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Olin College of Engineering

DigitalCommons@Olin
2009 AHS Capstone Projects AHS Capstone Projects

10-1-2009

Spanish Short Stories


Nicole Lee
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Nicole.Lee@alumni.olin.edu

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.olin.edu/ahs_capstone_2009


Part of the Reading and Language Commons, and the Spanish Literature Commons

Recommended Citation
Lee, Nicole, "Spanish Short Stories" (2009). 2009 AHS Capstone Projects. Paper 18.
http://digitalcommons.olin.edu/ahs_capstone_2009/18

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SelectedShortStories
byAnaMaraMatute,translatedbyNicoleLee

Introduction 1

Translations
Bernardino 6

DonPayasito 12

TheDryBranch 16

TheBoys 22

OriginalTexts
Bernardino 25

DonPayasito 31

LaRamaSeca 34

LosChicos 40
Introduction
AnaMaraMatutewasborninBarcelonain1926toanuppermiddleclassfamily.Afteraserious
childhoodillnessshewassenttoliveinMansilladelaSierra(LaRioja,Spain)withhergrandparents.Her
experiencesinMansilladelaSierraaresaidtohaveparticularlyaffectedthestoriesinheranthology
HistoriasdelaArtamila(1961),thesourceforallfourstoriespresentedhere,whicharesetinarural
villagereminiscentofthearea.MatutewasonlytenyearsoldwhentheSpanishCivilWarbrokeout,and
shematuredduringSpainsposguerra(postwar)period,underFranciscoFrancosregime.

Matutesworkfocusesonseveralrecurringthemes:lonelinessandisolation,escapeintofantasy,and
conflict.Herstoriesaremarkedbypessimism,violence,andmelancholy.Herprotagoniststendtobe
solitary,introverted,misunderstood,neurotic,orotherwiseestrangedfromtheirfamiliesandsociety;
theyareincapableofexpressingthemselves.1Herprotagonistsarenottragicheroesintheclassical
sense,butratherunfortunatebutotherwiseunremarkableindividuals.Thereisasensethattheevents
portrayedinherstoriesarenotboundtotheprotagonistandhis/herintrinsicqualities,andcouldeasily
becenteredaroundanyoftheothercharacters.Theuniquenessofthesecharactersisnotinwhat
happenstothem,then,buthowtheyrespondtotheircircumstances.

InHistoriasdelaArtamilainparticular,manyofthestoriesarenarratedfromafirstpersonperspective
byanarratorwhoremainsnameless,faceless,andgenderless.Threeofthefourstoriespresentedhere
followthisconventionthenarratorineachisclearlyachildaccompaniedbyoneormoreolder
siblings.Ineachstorythenarratorconveysasenseofdetachmentandhelplessness.Asthechildren
terrorizeoneanotherinLosChicosandBernardino,thenarratorispowerlesstodoanythingmorethan
watch.Similarly,thenarratorinDonPayasitoisapassiveobserver,recountingachildhoodmemoryin
anemotionalbutdetachedmanner;theolderbrotherisalwaystheonetotakeinitiative.This
detachmentenhancesthesenseofmelancholyandhelplessnesspresentinMatuteswork.

Inadditiontothesepessimisticthemes,Matutesworksalsohaveadistinctlypoeticfeel.Herwriting
styleemphasizesform;herstoriesareneverdry,factualretellingsofevents(fictionalorotherwise).
Matuteopenlystatesthatshehasafascinationwithpoeticform:

Paramelcuentoesunelementoliterarioimportantsimo.Tanimportanteen
prosa,comolapoesa.Porqueam,loquemsmegusta,loquemsmeatrae,lo
quemsmefascinadelaliteratura,eslapoesa.Peroyonuncahesidocapazde
escribirniunpoema.Enprosaloquemsseaproximaalapoesaeselcuento.2

1
StyleandSolitudeintheWorksofAnaMaraMatute,pp.61
2
Formetheshortstoryisaveryimportantliteraryelement.Asimportantinproseaspoetry.Becauseforme,
whatIlikethemost,whatappealstomethemost,thepartofliteraturethatmostfascinatesme,ispoetry.ButI
haveneverbeenabletowriteapoem.Inprosetheshortstoryiswhatbestapproximatespoetry.Entrevista
conAnaMaraMatute

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Thisinterestinpoetrymanifestsitselfinmanyforms,especiallyindialogueanddescriptivepassages.
Matuteusesstrongadjectives,repetition,rhyme,andsomewhatunconventionalgrammartobuilda
lyrical,poetictone.

Itwasveryimportanttome,then,topreservetheuniquecharacterofMatuteswritingwhile
translatingherstoriesintoEnglish.Forme,thelyricismofMatutesworkisthemostcompellingaspect
ofanyofherstories,farbeyondanaffinityforindividualcharactersoraninterestinthestorylinesbuilt
aroundthem.Heruseofproseinapoeticformisfairlysubtle,butnotableinDonPayasito,for
example,LucasreferstothechildrenasOjitosdefarolito(littlelanterneyes,littleeyesofthe
lantern),areferencetothelanternhelightsforthechildrenwhenhedisguiseshimselfasDonPayasito.
InLaRamaSeca,MatutedescribesasceneinwhichDoaClementinavisitsheryoungneighbor,whose
roomisfilledwithagreenlightthatisextraocomounsueoenlaoscuridad(strangelikeadream
inthedarkness),paintingafantasticalscene.

GiventheamountofthoughtthatMatuteputintowordchoice,translatingthestorywithoutchanging
theintendedmeaningofeachphraseisachallengingtask.Craftingatranslationofeachstoryrequireda
muchstrongerunderstandingoftheoverallstory,tobuildcontextforeachphrase,thanasinglereading
couldpossiblyprovide.Translationofparticularlyeloquentphrasesoftenrequiredmetoreadasingle
paragraphfive,ten,ortwentytimes,solelytounderstandtheinterconnectionbetweeneachwordina
givensentence.

MoreproblematicthanspecificwordchoicewasMatutesusageofunconventionalgrammarand
sentencestructure,particularlyheraffinityforcommas.WhileIspecificallytriedtoavoidanyeditingany
ofMatutessentencestructureremovingcommas,peerreviewsofmytranslationsconsistently
producedcomplaintsaboutthegrammar,usageofquotationmarks,andabundanceofcommas.Thisis
mainlybasedinconventionsofEnglish/Americanwriting,whichmostEnglishspeakersareheldtovery
strictly,andcreatesasenseofdissonanceinreaders.Readersalsoremarkedonthewordchoiceat
variouspoints,suchasLucasreferencestothechildrenasMalos,pecadores,cuervecillos(villains,
sinners,littleravens)inDonPayasitoorthedescriptionofBernardinoasunpez(literally,afish)in
Bernardino.

UsageofsuchlanguagecreatesasenseofdissonanceorothernessfornativeEnglishspeakers,which
issomethingIwantedtoemphasizetoreaders.Notranslationcanfullyconveytheexperienceof
readingstoriesintheirnativelanguage,andtherearecertainlymultipleschoolsofthoughton
approachingtheproblem:somebelieveincreatingasseamlessatranslationaspossible,sothatthe
translationreadslikeitwasoriginallywritteninEnglish.WhileIdothinkisavalidwaytoapproach
translation,IwantedtocreateanexperiencethatwouldbereminiscentofreadinginSpanish,not
English.Afterall,SpanishliteraturereadsverydifferentlyfromEnglishliterature(inthenative
language).ThehistoriesofbothSpainandLatinAmerica,andtheculturesthathavegrownoutofthem,
aresignificantlydifferentfromAmericanandBritishhistory(thesourceofthemajorityofEnglish
literature).ThesedifferencesarecertainlyreflectedinSpanishliterature,whichhasaveryunique
qualitativefeelascomparedtoEnglishliterature.SomeonefluentinbothSpanishandEnglishwould

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certainlyperceivestorieswrittenandreadineachlanguagedifferently,becausethelanguagethatthe
storyiswritteninbecomesjustasmuchapartofitasdialogueorplot.

Withthisinmind,mygoalwastoleavethestoryitself,itsplotandcharacters,asunchangedaspossible
fromtheoriginalform,andtranslatetheoriginaluseoflanguageintotheclosestEnglishapproximation,
togivethereaderasenseoftheauthorschoiceofwords.Ifeltthatthiswasparticularlyimportant
givenhowpoeticMatuteswritingisIwouldcertainlyhavefewerqualmsabouteditingtheworkofan
authorwhocreatedmoreplotdrivenworks.

Choosingtotranslatestoriesthiswaydid,Ibelieve,givethemaroughfeeling.Theywerelesspolished
thananativeEnglishwork;whilegrammaticallycorrect,theyincludedwordsandphrasesthatarenot
conventionallyusedinEnglishliterature.Assuch,thestoriescreatedcognitivedissonanceforreaders
andtheuseoflanguagebecame,forthem,aninherentpartoftheexperienceofreadingthestory.They
werenotabletocompletelydiscardtheuseoflanguage,whichdrewattentiontoparticularlyunusual
phrases.Whilethisdoesnotcreateanentirelyauthenticexperience(thereisnoreplacementfor
readingastoryinthelanguageitwasoriginallywrittenin),Idobelievethatitparalleledatonelevelthe
experienceofreadingapieceofSpanishliteratureinitsnativelanguage.Aparticularmotivationfor
attemptingtobringthisexperiencetothereaderisthebaselineassumptionthattheaveragereaderof
anEnglishtranslationofanyofthesestorieswouldnotknowSpanish,andwouldthereforebeunableto
understandthemintheoriginalSpanish.

