Rosaliqua and the Five Goudes

Rosaliqua rolled over and opened her eyes just the tiniest bit. From her spot on the floor she could see through the palm frond walls to where the family donkey was braying. She started to close her eyes against the nerve rattling sound but then she remembered! Her eyes flew open and she jumped up.

The sound of her bare feet pounding on the worn dirt bath made a nice rhythm as she raced toward the big cement building. She was so intent on running that she didn’t see the person in front of her. Umph! They collided and Rosaliqua’s seven-year-old arms went flying. She landed with a bump on her backside, just missing the hedge of kandilop cactus that lined the path.

“Mama!” Rosaliqua exclaimed.

“Tsk. Tsk.” Mama said, with a shake of her head. “A child who runs and doesn’t look must need more work to do.” She reached into the pocket of her big skirt. “Take this and stop at Madam Luke’s to buy me some coffee.” The coin dropped into Rosaliqua’s hand.

Five whole goudes! Rosaliqua stared down at the coin. Then she remembered! Usually she loved going to Madam Luke’s store but today she had other things to do.

“And don’t dawdle!” Mama shook her finger in Rosaliqua’s face. “Be home by breakfast time.”

Rosaliqua’s heart fell. She stared at the ground but then her face perked up. There was only one thing to do. “Okay!” She yelled, taking off and running the fastest she ever had! She passed the big cement building and raced down the wide rocky road. Finally, she made it to Madam Luke’s store. It was painted bright blue with huge Creole words that told all the Haitian people that she sold flour, sugar, soda and other household items.

Rosaliqua was breathing hard when she arrived, waving the coin for Madam Luke to see. “Coffee!” She yelled, pointing at the little baggies of dark crumbles. The elderly lady reached slowly for the coffee but Rosaliqua didn’t wait. She grabbed the bag, dropped the coin then turned and raced back the way she had come.

When she got to big cement building she slowed down. She slipped through the iron-gate and hurried up the stone steps to the bright green house.

“Madam Amos!” She yelled. She took a deep breath and hollered again.

The metal door opened and a face peaked out. Rosaliqua smiled at the sight of the white-skinned missionary. Blue eyes met her dark brown ones and the woman’s face lit up. “Rosie!”

But then something terrible happened! Rosaliqua was so excited to see the white missionary that she didn’t pay attention to what she was doing and the little package of coffee slipped right from her fingers onto the ground. The bag split open and the coffee splattered all over.

Rosie stared at the crumbled black crumbs and her eyes filled with tears. She was going to be in big trouble! Her Mama and Papa didn’t have a lot of money and the coffee had cost five goudes! It would take Rosie a whole day of picking millet in the fields to make that much money, if she could find someone to hire her.

Madam Amos was talking to her while she cleaned up the mess on the porch but Rosie just kept crying. Then the missionary did something that shocked Rosie. She sat down beside her and wrapped her arms around her.

Between sobs, Rosie tried to tell Madam Amos what had happened. She pointed at the coffee and said “Mama”. Then she held up five fingers. “Goudes.” She said, still crying.

The woman shook her head and smiled more. She called, “Amos!” And a big white man came to the door. The woman said something to him in English and he disappeared back inside. A minute later he came out onto the porch and reached down to take hold of Rosie’s hand. He opened her palm and set a coin in it. Then he winked at her.

Rosie stopped crying and jumped up. She wrapped her brown arms around the man’s neck. “Thank you! Thank you!” She said. Her smile was so big it almost split her face. The missionaries smiled back.

Rosaliqua said, “I’ll be back later!” Then disappeared down the path, through the big iron-gate until she was just a dark brown spot in the distance.


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