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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 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 !
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, Com
PACKING MANGO-STONES. 283
mandant Puéch, 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." The mission on which Le Limier is now bound is to take back 200 of the Arawais, inhabitants of the Gilbert Islands, who were brought here as foreign labourers about nine years ago, on the understanding that they would very soon be sent home again, whereas they have been detained all these years. When Admiral Serres commenced critical inquiries on the various abuses at which previous governors had winked, this fact became known, and he decided that the labourers should be sent back soon after the New Year—an announcement which filled their masters with dismay, in view of ungathered crops, but was hailed by the Arawais with joy, till they learnt by what vessel they were to travel. Then they were filled with alarin, believing that so large a ship would not dare to risk the dangerous navigation between their little isles; and that they would probably all be landed (as has often been done in similar cases) on one or two of the principal isles, where they would be left quite as much in a strange land as in Tahiti, and, moreover, with the certainty of being robbed, and the probability of being eaten by hostile tribes. So a considerable number have refused to go on this occasion. Indeed M. Puéch is himself much perturbed as to how to accomplish this really difficult business. He invited a few friends, including myself, to go on board at the last moment, to faire les adieuw. The vessel presented a curious scene—picturesque, certainly, with abundance of bright colour, but more like an emigrant ship than a man-of-war.
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.
RETURN OF GILBERT ISLANDERS. 285
Le Limier is so constructed that she has not sufficient accommodation to allow of all the crew sleeping below at one time. So these wretched Arawais, including women and children, are taken only as deck passengers; and as the cruise, under steam, cannot take less than from sixteen to eighteen days, during which they must take their chance of whatever weather they may encounter, you can understand that the voyage does not promise to be a pleasure-trip. The vessel carries much extra coal, to provide against the danger of a calm. So half her deck is loaded with this dirty store, and the 200 Gilbert Islanders are huddled together on the main-deck. Each labourer has a trade box, containing a few clothes, a good deal of tobacco, and some cheap toys for children; and this is all they carry home as the fruit of their long exile. Nine years of ceaseless toil in a far country, repaid by a little wooden box full of cheap rubbish While we were on board, a little baby died on deck in its mother's arms. Some fellow-countrymen, who had come to see their friends start, undertook to carry the poor little body ashore for burial. The father opened his box of trade, and took out a few yards of coarse printed calico, which he gave to the said friends, apparently as payment for their trouble. The poor mother fell on her face at the gangway, wailing piteously. She appeared utterly miserable. It was a sad beginning for a voyage, and we all doubly regretted the departure of our friends with such an unpleasant three weeks in prospect.
When I saw how terribly overcrowded the vessel was, I thought Captain Puéch must surely repent of his kindness in offering to carry the big case of mango-stones; but on the contrary, he made it appear as though I had done him quite a favour in letting him take charge of the precious seeds, which, we trust, will hereafter become so valuable a boon to Fiji. Kind, good friend, we all wished him bon voyage with all our hearts; then returning to the shore we watched the good ship sail, amid hearty cheers from Le Seignelay, and with large bouquets on each mast, to mark that she is homeward-bound.
THE RED Hous E, PAPEETE,
The Ségond, French man-of-war, has just arrived from San Francisco, bringing the new French governor—a fine jovial naval officer—with an A.D.C. who, like his chief, is well known in Tahiti for his strong liking for natives and native customs.
So while the appointment has caused great delight to one section of the community, others foresee