ArelatedconcernwastheuseofSpanishwordsinmytranslations.Forthemostpart,Ifocusedon
translatingideasintoEnglishasmuchaspossible.Ifound,however,thattherewereafewphrasesthat
hadnodirectEnglishanalogue.Thesewerewordsandusagesthatneededtobeexplainedinawaythat
didnotfitintothestorycleanly,becauseoftheculturalcontextbehindthem.Forexample,ifastoryhad
usedthewordmija(aslangterm,mostcommonlyusedintheAmericas)Icouldchoosetotranslatethe
wordtoitsnearestEnglishequivalent(perhapssweetieorhoney).However,theculturalcontextof
thisparticularwordismuchmorecomplexmijaisderivedfrommihija(literally,mydaughter)andis
usedcolloquiallyasatermofendearment.Whilehoneyisalsoatermofendearmentsomewhat
analogoustomija,itcanbeviewedascondescendingandhasveryspecificculturalconnotationstothe
readerthatmayormaynotbeappropriatetothestory.

TheproblembecomesevenmorecomplexwhenthereisnoEnglishapproximation.Forexample,Los
Chicosreferstoeventsthatoccurduringthesiesta.Thishasveryspecificimplications:theseevents
occurduringthehottesthoursoftheday,whentheadultsofthevillageareresting.Thechildrenare
completelyunsupervisedduringthistime,andtheirvillagehaseffectivelybecomedevoidofadultsif
oneofthechildrenisindangerorgetshurtheorshewillnotberescueduntiltheadultsareroused,and
anyaltercationsthatarisewillbeuninterrupted.Thisgivesimportantcontexttotheplotofthestory;
thelackofadultshelpsexplainwhythechildrencanplaybytheriverwhentheyareforbiddenfrom
leavingthecompound,whythevillagechildrenareafraidoftheboysfromtheprisoncamp,andwhy
Efrnisabletoattackoneoftheboyswithoutanyonestoppinghim.Translatingsiestaasafternoonor
evenafternoonrest,then,failstoconveythemeaningofthis.Evenworse,itremovesthepossibilityof

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consideringitasbeingmorethansimplyafternoon,becauseitdefinitivelystatesthattheeventsoccur
duringtheafternoon.

Inthiscase,Ichosetoleavetheoriginalterm,siesta,inthetranslationwithafootnotetoprovideabrief
explanation.Thishasdualpurpose:itallowsalengthierexplanationoftheterm,andindicatestothe
readerthatthiswordisbeingimportedintothestorybecauseithasnodirectEnglishtranslation.While
thereadermaynotmakeadirectconnectionbetweentheusageofsiestaandtheabsenceofadults
thatthisimplies,itbecomesanobviousflagforthereaderwhodoesquestionwhythereisnoadult
interventioninthestory,enhancingsuspensionofdisbelief.

Somewhatrelatedtothisisthehandlingofnames,ofwhichtherearemany.InallofthesestoriesI
chosetokeeptheoriginalnamesofthecharacters,primarilyforthesakeofculturalcontinuitywhy
shouldItranslatethenameBernardinointoBernardorLittleBernard?Thereisnoparticularly
compellingreasontodothisbeyondobsessiontranslationofeverywordthatappears,anditerasesthe
culturalhistoryandcontextofthestorybycreatinganAnglocentricdoppelgangeroftheoriginal
character.Themorecomplexquestiontoaddresswashowtotreatnamesthathadmeanings.Should
DonPayasitobecomeMr.Clownthroughoutthestory?ShouldDoaClementinabecomeLady
Clementina(orevenLadyClementine)?

ThemainproblemtousingaliteraltranslationinbothofthesecasesistheconnotationsoftheEnglish
equivalents.Forexample,callingDoaClementinaLadyClementinaimplieswealth,nobility,andhigh
socialstatus.Thecontextofthestory,however,doesnotimplythatDoaClementina,whileofhigher
classthanherneighbors,isanoble.CallingheraLadyleadsthereadertoaconfusingassociationa
noblewomanwouldnotliveinaruralvillage,marriedtoadoctor.ExplainingthatDoameanslady
withoutinsertingitintoeveryusageofhernamerelaxesthisexpectation,conveyingtothereaderthat
sheisofcomparablyhighclasswithoutnecessarilybeingactualnobility.

TheproblemofconnotationsissimilarwithDonPayasito.Translatinghisnamedirectly,insteadof
explainingthemeaningofhisname,makesitdifficultforthereadertotreatthecharacterseriously.
Whileheisaclown,thenarratorandnarratorsbrotherreverehimasasortofmysticorwizard.Calling
himMr.ClownydirectlyputsaweightofexpectationinmodernEnglish,namesdonothave
meanings,soforacharactertohaveanamethatmeanssomethingdefinesthatcharactersignificantly
morethanthecharacterscontextoractions.

Withalloftheseconsiderationsinmind,Ifocusedontranslatingthestoriesinaveryspecificway.My
goalistocreateanexperienceforthereaderthatisnotexactlylikereadinganyEnglishshortstory
thesestorieswerenotwrittenintheEnglishlanguage,nordotheycontaintheculturalcontextthatthis
implies.Attheendoftheday,whatIwouldliketoconveytothereaderisasenseofthebeautyofthe
Spanishlanguage,aswellasanunderstandingofthecharactersandeventsinthestoriesthatI
translated.

Sources
"EntrevistaconAnaMaraMatute."InterviewbyAntonioA.Perez.EspculoMar.2007.

4
Jones,MargaretW."ReligiousMotifsandBiblicalAllusionsintheWorksofAnaMaraMatute."
Hispania51.3(1968):41623.

Winecoff,Janet."StyleandSolitudeintheWorksofAnaMaraMatute."Hispania49.1(1966):6169.

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Bernardino
Wealwaysheardathome,fromourgrandfatherandalltheadults,thatBernardinowasaspoiledchild.

Bernardinolivedwithhisoldersisters,Engracia,FelicidadandHerminia,inLosLpulos1,abighouse
surroundedbyarablelandandabeautifulgarden,witholdtreesgroupedtogetherformingatinyforest,
intheareaborderingontheriver.Theestatewassituatedontheoutskirtsofthevillageand,likeour
house,nearthelargecommunalforests.

Sometimes,ourgrandfathertookustoLosLpulos,inthelittlejalopy,andalthoughthewaywas
prettyalongtheancientroad,betweenchestnutsandpoplars,nexttotheriver,spendingtheafternoon
inthathousedidnotappealtous.Bernardinossisterswerewomentall,strongandverydark.Their
dresswasoldfashionedwehadseenwomendressedliketheminourgrandfathersphotoalbum
andtheybrushedtheirhairintohighbuns,likesugarrolls,onthetopsoftheirheads.Itseemedstrange
tousthataboyouragewouldhavesistersthatwerelikeaunts,atleast.Ourgrandfathertoldus:

ItsthatBernardinosmotherisnotthesameashissistersmother.Heisfromhisfathers
secondmarriage,manyyearslater.

Thisconfusedusmore.Bernardino,forus,continuedtobeastrange,differentbeing.Theafternoons
thattheytookustoLosLpulosweweredresseduncomfortably,almostlikeinthecity,andwehadto
playstupidandboringgames,thatwerenofunatall.Wewereprohibitedfromgoingdowntotheriver,
takingoffourshoesandclimbingthetrees.Allofthisseemedtohaveonlyoneexplanationforus:

Bernardinoisaspoiledchild,wetoldourselves.Anddidnotdiscussitanymore.

Bernardinowasverythin,witharoundheadandlighthead.Hehadthinbangs,overhisgrayishbrown
eyes,fixedandhollow,asiftheywerecrystal.Despitelivinginthecountry,hewaspale,andalso
dressedverystrangely.Hewasveryquiet,andhealmostalwayshadanairbetweenfrightenedand
suspicious,thatcameoffasuncomfortable.

Wealwaysstoppedplayingofourownaccountanddispensedwithhim,despiteunderstandingthatthis
wasincorrect.Ifourgrandfatherreproachedus,myolderbrotherwouldsay:

ThatspoiledboyYoucantcountonhim.

HonestlyIdontthinkthatwereallyunderstoodwhatitmeanttobespoiled.Inanycase,itdidnot
appealtous,thinkingofthelifethatBernardinolived.HeneverleftLosLpulosunlessaccompanied
byhissisters.Hewenttomassorwalkedwiththeminthecountryside,alwaysveryseriousandquiet.

1
LosLpulosTheHops

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Thechildrenfromthevillageandtheminescouldntstandhim.Oneday,MarianoAlborada,thesonofa
foreman,whofishedwithusintheriverduringthesiesta2,toldus:

WeregoingtogivethatBernardinoone.

How?saidmybrother,whobestunderstoodthelanguageofthevillagechildren.

Wellsee,saidMariano,smilingslowly.Somethinggoodwillshowitselftousoneday,Isay.
Wellgethim.WealreadyhaveLucas,Amador,GraciannandBuqueDoyouwantin?

Mybrotherflusheduptohisears.

Idontknow,hesaid.Whatwillitbe?

Whatevercomesup,answeredMariano,whilegettingthewateroutofhisshoes,banging
themagainsttherock.Itwillpresentitself,youllsee.

