Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/370

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336
A LADY'S CRUISE.

which awaken longings for the bodily presence of the dear kith and kin in the far country. But I confess I would rather that the said wishing-cap could bring all of you here, away from the bitter frosts and snows, to this paradise of sweet sunlight—and (selfish as it sounds when expressed in words) away from constant sight of the shivering ill-clad and half-starved people, whose deep-seated poverty you can in no wise alleviate,—to these isles, where want, at least, never appears prominently.

The whole family party of brothers and sisters, mother, aunts, cousins, and feudal retainers, moved out here again immediately after the departure of the big ship, and we have resumed the pleasant existence of delicious early bathes, and long idle days beneath the green shade by the lovely river.

I am sitting now in my favourite bower of dark hybiscus with lemon-coloured blossoms, which overarches the sparkling rivulet, as it branches from the main stream—an enchanting spot. I have just been reading the old Christmas service, which brings back many a vision of langsyne. There was a grand midnight Mass last night at the Catholic church, and of course service this morning, but none at the Protestant church, I believe.

Now I must go in to breakfast, alias luncheon, as a number of friends are expected. This evening one of the neighbours gives a large dance, to which, of course, we all go. Even non-dancers find such ploys attractive when they involve a pleasant evening drive in an open carriage, and no hot crowded rooms.


December 31st.

I have had another small cruise in the Seignelay, which was ordered to the isles of Tetiaroa, distant about twenty-four miles, thence to bring back the king, who went there last week in an open boat.

It was arranged that I should sleep at the Red House, and go on board with Queen Marau at daybreak. It proved to be rather a stormy morning, with a good deal of sea on; the sunrise colouring was very striking,—the mountains shrouded in heavy gloom,