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LOCAL ITEMS. -1\ * ' -.,.



T PIE AFltlCANl r SORCERER: | -'4, A SKETCH IN THE WEST INDIEA:, BY W. H. STEWART, .V CHAPTER I.'liF" Not many years ago there dwelt in one at those beautiful islands surrounded by the bright blue waters of the Caribbean Sea two people of Portuguese blood,who had been enticed there as im- migrants from the Island of Madeira at a time when famine and disease were rampant in that depen- dency of Portugal. They had left their native shore to commence a new life and a novel kind of labour in the cane flelds of the West India plan* tations, and they came, as many more had come, wholly unfitted for the work; for the man had only been accustomed to the comparatively light labour of the cultivation of the vine, and the woman, young and delicate, had earned her bread by the use of her needle in the well-known embroidery work peculiar to that island. The husbandjoad Enfanuel by name, had arrived at middle life, and was by no means prepossessing in appearance, for he was deformed and crippled in one leg. owing to an accident in youth. hia wife, was many years younger, welt-made, and ex- tremely handsome,with jet black hair and sparkling eyes and the wonder of her friends was how she could have accepted a companion so far above her in years, and so afflicted in his person. Now, though man and wife were obliged to un- dergo much hardship and privation when toiling at an occupation for which they were unsuited, yet they bore their troubles with patience; but no sooner was the term of their contract or appren- tioeship at an end, and they were enabled to save from their earnings sufficient to reimburse the plan- ter for their passage money, than they left cane cul- tivation and commenced shopkeeping in one of the villages, where they were not long in establishing a thriving trade and commenced to save money. It so happened that in the same vessel whieh brought this man and woman to the colony was a young and strikingly handsome youth who was also an immigrant. They belonged to the same mess, and were thrown much together, and the beauty and fine form of Antonio was in striking contrast to that of the deformed Jos6 and made a strong im piression on the young and volatile wife, who con? ceived in her impulsive mind a passion if some- times called tender at any rate in her case of wonderful tenacity. On their arrival in the island fate kept them apart, as the labourers were not permitted to select the estates or the masters they desired, but were located according to the caprice or choice of the planters; and so for' three long years Maria had seen little, if anything, of her Antonio; but his term of service had now expired, and, whether from accident or design we know not, they met once more, for Antonio selected the same village in which Maria dwelt. But if the wife of JOItf had set her heart upon deceiving him, the object of her desires either did not reciprocate the passion or was for a tim# unaware of the interest which he had created at all events he seemed in no hurry to respond to the advances openly made to him by his beantifnl countrywoman. Antonio, however, had no means of subsistence Hard- toil he shrank from, and so when apostwaft offered him which consisted in the easy duty ot keeping the accounts and attending in the absenoo of Emanuel to the store of his mistress, it is not to be wondered at that the young rnan accepted offer, and from constant companionship at last became seduced by her charms, and those advances which few could have resisted. Placed under the necessity as the husbaqd WIll of leaving his business, sometimpi for days and weeks, to resort to the neighbouring islands in search of commodities for his trade, he left free scope to his partner in life to carry on unchecked her intrigues, and had she been satisfied with tiff joint presence of her lover and her husband-for Joe6 seemed in no wise to be sensitive on the sub- Ject as* long as he could make moheyâthe tragedy which we are about to relate would never have 00- currsd not only, however, must Antonio be hers; but she will no longer be subject to the restraint of Josh's presence; but how is this to be accomplished? Can she not induce Antonio to fly with her ? What ? and leave the store and the money she is hoarding ? No she must secure that also. She knows not how, but she is bent upon her purpose, and so determined is she that she will sucoeed. The means she need we shall see anon. For many days the sole thought which occupied the mind of the restless woman was how to cany out her scheme of ridding herself of the presence ef her husband, and at the same time of obtaining possession of his valuables without placing herself within the meshes of the law. At length Joetf had departed on one of his excursions to a neigh- bouring French island, and it occurred to Maria that she might make these absences the excuse to har neighbooiB should he not return to his home. Still she had thought of no pfam by which she oould put him out of way. Poison was mg- I gefted by the tempter, but sbo ahrank from, s*- gtfeat a orime. Besides Antonio ,must then be let â into the seortet, and the thought is only dreamed of to be dismissed as impracticable, for she does not, mention the idea to hoc lover; he isao godd and gentle, and, bat for tier, so innocent. She has it I, âMaria has not lived amongsi the Creoles with* having heard of the fortune-tellerâthe man or Obeahâhe who was able to heal disease, being' back fading love, orâas report eald his- devilish art to spirit away those who were oV noxious to, or who stood in the way of, others and this was usually accomplished so secretly as to defy the law and throw off suspicion. And so she; makes up her mind to take the enchanter into her confidence. He will, if gold be given him, carry out her purpose; how she knows not, but has faith that it ean be accomplished by the Obeah, man, the African sorcerer, and some day-how lOOn she cares notâJos £ will go away again to Martinique, and her neighbours will be told that' he is on his journeying and tben if he return not the fade mil run that he prefers his money bags to his fair young wife and has deserted her, and after a time, so runs the: thought, he will te forgotten; her conscience will be clear, and hot. bliss will be complete, and she will be the wife ai Antonio, her chosen one. And could a woman thus be brought even by. pusion to believe that there Wab such a power as she desired to invoke? Unfortunately the control which the practisera of Obeah had obtained ovec the minds of the ignorant was such that to