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either of the missing ships, to decide by which route to tear myself away from the Tahitian paradise, and all the kind, kind people in it, to whom it owes half its charm.
Misfortunes never do come singly, and really it seems as if every vessel that has come in of late has brought tidings of some fresh loss. Of those for which we watched so anxiously, the first to arrive was the Paloma, from San Francisco. Great was the joy when she was sighted, great the dismay when it became known that she brought no mails. It appears that she had been becalmed on her voyage to 'Frisco, and so had arrived late. The French consul there, sooner than 'allow one day's delay in starting the return mail, had chartered another vessel, the Bonanza, to bring it down, at a cost to the Paloma of 2000 dollars. The latter had to wait several days in San Francisco for cargo; and nevertheless, though the Bonanza is accounted a swift sailer, the Paloma reached Honolulu several days before her. She brought news that the Maramma got into so many difficulties at the Hawaiian Isles that Aleck Brander deemed it best to take passage by the mail-steamer up to San Francisco, intending to return thence in the Paloma; but finding that the Bonanza was chartered for an immediate start, he decided to come by her, and so has only just arrived, after both the other ships had been some days in harbour.
The Maramma has had quite a chapter of accidents. After making an excellent run to Honolulu, she went down to Kauai to ship cattle, when it was discovered that she had sprung a serious leak, and had nine feet of water in her hold. Happily she was so close inshore that she landed all her cargo without difficulty. A Government steamer was sent down to tow her back to Honolulu, at a cost of 3000 dollars. Another 1000 dollars were there expended on repairs, and to this must be added 2000 more of dead loss on the voyage,—and all this was due to one rat-hole!
Now she is undergoing further repairs here, and will very likely be despatched to Hawaii in a very few days, in which case she will probably go direct to Kauai, the most beautiful, and least visited, TAHITIAN AND HAWAIIAN KINSFOLK. 363
of all the Sandwich Isles. It is a very tempting possibility, yet the element of doubt as to whether she really will go at all, exists so clearly, that it seems wiser for me to take passage in the Paloma to San Francisco, and thence return to Honolulu by mail-steamer. It is a terribly long round; for whereas Honolulu is 2000 miles from here, San Francisco is at least 4000, as the crow flies, and as ships go, the voyage is often one of 5000 miles, or even more— a long voyage to undertake in a brigantine of 230 tons!
Aleck Brander has been giving us most interesting accounts of his reception in Honolulu by all the royalties and high chiefs of Hawaii. As I have before mentioned, they all count blood-relationship with the high chiefs of Tahiti; and though they rarely meet, a visit from one to the other is a great event. So Aleck's first visit was celebrated by a true native welcome, and he had the luck of seeing such traces of old Hawaiian custom as have not yet quite died out . But it sounds odd to hear of presentations of food, and of crouching servants, quite d la Fiji, combined with very smart American-Parisian dresses, very much decolletee. At least the photographs, of which Aleck has brought a large supply, represent the great ladies of Hawaii in very low-necked and short-sleeved dresses of gorgeous material Certainly the simple robes of Tahiti are infinitely preferable.
Or Board The Paloma,
The die is cast, the sad partings over, and I have bidden a long farewell to the kindest and most affectionate community I have yet discovered in all my wanderings. I took leave of them all yesterday morning, for the Paloma had gone to Hitiaa, on the other side of the island, there to load with oranges.
My only fellow-passengers are a very kind couple, Mr and Mrs Boyd, who are accompanied by a pretty fair-haired child. We came together from Papeete, in a comfortable coach with canvas cover, and had a most lovely sixty miles' drive along the shore, with the distant hills standing out clearer and more beautiful than I had ever yet seen them, and the foliage seeming richer than ever, as I looked on it all with the sorrowful feeling that it was for the last time.
Several bridges had been washed away during a recent storm— the same which wrought such devastation in the Paumotus—so we had to cross the rivers at the mouth, by driving quite into the sea. It was rather nervous work, as the horses did not like it at all. But otherwise, the beautiful grass roads were in excellent condition, and we had four changes of very good horses, so the drive was most delightful.
Now the beautiful isle lies far behind us, fading into the blue distance, and we are fairly started on our far journey.
Small as is our ship, she is in every respect satisfactory, and as clean and cosy as a gentleman's yacht. I never saw so small a vessel carry so much sail,—truly our Paloma deserves her name, for she is now flying before the breeze like a swift white-winged carrier-pigeon, bearing many a letter.1
She also carries 270,000 oranges—a fragrant cargo. They are gathered unripe, to be ready for the market on our arrival. Probably, if we make a slow voyage, we shall seriously diminish their numbers! On their account, every part of the ship is kept as cool and airy as possible.
Our cabins are excellent. Mine is large and comfortable, and has two windows opening on to the deck, so that they need never be shut unless weather is very bad. The table is excellent, the service quiet and attentive. Our Danish captain is an exceedingly good fellow, as is also his wife, who travels with him.
The cook and steward, and the two mates, are Swedes and Germans. Seven Earotongans compose the crew: all are very■ quiet and silent. So is little Edith, with her cat and kitten. The canary is the only noisy person on board, and sings joyously.
We are starting as it were on a long yachting cruise in summer seas.
Saturday, April ttMJk, Still On Board The Paloma.
Our summer cruise has lasted six weeks; we have made about 1 Paloma—a dove.
FAREWELL TAHITI. 3G5
the longest voyage on record. We have lain becalmed for days, which both the captain and his wife attribute to my perversity in writing letters on board! They say it always happens when passengers write, and that it ought to be an irrevocable law that all ink-bottles are emptied when their owners embark. Unaccountable currents have drifted us far out of our course, and the irregular behaviour of the trade-wind has driven us right to the west of the Sandwich Isles, and yet had not the kindness to blow us close to Honolulu, where I might have met some vessel running in and transhipped,—Captain Nissen would not have dared to land me himself, as he would thereby have broken his mail contract. But we passed close to Kauai, which, seen from the sea, is a very uninteresting-looking island; and then we sailed so close to Niihau that we could distinguish every house. It did seem a pity that the aggravating contract should prevent my landing at once, instead of my having to go on all the way to San Francisco, just to return in a steamer! We have actually made a voyage of 6000 miles since we left Papeete! For my own part, I really have not disliked it. We have had lovely weather; everything has gone on most pleasantly; and what with reading, working, and painting, the days have been well filled.
Yesterday was Good Friday, which in Germany and Denmark is called "the quiet day,"1 and it was observed by the Danes and Germans, and all the crew, by a cessation from all manner of work not positively necessary. The Karotongans are all Christians, and have their own books, which they read quietly on Sunday*
Now we are off the coast of California. We are nearing the Golden Gates, and hope to find ourselves safe in harbour, before the dawn on Easter morning.
1 Der stille Tag.