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full of natty contrivances to make the most of space, and all so pretty. I believe that several of our kind friends on board have contributed to make it so. One lent a beautifully carved mirror, another a pin-cushion of pale-blue silk and lace. Fixed to the wall are fascinating flower-vases of black Chilian pottery, brought from Lima, and most delicate little kava bowls from the Wallis Isles, now utilised to hold soap, sponge, and matches. I find a whole chest of drawers empty, and various shelves, which I know can only have been cleared at great inconvenience. A small bookcase contains a very nice selection of French and English books — for my especial host, M. de Gironde, has travelled a good deal in England and in Scotland, and reads English well, as do several of the others. Having so generously given me his cabin, he has taken up his abode in the chart-room on the bridge, and declares he likes it far better; that it is much cooler, and that he never was so comfortable, &c. In short (in common with all the others), he tries to make me really feel as if I were conferring a huge obligation on the whole party by having come. Never were there such hospitable people. I have had a good deal of spoiling in the course of my life, but I never had it in such perfection as now. Every creature on board is so cordial, that it would be quite impossible not to feel so in return. I think my French is improving! I can now distinguish the Brdtons from the Provencals, and both from the Parisians.
The officers are a pleasant, well-informed set, who have travelled with their eyes open, and their relations with their fine old captain are those of cordial sons with a father. It would be difficult for any one accustomed to the rigid stiffness of the British navy to understand such a condition. Even the frank kindliness with which sub-officers and men are addressed, sounds to me as unusual as it is pleasant. Life on this ship seems that of a happy family, with the filial and paternal affections unusually well developed, and M. Aube is generally the centre of a cheery group, chatting unreservedly on whatever topic may arise.
At least two of the officers are daily invited to breakfast, and two others to dinner in the captain's little cabin, all coming in their turn. And six or eight generally come in to evening tea, a ceremony which, I suspect, has been instituted specially out of deference to my supposed English habits. Besides the bishop and myself, M. Pinart is also the captain's guest, and I find him pleasant and very ready to impart his information, which, as you know, is considerable, on all scientific matters. The others have little jokes at his expense, and declare that he is more of a Yankee than a THE FRIENDLY ISLES.
Frenchman. I can only say the combination is good.
The feeding is excellent, beginning with early chocolate. Breakfast is at 9 o'clock, and ends with coffee and liqueurs, especially most delicious Chartreuse, which some of us in an irreverent whisper call "La meilleure ceuvre des moines." Dinner with similar ending, is at 5 o'clock, and tea at 8. Antoine has orders to give me luncheon at 1, with due respect to English habits; but I find this quite superfluous; so that ceremony falls through. By the by, tell A. that his champagnecup produced quite a sensation. It was generally set down as being de Vhydromel, and the greatest curiosity prevails concerning its ingredients, which I, unfortunately, am not able to satisfy.
We are now about 250 miles east of Fiji, and sighted land this afternoon; we have just anchored off Tonga, which certainly compares unfavourably with our beautiful Fijian isles. This is the dullest, flattest land I have yet seen—a low shore, fringed with long lines of cocoa-palm, which, seen from the sea, are singularly monotonous. The king's town, Nukualofa, consists of a long row of more or less ugly villas, stores, and barracks, built of wood and painted white: one is bright green. The houses are roofed with zinc or shingle, and the general effect is that of a new English watering-place. King George's palace is a rather handsome wooden building like a hotel, and is reserved for his guests. The Government offices occupy another wooden building, and just beyond them is the printing-office, in which a few books, a magazine, and an almanac, are printed in the native tongue. A large Wesleyan church, painted white, and with a very small steeple, stands on a green hill on the site of an old fortification, and close to it is the house of Mr Baker, Wesleyan missionary.
About a mile and a half along the shore is another village called Maofanga, where there is another Wesleyan church, but it is chiefly a Roman Catholic settlement; and near a neat thatched chapel of the true Tongan type, I see a long pleasant-looking bungalow, which I am told is a convent, the home of a society of French Sisters. To-morrow morning I hope to go ashore and see everything.
You see my experiences are rapidly enlarging. I have to-day made my very first acquaintance with conventual life, and am greatly interested by it, and by the exceedingly ladylike kind women who, at a hint from the bishop, invited me to stay with A FRENCH CONVENT.
tbem as long as the ship is in harbour, and have given me this clean, tidy wee room, which, though not luxurious, is some degrees more so than their own simple cells. I have a table, a chair, and a tiny bedstead.
There are only four Sisters. The eldest, Sister Anna, is a very old lady, but most courteous and friendly. Soeur Marie des Anges is a cosy middleaged woman, who has lately come from the convent at Samoa to take care of Soeur Marie des Cinq Plaies, a sweet, pretty young woman, with a terrible cough, and evidently fast dying of consumption. The fourth sister, Soeur Marie-Jesu, is Irish. All are most gentle and kind, and seem deeply interested in their schools and the care of a large number of nice-looking women and children. I think myself most fortunate in having been invited to stay here, instead of finding quarters in the ugly, pretentious town of foreign houses, which, whatever advantages they may possess, are quite opposed to all our predilections in favour of native architecture.
The surroundings here are calm and quiet. Through a frame of tall palms, with ever-waving fronds, we look to the blue harbour, where the friendly big ship lies mirrored—a ship which, to these good Sisters, is a link to that dear home-land, la belle France, which they do so love, but to which