern creed, that all such hard work should be done by proxy, held possession of the higher levels, and sometimes varied the picture by turning to the beautiful panorama on every side of the harbour. To rest the band, there were two interludes, when the sailors danced hornpipes, and sang capital songs with choruses, which some of us enjoyed so much that we would fain have prolonged the concert. Unfortunately the king was tired of the proceedings, and wanted to hurry through the dances for which the queen had already engaged herself; so the singing was soon stopped, and the ball resumed till the sun had almost set behind Moorea, bathing its mountains in dreamy gold. A few minutes later the island stood out in clear-cut lilac, floating between a sea and sky of pale daffodil. Then we all returned ashore, and in the evening went to hear some himènes, specially got up for the edification of the strangers, who, however, by some unlucky misunderstanding, failed to appear. But as compared with those I had previously heard, these were very poor himènes, and I was almost glad that they were not taken as samples of what those charming glees can be.

To-morrow morning the little Daring sails for Honolulu and the great Shah for Valparaiso. Every one regrets so speedy a departure, but the admiral says he dares not risk remaining with 700 Englishmen in this port, over Christmas Day, as it would be impossible to keep the men on board, with the tempting shore so close, and that if they once landed, some would inevitably get drunk, and have a row with the French authorities. Our good consul is evidently much relieved by this wise, though unpopular decision.

It certainly is grievous that the jolly tars, of whom Britain is so justly proud, contrive to do such scant credit to their nation or themselves when they land in any foreign port. Here, for instance, day after day, among the crowds who land on the shore just under my verandah, I never hear a voice which seems to be raised in anger,—all seem bright and happy. I wish I could say the sounds