I was now received by a commanding figure, whom I took to be the king. He was even more gorgeously dressed than the others, with strings of bright stones round his neck and Paradise plumes in his hair, while upon his head was a circlet composed of human teeth, set in clay, in the centre of which glowed an opal of extraordinary fire. His face was sullen and cruel, and his hazel eyes, with their dark lashes and yellow-tinged whites, gave to his countenance an expression scarcely human. Near to him stood a group of young men, their bodies plastered with a bright red pigment, who appeared to be his personal attendants, or slaves.
This savage now addressed me, asking the same questions as the other chief, to which I returned similar answers. I was then led to a house with a beehive-shaped roof, where food was brought to me, consisting of coconuts and bananas, with a luscious kind of fruit I had never before tasted, but which I found very palatable. After my meal I was taken before the queen.
The queen was white—indeed very pale—with large dark eyes, and brown hair that hung down in its natural beauty, untouched by the pigments with which the savages convert their own hair into mops. She was dressed in a robe of white tapa cloth with strings of bright shells and gold ornaments upon her neck and arms. Upon her head was a diadem of white clay encrusted with uncut gems. The throne upon which she sat was of polished marble. Her left hand rested upon the woolly head of a black boy, who showed his white teeth as we entered. In her right hand she carried a human skull. The queen, though very beautiful, looked sad. She could not have been more than eighteen years old, and it was evident she came from European descent, and was in no way related to the savages by whom she was surrounded.
And now I bethought me if I would gain favour I must make a present to the queen, and remembering a small mirror I had with me, set in a silver frame, which Anna had given me as a parting gift, I took it from my pocket and presented it to Queen Melannie, the name by which her people addressed her. It cost me a pang to part with it, but I reflected that if these savages killed me, as seemed likely unless I could ingratiate myself with them, the mirror would, with equal certainty, pass into their hands as if I voluntarily surrendered it.
The queen uttered an exclamation of surprise when she caught sight of her face in the looking glass, nor could some of her attendants who stood near resist the temptation to look over her shoulder in order to see the reflection of their own faces also. Nothing that I could have given the queen would have pleased her more. My present at once brought me into favour, for all appeared to regard such a prodigy as the work of immortals.