Alone in the Caribbean

This ebook was created by Craig O'Donnell:



DURING MY week of idleness I had found time to coax the Yakaboo into an amiable mood of tightness -- not by the aid of cabarets, however, but with white lead and varnish and paint for which she seemed to have an insatiable thirst. I was always glad to be sailing again and, to show the fickleheartedness of the sailor, I had no sooner rounded Negro Point in a stiff breeze than Fort de France -- now out of sight -- took her place among other memories I had left behind.

The thread of my cruise was once more taken up and I was back into the canoe, enjoying the lee coast panorama with my folded chart in my lap for a guide book. It was early in the afternoon when I made out the little beacon on Sainte Marthe Point beyond which lay the roadstead of St. Pierre. A heavy, misty rain squall -- a whisk of dirty lint -- was rolling down the side of Pelée and I was wondering whether or no I should have to reef when something else drew my attention. Pulling out from a little fishing village beyond Carbet was a boatload of my old friends the douanes, a different lot, to be sure, but of the same species as those of Fort de France. They were evidently making desperate efforts to head me off and as long as they were inshore and to windward of me they had the advantage. Little by little I trimmed my sheets till I was sailing close-hauled.

There were eight or ten of the dusky fellows and they fetched their boat directly on my course and a hundred feet away. This was some more of their confounded nonsense and I decided to give them the slip. I motioned to them to head into the wind so that I might run alongside, and while they were swinging the bow of their heavy boat, I slipped by their stern, so close that I could have touched their rudder, eased off my sheets, and the Yakaboo, spinning on her belly, showed them as elusive a stern as they had ever tried to follow. It took them a few seconds to realize that they had been fooled and they then proceeded to straighten out their boat in my wake and follow in hot pursuit. They hoisted their sail but it only hindered their rowing, for the heeling of the boat put the port bank out of work altogether while the men to windward could scarcely reach the water with the blades of their oars. It would only be truthful to say that I laughed immoderately and applied my fingers to my nose in the same manner that midshipman Green saluted his superior officer.

I was soon lost to their sight in the squall which had now spread over the roadstead. Rain and mist were ushered along by a stiff breeze. Under this friendly cover I held on for a bit and then came about on the inshore tack, thinking that the douanes would little suspect that I would come ashore under their very noses. It was not a bad guess for I afterwards learned that they had sent word to the next station to the north to watch for me.

Although I could not see more than a hundred feet ahead of me, I knew by the floating pumice that I must be well into the roadstead of St. Pierre. I snatched up a piece out of the sea and put it in my pocket as a souvenir. Then we passed out of the mist as from a wall and I saw the ruins of St. Pierre before me, not a quarter of a mile away. A heavy mist on the morne above hung like a pall over the ruined city cutting it off from the country behind.

It was truly a city of the dead, the oily lifeless waters of the bay lapping at its broken edges and the mist holding it as in a frame, no land, no sky -- just the broken walls of houses. The mist above me began to thin out and the vapors about the ruins rolled away till only those on the morne remained and the sun shining through arched a rainbow over St. Pierre, one end planted by the tumbled statue of Our Lady and the other in the bed of the Roxelane. It was like a promise of a better life to come, to those who had perished. At first glance, the extent of the ruins did not seem great, but as I ran closer to shore I saw that for a mile and a half to the northward broken walls were covered by an inundation of green foliage which had been steadily advancing for nearly ten years.

You may but vaguely recall the startling news that St. Pierre, a town hitherto but little known, on a West Indian island equally little known, was destroyed in one fiery gasp by a volcano which sprang to fame for having killed some twenty-five thousand people in the space of a minute or two.

For nearly a month the volcano had been grumbling, but who could suspect that from a crater nearly five miles away a destruction should come so swift that no one could escape to tell the tale? When I was in Fort de France, I found a copy of Les Colonaries, of Wednesday, May the 7th, 1902, the day before the explosion of Pelée. Under the heading, "Une Interview de M. Landes," it says : -- "M. Landes, the distinguished professor of the Lyceum, very willingly allowed us to interview him yesterday in regard to the volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée . . . Vesuvius, adds M. Landes, only had rare victims (this is a literal translation). Pompeii was evacuated in time and they have found but few bodies in the buried cities. Mount Pelée does not offer more danger to the inhabitants of St. Pierre than Vesuvius to those of Naples."

The next morning, a few minutes before eight o'clock, that awful holocaust occurred, a bare description of which we get from the survivors of the Roddam, the only vessel to escape of sixteen that were lying in the roadstead. Even the Roddam which had steam up and backed out, leaving her ground tackle behind, paid her toll and when she limped into Fort de France two hours later, a phantom ship, her decks were covered with ashes still hot and her woodwork was still smoking from the fire.

The story of the survivors was quickly told. The volcano had been rumbling, according to its custom of late, when about a quarter before eight there was an explosion in which the whole top of the mountain seemed blown away. A thick black cloud rose up and from under it a sheet of flame rolled down the mountainside, across the city, and out over the roadstead. There had been barely time to give the signal to go astern and the few passengers of ready wit had hardly covered their heads with blankets when the ship was momentarily engulfed in flame. It was all over in a few seconds and those who had not been caught on deck or in their cabins with their ports open, came up to the blistering deck to behold the city which they had looked at carelessly enough a few minutes before, now a burning mass of ruins.

Fortunately some one had been near the capstan and had tripped the pawls so that the chain had run out freely. Otherwise the Roddam would have met the fate of the cable ship Grappler and the Roraima and the sailing vessels that were unable to leave their moorings. After she had backed out, the Roddam steamed into the roadstead again and followed the shore to discover, if possible, some sign of life. But the heat from the smoldering city was so great that there could be no hope of finding a living being there. The steamer then turned southward to seek aid for her own dying victims.

It was the suddenness of the catastrophe that made it the more awful. One man whom I met in Fort de France told me that he was talking at the telephone to a friend in St. Pierre when the conversation was interrupted by a shriek followed by a silence which brought no answer to his question. Rushing from his office, he found others who had had the same experience. There was no word to be had from St. Pierre and the noise of the explosion which came from over the hills confirmed the fear that some terrible disaster had befallen the sister city. It was not until the Roddam steamed into port that the people of Fort de France learned just what had happened.

 Native canoe - St. Lucia.

I have said that there was no survivor of St. Pierre to tell the tale thereof, but I may be in error. They tell a fanciful tale of a lone prisoner who was rescued from a cell, deep down in the ground, some days after the first explosion and before subsequent explosions destroyed even this retreat. His name is variously given as Auguste Ciparis and Joseph Surtout, and in a magazine story "full of human interest and passion," which could not have been written by the man himself, as Ludger Sylbaris. I was told in confidence, however, by a reputable citizen of Fort de France, that the story was in all probability gotten up for the benefit of our yellow journals.

Reviewing these things in my mind, I ran alongside the new jetty built since the eruption and hauled up the Yakaboo under the roofing that covers the shore end. There were about ten people there, nearly the entire population of what was once a city of forty thousand.

These people, I found, lived in a few rooms reconstructed among the ruins, not with any hope of rebuilding but because at this point there is a natural outlet for the produce of the rich valleys behind St. Pierre which is sent in droghers to Fort de France. Among them I found a guide, a huge Martinique saccatra, who knew Pelée well, he said, and we arranged to make the ascent in the morning.

I have always been fond of moonlight walks in strange places and as I cooked my supper I said to myself, "That is how I shall first see the dead city -- by moonlight." As I struck in from the jetty I knew that no negro dared venture forth in such a place at night and that I was alone in a stillness made all the more desolate by the regular boom of the surf followed by the rumble as it rolled back over the massive pavement of the water front. There was no human sound and yet I felt the ghost of it as I heard the noise of the sea and knew that same sound had mingled for over a century with the sounds of the cafés of the Rue Victor Hugo where I was now walking, and had been a roar of second nature to the ears of the thousands who had lived in the cubes of space before my eyes, now unconfined by the walls and roofs which had made them rooms.

The moon rode high, giving a ghostly daylight by which I could distinguish the smallest objects with startling ease. The streets were nearly all of them cleared, the rubbish having been thrown back over the walls that stood only breast high. Here and there a doorway would be partly cleared so that I could step into the first floor of a house and then mounting the debris, travel like a nocturnal chamois from pile to pile, and from house to house. There was not the slightest sign of even a splinter of wood. A marble floor, a bit of colored wall, the sign of a café painted over a doorway and the narrow sidewalks reminded me of Pompeii and had there been the familiar chariot ruts in the roadways the illusion would have been complete. There was a kinship between the two ; they had alike been wicked cities and it seemed that the wrath of God had descended upon them through the agency of a natural phenomenon which had hung over them and to which they had paid no heed.

I wondered how many of the dead were under these piles of debris. At one place I came to a spot where some native had been digging tiles from a fallen roof. There was a neat pile of whole tiles ready to be taken away while scattered about were the broken pieces which would be of no use. Where the spade had last struck protruded the cranium of one of the victims of that fateful May morning.

I picked my way to the cimitière where I loafed in the high noon of the moon which cast short shadows that hugged the bases of the tombs and gravestones. There was a feeling of comfort in that moonlight loaf in the cimitière of St. Pierre and had I thought of it in time I might have brought my blankets and slept there. In comparison with the ruined town about it, there was the very opposite feeling to the spookiness which one is supposed to have in a graveyard.

I sat on the steps of an imposing mausoleum and loaded my pipe with the Tabac de Martinique which I smoked in blissful reverie. Here would I be disturbed by no mortal soul and as for the dead about and beneath me were they not the legitimate inhabitants of this place? Those poor fellows over whom I had unwittingly scrambled might have some reason to haunt the places of their demise, but these of the cimitière had no call to play pranks on a visitor who chanced in of a moonlight night. I was not in a joking mood -- neither did I feel serious.

