Friday, April 06, 2007

Bongo Smell Wind!

"Get up the Mast and tell me exactly what and where it is. Take Bodine up with you, with a watch and compass,- and if it proves to be a sail, do try to obtain a few nicely spac'd magnetickal Bearings, there's a good Lieutenant. You'll note how very scientific we are here, yet ancient Beliefs will persist. Here, then, Bongo! Yes! Yes, Captain wishes Excellent Bongo smell Wind!"

The Lascar so address'd, crying, "Aye, aye, Cap'n!!" spings to windward, up a rail, and grasping some Armful of Fore-Shrouds, presses himself far into the wind, head-rag a-fluttering,- almost immediately turning his Head, with a look of Savage Glee,- "Frenchies!"

"I have chosen to be a very wicked woman."
"Who it seems will commit any sin."
Giggling awkward as a Girl, her face a-glow,- the first time he's observ'd her thus. She has been trying to unbutton her Bodice...the trembling in her hands and the failing light resist last with a small growl she grabs both sides of the Garment and rips it in two...The light in the room is darkening with unnatural speed, turning her nipples and mouth black as ashes, her fair hair nearly invisible.

"Here then,- Gershom! Where be you at, my man!"
An African servant with an ambiguous expression appears. "Yes, Massuh [George] Washington Suh!"
"Gershom fetch us if you will some Pipes and a Bowl of the new-cur'd Hemp..."
"...Don't bother about that Israelite talk, anyhow", [Gershom says]..."he does it all the time...As I do happen to be of the Hebrew faith, it would seem a waste of precious time...Is [your partner] always like this?"
"You see what I have to put up with," groans Colonel Washington, "It's makin' me just mee-shugginah..."

The idea was to start from the exact middle of the Delaware Peninsula,- defin'd, quite early in the Dispute, as the "Middle Point,"- and run a line north till it just touch'd the arc of a circle of twelve miles' radius, centered upon the Spire of the Court House in New Castle, swung from the shore of Delaware, around counter-clockwise, westward, till it met its Tangent Line. That's presuming there was a Tangent Line there to meet it, and so far there wasn' couldn't do that and run true North, too,- 'twas more Royal Geometry, fanciful as ever.

"The Indians I have consulted, know ev'rything that's going on, and if it's any comfort, at least Zepho's not alone, there's been an Ulster Scot with a Taste for Swamp Maples, paddling about all supper, up Juniata,- a Son of Dublin, down by Cheat [River], - in fact, enough Kastormorphism among White folks out here, since we first started settling, to populate a good lake of our own."

"When ye wake," whispers a youthful, South English voice, "I'll have long been out upon the Darlington Doad. I am a British Dog, and belong to no one, if not to the two of you. The next time you are together, so shall I be, with you."

- Excerpts from Thomas Pynchon's fictional historiography Mason & Dixon. Every Pesach I stretch my mind a bit with some reading outside my usual fold. Very intriguing, even if you love the French and don't have a fancy for Golems, Artificial chef-hunting Ducks, Were-wolves, or Fang, the Learnèd English Dog.

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