Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/37

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17
A KIND SCOTCHWOMAN.

great festival, they would taste nothing but a few slices of yam. I find them most interesting companions, having been so long in the isles, that they are familiar with all details of native manners and customs. The old Père Chevron is particularly pleasant. He has worked here for several years longer than our good old friend Père Bréhéret of Levuka, to whom he bade me send his loving greetings, which I hope you will deliver.

After supper with the Fathers, a kind Scotchwoman, Mrs Barnard, the only white woman in the place, came to take me to her house for the night, where she made me most comfortable, though I could not but fear that she and her husband had given me their own room. He is agent for a merchant's house in the colonies. I found my hostess was a Cameron from Lochaber, who has retained her pure Gaelic tongue, and speaks both it and English, with the sweet intonation ascribed to the Princess of Thule. Great was her delight when she learnt the real name of her guest, and many a pleasant reminiscence she had to tell of certain of my own nearest kindred. . . . We talked of mutual friends in the dear old north and on the west coast, and many a touching memory was reawakened for us both. Verily the ends of the world are bound by tender human links!

My hostess was herself astir long before dawn, to prepare breakfast for her countrywoman, as I was to make an early expedition with my French friends to Haamonga, distant about eight miles, to see a wonderful trilithon. The Fathers lent us their dogcart, but had no horse. However, they succeeded in borrowing one, which M. Pinart volunteered to drive. It proved a brisk trotter, and we sped along cheerily. Most of the others rode, escorted by two kanaques—a word which, though it simply means "a man," is used by the French as a generic term for all manner of islanders in North and South Pacific.

It was a lovely morning and a delightful drive, over a good broad grass road—the bush on either side fragrant with jessamine, and the trees in many places matted with such tangles of large, brilliantly blue convolvulus as I have seen nowhere else but in the Himalayas. The lilac marine ipomea abounds everywhere, and we