The cava feast, the yam, the cocoa's root, 
    Which bears at once the cup, and milk, and fruit, 
    The bread-tree which, without the ploughshare, yields 
    The unreap'd harvest of unfurrowed fields.

          * * * * *

    These, with the luxuries of seas and woods, 
    The airy joys of social solitudes, 
    Tamed each rude wanderer.

Saturday, December 2nd. - The anchor was dropped in the harbour of Papeete at nine o'clock, and a couple of hours later, by which time the weather had cleared, we went ashore, and at once found ourselves in the midst of a fairy-like scene, to describe which is almost impossible, so bewildering is it in the brightness and variety of its colouring. The magnolias and yellow and scarlet hibiscus, overshadowing the water, the velvety turf, on to which one steps from the boat, the white road running between rows of wooden houses, whose little gardens are a mass of flowers, the men and women clad in the gayest robes and decked with flowers, the piles of unfamiliar fruit lying on the grass, waiting to be transported to the coasting vessels in the harbour, the wide-spreading background of hills clad in verdure to their summits - these are but a few of the objects which greet the new-comer in his first contact with the shore.

We strolled about, and left our letters of introduction; but the people to whom they were addressed were at breakfast, and we were deliberating how best to dispose of our time, when a gentleman accosted us, and, seeing how new it all was to us strangers, offered to show us round the town.

The streets of Papeete, running back at right angles with the beach, seem to have wonderfully grand names, such as the Rue de Rivoli, Rue de Paris, &c. Every street is shaded by an avenue of high trees, whose branches meet and interlace overhead, forming a sort of leafy tunnel, through which the sea-breeze passes refreshingly. There is also what is called the Chinamen's quarter, through which we walked, and which consists of a collection of regular Chinese-built bamboo houses, whose occupants all wore their national costume, pigtail included. The French commandant lives in a charming residence, surrounded by gardens, just opposite the palace of Queen Pomare, who is at present at the island of Bola-Bola, taking care of her little grandchild, aged five, the queen of the island. She went down in a French man-of-war, the 'Limier,' ten days ago, and has been obliged to remain, owing to some disturbances amongst the natives. I am rather disappointed that she is absent, as I should like to see a person of whom I have heard so much.

Having completed our tour, we next went to call on the British Consul, who received us kindly, and entertained us with an interesting account of the island and its inhabitants, its pearl-fisheries and trade, the French policy, the missionaries, &c., on all of which subjects he is well informed. He has just completed an exhaustive consular report on the condition of the island, which will, no doubt, appear in due course in the form of a blue-book.

On our return to Messrs. Brander's office, where we had left one of our letters of introduction, we found the manager, with whom we had a long chat before returning on board.

At 5 p.m. we went for a row in the 'Glance' and the 'Flash' to the coral reef, now illumined by the rays of the setting sun. Who can describe these wonderful gardens of the deep, on which we now gazed through ten and twenty fathoms of crystal water? Who can enumerate or describe the strange creatures moving about and darting hither and thither, amid the masses of coral forming their submarine home? There were shells of rare shape, brighter than if they had been polished by the hand of the most skilful artist; crabs of all sizes, scuttling and sidling along; sea-anemones, spreading their delicate feelers in search of prey; and many other kinds of zoophytes, crawling slowly over the reef; and scarlet, blue, yellow, gold, violet, spotted, striped, and winged fish, short, long, pointed, and blunt, of the most varied shapes, were darting about like birds among the coral trees.

At last, after frequent stoppages, to allow time for admiration, we reached the outer reef, hauled the boat up and made her fast, and, in bathing shoes, started on a paddling expedition. Such a paddle it was, too, over the coral, the surf breaking far above our heads, and the underflow, though only a few inches deep, nearly carrying me and the children off our legs! There were one or two native fishermen walking along the reef, whipping the water; but they appeared to have caught only a few small rock-fish, pretty enough to look at, but not apparently good to eat.

The shades of night compelled us to return to the yacht, laden with corals of many different species. After dinner the bay was illuminated by the torches of the native fishermen, in canoes, on the reef. Tom and I went to look at them, but did not see them catch anything. Each canoe contained at least three people, one of whom propelled the boat, another stood up waving about a torch dipped in some resinous substance, which threw a strong light on the water, while the third stood in the bows, armed with a spear, made of a bundle of wires, tied to a long pole, not at all unlike a gigantic egg-whip, with all its loops cut into points. This is aimed with great dexterity at the fish, who are either transfixed or jammed between the prongs. The fine figures of the natives, lighted up by the flickering torches, and standing out in bold relief against the dark blue starlit sky, would have served as models for the sculptors of ancient Greece.

