The Book of Night Women

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James Read Free Book Online

Book: The Book of Night Women by Marlon James Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marlon James
Tags: Fiction, Literary
each side, four big wheel and four black horse come to a halt at the great house step. Two house negro was outside and the four black horse frighten them something dreadful. Nobody ever see carriage like this before and even a few slave-driver and slave come up to look. A negro with a white wig and red blouson and white breeches sit up front with a long whip in hand. The road from Montpelier gate to the great house was over eight mile long and the house was on a hill, so Jack Wilkins had time to see the carriage coming. But he didn’t see no call to act all proper-like, so he sit there on the terrace getting drunk from lime and sugar-water and rum. By now more slave gather, including house slave who hear the commotion. Homer, coming from the great house, pass the kitchen and see Lilith watching from the window. Homer don’t say nothing but stare at Lilith long and hard. Lilith stay by the window and watch.
    A slave-driver go up to the terrace and ask Jack Wilkins ’bout the carriage but he just nod and take another draw of the pipe. Another nigger with a white wig on jump down from the back of the carriage and open the door. The first to step out was a man. Him skin dark like a quadroon but him hair black and straight and so long that it flow right down him shoulder. He look ’bout five foot nine or ten and build strong, even though him belly was sticking out a little. Nobody know who this man be. He wearing white breeches and brown boots and him blue jacket have tails and tassels on the shoulder like an infantryman. A thick cravat wrap round him neck and he don’t waste no time to pull it off. He sigh like a thirsty man who get a drink of water, which he then ask for. Homer send one of the women back for a pitcher. As he step down and look around, Homer start to approach but then right behind him another man step out.
    At first the man seem like him head on fire. But that be him hair, light and red and with curls flying all over in the breeze. The fire hair burn all over the top of him head that have a little bald spot and run down him sideburn and stop, leaving him chin and face clean-shaven.
    This man tall like a tree. He have to bow him head low just to get out of the carriage. People so used to lazy colonial dress that the moment this man step out everybody know that he be foreigner traveling from far. The man in a long grey coat that look like wool, a white shirt and cravat, black breeches that hem below the knee and shiny black boots. The man was sweating so bad that he near melt. He wipe him face and neck with a kerchief. Then he look all over the estate and scowl. He turn to the other man who was wrapping up the cravat in him hand and the man smile. The tall man frown even more. Homer push past both slave-driver and negro until she right before him. Then she bow two time and curtsy.
    —Nobody send word that you be coming today, nobody at all, Massa Humphrey, she say.
    —I had grown rather fond of surprises, but it seems that the surprise is on me. And how are you . . . Homer? You haven’t aged a day.
    —As good as the lord allow, massa.
    —Then God help you then, he say.
    When Jack Wilkins see the man who dress most uncommon coming up the steps he jump up and nearly topple the pitcher and glass beside him. The slave-driver beside him jump up too.
    —Good heavens! Master Humphrey! Good lord. This is a surprise. But a wonderful . . . yes . . . surprise. . . . Lookit you, young master.
    —I’m hardly young, sir, whoever you are.
    —Of course. ’Tis Jack Wilkins, my boy. I daresay you used to call me Uncle Jack when you were a wee lad. But you’re quite the gentleman now, anybody can see that.
    —Can they, sir, can they indeed?
    —Nobody seems to have seen a gentleman among you but Homer. I had sent word on Monday that we had docked in Kingston. Four days ago! Good heavens, man, I’ve had to charter that carriage myself.
    —My apologies, good, good sir. Things have been a wee bit busy,

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