Jerry of the Islands eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 252 pages of information about Jerry of the Islands.

Jerry enjoyed the singing much in the same way the opium eater enjoys his dreams.  For dream he did, vaguely and indistinctly, eyes wide open and awake, the lady-god’s hair in a faint-scented cloud about him, her voice mourning with his, his consciousness drowning in the dreams of otherwhereness that came to him of the singing and that was the singing.  Memories of pain were his, but of pain so long forgotten that it was no longer pain.  Rather did it permeate him with a delicious sadness, and lift him away and out of the Ariel (lying at anchor in some coral lagoon) to that unreal place of Otherwhere.

For visions were his at such times.  In the cold bleakness of night, it would seem he sat on a bare hill and raised his howl to the stars, while out of the dark, from far away, would drift to him an answering howl.  And other howls, near and far, would drift along until the night was vocal with his kind.  His kind it was.  Without knowing it he knew it, this camaraderie of the land of Otherwhere.

Nalasu, in teaching him the whiff-whuff language, deliberately had gone into the intelligence of him; but Villa, unwitting of what she was doing, went into the heart of him, and into the heart of his heredity, touching the profoundest chords of ancient memories and making them respond.

As instance:  dim shapes and shadowy forms would sometimes appear to him out of the night, and as they flitted spectrally past he would hear, as in a dream, the hunting cries of the pack; and, as his pulse quickened, his own hunting instinct would rouse until his controlled soft-howling in the song broke into eager whinings.  His head would lower out of the entanglement of the woman’s hair; his feet would begin making restless, spasmodic movements as if running; and Presto, in a flash, he would be out and away, across the face of time, out of reality and into the dream, himself running in the midst of those shadowy forms in the hunting fellowship of the pack.

And as men have ever desired the dust of the poppy and the juice of the hemp, so Jerry desired the joys that were his when Villa Kennan opened her arms to him, embraced him with her hair, and sang him across time and space into the dream of his ancient kind.

Not always, however, were such experiences his when they sang together.  Usually, unaccompanied by visions, he knew no more than vaguenesses of sensations, sadly sweet, ghosts of memories that they were.  At other times, incited by such sadness, images of Skipper and Mister Haggin would throng his mind; images, too, of Terrence, and Biddy, and Michael, and the rest of the long-vanished life at Meringe Plantation.

“My dear,” Harley said to Villa at the conclusion of one such singing, “it’s fortunate for him that you are not an animal trainer, or, rather, I suppose, it would be better called ‘trained animal show-woman’; for you’d be topping the bill in all the music-halls and vaudeville houses of the world.”

Project Gutenberg
Jerry of the Islands from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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