It was agreed that on the day the Noa-Noa arrived on her return trip, all gendarmes and available guard be summoned from the country to preserve order, and that, as asked in the letter, the consul demand that the captain of the steamship punish the rioters.
And all this being done through an interpreter, and the consul having unlimbered his falchion and removed his helmet, he and the governor had an absinthe frappe and made a date for a bridge game.
“Te tamai i te taporo i te arahu i te umaru,” the natives termed the skirmish. “The conflict of the limes, the coal, and the potatoes.” A new himene was improvised about it, and I heard the girls of the Maison des Cocotiers chanting it as I went to Lovaina’s to dinner.
It was something like this in English:
“Oh, the British men
they drank all day
And threw the limes and iron.
The French in fear they ran away.
The brave Tahitians alone stood firm.”
And there were many more verses.
Gossip in Papeete—Moorea, a near-by island—A two-days’ excursion there—Magnificent scenery from the sea—Island of fairy folk—Landing and preparation for the feast—The First Christian mission—A canoe on the lagoon—Beauties of the sea-garden.
My acquaintances of the Cercle Bougainville, Landers, Polonsky, McHenry, Llewellyn, David, and Lying Bill, were at this season bent on pleasure. Landers, the head of a considerable business in Australasia, with a Papeete branch, had time heavy on his hands. Lying Bill and McHenry were seamen-traders ashore until their schooner sailed for another swing about the French groups of islands. Llewellyn and David were associates in planting, curing, and shipping vanilla-beans, but were roisterers at heart, and ever ready to desert their office and warehouse for feasting or gaming. Polonsky was a speculator in exchange and an investor in lands, and was reputed to be very rich. He, too, would leave his strong box unlocked in his hurry if cards or wassail called. These same white men were sib to all their fellows in the South Seas except a few sour men whom avarice, satiety, or a broken constitution made fearful of the future and thus heedful of the decalogue.
These merry men attended to business affairs for a few hours of mornings, unless the night before had been devoted too arduously to Bacchus, and the remainder of the day they surrendered to clinking glasses, converse, Rabelasian tales, and flirting with the gay Tahitian women in the cinemas or at dances. There was a tolerance, almost a standard, of such actions among the men of Tahiti, though of course consuls, high officials, a banker or two of the Banque de l’Indo-Chine, and a few lawyers or speculators sacrificed their flesh to their ambitions or hid their peccadillos.