From Galeano's Faces and Masks

1772: Cap Franšais

France's Richest Colony

The monks have denied last rites to the diva of the Cape Comedie, Mademoiselle Morange, whose irreparable loss to Haiti is mourned in six theaters and more than six bedrooms. No dead artiste deserves to be prayed for, the theater being an infamous occupation eternally condemned; but one of the actors, bell in hand and crucifix on breast, in black cassock and shining tonsure, marches singing psalms in Latin at the head of the dead virtuosa's cortege.

Before it reaches the cemetery, the police are already chasing off the baritone and his accomplices, who vanish in a split second. But the people protect and hide them. Who does not feel sympathy for these showfolk who fan the insufferable languors of Haiti with breezes of cultural madness?

On the stages of this colony, France's richest, plays just open in Paris are applauded, and the theaters are like Paris's--or, at least, would like to be. Here, though, the public is seated according to color of skin: in the center, ivory; on the right, copper; and on the left, ebony, a few free blacks.

The affluent sail into the theaters in a flutter of fans, the heat releasing floods beneath their powdered wigs. Each white woman resembles a jewelry store: gold, pearls, and diamonds make a dazzling frame for damp breasts leaping out of silk, demanding obedience and desire.

Haiti's most powerful colonists live on guard against the sun and the cuckold's horns. They do not leave home until after dusk, when the heat is less punishing, and only then dare to show themselves in litters or carriages drawn by many horses. The ladies are notorious for indulging in much love and much widowhood.