deny the power was taatamount; to questioning their' own existence, and the negroes of the West- Indies,who wortid; have shrunk as from a deadly serpent from knowingly being the instruments of death, have been induced over and over again to resort to/Obeah in the belief that tha professors of the art exercised a supernatural, authority, and were able to carry out their behests apart from natural causes. Witht this belief, and in pursuance of her plan, Maria, has excused her absence to Antonio, and the young and handsome Portuguese, alone, and-as the suit; goes downjeaves her village home in the lowland4 for she has a long and toilsome path to climb ti reach the dwelling of the Sorcerer, the chief of Obeah. But she has time enoagl4 for she knows it to be useless to approach him until all the world is at 'rest and the day is nearly done-his stance does not commence until towards the midnight hour. Has she the courage to plunge into the forest and follow the mountain path without companion ot guidie ? What she is doing must be wrapt in secrecy, and the passion which is uppermost nerves her to more than this exercise of dariag. In a low and squalid hut, far removed from any of the villages or the negro houses of the plan- tations,and situated in a lonely valley, surrounded by the densely-wooded mountains, with a clear and frothy stream winding. through its glades, and tumbling from rock to rock on its way to the sea, are two perøonø-a man and a womanâand they are evidently there for no good purpose. The man is of that superstition known as Obeahism, and is one of its chiefs the woman, fair and beautiful, it a eupplicant at his shrine. Unlike most of those who deal in the black art ¡ amongst the negroes, the man is powerful and oommanding, instead of shrivelled and tottering with age; but he is nevertheless looked up to as the most unerring of prophets. The suppliant is not of the negro race, as you may tell by her attire,and her fairer skin and straight black hair, but her face, at other times handsome, now wears a look eft painful tension; and well it may, for the ehadows of night are around her, and she is alone with the dar- ing demon of Witchcraft, and her countenance dofifc but portray the mysterious influence which this self-deceived inquirer allows to operate upon her, and the midnighfc incantation does not tendto lea- een the belief that a supernatural power is at work in her behalf. M You nab brought food J" Thus inquires the OttelB; and he pauses for a reply. 4 The trembling woman answers in the negro patois -11 Me bring mafsa plenty dollar 'cause me come for advice. Me know massa read de tars, and me go pay maisa for read for me." The hungry African, for such he was, clutched the money held out by the woman, taking no note of her fair and seductive form,counted the dollars, looked at her half-concealed face only to see if he could extort more, and thf n inquired in an authoritative tone what she wanted from the god of Obeah. His companion removes the handkerchief which she had worn for a disguise, and looking round with suspicious glance, as if she dreaded to unfold her desire, pauses ere she speaks and reveals the fine expressive features of the Portuguese wife. She need not fear that she is known to Nero, and that he will denounce her he has simply mis- taken the cause of her trepidation, assures her that they are alone, and again demands her errand. And then she reveals her slory-first, how much she love-s, rnd next that she must be possessed of the object of it. The cunning fellow who listens to her thinks it at first an easy task, for he knows not as yet that the is already a wife, and deems he has only to deal with the lover, but he must be undeceived, and go at last she in led to the disclosure that the object of her visit is to be rid of the husband's pre- sence. The Obeah man has no sooner learnt the design she harbours than he is determined to turn it to his own interests. He therefore tells his dupe that he must have more money and plenty time," for he has noted the ardour which bums within her. What she asks is not easy of accomplishment, though great Obi can do anything if he wills it, She consents to bring him more money,for she has given him all she brought, and then by cunning questioning he seeks to ascertain the peculiar weak- ness of the husband. Is it jealousy? Is it love of drink or gambling? No, it is none of these, but his sole desire, his weak point, is con centrated in the possession of wealthâwealth gained quiokly and without toil. Upon this hint the fellow acts; he tell his listener, in language meant to be prophetic, that she must come again for he must consult the great spirit and the Aars,st thesametime informing her that unless she brings more gold the spirit will not answer. He then pretends to mark and trace the lines upon her hand, consulting at the same time a greasy card with cabalistic figures, Spends some time in mysterious incantations, and at length .dismisses her with the assurance that Obi will do her bidding, and that she will ere long be in the undisturbed posses- sion of her lover, for that Obi will send Jos6 far away never to return." She entreats him on no account to harm her husband, only to send him away, which the fellow promises. He gives her a small glass phial filled with nails, bits of bone, and rags of various hues, which he says will help to work the charm. And thus armed and secure-in the belief-that she would ere long be freed from a restraint hardly to be endured, she .is passing forth into the silent night, when she is seized and in the grssp of the Sorcerer, and hia lips are pressed upon her own. He is about to pour forth his admiration of her beauty, when his 'sharp eye observes a crouching form close by. 'With a quick resolve he simply tells her to remember the next young moon, and withdraws finto the cottage,whilst she,intout only on what she has seen rod heard, crosses in, front to gain the path which leads to her home, when a crone, old snd hideous, a fit companion for the monBter 'within, thrusts forth just as mnch pf her body as to perceive and mark her master's visitor but to remain unseen herself. Me know you, me no forget you, you are too handsome;" thus she thought and murmured to herself, and quickly drew back into the shadow. The visitor eager and full of hope, and only dream- ing of the accomplishment of her purpose, and glad to escape from the presence of a being she fears, knows not that she is observed, but hastens down the steep incline and is quickly lost to sight. (To fa continued.)








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