Sunday, December 3rd. - At a quarter to five this morning some of us landed to see the market, this being the great day when the natives come in from the country and surrounding villages, by sea and by land, in boats, or on horseback, to sell their produce, and buy necessaries for the coming week. We walked through the shady streets to the two covered market buildings, partitioned across with great bunches of oranges, plantains, and many-coloured vegetables, hung on strings. The mats, beds, and pillows still lying about suggested the idea that the salesmen and women had passed the night amongst their wares. The gaily attired, good-looking, flower-decorated crowd, of some seven or eight hundred people, all chatting and laughing, and some staring at us - but not rudely - looked much more like a chorus of opera-singers, dressed for their parts in some grand spectacle, than ordinary market-going peasants. Whichever way one turned, the prospect was an animated and attractive one. Here, beneath the shade of large, smooth, light-green banana leaves, was a group of earnest bargainers for mysterious-looking fish, luscious fruit, and vegetables; there, sheltered by a drooping mango, whose rich clusters of purple and orange fruit hung in tempting proximity to lips and hands, another little crowd was similarly engaged. Orange-trees were evidently favourite rendezvous; and a row of flower-sellers had established themselves in front of a hedge of scarlet hibiscus and double Cape jasmine. Every vendor carried his stock-in-trade, however small the articles composing it might be, on a bamboo pole, across his shoulder, occasionally with rather ludicrous effect, as, for instance, when the thick but light pole supported only a tiny fish six inches long at one end, and two mangoes at the other. Everybody seemed to have brought to market just what he or she happened to have on hand, however small the quantity. The women would have one, two, or three new-laid eggs in a leaf basket, one crab or lobster, three or four prawns, or one little trout. Under these circumstances, marketing for so large a party as ours was a somewhat lengthy operation, and I was much amused in watching our proveedor, as he went about collecting things by ones and twos, until he had piled a little cart quite full, and had had it pushed off to the shady quay.

We strolled about until six o'clock, at which hour the purchasers began to disperse, and were just preparing to depart likewise, when an old man, carrying half-a-dozen little fish, and followed by a small boy laden with vegetables and fruit, introduced himself to us as the brother-in-law of Queen Pomare IV. and chief of Papeete, and, after a short talk, invited us to visit him at his house. We consented, and, following him, presently reached a break in the hedge and ditch that ran along the side of the road, beyond which was a track, bordered by pineapples and dracaenas, leading to a superior sort of house, built in the native style, and surrounded, as usual, by bread-fruit, cocoa-nut, banana, mango, and guava trees. We were conducted into the one large room, which contained two four-post bedsteads and four mattresses, laid on the floor, two or three trunks, and a table in the corner, on which were writing materials and a few books. The chief himself spoke a very little English, his son an equally small amount of French; so the conversation languished, and after a decent interval we rose to depart. Our host asked if he might 'come and see my ship,' and procured pen, ink, and paper - not of the best quality - for me to write an order for him do so, 'in case lady not at home.' He also presented me with some pictures of soldiers, drawn by his son - a boy about eleven years old, of whom he seemed very proud, and expressed his regret that we could not prolong our stay, at the same time placing at our disposal the whole house and garden, including a fat sow and eleven little pigs.

Several other visitors had arrived by this time, one of whom was on horseback, and, as I was rather tired, he was asked if he would kindly allow me to ride down to the landing place. He replied that he would lend the horse to a gentleman, but not to me, as the saddle was not suitable. I explained that this made no difference to me, and mounted, though I did not attempt to follow the fashion of the native ladies here, who ride like men. Our new friend was quite delighted at this, and volunteered himself to show us something of the neighbourhood. Accordingly, leading my - or rather his - horse, and guiding him carefully over all the rough places, he took us through groves and gardens to the grounds belonging to the royal family, in which were plantations of various kinds of trees, and a thick undergrowth of guava. After an enjoyable little expedition we returned to the yacht at about half-past seven, accompanied by the small boy who had been carrying our special purchases from the market all this time, and by a little tail of followers.

At half-past eight we breakfasted, so as to be ready for the service at the native church at ten o'clock; but several visitors arrived in the interval, and we had rather a bustle to get off in time, after all. We landed close to the church, under the shade of an hibiscus, whose yellow and orange flowers dropped off into the sea and floated away amongst the coral rocks, peeping out of the water here and there. The building appeared to be full to overflowing. The windows and doors were all wide open, and many members of the congregation were seated on the steps, on the lawn, and on the grassy slope beyond, listening to a discourse in the native language. Most of the people wore the native costume, which, especially when made of black stuff and surmounted by a little sailor's hat, decorated with a bandana handkerchief or a wreath of flowers, was very becoming. Sailors' hats are universally worn, and are generally made by the natives themselves from plantain or palm leaves, or from the inside fibre of the arrowroot. Some rather elderly men and women in the front rows were taking notes of the sermon. I found afterwards that they belonged to the Bible class, and that their great pride was to meet after the service and repeat by heart nearly all they had heard. This seems to show at least a desire to profit by the minister's efforts.

