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“I hope you'll pardon us,” apologised my host, “but it's so seldom that we see a pukka white man out [Pg 251] here that we quite forget the few manners we have left in our eagerness to learn what is going on at home—the little things, you know, that are not important enough to put in the cables and that they never think to put in the letters. Until you have lived in such a place as this, my friend, you don't know the meaning of that word 'home.'”

It is hot in the Seychelles; hot with a damp, sticky, humid, enervating heat which is unknown away from the Line. They tell
in Mahé of an English resident who died from fever and went to the lower regions. A few days later his friends received a message from the departed. It said, “Please send down my blankets.” There are days in an American midsummer when indoors becomes oppressive; it is always oppressive in the Seychelles, in January as in August, at midnight as at noon. During the “hot season” it is overpoweringly so, for you live for six months at a stretch in a bath of perspiration and wonder whether you will ever know what it is to be cool again. “There are six hundred minutes in every hour of the hot weather,” the governor's wife remarked to me, “and not one of them bearable. Although,” she added, “after the mercury in your bedroom thermometer has climbed above one hundred and thirty, a few more degrees don't much matter.” In her bungalow, for the greater part of the day, the white woman in the Seychelles is as much a prisoner by reason of the heat as is a Turkish woman in a harem from custom. Having neither shopping, domestic duties, nor callers to occupy her, the only break in the day's [Pg 252] terrible monotony comes at sunset, when every one meets every one else at the little club on the water-front which, with its breeze-swept verandas and its green croquet lawns and tennis courts, is the universal gathering-place between the hours of six and eight. An afternoon nap is universal—if the flies will allow it. Flies by day and mosquitoes by night are as wearing on European nerves as the climate, the beds being from necessity so smothered in mosquito netting that the air that gets within is as unsatisfactory as strained milk. In the hot weather a punkah is kept going all night—this huge, swinging fan, pulled by a coolie who squats in the veranda outside, and who can go to sleep without ceasing his pulling, being as necessary for comfort as a pillow—while, during the hottest nights, it is customary to sleep unclad and uncovered, save for a sheet, which the punkah-coolie, slipping in every hour, sprinkles with water   the scene of a violent and murderous attack.
.

The white woman in this part of the world is an early riser. A cup of tea is always served her when she is awakened, and as soon as she is dressed comes chota hazri, or the little breakfast, consisting of tea, toast, eggs, and fruit. The most is made of the cool hours of the morning, for in the hot weather it is customary to “shut up the bungalow” at about seven A. M., when the temperature is moderately low compared with what it will rise to a few hours later. Every door and window is closed and thereafter the greatest care is taken to make entrances and exits as quickly as possible, for a door left open for any length of time quickly [Pg 253] raises the temperature. If kept carefully closed, however, it is remarkable how cool the room keeps as compared with the stifling heat without.

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