Yes:itpresenteditself.Ofcoursewewereunprepared,andthetruthisthatwewerecowardlywhenthe
occasionarose.WedidnothateBernardino,butwedidnotwanttolosethefriendshipofthosefrom
thevillage,amongstotherthingsbecausetheycouldtellourgrandfatheraboutadventuresthatwedid
notwanthimtoknowabout.Foranotherthing,escapadeswiththevillagechildrenwereoneofthe
mostattractivethingsaboutlifeinthemountains.

BernardinohadadognameChu.ThedogmusthavereallylovedBernardino,becauseitalways
followedhimjumpingandwaggingitslittlewhitetail.ThenameChuprobablycamefromChucho3,as
ourgrandfathersaidthatitwasadogwithnobreedandthatitwasfunnythathehadit.However,we
lovedhim,forhowsmartandfriendlyhewas.Hefollowedourgamesverytactfullyandmadeuslove
himrightaway.

ThatBernardinoisacoldfish,saidmybrother.HeneverevenpatsChuonthehead.Idont
understandhowChuloveshimsomuch!IwishChuweremine

WealllovedChu,andIconfessthatonce,withevilintent,uponleavingLosLpuloswetriedto
attracthimwithpiecesofcakeorsugarlumps,toseeifhewouldcomewithus.Butno:atthelast
momentChudisappointedusandreturnedjumpingtowardshisinexpressivefriend,whowaitedfor
himquietly,watchinguswithhisroundeyesofyellowglass.

Thatturkeysaidmylittlebrother.Whataturkey

And,truthfully,thoughwedeniedit,envygnawedatus.

OneafternoonthatmygrandfathertookustoLosLpuloswefoundBernardinostrangelyunsettled.

2
Siestatheafternoonrestperiod,duringthehottesthoursoftheday
3
Chuchomutt

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IcantfindChu,hetoldus.Heslost,orsomeonehastakenhimfromme.Allmorningand
allafternoonIhaventfoundhim

Doyoursistersknow?weaskedhim.

No,saidBernardino.Idontwantthemtofindout

Uponsayingthisheblushedalittle.Mybrotherseemedtofeelitmuchmorethanhim.

Wewilllookforhim,hesaidtohim.Comewithus,andyouwillseehowwewillfindhim.

Where?saidBernardino.Ialreadysearchedtheentireproperty

Thenoutside,answeredmybrother.Gototheothersideofthewallandwellgodownto
theriverThen,wecangointotheforest.Finally,welllookforhim.Hellbesomewhereinthere!

Bernardinolookeddoubtfulforamoment.Hewasstrictlyforbiddenfromcrossingthewallthatcircled
LosLpulos,andhehadneverdoneit.Nevertheless,henoddedhishead.

Weescapedonthesideofthepoplargrove,wherethewallwasmuchlower.ForBernardinoitwashard
tojumpoverit,andwehadtohelphim,whichIthinkhumiliatedhimalittle,becausehewasvery
proud.Wetraveledalongtheedgeoftheembankmentandthenclimbeddowntotheriver.Theentire
timewewentcallingoutChu,andBernardinofollowedus,whistlingfromtimetotime.Butwedidnot
findhim.

Wewereabouttoreturn,desolateandsilent,whenavoicecalledtous,fromthelittlepathinthe
forest.

Eh,troop!...

WelookedupandsawMarianoAlborada.BehindhimwereBuqueandGraciann.Theyallcarriedreeds
intheirhandsandsmiledinthatwayoftheirs,veryspecial.Theyonlysmiledwhenthinkingof
somethingbad.

Mybrothersaid:

HaveyouseenChu?

Marianonoddedhishead.

Yes,wehaveseenhim.Wanttocome?

Bernardinoadvanced,thistimeinfrontofus.Itwasextraordinary:suddenlyheseemedtohavelosthis
timidity.

WhereisChu?hesaid.Hisvoicerangclearandfirm.

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Marianoandtheothersbegantorun,withasmalltrot,downtheroad.Wefollowedthem,alsorunning.
AheadofeveryonewasBernardino.

Effectively:theyhadChu.Alreadyattheentranceoftheforestwesawthesmokeofacampfire,and
ourheartsbegantobeatverystrongly.TheyhadtiedChubytheforelegsandputacordaroundhis
neck,withaslipknot.Ashiverranthroughus:wealreadyknewwhatthevillagechildrendidwiththe
mangyandstraydogs.Bernardinostoppeddead,andChubegantohowl,sadly.Buthiscriesdidnot
reachLosLpulos.Theyhadpickedagoodplace.

HereisChu,Bernardino,saidMariano.Wewillreallygivehimtoyou.

Bernardinostayedquiet,likestone.Mybrother,then,advancedtowardsMariano.

Letthedoggo!hesaid.Lethimgoor!

You,quiet,saidMariano,withthereedraisedlikeawhip.NobodyaskedyouropinionIfyou
sayanotherwordImgoingtotellyourgrandfatheraboutthegardenofManueltheBlack!

Mybrotherbackeddown,red.Ialsofeltveryhot,butIbitmylip.Mylittlebrotherbegantobitehis
nails.

Ifyougiveussomethingwelike,saidMariano,wewillreturnChutoyou.

Whatdoyouwant?saidBernardino.Hewasplantedopposite,withhisheadup,asthough
fearless.Wewatchedhimsurprised.Therewasnofearinhisvoice.

MarianoandBuquelookedatoneanotherwithmalice.

Money,saidBuque.

Idonthavemoney.

Marianowhisperedwithhisfriends,andreturnedtohim:

Fine,somethingthatsworthit

Bernardinowaspensiveforamoment.Thenheundidhisshirtandremovedhisgoldmedallion.Hegave
ittohim.

Foramoment,Marianoandtheotherslookedsurprised.Theytookthemedallionfromhimand
examinedit.

Notthis!saidMariano.ThentheywillfinditonusYoureabastard!Youknow?Abastard!

Suddenly,theywerefurious.Yes;theybecamefuriousandcontinuedwhispering.Isawtheveinthat
stuckoutontheforeheadofMarianoAlborada,likewhenhisfatherbeathimforsomething.

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Wedontwantyourmoney,saidMariano.KeepyourmoneyandallyourthingsYourenot
amanoranything!

Bernardinostayedquiet.Marianothrewthemedallioninhisface.Hewatchedhimwithfixedand
brillianteyes,fullofrage.Finally,hesaid:

Ifyouletusbeatyou,inplaceofthemutt

WealllookedatBernardino,frightened.

Nosaidmybrother.

ButMarianoshouted:

Youllbequiet,oryoullregretit!Doyouwanttogetintothis?Doyou?

Wewerecowardsandthethreeofushuddledtogetherforstrength.Ifeltacoldsweatinthepalmsof
myhands.ButBernardinosfacedidnotchange.(Thatcoldfish,likemybrothersaid).Heanswered:

Fine.Doittomeforreal.

Marianolookedathimaskance,andforamomentheseemedscared.Butthenhesaid:

Comeon,Buque!

Theythrewhimupandtookoffhisshirt.Bernardinosfleshwaspaleyellowish,andhisribsstuckout.
Heletthemdoit,quietandcalm.Buqueheldhisbehindhisback,andMarianosaid:

Youstart,Graciann

Graciannthrewthereedtothegroundandranaway,whichfurtherinfuriatedMariano.Rabid,he
raisedhisreedandstruckBernardino,untilhetired.

WitheachblowmybrothersandIfeltgreatershame.WeheardthehowlsofChuandsawhiseyes,
roundlikeplums,fullofasweetandsorrowfulfirethathurtusgreatly.Bernardino,inreturn,strangely,
seemedtonotfeeltheslightestpain.Hekeptquiet,shakingonlyfromtheblows,withhishalfsmile
fixedandpoliteonhisface.Hiseyesalsoremainedimpassive,indifferent.(Thatcoldfish,That
turkey,runginmyears).

WhenthefirstdropofbloodwelledupMarianostoppedwiththeswitchraised.Thenwesawthathe
hadgonepale.BuqueletgoofBernardinoshands,thatofferednoresistance,andplungeddownhill,
likeaflash.

MarianolookedatBernardino.

Pig,hesaid.Pig.

Hethrewthereeddownangrilyandleft,morequicklythanhewouldhavewanted.

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BernardinowentuptoChu.Despitethemarksfromthereed,thatswelleduponhisback,hisarms
andhischest,heseemedimmune,tranquil,andhaughty,asalways.HeslowlyuntiedChu,whobegan
tolickhisface,withheartbreakingcries.Then,Bernardinolookedatus.Iwillneverforgetthehollow
transparencyinhishoneycoloredeyes.Heleftslowlydowntheroad,followedbytheenthusiasticleaps
andcriesofChu.Hedidntevenpickuphismedallion.Hewentcalmandtranquil,asalways.

Onlyafterhedisappeareddidwedaretosayanything.Mybrotherpickedupthemedallion,which
shonebrightlyagainsttheearth.

Wellgiveitbacktohim,hesaid.

Andthoughwewantedtoputoffseeinghimagain,wereturnedtoLosLpulos.Wehadjustreached
thewall,whenanoisestoppedusdead.Myolderbrotheradvancedtowardthegreenwillowsofthe
river.Wefollowedhim,tryingnottomakeanynoise.

Facedown,halfhiddeninthewillows,Bernardinocrieddesperately,hugginghisdog.