After the usual service there were two christenings. The babies were held at the font by the men, who looked extremely sheepish. One baby was grandly attired in a book-muslin dress, with flounces, a tail at least six feet long dragging on the ground, and a lace cap with cherry-coloured bows; the other was nearly as smart, in a white-worked long frock and cap, trimmed with blue bows. The christenings over, there was a hymn, somewhat monotonous as to time and tune, but sung with much fervour, followed by the administration of the sacrament, in which cocoa-nut milk took the place of wine, and bread-fruit that of bread. The proper elements were originally used, but experience proved that, although the bread went round pretty well, the cup was almost invariably emptied by the first two or three communicants, sometimes with unfortunate results.

After service we drove through the shady avenues of the town into the open country, past trim little villas and sugar-cane plantations, until we turned off the main road, and entered an avenue of mangoes, whence a rough road, cut through a guava thicket, leads to the main gate of Faataua[9] - a regular square Indian bungalow, with thatched roofs, verandahs covered with creepers, windows opening to the ground, and steps leading to the gardens on every side, ample accommodation for stables, kitchens, servants, being provided in numerous outbuildings.

[Footnote 9: 'Fuatawah' or 'Faataua,' to make friends.]

Soon after breakfast, Mrs. Brander dressed me in one of her own native costumes, and we drove to the outskirts of a dense forest, through which a footpath leads to the waterfall and fort of Faataua. Here we found horses waiting for us, on which we rode, accompanied by the gentlemen on foot, through a thick growth of palms, orange-trees, guavas, and other tropical trees, some of which were overhung and almost choked by luxuriant creepers. Specially noticeable among the latter was a gorgeous purple passion-flower, with orange-coloured fruit as big as pumpkins, that covered everything with its vigorous growth. The path was always narrow and sometimes steep, and we had frequently almost to creep under the overhanging boughs, or to turn aside to avoid a more than usually dense mass of creepers. We crossed several small rivers, and at last reached a spot that commanded a view of the waterfall, on the other side of a deep ravine. Just below the fort that crowns the height, a river issues from a narrow cleft in the rock, and falls at a single bound from the edge of an almost perpendicular cliff, 600 feet high, into the valley beneath. First one sees the rush of blue water, gradually changing in its descent to a cloud of white spray, which in its turn is lost in a rainbow of mist. Imagine that from beneath the shade of feathery palms and broad-leaved bananas through a network of ferns and creepers you are looking upon the Staubbach, in Switzerland, magnified in height, and with a background of verdure-clad mountains, and you will have some idea of the fall of Faataua as we beheld it.

After resting a little while and taking some sketches, we climbed up to the fort itself, a place of considerable interest, where the natives held out to the very last against the French. On the bank opposite the fort, the last islander killed during the struggle for independence was shot while trying to escape. Situated in the centre of a group of mountains, with valleys branching off in all directions, the fort could hold communication with every part of the coast, and there can be little doubt that it would have held out much longer than it did, but for the treachery of one of the garrison, who led the invaders, under cover of the night, and by devious paths, to the top of a hill commanding the position. Now the ramparts and earthworks are overrun and almost hidden by roses. Originally planted, I suppose, by the new-comers, they have spread rapidly in all directions, till the hill-sides and summits are quite a-blush with the fragrant bloom.

Having enjoyed some strawberries and some icy cold water from a spring, and heard a long account of the war from the gardiens, we found it was time to commence our return journey, as it was now getting late. We descended much more quickly than we had come up, but daylight had faded into the brief tropical twilight, and that again into the shades of night, ere we reached the carriage.

Dinner and evening service brought the day to a conclusion, and I retired, not unwillingly, to bed, to dream of the charms of Tahiti.

Sometimes I think that all I have seen must be only a long vision, and that too soon I shall awaken to the cold reality; the flowers, the fruit, the colours worn by every one, the whole scene and its surroundings, seem almost too fairylike to have an actual existence. I am in despair when I attempt to describe all these things. I feel that I cannot do anything like justice to their merits, and yet I fear all the time that what I say may be looked upon as an exaggeration.

    Long dreamy lawns, and birds on happy wings, 
      Keeping their homes in never-rifled bowers; 
    Cool fountains filling with their murmurings 
      The sunny silence 'twixt the chiming hours.

At daybreak next morning, when I went on deck, it was a dead calm. The sea-breeze had not yet come in, and there was not a ripple on the surface of the harbour. Outside, two little white trading schooners lay becalmed; inside, the harbour-tug was getting up steam. On shore, a few gaily dressed natives were hurrying home with their early market produce, and others were stretched lazily on the grass at the water's edge or on the benches under the trees. Our stores for the day, a picturesque-looking heap of fish, fruit, vegetables, and flowers, were on the steps, waiting to be brought off, and guarded in the meantime by natives in costumes of pink, blue, orange, and a delicate pale green they specially affect. The light mists rolled gradually away from the mountain tops, and there was every prospect of a fine day for a projected excursion.

