While her companions defended him tooth and nail, she, in all disguise, carried straw and battens to number 12 and prepared a fire. Fortunately they were in time; but the consequences were just as disastrous, because many other little houses, like the one that escaped the fire, did not escape the ravages of the police. Some were completely devastated. And things would be even worse if the providential rainstorm hadn’t come to put out the other, even worse fire, which, from both sides, was burning in our spirits. The police withdrew without taking any prisoners. «If one goes, they will all go to the station! God forbid! Too much for what? what she wanted to do, she did! She was satisfied! »
In spite of João Romão’s efforts, no one managed to discover the author of the sinister attempt, and it was only very late that each one managed to close an eye, after rearranging, amidst plaintive lamentations, what was saved from the wreckage. Time rose again at midnight. At dawn, many people were already on their feet, and the salesman was looking over the courtyard, appraising and mourning, inconsolable and furious, his damage. Every now and then he released a curse. In addition to what the urbanites had torn apart inside the houses, there was a lot of broken tubs, a lot of broken swivels, lamps in fanics, vegetable gardens and razed fences; the front gate and signboard were reduced to firewood. Joao Romão considered, in order to cover the damage, to charge a tax on the residents of the inn, increasing the rent for the rooms and the price of the goods. He saw himself n’ an all-day winder; from early in the morning, he immediately took care of everything to get back on track as quickly as possible: he sent for new vats; to manufacture new turns and repair the broken ones; he had people mending the gate and the sign. At noon he had to appear in the presence of the deputy at the police secretariat. He even went in shirt-sleeves and without socks; many from the tenement followed him, either out of a spirit of camaraderie or out of simple curiosity.
A real treat this tour to the city! It looked like a pilgrimage; some women carried their little ones on their laps; a bunch of Italians went ahead, cooking noodles, smoking pipes; some sang. Nobody took the tram; and throughout the journey they argued and quarreled in great derision, commenting with laughter and fat jokes about what they found, calling the attention of the streets through which the noisy farandula paraded.
The police room filled up.
The interrogation, exclusively addressed to João Romão, was answered by all at the same time, despite the protests and threats of the authority, which was stunned. None of them clarified anything and all complained about the police, exaggerating the losses received the day before.
As to how the conflict had been fought and who had provoked it, the tavern keeper declared that he could not know for certain, as he was absent from the inn at the time. What he was sure of was that the soldiers invaded his property and destroyed everything they found in pieces, as if that was French clothing!
-Well done! shouted the deputy. Do not resist!
A chorus of excited responses rose to justify the resistance. “Oh! They were more than tired of seeing what bats painted, when there was no one in front of them! They played until the last one, just for the taste of doing harm! Well, then, a creature, because he was having a bit of fun with his friends, would he have to be harassed like a thief?… Was there a way?… The rolls were always the police who raised them with their fury! If she didn’t interfere in the lives of those who lived quietly in their corner, there wouldn’t be so much noise!…» As usual, the spirit of collectivity, which united those people in an iron circle, prevented the slightest glimmer of denunciation from transpiring. . The sub-delegate, after vainly addressing them one by one, dispatched the gang, who immediately retreated,
There in the tenement, from the doors inside, they could stab each other at will, since none of them, much less the victim, would be able to point out the criminal; so much so that the doctor, who, shortly after the police invaded, went down from Miranda’s house to the inn to help Jeronymo, was unable to extract from him the slightest explanation as to the reason for the stab wound. «It was nothing!… It was not on purpose!.. They were joking and that had happened!… No one had the slightest intention of making a dent in him!…»
Rita showed an untiring solicitude for the wounded. She was the one who ran to get the medicine, who served as an assistant to the doctor and who served as a nurse for the sick. Many went there, lingering for a moment, to give faith; however, since Jeronymo was operated on, she has not left his bedside; while Piedade, afflicted and flustered, did nothing but weep and tease her.
The mulatto woman didn’t cry; but her face bore a deep expression of tender grief. Now all of her felt herself clinging to that good, strong man; that harmless giant; that quiet hercules, who would kill Firmo with a fistful, but who, in her good faith, had let himself be stabbed by the thief. “And all because of her! just for her!” Her woman’s heart surrendered captive to such bloody and painful dedication. And he, the wretch, interrupted the contractions of his face to smile in front of the Bahian’s enamored eyes, happy in that misfortune that allowed him to enjoy her affections. And he took her hands and girded her waist, resigned and moved, without a word, without a gesture, but saying very clearly, in the silent and quiet pain of a wounded animal, that he loved her very much, that he loved her. madly.
