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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 2314

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Sixth day out. Wind tepid and still stronger, but sky very clear. An indigo sea, with beautiful white-caps. The ocean color is deepening: it is very rich now, but I think less wonderful than before;-it is an opulent pansy hue. Close by the ship it looks black-blue,-the color that bewitches in certain Celtic eyes.

There is a feverishness in the air;-the heat is growing heavy; the least exertion provokes perspiration; below-decks the air is like the air of an oven. Above-deck, however, the effect of all this light and heat is not altogether disagreeable;-one feels that vast elemental powers are near at hand, and that the blood is already aware of their approach.

All day the pure sky, the deepening of sea-color, the lukewarm wind. Then comes a superb sunset! There is a painting in the west wrought of cloud-colors,-a dream of high carmine cliffs and rocks outlying in a green sea, which lashes their bases with a foam of gold....

Even after dark the touch of the wind has the warmth of flesh. There is no moon; the sea-circle is black as Acheron; and our phosphor wake reappears quivering across it,-seeming to reach back to the very horizo

n. It is brighter to-night,-looks like another Via Lactea,-with points breaking through it like stars in a nebula. From our prow ripples rimmed with fire keep fleeing away to right and left into the night,-brightening as they run, then vanishing suddenly as if they had passed over a precipice. Crests of swells seem to burst into showers of sparks, and great patches of spume catch flame, smoulder through, and disappear.... The Southern Cross is visible,-sloping backward and sidewise, as if propped against the vault of the sky: it is not readily discovered by the unfamiliarized eye; it is only after it has been well pointed out to you that you discern its position. Then you find it is only the suggestion of a cross-four stars set almost quadrangularly, some brighter than others.

For two days there has been little conversation on board. It may be due in part to the somnolent influence of the warm wind,-in part to the ceaseless booming of waters and roar of rigging, which drown men's voices; but I fancy it is much more due to the impressions of space and depth and vastness,-the impressions of sea and sky, which compel something akin to awe.

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