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- Two Years in the French West Indies - 1/74 -


Transcribed by: Richard Farris [rf7211@hotmail.com]

TWO YEARS

IN THE

FRENCH WEST INDIES

By LAFCADIO HEARN

AUTHOR OF "CHITA" ETC.

ILLUSTRATED

"_La façon d'être du pays est si agréable, la température si bonne, et l'on y vit dans une liberté si honnête, que je n'aye pas vu un seul homme, ny une seule femme, qui en soient revenues, en qui je n'aye remarqué une grande passion d'y retourner._"-LE PÈRE DUTERTRE (1667)

À MON CHER AMI LEOPOLD ARNOUX NOTAIRE À SAINT PIERRE, MARTINIQUE _Souvenir de nos promenades,--de nos voyages,--de nos causeries,- des sympathies échangées,--de tout le charme d'une amitié inaltérable et inoubliable,--de tout ce qui parle à l'âme au doux Pay des Revenants._

PREFACE

During a trip to the Lesser Antilles in the summer of 1887, the writer of the following pages, landing at Martinique, fell under the influence of that singular spell which the island has always exercised upon strangers, and by which it has earned its poetic name,--_Le Pays des Revenants_. Even as many another before him, he left its charmed shores only to know himself haunted by that irresistible regret,--unlike any other,--which is the enchantment of the land upon all who wander away from it. So he returned, intending to remain some months; but the bewitchment prevailed, and he remained two years.

Some of the literary results of that sojourn form the bulk of the present volume. Several, or portions of several, papers have been published in HARPER'S MAGAZINE; but the majority of the sketches now appear in print for the first time.

The introductory paper, entitled "A Midsummer Trip to the Tropics," consists for the most part of notes taken upon a voyage of nearly three thousand miles, accomplished in less than two months. During such hasty journeying it is scarcely possible for a writer to attempt anything more serious than a mere reflection of the personal experiences undergone; and, in spite of sundry justifiable departures from simple note-making, this paper is offered only as an effort to record the visual and emotional impressions of the moment.

My thanks are due to Mr. William Lawless, British Consul at St. Pierre, for several beautiful photographs, taken by himself, which have been used in the preparation of the illustrations.

L. H. _Philadelphia, 1889._

CONTENTS

PART ONE--A MIDSUMMER TRIP TO THE TROPICS

PART TWO--MARTINIQUE SKETCHES:--

I. LES PORTEUSES II. LA GRANDE ANSE III. UN REVENANT IV. LA GUIABLESSE V. LA VÉRETTE VI. LES BLANCHISSEUSES VII. LA PELÉE VIII. 'TI CANOTIÉ IX. LA FILLE DE COULEUR X. BÊTE-NI-PIÉ XI. MA BONNE XII. "PA COMBINÉ, CHÈ" XIII. YÉ XIV. LYS

XV. APPENDIX:--SOME CREOLE MELODIES (not included in this transcription)

ILLUSTRATIONS.

A Martinique Métisse (Frontispiece) La Place Bertin, St. Pierre, Martinique Itinerant Pastry-seller In the Cimetière du Mouillage, St. Pierre In the Jardin des Plantes, St. Pierre Cascade in the Jardin des Plantes Departure of Steamer for Fort-de-France Statue of Josephine Inner Basin, Bridgetown, Barbadoes Trafalgar Square, Bridgetown, Barbadoes Street in Georgetown, Demerara Avenue in Georgetown, Demerara Victoria Regia in the Canal at Georgetown Demerara Coolie Girl St. James Avenue, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad Coolies of Trinidad Coolie Servant Coolie Merchant Church Street, St. George, Grenada Castries, St. Lucia 'Ti Marie Fort-de-France, Martinique Capre in Working Garb A Confirmation Procession Manner of Playing the Ka A Wayside Shrine, or Chapelle Rue Victor Hugo, St. Pierre Quarter of the Fort, St. Pierre Rivière des Blanchisseuses Foot of La Pellé, behind the Quarter of the Fort Village of Morne Rouge Pellé as seen from Grande Anse Arborescent Ferns on a Mountain Road 'Ti Canot The Martinique Turban The Guadeloupe Head-dress Young Mulattress Coolie Woman in Martinique Costume Country Girl-pure Negro Race Coolie Half-breed Capresse The Old Market-place of the Fort, St. Pierre Bread-fruit Tree Basse-terre, St. Kitt's

A Trip to the Tropics.

PART ONE--A MIDSUMMER TRIP TO THE TROPICS.

I.

... A long, narrow, graceful steel steamer, with two masts and an orange-yellow chimney,--taking on cargo at Pier 49 East River. Through her yawning hatchways a mountainous piling up of barrels is visible below;--there is much rumbling and rattling of steam- winches, creaking of derrick-booms, groaning of pulleys as the freight is being lowered in. A breezeless July morning, and a dead heat,--87° already.

The saloon-deck gives one suggestion of past and of coming voyages. Under the white awnings long lounge-chairs sprawl here and there,--each with an occupant, smoking in silence, or dozing with head drooping to one side. A young man, awaking as I pass to my cabin, turns upon me a pair of peculiarly luminous black eyes,--creole eyes. Evidently a West Indian....

The morning is still gray, but the sun is dissolving the haze. Gradually the gray vanishes, and a beautiful, pale, vapory blue-- a spiritualized Northern blue--colors water and sky. A cannon- shot suddenly shakes the heavy air: it is our farewell to the American shore;--we move. Back floats the wharf, and becomes vapory with a bluish tinge. Diaphanous mists seem to have caught the sky color; and even the great red storehouses take a faint blue tint as they recede. The horizon now has a greenish glow, Everywhere else the effect is that of looking through very light- blue glasses....


Two Years in the French West Indies - 1/74

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