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out to you, when writing from Fiji, respecting the customs of its chiefs.
I have just heard that a very leaky ship is to sail for Sydney to-morrow, and a better one starts for New Zealand next week; so in order to lose no chance of a letter reaching you, I shall despatch this vić Sydney, and send you another viá New Zealand. Meanwhile, good-bye.
PAPEETE–CATHOLIC MISSION--PROTESTANT MISSION.—A CHRISTENING PARTY —LA MAIson BRANDERE-TALES OF THE PAST-EVENINGS IN TAHITI— LA MUSIQUE—PLANS-SUNDAY.
Care of the Rev. JAMES GREEN, PAOFA1, PAPEETE, TAHITI, Saturday, 13th. DEAREST NELL,~It is high time I sent you a cheerier letter than the last, which was written just after our dreary arrival in a dismal storm, and further overshadowed by the distressing manner in which our happy party was so summarily dispersed. With the exception of that one sad cloud, no drawback of any sort has arisen. The cordial kindness of every creature here, the easy luxury of very simple social life, a heavenly climate, and the dreamlike loveliness of the isles, all combine to make up as charming a whole as can possibly be conceived. It is the sort of place in which one is made to feel at home at once : from the moment I landed every one seems to have tried what he or she could do for the enjoyment of the stranger. It is a region of true hospitality. Certainly this is a very pretty little town. Its simple village streets are all laid out as boulevards, and form pleasant shady avenues, the commonest tree being the pretty yellow hybiscus with the claret-coloured heart, so common in Fiji, where it is called sarya. Here its name is boorau. The names of the streets recall Parisian memories. The shadiest and widest street is the Chinese quarter, and its poor little wooden houses are Chinese stores and
tea-shops. It rejoices in the name of Rue de Pologne, while the
nected with the Catholic mission number in all about forty persons. They have had large aid and encouragement from the French Government, who compelled the chiefs of Tahiti and Moorea to build a church for their use in each district. Nevertheless, out of the 8000 inhabitants, 300 nominal adherents is the maximum which the Catholics themselves have ever claimed, but fifty is said to be nearer the mark. The French Protestant Mission, however, found it desirable to send French subjects to the support of the London Mission, of which Mr Green is now the only representative. His coadjutors are M. Viennot, M. Vernier, and M. Brun—all married men and pères de famille. The latter is pasteur of Moorea. M. Viennot has a large Protestant school both for boys and girls of pure French and pure Tahitian blood, and of all shades of mixed race. We went to see his charming house, which is the most romantic nest, for a school, that you can well imagine, with wide verandahs and a large pleasant garden. Several of the daughters of the early English missionaries assist in teaching; and everything about the establishment seems bright and healthy in tone. The third French pasteur, M. Wernier, was a student friend of Lord Lorne's at Geneva (under Merle d'Aubigné), and returned with him to Inveraray for three months, ere resuming his own studies for a while in Edinburgh. Consequently he retains most loving recollections of everything linked with those very happy days; and it struck me pleasantly, in this far-away isle, to find in his little drawing-room many familiar photographs of Inveraray faces and places. Now his pretty wife is mother of half-a-dozen typical French little ones, the youngest of whom was the hero of a very pleasant dinner-party, given by his parents the night before last, in honour of his baptism. There were about a dozen persons present, including all the members of the Protestant Mission, Captain Guignon of the Bossuet (a most friendly trading-vessel belonging to the firm of Messrs Tandonnet of Bordeaux), and myself. All the time of dinner, the petit nouveau-baptisé was laid on the floor, where he rolled about laughing and crowing with delight, while the other children played quietly beside him. It was a scene of LA MAISON BRANDERE. 167
graceful home life, and illustrates the easy unconventional pleasures
1 Soon after my return to England, I heard that this happy home had been inwaded by ophthalmia of a virulent type, necessitating an immediate return to France, and long and anxious care; but nevertheless resulting in the partial blind. ness for life of two of those merry boys. Even the Tahitian paradise has its thorns.
* The late Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, in the county of Elgin, married, firstly, my father's sister, Miss Gordon Cumming of Altyre and Gordonstown; and secondly, Miss Brander, heiress of Pitgaveny, whom, consequently, we have known all our lives, and loved much.
constant strain, and he died, leaving the whole care of his immense business to his young widow, who is only thirty-four now, the eldest of her nine children having been born when she was fifteen She is the mother of as pretty a covey as you could wish to see, beginning with two lovely grown-up married daughters and one or two grandchildren, and ending with two darling little girls, one of whom bears the charming name of Paloma, the dove. Mr Brander most wisely resolved that his wife's brothers and his own sons should have the advantage of a first-rate education in Britain. Several of the boys are still at school at St Andrews, whence Alexander, the eldest, recently came out here; but he must shortly return to England, to look after property belonging to his father. In all these far countries people talk of a run to England and back as if it was the veriest trifle !—merely a run of fifty or sixty days, vić San Francisco, and across the United States; or, if economy has to be considered, a voyage of 140 days in a sailingship round Cape Horn This afternoon Mme. Fayzeau took me for an exquisite drive into the country. We drove along the shore on a road of fine green turf, skirting the lovely calm lagoon, and passing by an endless succession of small wooden houses, each almost hidden in bowers of blossom and shady fruit-trees, with pleasant lawns, where merry children played, while their elders sat or lay on mats sewing, or twining wreaths, or rolling cigarettes—all suggesting lives of easy-going happiness without undue care; and the air was made musical by rippling laughter and mellifluous voices. I scarcely know why it is that Tahitian sounds so much more attractive than the sterner Tongan tongue. Individual words are actually less liquid, because of the frequent use of the aspirate. I am told, as rather a curious fact, that whereas the Samoans and Tongans are so very profuse in their expression of the word “thanks,” the Tahitians, like the New Zealanders, have no equivalent for it. For love of his master, we went to see Commandant Aube's poor sick dog Fox, and learnt that it died very soon after his departure.