Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/384

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chance as that of the vessel which brought me thence, direct to this group, is of very rare occurrence. The probability is, that the seeds which I am now collecting will have to wait for an opportunity of being sent by sailing-vessel 2000 miles north to Honolulu; there to be transhipped to a Pacific mail-steamer, and be carried south-west 4000 miles to Sydney; where they would find another steamer to take them the 1700 miles to Levuka, whence they will find their way by sundry small sailing-boats to the various Fijian isles. A somewhat circuitous route, you must allow!

February 3d,

After all, I have found a somewhat more direct route by which to send some of my mango-stones. Le Limier was despatched to-day on special service to the Gilbert Isles, thence to proceed to New Caledonia, and her very obliging captain, Commandant Puèch, offered to carry a large case to the care of the British Consul (Mr Layard), who will forward it to Sir Arthur Gordon by the first opportunity. So I set to work to pack 4000 carefully selected stones, laying them side by side as neatly as though building a wall with children's little bricks. It took me a whole day's work, and, considering that each seed has passed through my hands six or eight times, while collecting, cleaning, scraping, drying, turning, selecting, and finally packing, you will not wonder that I looked after the departing case with a feeling of quite maternal interest.[1]

The mission on which Le Limier is now bound is to take back 200 of the Arawais, inhabitants of the Gilbert Islands, who were

  1. Just before leaving Tahiti, I bestowed equal care on three cases containing 6000 stones, which were carried by sailing-ship to New Zealand and thence to Fiji. Their arrival there was anxiously expected, and all arrangements made for their speedy distribution throughout the group. Alas! alas! when, after long delays, the cases were opened, they were found to contain a mass of decay; poor dead plants, which had sprouted during the voyage, and straightway died. When this sad news reached me, I bethought me sorrowfully of the advice given me by Monseigneur Janssen—namely, that as plants require light and air to enable them to sprout, I would do well to compel them to sleep by packing them in soot, and then having the case carefully caulked. The mess involved in such work was so horrible, that I shrank from undertaking it, but I bequeath the good advice to my successors in the attempt.