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   Chapter 75 February 22d.

Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 1148

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

... Old physicians indeed predicted it; but who believed them?...

It is as though something sluggish and viewless, dormant and deadly, had been suddenly upstirred to furious life by the wind of robes and tread of myriad dancing feet,-by the crash of cymbals and heavy vibration of drums! Within a few days there has been a frightful increase of the visitation, an almost incredible expansion of the invisible poison: the number of new cases and of deaths has successively doubled, tripled, quadrupled....

... Great caldrons of tar are kindled now at night in the more

thickly peopled streets,-about one hundred paces apart, each being tended by an Indian laborer in the pay of the city: this is done with the idea of purifying the air. These sinister fires are never lighted but in times of pestilence and of tempest: on hurricane nights, when enormous waves roll in from the fathomless sea upon one of the most fearful coasts in the world, and great vessels are being driven ashore, such is the illumination by which the brave men of the coast make desperate efforts to save the lives of shipwrecked men, often at the cost of their own. [19]

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