A sort of moon dreaminess came over me -- I felt detached. I saw my form hunched against the face of the mausoleum with my long legs stretched out before it, but it did not seem to be I. I was a sort of spirit floating in the air about and wondering what the real life of the dead city before me had been. I should have liked to have the company of the one whose bones rested (comfortably, I hoped) in the tomb behind me and to have questioned him about the St. Pierre that he had known. But I could only romance to myself.

The mere bringing down of my pipe from my mouth so that my glance happened to fall on its faithful outline with its modest silver band with my mark on it brought me to myself. The pipe seemed more a part of my person than my hands and knees and I knew that I was merely living through an incident of a canoe cruise. I sat there and smoked and idled till the moon began to shimmer the sea before me and with her light in my face I found my way back to the jetty and the Yakaboo.

I was awakened at five by my guide who had with him a young boy. It was always a case of Greek against Greek with these fellows and I reiterated our contract of the night before. His first price was exorbitant and I had beaten him down as far as I dared -- to fifteen francs. I find that it is a mistake to pull the native down too far for he is apt to feel that you have taken advantage of him and will become sullen and grudging in his efforts.

While I ate my scanty breakfast I impressed upon him the fact that I was paying for his services only and that if the boy wished to follow that was his affair. He prided himself on a very sparse knowledge of English which he insisted upon using. When I had finished he turned to his boy and said, "E -- eh? il est bon garçon!" To which I replied, "Mais oui!" which means a lot in Martinique. The boy came with us and proved to be a blessing later on.

The moon had long since gone and we started along the canal-like Rue Victor Hugo with the pale dawn dimming the stars over us one by one. We crossed the Roxelane on the bridge, which is still intact, and then descended a flight of steps between broken walls to the beach and left the town behind us. Another mile brought us to the Sêche (dry) Rivière just as the rose of dawn shot through the notches of the mountains to windward. When we came to the Blanche Rivière, along the bed of which we began the ascent of the volcano as in Saint Vincent, the sun stood up boldly from the mountain tops and gave promise of a terrific heat which I hoped would burn up the mist that had been hanging over the crater of Pelée ever since I had come to Martinique. I did not then know of the prophetic line which I discovered later under an old outline of Martinique from John Barbot's account of the voyage of Columbus -- "the Mount Pelée in a mist and always so."

Were I to go into the detail of our ascent of Pelée you would find it a monotonous repetition for the most part of the Souffrière climb. Pelée was a higher mountain and the climb was harder. There was scarcely any vegetation even on the lower slopes, much to my relief, for Martinique is the home of the fer-de-lance. I had with me a little tube of white crystals which I could inject into my abdomen in case I were bitten by one of these fellows but I cannot say that even for the novelty of using it did I relish having my body a battle ground for the myriad agents of Pasteur against the poison of one of these vipers.

The sun did not burn up the mist and at a height of 3600 feet we entered the chilly fog, leaving our food and camera behind us. The remaining eight hundred feet made up the most arduous climbing I have ever experienced. We were now going up the steep sides of the crater cone made of volcanic dust, slippery from a constant contact with mist and covered with a hairlike moss, like the slime that grows on rocks in the sea near human habitations. I took to falling down so many times that it finally dawned upon me that I would do much better if I crawled and in this way I finished the last four hundred feet. At times I dug my toes well into the side of the crater and rested half-lying, half-standing, my body at an angle of forty-five degrees.

Although I could scarcely see three yards ahead of me there was no need of the guides to show the way there was only one way and that was up. The negroes were a little ahead of me and I remember admiring the work of their great toes which they stuck into the side of the mountain as a wireman jabs his spikes into a telegraph pole. When I had entered the cloud cap I had come out of the hot sun dripping with perspiration and I put on my leather jacket to prevent the direct contact of the chilly mist upon my body. I was chilled to the bone and could not have been wetter. I could feel the sweat of my exertions streaming down under my shirt and could see the moisture of the condensed mist trickling down the outside of my coat. No film would have lived through this.

As an intermittent accompaniment to the grunts of the negroes I could hear the chatter of their teeth. Suddenly they gave a shout and looking upward I saw the edge of the rim a body length away. Another effort and I was lying beside them, the three of us panting like dogs, our heads hanging over the sulfurous pit. What was below was unknown to us -- we could scarcely see ten feet down the inside of the crater, while around us swirled a chilly mist freezing the very strength out of us. A few minutes were enough and we slid down the side of the crater again to sunlight and food.

Looking up at Pelée from the streets of St. Pierre, one felt that surely no destruction from a crater so far off could reach the city before safety might be sought ; but as I sat upon the very slope of the crater I could easily imagine a burst of flaming gas that could roll down that mountainside and engulf the city below it in a minute or two of time.

It was half way down the mountain that the boy proved a blessing for we lost our way and suddenly found ourselves at the end of a butte whose precipitous sides fell a sheer five hundred feet in all directions around us, except that by which we had come. For an hour we retraced our steps and cruised back and forth till at last the boy discovered a crevasse into which we lowered ourselves by means of the strong lianes which hung down the sides till we reached the bottom where we found a cool stream trickling through giant ferns. We lapped the delicious water like thirsty dogs. Again we were in the dry river bottom of the Blanche and we took to the beach for St. Pierre in the heat of the middle afternoon.

The climb had been a disappointment for I had particularly wished to find if there were any trace left of the immense monolith which had been forced above the edge of the crater at the time of the eruption and had subsided again. I also wanted a photograph of the crater which is less than a fourth the size of the Souffrière of Saint Vincent. But, as you may know, this is distinctly a part of the game and there is no need of casting glooms here and there over a cruise for the want of a picture or two.

So I forgot the photograph which I did not get of Pelée's crater and thought of the refreshing glass or two of that most excellent febrifuge "Quinquina des" which I might find at the little inn that had been erected over the ashes of its former self. This inn had been one of the meaner hotels of St. Pierre, close to the water front and facing the Rue Victor Hugo. When Pelée began to rumble, the proprietor had sent his wife and son to a place of safety, but he himself had remained, not that he did not fear the volcano but to guard his little all from the marauding that was sure to follow a more or less complete evacuation of the city. It had cost him his life and now the widow and her son were eking out an existence by supplying the wants of the few who chance to pass that way.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon when we reached the inn and it was still very hot. I stood for a few minutes, quite still, in the sun in order to cool off slowly and to dry my skin before I entered the grateful shade of the roof that partly overhung the road. In doing this I won great respect from my saccatra guide and the boy, both of whom did likewise, for they feared the effect of the exertions of the climb and the subsequent walk along the hot beach quite as much as I did.

It was here that I received my most forlorn impression of St. Pierre. The widow's son, a likable young fellow of about eighteen, had stepped out into the road to talk to me when a pathetic form in a colorless wrapper slunk from out the shadows of the walls and spoke to him. It was evidently me about whom she was curious, and he answered her questions in the patois which he knew I could not understand.

She was a woman of perhaps forty, partly demented by the loss of her entire family and all her friends in the terrible calamity of nine years before. Her wandering eye bore the most hopeless expression I have ever seen and her grey, almost white hair, hung, uncombed for many a day, over her shoulders. Her feet were bare, she wore no hat and for all that I could see the faded wrapper was her only covering. Her questions answered, she stood regarding me silently for a moment and then passing one hand over the other palms upward so that the fingers slipped over each other, she said, "Il est fou -- fou."

That night I read myself to sleep in the cockpit of the Yakaboo with my candle lamp hung over my head from the stumpy mizzen mast. But between the pages of the wanderings of Ulysses, which Whitfield Smith had given me at Carriacou, slunk the figure of the woman who had called me "crazy" -- utterly forlorn. Remove the whole of Mount Pelée and you take away the northern end of Martinique whose shores from St. Pierre to the Lorain River describe an arc of 225° with the crater of the volcano for its center. When I left St. Pierre the next morning, then, I was in reality encircling the base of Pelée along 135° of that arc to Grande Rivière. There lived Monsieur Waddy of the Union Sportive who had made me promise that I would spend at least one night with him before I sailed for the next island.

"You can make the depart for Dominique from Grande Rivière," he told me. "I will keep a lookout for you." This would be entirely unnecessary, I told him. Could I get the canoe ashore all right? "Oh, yes! I shall watch for you." There was some reservation in that "Oh, yes !" For his own good reasons he did not tell me of the terrific surf that boomed continually on the beach where he lived -- but it did not matter after all.

The trade in the guise of a land breeze lifted us out of the roadstead of St. Pierre and we soon doubled Point La Mare. A mile or so up the coast the white walls of Precheur gleamed in the morning sunlight. One cannot read far concerning these islands without making the friendship of Père Labat through the pages of his five little rusty old volumes. They are written in the French of his day -- not at all difficult to understand -- and the reading of them compelled me to form a personal regard for this Jesuit priest from his straightforward manner of writing.

We were now in the country of Père Labat and Precheur, before us, was where in 1693 he had spent the first few months of his twelve years in the West Indies. Du Parquet, who owned Martinique at that time, gave this parish to the Jesuit order of "Le Precheur" in 1654 and it was only natural that here Labat should become acquainted with the manners and customs of the people before he took up his duties in the parish of Macouba near Grande Rivière. But here the wind failed me, it was Père Labat having his little joke, doubtless, and the lack of it nearly got me into trouble. I had been rowing along the shore for some time, following with my eyes the beach road that the priest had known so well, and had come to Pearl Rock. There is a channel between the rock and the shore and as I looked at my chart, folded with that particular part of the island faced upwards, it seemed to me that the name was somehow familiar.

