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Need assistance Give a summary of the story: who? what? when? where? Give your critical (and personal) reaction to the chapter Discuss what aspects of

Need assistance Give a summary of the story: who? what? when? where?
Give your critical (and personal) reaction to the chapter
Discuss what aspects of

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Need assistance Give a summary of the story: who? what? when? where?
Give your critical (and personal) reaction to the chapter
Discuss what aspects of Christopher Columbus’ activities in the ‘new world’ are illustrated by the story?
Does this narrative reach a conclusive position on the moral quality of Columbus as a leader? How does it present him in terms of financial motives? What picture emerges of Columbus’ competence as a governor. What image does the young priest, Father Gaspar, give of Columbus’ behavior toward the islands native? What is Ocampo’s final conclusion in his investigation?

Sources: Read Michener’s Caribbean, chapter 3: Christopher Columbus in Hispaniola
(attached document) Praise for

James A. Michener

“A book about oil and water, rangers and outlaws, frontier and settlement, money and power … James Michener is something rare and valuable: an honorable craftsman doing honorable work.… He manages to make history vivid.”

—The Boston Globe, on Texas

“Fascinating … a wonderful rampage through history.”

—The New York Times, on The Source

“Alaska takes the reader on a journey through one of the bleakest, richest, most foreboding, and highly inviting territories in our Republic, if not the world.… The characters that Michener creates are bigger than life.… Colorful, informative, and historically accurate.”

—Los Angeles Times Book Review, on Alaska

“[A] mammoth epic of the islands, [a] vast paranormal … wonderful.”

—Baltimore Sun, on Hawaii

“The severity, the vastness and the poetry of a faraway land … a slam-bang success.”

—New York Herald Tribune, on Caravans

“Michener’s most ambitious work of fiction in theme and scope.”

—The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Chesapeake

Caribbean is a work of historical fiction. Apart from the well-known actual people, events, and locales that figure in the narrative, all names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to current events or locales, or to living persons, is entirely coincidental.

2014 Dial Press Trade Paperbacks Edition

Copyright © 1989 by James A. Michener
Excerpt from Hawaii copyright © 1959 and copyright renewed 1987 by James A. Michener
Cartography copyright © 1989 by Jean Paul Tremblay
Illustrations copyright © 1989 by Franca Nucci Haynes
Introduction copyright © 2014 by Steve Berry

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Dial Press Trade Paperbacks, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

DIAL PRESS and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, in 1989.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION ÐATA

Michener, James A. (James Albert)
Caribbean / James A. Michener
p. cm.
ISBN 978-0-8129-7492-8
eBook ISBN 978-0-8041-5153-5
I. Caribbean Area—History—Fiction. I. Title
PS3525:119C38 1989 813.′54-dc20 89-42785

www.dialpress.com

Cover design: Pete Garceau
Cover image: Beboy ltd / iStock / Getty Images

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INTRODUCTION

Steve Berry

I grew up in the 1960s, a time when the extent of reading material for kids was, to say the least, limited. R. L. Stine, J. K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and so many others had yet to come along. In fact, what we now know as the young adult genre had yet to be invented. Back then, at least for me, it was Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. A limited selection, but what gems those tales were—each loaded with action, adventure, secrets, and conspiracies. Wondrous stories to fuel young imaginations. I devoured them.

Then one day when I was sixteen years old, a friend handed me a dog-eared paperback copy of Hawaii by James Michener. Its thousand pages immediately intimidated me, as did the small print. I’d never seen so much information packed into one book. The opening sentence alone contained thirty-six words—monstrous in comparison to the prose of Franklin W. Dixon.

But what a sentence: Millions upon millions of years ago, when the continents were already formed and the principal features of the earth had been decided, there existed, then as now, one aspect of the world that dwarfed all others.

I kept reading.

What unfolded was a saga spanning many centuries that described how a tiny group of islands in the Pacific Ocean were formed by nature and then settled by man. The epic involved Polynesians, Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, and Americans. Its massive chapters, hundreds of pages long, featured one expansive episode after another—each intertwined—forming a chronicle that defined both the land and its culture. I read it cover to cover. Then I found more books by this guy Michener and read every one. Eventually, I started collecting them, and now, more than forty years later, I own a first edition of each, save one—Tales of the South Pacific. That book is hard to find. Only a few thousand were printed and, if by some miracle one of those 1947 first editions can be found, the price is through the roof. I keep every one of my Michener books prominently displayed, wrapped in plastic. I see them every day. They are a source of pride and comfort. Today, I write modern-day thrillers in which history plays a central role. Without question, the seed for that technique was planted the day I discovered Hawaii.

