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"Somebody yelled, 'But look the black Englishman ! Look the white niggers !', and then they were all yelling. 'Look the white niggers ! Look the damn white niggers !' A stone just missed Mannie's head, he cursed back at them and they cleared away from the rearing, frightened horses. 'Come on for God's sake,' said Mr Mason. 'Get to the carriage, get to the horses.'But we could not move for they pressed too close round us. Some of them were laughing and waving sticks, some of the ones at the back were carrying flambeaux and it was light as day. Aunt Cora held my hand very tightly and her lips moved but I could not hear because of the noise. And I was afraid, because I knew that the ones who laughed would be the worst. I shut my eyes and waited. Mr Mason stopped swearing and began to pray in a loud pious voice. The prayer ended, 'May almighty God defend us.' And God who is indeed mysterious, who had made no sign when they burned Pierre as he slept - not a clap of thunder, not a flash of lightning - mysterious God heard Mr Mason at once and answered him. The yells stopped.

 

I opened my eyes, everybody was looking up and pointing at Coco on the glacis railings with his feathers alight. He made an effort to fly down but his clipped wings failed him and he fell screeching. He was all on fire.

 

I began to cry. 'Don't look,' said Aunt Cora. 'Don't look.' She stooped and put her arms round me and I hid my face, but I could feel that they were not so near. I heard someone say something about bad luck and remembered that it was very unlucky to kill a parrot, or even to see a parrot die. They began to go then, quickly, silently, and those that were left drew aside and watched us as we trailed across the grass. They were not laughing anymore."

 

This scene occurs early on in the novel. The recently emancipated and disenfranchised black Creoles have set fire to Antoinette's childhood home, forcing her and her family to flee. 

 

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