Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/372

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I can stand fire pretty well, so took up a favourable position beside one of the cannons, and received instructions in artillery practice. But I confess I was not sorry when, after the fiftieth shot, the look-out man (who sat aloft like the sweet little cherub) announced the approach of the king, and presently we discerned a great crowd of natives wading across the reef, and dragging his canoe. Ship-boats put out to meet him; and though embarkation in such surf was no easy matter, it was safely accomplished, and a few minutes later the Seignelay received, not his majesty alone, but also a large number of pigs, and heaps of cocoa-nuts, presented to the lord of the isles, as parting gifts from loving subjects.

It was late ere we landed at Papeete, so I again slept at the Red House, where one of the Seignelay boats called for me at daybreak, and landed me at the beautiful avenue of Fautawa, where I had a most enjoyable morning of quiet sketching, till Mrs Brander sent her pony-carriage to bring me home to the noonday breakfast.

Now the young folk are preparing for a midnight frolic. They intend to have a very merry dance at a neighbour's house; but as it is to be impromptu, and the hosts are not supposed to prepare any supper, each gentleman intends to carry a basket, ostensibly of fruit and flowers, beneath which lie concealed sundry bottles of champagne, wherewith to drink the New Year in. The girls are busy weaving garlands, that all may be flower-crowned to-night.

Mrs Brander and her mother alone represent the more thoughtful element, and go to Papeete to attend a great native midnight service. I am too tired to do either, so can only say to you, as to the Old Year, "Good-night! Good-night!"