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These stalks are soaked in running water till the green outer skin begins to decay. Then the stalk is laid on a flat wooden board, and a woman slits it open from end to end with a sharp shell, with which she then proceeds to scrape off every particle of green, and there remains a lovely ribbon, like very glossy white satin, ribbed longitudinally: with a sharp thorn she divides this into very narrow strips. And this is the material most in use in the artworld of Tahiti, being woven by deft fingers into all manner of pretty ornaments for hair, dress, and fans. Bamboo is prepared in much the same manner, but is a harsher material to work, and much less ornamental. The house at Papara, and the large breakfastroom, were most tastefully decorated with great treeferns and bright yellow banana-leaves, plaited to form a sort of fringe. Wild melodious himènes were sung all the time of the feast, and afterwards the band played operatic airs till 3 o'clock, when we once more started on our journey. In this district much cultivation has impaired the beauty of wild nature. Large tracts of land have been laid out for scientific planting of cotton and coffee; and after all, the fields have been abandoned, the crops left to run wild, and are now rank straggling bushes struggling for life with the overmastering vines. In itself the cotton is a pretty shrub,

THE STORY OF A FAILURE. 15

its yellow blossom with claret-coloured heart closely resembling the lemon-coloured hybiscus, while its bursting pods offer their soft white fluff to all comers. But a softer, silkier cotton for stuffing pillows, is that obtained from the tall cotton-tree, with the Scarlet blossom and long green pod. We halted at the melancholy deserted plantation of Atiamano, which in very recent years was the home of the manager for the Tahiti Cotton and Coffee Plantation Company—a reckless speculator with the capital intrusted to him. Never was there a truer illustration of the proverb concerning cutting broad thongs from other men's leather. Mr William Stewart, an ex-cavalry officer, arrived in Tahiti about the year 1860, and obtained the sanction of the French governor for the purchase of a very large property, to which he gave the name of Terre Eugénie, and at once commenced every species of improvement. First-class roads, high cultivation, hotels which never paid, because of the princely hospitality freely offered to all comers in his own splendid country-house;—these, with his genial friendliness and good-fellowship, naturally made him the most popular man in Tahiti, and one whose praises have been sung by all travellers. To work the estates he imported about 1000 Chinamen, and 300 “foreign labour” from the Central Pacific and the Hervey Isles; and to those he is said to have been a kind master, caring for them in sickness as in health, by the provision of good hospitals. Of course there were not lacking enemies who grudged Mr Stewart his apparent success, and many were the virulent attacks made upon him by other settlers in the group. Specimens of very inferior cotton were circulated in Europe, purporting to be samples of the finest growth of Atiamano; and sensational paragraphs appeared in various American papers, describing the infamous cruelties of which he and his overseers were declared guilty towards their wretched labourers. So damaging were these attacks, that Mr Stewart demanded a public inquiry, which was granted by the French governor, when all these accusations were proved to be iniquitous libels. The little army of 1300 workmen were found to be unusually healthy and happy; and the only serious complaint made to the commissioners was by the Chinamen, who considered it most unfair of Mr Stewart to object to their committing suicide by hanging, as the easiest way of paying their gambling debts | This cloud of aspersions having been effectually disproved, everything looked fair on the surface till, in an evil day, the shareholders began to take alarm. No title-deeds were forthcoming. All capital had evaporated utterly, and in 1874 the

ORANGE-GROVES. 17

luckless manager died miserably, and the great bubble burst. Now the whole place is falling to ruin, and a more miserable sight I have rarely seen. A certain number of the Chinamen still remain— they, of course, can always contrive to pick up a living somehow—but the bulk of the large village of wooden houses, once tenanted by master and men, now stands empty, the plantation is utterly neglected, the cotton-fields are àll overgrown with guava scrub, and the whole place is a picture of desolation; nothing flourishes save the long avenue of plantains, which, Tahiti fashion, are planted on either side of the road. It seems strange that no enterprising person should have stepped in to buy up the estate which, at the time of Mr Stewart's death, was in such good working order; but, like everything else in this country, it has suffered from the meddling propensities of the French Government, which, when the estate was declared bankrupt, fixed on it an upset price so exorbitant, that no purchaser has yet been found, nor is any likely to come forward. We have now got into the true orange country. Some of the trees here are much larger than the parent trees, which we saw near Sydney; and yet, as compared with the orange-groves of Malta, we thought the Australian trees were perfect giants— voL. II. B

that is to say, we could walk upright under their lowest branches. The whole air is perfumed with the fragrant blossoms, and boughs have been gathered to adorn our rooms. Here, though the dining-hall is as fine as in other districts, the sleeping quarters are less inviting, so Marau offered me a room in the house assigned to her. Being a native house (i.e., not built of wood, as many now are), it is rather like living in a bamboo cage, exceedingly airy and transparent; but it is lined with temporary curtains, so we are screened from the general public. This afternoon we strolled along the coast till we found a most delightful bathing-place, where the Anapu, a clear delicious river, flows into the sea. The two pretty girls, Manihinihi and Vaetua, of course bore us company, as also the queen's handmaid, who was laden with pareos and towels; the pareo being simply a couple of fathoms of bright-coloured calico, which, knotted over one shoulder, forms an efficient and picturesque bathing-gown. We returned just in time for such a fish-dinner as Greenwich never equalled. Fish of all sorts and kinds (cooked and raw to suit all tastes), excellent lobsters and crabs, huge fresh-water prawns, delicate little oysters, which grow on the roots and branches of the mangrove, which fringes some

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