The Magic Island

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

Chapter IV
CÉLESTINE WITH A SILVER DISH

Two burnt matches crossed and fastened together with a bit of scarlet thread lay unnoticed one afternoon in the spring of 1921 on the great marble staircase of the new presidential palace at Port-au-Prince.

On the top steps of that same white marble staircase, very much noticed, stood his Excellency Sudre Dartiguenave, president of the Black Republic.

Below on the lawn a fanfare of bugles sounded, and at the foot of the staircase the motor of the presidential limousine purred softly, waiting to convey his Excellency to a reception in his honor at the French legation. President Dartiguenave was a bachelor beau, and there were always a lot of pretty women of various colors at these French legation functions in the gay capital of Haiti.

Faultlessly attired in frock coat, pin-striped trousers, pearl-gray spats, and patent leathers, twirling his imperial waxed mustache with kid-gloved fingers, Sudre Dartiguenave, who liked to be told that he resembled Napoleon III (in bronze, of course), strolled slowly down the great marble steps of the presidential palace to the accompaniment of bugle fanfares. At his left was young Captain Jones of the United States Marine Corps, blond, glittering and magnificent in his special uniform as Commander of the Palace Guard. At his right was Ernest Lalo, suave, charming brown-skinned Haitian poet and friend of Maurice Rostand. Outside the iron palings in the Champs de Mars, crowds hearing the bugles had stopped to glimpse the presidential sortie.

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