Rita stroked him, without the slightest hint of scruples, calling him tu, stroking his bloodstained hair with the soft pulp of her female hand. And, right there in the presence of his wife, all that remained was to kiss him with her mouth, which with her eyes devoured him with ardent and thirsty kisses.
After midnight, she and Piedade were left alone to watch over the sick man. It was decided that he would go in the morning to the Order of St. Anthony, of which he was a brother. And, in fact, on the next day, while the shopkeeper and his gang were walking around there with the police, and the rest of the tenement was tingling, chattering around the concert of the vats and gyráos, Jeronymo, beside his wife and Rita, was in a car to the hospital.
The two only returned from there at night, falling down from fatigue. For the rest, the whole inn was similarly prostrate and dying from bed, although on that day the laundresses in general slacked off at work; those who had clothes in a hurry went out to wash or dragged bath basins under the spouts, for lack of a better vessel for the job. The eve’s campaign is discussed without changing the subject. Here was one who recalled his exploits with the urbanites, enthusiastically describing the details of the struggle; there, another one repeated, full of self-importance, the insults he had said later on the cheeks of authority; further on, complaints and recriminations were exchanged; each one, women and men, had suffered their injury or scratch, and they showed each other, in a fever of indignation, the broken objects or the bruised part of the body.
But at nine o’clock there was no longer a soul on the inn’s courtyard. The sale closed a little earlier than usual. Bertoleza threw herself on the mattress, crushed; Joao Romão retired to her bed, but he couldn’t sleep: he felt chills and pains in his head. He called out to his friend, moaning, and asked her to give him something to sweat. He supposed he had a fever.
The Creole only rested when, many hours later, after changing his clothes, I saw him go to sleep; and, shortly thereafter, at four in the morning, she would get up, with creaking joints, yawning, sniffling in her heavy shudder, and clearing her throat hard. She woke the clerk to go to the market; she gargled a little water at the kitchen faucet and went to make a fire for the workers’ coffee, scratching phosphoros and lighting chips on a stove, from which thick skeins of thick smoke began to spout.
Outside, it was already lightening, and life was reborn in the tenement. The daily struggle continued, as if there had been no interruption. The flurry began. That good night’s sleep put them all in a good mood.
Pombinha, however, had woken up that morning, depressed and nervous, not in the mood to get out of her sheets. I asked her mother for coffee, she drank it, and hugged her pillows again, hiding her face.
“Aren’t you feeling better today, my daughter?” Dona Isabel asked her, patting her forehead. You don’t have a fever.
—I still feel my body limp… but it’s nothing… It passes!…
—It was from so much ice that you drank it at Madame’s!… Didn’t I tell you?… Now, the best thing is to give you a foot bath!…
-No! no, for God’s sake! I’m on my feet soon!
At eight o’clock, in fact, he got up and idly arranged his head in front of his modest iron washbasin. He would say that he lacked strength for the smallest thing; all of her exuded the contemplative melancholy of a convalescent; there was a sweet, painful expression in the crystal clear clarity of her sick girl’s eyes; a poor pale smile half-opening the petals of her mouth, without cheering her lips, which seemed to have dried up from the lack of love kisses; so the delicate plant withers, languishes and dies, if the affectionate butterfly will not shake its wings pregnant with fertile and golden pollen.
The trip to Leonie’s house had made him very sick. She brought from there impressions and intimate vexations, which would never be erased for the rest of her life.
The cocksucker welcomed her with open arms, beaming as she took her close to her, on those cute and traitorous divans, amidst all that extravagant and refined luxury, suitable for serious vices. She ordered the maid not to let anyone in, not even the Baby, and sat down next to the girl, very close to each other, taking her hands, asking her a multitude of questions, and asking her for kisses, that he savored while moaning, with his eyes closed.
Dona Isabel sighed too, but in another way; in his silly understanding of comfort, those impertinent mirrors, those movable lampshades and those scandalous curtains brought back nostalgic memories of the good weather and fueled his impatience for a better future.