I went ashore to fetch some of the fresh gathered fruit, and soon we had a feast of luscious pineapples, juicy mangoes, bananas, and oranges, with the dew still upon them. The mango is certainly the king of fruit. Its flavour is a combination of apricot and pineapple, with the slightest possible suspicion of turpentine thrown in, to give a piquancy to the whole. I dare say it sounds a strange mixture, but I can only say that the result is delicious. To enjoy mangoes thoroughly you ought not to eat them in company, but leaning over the side of the ship, in the early morning, with your sleeves tucked up to your elbows, using no knife and fork, but tearing off the skin with your teeth, and sucking the abundant juice.

We breakfasted at half-past six, and, at a little before eight, went ashore, where we were met by a sort of char-a-bancs, or American wagon, with three seats, one behind the other, all facing the horses, and roomy and comfortable enough for two persons. Our Transatlantic cousins certainly understand thoroughly, and do their best to improve everything connected with, the locomotion they love so well. A Chinese coachman and a thin but active pair of little horses completed the turn-out. Mabelle sat beside the coachman, and we four packed into, the other two seats, with all our belongings.

The sun was certainly very powerful when we emerged from the shady groves of Papeete, but there was a nice breeze, and sometimes we got under the shade of cocoa-nut trees. We reached Punauia at about half-past nine, and changed horses there. While waiting, hot and thirsty, under the shelter of some trees, we asked for a cocoa-nut, whereupon a man standing by immediately tied a withy of banana leaves round his feet and proceeded to climb, or rather hop, up the nearest tree, raising himself with his two hands and his feet alternately, with an exactly similar action to that of our old friend the monkey on the stick. People who have tasted the cocoa-nut only in England can have no idea what a delicious fruit it really is when nearly ripe and freshly plucked. The natives remove the outer husk, just leaving a little piece to serve as a foot for the pale brown cup to rest on. They then smooth off the top, and you have an elegant vase, something like a mounted ostrich egg in appearance, lined with the snowiest ivory, and containing about three pints of cool sweet water. Why it is called milk I cannot understand, for it is as clear as crystal, and is always cool and refreshing, though the nut in which it is contained has generally been exposed to the fiercest sun. In many of the coral islands, where the water is brackish, the natives drink scarcely anything but cocoa-nut milk; and even here, if you are thirsty and ask for a glass of water, you are almost always presented with a cocoa-nut instead.

From Punauia onwards the scenery increased in beauty, and the foliage was, if possible, more luxuriant than ever. The road ran through extensive coffee, sugar-cane, Indian corn, orange, cocoa-nut, and cotton plantations, and vanilla, carefully trained on bamboos, growing in the thick shade. Near Atimaono we passed the house of a great cotton planter, and, shortly afterwards, the curious huts, raised on platforms, built by some islanders he has imported from the Kingsmill group to work his plantations. They are a wild, savage-looking set, very inferior to the Tahitians in appearance. The cotton-mills, which formerly belonged to a company, are now all falling to ruin; and in many other parts of the island we passed cotton plantations uncleaned and neglected, and fast running to seed and waste. So long as the American war lasted, a slight profit could be made upon Tahitian cotton, but now it is hopeless to attempt to cultivate it with any prospect of adequate return.

The sun was now at its height, and we longed to stop and bathe in one of the many fresh-water streams we crossed, and afterwards to eat our lunch by the wayside; but our Chinese coachman always pointed onwards, and said, 'Eatee much presently; horses eatee too.' At last we arrived at a little house, shaded by cocoa-nut trees, and built in an enclosure near the sea-shore, with 'Restaurant' written up over the door. We drove in, and were met by the proprietor, with what must have been rather an embarrassing multiplicity of women and children about his heels. The cloth was not laid, but the rooms looked clean, and there was a heap of tempting-looking fish and fruit in a corner. We assured him we were starving, and begged for luncheon as soon as possible; and, in the meantime, went for a dip in the sea. But the water was shallow, and the sun made the temperature at least 90 deg., so that our bath was not very refreshing. On our return we found the table most enticingly laid out, with little scarlet crayfish, embedded in cool green lettuce leaves, fruit of various kinds, good wine and fair bread, all arranged on a clean though coarse tablecloth. There was also a savoury omelette, so good that Tom asked for a second; when, to our astonishment, there appeared a plump roast fowl, with most artistic gravy and fried potatoes. Then came a biftek aux champignons, and some excellent coffee to wind up with. On making the host our compliments, he said, 'Je fais la cuisine moi-meme, Madame.' In the course of our repast we again tasted the bread-fruit, but did not much appreciate it, though it was this time cooked in the native fashion - roasted underground by means of hot stones.

Our coachman was becoming impatient, so we bade farewell to our host, and resumed our journey. We crossed innumerable streams on our way, generally full not only of water, but also of bathers; for the Tahitians are very fond of water, and always bathe once or twice a day in the fresh streams, even after having been in the sea.

In many places along the road people were making hay from short grass, and in others they were weighing it preparatory to sending it into town. But they say the grass grown here is not at all nourishing for horses, and some people import it from Valparaiso.

