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It was night at Tahiti, in the Society Islands. The trade-wind had died away, and a bright flood of shimmering moonlight poured down upon the slumbering waters of a little harbour a few miles distant from Matavai Bay, and the white curve or beach that fringed the darkened line of palms shone and glistened like a belt of ivory under the effulgence of its rays. For nearly half a mile the broad sweep of dazzling sand showed no interruption nor break upon its surface save at one spot; there it ran out into a long narrow point, on which, under a small cluster of graceful cocos, growing almost at the water's edge, a canoe was drawn up. Seated upon the platform of the outrigger, and conversing in low tones, were a man and woman. The man was an European, dressed in the uniform of a junior naval officer at the end of the last century. He was of medium height, with a dark, gipsy-like complexion and wavy brown hair, and as he drew the woman's face to him and kissed her, her skin showed not so dark as his. The woman, or rather girl, was a pure-blooded native, wearing only the island pareu of tappa cloth about her loins and a snow-white teputa or poncho of the same material over her gracefully-rounded shoulders. The white man's right arm was round her waist, she held his left hand in hers, and with her head against his bosom looked up into his face with all the passionate ardour of a woman who loves. For a few moments the man ceased speaking and looked anxiously over his shoulder at a number of white tents, pitched in a grove of breadfruit trees some few hundred yards away. As he looked, the moonlight shone upon the musket barrel of a sentry, whose head could just be discerned above the beach as he paced slowly to and fro before the tents. Bending her head of wavy, glossy black hair, the girl pressed her lips softly upon the white man's hand, and raising her face again, her eyes followed his, and as she noticed his intent look, a curious, alarmed expression came into her own lustrous orbs. "What is it?" she murmured. "Does the soldier see us?" The man smiled reassuringly and shook his head; then still clasping the girl's waist within his arm, he gazed earnestly into her beautiful face and sighed and muttered to himself.
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