Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/270

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26o Obeah m the West Indies.

through, and the dance generally ends in scenes of great demoralization.

Sir Spenser St. John says that in studying these accounts, freely taken from M. Moreau de St. Mery, he was struck by the fact how little change, except for the worse, had taken place during the last century, and that, though the sect continued to meet in secret, it did not appear to object to the presence of its countrymen who were not yet initiated.

He adds that notwithstanding the efforts made to keep white men from their sacrifices two Frenchmen and one American succeeded in being spectators on different occa- sions. The American account (pp. 203-7) is an extremely vivid and repulsive one of the sacrifice of a little negro boy and girl at one of these hideous " reunions."

Sir Spenser gives at considerable length an account of a trial under French criminal procedure of four men and four women, taken from the Moniteur Haytien, — the Haytian official journal of January, February, and March, 1864, — for the murder of a girl named Claircine, about twelve years of age. The murder took place on New Year's Eve, 1863. The details of the report of the murder and of the cannibalism which followed are revolting in the extreme. The trial lasted two days, and in the end all the eight accused persons were found guilty, and although great efforts were made to save them, they were all publicly executed.

Sir Spenser asserts that human sacrifices to the serpent took place every New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night, Easter and Christmas Eve, and gives instances of the strange mingling of Catholicism and Vaudoux worship. During the few years immediately preceding the issue of his book in 1884, he tells us that these fearful sacrifices appear to have extended. According to the accounts published in the Haytian papers, people were killed and their flesh sold in the markets ; children were stolen to furnish the repasts