James Michener led an incredible life. Born in 1907, he was orphaned but was soon adopted by a woman named Mabel Michener, who was already raising two other children. Some of his biographers have hypothesized that he was actually Mabel’s natural son, the adoption story used to protect both of their reputations. No one knows the truth, and as an adult Michener refused to comment on the subject.

By the time he turned ten, the family had moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They were poor, barely able to put food on the table. His classmates, and even a teacher or two, tormented Michener about the secondhand clothes and toeless sneakers he wore every day. Later in life he recounted that taunting with a sly smile and a twinkle in his eye. He would say that those early years instilled in him an appreciation for life that he never forgot. They taught him about living simply and not attaching too much value to material things. And though he eventually earned hundreds of millions of dollars from writing, he always feared ending up poor.

Before he’d even reached twenty years of age, Michener had traveled across the country in boxcars, by thumbing rides, or simply by walking. He worked in carnival shows and other odd jobs, and he visited all but three states. Of that time, he wrote in his 1991 autobiography, The World Is My Home, “Those were years of wonder and enchantment. Some of the best years I would know. I kept meeting American citizens of all levels who took me into their cars, their confidence and often their homes.” He would also say that those wandering years spurred inside him an insatiable curiosity about people, cultures, and faraway lands.

In 1925 he entered Swarthmore College, a prestigious Quaker institution, on a four-year scholarship, graduating with highest honors. He attended graduate school in Scotland, then returned home and taught at a school in Bucks County. He eventually ended up in New York City, editing textbooks at Macmillan Publishing.

World War II changed everything. At age forty Michener enlisted in the navy, where he discovered the enchanting South Pacific. He earned the rank of lieutenant commander and was made a naval historian, assigned to investigate cultural problems on the various islands. A near-fatal crash landing in French New Caledonia altered the course of his life. He wrote in his autobiography, “As the stars came out and I could see the low mountains I had escaped, I swore: ‘I’m going to live the rest of my life as if I were a great man.’ And despite the terrible braggadocio of those words, I understood precisely what I meant.”

That brush with death also made him realize what every soldier was experiencing during the war, and that one day, when the danger had passed, people might want to recall those things. So each night he began writing down observations, recording comments, describing people and places. Fifty years later, in 1991, he said:

Sitting there in the darkness, illuminated only by the flickering lamplight, I visualized the aviation scenes in which I had participated, the landing beaches I’d seen, the remote outposts, the exquisite islands with bending palms, and especially the valiant people I’d known: the French planters, the Australian coast watchers, the Navy nurses, the Tonkinese laborers, the ordinary sailors and soldiers who were doing the work, and the primitive natives to whose jungle fastnesses I had traveled.

All of that became Tales of the South Pacific.

The story of how that first manuscript made it to print is typical Michener—an unexpected combination of skill, determination, and luck. Using a pseudonym, he submitted the work to Macmillan, the publisher he’d worked for before enlisting. He omitted his name because he knew the company had a strict policy against publishing anything by an employee. Once the war was over he definitely intended to return to work there, but at the time of the submission he was technically a naval officer and not an employee. So the company bought the book, which was published in 1947. One year later Tales of the South Pacific won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Michener changed publishers in 1949, moving to Random House, where he stayed for the rest of his life. More books followed—The Fires of Spring, Return to Paradise, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, and Sayonara. Also in 1949 he moved to Honolulu and soon began work on his most ambitious project to date. Four years of research and three years of writing were needed to produce Hawaii. Its epic scope, length, and breadth proved to be the stamp of Michener’s trademark style, one he would master over the next forty years. Legend has it that he finished Hawaii on March 18, 1959, the day Congress voted to accept the islands as the fiftieth state.

In 1962 Michener ran for Congress as a liberal Democrat but lost. Then, in 1968, he worked as secretary of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. Outer space was a lifelong interest, and he served on NASA’s advisory council, an experience that led to his novel Space.

Honors were something Michener shied away from, but in 1977 Gerald Ford bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Eventually, he wrote nearly fifty books, including five on Japanese art. His work has been translated into multiple languages, and there are more than 75 million copies of his books in print. These latest editions, being rereleased with new covers, will only add to that already staggering inventory.

