The Magic Island

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

Chapter I
THE WHITE KING OF LA GONAVE

To hold undisputed sway on some remote tropical island set like a green jewel amid the coral reefs of summer seas -- how many boys have dreamed it, and how many grown men, civilization-tired.

It is a strangely potent dream; it has a druglike fascination. It is susceptible of infinite variations. Sometimes the island proves to be inhabited by natives -- sometimes not. One man may dream of it in terms of pure adventure -- another in terms of refuge, tranquillity, escape -- another in terms of despotic power.

It is a dream which for most of us never comes true.

But in Haiti, where the impossible frequently happens -- or rather on one of its island dependencies -- there is a man, a white man, who has realized that dream, on his own terms. Furthermore, he has been actually and literally crowned a king by the natives of that island.

This is not a fantasy.

On clear days, from any terrace in Port-au-Prince, one may see the blue mountain peaks of an island rising from the sea out yonder across the bay northwestward, thirty or more miles distant. It is called La Gonave. It is an island larger than Martinique or Barbados, dolphin-shaped, some forty miles in length. Despite its proximity to the Haitian mainland and capital, despite the fact that under the Haitian-American treaty of 1915 it is part of the territory over which we exercise a benevolent protectorate, it remains the most primitive and untouched by civilization in the whole West Indies. It has always been so. It is the only part of Haiti on which there were no colonial settlements

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