The road round the island is called the Broom Road. Convicts were employed in its original formation, and now it is the punishment for any one getting drunk in any part of the island to be set to work to sweep, repair, and keep in order a piece of the road in the neighbourhood of his dwelling. It is the one good road of Tahiti, encircling the larger of the two peninsulas close to the sea-shore, and surmounting the low mountain range in the centre of the isthmus.

Before long we found ourselves close to Taravao, the narrow strip of land connecting the two peninsulas into which Tahiti is divided, and commenced to ascend the hills that form the backbone of the island. We climbed up and up, reaching the summit at last, to behold a magnificent prospect on all sides. Then a short sharp descent, a long drive over grass roads through a rich forest, and again a brief ascent, brought us to our sleeping-quarters for the night, the Hotel de l'Isthme, situated in a valley in the midst of a dense grove of cocoa-nuts and bananas, kept by two retired French sailors, who came out to meet us, and conducted us up a flight of steps on the side of a mud bank to the four rooms forming the hotel. These were two sleeping apartments, a salon, and a salle a manger, the walls of which consisted of flat pieces of wood, their own width apart, something like Venetian shutters, with unglazed windows and doors opening into the garden.

We walked about four hundred yards along a grassy road to the sea, where Mabelle and I paddled about in shallow water and amused ourselves by picking up coral, shells, and beche-de-mer, and watching the blue and yellow fish darting in and out among the rocks, until at last we found a place in the coral which made a capital deep-water bath. Dressing again was not such a pleasant affair, owing to the mosquitoes biting us in the most provoking manner. Afterwards we strolled along the shore, which was covered with cocoa-nuts and driftwood, washed thither, I suppose, from some of the adjacent islands, and on our way back to the hotel we gathered a handful of choice exotics and graceful ferns, with which to decorate the table.

The dinner itself really deserves a detailed description, if only to show that one may make the tour of Tahiti without necessarily having to rough it in the matter of food. We had crayfish and salad as a preliminary, and next, an excellent soup followed by delicious little oysters, that cling to the boughs and roots of the guava and mangrove trees overhanging the sea. Then came a large fish, name unknown, the inevitable bouilli and cabbage, cotelettes aux pommes, biftek aux champignons, succeeded by crabs and other shellfish, including wurrali, a delicate-flavoured kind of lobster, an omelette aux abricots, and dessert of tropical fruits. We were also supplied with good wine, both red and white, and bottled beer.

I ought, in truth, to add that the cockroaches were rather lively and plentiful, but they did not form a serious drawback to our enjoyment. After dinner, however, when I went to see Mabelle to bed, hundreds of these creatures, about three inches long, and broad in proportion, scuttled away as I lighted the candle; and while we were sitting outside we could see troops of them marching up and down in rows between the crevices of the walls. Then there were the mosquitoes, who hummed and buzzed about us, and with whom, alas! we were doomed to make a closer acquaintance. Our bed was fitted with the very thickest calico mosquito curtains, impervious to the air, but not to the venomous little insects, who found their way in through every tiny opening in spite of all our efforts to exclude them.

Tuesday, December 5th. - The heat in the night was suffocating, and soon after twelve o'clock we both woke up, feeling half-stifled. There was a dim light shining into the room, and Tom said, 'Thank goodness, it's getting daylight;' but on striking my repeater we found to our regret that this was a mistake. In the moonlight I could see columns of nasty brown cockroaches ascending the bedposts, crawling along the top of the curtains, dropping with a thud on to the bed, and then descending over the side to the ground. At last I could stand it no longer, and opening the curtains cautiously, I seized my slippers, knocked half-a-dozen brown beasts out of each, wrapped myself in a poncho - previously well shaken - gathered my garments around me, surmounted a barricade I had constructed overnight to keep the pigs and chickens out of our doorless room, and fled to the garden. All was still, the only sign of life being a light in a neighbouring hut, and I sat out in the open air in comparative comfort, until driven indoors again by torrents of rain, at about half-past two o'clock.

I plunged into bed again, taking several mosquitoes with me, which hummed and buzzed and devoured us to their hearts' content till dawn. Then I got up and walked down to the beach to bathe, and returned to breakfast at six o'clock, refreshed but still disfigured.

It is now the depth of winter and the middle of the rainy season in Tahiti; but, luckily for us, it is nearly always fine in the daytime. At night, however, there is often a perfect deluge, which floods the houses and gardens, turns the streams into torrents, but washes and refreshes the vegetation, and leaves the landscape brighter and greener than before.

At half-past seven the horses were put to, and we were just ready for a start, when down came the rain again, more heavily than before. It was some little time before it ceased enough to allow us to start, driving along grassy roads and through forests, but progressing rather slowly, owing to the soaked condition of the ground. If you can imagine the Kew hot-houses magnified and multiplied to an indefinite extent, and laid out as a gentleman's park, traversed by numerous grassy roads fringed with cocoa-nut palms, and commanding occasional glimpses of sea, and beach, and coral reefs, you will have some faint idea of the scene through which our road lay.