There! so God could help her!…
At two in the afternoon, Leonie, by her own hand, served the visitors a small lunch of foie-gras , ham and cheese, accompanied by champagne, ice and Seltz water; and, without neglecting the girl for a moment, he had extreme solicitude for her as a lover: he took her food to her mouth, drank from her glass, squeezed her fingers under the table.
After the meal, Dona Isabel, who was not used to drinking wine, felt the urge to rest her body; Leonie gave her a good room, with a good bed, and, as soon as she noticed that the old woman was sleeping, she closed the door from the outside, the better to be free with the little one.
Well! Now they were perfectly alone!
“Come here, my flower!” he said, pulling her against him and letting himself fall onto a divan. you know? I want you more and more!… I’m crazy about you!
And he devoured her with violent, repeated, hot kisses that suffocated the girl, filling her with astonishment and an instinctive fear, whose origin the poor girl, in her simplicity, could not have known what it was.
The cocote noticed his confusion and got up, without letting go of his hand.
“Let’s get some rest too…” he proposed, dragging her into the alcove.
Pombinha sat down, embarrassed, on the edge of the bed and, all perplexed, wanting to leave, but without the courage to protest, out of shyness, she tried to resume the thread of the conversation, which they had held a little earlier, at the table, in presence of Dona Isabel. Leonie pretended to pay attention to him and did nothing more than stroke his waist, thighs, and chest. Then, as if absently, she began to unbutton the bodice of her dress.
-No! What for?… I don’t want to undress…
—But it’s so hot… Make yourself comfortable…
-I’m fine like this. I don’t want!
—How foolish of you! Can’t you see I’m a woman, silly?… What are you afraid of?… Look! I will lead by example!
And, in a glance, he got rid of his clothes, and went on with the campaign.
The girl, seeing herself decomposed, crossed her arms over her breast, blushing with shame.
-He leaves! she whispered the other to him, her eyes crossed, her pupil fluttering.
And, in spite of the unhappy woman’s protests, supplications and even tears, he tore off her last garment, and rushed against her, kissing her whole body, enveloping her pink nipple with his lips.
—Oh! Oh! Leave it! Leave it! complained Pombinha, twisting and tickling, and revealing gems of fresh, virginal nudity that drove the prostitute mad.
“What’s wrong?… We’re kidding…”
-No! no! stammered the victim, repelling her.
-Yea! Yea! insisted Leonie, enclosing her in her arms, as if between two pillars, and putting her entire naked body in contact with hers.
Little pigeon panted, reluctantly; but the friction of those two thick, restless pumices on her petty impubere maiden’s breast, and the vertiginous brushing of those rough and frizzy hairs in the most sensitive seasons of her femininity, ended up igniting the powder of her blood, deserting her. give reason to the rebound of the senses.
Now she was squirming, clenching her teeth, her flesh quivering in spasms of spasm; while the other, on top, mad with lust, irrational, ferocious, wriggled, in crooks of ego, snorting and neighing.
And he thrust his flat lingo into her mouth and ears, and crushed her eyes under her foam-lubricated kisses, and bit the lobe of her shoulder, and gripped her hair convulsively, as if she wanted to pull it out. by handfuls. Until, with a stronger start, he devoured her in an embrace with his whole body, whimpering slight cries, dry, short, very high-pitched, and finally he collapsed to the side, exasperated, inert, his limbs thrown in an abandonment of drunk, letting out a strangled sob from moment to moment.
The girl had come to her senses and immediately twisted in the opposite direction to her opponent, hugging herself close to the pillows and stifling her tears, ashamed and running.
The impudent woman, still misguided and unable to open her eyes, looked for the animal, patting the back of her neck and her shoulders. But Pombinha seemed inconsolable, and the other had to half-stand and pull her like a child to her lap, where she hid her face, sobbing softly.
“Don’t cry like that, my love!”
Pigeon continued to sob.
-We will! I don’t want to see you like this!… Are you angry with me?…
“I’m not coming back here again!” never! exclaimed the maiden at last, climbing down the bed to dress.
-Come here! Don’t be bad! I’ll be very sad if you’re bad with your black girl!… Come on! Don’t shut my face!…
“Come here, Pigeon!”
-I will not go! Already said!
And he dressed with angry movements. Leonie had jumped up to her and started kissing her, forcibly, her ears and neck, making herself very humble, flattering her, promising to be her slave and obey her like a puppy, so that that tyranna wouldn’t be so angry.
