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many pleasant days (and of sad ones too); and I would fain be going on with the good ship now, for I sorely regret the approaching end of my travels in these parts.
To-night we dined at Mrs Brander's. The party included a large number of officers from the Magicienne. It was a farewell entertainment, as Mrs Brander's son Aleck and Mr Darsie both go to Honolulu in the Maramma (the latter en route to England). They too are going to see the volcanoes; but if they are rightly informed concerning the trips of the little Hawaiian steamer, I begin to have very grave doubts of the possibility of my visiting the southern isles at all, if I attempt to carry out my programme, even supposing we have a fair wind and quick passage to Honolulu, which is more than doubtful.
A wretched sleepless night, worrying over plans. Difficulties always do exaggerate themselves so absurdly if one lies awake. Out at daybreak to get a sketch from the shore. It is all working against time, and my heap of unfinished drawings is a serious nightmare. I have been struggling to get several duplicate sketches finished for various friends, and I feel like a graphic barrel-organ — an unreasoning machine for the multiplication of drawings; and the ever-recurring thought arises, Why not stay and have the delight of working from nature, as the kind friends here advise, when after all it is more than probable that the Christmas tryst will fall through? But anyhow, I have missed the chance of Les Marquises, and it would seem too silly to change my mind now.
Mrs Brander came to-day to say good-bye, but added emphatically, "You're not gone yet, however 1" There's no doubt that her invitation to stay on is quite bond fide; but for two months at least! What a visitation to inflict on any one!
Mrs Miller drove me to call on the Bishop of Axieri, Monseigneur Tepano Janssen, who is most kind and courteous. He showed us all over his grounds, which are literally a garden of acclimatisation, so numerous are the useful plants of other lands which he is endeavouring to introduce. It is greatly due to his care that the mangoes of Tahiti have been brought to such perfection. The conversation turned on many subjects of interest . Amongst other things, speaking of the effect of many mingled sounds, he told us of the deafening noise produced by the cries of sea-birds on some of the isles where he has touched, on one of which he witnessed a strange instance of combined action by myriads of sea-birds and herons; the former, diving simultaneously, produced a noise like a thunder-clap as they struck the water. The dignified herons profited by their neighbours' work, and waited on the shore ready to catch the startled fish as they fled affrighted from the divers.
This evening the admiral invited Mrs Miller, Madame Fayzeau, and myself, to dine on board La Magicienne. She is a very fine old fashioned-frigate, with vast accommodation, splendid broad decks of great length. The admiral has a large dining-room, and a sitting-room the size of an average drawing-room, with four large square windows opening into a gallery round the stern—a charming lounge in fine weather. Commandant Beique has rooms equally pretty, on the same level, each with a large square window (I cannot call them ports). They are so high above the water that they scarcely ever have to be closed—a true boon in the tropics. I never saw so roomy a ship. With all her big guns, five hundred sailors, and thirty officers, there was no symptom of crowding. Amongst the officers are two belonging to the Peruvian navy, who have come to study the French system of navigation. One of these is remarkable for his diminutive size and extraordinary strength; the biggest men in the ship cannot wrestle with him, nor fight him (in sport).
After dinner we adjourned to Government House grounds to hear the band play, as usual; then all walked back by the shore to the British consulate, for a farewell evening, and finished it here in this sweet home-like nest. I do grieve that it should be the last evening, the more so as I am beginning to believe that what all my friends here agree in saying must be true—namely, that when I made my vague calculation of reaching Sydney for Christmas, it was on the principle of Jules Verne's 'Bound the iWorld
in Eighty Days.' They say that to attempt fitting the Sandwich Isles volcanoes into the time is preposterous folly. I think they are right, but it is too late to change now. What further concerns me is the thought, which had not previously presented itself, that very likely, after all this pushing and scrambling, and spoiling everything by useless hurry, Lady Gordon may have given up the idea, and may stay quietly in Fiji till she is obliged to take the children direct to England,i and I may never know this till I reach Sydney
Another weary night—perplexing and conflicting suggestions— the horrid feeling of being disloyal to a tryst, yet the certainty that nowhere else shall I find such beauty as I am leaving. Those unsketched dolomites of Moorea — those ferny ravines all unexplored —those glorious valleys of bread-fruit—the himenes that I shall never hear again! And every one agrees in telling me that the Hawaiian Isles are not to compare with these in beauty,—that the hills are comparatively shapeless, the foliage poor, the bread-fruit sickly and blighted, the cocoa-palms mere ghosts of their southern relations, and the mangoes miserable fruits, not worthy to bear the same name as the luscious mangoes of Tahiti. They tell me, too, that the people are much less attractive; that they have taken on so much blunt civilisation, that they have lost whatever native grace they may have once possessed. Even the same garment— the flowing sacque — is there worn so short and full that it is scarcely to be recognised, and instead of floating drapery it becomes a mere dress.2
Well, I must now begin my packing. There will be time enough for writing before we reach Honolulu.
