The Magic Island

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

Chapter III
A TORN SCRAP OF PAPER

WHEN my city Haitian friends had learned that I was going over to live for a while with Wirkus on La Gonave, they said, "Tiens! tiens!" as if I had announced a voyage to the North Pole or the moon. Why La Gonave remains so isolated, although close and in plain sight, requires explaining. There are thousands of fine automobiles in Port-auPrince, but there is not a single launch, motor boat, or power boat, not a single sailing pleasure craft privately owned, either among the rich natives or in the American colony.1 When I wanted to go to La Gonave, for instance, there were just two ways to get there: fly by military plane, or knock about in the bay from ten to thirty hours in one of the primitive tubs of some peasant fisherman or some island boatman who had come in with cotton or other produce. Furthermore, there is no reason to go except curiosity. Consequently La Gonave is the subject of fantastic speculation, and around it queer rumors and legends grow. As in the case of the black queen who ruled on a mountain top and the coronation of King Wirkus, these stories sometimes have a basis in fact.

There is the tale of a great cave beneath the mountains; the tale also of a bottomless pool in which dwells a sacred crocodile that no one dares to kill; a tale also that at Picmy is buried a great chest of gold, rubies, and diamonds, hidden

____________________
1
Since writing this I am told that Christian Gross has bought a sloop, and I believe the Marine Corps has acquired a sea-sled, in addition to the High Commissioner's barge.

-194-

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