Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/382

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been devoting a considerable amount of energy to collecting mango-stones, or rather kernels, with a view to sending them to Fiji. It is only about eighteen years since the mango-tree was introduced to these isles from Rio Janeiro, and so wonderful is the rapidity with which it has spread, that it now holds its place as the most marked feature in the vegetation of this group. Every homestead is embowered in these and other fruit-bearing trees, and for the last two months every man, woman, and child (to say nothing of quadrupeds) seems to be for ever eating ripe, delicious, golden mangoes; and every road, indeed the ground in every direction, is strewn with les noyaux; though the people so fully appreciate the luxury of a feast by the river-side, where they may enjoy the juicy dainties without the smallest respect for conventional appearances, that an immense number of the finest kernels are thrown into the water—indeed, since I have been so anxious to collect good sorts, I observe with annoyance that though I entreat these careless easy-going people (le peuple) to throw the best stones in some corner for me, they seem by preference (or probably by force of habit) always to chuck them into the water.

The French have taken immense trouble in perfecting this valuable fruit, and have now introduced so many excellent varieties that one crop succeeds another in rotation. The round mango is succeeded by the golden egg, and that by a small purple, while the large long sort seems inexhaustible. Best of all are those specially cultivated by Monseigneur Janssen, Bishop of Axièri, who has raised a super-excellent mango with a very large fruit, and a long stone so thin and flat as to resemble the inner sole of a child's shoe.

The bishop has also been inspired with the happy thought of distributing mango-stones in other groups, and sent off a large consignment last month by a vessel going direct to New Caledonia. He is most kind in helping me to collect a good assortment for Fiji: at the same time, he warns me that taking the best seed is no sure warrant for getting equally good plants, as no other tree exists, so faithless in reproducing its own kind, and variety of soil produces every conceivable variety of tree. You may take twin