The Magic Island

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

Chapter IX
MORNE LA SELLE ADVENTURE

IT was a clear, crisp, starry night, with no moon. One got an impression of total darkness; yet shadow-like objects loomed. Eckman was somewhere up ahead of us, doubtless quarreling and mumbling to himself -- shouting back impatiently from time to time because we couldn't keep pace with him.

I could dimly see ahead the receding white rump of Aubrey's mare. It became my pole-star guide. I followed it as the Children of Israel followed the cloud of smoke and the pillar of fire. I seemed to follow that white rump for hours as it floated ahead in the path like a receding ghost. So long as I followed it, I wasn't completely lost. I couldn't have had more solace in the white flanks of the Callipygian Venus. I reflected that had Aubrey elected to ride a bay or black I should have been irrevocably lost. We had climbed more than five thousand feet that day from tropical sealevel, and the rarefied air made me flighty.

Polyglot Aubrey, ahead of the white mare, leading it, and therefore with nothing to guide him, was moaning, "Dio mio, Gott in Himmel, sacré nom de bon Dieu," and I called out to him, "I think your bon Dieu has abandoned us, and I've lost faith in Eckman; suppose we offer prayers and promise candles to Christophe, the patron saint of travelers."

"Five, six -- a dozen candles -- a basket of candles -- as many as you like," he called back to me. "My feet are blistered and I am cassi dans les reins."

So, winded though we were, we shouted supplications

-247-

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