Papeete, Saturday Afternoon.
Jubilate! Jubilate! The Maramma is to start in an hour, but will leave me to revel in South Sea loveliness till her next trip.
i Which proved to be the exact state'of the case.
5 All of which I found to be strictly true. Undoubtedly, the ideal Pacific Isles lie south of the equator.
This morning, just as I was putting the finishing-touches to my packing—I must confess very much contre-cceur, and quite in the vein of Eve's lamentation, "Must I leave thee, Paradise ?"—up drove pretty Queen Marau and her handsome sister Moetia, who carried the position by assault,—vowed it was not too late to change a foolish plan; so leaving Moctia with her cousin Moe, Marau made me jump into her pony-phaeton and drove me straight off to Fautawa, where her sister Titaua, Mrs Brander, was giving a great entertainment to all her employSs, previous to her son's departure for Honolulu. Then and there she made me recant all my previous protestations and refusals of her most hospitable invitations, and in two seconds all was settled. I am to be her guest till the Maramma returns, and is again sent to Honolulu.
Now that it is all settled, I feel quite satisfied and reprieved; so instead of a long letter written on board ship, I must despatch this as it is. We are just hurrying to the wharf to say good-bye to our friends, and then I look forward to a grand night's rest, for I am thoroughly tired.
I have been hoping against hope that a letter might reach me here, vid New Zealand; but the schooner thence is about a month overdue, and it is feared she has gone on a reef. Good bye.— Your loving sister.
VAIN REGRETS—SOME ACCOUNT OP THE MARQUESAS AND
Papeete, November 111*.
I am certainly very glad that my good friends here supplied the moral courage which I failed to find, and so enabled me to repent at the eleventh hour. I do rejoice in the sense of repose, knowing that for at least two months I may now explore the many scenes of enchantment which lie on every side, without a thought of hurry.
Yet even this joy is not unmixed. I do find it very hard to be truly philosophical, and not to cry over spilt milk, when I think of the delightful cruise to the Marquesas and Paumotus, which would so admirably have filled up this first fortnight, had I only been able to decide three days earlier.
But it was not till the hospitable ship had sailed, that I found leisure soberly to think the matter over, and to realise how very rare and precious a chance I had so idiotically thrown away. When your eyes are satiated with grand scenery, and each lovely group of isles seems only to differ from the last in its degree of special beauty, you are apt to think that really you have seen enough, and may as well pause and be satisfied with all the exquisite pictures which crowd before your memory. So, when these most kind friends urged me to accompany them on this expedition, I was so absorbed in working up some of the innumerable sketches made on the last trip, that I never took time to think out the subject in all its bearings, and to see how impossible it would be for me to reach Honolulu by sailing-ship, see all the wonders of the Sandwich Isles, and then return to New Zealand or Sydney before Christmas, as I had proposed doing.
Neither did I at all realise how very few travellers have ever seen the Marquesas, and how very little is known about them by the general public, beyond the bare facts of their having been discovered by the Spaniards in 1595, and by them named after the Marquesas de Mendoza, the Viceroy of Peru.
They then seem to have been forgotten till about the year 1777, when they were visited by Captain Cook, who has recorded his admiration of their loveliness, and declared that the inhabitants were the finest race he had seen, "in fine shape and regular features perhaps surpassing all other nations," "as fair as some Europeans, and much tattooed." He found fine harbours, from twenty to thirty fathoms deep, close inshore, with clear sandy bottom; good store of wood and water; and at first the natives seemed inclined to receive the strangers kindly, but became less cordial on further acquaintance.
Soon afterwards the London Mission endeavoured to establish a