-I do everything! all! but don’t be mean to me! Oh! If you only knew how much I adore you!…
-I don’t know! Let go of me!
—What a nuisance! Oh!
—Don’t be silly!… Listen, for God’s sake! Dove had just finished putting on the last button on her little body, and she was pulling her neck and shaking her arms, adjusting her clothes to her body. But Leonie had fallen at her feet, wrapping her arms around her legs and kissing her skirts.
“Let me out!”
-No! You don’t have to go angry, or I’ll make a hell of a scandal here!
– Mom is already awake for sure!…
Now the harlot defended the alcove door.
—Oh! my God! Let me out!
“I won’t leave without making peace…”
—What an annoyance!
-Give me a kiss!
-I do not give!
“Then you don’t know!”
— Well, scream! What do I care?
—Get away from it, please!…
– Make peace…
“I’m not angry, believe me!” I’m just indisposed… I don’t feel good!
“But I insist on the kiss!”
— Well then! It’s there!
And kissed her.
“I don’t want it like this!” It was given grudgingly!…
Dove gave him another one.
—Oh! Now well! Wait a nothing! Let me fix it! It’s an instant!
Three times, he washed himself lightly in the bidet, straightened his hairstyle in front of the mirror, with a quick movement of his fingers, and powdered himself, and perfumed himself, and put on his shirt, shawl and hairdresser, all with an expedition of those who is used to dressing many times a day. And, promptly, she glanced at the girl, unwrinkled her skirt, fixed her hair better and, regaining her calm air of a sensible woman, took her by the waist and carried her slowly to the parlor. dinner, to have vermouth with gazoza.
Dinner was at six-thirty. It was cold, not so much on the part of Pombinha, who was actually quite uncomfortable, as because Dona Isabel, sleeping until it was time to call her to the table, felt sour over the foie-gras . The lady of the house, however, did not cover herself with care and made them happy by laughing and telling burlesque anecdotes. Juju appeared at the cafe, whom the maid had taken for a walk since just after lunch, and an affectionate affection rose up around the little girl. Leonie began to talk to her, talking like a child, telling her to show Dona Isabel “her new little papa!”
Later, on the terrace, while he was smoking a cigarette, he took Pombinha’s hand and slipped a diamond ring surrounded by pearls on her finger. The girl formally refused the treat. It took the intervention of the old woman for her to consent to accept him.
At eight o’clock the visitors left, heading straight for the inn. During the entire trip, Pombinha seemed worried and sad.
—What’s the matter with you?… his mother asked him twice.
And of both the daughter replied:
In the little I slept that night, which was the noise with the police, she had agitated dreams and felt sick the whole next day, with fever and pain in the uterus. He didn’t leave his house, not even to see the wreckage of the conflict. The news of Florinda’s deflowering and flight, like the news of old Marcianna’s madness, made his nerves shake.
The next morning, in spite of making himself strong, he turned up his nose at the poor lunch that Dona Isabel affectionately presented him. Her uterine pains persisted, not vivid, but constant. She didn’t have the heart to take up sewing, and a book she tried to read was repeatedly rebuffed.
At eleven to noon, his embarrassment was such and his disquiet between the cramped walls of number 15 was such that, despite the old woman’s protests, I went out for a walk behind the tenement, in the shade of the bamboos and the hoses.
An irresistible need to be alone, completely alone, an affliction to talk to herself, kept her from her narrow, suffocating room, so sad and so unfriendly. In the whiteness of her virgin soul, an incisive and black repentance for the blunders of the day before eve stung her; but, lubricated by that memory, all her flesh laughed and rejoiced, presenting delights that seemed to be reserved for later, with a beloved man; within her babbled desires, until then silent and dormant; and mysterios unraveled the secret of her body, filling her with surprise and plunging her into deep concentrations of ecstasy. An ineffable breakdown loosened his energy and strained his muscles with an intoxication of treacherous flowers.
He couldn’t resist: he sat down under the trees, one elbow on the ground, his head leaning against the palm of his hand.
In the sweet tranquility of that warm shade, the quarry men’s pick and the blacksmith’s hammer could be heard in the distance. And the workers’ chant, sometimes clearer, sometimes more doubtful, accompanying the roar of the winds, wavered in space, melancholy and heartfelt, like a religious choir of penitents.
The heat took a sensual scent from the grass.
The girl closed her eyelids, overcome by her delicious numbness, and stretched out on the floor, belly in the air, arms and legs spread.