A myth associated with Michener speaks of his cadre of researchers, used to gather the enormous amount of historical detail included in each of his epics. The reality was quite different. Most of the work was accomplished with the help of only three secretaries. He was a disciplined writer, establishing a routine early in his career and maintaining it his entire life. An early riser, he would go straight to work, where he wrote using a manual typewriter. He then had a light breakfast, maybe a meeting or two, and went back to work until around one P.M. Evenings were a time to be by himself. In the final year of his life, at age ninety, he still kept to his daily routine, except he spent three days a week at a renal treatment center, undergoing kidney dialysis.

The treatment proved painful in a multitude of ways, perhaps the most difficult being that it prevented him from straying far from home. The man who’d visited nearly every country could no longer travel. He told an interviewer at the time, “I sit in the TV room and see shows on the big ships I used to travel or areas that I used to wander, and a tear comes to my eye. It’s not easy.”

And that explains his death—he simply decided there would be no more dialysis. Instead, he welcomed the end.

Michener died on October 16, 1997.

I recall the day vividly. A segment on the evening news reported that he was gone. A sadness came over me, as if I’d lost a close friend—which, in a sense, I had.

In preparation for writing this introduction, I reviewed many articles written just after Michener passed. Most came from folks who’d had some personal contact with him through the years—an experience that had clearly stuck in their memory. All of them recounted what happened as if they had been in the presence of a king or head of state. It seemed a privilege to have spent just a little time with James Michener.

And that legacy lives on.

Though he was known to be fanatically frugal, he gave away more than $100 million. Recipients of his generosity included libraries, museums, and universities. He donated $30 million to the University of Texas for the establishment of a creative writing program. Several million more went to the creation of the James A. Michener Art Museum in Pennsylvania. One wing of that building was named for his third wife, Mari Sabusawa Michener, who died before him, in 1994.

He never really liked talking about himself, and he could frustrate interviewers. “Famous is a word I never use,” he would say. “I’m well known. I’ve written thirty or forty books. I’ve done a great deal. I let it go at that.” He was extremely generous with his autograph, so much so that he once noted, “The most valuable books are those that aren’t signed.”

Of my own collection, only one bears his signature.

To the frequently asked question, “Which book are you most proud of?” he would just smile and say, “The one I’m working on next.”

By no means was he perfect. He could be a difficult man to know. He wasn’t the type to start conversations with strangers, and he detested small talk. He had few close friends, and those who counted themselves in that number knew to tread lightly. He could be abrupt, even rude, and quite aloof. After his death we learned that he utilized collaborators on some of the big books, a fact he refused to acknowledge in life. He was married three times and at one point maintained a mistress. He was a multimillionaire, yet he would constantly fret about not having enough money to pay his bills. And though he was an orphan himself and a co-founder of an adoption agency, in the 1950s he gave up his claim to an adopted child when he divorced his second wife.

All of which shows that he was human.

But still, what a remarkable man.

Michener possessed an incomparable ability to simultaneously enthrall, entertain, and inform. Nobody else could write a two-hundred-word sentence with such grace and style. And he chose his subjects with great care: the South Pacific (Tales of the South Pacific, Return to Paradise), Judaism (The Source), South Africa (The Covenant), the West Indies (Caribbean), the American West (Centennial), the Chesapeake Bay (Chesapeake), Texas, Alaska, Spain (Iberia), Mexico, Poland, the Far East.

Like millions of other readers, I loved them all.

I never met James Michener. I would have loved to tell him how he sparked the imagination of a sixteen-year-old boy, which led first to a lifelong love of reading, then to a career as a writer. When, in 1990, I decided to write my first novel, it was Michener who influenced me most. By the end of that decade, though, changes had firmly begun to take hold. Today you won’t encounter many two-hundred-word sentences or millennia-long sagas involving hundreds of characters. Instead, in the twenty-first century, story, prose, and purpose are expected to be tight. In the Internet age—with video games, twenty-four-hour news, streaming movies, you name it—there is just little time for thousand-page epics. Toward the end of his life Michener gave an interview in which he doubted he would have ever been published if he’d first started in that environment.

Thank goodness he came along when he did.

Now his stories can live forever.

FACT AND FICTION

Though it is based on fact, this novel uses fictional events, places and characters. The following paragraphs endeavor to clarify which is which.

