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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 3070

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


... Behind the canoe a long thread of pale light quivered and twisted: bright points from time to time mounted up, glowered like eyes, and vanished again;-glimmerings of faint flame wormed away on either side as they floated on. And the little craft no longer rocked as before;-they felt another and a larger motion,-long slow ascents and descents enduring for minutes at a time;-they were riding the great swells,-riding the horizon!

Twice they were capsized. But happily the heaving was a smooth one, and their little canoe could not sink: they groped for it, found it, righted it, and climbed in, and baled out the water with their hands.

From time to time they both cried out together, as loud as they could,-"Sucou!-sucou!-sucou!"-hoping that some one might be looking for them.... The alarm had indeed been given; and one of the little steam-packets had been sent out to look for them,-with torch-fires blazing at her bows; but she had taken the wrong direction.

-"Maximilien," said Stéphane, while the great heaving seemed to grow vaster,-"fau nou ka prié Bon-Dié."...

Maximilien answered nothing.

-"Fau prié Bon-Dié" (We must pray to the Bon-Dié), repeated Stéphane.

-"Pa lapeine, li pas pè ouè nou atò!" (It is not worth while: He cannot see us now) answered the little black.... In the immense darkness even the loom of the island was no longer visible.

-"O Maximilien!-Bon-Dié ka ouè toutt, ka connaitt toutt" (He sees all; He knows all), cried Stéphane.

-"Y pa pè ouè non pièss atouèelement, moin be

n sur!" (He cannot see us at all now,-I am quite sure) irreverently responded Maximilien....

-"Thou thinkest the Bon-Dié like thyself!-He has not eyes like thou," protested Stéphane. "Li pas ka tini coulè; li pas ka tini zié" (He has not color; He has not eyes), continued the boy, repeating the text of his catechism,-the curious creole catechism of old Perè Goux, of Carbet. [Quaint priest and quaint catechism have both passed away.]

-"Moin pa save si li pa ka tini coulè" (I know not if He has not color), answered Maximilien. "But what I well know is that if He has not eyes, He cannot see.... Fouinq!-how idiot!"

-"Why, it is in the Catechism," cried Stéphane.... "'Bon-Dié, li conm vent: vent tout-patout, et nou pa save ouè li;-li ka touché nou,-li ka boulvésé lanmè.'" (The Good-God is like the Wind: the Wind is everywhere, and we cannot see It;-It touches us,-It tosses the sea.)

-"If the Bon-Dié is the Wind," responded Maximilien, "then pray thou the Wind to stay quiet."

-"The Bon-Dié is not the Wind," cried Stéphane: "He is like the Wind, but He is not the Wind."...

-"Ah! soc-soc-fouinq!... More better past praying to care we be not upset again and eaten by sharks."

* * * * * * *

... Whether the little chabin prayed either to the Wind or to the Bon-Dié, I do not know. But the Wind remained very quiet all that night,-seemed to hold its breath for fear of ruffling the sea. And in the Mouillage of St. Pierre furious American captains swore at the Wind because it would not fill their sails.

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