Then I began to recollect some tale about an American privateer that had dodged an English frigate by slipping through this very place at night. I was trying to recall the details when a premonition made me look around. There, silently waiting for me not four strokes away, was a boatload of those accursed douanes! They had been watching for me since, two days before, they had received a message from their confrères down the coast that I had either been lost in the squall off St. Pierre or was hiding somewhere along the north coast. With an instinct that needed no telegram from my brain, my right arm dug its oar deep into the water while my left swung the canoe around like a skater who turns on one foot while the other indolently floats over its mate. The left oar seemed to complete the simile.

While the douanes were recovering from their surprise at this unexpected movement of the canoe which had been on the point of boarding them, I pulled with the desperation of a fly trying to crawl off the sticky field of a piece of tanglefoot -- but with considerably more success as to speed. With a few yanks -- one could not call them strokes -- I was clear of the douanes and I knew they could not catch me. But they tried hard while I innocently asked if they wished to communicate with me. "Diable!' they wanted to see my papers and passport. I did not feel inclined to stop just then, I told them -- they were easing up now -- and if they wished to see my papers they could do so when I landed at Grande Rivière. And so the second batch of douanes was left in the lurch.

Along the four miles of coast from Pearl Rock to Grande Rivière there is no road, and the slopes of Pelée, which break down at the sea, forming some of the most wonderful cliffs and gorges I have ever seen, are as wild as the day when Columbus first saw the island. But if you would care to see these cliffs you must go by water as I did, for were you to penetrate the thickets of the mountain slopes you would not go far -- for this is the haunt of the fer-de-lance. In starting the cultivation of a small patch of vanilla, which grows in a nearly wild state, Waddy killed a hundred of these vipers in the space of three months. But I gave no thought to the snakes -- it was the cliffs that held me.

Imagine a perpendicular wall ranging from two to four hundred feet in height and covered with a hanging of vegetation seemingly suspended from the very top. No bare face of rock or soil, just the deep green that seemed to pour from the mountain slope down the face of the cliff and to the bright yellow sandy beaches stretching between the promontories. A surf, that made my hands tingle, pounded inshore and I watched with fascinated gaze the wicked curl of the blue cylinder as it stood for an instant and then tumbled and crashed up the beach. I was wondering how Waddy would get me through this when the measured shots from a single-loading carbine made themselves heard above the noise of the surf.

I turned the Yakaboo around that I might view the shore more easily and found that we were lying off a long beach terminating in Grande Rivière Point a few hundred yards beyond. A group of huts flocked together under the headland as if seeking shelter from the trades that were wont to blow over the high bluff above them. Where the beach rounded the point, the usual fringe of coco palms in dispirited angles stood out in bold relief. A line of dugouts drawn far up the beach vouched for Waddy's statement that here the natives caught the "thon."

Off the point a series of reefs broke the heavy swell into a fringe of white smother -- inside was my salvation of deep blue quiet water. The blue of the sea and sky, the white of the clouds and broken water, the yellow of the deeper shoals and the beaches, the dark green background of vegetation lightened by the touches of red roofs and painted canoes, the sketchy outline of the point and the palms made a picture, ideally typical, of this north coast village.

A crowd of natives were dragging down a huge dugout which proved to be fully thirty feet long and made of a single log while a detached unit, which I recognized as the figure of Waddy, stood firing his carbine into the air. It was a signal, he explained later, to attract my attention and to call the people together to launch the dugout. When Waddy saw that I had turned the canoe he waved his large black felt hat frantically at the dugout and I waved back in understanding and waited.

But even under the protection of the barrier reef, there was a goodly surf running on the beach -- too much for the Yakaboo -- and I saw them wait, like all good surf men, till there was a proper lull, and then rush the dugout into the sea. For a moment she hung, then, as the centipede paddles caught the water, she shot ahead, her bow cutting into the menacing top of a comber mounting up to break. Up she went, half her length out of the water, her bow pointing skyward, and then down again as the sea broke under her, her bow men swung through a dizzy arc. If that were close work in a lull what were the large seas like?

In a few minutes they were alongside. Clearing away the thwarts half the natives -- she was full of them -- jumped overboard and swam ashore. I then unstepped my rig and passed over my outfit bags with which we made a soft bed in the dugout for the Yakaboo. I followed the outfit and we slid the empty canoe hull athwartships over the gunwale and then with a man under her belly like an Atlas, we swung her fore and aft, lifted her up while the man crawled out and then set her down gently in her nest. She looked like some strange sea-fowl making a ludicrous effort to hatch out an assortment of yellow eggs of various sizes and shapes.

In this way Waddy had solved the surf problem for me. If the Carib Indians were good boatmen, the Martinique tuna fishermen were better. First we paddled up shore to regain our driftage, and then in around the edge of the reef to a deep channel that ran close to the beach. We followed the channel for a hundred yards where we turned, hung for an instant -- the seas were breaking just ahead and astern of us -- and at a signal from the people on shore, paddled like mad. With the roar of the surf under us we passed from the salt sea into the sea of village people who dragged the dugout and all high and dry on the beach. It had been another strange ride for the Yakaboo and she looked self-satisfied, as if she enjoyed it.

As I jumped to the sands, Waddy received me, glowing and triumphant. It seemed that I was a hero! and great was his honor to be my host.

The Yakaboo and her yellow bags were carried to a sort of public shed where the crowd assembled with an air of expectancy which explained itself when I was ceremoniously presented to His Honor the Mayor. This dignitary then made a speech in which the liberty of the town was given me, to which I replied as best I could. Thus was I received into the bosom of the little village of Grande Rivière. Then up the hot dusty road to Waddy's large rambling house on the headland where a second reception was held, only the elect being present.

It was at this point, however, that the liberty of the town which had been presented me "paragorically speaking," as "Judge" Warner used to say, was about to be taken away from me. The street door was suddenly burst open and a band of hot dusty douanes came in to arrest the man who had defied their compatriots near Pearl Rock. But the Mayor, the priest, the prefect of police, and my fiery little host -- an Achilles as to body if we may believe that the ancient Greeks were not large men -- stayed the anger of the douanes while Waddy's servant -- oh, the guile of these Frenchmen! -- poured out a fresh bottle of wine which effectually extinguished the flame of their ire. My papers were duly examined and all was well again. When the douanes were at last on their way I told my protectors how I had dodged them at St. Pierre and Pearl Rock. This called for another bottle.

But I cannot keep you standing here in Waddy's house, for the little man was as eager to show me the sights of Grande Rivière as any schoolboy who races ahead of his chum, of a Saturday morning, two steps at a time, to the attic where some new invention is about to be born. He waved the select committee of the bottle very politely out of the front door and then grabbing his big hat he raced me up the steep road to the top of the cliff above the town. Time was precious. One could walk fast and talk at the same time.

In the first hundred yards I learned that he was born in Martinique, educated in Paris, and had specialized in botany and medicine. Cut off from the world as he had been for the better part of his life (I had all this as we cleared the houses of the village) he had developed the resourcefulness of a Robinson Crusoe. He would have made an excellent Yankee. He could make shoes, was a carpenter, something of a chemist, a philosopher, an expert on tuna fishing, and a student of literature. It seemed that his divertissement was the growing of vanilla and the raising of a large family.

He did not give out all this in a boastful way but merely tore through the facts as if he were working against time, so that we might understand each other the sooner and interchange as much of our personality as possible in the few hours I was to stay at Grande Rivière. By the time we reached the top of the cliff I had the man pat while he had me out of breath. He was the third I had met who would make life worth while in these parts.

And here, looking up the valley of the Grande Rivière, I saw one of the most beautiful bits of scenery in all the islands. The river came down from Pelée through a cañon of green vegetation. On the opposite wall from where we stood, a road zigzagged upwards from the valley to disappear through a hole near the top of the cliff. Some day I shall travel that road and go through the hole in the wall to visit Macouba beyond where Père Labat spent his first years in the parish and where he practised those sly little economies of which he was so proud. He tells of how he brought home some little chicks, poules d'Inde he calls them, and gave them out among his parishioners to be brought up, in material payment for the spiritual comfort and the blessings which he, Père Labat, afforded them. And how his children came back to him, grown up and ready for his table. His sexton lived close to the sea by the river (probably just such a stream as this with a ford and the houses of the town close to its banks) and this gave him the idea of buying ducks and drakes and going in with the sexton on a half and half basis. When the ducks matured, Père Labat, who was steadily increasing his worldly assets, bought out the sexton at a low price. The sexton probably shared in the eating of the ducks for he was a singer and a good fellow, a Parisian, the son of an attorney named Rollet, made famous by Boileau in a shady passage of his "Satires." The son had changed his name to Rallet, fled the scenes of his father's disgrace and came to Martinique where he found peace and happiness in the parish of Père Labat. Although the priest and poor Rallet have been a-moldering these two hundred years I could not help hoping that it was a good cook who prepared their ducks and chickens.

The shadow of evening had already crossed the valley bottom and it followed a lone figure that was slowly toiling up the road toward the hole in the wall. We scrambled down again through the village, where the odor of French cooking was on the evening air, past a little wayside shrine to the beach where I had landed. We had left the evening behind us for a time and were back in the last hour of afternoon. It was hot even now, although the dangerous heat of the day was over. I had caught my breath on our coming down and my long legs made good progress over the soft sands -- there is a knack in beach walking, the leg swings forward with a slight spring-halt motion, the knee is never straightened and the foot is used flat so that it will sink as little as possible in the sand. I had my little Achilles in the toils and I talked while he fought for breath.