I. Croton. The peaceful Arawaks were overrun by the warrior Caribs at about the time indicated. There is historical evidence for the life of the two tribes as portrayed. All characters are fictional.

II. Maya. Tulúm, Cozumel, Chichén Itzá and Palenque are historic sites accurately portrayed. All characters are fictional.

III. Columbus. Cristóbal Colón, King Ferdinand, Francisco de Bobadilla and the heroic canoeist Diego Méndez are historic characters; all others are fictional. Colón was heavily investigated and was sent home a prisoner.

IV. Spanish Lake. Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake are historic, as is Viceroy Martín Enriquez, their Spanish adversary at San Juan de Ulúa. All other Spanish characters are fictional. The exploits of Drake are accurately summarized.

V. Barbados. Lord Francis Willoughby, Sir George Ayscue and Prince Rupert are historic, all others are fictional. The various events are historic and are accurately presented.

VI. Buccaneers. Henry Morgan and his various raids are historic and are accurately portrayed. All other characters are fictional. The circumnavigation of South America occurred, but with real buccaneers and in about the same route and elapsed time as given.

VII. Sugar. Admiral Edward Vernon, General Thomas Wentworth and the Spanish naval hero Don Blas de Lezo are historic, and their confrontation at Cartagena is accurately portrayed. The great Beckford and Dawkins planter families are accurately depicted. William Pitt (the Elder) is historic, as were the Danish rules for disciplining slaves. All other characters are fictional.

VIII. Nelson. Horatio Nelson, Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and Mrs. Nisbet are historic. All others are fictional, but everything said about Nelson and his frantic search for a wealthy wife is based on fact.

IX. Guadeloupe. Victor Hugues was a real man, but while sources agree on his behavior during the French Revolution, both in France and in the islands, they vary as to his early years. Some deny that he had ever been a barber in Haiti. All other characters are fictional, but the grisly events in Guadeloupe are historic and Hugues did die a strong reactionary in responsible office.

X. Haiti. The black General Toussaint L’Ouverture, Napoleon’s General Charles Le Clerc and his wife Pauline Bonaparte, the English General Thomas Maitland and the black voodoo leader Boukman are all historic, as was the ill-fated Polish battalion. All other characters are fictional, but the various swings of war and the ultimate black victory are accurately described.

XI. Martial Law in Jamaica. Only the two plantation owners, Jason Pembroke and Oliver Croome, are fictional. Governor Edward John Eyre and all others are historic, especially the leaders of the debate in London: Tennyson and Carlyle of the pro-Eyre forces, Mill of the antis. Their attitudes are reported accurately. The actions of the two murderous martial-law enforcers, Hobbs and Ramsay, are historic, including their suicides. The ugly opinions of Carlyle can be found in his writings.

XII. Letters at All Saints. The island itself is purely fictional, a composite of several real places. All characters are fictional, except that the great black cricketer Sir Benny Castain is based upon four real black athletes of considerable fame.

XIII. Trinidad Scholar. The events and the characters who participate in them are totally fictional, but the two universities, West Indies and Miami, are faithfully presented. Events relating to the fraudulent marriage were verified by Immigration authorities and represent common practice.

XIV. Rasta Man. All events and characters are fictional, but the characteristics of the Rastafarian and his religion are based on careful study and interviews.

XV. Cuba. Fidel Castro is historic. All other characters are fictional, but none are exaggerated. Data on life in Miami and Havana are authentic, but the interview with Castro is based on reports of others.

XVI. Final Tour. Thérèse Vaval is totally fictional, as are her ship the Galante and the cruise it makes and the characters she encounters. But some ten or a dozen ships like hers leave Miami or San Juan weekly for island routes that are markedly similar except that they do not visit Trinidad. The general conditions she finds can be easily duplicated and her conclusions are shared by many.