He fell asleep.
She immediately began to dream that everything around her was turning pink, at first very light and transparent, then heavier, and more, and more, until a red forest was formed around her, the color of blood, where large crimson clumps slowly stirred.
And she saw herself naked, all naked, exposed to the sky, under the tepid light of an intoxicating sun, which beat on her breasts.
But, little by little, his eyes, even though they were wide open, could see nothing but a great throbbing brightness, where the sun, made of a single gleaming spot, swung like a phantastic pendulum.
However, I noticed that, around her nakedness, browned by the light, undulating layers of blood were forming, which stirred, giving off flower aromas. And, turning her eyes, she realized, full of charm, that she was lying between gigantic petals, in the lap of an endless rose, in which her body was swelled as if in a nest of crimson velvet, embroidered with gold, fluffy, soft, trescalating and warm.
And, sighing, he stretched himself out in a tangle of ascetic voluptuousness.
From above, the sun stared at her obstinately, enamored of her cute little girl forms.
She smiled at him, rolling her eyes, and then the fiery star trembled and stirred, and, unfolding itself, opened wide in two wings and began to tremble, attracted and perplexed. But suddenly, even if his desires suddenly inflamed him, he rushed from above, flapping his wings, and came, an enormous butterfly of fire, fluttering lustfully around the immense rose, in whose lap the virgin lay with her breasts open. .
And the damsel, whenever the butterfly approached the rose, felt herself penetrated by a strange heat, which kindled in her, gotta a gotta gotta, all her girl’s blood.
And the butterfly, never stopping, maddened in all directions, sometimes fleeing quickly, sometimes approaching slowly, afraid to touch the delicate and pure skin of the girl with its brazilian antennae.
This one, delirious with desires, burned to be reached and raised her lap. But the butterfly fled.
A lubricious, unaffected greed seized the girl; she wanted, at all costs, for the butterfly to land on her, at least for a moment, for a single moment, and to close her in a quick embrace inside her ardent wings. But the butterfly, always mad, could not stop; she barely got ahead, she quickly ran away, restless, frantic with voluptuousness.
-He comes! He comes! begged the maiden, presenting the body. Take a moment on me! My flesh burns in the heat of your wings!
And the rose, who had her in her lap, seemed to be talking and not her. Every time the butterfly noticed itself with its denials, the flower unfolded itself, dilating the petals, opening its red pistil and eager for that contact with the light.
-Do not run away! Do not run away! Take a moment!
The butterfly did not land; but, in a delirium, convulsed with love, I shook my wings more impetuously and a cloud of golden dust came off the rose, making the maiden moan and sigh, dizzy with taste under that luminous and fecundating effluvium.
At this, Pombinha let out a formidable yelp and woke up with a start, immediately taking both hands to the middle of her body. And happy, and full of fright at the same time, laughing and crying, I felt the cry of puberty finally rise from her insides, in a wave of red and hot.
Nature smiles with emotion. A bell, in the distance, happily chimed the twelve strokes of noon. The sun, victorious, was at its height and, through the black canopy of the mango tree, one of its rays descended in a golden thread over the girl’s belly, blessing the new woman who was being formed for the world.
Dove jumped up and made her way home. In the place where she had been lying, the green grass was tinged with red dots. Her mother was washing the tub, she called to her urgently, fussing over number 15. And there, without a word, she lifted the skirt of her dress and exposed her bloody diapers to Dona Isabel.
-He came!! asked the old woman with a cry torn from the depths of her soul.
The girl nodded affirmatively, smiling happily and flushed.
Tears sprang to the washerwoman’s eyes.
—Blessed and praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ! she exclaimed, falling to her knees in front of the girl and raising her trembling face and hands to God.
Then he hugged his daughter’s legs and, in the excitement of his emotion, kissed her belly several times and seemed to want to kiss that blessed blood too, which opened the horizons of life for them, which guaranteed their future; that good blood, which descended from the sky, as rain does well on a poor land sterilized by drought.
He could not contain himself: while Pombinha was changing her clothes, she went out to the courtyard, proclaiming the beautiful news to the four winds. And if it hadn’t been for the girl’s formal opposition, she would have walked the bloody shirt in triumph, so that everyone could see her well and that everyone would adore her, amid hymnos of love, like a sacred Veronica of a Christo.
“My daughter is a woman!” My daughter is a woman!
