The Magic Island

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

Chapter I
SECRET FIRES

Louis, son of Catherine Ozias of Orblanche, paternity unknown -- and thus without a surname was he inscribed in the Haitian civil register -- reminded me always of that proverb out of hell in which Blake said, "He whose face gives no light shall never become a star."

It was not because Louis' black face, frequently perspiring, shone like patent leather; it glowed also with a mystic light that was not always heavenly.

For Louis belonged to the chimeric company of saints, monsters, poets, and divine idiots. He used to get besotted drunk in a corner, and then would hold long converse with seraphim and demons, also from time to time with his dead grandmother who had been a sorceress.

In addition to these qualities, Louis was our devoted yard boy. He served us, in the intervals of his sobriety, with a passionate and all-consuming zeal.

We had not chosen Louis for our yard boy. He had chosen us. He had also chosen the house we lived in. These two things had happened while we were still at the Hotel Montagne. And they had seemed to us slightly miraculous, though the grapevine telegraph of servants in Port-au- Prince might adequately have explained both. Katie and I had been house-hunting. We had been shown unlivably ostentatious plaster palaces with magnificent gardens, and livable wooden villas with inadequate gardens or no gardens at all, until we had begun to despair. One afternoon as we left the hotel gate, strolling down the hill to Ash Pay Davis's, a black boy, barefooted and so ragged that we thought he was a beggar, stopped us and said in creole with

-7-

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