Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/373

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THE GUAVA SCRUB.

CHAPTER XXIV.

NEW YEAR'S DAY IN TAHITI—ASCENT OF FAUTAWA VALLEY—OF PALM SALADS, SCREW-PINES, AND BREAD-FRUIT—PACKING MANGO-STONES—RETURN OF GILBERT ISLANDERS—DEPARTURE OF THE SEIGNELAY.
Fautawa, New Year's Day, 1878.

The dancers of last night did not come home till 3.30, and at 7 a.m. the band of La Magicienne came here to serenade Mrs Brander, and played divinely. Many friends drove out to offer their New Year greetings, and so, as if by magic, the lawn was soon crowded with a joyous party, all the girls dressed in the prettiest, freshest of sacques, and their hair wreathed with bright flowers. What could they do but dance? The band, having pledged their hostess in her best champagne, played with a will for a couple of hours, when they were provided with a substantial breakfast, and then all the gentlemen drove off to another place belonging to Mrs Brander, there to preside at a great breakfast to all her employés.

I drove into Papeete with pretty Pree, Manihinihi, and Naani, to call on Marau, Moë, and other friends; and so we began the New Year brightly and happily, in ideal, civilised-South-Sea fashion.


January 25th.

Ever since I arrived here, we have been planning an expedition to the French fort at some distance up this valley, at a height of about 1600 feet above the sea. So one beautiful morning last week, several friends from the Seignelay arrived here before sunrise, and Ariipaea Salmon undertook to be our guide. He had, unfortunately, hurt his foot, so he and I were privileged to ride, the others walking.

For a considerable distance the path winds through a dense thicket of guavas, all self-sown, and considered by the people as great a curse as the (equally imported) lantana in Ceylon, both plants having a fatal facility for spreading and taking permanent