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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 2799

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

... As I was saying, the hours of vastest light have their weirdness here;-and it is of a Something which walketh abroad under the eye of the sun, even at high noontide, that I desire to speak, while the impressions of a morning journey to the scene of Its last alleged apparition yet remains vivid in my recollection.

You follow the mountain road leading from Calebasse over long meadowed levels two thousand feet above the ocean, into the woods of La Couresse, where it begins to descend slowly, through deep green shadowing, by great zigzags. Then, at a turn, you find yourself unexpectedly looking down upon a planted valley, through plumy fronds of arborescent fern. The surface below seems almost like a lake of gold-green water,-especially when long breaths of mountain-wind set the miles of ripening cane a-ripple from verge to verge: the illusion is marred only by the road, fringed with young cocoa-palms, which serpentines across the luminous plain. East, west, and north the horizon is almost wholly hidden by surging of hills: those nearest are softly shaped and exquisitely green; above them loftier undulations take hazier verdancy and darker shadows; farther yet rise silhouettes of blue or violet tone, with one beautiful breast-shaped peak thrusting up in the midst;-while, westward, over all, topping even the Piton, is a vapory huddling of prodigious shapes-wrinkled, fissured,

horned, fantastically tall.... Such at least are the tints of the morning.... Here and there, between gaps in the volcanic chain, the land hollows into gorges, slopes down into ravines;-and the sea's vast disk of turquoise flames up through the interval. Southwardly those deep woods, through which the way winds down, shut in the view.... You do not see the plantation buildings till you have advanced some distance into the valley;-they are hidden by a fold of the land, and stand in a little hollow where the road turns: a great quadrangle of low gray antiquated edifices, heavily walled and buttressed, and roofed with red tiles. The court they form opens upon the main route by an immense archway. Farther along ajoupas begin to line the way,-the dwellings of the field hands,-tiny cottages built with trunks of the arborescent fern or with stems of bamboo, and thatched with cane-straw: each in a little garden planted with bananas, yams, couscous, camanioc, choux-caraibes, or other things,-and hedged about with roseaux d'Inde and various flowering shrubs.

Thereafter, only the high whispering wildernesses of cane on either hand,-the white silent road winding between its swaying cocoa-trees,-and the tips of hills that seem to glide on before you as you walk, and that take, with the deepening of the afternoon light, such amethystine color as if they were going to become transparent.

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