The fact shook the heart of the tenement: the two received congratulations and congratulations. Dona Isabel lit wax candles in front of her oratory, and that day she didn’t get to work again, she was dizzy, not knowing what she was doing, going in and out of the house, beaming with happiness. Every time she passed by her daughter, she gave her a kiss on the head and secretly recommended that she be careful. «That it didn’t get damp! not to drink cold things! Let him dress up as best as possible and, in case his body feels soft, let him get into bed right away! Any imprudence could be fatal!… »Her commitment was to immediately inform João da Costa of the great news and ask him to schedule the wedding day immediately; the girl understood that no, that it was ugly, but her mother found a carrier and sent for the boy urgently. She showed up in the afternoon. The old woman had invited people to dinner; she killed two hens, bought bottles of wine, and at nine o’clock I served tea and biscuits. Nênêm and Das Dôres appeared in festive attire; there was much ceremony; There was a conversation in a low voice, all around Pombinha forming a solicitous chain of pleasantries, a respectful concern of good wishes, to which she responded with a moved smile, as if exhaling from the freshness of her virginity a victorious aroma of blossoming flower.
And from that day on, Dona Isabel changed completely. Her wrinkles brightened; they could hear her humming in the morning as she swept the house and dusted the furniture.
However, after the tremendous conflict that ended in a slash, sadness was undermining a large part of the inn. The hot nights of guitar and outdoor dancing were gone. Rita had been bored and focused since Jeronymo left for order; Firmo had been summoned by the tenant not to set foot in the house ever again, on pain of being handed over to the police; Piedade, who was always grieving over her husband’s absence, was even more consumed by her first visit to the hospital: she found him cold and without a word of tenderness for her, even letting her see her impatience to hear from him. on the other, of that damned mulatto woman, who, after all, was the only one to blame for all that and would be her downfall and more of her man! When she came back from there she threw herself on the bed, to sob without relief, and that night he couldn’t sleep a wink until dawn. A black disgust ate at her inside, like tuberculosis tubercles, and took away her will to do anything but cry.
Another one too, poor thing! dragged his life very sad, it was Bruno. The woman, who at first hadn’t missed him much, now tortured him with her distance; a month after the separation, the bastard could no longer hide his suffering and was sorely missed. The Witch, at his request, cast lots in the cards and mysteriously told him that Leocadia still loved him.
Only Dona Isabel and her daughter were really satisfied. These yes! they had never had such a good and hopeful time. Bombinha had abandoned the dance course; the groom would now visit her, invariably, every night; she always arrived at seven o’clock and stayed until ten; they gave him coffee in a special porcelain café; Sometimes they would play bisca, and he would send for a bottle of German beer from his pocket, and the three of them would talk, each one in front of his glass, about the projects of common happiness; other times Costa, always very respectful, a very good boy, would light his Bahia cigar and let himself fall into a stunned state, looking at the girl, all soaked in it. Pigeon brought joy to those evenings with her chirping of a dove that prepares its nest. After her idyllic with the sun, she became a very good friend of existence, slurping up life in long breaths, like someone who has just come out of prison and savored the open air. She would become fleshy and full, ripening like a fruit that provokes the appetite to bite. Dona Isabel, beside them, slumbered from the middle to the end of the visit, tracing crosses in her mouth and chasing away yawns with voluptuous pinches of her famous tobacconist.
Once the wedding day was fixed, the unalterable subject of the conversation was the bride’s trousseau and the little house that Costa was preparing for the honeymoon. All three would live together; they would have a cook and a maid to wash and iron. The boy had brought linen and cotton, and there, in the yellowish light of an old kerosene lamp, while her mother was cutting shirts and handkerchiefs, her daughter was sewing valiantly on a machine that her fiancé had given her.
Once, at two o’clock in the afternoon, she was sewing lace on a pillowcase, when Bruno, full of hesitation, scratching the hairs on the back of his neck, pale and unwashed, said to her, leaning against the doorjamb:
—Now, yum Pombinha… I had a little service to ask you… but you are so taken up with your trousseau now and you won’t want to give yourself a bunch…
—What do you want, Bruno?
—It’s nothing, it’s just that I needed you to write me a letter to that devil… but you can already see that there’s no point… Wait for it later!
“A letter for your wife, isn’t it?”
