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Two Years in the French West Indies By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 3390

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


... There is a young white lady, accompanied by an aged negress, already waiting on the south wharf for the boat;-evidently she is to be one of my fellow-passengers. Quite a pleasing presence: slight graceful figure,-a face not precisely pretty, but delicate and sensitive, with the odd charm of violet eyes under black eye-brows....

A friend who comes to see me off tells me all about her. Mademoiselle Lys is going to New York to be a governess,-to leave her native island forever. A story sad enough, though not more so than that of many a gentle creole girl. And she is going all alone, for I see her bidding good-bye to old Titine,-kissing her. "Adié encò, chè;-Bon-Dié ké béni ou!" sobs the poor servant, with tears streaming down her kind black face. She takes off her blue shoulder-kerchief, and waves it as the boat recedes from the wooden steps.

... Fifteen minutes later, Mademoiselle and I find ourselves under the awnings shading the saloon-deck of the Guadeloupe. There are at least fifty passengers,-many resting in chairs, lazy-looking Demerara chairs with arm-supports immensely lengthened so as to form rests for the lower limbs. Overhead, suspended from the awning-frames, are two tin cages containing parrots;-and I see two little greenish monkeys, no bigger than squirrels, tied to the wheel-hatch,-two sakiwinkis. These are from the forests of British Guiana. They keep up a continual thin sharp twittering, like birds,-all the while circling, ascending, descending, retreating or advancing to the limit of the little ropes attaching them to the hatch.

The Guadeloupe has seven hundred packages to deliver at St. Pierre: we have ample time,-Mademoiselle Violet-Eye

s and I,-to take one last look at the "Pays des Revenants."

I wonder what her thoughts are, feeling a singular sympathy for her,-for I am in that sympathetic mood which the natural emotion of leaving places and persons one has become fond of, is apt to inspire. And now at the moment of my going,-when I seem to understand as never before the beauty of that tropic Nature, and the simple charm of the life to which I am bidding farewell,-the question comes to me: "Does she not love it all as I do,-nay, even much more, because of that in her own existence which belongs to it?" But as a child of the land, she has seen no other skies,-fancies, perhaps, there may be brighter ones....

... Nowhere on this earth, Violet-Eyes!-nowhere beneath this sun!... Oh! the dawnless glory of tropic morning!-the single sudden leap of the giant light over the purpling of a hundred peaks,-over the surging of the mornes! And the early breezes from the hills,-all cool out of the sleep of the forests, and heavy with vegetal odors thick, sappy, savage-sweet!-and the wild high winds that run ruffling and crumpling through the cane of the mountain slopes in storms of papery sound!-

And the mighty dreaming of the woods,-green-drenched with silent pouring of creepers,-dashed with the lilac and yellow and rosy foam of liana flowers!-

And the eternal azure apparition of the all-circling sea,-that as you mount the heights ever appears to rise perpendicularly behind you,-that seems, as you descend, to sink and flatten before you!-

And the violet velvet distances of eyening;-and the swaying of palms against the orange-burning,-when all the heaven seems filled with vapors of a molten sun!...

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