Many rivers we crossed, and many we stuck in, the gentlemen having more than once to take off their shoes and stockings, tuck up their trousers, jump into the water, and literally put their shoulders to the wheel. Sometimes we drove out into the shallow sea, till it seemed doubtful when and where we should make the land again. Sometimes we climbed up a solid road, blasted out of the face of the black cliffs, or crept along the shore of the tranquil lagoon, frightening the land-crabs into their holes as they felt the shake of the approaching carriage. Palms and passiflora abounded, the latter being specially magnificent. It seems wonderful how their thin steins can support, at a height of thirty or forty feet from the ground, the masses of huge orange-coloured fruit which depend in strings from their summits.

At the third river, not far from where it fell into the sea, we thought it was time to lunch; so we stopped the carriage, gave the horses their provender, and sat down to enjoy ourselves after our long drive. It was early in the afternoon before we started again, and soon after this we were met by fresh horses, sent out from Papenoo;[10] so it was not long before we found ourselves near Point Venus, where we once more came upon a good piece of road, down which we rattled to the plains outside Papeete.

[Footnote 10: From 'pape,' water, and 'noo,' abundance.]

We reached the quay at about seven o'clock, and, our arrival having been observed, several friends came to see us and to inquire how we had fared. Before we started on our excursion, instructions had been given that the 'Sunbeam' should be painted white, for the sake of coolness, and we were all very curious to see how she would look in her new dress; but unfortunately the wet weather has delayed the work, and there is still a good deal to do.

Wednesday, December 6th. - It was raining fast at half-past four this morning, which was rather provoking, as I wanted to take some photographs from the yacht's deck before the sea-breeze sprang up. But the weather cleared while I was choosing my position and fixing my camera, and I was enabled to take what I hope may prove to be some successful photographs.

Messrs. Brander's mail-ship, a sailing vessel of about 600 tons, was to leave for San Francisco at eight o'clock, and at seven Tom started in the 'Flash' to take our letters on board. The passage to San Francisco occupies twenty-five days on an average, and is performed with great regularity once a month each way. The vessels employed on this line, three in number, are well built, and have good accommodation for passengers, and they generally carry a full cargo. In the present instance it consists of fungus and tripang (beche-de-mer) for China, oranges for San Francisco, a good many packages of sundries, and a large consignment of pearls, entrusted to the captain at the last moment.

So brisk is the trade carried on between Tahiti and the United States, that the cost of this vessel was more than covered by the freights the first year after she was built. In addition to these ships, there are those which run backwards and forwards to Valparaiso, and the little island trading schooners; so that the Tahitians can boast of quite a respectable fleet of vessels, not imposing perhaps in point of tonnage, but as smart and serviceable-looking as could be desired. The trading schooners are really beautiful little craft, and I am sure that, if well kept and properly manned, they would show to no discredit among our smart yachts at Cowes. Not a day passes without one or more entering or leaving the harbour, returning from or bound to the lonely isles with which the south-west portion of the Pacific is studded. They are provided with a patent log, but their captains, who are intelligent men, do not care much about a chronometer, as the distances to be run are comparatively short and are easily judged.

Mr. Godeffroy gave us rather an amusing account of the manner in which their negotiations with the natives are conducted. The more civilised islanders have got beyond barter, and prefer hard cash in American dollars for their pearls, shells, cocoa-nuts, sandal-wood, &c. When they have received the money, they remain on deck for some time discussing their bargains among themselves. Then they peep down through the open skylights into the cabin below, where the most attractive prints and the gaudiest articles of apparel are temptingly displayed, alongside a few bottles of rum and brandy and a supply of tobacco. It is not long before the bait is swallowed; down go the natives, the goods are sold, and the dollars have once more found their way back into the captain's hands.

I had a long talk with one of the natives, who arrived to-day from Flint Island - a most picturesque-looking individual, dressed in scarlet and orange-coloured flannel, and a mass of black, shiny, curly hair. Flint Island is a place whose existence has been disputed, it having been more than once searched for by ships in vain. It was, therefore, particularly interesting to meet some one who had actually visited, and had just returned from, the spot in question. That islands do occasionally disappear entirely in these parts there can be little doubt. The Tahitian schooners were formerly in the habit of trading with a small island close to Rarotonga, whose name I forget; but about four years ago, when proceeding thither with the usual three-monthly cargo of provisions, prints, &c., they failed to find the island, of which no trace has since been seen. Two missionaries from Rarotonga are believed to have been on it at the time of its disappearance, and to have shared its mysterious fate.

Thursday, December 7th. - At eight o'clock I took Mabelle and Muriel for a drive in a pony-carriage which had been kindly lent me, but with a hint that the horse was rather mechant sometimes. He behaved well on the present occasion, however, and we had a pleasant drive in the outskirts of the town for a couple of hours.

