Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/44

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Our morning's work had given us such keen appetites that we did more than justice to the breakfast which awaited us at the Fathers' house, though it must be confessed that the fare was of the coarsest; it was, however, the very best they had to offer, and was evidently considered quite a feast. My comrades congratulated one another that such viands did not often fall to their lot!

Immediately after breakfast we started on our return journey with a high tide. Wind and current being in our favour, we flew down the river-like passage through the wide coral-reef, which we had ascended with such toil, and less than two hours brought us back to the good ship, and to cordial greeting from her genial captain. He had invited King George of Tonga and his grandson to dine on board, to meet the bishop and the Fathers, and I was invited to join the party. The king, who ought properly to be called Tupou or Toubo, which is the surname of all the royal family, was received with a salute of twenty-one guns—the ship dressed and yards manned, with sailors shouting "Vive la République!" (an institution to which, I fancy, that most men on board are profoundly indifferent—in fact several are declared royalists, and faithful adherents of Henri V.)

The Tongans were duly conducted all over the ship, and examined machinery, guns, men's quarters, and every detail, with apparent interest. A long dinner followed, from which I escaped as soon as I conveniently could.

The king is a very fine old man, in height about 6 feet 2 inches. He was dressed in a general's full uniform, and his grandson in that of an aide-de-camp—cocked-hat, &c. I confess I think that Thakomban and Maafu, in their drapery of Fijian tappa, are far more imposing figures. The king's son, Unga, is at present seriously ill. His three sons govern the three groups into which this island-kingdom of Tonga divides itself—namely, Tongatabu, Happai, and Vavau. There are only about sixty isles in all, and their area is about 600 square miles; so this is a small matter compared with the 7000 square miles of Fiji. I am told that here the land all belongs to the king, so that any one wishing to settle can only do so as a tenant, leasing land from his Majesty.