but no! I’ll be drowning.
”“To Hell with you. I’m not a townie.”“To Hell you are!” There was laughter all around and good spirits. Nobody else paid any attention to the man on the ropes. The wind started to pick up and theman had reached the center of the river, balancing precariously and dancing with the body.“Why, look!” The brother pointed in the direction of his sister.“What’s it?”“Why—look!”The man on the ropes had knelt down in order to cut the rope attached to herleft arm, but before he did so, he bent back the head of the girl and pretended to kissher. Men on both sides of the river doubled over in laughter. The man on the ropeslaughed, too, and shouted something theatrically to his audience that was lost in thenoise of the river. He gestured dramatically at the sunset with his knife and recitedanother line before feigning another deep kiss. The dancing man began to jig again.“
The table’s set with forks and knives,but my seat is still vacant,my brother thinks I am still alive—brother, I won’t make it!
”The men on the other side of the river spotted the commotion caused by thedancing man and jeered playfully across the water. One of the men began to dance a jig of his own. Other men threw small stones at the man on the ropes, who foughtthem off triumphantly with his knife, cursing and swearing to protect his newfoundlover. The stones ricocheted off of his blade and some struck the girl on the arms andthe body.“It’s getting late,” the brother muttered. “Hey! You bastard on the ropes! Cuther down already!” The man stopped mid-laugh and scowled at the brother. Then hetook his knife and began to sever the rope, still sullen. Men on both sides watched asthe rope became thinner and thinner, and the wind pressed the girl’s dress againsther body. Finally, with a shout, the man brought his knife down for the final time,uncoupling the two lovers forever. He held onto his rope and she held onto hers, asthe two bodies swung like pendulums towards opposite banks.“Watch out!” One man pushed the brother out of the way of the falling body, whose toes skimmed lightly across the river before it crumpled violently into a ball of skin, hair, and white lace on the dirt. The rope continued to swing and then swing back, slowly dragging the girl with it until it finally came to rest, her head and chestcompletely submerged in the river, her legs abandoned on the shore, and her rightarm lifted heroically by the rope still attached, like a final hurrah, into the air.The men on the other side applauded and gave slaps on the back to the man who had been on the ropes. He took a deep bow and shook many hands, laughing.The brother still stared silently at the mess that had been a girl who had been hissister, the water lapping against her raised arm. Her hair formed a drifting haloaround her head like sea grass.“They’ve got her down,” a man put his hand on the brother’s shoulder. “Now,are you famished, or what?”