For a quarter of a mile we trudged the sands till the green wall closed in on us and met the sea. A little spring trickled down through an opening in the rocks and we drank its cool water from cups which Waddy made of leaves. It was here that my friend was wont to come when he wished to be alone and he led me up through a crevasse to the top of a gigantic rock that overhung the surf some thirty feet. He could have paid me no greater compliment than to take me to this place, sacred to his own moody thoughts, where, like a sick animal or an Indian with a "bad heart" he could fight his troubles alone. Below us the surf curled over in a mighty roll that burst on the beach with a deafening roar, sending up a fine mist of salty vapor like the smoke of an explosion. This was Père Labat's country and as I watched the regular onslaught of several large seas I thought of a paragraph he wrote some two hundred years ago. "The sea always forms seven large billows, waves or surges, whichever you would call them, that break on the shore with an astonishing violence and which can be heard along the windward side where the coast is usually very high and where the wind blows continually on the sea. The three last of these seven waves are the largest. When they have subsided after breaking on shore there is a little calm which is called Emblie and which lasts about the time it takes to say an Ave Maria, after which the waves begin again, their size and force augmenting always till the seventh has broken on the shore."

We watched the sun go down and then silently crawled down to the beach. It was Waddy's wish that we should walk back in the darkness. The advance of night seemed to drive the last fitful twilight before it -- one can see the light fade away from a printed page -- and the stars came out. The moon would not rise yet awhile. "Look!" said Waddy, and he turned me toward the dark cliffs above us. Hanging over us was a deep velvet darkness that I could almost reach out and feel, and against this like the jewels of a scarf, was the glimmer of thousands of fire-flies -- moving, blinking spots of light as large and luminous as Jupiter on the clearest night. They lived in the foliage of the cliff and it was Waddy's delight to come here of a night and watch them. "Chaque bête a feu clairé' pou nâme yo!" he said. (Each firefly lights for his soul.)

Dinner was waiting for us and with it the proud maman and two of the children. Some were away at school and some were too young to come to the table (at least when there were visitors) and we did justice to that of which she was proud, the food. That night we discussed till late the various means by which the "Touring Club" could see more of the Antilles as I was seeing them, but Nature finally had her way and I fell asleep talking -- so Waddy said.




I AWOKE in the morning to find that I had carelessly slipped into the second day of a windy quarter. There was no doubt about it ; the trade was blowing strong at six o'clock. I was impatient to be off shore before the surf would be running too high even for the thirty-foot dugout. After gulping down a hasty breakfast and bidding profuse adieux to Madame Waddy, I reached the beach with my friend just in time to see one of the fishing boats capsize and to watch the natives chase down the shore to pick up her floating gear.

It took nearly the whole male population of the village to turn the dugout and get her bow down to the surf. With a shout and a laugh the people carried the Yakaboo and placed her lightly in her nest. Ten of the strongest paddlers were selected and they took their places in the dugout forward and aft of the canoe while I, like the Queen of the Carnival, sat perched high above the rest, in the cockpit. For nearly half an hour -- by my watch -- we sat and waited. There were thirty men, on the sands, along each gunwale, ready for the word from Waddy. There was little talking ; we all watched the seas that seemed to come in, one after another, with vindictive force.

I was beginning to swear that I was too late when a "soft one" rolled in and we shot from the heave of a hundred and twenty arms plunging our bow into the first sea. Her heel was still on the sand and I feared she wouldn't come up for we shipped two barrels of brine as easily as the Yakaboo takes a teacupful. But with the first stroke she was free and with the second she cleared the next sea which broke under her stern. We were in the roar of the reef and if Waddy yelled good-bye it had been carried down the beach like the gear of the fishing boat. But he waved his hat like a madman and followed us along shore as we ran down the channel and turned out to sea.

Once clear of all dangers, eight of the men fell to bailing while the two bow men and the steersman kept her head to it. Then we swung the Yakaboo athwartships while I loaded and rigged her. We slid her overboard and I jumped in. The men held her alongside where she tugged like an impatient puppy while I lowered the centerboard. "Let 'er go!" I yelled -- an expression that seems to be understood in all languages -- and I ran up the mizzen, sheeting it not quite home. Then the jib. I shall never forget the sensation as I hauled in on that jib -- it seems out of proportion to use the word "haul" for a line scarcely an eighth of an inch in diameter fastened to a sail hardly a yard in area. The wind was strong and the seas were lively.

When that sheeted jib swung the canoe around she did not have time to gather speed, she simply jumped to it. I made fast the jib sheet and prepared to steer by the mizzen when I discovered that the canoe was sailing herself. I looked back toward shore and waved both arms. Waddy was a crazy figure on the beach. The day was delirious. A tuna dugout that had been lying into the wind fell away as I started and raced ahead of me, reefed down, her lee rail in the boil and her wild crew to windward. My mainsail was already reefed and I let the canoe have it. By the high-tuned hum of her board I knew that the Yakaboo was traveling and the crew of the tuna canoe knew it, too, for we passed them and were off on our wild ride to Dominica.

My channel runs were improving. The sea, the sky, and the clouds were all the same as on the other runs, but the wind was half a gale. What occupied my mind above all, however, was the discovery that the canoe would sail herself under jib and mizzen. I had thought that no boat with so much curve to her bottom could possibly do such a thing -- it is not done on paper. The fact remained, however, that the two small sails low down and far apart kept the canoe on her course as well as I could when handling the mainsheet.

I checked this observation by watching my compass which has a two-inch card floating in liquid and is extremely steady. I also learned that I did not have to waste time heading up for the breaking seas, except the very large ones, of course. Sometimes I could roll them under -- at other times I let them come right aboard and then I was up to my shoulders in foam. The canoe was tighter than she had ever been and it was only the cockpit that gave trouble. When she began to stagger from weight of water, I would let go the main halyard and she would continue on her course while I bailed. In all the two thousand miles of cruising I had hitherto done, I learned more in this twenty-five mile channel than all the rest put together. Some day -- I promised myself -- I would build a hull absolutely tight and so strong and of such a form that I could force her through what seas she could not easily ride under. Also, what a foolish notion I had clung to in setting my sails only a few inches above deck ; they should be high up so that a foot of water could pass over the deck and not get into the cloth. In this run, if the Yakaboo had been absolutely tight and her sails raised and if I had carried a small deck seat to windward, I could have carried full sail and she would have ridden to Dominica on a cloud of brine-smelling steam. As it was, she was traveling much faster than at any time before and I did not know that the most glorious channel run was yet to come.

I laid my course for Cape Cachacrou (Scott's Head), a peculiar hook that runs out to westward of the south end of Dominica. For the first two hours I could not see the Head, then it popped up like an island and began slowly to connect itself with the larger land. The going was excellent and in short time the head was right over our bow, with Dominica rising up four thousand feet to weather. We were not more than half a mile off shore when I took out my watch. I figured out later that our rate had been six miles an hour including slowing up to bail and occasionally coming to a dead stop when riding out a big sea bow on. I could ask no better of a small light craft sailing six points off the wind, logy a part of the time and working in seas that were almost continually breaking.

Fate was indulgent, for she waited till I had stowed my watch in its berth to starboard. Then she sent a sea of extra size -- it seemed to come right up from below and mouth the Yakaboo like a terrier -- and before we got over our surprise she gave us the tail end of a squall, like a whiplash, that broke the mizzen gooseneck and sent the sail a-skying like a crazy kite. I let go all my halyards and pounced after my sails like a frantic washerwoman whose clothes have gone adrift in a backyard gale. The mainsail came first and then the jib. The truant mizzen which had dropped into the sea when I slipped its halyard came out torn and wet and I rolled it up and spanked it and stowed it in the cockpit.

The sea had come up from the sudden shoaling where in a third of a mile the bottom jumps from a hundred and twenty fathoms to twelve, and as for the squall, that was just a frisky bit of trade that was not content with gathering speed around the end of the island but must slide down the side of a mountain to see how much of a rumpus it could raise on the water. I had run unawares -- it was my own stupid carelessness that did it -- on the shoals that extend to the southeast of Cachacrou Head where the seas jumped with nasty breaking heads that threatened to turn the Yakaboo end for end any minute.

With the mizzen out of commission I might as well have stood in pink tights on the back of a balky farm horse and told him to cross his fingers as sail that canoe. I might have hoisted my jib and slowly run off the shoals to the westward, but that would have meant a hard tedious beat back to shore again for a good part of the night. I chose to work directly across the shoals with the oars. But it was no joking matter. My course lay in the trough of the sea and it was a question of keeping her stern to the seas so that I could watch them and making as much as I could between crests.

Most of my difficulty lay in checking her speed when a comber would try to force her along in a mad toboggan ride and from this the palms of my hands became sore and developed a huge blister in each that finally broke and let in the salt water which was about it' plenty. For an hour I worked at it, edging in crabwise across the shoals till the seas began to ease up and I pulled around the Head to the quiet waters under its hook. Have you walked about all day in a stiff pair of new shoes and then come home to the exquisite ease of an old pair of bedroom slippers? Then you know how I felt when I could take a straight pull with my fingers crooked on the oars and my raw palms eased from their contact with the handles.

Cachacrou Head is a rock which stands some two hundred and thirty-four feet up from the sea and is connected with the coast of Dominica by a narrow curved peninsula fifty yards across and half a mile in length. There is a small fort on the top of the Head and here on the night of September the seventh, in 1778, the French from Martinique, with a forty-nine gun ship, three frigates and about thirty small sloops filled with all kinds of piratical rabble, captured the fort which was in those days supposed to be impregnable. It was the same old story ; there is always a weak point in the armor of one's enemy -- thirst being the vulnerable point in this case. The night before the capture some French soldiers who had insinuated themselves into the fort, muddled the heads of the English garrison with wine from Martinique, and spiked the guns. The capture then was easy. By this thin wedge, the French gained control of Dominica and held the island for five years.

