The Silken East
The people of the country-side attach a mysterious character to the volcanoes. A fabulous snake is said to be imprisoned within, and a house has been built in the vicinity for the tutelary nat. Nervous people do not willingly pass by his territories at night. And it must be admitted that they have a disagreeable character. No more secret grave for a murdered man could well be found. No blade of grass grows anywhere within their sinister neighbourhood. All power of reproducing life seems to have been crushed out of this grey clay, and even at the height of the tropical year, when life strains upwards from the soil and all things that come within the compass of the eye are clothed in verdure, it spreads, devoid of every symptom of life, broken and furrowed only by the rain, like a cold blister on the smiling face of the world. The volcanoes owe their existence, it seems, to petroleum springs below the surface.