place, and only succeeded in getting one to stay by allowing him to sleep on the mat outside my bedroom door.
I certainly used to hear, during the night, all sorts of peculiar noises and gruesome sounds, but the house, being an old one, was infested by rats, and to the gambols of these gentry I ascribed the uncanny noises.
The groom, however, emphatically denied the culpability of the rats, and insisted on blaming the ghosts for the noise. Over and over he would tell me that he would have to leave the work, as "De Jumbies does trouble me too much/9 and frequently, in the middle of the night, I would wake up with a start, hearing the boy yelling out to me. "What on earth is the matter, you-f99 I would call out in exasperation, only to receive every time the same answer about the Jumbies. " Just listen, sah, dey lighting matches all round the house." I certainly could hear sounds as of matches being drawn, but that was all, and the other sounds could be put down to the bats that infested the place.
One night, however, I was really horribly alarmed, and experienced a good share of the feeling engendered by reading some of Edgar Poe's ghastly tales. I was quite alone in the house and had given the boy leave to sleep out for the night. I went to bed as usual and was awakened after a few hours' sleep by some sound or other. The wind was pretty high, and whistled mournfully through the trees. I had not bad a pleasant dream, and awakened with a feeling of uneasiness, while my thoughts reverted to unpleasant ideas and some gruesome tales I had read the day before.
The mournful cry of an owl resounded from time to time, and it seemed to me the rats and bats seemed unusually restive and ghostlike. Heavens! what was that rustling sound just outside beneath the window P It sounded like a footfall. There it is again! Gracious I I'd swear that was the clank of iron, it sounded like fetters! A cold perspiration broke over me, my hair was quite damp. I held my breath to catch the slightest sound. Again I heard the clank of the chain, now close beneath the window. All the blood-curdling stories of fettered ghosts I had ever read flew through my brain. The moon shed fitful rays from behind a cloud and enabled me to distinguish objects. Again the clank and a rustle.
Do all I could, I could not tear my eyes away from the window, and every second I expected and dreaded to' see a cold, white face with gleaming eyes pressed against the window pane. I could stand it no longer, and don't know what I was about to do, when an awful sound broke the ghostly stillness of the night. " Heo haw 1 Hee haw 199 'Twas the other donkey loose outside. Never had I thought there was such enchantment in a donkey's bray, never so sweet a sound had I ever heard, nor one so full of com* forting melody. Once more I was at peace, and, calling' myself some inelegant names, I turned on my other side and slept till morning.
But the haunt" par excellence" of the Jumbie is the glorious silk-cotton-tree (bombax eeiba) and Quashie would sooner do anything than pass under its spreading branches after nightfall. This splendid tree, the king of the West Indian vegetable world, has a hnge trunk, sometimes measuring thirty feet in circumference, supported by great buttresses jutting out ell round. The branches of the ceiba, sometimes called Jumbie or Devil's tree, are supposed to be the roosting place of 8warm8 of Jumbies, who jealously revenge themselves on any one troubling their solitude after dark. There is also a .belief that great harm will inevitably befall any one attempting to hew down a ceiba. I am sure that any one looking at one of these magnificent trees with its wide-spreading branches and feathery leaves, and thinking of the centuries which must have elapsed to enable this giant to attain his size, would consider as well merited any accident which might befall the Vandal who would attempt to destroy the greatest ornament of the landscape. I know of one such person, a Scotch manager, who in order to plant a few rows of coooa-trees, sacrificed the largest ceiba in Grenada. While superintending the work of destruction* he tripped find fell between two of tiie \i\xg*Vrtktss»»^ wA ^ ^
thorough drenching in a pool of water lodged in the hollow. A tremendous attack of rheumatics was the consequence, and Quashie now cites this incident as proof of the power of incensed Jumbies.
There is not a creature on earth so devoid of the power of appreciating the beauties of scenery as the average West Indian planter. He looks on any one who breaks out in unrestrainable admiration of a lovely bit of landscape as a maniac, and is about as sympathetic on being, asked to admire a gorgeous piece of colouring as the scraggy dog trotting behind his horse. A lovely little valley with silvery splashing stream and banks dotted with tree ferns, he may be -found to admire. Yes! provided the soil be good and shows capabilities for growing cocoa; he will order rows of majestic mountain palms to be ruthlessly cut down without the slightest compunction; and if remonstrated with and begged to preserve these glorious trees, if only on account of their age and comparative rarity, will in nine cases out of ten, vote them all "bosh " and you a "puir, feckless, meddling creature."
In a few years, such a thing as a mountain or cabbage palm, will be very scarce in Grenada, and one of the loveliest distinctive marks of the tropics will be as rare in Grenada as it is at present in Barbados.
Quashie, with this bad example before him, has naturally no eye for the beautiful, and everything "no good for eat" falls a prey to his merciless cutlass..
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