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DonPayasito
Onourgrandfathersfarm,amongstthedaylaborers,therewasaveryoldmannamedLucasdela
Pedrera.EveryonesaidthatthisLucasdelaPedrerawasarogueandacheat,butmygrandfatherwas
veryfondofhimandalwaystalkedaboutthethingshehaddonealongtimeago:

Hetraveledmuchoftheworld,hewouldsay.Hegotnothingfromit.Hewasalsointhe
islandsofJavaonce

ThewaysofLucasdelaPedreramadetheolderpeoplelaugh.Notus,thechildren.BecauseLucaswas
themostextraordinarypersonontheplanet.MybrotherandIfeltatypeoflove,admirationandfear
towardshim,thatwehaveneverfeltagain.

LucasdelaPedreralivedinthelastofthecabins,borderingonmygrandfathersforests.Helivedalone,
andcookedhisstewsofmeat,onionsandpotatoes,whichhesometimesfeduswithhisbonespoon,
andhewashedhislaundryintheriver,givingitgreatwhackswithapaddle.Hewassooldthathesaid
hehadlostthelastyearandcouldntfindit.WheneverwecouldweescapedtothelittlehouseofLucas
delaPedrera,becausenobody,uptothatpoint,hadevertoldusanythinglikethethingshetoldus.

Lucas,Lucas!wewouldcall,whenwedidntseehimsittingatthedoorofhiscabin.

Hewouldlookatuswhilerubbinghiseyes.Hishair,verywhite,fellinlocksacrosshisforehead.Hewas
small,stoopedover,andalwaysspokeinverse.Strangeversesthatsometimesdidnotrhymemuch,but
fascinatedus:

Littleeyesofthelantern,hewouldsay,Whatdoyouwantfromme?

Wewouldapproachslowly,fullofsomesweet,thrillingfearthatinvadedusathisside(likeswarmsof
blackbutterflies,thewind,thegreenlightsthatrunacrossthegrimyearthofthecemetery).

WewanttoseedonPayasito1wewouldsay,quietly,sothatnobodywouldhearus.Nobody
otherthanhim,ourwizard.

Hewouldputhisfinger,twistedanddarklikeacigar,acrosshislips:

Quiet,loweryourvoices,wickedlittlechildrenfromtheislandofbadness!

Healwayscalleduswickedlittlechildrenfromtheislandofbadness.Andthisfilleduswithpleasure.
Andhewouldsay:villains,sinners,littleravens,torefertous.Andsomethingwouldinflateinour
chests,likeacoloredballoon,tohearthis.

LucasdelaPedrerawouldsitandtakeourhands:

1
DonPayasitoMr.Clowny

12
Putthyhandshere,heretodivineyourwholelittleheart

Wewouldholdoutourhands,withthepalmsfacingup.Andourheartsbeatfiercely.Asifrighthere,in
ourhands,hecouldseeit,shaking,laughing.

Hewouldbringhiseyescloseandexaminethemandreexaminethem,thepalmandtheback,andhe
wouldmakeaface:

Littlefarmershands,littlecrookshands,ohbecarefulofyourlittlehandswretches!

Likethis,hewouldchant,andspitatthefloorinturns.Wewouldbiteourlipstonotlaugh.

Youliedthreetimesinarow,likeSaintPeter!hewouldsay,totheoldest,tomybrother.My
brotherwouldturnredandgrowquiet.Maybeitwastrue,maybenot.ButwhowouldarguewithLucas
delaPedrera?

You,greedychild,selfishheart,hidnuggetsofgoldinthebottomoftheriver,likethebad
fishermenfromtheislandofJava

HealwaysbroughtupthestoryofthefishermenfromtheislandofJava.Itoowouldgrowquiet,
becausewhoknewifIhadreallyhiddengoldnuggetsintheriverbed?CouldIsaythatperhapsitwas
nottrue?Icouldnot,no.

Please,please,Lucas,wewanttoseedonPayasito

Lucaswouldbecomepensive,and,finally,hewouldsay:

Getupandrun,devils,overtheredonPayasitoisgoing,theroadtothegrotto!Bewareyou
two,beware,ifyoudonotreachhimintime!

MybrotherandIwouldruntowardstheforest,andwhilewewentdeepbetweenthetrunksthe
greenishblackness,thesilence,thehighupstarsofthesunshiningthroughthebrancheswould
overcomeus.Wewouldgothroughthemoss,climbinguptherockscoveredinlichen,togethertothe
waterfall.Upthere,wasthelittlecaveofdonPayasito,oursecretfriend.

Wewouldarrivepantingatthemouthofthecave.Wewouldsit,withourheartsinourthroats,and
wait.Ourcheekswouldburnandwewouldputourhandsonourcheststofeelthegallopingofour
hearts.

Afteralittleway,donPayasitowouldappearclimbingthepath.Hewouldcomewrappedinhiscrimson
cape,withyellowsuns.Heworeatallbluepointedhat,ahempwig,andabeautiful,amarvelouswhite
face,likethemoon.Withhisrighthandheleanedonalargewalkingstick,toppedwithredpaper
flowers,andinhisfreehandhecarriedsmallgoldenbellsthathejingled.

MybrotherandIwouldjumptoourfeetandbowtohim.DonPayasitowouldenterthegrotto
majestically,andwefollowedhim.

13
Insideitsmelledstronglyoflivestock,becausetheshepherdssometimeskepttheirflocksthere,during
thenight.DonPayasitowouldparsimoniouslylighttherustylantern,whichhehidinabendofthe
grotto.Thenhewouldsitonthebigrockinthecenter,burnedbythecampfiresoftheshepherds.

Whatdoyoubringmetoday?hewouldsay,withastrangevoice,fromsomedarkdepths.

Wewouldrummageinourbagsandtakeoutthesinfulcoinsthatwestoleforhim.DonPayasitoloved
thelittlesilvercoins.Hewouldexaminethemcarefully,andkeeptheminthedepthsofhiscape.Then,
fromthesamemagicaldepths,hewouldtakeoutasmallaccordion.

ThedanceofthewitchTimotea!wewouldrequest.

DonPayasitowoulddance.Hedancedinanincredibleway.Hejumpedandshouted,tothesoundofhis
music.Hiscapewouldinflateasheturnedwewouldsqueezeagainstthewallofthegrotto,without
knowingwhethertolaughorrunaway.Then,hewouldaskusformoremoney.Andhewoulddance,
danceagain,thedanceofthelostdevil.Hismusicwasbeautifulandstrange,andhispantinghituslike
astrangecrashingriver,makingustremble.Whiletherewasmoneythereweredancesandsongs.
WhenthemoneystoppeddonPayasitothrewhimselfonthefloorandpretendedtosleep.

Out,out,out!hewouldshoutatus.Andwe,fullofpanic,wouldthrowourselvesrunninginto
theforestbelow;pale,withashivercrawlingourspineslikeasnake.

OnedayIhadjusthadmyeighthbirthdayweescapedtoLucascabin,wantingtoseedonPayasito.
IfLucasdidnotcallhim,donPayasitowouldnevercome.

Thecabinwasempty.Wecalledhimandcalledhimandranallaroundit,likefrightenedbirds,tono
avail.Lucasdidnotanswerus.Finally,mybrother,whowasmoredaring,pushedthelittlewoodendoor,
whichcreakedslowly.I,followinghimclosely,alsolookedinside.Aweakrayoflightenteredthecabin,
throughthehalfclosedwindow.Itsmelledverybad.Wehadneverbeentherebefore.

AcrosshisramshacklebedlayLucas,quiet,staringstrangelyattheceiling.Atfirstwedidnot
understand.Mybrothercalledtohim.Firstverysoftly,thenveryloudly.Icopiedhim.

Lucas,Lucas,badravenfromtheevilisland!

Itmadeuslaughthathedidnotrespond.Mybrotherbegantoshakehimfromonesidetoanother.He
wasrigid,cold,andtouchinghimgaveusavaguebutirresistiblefear.Finally,ashepaidnoattentionto
us,welefthim.Webegantolookaroundandfoundablacktrunk,veryold.Weopenedit.Insideitwas
thecape,thehatandthewhiteface,ofsadcardboard,ofdonPayasito.Alsothecoins,oursinfulcoins,
scatteredlikepalestarsamongsttheremains.

MybrotherandIgrewquiet,lookingatoneanother.Suddenly,webrokeoutcrying.Tearsfelldownour
faces,andweranawaytowardsthefields.Crying,cryingwithallourhearts,weclimbeduptothecave.
Meanwhileshoutingbetweenhiccups:

DonPayasitohasdied,oh,donPayasitohasdied!

14
Andeveryonesawusandheardus,butnobodyknewwhatweweresayingnorwhowewerecryingfor.

15
TheDryBranch
Shewasonlysevenyearsoldandtheyhadnotyettakenhertoworkthefields.Itwastheharvesttime,
withagreatheat,burning,overthetrails.Theyleftherinthehouse,underlockandkey,andtheywould
say:

Begood,dontfuss:andifanythinghappenstoyou,gotothewindowandcallDoa
Clementina1.

Shewouldnodherheadyes.Butnothingeverhappened,andshewouldpassthedaysittingonthe
edgeofthewindow,playingwithPipa.