Just as we returned, a gentleman came and asked me if I should like to see some remarkably fine pearls, and on my gladly consenting, he took me to his house, where I saw some pearls certainly worth going to look at, but too expensive for me, one pear-shaped gem alone having been valued at 1,000_l. I was told they came from a neighbouring island, and I was given two shells containing pearls in various stages of formation.

It was now time to go on board to receive some friends whom we had invited to breakfast, and who arrived at about half-past eleven.

After breakfast, and a chat, and an examination of the photograph books, &c., we all landed, and went to see Messrs. Brander's stores, where all sorts of requisites for fitting out ships and their crews can be procured. It is surprising to find how plentiful are the supplies of the necessaries and even the luxuries of civilised life in this far-away corner of the globe. You can even get ice here, for the manufacture of which a retired English infantry officer has set up an establishment with great success. But what interested me most were the products of this and the neighbouring islands. There were tons of exquisitely tinted pearl shells, six or eight inches in diameter, formerly a valuable article of commerce, but now worth comparatively little. The pearls that came out of them had unfortunately been sent away to Liverpool - 1,000_l. worth by this morning's, and 5,000_l by the last mail-ship. Then there was vanilla, a most precarious crop, which needs to be carefully watered and shaded from the first moment it is planted, and which must be gathered before it is ripe, and dried and matured in a moist heat, between blankets and feather-beds, in order that the pods may not crack and allow the essence to escape. We saw also edible fungus, exported to San Francisco, and thence to Hong Kong, solely for the use of the Chinese; tripang, or beche-de-mer, a sort of sea-slug or holothuria, which, either living or dead, fresh or dried, looks equally untempting, but is highly esteemed by the Celestials; coprah, or dried cocoa-nut kernels, broken into small pieces in order that they may stow better, and exported to England and other parts, where the oil is expressed and oil-cake formed; and various other articles of commerce. The trade of the island is fast increasing, the average invoice value of the exports having risen from 8,400_l in 1845 to 98,000_l in 1874. These totals are exclusive of the value of the pearls, which would increase it by at least another 3,000_l or 4,000_l.

I speak from personal experience when I say that every necessary of life on board ship, and many luxuries, can be procured at Tahiti. American tinned fruits and vegetables beat English ones hollow. Preserved milk is uncertain - sometimes better, sometimes worse, than what one buys at home. Tinned salmon is much better. Australian mutton, New Zealand beef, and South Sea pork, leave nothing to be desired in the way of preserved meat. Fresh beef, mutton, and butter are hardly procurable, and the latter, when preserved, is uneatable. I can never understand why they don't take to potting and salting down for export the best butter, at some large Irish or Devonshire farm, instead of reserving that process for butter which is just on the turn and is already almost unfit to eat; the result being that, long before it has reached a hot climate, it is only fit to grease carriage-wheels with. It could be done, and I feel sure it would pay, as good butter would fetch almost any price in many places. Some Devonshire butter, which we brought with us from England, is as good now, after ten thousand miles in the tropics, as it was when first put on board; but a considerable proportion is very bad, and was evidently not in proper condition in the first instance.

We had intended going afterwards to the coral reef with the children to have a picnic there, and had accordingly given the servants leave to go ashore for the evening; but it came on to rain heavily, and we were obliged to return to the yacht instead. The servants had, however, already availed themselves of the permission they had received, and there was therefore no one on board in their department; so we had to unpack our basket and have our picnic on deck, under the awning, instead of on the reef, which I think was almost as great a treat to the children.

We have, I am sorry to say, had a good deal of trouble with some of our men here. One disappeared directly we arrived, and has never been seen since. Another came off suffering from delirium tremens and epileptic fits, brought on by drink. His cries and struggles were horrible to hear and witness. It took four strong men to hold him, and the doctor was up with him all last night. Nearly all the ships that come here have been at sea for a long time, and the men are simply wild when they get ashore. Some of the people know only too well how to take advantage of this state of things, and the consequence is that it is hardly safe for a sailor to drink a glass of grog, for fear that it should be drugged. No doubt there are respectable places to which the men could resort, but it is not easy for a stranger to find them out, and our men seem to have been particularly unfortunate in this respect. Tom talks of leaving two of them behind, and shipping four fresh hands, as our number is already rather short.

Friday, December 8th. - I persuaded Tom to make another excursion to the coral reef this morning, and at five o'clock he and Mabelle and I set off in the 'Flash,' just as the sun was rising. We had a delightful row, past the Quarantine Island[11], to the portion of the reef on the other side of the harbour, where we had not yet been, and where I think the coral plants and flowers and bushes showed to greater advantage than ever, as they were less crowded, and the occasional patches of sandy bottom enabled one to see them better. We were so engrossed in our examination of these marvels of the deep, and of the fish with which the water abounded, that we found ourselves aground several times, and our return to the yacht was consequently delayed.

[Footnote 11: The native name is 'Motu-iti,' i.e. little island.]

