The Magic Island

By B. Seabrook; Alexander King | Go to book overview

Foreword

OUR West Indian mail boat lay at anchor in a tropical green gulf.

From the palm-fringed shore a great mass of mountains rose, fantastic and mysterious. Dark jungle covered their near slopes, but high beyond the jungle, blue-black, bare ranges piled up, towering.

At the water's edge, lit by the sunset, sprawled the town of Cap Haltien. Our boat lay so close that in the bright, fading light it was easy to distinguish landmarks.

Here amid more modern structures were the wrecked mansions of the sixteenth-century French colonials who had imported slaves from Africa and made Haiti the richest colony in the western hemisphere.

Here was the paved pleasance on the waterfront, scene of white massacres when the blacks rose with fire and sword.

Here in ruins was the palace built for Pauline Bonaparte when Napoleon sent his brother-in-law with an imperial army to do battle with slaves who had won their freedom.

On a peak behind the Cape loomed the gigantic fortress which & self-crowned black king Christophe had built after every soldier of that white imperial army was dead or had sailed back to France.

And now above the present-day government headquarters in the town floated the red-blue flag made by ripping the white from the French tricolor. Thus it has floated for more than a hundred years as the symbolic emblem of black freedom.

All this was panoramic as we lay at anchor in the sunset, but as night fell it faded to vagueness and disappeared.

-3-

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