-Poor thing! It’s more crazy than bad! For if we even pity the brutes!…
— Well, you’re served. Do you want it now?
“It’s not worth getting in the way!” Keep up your little service! I’ll be back again!…
-No! come here, come in! What you have to do, do it soon!
-God bless you! vosmecezinha is really an angel! I don’t know who to reach after we don’t have it here!…
And he continued to praise the girl’s kindness, while she, all helpful, prepared her writing implements on a small round table.
—Come on, Bruno! what do you want to tell Leocadia?
—Tell her, first of all, that what I broke from her, I give another one! That she was wrong to also break what was mine, but that I close my eyes! Past times don’t move the mill! That I know that she is now unemployed and at home; that she owes more than a month at the inn; but that she doesn’t need to head butt: let the landlord send me here, and I’ll get along with him. I think it’s good that she leaves the Creole’s house where she eats, because the woman has already complained and said, to whomever she wanted to listen, that it was not a place for vagrants and women with bad life! That she, if she had a little sense, wouldn’t even need to be at the crumbs of others, which I would do in the forge to bring her with a full belly and more to the children that God would send… It’s just her and no one else!
“That’s been said, Bruno!”
“Well, fix her up again, see if she takes pride!”
-And what else?
—That I do not wish her harm, nor curse her, but that it is right for her to bitter a little of the devil’s bread, so that she knows that a straight woman should only look at her husband; and that if she wasn’t so crazy…
—Already there you go repeating the same song even once!…
—But always tell him, be patient, yum Pombinha!… That he would still be here, with me, as before, without enduring repulsion from strangers!…
Now, what else did he have to say?…
He scratched his head.
—Look, Bruno, you’re the one who knows what you need to write to your wife…
Didn’t get excited.
“Tell him… No! don’t tell him any more!…
“Can I then close the letter?”
“Fine…” muttered the blacksmith, making up his mind. Go there! Tell him that…
There was a silence, in which the bastard seemed to pull out a phrase that, however, was the only idea that led him to address his wife. At last, after scratching his head more vigorously, he stuttered in a strangled voice of sobs:
—Tell her that… if she wants to return to my company… that she can come… I forget everything!
Pombinha, impressed by the change in his voice, raised her face and saw that the tears were streaming two by two, three by three, down her face, going to drown in the bristle bush of her beards. And, strange thing, she, who had written so many letters under those same conditions; that so many times she had witnessed the rude crying of many other workers in the slum, she was now startled by the blacksmith’s dismayed sobs.
Because, only after the sun blessed her belly; after in her bowels she felt the first cry of a woman’s blood, she had eyes for those violent, painful miseries, to which the poets gave the beautiful name of love. Her intellectuality, like her body, had blossomed unexpectedly, suddenly reaching, in full development, a lucidity that delighted and surprised her. The physical revolution had not moved her so much. As if at that moment the whole world was undressing in front of her, suddenly enlightened, revealing to her all the secrets of her passions. Now, facing Bruno’s tears, she understood and appreciated the weakness of men, the fragility of those strong animals, with valiant muscles, with crushing paws, but which allowed themselves to be halted and led humbly by the sovereign and delicate hand of the female.
That poor slum flower, escaping the stupidity of the environment in which she unbuttoned, must have been fatally a victim of her own intelligence. In the absence of education, her spirit worked in absentia, and betrayed her, forcing her to extract from the capricious substance of her phantasy of an ignorant and alive girl, the explanation of everything she was not taught to see and feel.
Bruno left with the letter. Dove rested her elbows on the table and clapped her hands against her face, glaring at the men.
What strange power was this, which the woman exercised over them, to such an extent that the unfortunate, loaded with dishonor and deceit, still came, cowards and suppliants, to beg her forgiveness for the harm she had done to them?…
And then he had a very clear idea of his own strength and worth.
And in his smile there were already claws.
An alluvium of scenes, which she had never tried to explain and which until then had been forgotten in the meanders of her past, now appeared clear and transparent. He understood how certain respectable old men, whose photographs Leonie had shown him the day they spent together, allowed themselves to be vilely ridden across their laurels, captive and submissive, paying for slavery with their honor, their possessions, and even their own lives, if it prostitute, after having exhausted them, closed their bodies. And she continued to smile, vanished in her superiority over that other sex, vain and boastful, who thought he was master and who, however, had been put into the world simply to serve the feminine; ridiculous slave who, in order to enjoy a little, needed to extract the substance of his taste from his own illusion; while the woman, the lady, the owner of it,
“Oh, men! men!… she whispered around herself with a sigh.
