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Atlantic Classics, Second Series
written by "Mackenzie, Jean Kenyan"
...r. It is true of exiles that they have the most unreasonable expectations of the sort, based perhaps upon the migrations of swallows, and not relinquished until the hour of dusk. Yes, then the little trails of the forest are perceived by the mind's eye—which like a cat's eyes sees them better for the dark—to wander away into an infinite distance and a solitude. Dusk is altogether the most illuminating hour for the exile; he then knows so exactly where he is; he has a perfectly visual sense of his surroundings. He sees where he is, but how came he to be there? The geography of his circumstance is plain, but not the logic. He who has no other companions than himself suspects this companion, in that hour of dusk, to be a fool. It must be a poor fool, he thinks, who has drifted into such a clearing by such a river! The forest of the Cameroon is as good a place as any to be homesick; but I will not be saying that the members of my profession—and I am a missionary—are chronic sufferers. Missionaries are, in the main, gay, and for excellent reasons—some of them pagan reasons, for they are little brothers of Antus; some of them Christian reasons, for they are of the company of successful fishermen. A fisherman with a good catch can defy even the dusk; his string of silver fish is a lantern to his feet. No, if there were an altar and a service to placate nostalgia it would not be that fisherman who would most attend that service. The path to that altar would be worn brown by the feet of the trader. I think the trader is lonelier than the missionaries are; he is better versed in solitude. He goes into the forest with a backward look; he comes out of the forest sometimes with a secret and a stricken countenance. More than missionaries do, he does. More often than they, he builds out of his lonely horror and the license of solitude a perverse habitation for his soul. Sometimes—and this is very sad—he ...

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