DoaClementinawouldseeherfromthegarden.Theirhouseswerestucktooneanother,although
DoaClementinaswasmuchbigger,andhad,moreover,agardenwithapeartreeandtwoplumtrees.
Ontheothersideofthewallasmallwindowopenedupacrosswhichthegirlalwayssat.Sometimes,
DoaClementinaliftedhereyesfromhersewingandlookedather.

Whatareyoudoing,child?

Thegirlhadathinlittleface,pale,betweentheflaccidbraidsofablackmat.

ImplayingwithPipa,shewouldsay.

DoaClementinawouldcontinuesewingandwouldnotthinkaboutthegirlagain.Then,littlebylittle,
shestartedhearingsomestrangechatterthatcamefromabove,throughthebranchesofthepeartree.
Inherwindow,thelittleMediavillagirlwaspassingthedaytalking,itwouldseem,tosomeone.

Whoareyoutalkingwith,you?

WithPipa.

DoaClementina,daybyday,becamefilledwithmildcuriosity,tender,aboutthegirlandPipa.Doa
ClementinawasmarriedtoDonLeoncio2,thedoctor.DonLeonciowasadourmanandgiventowine,
suchthathepassedthedaygrumblingaboutthevillageanditsinhabitants.Theydidnothavechildren
andDoaClementinawasaccustomedtoherloneliness.Atfirst,shehardlythoughtofthechild,also
alone,thatsatinthewindowsillacross.Outofpityshelookedathernowandthentomakesure
nothingbadhadhappenedtoher.TheMediavillawomanaskedherthis:

DoaClementina,sinceyousewinthegardenintheafternoon,wouldyoumindnowandthen
glancingatthewindow,incasesomethinghappenstothegirl?Youknow,sheisstillsmalltotakeout
aroundhere

1
DoaClementinaLadyClementina
2
DonLeoncioMister,SirLeoncio

16
Ofcourse,itisnothing.Dontworryaboutanything.

Then,littlebylittle,theMediavillasdaughterandherunintelligiblechatter,upthere,madetheirway
intoherheart.

Whentheyfinishtheirworkinthecountrysideandthegirlreturnstoplayinginthestreets,I
amgoingtomissher,shetoldherself.

Oneday,finally,shefoundoutwhoPipawas.

Thedoll,explainedthegirl.

Showme

ThegirlheldupinherearthyhandanobjectthatDoaClementinacouldnotseeclearly.

Icannotseeit,honey.Throwittome

Thegirlhesitated.

Butthen,youwillreturnhertome?

Ofcourse

ThegirlthrewPipaandDoaClementina,whenshehaditinherhands,grewthoughtful.Pipawas
simplyadrybranchwrappedinascrapofclothfastenedwithacord.Sheturneditoverinherhandsand
lookedsadlytowardsthewindow.Thegirlwatchedherwithimpatienteyesandheldoutbothhands.

Throwhertome,DoaClementina?

DoaClementinastoodontopofthechairandthrewPipatowardsthewindow.Pipasailedoverthe
girlsheadandintothedarknessofthehouse.Thegirlsheaddisappearedandaftersometime
reappeared,absorbedinhergame.

AfterthatdayDoaClementinabegantolistentoher.ThegirltalkedtirelesslywithPipa.

Pipa,dontbeafraid,stayquiet.Oh,Pipa,howyoulookatme.Iwillgetabigstickandbreak
theheadofthewolf.Dontbeafraid,PipaSitdown,stayquiet,Iwilltellyou,thewolfishidinginthe
mountainrightnow

ThegirltalkedtoPipaaboutthewolf,aboutthebeggarmanwithhissackfullofdeadcats,aboutthe
breadoven,aboutfood.Whenitwastimetoeatthegirltooktheplatethathermotherleftcoveredfor
her,againsttheembers.Shetookittothewindowandateslowly,withherbonespoon.ShekeptPipa
onherlap,andmadehertakepartinthemeal.

Openyourmouth,Pipa,dontbesilly

17
DoaClementinaheardsilently.Shelistenedtoher,drankeveryoneofherwords.Thesameasshe
listenedtothewindoverthegrassandbetweenthebranches,theracketofthebirdsandthemurmur
oftheirrigationditch.

Oneday,thegirldidnotappearatthewindow.DoaClementinaaskedtheMediavillawoman:

Andthelittleone?

Oh,sheisdelicate,youknow.DonLeonciosaidthatshehasMaltesefever.

Ididntknow

Ofcourse,howwouldsheknowanything?Herhusbandnevertoldherthehappeningsofthelittle
village.

Yes,Mrs.Mediavillacontinuedexplaining.IknowsomedayIleftthemilkwithoutboilingit
youknow?Ihavesomuchtodo!Youcansee,now,untilsherecovers,Illhavetodowithouthelpfrom
Pascualn.

Pascualnwastenyearsoldandspentalldaycaringforthegirl.Inreality,Pascualnwentouttotheroad
orwenttostealfruitfromanearbygarden,ofthepriestorthemayor.Sometimes,DoaClementina
heardthegirlsvoicecalling.Onedayshedecidedtogo,althoughsheknewthatherhusbandwould
scoldher.

Thehousewasnarrow,smellyanddark.Nexttothestablewasastaircase,whichthehensroostedon.
Shewentup,steppingcarefullyonthewormeatenstepsthatcreakedunderherweight.Thegirlmust
haveheardher,becausesheshouted:

Pascualn!Pascualn!

Sheenteredaverysmallroom,wherethelightenteredonlythroughasmall,narrowwindow.Outside,
ontheotherside,thebranchesofsometreemusthavewaved,becausethelightwasofacooland
colorfulgreen,strangelikeadreaminthedarkness.Thewrappingofgreenlightcameagainsttheiron
headboardofthebedthegirlwasin.Uponseeingher,sheopenedherhalfclosedeyelids.

Well,littleone,saidDoaClementina.Howareyou?

Thegirlbegantocrysoftly.DoaClementinabentdownandcontemplatedheryellowishlittleface,in
betweenblackbraids.

Youknow,thegirlsaid,Pascualnisbad.Hesabrute.TellhimtogivemebackPipa,Iget
boredwithoutPipa

Shecontinuedcrying.DoaClementinawasnotusedtotalkingtochildren,andsomethingstrange
seizedinherheartandthroat.

18
Sheleft,insilence,andlookedforPascualn.Hewassittingbytheroad,withhisbackagainstthewallof
thehouse.Hewasbarefootandhisbrownlegs,naked,shoneinthesunliketwopiecesofcopper.

Pascualn,saidDoaClementina.

Theboyliftedhiswaryeyestowardsher.Hispupilsweregreyandclosetogetherandhishairgrew
abundantlylikeagirls,spillingoverhisears.

Pascualn,whatdidyoudowithyoursistersdoll?Giveitbacktoher.

Pascualncursedandstoodup.

Geeze!Thedoll,shesays!Wereintroublenow!

Hedidanaboutturnandwentintothehouse,mumbling.

Thenextday,DoaClementinareturnedtoseethegirl.Assoonasshesawher,asifshewereher
accomplice,thelittlegirltalkedtoheraboutPipa:

BringmePipa,yousaidyouwould,bringher

Thecryliftedthechestofthelittlegirl,filledherfacewithtears,thatfellslowlytowardstheblanket.

Iwillbringyouadoll,dontcry.

DoaClementinasaidtoherhusband,thatnight:

IhavetogodowntoFuenmayor,tolookforsomethings.

Go,respondedthedoctor,withhisheadburiedinthepaper.

AtsixinthemorningDoaClementinatookthecar,andatelevenarrivedinFuenmayor.InFuenmayor
therewerestores,amarket,andalargebazaarcalledElIdeal3.DoaClementinacarriedhersmall
savingsinasilkhandkerchief.InElIdealsheboughtadollwithcurlyandround,fixedeyes,thatstruck
herasverybeautiful.Thelittlegirlwillreallylikethis,shethought.Itcostmorethansheexpected,but
shepaidhappily.

Itwaseveningbythetimeshereturnedtothevillage.Shewentupthestairsand,alittleashamedof
herself,notedthatherheartbeatfiercely.TheMediavillawomanwasinthehouse,preparingdinner.As
soonasshesawhershethrewupherhands.

Oh,maam,DoaClementina!Goodnessgracious,Ididntrecognizeyou!Whowouldhave
thought!

Shecutherexclamationsshort.

3
ElIdealTheIdeal

19
Icametoseethelittleone,Ibroughtheratoy

MovinginamazementtheMediavillawomanletherpass.

Hey,cuitada4,andlookwhocametoseeyou

Thegirlliftedherheadfromthepillow.Theflameofanoillamp,fixedtothewall,flickered,yellow.

LookatwhatIbroughtyou:IbroughtyouanotherPipa,muchprettier.

Sheopenedthecaseandthedollappeared,blondeandstrange.

Theblackeyesofthegirlwerefullofanewlight,thatdecoratedheruglyface.Asmilestarted,that
frozethemomentshesawthedoll.Herheadfellbackonthepillowandshebegantocryslowlyand
quietly,aswashercustom.

ItsnotPipa,shesaid.ItsnotPipa.

Themotherbegantoyell:

Haveeverseensuchafool!Haveyoueverseenthisfool,thisingratitude!Oh,forgodssake,
DoaClementina,donttakethispersonally,thatthisgirlhastreatedusthisway!

DoaClementinablinked.(Everyoneinthevillageknewthatshewasatimidandsolitarywoman,and
theyfeltacertainsympathytowardsher).