And she picked up her sewing again, letting her thoughts roam free, while her fingers were mechanically nailing the lace to that pillow, on which her head would have to rest to receive her first genital kiss.
In a single glance, like someone who picks up a sphere between the ends of a compass, I measure with the antennae of her womanly insight all that dunghill, where it, after crawling around for a long time like a larva, one fine day woke up a butterfly in sunlight. And I felt before my eyes that shapeless mass of males and females, itching, shivering lustfully, suffocating each other. And I saw Firmo and Jeronymo jostle each other, like two dogs fighting over a female dog in the street; and I saw Miranda, in front of him, subordinate next to his unfaithful wife, who amused himself by making him dance at her feet, held by his horns; and I saw Domingos, who was out of business, stealing hours from his sleep, after working on a donkey, and losing his job and the savings he had saved up with sacrifice, just to have a moment of lust between the legs of an irresponsible and foolish little bastard; and she saw Bruno sobbing for his wife again; and other blacksmiths and gardeners, and diggers, and laborers of every kind, an army of sensual beasts, whose secrets she possessed, whose intimate correspondences she wrote day by day, whose hearts she knew like the palms of her hands, for her desk was a little confessional, where all the salsugem and all the feces of that beach of eviction were thrown foaming with pain and sacks of tears.
And in her sickly and crippled soul, in her rebellious spirit of a mimosa flower and a pilgrim raised on a dunghill, unhappy violet, that a manure too strong for her to atrophiára, the girl made it very clear that she would never give of herself to her husband who was going having a friendly, loyal and dedicated companion; I present that she would never sincerely respect him as a superior being for whom we give our lives; that she would never give him enthusiasm, and therefore she would never love him; that she felt capable of loving someone, if there were men on earth worthy of that, Ah! I certainly wouldn’t love him, because Costa was like the others, passive and resigned, accepting the existence that circumstances imposed on him, without his own ideas, without the temerity of revolt, without the daring of ambition, without tragic vices, without the capacity for great crimes. ; it was another animal that had come into the world to propagate the species; Finally, a poor devil who already adored her blindly and who later, rightly or wrongly, would shed those same tears, ridiculous and shameful, that he had seen running in hot rooms through the rough and badly treated beard of Leocadia’s husband.
And yet, until then, that marriage had been his golden dream. For now, on the eve of obtaining it, she was loath to give herself to the bridegroom, and if it had not been for her mother, she would have been quite capable of dissolving the arrangement.
But a week ago, the inn was in turmoil from early morning. There was only talk of marriage; there was in every look a bloody reflection of nuptial nights. Roses were defoliated at the door of Pombinha. At eleven o’clock a car stopped at the entrance to the tenement with a fat lady dressed in pearl-colored silk. It was the godmother, who came to pick up the bride for the church of Saint John the Baptist. The ceremony was scheduled for noon. All this formality stunned the bystanders, who were lined up immobile in front of number 15, with their hands clasped behind them, their faces paralyzed by a respectful emotion; some smiled fondly; almost all had their eyes filled with water.
Pombinha appeared at the door of the house, ready to take the big flight; of veil and garland, all in white, vaporous, beautiful. She looked moved; she said goodbye to her companions, blowing them kisses with her bouquet of artificial flowers. Dona Isabel cried like a child, hugging her friends, one by one.
“God give him virtue!” exclaimed Machona. And that you give him a good birth, when the first belly comes!
The bride smiled, eyes downcast. A fringe of disdain clouded the rosy candor of her lips. She walked towards the gate, surrounded by the blessing of all those people, whose tears finally burst, each one happy to see her happy and on the way to the position that belonged to her in society.
-No! that one wasn’t born for this!… sentenced Alexandre, twisting his shiny mustache. It would be a pity if they let her stay here!
Old Liborio, chuckling a decrepit laugh, complained that the big man Costa had tricked him, stealing his girlfriend.
ungrateful! Elle who was willing to make a mistake!
Nênêm ran up to the bride as she arrived at the carriage and, smacking her on the mouth, begged her earnestly not to forget to send her a bud from her garland of orange blossoms.
—She says it’s very good for those who want to get married!… and I’m so afraid of being single…! It’s all my fright!