CONTENTS

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

INTRODUCTION by Steve Berry

FACT AND FICTION

Maps

I A HEDGE OF CROTON

II DEATH OF GREATNESS

III CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS IN HISPANIOLA

IV THE SPANISH LAKE

V BIG STORMS IN LITTLE ENGLAND

VI THE BUCCANEER

VII THE SUGAR INTEREST

VIII A WEDDING ON NEVIS

IX THE CREOLES

X THE TORTURED LAND

XI MARTIAL LAW

XII LETTERS OF INTRODUCTION

XIII THE SCHOLAR

XIV THE RASTA MAN

XV TWINS

XVI THE GOLDEN SEA

FURTHER READING

THE SETTING

Dedication

Other Books by This Author

About the Author

Excerpt from Hawaii

THE CHIEF CHARACTER IN THIS NARRATIVE IS THE CARIBBEAN Sea, one of the world’s most alluring bodies of water, a rare gem among the oceans, defined by the islands that form a chain of lovely jewels to the north and east. Although bounded on the south and west by continental land masses, it is the islands that give the Caribbean its unique charm. On the north lies the large and important trio: Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and great Cuba. On the east are those heavenly small islands that so artistically dot the blue waves: Antigua, Guadeloupe, Martinique, All Saints, Trinidad and remote Barbados among them. The southern shore is formed by the South American countries of Venezuela and Colombia and the Central American nation of Panamá. The western shore is often overlooked, but it contains both the exciting republics of Central America—Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras—and the wonderful, mysterious peninsula of Yucatán where the ancient Maya flourished.

The Caribbean, nearly nineteen hundred miles wide from Barbados to Yucatán, does not include either the Bahama Islands or Florida, but does contain near its center an island which at intervals assumed an importance greater than most of the others, Jamaica with its turbulent history.

In the centuries following its discovery by Columbus in 1492, the Caribbean was dominated by European nations fascinated by its wealth, its inviting charm and its strategic importance in naval warfare. Spain, Holland, England, France and, at brief intervals, Denmark and Sweden all became embroiled in Caribbean affairs, until it seemed that the area’s destiny was determined not by actions in the Caribbean but by what transpired in Europe. Conversely, and this became a crucial factor in world history, European destinies were frequently determined by great sea battles in the Caribbean, especially those fought among the fleets of Spain, Holland, England and France.

But one must always keep in mind the salient fact about this sea and its islands: the dominant settlers of the area would become the black slaves who arrived in such droves from Africa that in time they outnumbered and eventually outpowered all other groups combined. Many islands would ultimately become black republics with blacks holding all major offices like governor general, prime minister and chief of police.

In the nineteenth century a heavy influx of Hindus and Muslims from India introduced unique influences, making certain islands and regions even more colorful, while in recent decades businessmen predominantly from Canada and the United States have streamed down to invest their intelligence and money in efforts to make the islands tourist havens and international banking centers.

The Caribbean is often referred to erroneously as the Mediterranean of America. In a strictly geographical sense the comparison is apt: both seas are landbound, they are almost identical in size (Mediterranean, 969,100 square miles; Caribbean, 971,400). Both have been important historically, but there the similarities between the two great seas end. The lands bordering the Mediterranean gave rise to many outstanding civilizations and the three great religions, while the only great indigenous civilization that operated in the Caribbean area was the Maya in Yucatán, and even it was dying out before the explorers arrived from Europe.

But what the Caribbean did provide, and generously, was a sea of heavenly beauty, a cluster of unmatched islands and a varied series of national occupiers; it certainly has never lacked for either variety or excitement. Above all, it was the theater for one of nature’s most violent manifestations, the vast hurricanes that were spawned mysteriously off the shores of Africa and came roaring across the South Atlantic with demonic fury. Each summer a gathering of these monsters rampaged among the islands, sometimes missing land entirely, in other years devastating everything, flattening palm trees, tearing houses apart, and killing thousands. The hurricanes kept to a preordained swath, rarely striking as far south as Trinidad or Cartagena, occasionally as far north as Bermuda, but Barbados and Jamaica could expect to be visited at least once in a decade, and some smaller islands were ravaged with even greater frequency. Sunny beaches of white sand and crystal-blue water were the glory of the Caribbean, hurricanes the hell.

But however magnificent the sea is, the stories of human endeavor must focus on the scattered islands, just as in the larger world, history concentrates on the settled continents. We have neither the time nor space to deal with all the islands, each worthy of its own treatment, but we shall visit in close detail more than a dozen, and in the process observe many diverse civilizations dominated by a wide variety of mother nations: Spain, Holland, England, France, Denmark, the United States, and the societies unrelated to Europe: Arawak, Carib, Maya, African, East Indian. It is a rich tapestry we shall be inspecting.

The story begins in the year 1310 on an island—which would later be named Dominica—lying in the middle of the eastern arc.

