The Cross On The Drum
Hugh B. Cave
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A strange young man, Barry Clinton. Unlike most young missionaries, who came to the island to save souls, this one had come with a belligerent skepticism and a driving determination to battle sickness and starvation.
He had come to the Ile du Vent with a Bible and a few meager medical supplies, ready to make the little Caribbean island a better place in which to live.
The Cross on the Drum is the story of the strange friendship of Barry Clinton and Catus Laroche, high priest of vodun, the savage, ritualistic religion which no white man had ever dared defy. It tells of the tormented, embittered passions of the other islanders—white and black—and how they undermined the bond between these two men, changing their mutual respect into brooding, vengeful hatred, and turning the island's drowsy, sunlit tranquility into a feverish, drum-pounding battleground.
Hugh B. Cave, whose knowledge and deep understanding of life and customs in the West Indies distinguished his earlier works, has written here an explosive, dramatic novel of Christianity and voodoo on a Caribbean island.
had changed. There was laughter now. Catus returned, followed by the girl. She at once dropped onto a chair and sprawled there, grotesquely limp and seemingly asleep. No one seemed interested in her any more. Men and women faced each other, hands on hips, shuffling their feet in time to the drumming. Catus came toward him, scowling. "Well, Father?" An hour ago I was in church, Barry thought with a touch of panic. I was saying the benediction . . . "Is it finished? May I go now?" "You may go
home she studied the medical books he had lent her. They were more interesting, she said —"a damned sight more interesting"—than the romances she had used as an antidote for boredom before. He still did not know why she should be bored at home. She rarely mentioned her husband, and Barry had asked no questions. Warner had ridden up from the plantation once or twice to ask if there was anything he could do to help with the work on the church. On being told there wasn't, he had said politely
small plain box before the altar rail. His eyes closed for an instant. A child, he thought. A child that need not have died. He looked across the coffin at the mourners. Only a handful had come into the church. Only the child's mother, a few neighbors, and near the door, kneeling, Catus Laroche. What was Catus thinking? Barry was suddenly bitter—not at Catus, who after all had done his best, but at the two persons who were even more to blame. The mother and father of Yolande Desinor were not
stillness. She said, "I didn't want to tell you this yet. Not until I had to. But in a few weeks I would have had to, so it doesn't matter, does it? I'm going to have a baby." The shock was too abrupt. Catus was too tired. "What?" he said. "Can't you listen? I said I'm going to have a baby. His baby." He began to understand. He took in a quick, noisy breath. His body straightened from its slouch and hardened like a thing of rubber suddenly shot full of air. "A baby!" "Yes," she said. "His.
impossible to go around him. Barry looked into the soot-black face with its misshapen mouth and nose and knew that if he tried to force his way past, Luis would stop him. Those powerful hands might do serious damage. The child, Fifine, appeared in the doorway of Louis' house and saw him. She cried out in delight and ran across the yard toward him, her small feet flying. Louis thrust out a hand and stopped her. "Daure!" Daure came from the house. Louis thrust the child at her. She caught the