Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/70

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grooves from having constantly been used for this purpose; and of course they must exist in all countries in which stone celts have been in use, which, I suppose, means all corners of the round world, Britain included. I greatly doubt, however, whether the ancient Britons ever produced such artistic carved bowls and spears with their stone implements as these Pacific Islanders have done.

The men who worked with these tools needed wellnigh as much patience as those who manufactured them. Imagine a squad of men taking from fifteen to thirty days to fell a tree! Saith the old proverb, "Little strokes fell great oaks," and these were little strokes indeed! Of course a more rapid process was to make a slow fire all round the base of the tree, and so burn it down; but the fire so often ran up the heart of the tree, destroying it altogether, that the slower process proved best in the long-run. However, as a good-sized tree could thus be felled in three or four days, the rafters of houses were often thus prepared, and the branches burnt off. Once down, fire could be better used to divide the tree into useful lengths; and if a canoe were required, a long narrow line of fire was allowed to burn the whole length, its progress being regulated by the slow dripping of water. Thus the work left for the stone axe was considerably lessened, though it would still have puzzled a British carpenter to work with such tools.

Tuesday, 18th.

We are enjoying the most perfect weather—a calm sea and a faint sweet breeze. The vessel glides on her way so smoothly that we scarcely perceive any motion, and all yesterday I was able to work up my sketch of the grotto, sitting in a delightful improvised studio on the tiny bridge (la passerelle). We are not making much way, as we are sailing to economise fuel; but the days pass pleasantly, and there is always some ship-life going on, which to me has all the interest of novelty—either parade, or fire-stations, or fighting-stations, or cannon practice (mercifully done in dumb show!)