Rowing close around the Head, I found a sandy bit of beach just where the peninsula starts for the mainland and with a feeling that here ended a good day's work, hauled the Yakaboo up on the smooth hard beach. The sun -- it seems that I am continually talking about the sun which is either rising or setting or passing through that ninety degree arc of deadly heat the middle of which is noon (it was now four o'clock) -- was far enough on its down path so that the Head above me cast a grateful shade over the beach while the cool wind from the mountains insured the absence of mosquitoes.

The lee coast of Dominica stretching away to the north was in brilliant light. You have probably gathered by this time that the Lesser Antilles are decidedly unsuited for camping and cruising as we like to do it in the North Woods. In a few isolated places on the windward coasts one might live in a tent and be healthy and happy, such as my camp with the Caribs ; but to cruise and camp, that is travel and then rest for a day on the beach -- this is impossible. In this respect my cruise was a distinct failure.

When I did find a spot such as this, where I could still enjoy a part of the afternoon in comparative comfort, I enjoyed it to the utmost. I did not unload the Yakaboo immediately -- I merely took those things out of her that I wanted for my present use. Tabac de Diable, for instance, and my pipe, and then a change of clothes ; but before I put on that change I shed my stiff briny sea outfit and sat down in a little sandy-floored pool in the rocks. There I smoked with my back against a rock while the reflex from the Caribbean rose and fell with delightful intimacy from my haunches to my shoulders.

For some time I rested there, with my hands behind my head to keep the blood out of my throbbing hands and the salt out of my burning palms. Across the bay was the town of Souffrière, not unlike the Souffrière of Saint Lucia, from a distance, while a few miles beyond was Point Michelle and another few miles along was Roseau, the capital town of the island. Away to the north Diablotin rose nearly five thousand feet, within a hundred feet of the Souffrière of Guadeloupe, the highest mountain of the Lesser Antilles.

After a while I got up, like a lazy faun (let us not examine the simile too closely for who would picture a sea faun smoking a Three-B and with a four days' stubble on his chin?). On a flat-topped rock near the canoe I spread out my food bags. Near this I started a fire of hardwood twigs that soon burned down to a hot little bed of coals over which my pot of erbswurst was soon boiling. This peameal soup, besides bacon and potatoes, is one of the few foods of which one may eat without tiring, three times a day, day in and day out, when living in the open. It is an excellent campaign food and can be made into a thin or thick soup according to one's fancy. I have eaten it raw and found it to be very sustaining. At home one would quickly tire of the eternal peameal and the salty bacon taste -- but I never eat it when I am at home nor do I use in general the foods I take with me when cruising. The two diets are quite distinct.

While the pot was boiling, I betook myself to a cozy angle in the rocks which I softened with my blanket bag, and fell to repairing my mizzen. My eye chanced to wander down the beach -- is it chance or instinct? and finally came to rest on a group of natives who stood watching me. Modesty demanded something in the way of clothes so I put on a clean shirt and trousers and beckoned to them. They were a timid lot and only two of them advanced to within fifty feet of the canoe and then stopped. I talked to them, but it was soon evident that they did not understand a word I said, even the little patois I knew got no word from them. Finally they summoned enough courage to depart and I was left to my mending.

I had finished my sail and was enjoying my pea-soup and biscuits when my eye detected a movement down the beach and I saw a lone figure which advanced without hesitation and walked right into my camp where it smiled down at me from an altitude of three inches over six feet.

"My name ess Pistole Titre, wat you name and frum war you cum?"

I told him that my name was of little importance and that I had just come from Martinique.

"Frum war before dat?"

"Saint Lucia."

"Frum war before dat?"

"Saint Vincent.

"Frum war before dat?"


"An' you not afraid?"

"Why should I be afraid? The canoe sails well."

"I no mean de sea, I mean jumbie. How you don't know w'en you come to strange ilan de jumbie no take you?"

There might be some truth in this but I answered, "I don't believe in jumbies." This he interpreted into, "I don't believe there are jumbies HERE." The fact that I did not believe in jumbies, the evil spirits of the Africans, was utterly beyond his conception -- of course I believed in them, everybody did, but by some occult power I must know their haunts and could avoid them though I had never visited the place before.

"I know jumbies no come here, but how you know? You wonderful man," he concluded.

While this conversation was going on, I was secretly admiring his huge lithe body -- such of it as could be seen through an open shirt and by suggestive line of limb ; he might have been some bronze Apollo come to animation, except for his face. His face was an expression of good-will, intelligence, and energy that came to me as a refreshing relief from the shiny fulsome visage of the common native.

The jumbies disposed of for the time being, Pistole sat down on a rock and made rapid inroads on a few soda biscuits and some pea-soup which I poured into a calabash. The native can always eat, and the eating of this salty soup with its bacon flavor seemed the very quintessence of gastronomic delight. When he had finished he pointed to a steep upland valley and told me he must go there to milk his cows. He would bring me a bottle of fresh milk, he said, when he came back again, for he was going to fish that night from the rocks under the Head. As he walked away along the beach, the breeze brought back, "An' he no 'fraid jumbies. O Lard!"

My supper over, I turned the canoe bow toward the water and made up my bed in the cockpit. It would be too fine a night for a tent and I tied my candle light part way up the mizzen mast so that I could lie in my bed and read. At sunset I lit my lamp for the beach under the Head was in darkness. While the short twilight moved up from the sea and hovered for a moment on the highest mountain tops my candle grew from a pale flame to a veritable beacon that cast a sphere of light about the canoe, shutting out night from the tiny rock-hedged beach on which we lay. But Ulysses did not make me drowsy and I blew out my light and lay under that wonderful blue ceiling in which the stars blinked like live diamonds. The Dipper was submerged with its handle sticking out of the sea before me and Polaris hung low, a much easier guide than in the North. Just overhead Orion's belt floated like three lights dropped from a sky rocket. Through the low brush over the peninsula the Southern Cross tilted to westward.

As I lay there stargazing, the rattle of a displaced stone told me of the coming of Pistole who laid down a long bamboo pole and seated himself on his haunches by the canoe. I relit my lamp that I might observe him better. Suspended from a tump line passing over the top of his head was a curious basket-like woven matting. From its depths he drew forth a bottle, known the world over, a four shouldered, high-sided termini that proclaimed gin as its original contents, but which was now filled with milk and corked with a wisp of upland grass.

I stuck the bottle in the sand beside the canoe where the morning sun would not strike it and then dug around in my cozy little burrow and brought forth a bag of tobacco. Pistole did not smoke. He was supporting his mother and an aunt ; it was hard work and he could not afford luxuries. Here certainly was a paradox, a native who forbore the use of tobacco!

Pistole came here often, he said, when there was not much moon, to fish at night from the rocks, using the white squid that shines in the water for bait. Sometimes he filled his basket to the top with little rock fish and at other times he got nothing at all. He lighted his flambeau from my candle lamp and departed, leaving the pleasant odor of the burning gommier like an incense. I watched his progress as the light bobbed up and down and was finally extinguished far out on the rocks.

Tired as I was, my throbbing hands kept me awake till Pistole returned some time later -- the fish did not seem to be biting -- and he lay down in the sand by the canoe. Had he seen a jumbie or was there a sign of lajoblesse? The huge creature edged in as close to the planking of the Yakaboo as he could get, like a remora fastened to the belly of a shark. The monotone of his snores brought on sleep and when I awoke the sun was well up above the mountains of Dominica. A lengthy impression in the sand was all that remained of the native who had long since gone to tend his cattle.

There is one morning when I feel that I have a right to spread myself and that is on Sunday. It is from long force of habit that began with my earliest school days. There was no need for an early start and as for my breakfast, I spared neither time nor trouble.

First I very slowly and very carefully reversed Pistole's bottle so as not to disturb the cream and then I let out the milk from under it. This was for the chocolate. The cream which would hardly pour and which I had to shake out of the bottle I set aside for my oatmeal. This I had started the night before and it only needed heating and stirring. I made the chocolate with the native "stick" and sweetened it with the Muscovado sugar and I even swizzled it and sprinkled nutmeg on the heavy foam on top after the old Spanish manner. That "head" would have put to shame the "Largest Schooner in Town." I also made a dish of scrambled eggs and smoked flying fish that Waddy had given me. It was a breakfast fit for a king and I felt proud of myself and congratulated my stomach on its neat capacity as I stretched out by a rock like a gorged reptile and lit my pipe. There was nothing, just then, that could increase the sum of my happiness. I should have been glad to have spent the day there but I knew that the sun would soon make a hell's furnace of this delightful spot so when my pipe was finished I washed my dishes and loaded the canoe. I was having my "last look around" when I saw a crowd of natives coming up the beach with Pistole at their head. They were probably coming to see the canoe and to say good-bye so I sat down on a rock and waited for them. Pistole, who had apparently been appointed spokesman, said that they all lived in a village, not far off, but hidden from view by the bush. They were very anxious to show me their village -- would I come with them?.

