Obeah in the West Indies. 279
will receive as soon as I come home I met^ it, an' they breakin' me an' family life to kill us out. So I have [?] depending on you to guard us from evil. Please send an' let us no \sic\ who do this injery with us."
The following (J) would seem to come from a somewhat higher or better educated class than the majority of Dasent's correspondents, where the writer had evidently asked for advice or assistance in procuring a schoolmaster's or teacher's situation. "This is to inform you that I have done as you directed me. I saw the parson, Mr. K., on Wednesday last. He spoke to me, but he has not decided in his mind to give me the school at all."
The motive for or object of some of the letters seems sometimes darkly veiled, though it may be conjectured. Here is a portion of one (P) written in 1900. "My lady told me she is to come back. So she will by D. V., and I will be glad for your arrival, and let things be accomplished as we mean it to be. In one and everything except the taking of life do all that is in your power."
The counsel for the defence objected to the production of these letters, and that they were not " instruments of obeah" ; whilst he contended that the articles found on the defendant's premises were ordinary ones of domestic use. The magistrate, however, allowed them to be put in evidence, and similar testimony was given as in the last case to show that the articles seized were the common paraphernalia of an obeah man's profession.
The effect of the letters was no doubt reflected in the magistrate's decision, for he found the defendant guilty and sentenced him to tv.'elve months' hard labour and two years' police supervision. One cannot help being struck by the general sameness which occurs in these cases and by the entire absence of anything that savours of the tenets or practice of " voodooism." It is pleasant to
■'A common West Indian expression, meaning to come across anything, — used of inanimate objects.