Tiwánee suspected there might be trouble as soon as she heard that strangers had settled on the other side of the island. She learned this disturbing news from the most reliable man in the Arawak settlement, her mate Bakámu, who on one of his constant roamings had espied the three strange canoes from the top of a hill where he was digging for an agouti. The canoes were much larger than those familiar to the island, and the people taller and darker-skinned.

Forgetting his pursuit of the agouti, which had burrowed deeper than usual, he ran back across the island, beneath the branches of the tall clustering trees that covered the hills, to shout to his woman: “They have come.”

These words summarized a world of mystery and apprehension, for never before had strangers come to the island, nor was there any conceivable way in which Bakámu could have known that they were coming, or even that they existed elsewhere. But Bakámu was not an ordinary man, as his name testified—it meant he has struggled back—and it was well earned, for as a young fellow, still bearing his birth name Marabul, he had hollowed out a huge log, made himself a stout canoe, and in it had paddled bravely to other islands not seen before. To the north he went over open seas to the island that would centuries after his death be named Guadeloupe and to the south he visited Martinique, discovering that his smaller island lay between two larger ones which seemed to be uninhabited.

He had pondered the mystery of why his small island contained people, while its larger neighbors had none, but could find no answer, and talked with no one about it. He kept his silence even after he took Tiwánee as his wife to live with him in the shelter he had built for them. She has great wisdom, he thought, and someday I will tell her. But now Bakámu was caught up in the discovery that his wife had accumulated rare knowledge, and better than other women, she knew when to plant manioc and sweet potato, how to cultivate corn, and where in the forest she could find star apples, guava and especially the rich, sweet cashew nut. And when her man brought home an iguana, once or twice a year, she knew how to prepare the first joyous feast and then dry the rest of the meat and save it for later.

Tiwánee’s skills were respected by all in the village, and they formed one of the most attractive couples on the sunset side, he a man of robust build and somewhat ponderous, she a darting little brown bird looking into everything. Since he demonstrated unusual ability in whatever physical activity he attempted—running, leaping, swimming, games—he commanded the respect of his fellows and in public his words carried weight, but everyone knew that in the home he listened to and obeyed his wife. Although men did not consider her beautiful, the wonderful animation of her pert little face when she talked or smiled attracted special attention. And when they walked together along the beach or through the village, Tiwánee in her brightly colored garment, Bakámu in a dun-colored breechclout, she invariably stayed in front, as if she with her rapidly scanning eyes and natural inquisitiveness was scouting the way for him. But regardless of where they were or what they were doing, they laughed a lot, and it was clear to all that they were happily mated.

It was easy to determine where Bakámu and his wife lived, for although their round hut built of wooden poles, wattles and mud resembled all others clustered in friendly circles, the plot of land on which it stood was outlined by a remarkable hedge which glowed when sunlight reflected from it.

When planting it, Tiwánee had used only the croton, a tropic plant which produced in its big, broad leaves a variety of colors that was bedazzling. There were reds, yellows, blues, purple, deep brown and four or five other colors, all dusted with iridescent specks of gold. Some plants, for no discernible reason, had leaves of all one color, others displayed the wildest variations, and occasionally, as if to prove its versatility, the same plant would produce one bright color topside of each leaf, a much darker color on the underside.

A hedge of croton was a perpetual bewilderment and joy, because the individual plants were a rowdy lot; they grew in wild profusion, obedient to none of the sensible laws that governed ordinary plants. Had Tiwánee used in her hedge any of the glorious red flowers her village produced—those that would later be called poinsettias, anthuriums or hibiscus—she would have had a known quantity; those flowering shrubs grew to a preordained height, behaved themselves, and clung together as if ruled by only one benelovent spirit: “You were intended to be thus and so you will remain, to gladden men’s eyes.”

But croton was an outlaw. Again and again Tiwánee would trim her hedge all of a level and then one morning she would find that two of her plants had taken off like seabirds leaving the bay to soar aloft. They would grow like determined little trees, until they were so out of proportion that she had to eliminate them, for they ruined her hedge. Or again, she would have in one section of her planting crotons of one color, perhaps all yellow, a gorgeous plant, when out of nowhere would spring up one that became a dark purple, and again her design was destroyed.

No one could make a bunch of croton behave, not in size, or color, or general appearance. The most irritating behavior of all was when some especially beautiful plant, showing perhaps a combination of four colors, would suddenly stop growing upward and decide to grow with great proliferation sideways, its leaves becoming ever more g

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