Itsnotimportant,dear,shesaid,withaweaksmile.Itsnotimportant.

Sheleft.TheMediavillawomantookthedollsbetweenherroughhands,likeaflower.

Oh,mother,andwhatapreciousthing!Whatafool!

ThenextdayDoaClementinagotalittledrybranchfromthegardenandwrappeditinascrapofcloth.
Shewenttoseethegirl:

IbroughtyouyourPipa.

Thegirlliftedherheadwiththelivelinessofthepreviousday.Again,thesadnessreturnedtoherdark
eyes.

ItsnotPipa.

Dayafterday,DoaClementinamadePipaafterPipa,withnoresult.Agreatsadnessfilledher,and
shereturnedhometotheshoutsofDonLeoncio.

Listen,woman:IdontknowanythingmoreidioticthanthisWearenthere,inthisplace,to
bethelaughingstockofthevillage!Dontgobacktoseethatgirl:sheisgoingtodie,anyway!

4
Cuitadasickchild

20
Sheisgoingtodie?

Ofcourse,theresnoalternative!TheMediavillascannotthinkaboutanythingelseItwillbe
betterforeveryone!

Andindeed,oncefallstarted,thegirldied.DoaClementinafeltagreatweight,inside,anddaybydaya
tendercuriosityforPipaandherlittlemothergrewinher.

Itwasthenextspring,afterthegroundthawed,whenonemorning,searchingtheground,underthe
plumtrees,appearedthelittledrybranch,wrappedinitspieceofcloth.Itwasweatheredbythesnow,
veryweathered,andtheredcoloroftheclothhadbecomeawashedoutpink.DoaClementinatookup
Pipabetweenherfingers,shehelpherupwithrespectandlookedather,underthepaleraysofthe
sun.

Truly,shesaid,Howsensiblethelittlegirlwas!Whatabeautifulandsadfacethisdollhas!

21
TheBoys
Therewerefiveorsixofthem,butthisway,inagroup,comingdowntheroadahead,itfelttouslike
fifteenortwenty.Theyalwaysarrivedduringthehothoursofthesiesta1,whenthesunfelldirectlyon
thedustandthescatteredgraveloftheoldroad,whereneithertrucksnorcarsdrove,noranyother
vehicle.Theycameinacloudofdustliftedbytheirfeet,likehorseshooves.Wewouldseethemcoming
andourheartswouldspeedup.Someone,inalowvoice,wouldsay:Theboysarecoming!
Generally,wewouldhidetothrowrocksatthem,orwewouldflee.

Becausewefearedtheboyslikethedevil.Inreality,inourunderstanding,theywereoneofthe
thousandformsofthedevil.Ragged,wicked,witheyesdarkandbrilliantlikeblackpinheads.Barefoot
andcalloused,whothrewrocksfromlongrange,withgreataim,withasharperandharderhitthan
ours.Theonesthatspokediditinabrokenlanguage,unknown,ofwordslikelittlecracksofawhip,of
smileslikespattersofmud.Athomewewerecategoricallyforbiddenfromhavinganytypeof
relationshipwiththoseboys.Inreality,wewerenotallowedtoleavethecourtyardunderanypretext.
(Although,inoureyes,therewasnogreatertemptationthantojumpovertherockwallandgodownto
theriver,whichrangreenandgold,ontheotherside,betweenthereedsandpoplars.)Furtherthat
way,passedtheoldroad,fromwhichalmostalwayscamethedifferent,bannedboys.

Theboyslivedaroundtheprison(DestacamentoPenal2).Theywerethesonsoftheprisonersofthe
camp,whoservedtheirsentencesworkingonthereservoir.Betweentheirmothersandthemtheyhad
constructedastrangelittlevillageofshacksandcaves,semidetachedfromtherocks,becausethey
couldnotpayforhousinginthevillage,where,moreover,theywerenotwantedeither.Riffraff,
thieves,assassinsthepeoplewouldsay.Nobodywouldhaverentedthemaroom.Andtheyhadtobe
there.Thosemothersandthosechildrenfollowedtheirprisoners,becauseinthiswaytheylivedoffthe
dayswagesthat,fortheirwork,theconvictsearned.

Theoldestsonofthewardenwasaboyofthirteenyears,tallandrobust,whowenttosecondaryschool
inthecity.Onesummerhecamehomeforvacation,andfromthefirstdayheledourgames.Hisname
wasEfrnandhehadruddyfists,heavylikeclubs,whichcommandedgreatrespect.Ashewasmuch
olderthanus,daringandboastful,wefollowedhimwhereverhewanted.

Thefirstdaythattheboysfromtheshantytownappeared,enmasse,withtheircloudofdust,Efrnwas
surprisedthatweranawayandjumpedoverthewallinsearchofrefuge.

Youareallcowards,hetoldus.Theyarelittle!

Therewasnowaytoconvincehimthattheywereanythingelse,thattheyweresomethinglikethespirit
ofevil.

1
Siestatheafternoonrestperiod,duringthehottesthoursoftheday
2
DestacamentoPenalapenalcolony

22
Nonsense,hesaidtous.Andhesmiledinatwistedandparticularway,thatfilleduswith
admiration.

Thenextday,duringthesiesta,Efrnhidinthereedsoftheriver.Wewaited,behindthewall,withour
heartsinourthroats.Somethingwasintheairthatfilleduswithdread.(IrememberthatIbitthegold
chainofmymedalandfeltastrangecoldtasteofmetal.Andyoucouldheartherustlingsongofthe
cicadainthegrassofthecourtyard.Lyingonthefloor,ourheartspoundedagainsttheground.

Uponarriving,theboyssearchedneartheriver,toseeifwewerelookingforfrogsasusual.Andto
provokeus,theybegantowhistleandlaughintheirusualway,opaqueandhumiliating.Itwastheir
game:tocallusknowingwewouldnotappear.Wecontinuedhiddenandinsilence.Finally,theboys
abandonedtheirideaandreturnedtotheroad,climbingupthesteepembankment.Wewereeagerand
surprised,butwedidnotknowwhatEfrnwasgoingtodo.

Myolderbrothersatuptowatchbetweentherocksandweimitatedhim.WethereforesawEfrnslide
betweenthereedslikeabigsnake.Heclimbedstealthilytowardstheembankment,wherethelastof
theboyswasalsoclimbingup,andovertookhim.

Surprised,theboylethimselfbetrapped.Theothershadalreadygottentotheroadandpickedup
rocks,shouting.Ifeltagreattremblinginmykneesandbitdownhardonthemedal.ButEfrndidnot
letthemintimidatehim.Hewasmuchbiggerandstrongerthanthelittleblackeneddevilherestrained
inhisarms,andhebegantorundragginghisprisonertowardsrefuge,whereweawaitedhim.Therocks
fellaroundhimandintheriver,splashingwaterthatwasboilingatthathour.ButEfrnjumpedagilely
overthesteppingstonesand,draggingtheboy,whosquirmedfuriously,openedthegateandentered
withhimintothecourtyard.Uponseeinghimlost,theboysfromtheroadturnedaroundandran,like
rabbits,towardstheirshacks.

JustthinkingthatEfrnwasbringingoneofthesefuries,Iamsurethatmybrothersfeltthesameterror
asme.Wemovedclosertothewall,withourbacksagainstit,andagreatcoldnessclimbedupour
throats.

Efrndraggedtheboyafewmeters,infrontofus.Theboytwisteddesperatelyandtriedtobitehislegs,
butEfrnliftedhisenormousandruddyfistandbegantohithimintheface,thehead,theback.Again
andagain,Efrnsfistfell,withadullnoise.Thesun,shiningdeepandmajesticoverthegrassandearth.
Therewasagreatsilence.Weheardonlythepantingoftheboy,Efrnsblows,andthenoiseofthe
river,sweetandfresh,indifferent,atourbacks.Thesongofthelocustsseemedtohavestopped.Likeall
thevoices.

Efrnhittheboywithhisbigfistforawhile.Theboy,littlebylittle,wasgivingup.Finally,hefelltothe
groundonhisknees,withhishandsplantedinthegrass.Hehadadarkface,thecolorofdriedmud,and
verylonghair,blondemixedwithstreaksofblack,asifburnedbythesun.Hedidnotsayanythingand
stayedlikethat,onhisknees.Then,hefellagainstthegrass,butraisedhishead,tonotpassout.My
olderbrotherapproachedhimslowly,andthentherestofus.

23
Itwashardtobelievehowsmallandthinhewas.<<Fromtheroadtheyseemedmuchtaller>>,I
thought.Efrnwasstandingathisside,withhisbigandsolidlegsseparated,hisfeetclothedinheavy
suedeboots.HowenormousandbrutalEfrnseemedinthatmoment!

Youhaventhadenough?hesaidinalowvoice,smiling.Histeeth,withtheeyeteethjutting
out,shoneinthesun.Takethat,andthat

Hekickedhimwithhisbootintheback.Myolderbrotherbackedupapaceandsteppedonme.ButI
couldnotmove:itwaslikeIwasnailedtothefloor.Theboybroughthishandtohisnose.Hebled,I
dontknowiffromhismouthorwhere.Efrnwatchedus.

Letsgo,hesaid.Hesgottenwhathedeservesnow.Andhekickedhimagain.

Getout,pig!Beatit!

Efrnreturned,bigandheavy,towardsthehouseslowly,verysurethatwewouldfollowhim.

