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it is beaten up with water till it becomes a glutinous yellowish mass, indescribably sticky, and with a slightly acid flavour.
To the initiated there is always a malicious pleasure in watching the undignified efforts of a new hand at dipping into this dish; for of course there are no spoons or forks in the question; and a stranger, seeing the neatness with which an experienced hand feeds himself, is apt to imagine that it is all plain sailing, and so plunges recklessly into this most adhesive paste, probably with the result of lifting the whole calabash, instead of the mouthful he expected. The correct method is to dip the forefinger of the right hand in the bowl, and as you draw it out smoothly coated with poi, give it a series of rapid twirls to prevent its hanging in glutinous strings; then with a final flourish, to keep it from dripping, land the finger in the mouth, and draw it back quite free from the paste, and ready to repeat the process. Two or more persons generally eat out of the same bowl, in which case they have cocoa-nut shells of fresh water beside them in which to wash their finger before dipping again in the poi; but it really does not much matter, as the preparation is so very sticky that you must of necessity appropriate every particle you touch, so you and your neighbour are in no danger of exchanging atoms! as you would be, in sharing a bowl of well-chewed kava.
That beverage of the isles did not appear at this native feast; in fact I have never seen it in Tahiti, and suppose it must have died out before the superior attractions of orange-rum and similar decoctions. On the present occasion, cocoa-nuts were the only drink, with the exception of pure water. As regards the latter, I was much struck by an ingenious substitute for water-jars. At every supporting post of the booths was fastened an upright bamboo, perhaps twelve feet in length, and pierced from end to end, only the lowest joint being left intact. Here a spigot was introduced, and the bamboo being filled with water, supplied drink for all the thirsty multitude. As drinking-cups, the people here still use cocoa-nut cups, scraped very thin and polished by constant friction on a stone in water, till they become as light, and almost as transparent, as tortoise-shell . The himknes here were the prettiest we
have yet heard, and you can understand that we are by this time quite connoisseurs in this peculiar music. The Upa-upa was danced with unusual zest, but was none the less ungraceful .
Another most exquisite drive brought us to Teahaupoo, where we wandered about, lost in admiration, while the king and the admiral were undergoing the usual official speeches. The feast this evening was rather dull, being spread along one side of a very long and dimly lighted table. Of course we always require artificial light for dinner, as, in the tropics, the sun sets all the year round at about six o'clock, rising at about the same hour in the morning. We often think enviously of your long summer twilight. But then, on the other hand, we have no short, dark, winter days. Again to-night the himbie singing was unusually fascinating. It varies much, and the most charming glees are those which are most suggestive of musical chimes.
Queen Marau offered me quarters in the large native house awarded to her and Ariiaue. It consisted of one large room without divisions, containing several good beds, with the usual pretty bright quilts and mosquito-nets. We curtained off one end of the room for the king and an old chief, and they are now sleeping peacefully, as we should also be doing—so good-night .
Taravou, Sunday, 21st.
Being a light sleeper, I was awakened long before dawn by hearing Ariiaue and his companion astir, and soon after 4 A.m. they started for Afaahiti, the king's own village. The rain was pouring in a pitiless, relentless fashion; and beat in beneath the wide eaves against the open walls of our bird-cage house. Still we would fain have stayed where we were, and reluctantly obeyed the order to be en voiture at seven o'clock, to return to the isthmus. The rain never ceased, and all the beauty which gladdened us yesterday was invisible. Only sheets of grey drifting cloud, and dripping trees, dripping carriages, horses, and umbrellas. We left Marau at Afaahiti, while we drove on to these now familiar quarters, where I have the luxury of a large, good room. Of course we all arrived soaked, and have spent the day in trying to get dry. I think most of the gentlemen have managed a few hours of sleep.
In The Cheferie, Mahaena, Monday, 22d.
An early drive Drought us to Hitiaa, the house of little Hinoi's mother, the pretty young widow of the Prince de Joinville. Everything here was very gracefully done, and the festival as purely native as possible. Here the severity of Court mourning was not mitigated, and all the women wore crowns of fibre dyed black, which looked very sombre.
