The hero said sharply: “Of course he was a fake! Mamma knew he was, all along, but she didn’t want to let on she did in front of folks. That ain’t dignified. She just flattened him out and he went away quiet. You girls always talk like Mamma hadn’t as much sense as you. She’s kind of used up this morning. Wait till I give her her breakfast, and I’ll come talk to you.”
A tray jingled.
Mrs. Egg retreated into her bedroom, awed. Adam carried in her breakfast and shut the door with a foot.
He complained: “Went in to breakfast at Edie’s. Of course she’s only sixteen, but I could make better biscuits myself. Lay down, Mamma.”
He began to butter slices of toast, in silence, expertly. Mrs. Egg drank her coffee in rapture that rose toward ecstasy as Adam made himself a sandwich of toast and marmalade and sat down at her feet to consume it.
By GERALD CHITTENDEN
“There’s no doubt about it,” said the hardware drummer with the pock-pitted cheeks. He seemed glad that there was no doubt—smacked his lips over it and went on. “Obeah—that’s black magic; and voodoo—that’s snake-worship. The island is rotten with ’em—rotten with ’em.”
He looked sidelong over his empty glass at the Reverend Arthur Simpson. Many human things were foreign to the clergyman: he was uneasy about being in the Arequipa’s smoke-room at all, for instance, and especially uneasy about sitting there with the drummer.
“But—human sacrifice!” he protested. “You spoke of human sacrifice.”
“And cannibalism. La chevre sans cornes—the goat without horns—that means an unblemished child less than three years old. It’s frequently done. They string it up by its heels, cut its throat, and drink the blood. Then they eat it. Regular ceremony—the mamaloi officiates.”
“The mamaloi—the priestess.”
Simpson jerked himself out of his chair and went on deck. Occasionally his imagination worked loose from control and tormented him as it was doing now. There was a grizzly vividness in the drummer’s description. It was well toward morning before Simpson grasped again his usual certainty of purpose and grew able to thank God that he had been born into a very wicked world. There was much for a missionary to do in Hayti—he saw that before the night grew thin, and was glad.