Pistole led the way along the peninsula to a crescent of beach that might have been on the lagoon of an atoll in the South Sea islands. Under the coco palms that hung out over the beach almost to the water's edge were the canoes of the village. Behind the scrubby growth that fringed the beach was a double row of huts with a wide path between them parallel to the shore. Down this path or avenue I was led in review while the homes of the persons of distinction were pointed out to me. These differed from the ordinary huts in that they were sided with unpainted boards. One or two were built of American lumber, painted and with shingled roofs. Half the village followed us while the other half sat in its respective doorways. Oh! the luxury of those door steps ; to those who sat there it was like beholding a Memorial Day procession from the carpeted steps of a city house. This world is merely one huge farce of comparison. At the end of the avenue -- let us give it as much distinction as possible -- we retraced our steps and the march came to an end at the house of Pistole's mother. This, I might say, was one of the finest and contained two rooms. The big native was very proud of his mother and aunt who received me with the graciousness of women of royalty and brought out little cakes and glasses of cocomilk and rum. The heat was growing outside and I must get off the beach, so I said "Good-bye" and went back to the canoe followed by a small caravan bearing offerings of the village, waternuts and pineapples.

The wind was roaring down the mountainsides, for this quarter continued fresh, and I left the beach with the reefed mainsail only. The sea was like a floor and with a small gale for a beam wind the reefed sail lifted the Yakaboo along like a toboggan. I held in for the town of Souffrière in order to keep the smooth water and when I was part way across the bay the lightish water under me suddenly turned to a deep blue -- the color of sea water off shore. There was a sharp well-defined line which I crossed again and was once more in lighter water. It was L'Abime, Dominica's submarine crater.

In less than an hour I lowered sail off the main jetty of Roseau.

It was not quite twelve. The whole town had begun breakfast at eleven and was still eating. I may not be absolutely correct in saying that the whole town was eating for there was one individual who was on duty and enjoying a nap in the shade of the custom-house at the shore end of the jetty. There was another also -- but he did not belong to the town -- the captain of the coasting steamer Yare, a jolly little Irishman whom I came to know better in St. Thomas. He was not at breakfast and he yelled a welcome from the bridge of his steamer at her Sunday rest by the big mooring buoy in the roadstead. I ran up my ensign on the mizzen halyard and yelled at the man inshore. He rubbed his eyes but did not seem to know why he should be disturbed.

"Where is the harbor-master?"

"At him breakfus' -- w'at you want?"

"I want to land. Don't you see my ensign?"

"O Lard! I t'at it wuz de Umium Jack."

At this Wilson, of the Yare, sent out a great roar across the water. "You don't think that ebony ass knows the difference between one flag and another, do you?" he inquired much to the offense of the e. a. With some sheepishness, the revenue man came down to the landing place where I prepared to tie up the Yakaboo while awaiting the answer from the harbormaster. But no, I could not even fasten my painter to one of the iron piles, -- I must lie off in the roads till word came that my papers had been passed upon. There might be the chance that I had yellow fever aboard. In an hour the boatman returned with word that I might come ashore. In view of what followed I should add that when I handed my papers to the boatman I told him that I had already landed at Scott's Head under stress of weather and that he should report this to the harbor-master. Some days later while I was fitting a new goose-neck to the mizzen of the Yakaboo in the courtyard of the Colonial Bank, word was brought that I was "wanted" by the Acting Colonial Treasurer. I knew from the tone of the demand that something was in the air. When I was ushered into the presence of that august little personage, I was asked with considerable circumlocution why I landed at Scott's Head before making official entry at Roseau.

"Who told you?" I whispered, as if he were about to disclose an interesting bit of gossip.

"The police officer of Souffrière telephoned this morning that he saw your camp at Scott's Head on Sunday morning." (It was now Friday, five days later.) I said that I hoped the lazy officer at Souffrière had been duly reprimanded for not having reported me sooner.

"What!" the little man shouted. "You are the one to be reprimanded for having landed and not having mentioned the fact when you gave up your papers at Roseau. Do you know that you are liable to two weeks' quarantine?"

By this time my ire should have been goaded to the loud-talking point. I leaned forward in a confidential way and whispered (he seemed to dislike this whispering), "Let's have in the boatman who took my papers on Sunday morning." They might have been the dying words of some unfortunate victim of a street accident asking for his wife or his mother.

The boatman came in due time accompanied by loud tones of authority which issued from his thick-soled boots. The weight of the Empire was in every step. Then I stood up and looked hard into a pair of hazel eyes while I asked the owner if I had not mentioned, when I handed him my papers, the fact that I had spent the night at Scott's Head under stress of weather. I owned those eyes while he spoke the truth and said, "Yes."

"Don't you know, Mr. S -- ," I asked, "that under stress of weather -- my mizzen having blown away -- I may land at any convenient beach and then proceed to the nearest port as soon as repairs are effected?" One would think that we were talking about some great steamer instead of a sailing canoe. I did not, however, mention my visit to the village on the peninsula.

When the Yakaboo was ready for sea again, I chucked her into the basement of the Colonial Bank and started on a land cruise through the hills of the island. I would hire a small horse and circumnavigate the island on its back, carrying with me a couple of blankets, a pail and a frypan. But the idyll stops there.

Soon after I arrived at Roseau, word came to me that a Mr. B of Chicago was visiting his uncle on a plantation near the town. It turned out that I knew this man and in the course of time we met. When he heard of my plan to ride around the island, he embraced the idea with great warmth -- as some would put it -- in fact he not only embraced it ; he adopted it and when it came back to me it was entirely changed. It no longer belonged to me, it was a sad little stranger whom I knew not. Instead of camping near the roadside with a bully fire at night and the horses tethered close by, this was all done away with by means of letters of introduction. Our blankets and our pots and pans were whisked away by folded pieces of paper inside of other pieces of paper. Our food we need no longer trouble about. I felt like asking, "Please, ma'am, may I take a little eating chocolate and my pipe and tobacco?"

It was on Friday then, oh, unlucky day for the skipper of the Yakaboo! that I obtained a pony from the harbor-master. I did not see the horse till the next morning -- a few minutes before the start which was scheduled for eight o'clock. I have inferred that there is but little humor or the sense of it in the English islands, at least, but this animal was a pun -- the lowest form of humor. To have called him a joke would have put a burden on him that would eventually have swayed his back till a fifth wheel would have been necessary to keep his poor paunch off the ground. And as for that poor paunch -- there was the seat of all the trouble. It had not been filled often enough nor full enough and as in nature we come to liken the things we eat, this poor beast was becoming of necessity an ethereal being. I asked the man who brought it if they taxed horses in the island by the head or by the pound. The colored groom very politely informed me -- for was I not traveling in the West Indies in search of information ? -- that there was, of course, a tax on every horse in the island, and as for the pound, there was a small fee levied on every animal that got astray and was brought there. If you were sitting with me in my cozy little cabin and we were discussing that horse I should say, "Poor brute, I felt damn sorry for him," in that earnest tone which you would understand.

I am not heavy in build, however, neither did I have any luggage to add weight, for a porter had been engaged to carry our extra duffle on his head. With a small cargo of chocolate to port and a supply of tobacco and matches to starboard, I adjusted the stirrups and mounted my poor animal. Even then I felt him go down below his Plimsoll marks. I wore my ordinary sea outfit which I had carefully washed. I had one suit of "store clothes" but I was not going to befoul them on any uncurried West Indian skate for any man, no matter how exalted his position might be. B-- , rather chunky of build, arrived well mounted at the stroke of the hour and at a brisk canter. If he were not what one might call au fait, he bore some aspects of the gentleman-rider even if he wore his trousers stuffed into leggings instead of "breeks." He had apparently noticed that there was a figure mounted on a horse by the roadside but until he was close upon me he did not realize that this was to accompany him on his ride around the island. When he recognized me his face fell like a topsail taken aback and he instinctively looked around to see if any one saw him with me.

"Good God!" he muttered, "you're not going to ride in that rig, are you?"

"You don't expect me to wear a hunting coat on this caricature, do you? Let's be off."

"Yes, let's be off," he said, as he put spurs to his horse and raced along the road toward Laudat.

"Let's be off," I whispered into the ear of my Rosinante -- for he was a she -- and with a thwack I started her clattering after my friend.

By careful husbanding the strength of my animal we reached Laudat at ten o'clock. That is, I did. My friend had arrived there several times and had gone back occasionally to note my progress.

Laudat is a little settlement nearly half way across the island where one takes the trail for a rather arduous climb to the Boiling Lake in the Souffrière mountains. Through the courtesy of a priest in Roseau a rest house was put at our disposal. Here we feasted on raspberries, coffee and bread, after which we started for the Boiling Lake. I shall not weary you with a laborious description of a laborious climb along a narrow trail, muddy and slippery and root-crossed, nor of the everlasting din of the anvil bird that somehow makes a noise like the ringing of steel against iron, nor of the Boiling Lake. The next day we finished our crossing and followed the road along the windward side to the estate of Castle Bruce where we stopped for the night.

The following day we rode to Melville Hall where we were received by the Everingtons. It was along this coast, somewhere between Crumpton and Pagoua Points that Columbus tried to land on the morning of November 3rd, when he gave Dominica its name and then proceeded to the northward and set foot the same day on the shores of Maria Galante which he named after his ship. From Melville Hall we rode to Hampstead and then across the northeast corner of the island to Portsmouth.

Lying in the smooth waters of Prince Rupert Bay were three American whalers, a remnant of a fleet of sixteen that had gathered there to transship oil. As you may remember from your early American history, the English government has always been extremely fond of gaining revenue through petty taxation. They even tax rowboats in some of the islands and in Saint Vincent the crude little catamaran on which the Black Carib boy is seated (photo) is taxed thrupence per foot. Imbued with this idea, a petty official of Dominica once suggested to the skipper of an American whaler that he should be made to pay a tax for the use of the shelter of the island. To this the Yankee skipper replied, "Go ahead and make your law and your tax, we'll tow one of our own damn islands down here and use that."