Immediately after breakfast we started for Mahaena, preceded by a party of six or eight picturesque lancers, who had formed part of old Queen Pomare's body-guard. They added a pleasant feature to the beautiful scenery as they rode along the green glades, through the usual successions of glorious foliage;—groves of magnificent bread-fruit trees, indigenous to those isles; next a clump of noble mango-trees, recently imported, but now quite at home; then a group of tall palms, or a long avenue of gigantic bananas, their leaves, sometimes twelve feet long, meeting over our heads. Then came patches of sugar or Indian corn, and next a plantation of vanilla, trained to climb over closely planted tall coffee, or else over vermilion-bushes. Sometimes it is planted, without more ado, at the root of pruned guava-bushes. These grow wild over the whole country, loaded with large, excellent fruit, and, moreover, supply the whole fuel of the isles, and good food for cattle. They are all self-sown,—descendants of a few plants introduced as garden fruittrees,—and now they have overrun the isles and are looked upon by the planters as a curse, because of the rapidity and tenacity with which they take possession of any patch of neglected land. Yet a plant which so generously yields food for man and beast, and abundant fuel, is surely not altogether evil! Amongst all this wealth of food-producing vegetation, I sometimes looked in vain for any trees that were merely ornamental; and literally there were only the yellow hybiscus, which yields the useful fibre, and tho candle-nut, covered with clusters of white blossoms, somewhat DISTURBED SLUMBERS.
resembling white lilac, and bearing nuts with oily kernels, whence the tree derives its name.
The method of manufacturing candles from candle-nuts is delightfully simple. First the nuts are lightly baked, to render their very hard shell more brittle; the kernels are thus obtained whole, and a hole being bored in each, about a dozen are strung together on the mid-rib of a palm-leaf, which acts as the wick, and the oily nuts, each the size of a walnut, burn slowly with a dim light and oppressive smell.
On our arrival here, we were met by a messenger from Papeete, announcing an outbreak of a serious form of influenza, from which the king's aunt died this morning. This -is a great grief to the royal brothers, who at once started to attend her funeral Ties of family affection appear to be very strong in Tahiti, and this sad news has cast a gloom on everything. It is very grievous for our hosts, who had made their preparations with great care, and were looking forward to this opportunity of testifying their loyalty.
The river here is lovely. Marau and I bathed together, and I spent the afternoon sketching. During the evening himknes, we all sat in pleasant groups on the shore, or strolled along to the mouth of the river. For our night-quarters, this large district house has been divided by temporary screens, charmingly decorated with quaintly knotted palm-leaves and tree-ferns. I share one of these divisions with the queen, the admiral and his son occupy the next, and all the other gentlemen have disposed of themselves at the further end.
PapeSOO, Tuesday, 23d.
Last night, for the first time, we were all devoured by fleas, and a chorus of aggravation arose from all sides of the pretty cheferie. Everything was beautifully clean, so we attribute the presence of these unwelcome intruders to the fact that the hay, which is always laid as a carpet on the wooden floor, must have been too .old.
We all compared notes of distress over our morning coffee— then, as usual, forgot all save the beauty of the scenery as we drove along the shore to Tiarei, where a temporary avenue of faees, or wild banana, had been planted with infinite trouble and at a great sacrifice of fine fruit-bearing plants. The peculiarity of the faees1 is, that instead of carrying its huge cluster of fruit pendent, beneath its broad leaves, it carries it upright in the centre. The faees invariably grow in the most inaccessible ravines and crevices of the rock; so it must have been a troublesome task to carry these down, without injury to the large delicate leaves.
We were welcomed by a large family of chiefs, and specially by a kind old lady, who kissed us all on both cheeks, down to M. Hardouin, A.D.C., when Marau's untimely laughter stopped her proceeding to the remaining eighteen officers! Though the absence of the king must have made it rather flat for the chiefs, the official speeches were made to the admiral, and the himenes sung as usual.
Then followed a most lovely drive, the road cut along the face of basaltic cliffs, and here we are close to another very fine river, which of course implies pleasant bathing and sketching. This evening we had a delightful stroll along the shore, the wavelets breaking on a pebbly beach. At the last moment, the moon rose glorious from the sea—a vision of great beauty.
We are very comfortably housed to - night in the chief's own house. Marau and I occupy one end, and his family have tho other.
Chez Rev. James Gbees, Papeete, Oct. iith.
Late last night we returned to headquarters, and I to this pleasant nest, very glad of the prospect of a few days' rest. Yesterday was a long day, for I was out sketching with the first ray of light, and worked till it was time to start for the Haapepe district, of which the king's brother, Terii Tapunui is chief. lie is distressingly lame, but is a very good fellow, with a particularly nice wife, a cousin of the charming Moe. She is noted for her skill in making pretty hats. They received us at Point Venus, so called because Captain Cook thence observed the transit of Venus in 1769.
l'omare and Tamatoa rejoined the party after returning from
i Mum uranasenpus.