The Magic Island

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

Chapter IV
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE PRESIDENT!"

THE chastely engraved card, large as a wedding invitation or a Christmas greeting, said simply: Le Président de la République d' Haiti.

On its blank reverse was written in ink -- "Recevra Monsieur W. B. Seabrook au Palais National le jeudi 6 Janvier courant, a 4 h.p.m."

There was also an engraved coat-of-arms -- parked canon and furled flags beneath a palm tree.

My watch said only half-past three; so I decided to improve the interval by dropping in for a moment at Marine Brigade Headquarters to confirm a guinea-hunting engagement with some of the gentlemen whose armed presence in Haiti, sitting on the lid, is perhaps the reason why the local artillery remains peacefully parked beneath a palm tree.

Of the six presidents who had succeeded each other somewhat rapidly just prior to our intervention, one had been blown up in his palace, one poisoned, one assassinated, another torn into little pieces.

The Brigade was installed precisely in the old Guillaume Sam palace before whose gates, only ten years before, a black woman had been biting chunks out of that defunct president's bleeding heart.

It was only a three-minute walk across the tranquil Champs de Mars with its bandstand, lawns, monuments, drill grounds, and boulevards, to the handsome new presidential palace more permanently and safely inhabited by his Excellency Louis Borno.

Past sentries, up a great white glaring stairway almost

-150-

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