Islands of the Gulf Vol. 2
Part of Series: The Herbert West Trilogy
Available at: Smashwords
Number of words (approximately): 123316
Star Rating (of five): 5
Summary: The Herbert West / Francis Dexter Trilogy continues. This book covers principally the years at
, as Francis
discovers himself. Bellefleur
- “I didn’t decide,” she said. “I was picked. There were lots of medicine folks in my family, so I wasn’t surprised. When I was the same age as Mary Henry, I started having dreams. I told my uncle about them, and he started to teach me. When he thought I was ready, he took me away to a secret place. Then he made me like to die, and when I came back I knew about the other world. After that I could see the dead people sometimes, and I could talk to the spirits. And fly, sometimes.”
“He made you die?” I asked.
“He gave me medicine made from plants. Secret plants that we use only for magic. It made me dizzy and sick. I fell asleep and went away from my body. Uncle said I was like dead for three days.”
“So he made you into a medicine woman. He decided.” Her account had been so matter-of-fact, but the things she had said had shocked me.
“Nobody decided,” she said. “I was given those first dreams. Then I knew, and so did my Uncle. We just did what we were supposed to do.” She gave me a long look. “I figured you’d know about that.”
“Because it was the same for you, wasn’t it?”
“Not exactly,” I said. “I became a doctor because I wanted to know more about how people’s bodies work. What makes them live and what makes them die.”
“And what makes them happy too, you said. So did you find out?”
“I thought I did, once. But… something happened to me, nearly ten years ago. I… died too. And a friend brought me back to life, like your uncle did you. After that I found out that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. I had to run away from the place I lived before and ended up here. As a doctor, I use what I know to help people, but sometimes… sometimes they get well without my doing anything, and other times they die no matter what I do.
“And now, there’s someone I want to help. But it’s not like Mary Henry. I was able to clean out the sickness in her leg and she’s going to be all right. But I don’t know what to do when the sickness is inside someone’s mind.”
The fire had burned low. I could see only the outline of her face in the dim glow, and the gleam of her eyes.
“Sometimes you don’t know,” she said. “Sometimes you have to ask for help.”
“But I don’t know whom to ask. Not in Victoria, and maybe nowhere.” A thought struck me. “You mean I should pray, I suppose. But I’m not a Christian, Mrs. Peter. I don’t pray.”
“Sometimes,” Dorothy Peter said, “you can be a prayer. That’s what I learned. The medicine person can make himself or herself into an animal, or part of the air. You have to let go of yourself and go outside. Then the big spirits use you to make their medicine.”
“I am sorry, Mrs. Peter. I don’t know how to do that.”
“Maybe not. But if that’s what you’re supposed to do, you will do it. Can’t be any other way. I’m going to make some tea now, and then we’ll go to sleep. Maybe we’ll dream together.”
“Yes. Happens sometimes.” She laughed and poked the fire into a blaze.
I do not know what Mrs. Peter dreamed that night. But I dreamed this: I was outside the house at the river’s mouth. The moon was very bright, and it seemed to me that the figures carved on the door-posts and standing poles were nearly sentient, their eyes alive and watching me. Almost I could hear them whispering, telling each other things in some unknown language. To get away from them, and also because I felt that I had to look for something, I followed a faint path that led upriver, behind the house. It was darker among the trees, but soon I came to a place white with discarded shells of oysters and clams – a shell midden. Dorothy Peter was standing there, and beside her grew a thicket of Hilaria plants. Not the dried specimens I knew so well, but fully alive. They were nearly three feet tall, the leaves glossy and pointed, the flowers a glowing blue in the cold light. I began to pick them, saying, “Mrs. Peter, this is what I wanted. Thank you for showing me where to find them.” The sharp scent of the plant rose around me, stronger than I had ever known it, like incense. But she put her hand on my arm and spoke, her voice urgent.
“No, Doctor. Not those. Don’t pick those. They aren’t medicine.”
I straightened up and looked at her. Her face, which I had come to think of as a laughing one, was serious and full of pain. She gestured around the place where we stood. “This is a place of dead people,” she said. “This is where they buried the dead slaves. These plants grow from dead people. You never find them any other place. They’re no good. They look pretty, smell good, but they have death inside.”
“But what else can I do?” I asked. “I don’t know any other way.”
“There are many ways,” she said. Suddenly, we weren’t by the midden any more, but in sunshine outside a cave. A cave on the eastern
, that I had not known
was there. A thin stream of water dripped down from above, glittering in the
sunlight. Mrs. Peter laid her hands on my head, on my shoulders, touched my
hands, placed her palms over my heart, my stomach, my groin. “Everything. There
is power in everything, more than you know. Not just here.” She touched my head
again. “Not only what you know,” she said. That was all. - shore of Bellefleur Island
Structure: Very good, complying with the standards for easy eBook reading.
Content: In this book, Francis Dexter relives his childhood and his years on
. Margaret Bellgarde returns to relate the
conclusion. Bellefleur Island
Reviewer’s Comments: This book is written in a beautiful style, as all of Audrey Driscoll’s books. It is a gem. The story progresses through the book, with explanations to satisfy many of the unanswered questions from the previous books in the series, and raising other questions to be answered in the final book of the series, Hunting the
. We’re looking forward to reading that
book. This book is strongly recommended
for any one who reads for the pleasure that fine writing can bring. Phoenix