After breakfast I had another visit from a man with war-cloaks, shell-belts, tapa, and reva reva, which he brought on board for my inspection. It was a difficult task to make him understand what I meant, but at last I thought I had succeeded in impressing on his mind the fact that I wished to buy them, and that they would be paid for at the store. The sequel unfortunately proved that I was mistaken. At nine o'clock we set out for the shore, and after landing drove along the same road by which we had returned from our excursion round the island.[12] After seeing as much of the place as our limited time would allow, we drove over to Faataua, where we found the children and maids. The grand piano, every table, and the drawing-room floor, were spread with the presents we were expected to take away with us. There were bunches of scarlet feathers, two or three hundred in number, from the tail of the tropic bird, which are only allowed to be possessed and worn by chiefs, and which are of great value, as each bird produces only two feathers; pearl shells, with corals growing on them, red coral from the islands on the Equator, curious sponges and sea-weed, tapa cloth and reva-reva fringe, arrowroot and palm-leaf hats, cocoa-nut drinking vessels, fine mats plaited in many patterns, and other specimens of the products of the island.

[Footnote 12: We paid a brief visit to Point Venus, whence Captain Cook observed the transit of Venus on November 9th, 1769, and we saw the lighthouse and tamarind tree, which now mark the spot. The latter, from which we brought away some seed, was undoubtedly planted by Captain Cook with his own hand.]

All the members of the royal family at present in Tahiti had been invited to meet us, and arrived in due course, including the heir-apparent and his brother and sister. All the guests were dressed in the native costume, with wreaths on their heads and necks, and even the servants - including our own, whom I hardly recognised - were similarly decorated. Wreaths had also been prepared for us, three of fragrant yellow flowers for Mabelle, Muriel, and myself, and others of a different kind for the gentlemen.

When the feast was ready the Prince offered me his arm, and we all walked in a procession to a grove of bananas in the garden through two lines of native servants, who, at a given signal, saluted us with three hearty English cheers. We then continued our walk till we arrived at a house, built in the native style, by the side of a rocky stream, like a Scotch burn. The uprights of the house were banana trees, transplanted with their leaves on, so as to shade the roof, which was formed of plaited cocoa-nut palm-leaves, each about fifteen feet long, laid transversely across bamboo rafters. From these light-green supports and the dark green roof depended the yellow and brown leaves of the theve, woven into graceful garlands and elegant festoons. The floor was covered with the finest mats, with black and white borders, and the centre strewn with broad green plantain leaves, to form the tablecloth, on which were laid baskets and dishes, made of leaves sewed together, and containing all sorts of native delicacies. There were oysters, lobsters, wurrali, and crawfish, stewed chicken, boiled sucking-pig, plantains, bread-fruit, melons, bananas, oranges, and strawberries. Before each guest was placed a half cocoa-nut full of salt water, another full of chopped cocoa-nut, a third full of fresh water, and another full of milk, two pieces of bamboo, a basket of poi, half a bread-fruit, and a platter of green leaves, the latter being changed with each course. We took our seats on the ground round the green table. An address was first delivered in the native language, grace was then said, and we commenced. The first operation was to mix the salt water and the chopped cocoa-nut together, so as to make an appetising sauce, into which we were supposed to dip each morsel we ate, the empty salt-water bowl being filled up with fresh water with which to wash our fingers and lips. We were tolerably successful in the use of our fingers as substitutes for knives and forks. The only drawback was that the dinner had to be eaten amid such a scene of novelty and beauty, that our attention was continually distracted: there was so much to admire, both in the house itself and outside it. After we had finished, all the servants sat down to dinner, and from a dais at one end of the room we surveyed the bright and animated scene, the gentlemen - and some of the ladies too - meanwhile enjoying their cigarettes.

When we got down to Papeete, at about half-past four, so many things had to be done that it seemed impossible to accomplish a start this evening. First of all the two Princes came on board, and were shown round, after which there were accounts to be paid, linen to be got on board; and various other preparations to be made. Presently it was discovered that the cloaks I had purchased - or thought I had purchased - this morning had not turned up, and that our saddles had been left at Faataua on Sunday and had been forgotten. The latter were immediately sent for, but although some one went on shore to look after the cloaks nothing could be heard of them; so I suppose I failed after all in making the man understand that he was to take them to the store and be paid for them there.

At six o'clock the pilot sent word that it was no longer safe to go out; but steam was already up, and Tom therefore decided to go outside the reef and there wait for the people and goods that were still on shore. At this moment the saddles appeared in one direction, and the rest of the party in another. They were soon on board, the anchor was raised, and we began to steam slowly ahead, taking a last regretful look at Papeete as we left the harbour. By the time we were outside it was dark, the pilot went ashore, and we steamed full speed ahead. After dinner, and indeed until we went to bed, at half-past eleven, the lights along the shore were clearly visible, and the form of the high mountains behind could be distinguished.

Good-bye, lovely Tahiti! I wonder if I shall ever see you again; it makes me quite sad to think how small is the chance of my doing so.