I have said little about my Rosinante, who seemed, somehow, to improve on the good food she was getting. She bore up well ; I rode her with a loose girth and took the best possible care of her. If I could only nurse her for a month or so I might make a presentable beast of her. As it was, I felt that I was riding a rather tough skin in which an old piece of machinery was moving with considerable lost motion. I remember speculating as to what price the harbor-master would charge me if the mare died while in my care and wondering what return I might gain from her carcass. There was this comfort, her skin was tough and should she drop on some precipitous path her bones and eternal economy would not burst out and go clattering down into the valley below. I was sure of what might be left of her and in a pinch I could skin her and sell the flesh to the natives, break up the bones for fertilizer and use her hoofs for gelatin. It was an absorbing bit of speculation but did not interest B-- , whose mind was usually occupied with problems of much higher finance. But there was no real cause for worry. On the last day we covered fully twenty-five miles of road that was mostly up and down hill. I gained as much respect for her as most any West Indian I had met.

It was the loose girth which caused me to lose my last shred of dignity. We were descending a steep path down the side of a valley in the bed of which flowed a small fordable stream. There was no mishap until we reached the river bank which dropped away steeply to the water's edge. For some unaccountable reason I and Rosinante were ahead. Slowly Rosinante felt her way down the bank and then stood, bow down, like the Yakaboo scending a sea. In a detailed description I should have said that she was built for'ard somewhat like a cow -- lacking shoulders. The saddle of its own accord had begun to slide forward. I reached for her tail and missed it. Her forefeet were in ten inches of water while her after props were still on dry land. Even then I might have saved myself by taking to the after deck. Slowly she lowered her muzzle to the stream. There was nothing for it, the saddle slid down the sharp ridge of her neck and I landed with my hands in the water as if I too would drink. As I rolled off into the stream I thought I caught Rosinante in the act of winking her eye -- or was it only a fly that bothered?.

Our land cruise ended that evening and I bade goodbye to my friend. Rosinante was returned to the harbor-master and I went back to the Yakaboo.

Traveling up the Dominica shore I had my first taste of calm. It was not the blazing calm that I was to experience a few days later but it was a good foretaste. In light weather there is usually a calm spot along the northern half of the coast line up to Prince Rupert Bay. Just around the bluff the trade strikes the sea again and here I set sail and ran into Toucan Bay where there is a little coast village. Here was the last bit of beach whence I could make my departure for Guadeloupe and I hauled the canoe out on the sand at the far end from the village.

The people came down to the beach and insisted upon carrying my canoe well up from the water. They asked me where I was going to sleep and I pointed to the cockpit of the Yakaboo. At this one of the head men said that I must sleep in the village. He would see to it that a room in one of the houses was cleaned out for me and that his wife would cook my evening meal. I conceded this last point and taking up my food bags walked with him to the village.

While my supper was cooking, a woman came to me and asked if I would see her son. He was dying, she thought (the native is always dying with each complaint, however slight), and the coast doctor would not reach the village for several days. I told her that I was no medicine man, but she would not believe that I could travel alone as I did without some mystic power to cure all diseases. I found the boy, about eighteen years old, in great distress, suffering possibly from acute gastritis -- a not uncommon ailment of the West Indian negro. I muttered some Latin à la Bill Nye and gave him a pill that could do no harm and might do some good. I dare say my diagnosis and prescription were not much wider of the mark than those of many practitioners of high repute. I was playing safe, for if the boy died subsequently I knew it not. I returned to my supper of chocolate and jack fish and then made up my bed in the canoe.

Long before the sun began to throw his light over the mountains of Dominica I had folded my blankets and was eating a scanty breakfast, for the day promised well and I was anxious to be sailing. My channel runs, so far, had been boisterous and exhilarating, like a race from tree to tree in a game of blindman's buff, the trees being distant conical patches of grey-blue land ; but this run of the Saints was a pleasant jaunt. Seventeen miles to the northwest lay Les Saintes, a group of picturesque islands that stood out fresh and green even as I cleared Dominica. Ten miles farther on my course was Guadeloupe. Nineteen miles to the northeast lay the larger island of Marie Galante and when I opened the Atlantic to the north of her I could make out the hump of distant Desirade.

It was in these waters that Rodney caught up with the French fleet under De Grasse on the morning of April 12th, 1782. It is difficult for us to realize that in these islands that now appear to us to be of such little importance, a battle such as this -- the Battle of the Saints -- should be one of the turning points which led directly to the supremacy of Great Britain on the sea. England stood alone against the world. The American colonies had declared their independence and Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. France and Spain were eager to end, once for all, the power of England's navy. The Dutch had been defeated off the Dogger Bank and the year before, Rodney had captured their island of St. Eustatius and unroofed Oranjetown, as you shall see when I take you there in the Yakaboo.

The French fleet was considered a perfect fighting machine and while De Grasse had thirty-three ships to Rodney's thirty-five they were considered to have the advantage on their side, due to greater tonnage and a larger number of guns per ship. But the French were weak in one point and that was sailing to windward -- this was offset in a measure by their superior ability to run off the wind and escape from their foes, should the battle go against them. On the morning of April 12th, Hood led the British fleet, which was apparently to windward, while Rodney in the Formidable was in the center. The French fleet was in a line parallel to the English and a safe distance to leeward. The wind was evidently light. Then, we are told, "a sudden gale of wind gave the British admiral his chance -- abruptly turning his flagship to larboard he broke through the French line." This "gale of wind" was probably the usual freshening of the trade at about eight o'clock, which Rodney's ships received first because he was to windward of the French. By breaking into the line as he did, the whole of Rodney's fleet was concentrated on two-thirds of the French and the English could use both broadsides at one time while the French could only use one. In the cannonading which followed, a rooster which had escaped from the coops on board the Formidable stood on the bowsprit and crowed defiantly. "It was a good omen to the sailors, who worked their guns with redoubled vigor." Six of the French ships were captured and the rest fled to leeward, mostly in a crippled condition.

Rodney at this time was sixty-three years old, a roué ; a gambler, and crippled with gout. But he was considered the best admiral whom the British had. Some years before, he had fled to France to escape debt and it was a Frenchman, Marshall Biron, who paid his debts and made him return to England because he did not want to have his country deprived of the glory of beating the British with their best admiral at their head. It had been too rash a gamble. Although Rodney's tactics, in the Battle of the Saints, were conceived on the spur of the moment, unknown to him, they were first evolved by a Scottish minister, John Clark of Eldin, and were a lesson to Nelson who embodied them in the "Nelson touch" at Trafalgar.

I passed close to the Saints and looked with great longing on a pretty little fishing village on the lee coast of Terre d'en Bas. There were some white people on the beach where several smart looking fishing boats were drawn up on the sand. I would have given much to have been allowed to land there, but I knew there was no port of entry in the Saints and remembering my Martinique experiences I held my course for Basse Terre on Guadeloupe. Soon after, the wind left us and I rowed into the roadstead of Basse Terre at the very peak of the heat of a calm day, that is, three o'clock in the afternoon.

It was the eighth of May and getting on toward June when the light winds and calm weather of the hurricane season begin. There is no doubt as to the degeneracy of the white man in the tropics due to the heat. First comes the loss of temper. I noticed this in my own case. I had become short tempered and swore at the slightest provocation.

When I rowed in close to the seawall of the town and located a small building where a douane boat was hung in davits under a roof to protect it from the sun and over which a customs flag hung limp from a staff, I felt that I was reasonably correct in guessing that this was the office of the harbor-master. There were a few loafers on a jetty that stood half-heartedly just far enough out from shore to clear the surf. I addressed these as best I could and asked for the harbor-master. They did not seem to understand, neither did they care. I asked again and louder, then I flung my wretched French to the oily sea and used the most concise and forcible English I could command -- not that I thought it would do any good but just to let off the steam of my ire. A miracle occurred! A head and shoulders became visible in one of the windows of the customs' office, for such it was, and yelled :.

"Keep your shirt on, old man, we're not fussy here. Come right ashore and I'll take your papers after we've said, 'How do you do.' " This was the greatest shock I had yet received in the Caribbean. When I recovered myself -- I had been standing in order to swear the better -- I sat down to row ashore. Basse Terre is built along an open roadstead somewhat like St. Pierre but with a retaining wall built up from a steep shelving beach to the level of the streets fifteen feet above. I beached the Yakaboo under the sea wall where a number of boatmen lifted her up and carried her to a place of safety. The English-speaking harbor-master, who really was an American, came out, grabbed my hand, and led me into his office.

"It's a darn small ensign you carry, but it does my heart good to see it," he said, and then he began to introduce me to some of his cronies who had been helping him to pass away a hot calm afternoon with a gossip and a smoke. There were Henri Jean-Louia (Homme de Lettres, Chargé de mission agricole par la Chambre d'agriculture de Point-à-Pitre et le Conseil général de la Guadeloupe), and Hubert Ancelin (Négociant-Commissionaire, Secrétaire-Trésorier des Chambres de Commerce et d'Agriculture, Agent de la Compagnie "Quebec Line") -- I am reading the titles of these dignitaries from the cards they gave me -- and there was a small French-looking man with a great deal of dignity who seemed very much interested in everything we said.

Jean-Louia, the newspaper man, asked me if I would care for a little refreshment. I replied that since I was no longer in a whisky-and-soda country any liquid refreshment he might choose would be very acceptable. In a short time some cakes and a bottle of champagne were brought in. My health was proposed (there were certainly no outward signs of my immediate decline) and we drank the delicious wine in delicate champagne glasses. Bum that I was, -- you shall have an accurate description later, -- if I had been suddenly dropped into the middle of a ball room I would not have felt more incongruous than drinking champagne and eating bits of French pastry less than a quarter of an hour from the time I had left the Caribbean and the Yakaboo.

