I remembered something then, out of nowhere . . . something I’d heard long ago and then forgotten. It would have been better if the memory had stayed that way too—and even as I spoke, I recall a part of me resisting.
“I heard talk once,” I said, “that there’s another god . . . a god even over Oro. A god of gods, you might say.” The memory was returning now in full; a night I’d passed with some of the natives, and their voices hushed with awe, as though they whispered of things not meant to be shared. “His name was Joro. He’s not an ancestor like the others, I don’t think. They say he was here before the people came, before the island.”
Halloway looked at me distrustfully. “If this Joro of yours existed, then I’d have heard.”
“He’s not mine,” I told him, “and he’s not something they much like to talk about. I don’t know that they even pray or offer to him. But the man who told me was in no state to be lying.”
Halloway’s eyes narrowed further, for he saw my meaning.
“Yes, I’d been drinking,” I said, “and so had he. But contrary to your beliefs, Reverend, drink can reveal truths as well as lies. I tell you upon my life, that man was being honest. And I’ll tell you something else: he was afraid. I’ve heard them speak of Oro, and they make a show of fear, while Hiro they treat like an old friend. But this Joro . . . they talked of him as a Christian man would of the Devil, though I’ve never seen any Christian as cowed as these.”
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