Mybrothers,asifunwilling,asiffrightened,obeyedhim.OnlyIcouldnotmove,Icouldnot,fromthe
boysside.Suddenly,somethingstrangehappenedinsideme.Theboywasthere,tryingtositup,
coughing.Hedidnotcry.Hiseyeswereverysmall,andhisnose,wideandflattened,shonestrangely.He
wasspatteredwithblood.Bloodfelldownhischin,soakedintohistattersandthegrass.Suddenlyhe
lookedatme.AndIsawiseyeswithroundpupils,thatwerenotblack,butratherapaletapiocacolor,
transparent,thatthesunwentintoandturnedtogold.Iloweredmine,fullofpainfulshame.

Theboygottohisfeetslowly.Hemusthavehurthisleg,whenEfrndraggedhim,becausehelimped
towardsthegate.Ididnotdarelookathisback,grimy,andbarebetweenthetears.Iwantedtocry,I
didnotknowexactlywhy.Icouldonlytellmyself:Hewasonlyachild.Hewasnothingmorethana
child,likeanyother.

24
Bernardino
Siempreomosdecirencasa,alabueloyatodaslaspersonasmayores,queBernardinoeraunnio
mimado.

Bernardinovivaconsushermanasmayores,Engracia,FelicidadyHerminia,enLosLpulos,unacasa
grande,rodeadadetierrasdelabranzaydeunhermosojardn,conrbolesviejosagrupadosformando
undiminutobosque,enlapartelindanteconelro.Lafincasehallabaenlasafuerasdelpuebloy,como
nuestracasa,cercadelosgrandesbosquescomunales.

Algunavez,elabuelonosllevabaaLosLpulos,enlapequeatartana,y,aunqueelcaminoerabonito
porlacarreteraantigua,entrecastaosylamos,bordeandoelro,lastardesenaquellacasanonos
atraan.LashermanasdeBernardinoeranunasmujeresaltas,fuertesymuymorenas.Vestanalamoda
antiguahabamosvistomujeresvestidascomoellasenellbumdefotografasdelabueloyse
peinabanconmooslevantados,comoroscasdeazcar,enloaltodelacabeza.Nosparecaextrao
queunniodenuestraedadtuvierahermanasqueparecantas,porlomenos.Elabuelonosdijo:

EsquelamadredeBernardinonoeslamismamadredesushermanas.lnacidelsegundo
matrimoniodesupadre,muchosaosdespus.

Estonosarmanmsconfusin.Bernardino,paranosotros,seguasiendounserextrao,distinto.Las
tardesquenosllevabanaLosLpulosnosvestanincmodamente,casicomoenlaciudad,y
debamosjugarajuegosneciosypesados,quenonosdivertanenabsoluto.Senosprohibabajaralro,
descalzarnosysubiralosrboles.Todoestoparecatenerunasolaexplicacinparanosotros:

Bernardinoesunniomimadonosdecamos.Ynocomentbamosnadams.

Bernardinoeramuydelgado,conlacabezaredondayrubia.Ibapeinadoconunflequilloralo,sobresus
ojosdecolorpardo,fijosyhuecos,comosifuerandecristal.Apesardevivirenelcampo,estabaplido,
ytambinvestadeunmodountantoinslito.Eramuycallado,ycasisiempretenaunaireentre
asombradoyreceloso,queresultabamolesto.Acabbamosjugandopornuestracuentayprescindiendo
del,apesardecomprenderqueesoerabastanteincorrecto.Sialgunaveznosloreprochelabuelo,
mihermanomayordeca:

Esechicomimado...Nosepuedecontarconl.

Verdaderamentenocreoqueentoncessupiramosbienloquequeradecirestarmimado.Entodocaso,
nonosatraa,pensandoenlavidaquellevabaBernardino.JamssaladeLosLpuloscomonofuera
acompaadodesushermanas.Acudaalamisaopaseabaconellasporelcampo,siempremuyseriecito
yapacible.

Loschicosdelpuebloylosdelasminaslotenanatravesado.Unda,MarianoAlborada,elhijodeun
capataz,quepescabaconnosotrosenelroalashorasdelasiesta,nosdijo:

25
AeseBernardinolevamosaarmaruna.

Qucosa?dijomihermano,queeraelquemejorentendaellenguajedeloschicosdelpueblo.

YaveremosdijoMariano,sonriendodespacito.Algobuenosenospresentarunda,digoyo.Sela
vamosaarmar.EstnyaenesoLucas,Amador,GraciannyelBuque...Querisvosotros?

Mihermanosepusocoloradohastalasorejas.

Nosdijo.Quvaaser?

LoquesepresentecontestMariano,mientrassacudaelaguadesusalpargatas,golpendolascontra
laroca.Sepresentar,yaveris.

S:sepresent.Claroqueanosotrosnoscogidesprevenidos,ylaverdadesquefuimosbastante
cobardescuandolleglaocasin.NosotrosnoodibamosaBernardino,peronoqueramosperderla
amistadconlosdelaaldea,entreotrascosasporquehubieranhechollegaraodosdelabueloandanzas
quenodesebamosqueconociera.Porotraparte,lasescapadasconlosdelaaldeaeranunadelas
cosasmsatractivasdelavidaenlasmontaas.

BernardinotenaunperroquesellamabaChu.ElperrodebadequerermuchoaBernardino,porque
siempreleseguasaltandoymoviendosurabitoblanco.ElnombredeChuvenaprobablementede
Chucho,pueselabuelodecaqueeraunperrosinrazayquemalditalagraciaquetena.Sinembargo,
nosotrosleencontrbamosmil,porlointeligenteysimpticoqueera.Seguanuestrosjuegoscon
muchotactoysehacaquererenseguida.

EseBernardinoesunpezdecamihermano.NoledaaChuniunapalmadaenlacabeza.Nos
cmoChulequieretanto!OjalqueChufueramo...

AChuleadorbamostodos,yconfiesoquealgunavez,conmalaintencin,alsalirdeLosLpulos
intentbamosatraerloconpedazosdepasteloterronesdeazcar,porversisevenaconnosotros.Pero
no:enelltimomomentoChunosdejabaconunpalmodenaricesysevolvasaltandohaciasu
inexpresivoamigo,queleesperabaquieto,mirndonosconsusredondosojosdevidrioamarillo.

Esepavo...decamihermanopequeo.Vayaunpavoese...

Y,laverdad,aqunegarlo,nosroalaenvidia.

UnatardeenquemiabuelonosllevaLosLpulosencontramosaBernardinoraramenteinquieto.

NoencuentroaChunosdijo.Sehaperdido,oalguienmelohaquitado.Entodalamaanayen
todalatardequenoloencuentro...

Losabentushermanas?lepreguntamos.

NodijoBernardino.Noquieroqueseenteren...

26
Aldecirestoltimosepusoalgocolorado.Mihermanoparecisentirlomuchomsquel.

Vamosabuscarloledijo.Venteconnosotros,yyaverscomoloencontraremos.

Adnde?dijoBernardino.Yaherecorridotodalafinca...

Puesafueracontestmihermano.Venteporelotroladodelmuroybajaremosalro...Luego,
podemosirhaciaelbosque.Enfin,buscarlo.Enalgunaparteestar!

Bernardinodudunmomento.Leestabaterminantementeprohibidoatravesarelmuroquecercaba
LosLpulos,ynuncalohaca.Sinembargo,moviafirmativamentelacabeza.

Nosescapamosporelladodelachopera,dondeelmuroeramsbajo.ABernardinolecostsaltarlo,y
tuvimosqueayudarle,loquemepareciquelehumillabaunpoco,porqueeramuyorgulloso.

Recorrimoselbordedelterraplnyluegobajamosalro.TodoelratobamosllamandoaChu,y
Bernardinonossegua,silbandodecuandoencuando.Peronoloencontramos.

bamosyaaregresar,desoladosysilenciosos,cuandonosllamunavoz,desdeelcaminillodelbosque:

Eh,tropa!...

LevantamoslacabezayvimosaMarianoAlborada.DetrsdelestabanBuqueyGraciann.Todos
llevabanjuncosenlamanoysonreandeaquelmodosuyo,tanespecial.Ellosslosonreancuando
pensabanalgomalo.

Mihermanodijo:

HabisvistoaChu?

Marianoasinticonlacabeza:

S,lohemosvisto.Querisvenir?

Bernardinoavanz,estavezdelantedenosotros.Eraextrao:deprontoparecahaberperdidosu
timidez.

DndeestChu?dijo.Suvozsonclarayfirme.

Marianoylosotrosecharonacorrer,conuntrotecillomenudo,porelcamino.Nosotroslesseguimos,
tambincorriendo.PrimeroqueningunoibaBernardino.

Efectivamente:ellostenanaChu.Yaalaentradadelbosquevimoselhumodeunafogata,yel
coraznnosempezalatirmuyfuerte.HabanatadoaChuporlaspatastraserasylehabanarrollado
unacuerdaalcuello,conunnudocorredizo.Unescalofronosrecorri:yasabamosloquehacanlosde
laaldeaconlosperrossarnososyvagabundos.Bernardinoseparenseco,yChuempezaaullar,
tristemente.PerosusaullidosnollegabanaLosLpulos.Habanelegidounbuenlugar.

27
AhtienesaChu,BernardinodijoMariano.Levamosadardeveras.

Bernardinoseguaquieto,comodepiedra.Mihermano,entonces,avanzhaciaMariano.