But I must bring forward the little man who has shown great interest in our conversation. He was dressed in white duck, trousers loose and baggy, coat with military cut, and he wore mustachios, -- a typical Frenchman. I had been doing my uttermost with the meager vocabulary that I could claim my own when I bethought myself of the little man who had listened but had not said a word. Neither had he been introduced to me as yet. I turned to Magras and said in English, "And who is this little Frenchman?" at which the "little Frenchman" piped up, "I'm no Frenchman, I'm a Yankee but I suppose I've been down here so darn long I look like one. My name is Flower," he continued, "and I came to ask if you would care to spend the night with me at my house."

This certainly was a day of misjudgments and for a second time I could have been floored by a mere breath. I thanked Mr. Flower and told him that I should be delighted to spend the night with him.

There were still two hours of daylight when I left the harbormaster's office with Mr. Flower, who with the energy characteristic of the small man in the tropics, led me through unshaded deserted streets to the outskirts of the town to the half-ruined Fort Richepance on the banks of the Galion River. Basse Terre cannot be said to be picturesque ; there is an arid barren aspect about the town that would not appeal to the tourist. That it has been a place of some importance one can see from the military plan of the wide streets, squares and substantial stone, brick and concrete houses. It was evidently not laid out by a civil governor. One might easily reconstruct a past full of romance and stirring incidents, for Basse Terre was the West Indian hotbed of revolution bred from the ferment in Paris. It was here that Victor Hugues began his notorious career. Born of mean parents in some part of old France he was early placed out as an apprentice. Whatever his character may have been, he was a man of spirit for he soon became master of a small trading vessel and was eventually made a lieutenant in the French navy. Through the influence of Robespierre he was deputed to the National Assembly. In 1794 he was appointed Commissioner at Guadeloupe. Should his life history be written it would be a fascinating tale of cupidity, intrigue, murder and riot -- a reflection of the reign of terror in the mother country. Had he been less of a rogue France instead of England might today have been the dominant power in the Lesser Antilles.

The next day I experienced my first real calm in the tropics. My log reads : -- "Tuesday, May 9th, 1911. Off at 8 :30 (could not disturb my host's domestic schedule in order to make an early start) and a long weary row along the lee shore of Guadeloupe. Blistering calm with shifting puffs at times. Deshaies at 6 P.M. Distance 27 miles. Beautiful harbor but unhealthy -- turned in at local jail."

I tried to sail in those shifting puffs but it was a waste of time. The lee coast of Guadeloupe is noted for its calms and on this May day when the trade to windward must have been very light, there was at times not a breath of air. I settled down for a long row. The heat did not become intense till eleven when what breeze there had been ceased and on all the visible Caribbean I could detect no darkened ruffle of its surface. The sun was well advanced into his danger arc. I had on a thick pair of trousers, a red sleeveless rowing shirt and a light flannel over-shirt open at the collar to let in as much air as possible. I made a nest of a bandana handkerchief and put it on my head. On top of that I lightly rested my hat. To protect the back of my neck I wore a red bandana loosely tied with the knot under my chin -- just opposite to the fashion of the stage cowboy who wears his handkerchief like a napkin.

Then, with the least possible effort, I rowed the canoe along shore, rarely turning my head but keeping the corner of my eye along the shore which is nearly straight in its general trend -- a little west of north. From time to time I would stop and hold both oars in one hand while with the other I gently lifted the cloth of my trousers clear of the burning skin beneath. For a time I rowed with my sleeves down but the burn of the salt sweat and the friction of the cloth more than counteracted the benefit I might gain by shading my forearms and I rolled up my sleeves again.

My forearms, one would suppose, had, after these three months of continual exposure, all the tan possible, but I found that after a while the skin was blushing a deep red and somewhat swollen and painful. The glare from the water was intense and to protect my eyes I screwed my face into the grin of a Cheshire cat, to elevate my cheeks and bring down my eyebrows. Try it and half close your eyes and you will know just what I mean. The sea heaved in long shallow groundswells as though laboring heavily for breath.

The dazzling beaches quivered in the heat waves while the mountains stood up sharp and strong in the fierce sunlight. There was not the slightest sign of fish and it seemed as though the sun had driven them to the coolest depths below. At twelve o'clock I stopped for a few minutes to eat a "pine" the natives had given me at Toucan Bay. This pineapple which, I believe, was originally brought from Antigua where the best pines of the West Indies are found, has a golden flesh, sweeter than the white fibrous fruit which we of the North know and yet with all of the tang. The core is soft and partly edible and one can eat the whole of one of these fruits with a pleasing absence of that acrid taste which leaves the after effect of putting one's teeth on edge. There are many fruits to which we refer as "delicious" and "refreshing" in our paucity of descriptive adjectives but these two words cannot be applied in a better sense than in describing the pineapple of the Lesser Antilles.

Two o'clock came and then, thank the Lord, the sun began to go appreciably to the westward so that by slightly raising the mainsail I could get some protection. My long pull at last came to an end when at six o'clock I rowed into a beautiful little bay and beached the canoe at the very doorsteps of the village of Deshaies. The bay was a deep pocket walled by green hills on three sides and open to seaward where the sun with a guilty red face was hurrying to get below the horizon so that he could sneak around again as fast as possible in order to have some more fun scorching inoffensive canoe people.

The bay, a snug enough harbor for small coasters, struck into the land like a tongue of the ocean mottled with shoals and coral reefs while the green of the hills was barred from the blue water by a narrow strip of white sand. The charm of the place was strong and I forgot the hot toil of the day while I stood on the beach by the Yakaboo and looked about me. Scarcely two canoe lengths from the water's edge stood the outposts of the village, those meaner houses of the fishermen, the beachcombers, and the keepers of small rum shops.

The people, of the lighter shades of the mulatto, were loafing as to the male portion on this common back porch of beach, while the women were busy over ovens and coalpots, preparing the evening meal. With the apathy of the island native they had watched me row into their quiet harbor and had waited till I was actually on the beach at their very door steps before they got up from their haunches to flock around the canoe. But now there was great excitement. They looked at me and at the canoe and there was nothing they saw about either of us that was at all familiar. To give them a thrill I pulled on the mizzen halyard and let it go again -- the sail fanned out, crawled up the mast, slid down again, and folded up.

Surprise and curiosity showed in all their features but they made no move to touch my things, they merely looked. Some one with an air of importance dispatched a boy for some one else who had official authority and soon after the acting mayor came down to the beach. The mayor, it seemed, was laid up with an attack of fever. The acting mayor was a dapper little person, very civil, and not at all officious. Could he do anything for me? I told him that from the evening set I believed there was promise of a strong wind on the morrow and that I was now preparing my canoe for an early start in order to jump the thirty-eight miles of open water to Montserrat before the trade might grow into a gale. Therefore I did not want to make a camp. I also said that I feared I had come to a fever hole -- at which he grinned assent -- and if he could find some place where I could sleep without the company of mosquitoes I would be deeply indebted to him.

He told me that he would place the town "hotel" at my disposal and said that while he was attending to my papers he would get the key. As for the Yakaboo, she would be perfectly safe where she lay on the beach. In the meantime I would stretch my legs and see a bit of the town during the few remaining minutes of twilight. Deshaies was of a régime which had lasted until recent years and the substantial houses of its main street reminded me of those of our "before the war" cities in the Southern states. Dilapidation was everywhere ; there were no actual ruins. The old prosperity was gone and the town was waiting dormant till the coming of that more stable inheritance which is the natural right of a soil wonderfully fertile.

There were iron grills and balconies and bits of paved roadway and courtyard and there were faces among those easy-going people that took my mind back to Mayero and the descendants of the Saint-Hilaire family. But the banded Anopheles were coming from the Deshaies River bed in millions and I returned to the beach where I found the acting mayor waiting for me. He had borrowed a sheet of my note paper which he now returned, a neatly written document to the effect that I had landed that evening at Deshaies sans rien d'anormal -- on my way to Montserrat. Then he showed me a great iron key and led me across the street to that "hotel" which is less sought after than needed.

It was the town lock-up ! -- consisting of a detached building of one story and having two rooms, perhaps more properly cells, which were heavily barred and shuttered. In the first room a deal table stood in the middle of the floor. On this I put my food bags and my candle lamp which I lit, for it was now dark outside. There was but one thought in my mind, to get as much rest as possible, for the next day might prove a hard one.

I borrowed a coalpot and while I cooked my supper I chatted with the acting mayor. He was to be married, he said, and that night there was to be a dance in honor of his betrothal. He would deem it a great honor if I would come to the dance, but I declined, saying that unless I was very much mistaken the morrow would be the last day for two weeks in which I might safely cross the channel and that I feared to remain in this fever hole any longer than I could possibly help. To avoid the possibility of being annoyed by rats, I carried my food back to the canoe where I stowed it safely under the hatches.

The acting mayor bade me good night and left me to smoke my evening pipe on the doorstep of the jail. After a while the preliminary scale of a flute and the open fifths of a violin announced that the ball was about to begin and I closed the ponderous door of the jail on the strains of the first dance. I had long since put out my light lest it attract mosquitoes and as I made up my bed on the floor I heard the scampering of rats in the darkness. I must confess to a childish horror of rats that is even greater than that of snakes and I finally put a new candle in my lamp so that it might burn all night. I was awakened at five o'clock in the morning by the acting mayor who was returning from the dance. The town did not awaken at five, it seemed, and there was no glowing coalpot to be had. To my disgust there was not a stick in the canoe and on the beach there were nothing but soggy coco-tree fronds. At last a door creaked and from the woman who opened it I bought some charcoal. In spite of my precautions of the night before, it was an hour and twenty minutes before I finally shoved off in the Yakaboo.



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