Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/383

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349
COLLECTING MANGO STONES.

fruits from one tree, and plant them a few yards to right and left of the parent tree. One will grow up infinitely superior to its mother—the other will be all stone and fibre, and scarcely fit for the pigs. The only certainty lies in taking graffs of the good ones, and so utilising the stock; also in planting, the richest soil must be selected, as the tree has a long tap-root and strikes deep.

Now there is abundance of rich soil in Fiji, and the ordinary vegetation is identical with that of Tahiti; so there can be no reason why the mango should not be acclimatised there as well as here, and it would be a very great satisfaction to me to aid in bestowing so great a boon on the young colony. I am sure I deserve that the attempt should succeed, for it has already cost me an immense amount of trouble. In spite of all precautions, of careful drying and turning, &c., a very large number of the stones I collected in the early part of the season have already sprouted. Some are quite respectable young trees.

So now I am making a more systematic attempt, and have devoted several days to driving to all the very finest gardens in the neighbourhood, where, with the help of a pretty Tahitian boy (who rather enjoyed such a chance of an unlimited feed), I set to work to collect the half-decayed fruit, which lay rotting under all the best trees. I can tell you that cleaning the stones was about the hottest, dirtiest, and most fatiguing work I have done for many a day. However, notwithstanding the heat, I stuck to it for six hours one day and three the next, and two hours on several other days. And the result is a splendid lot of noyaux, which every morning I turn and re-turn, in order to dry them thoroughly, hoping to prevent their sprouting like the first lot. But in spite of all my precautions, the large flat seeds of the finest mango have already done so—so they, at least, can only be propagated by graffs. Another difficulty is, that hitherto all my efforts to send plants from Fiji to England by Wardian cases of island manufacture have proved abortive. In every case the plants have died, so I do not feel much encouraged to try the experiment again.

The great difficulty lies in the length of time that must elapse ere either plants or stones can reach Fiji; as, of course, such a