Sueltaalperro!ledijo.Losueltaso...!

T,quietodijoMariano,coneljuncolevantadocomounltigo.Avosotrosnoosdavelanadieen
esto...ComodigisunapalabravoyacontarleavuestroabuelolodelhuertodeManuelelNegro!

Mihermanoretrocedi,encarnado.Tambinyonotungransofoco,peromemordloslabios.Mi
hermanopequeoempezaroerselasuas.

SinosdasalgoquenosgustedijoMarianotedevolvemosaChu.

Ququeris?dijoBernardino.Estabaplantadodelante,conlacabezalevantada,comosinmiedo.Le
miramosextraados.Nohabatemorensuvoz.

MarianoyBuquesemiraronconmalicia.

DinerosdijoBuque.

Bernardinocontest:

Notengodinero.

Marianocuchicheconsusamigos,ysevolvial:

Bueno,poscosaquelovalga...

Bernardinoestuvounmomentopensativo.Luegosedesabrochlablusaysedesprendilamedallade
oro.Seladio.

Demomento,Marianoylosotrossequedaroncomosorprendidos.Lequitaronlamedallayla
examinaron.

Estono!dijoMariano.Luegonoslaencuentrany...Erestunmalbicho!Sabes?Unmalbicho!

Depronto,lesvimosfuriosos.S;sepusieronfuriososyseguancuchicheando.Yovealavenaquesele
hinchabaenlafrenteaMarianoAlborada,comocuandosupadreleapaleabaporalgo.

NoqueremostusdinerosdijoMariano.Gurdatetudineroytodolotuyo...Niereshombreni...n!

Bernardinoseguaquieto.Marianoletirlamedallaalacara.Lemirabaconojosfijosybrillantes,llenos
declera.Alfin,dijo:

Sitedejasdardeverast,envezdelchucho...

TodosmiramosaBernardino,asustados.

28
No...dijomihermano.

PeroMarianogrit:

Vosotrosacallar,olovaisasentir...!Quosvaenesto?Quosva...?

Fuimoscobardesynosapiamoslostresjuntosaunroble.Sentunsudorfroenlaspalmasdelas
manos.PeroBernardinonocambidecara.(Esepez...,quedecamihermano).Contest:

Estbien.Dadmedeveras.

Marianolemirdereojo,yporunmomentonospareciasustado.Peroenseguidadijo:

Hala,Buque...!

Seletiraronencimaylequitaronlablusa.LacarnedeBernardinoeraplida,amarillenta,ysele
marcabanmucholascostillas.Sedejhacer,quietoyflemtico.Buquelesujetlasmanosalaespalda,
yMarianodijo:

Empiezat,Graciann...

Gracianntireljuncoalsueloyechacorrer,loqueenfurecimsaMariano.Rabioso,levantel
juncoydiodeverasaBernardino,hastaquesecans.

Acadagolpemishermanosyyosentimosunavergenzamayor.OamoslosaullidosdeChuyveamos
susojos,redondoscomociruelas,llenosdeunfuegodulceydoloridoquenoshacamuchodao.
Bernardino,encambio,cosaextraa,parecanosentirelmenordolor.Seguaquieto,zarandeado
solamenteporlosgolpes,consumediasonrisafijaybieneducadaenlacara.Tambinsusojosseguan
impvidos,indiferentes.(Esepez,Esepavo,sonabaenmisodos).

CuandobrotlaprimeragotadesangreMarianosequedconelmimbrelevantado.Luegovimosque
seponamuyplido.BuquesoltlasmanosdeBernardino,quenoleofrecaningunaresistencia,yse
lanzcuestaabajo,comounrayo.

MarianomirdefrenteaBernardino.

Puercoledijo.Puerco.

Tireljuncoconrabiaysealej,msaprisadeloquehubieradeseado.

BernardinoseacercaChu.Apesardelasmarcasdeljunco,queseinflamabanensuespalda,sus
brazosysupecho,parecainmune,tranquilo,yaltivo,comosiempre.LentamentedesataChu,que
selanzalamerlelacara,conaullidosquepartanelalma.Luego,Bernardinonosmir.Noolvidar
nuncalatransparenciahuecafijaensusojosdecolordemiel.Sealejdespacioporelcaminillo,seguido
delossaltosylosaullidosentusiastasdeChu.Nisiquierarecogisumedalla.Seibasosegadoy
tranquilo,comosiempre.

29
Slocuandodesaparecinosatrevimosadeciralgo.Mihermanorecogidelsuelolamedalla,que
brillabacontralatierra.

Vamosadevolvrseladijo.

Yaunquedesebamosretardarelmomentodeverledenuevo,volvimosaLosLpulos.Estbamosya
llegandoalmuro,cuandounruidonosparenseco.Mihermanomayoravanzhacialosmimbres
verdesdelro.Leseguimos,procurandonohacerruido.

Echadobocaabajo,medioocultoentrelosmimbres,Bernardinollorabadesesperadamente,abrazadoa
superro.

30
DonPayasito
Enlafincadelabuelo,entrelosjornaleros,habaunomuyviejollamadoLucasdelaPedrera.EsteLucas
delaPedreradecantodosqueeraunpcaroyunmarrullero,peromiabueloletenagrancarioy
siemprecontabacosassuyas,dehacatiempo:

Corromuchomundodeca.Searruinsiempre.EstuvotambinenlasislasdeJava

LascosasdeLucasdelaPedrerahacanreralaspersonasmayors.Noanosotros,losnios.Porque
Lucaseraelsermsextraordinariodelatierra.Mihermanoyyosentamoshacalunaespeciede
amor,admiracinytemor,quenuncahemosvueltoasentir.

LucasdelaPedrerahabitabalaltimadelasbarracas,yarozandolosbosquesdelabuelo.Vivasolo,y
lmismococinabasusguisosdecarne,cebollasypatatas,delosqueavecesnosdabaconsucuchara
dehueso,ylselavabasuropaenelro,dndolegrandesgolpesconunapala.Eratanviejoquedeca
perdielltimoaoynolopodaencontrar.Siemprequepodamosnosescapbamosalacasitade
LucasdelaPedrera,porquenadie,hastaentonces,noshabahabladonuncadelascosasquelnos
hablaba.

Lucas,Lucas!lellambamos,cuandonoveamossentadoalapuertadesubarraca.

lnosmirabafrotndoselosojos.Elcabello,muyblanco,lecaaenmechonessobrelafrente.Era
menudo,encorvado,yhablabasiempreenverso.Unosextraosversosqueavecesnorimabanmucho,
peroquenosfascinaban:

OjitosdefarolitodecaQumevensabuscar?...

Nosotrosnosacercbamosdespacio,llenosdeaqueldulcetemorcosquilleantequenosinvadaasu
lado(comorodeadosdemariposasnegras,deviento,delaslucesverdesquehuansobrelatierra
grasientadelcementerio).

QueremosveradonPayasitodecamos,envozbaja,paraquenadienosoyera.Nadieque
nofueral,nuestromago.

lseponaeldedo,retorcidoyoscurocomouncigarro,atravsdeloslabios:

Acallar,abajarlavoz,muchachitosmalvadosdelaisladelmal!

Siemprenosllamaba<<muchachitomalvadosdelaisladelmal>>.Yestonosllenabadeplacer.Ydeca:
<<Malos,pecadores,cuervecillos>>,parareferirseanosotros.Yalgosenoshinchabaenelpecho,como
unglobodecolores,oyndole.

LucasdelaPedrerasesentabaynospedalasmanos:

Aclas<<vuesas>>manos,acpa<<adivinasus>>toditoelcorazn

31
Tendamoslasmanos,conlaspalmashacaarriba.Yelcoraznnoslatafuerte.Comosirealmenteall,
enlasmanos,noslopudieraver,temblando,riendo.

Acercabasusojosylasmirabayremiraba,porlapalmayelenvs,ytorcaelgesto:

Manitasde<<pelandrn>>,manitasdecayado,aydetusmanitas,cuitado!

As,ibacanturreando,yescupaalsuelounavezqueotra.Nosotrosnosmordamosloslabiosparano
rer.

Tmentistetresvecesseguidas,comoSanPedro!ledeca,alomejor,amihermano.Mi
hermanoseponacoloradoysecallaba.Talvezeracierto,talvezno.Peroquinibaadiscutrseloa
LucasdelaPedrera?

T,golosa,coraznegosta,escondistepepitasdeoroenelfondodelro,comolosmalos
pescadoresdelaisladeJava...

SiempresacabaacuentolospescadoresdelaisladeJava.Yotambincallaba,porquequinsabasi
realmentehabayoescondidopepitosdeoroenellechodelro?Podradeciracasoquenoeraverdad?
Yonopoda,no.

Porfavor,porfavor,Lucas,queremosveradonPayasito

Lucassequedabapensativo,y,alfin,deca:

Saltadycorred,diablos,queallvadonPayasito,caminodelagruta!Aydevosotros,ayde
vosotros,sinolealcanzisatiempo!

Corramosmihermanoyyohaciaelbosque,yencuantonosadentrbamosentrelostroncosnos
invadalanegruraverdosa,elsilencio,lasaltasestrellasdelsolacribillandoelramaje.Hendamosel
musgo,trepbamossobrelaspiedrascubiertasdelquenes,juntoaltorrente.Allarriba,estabala
cuevecilladedonPayasito,elamigosecreto.

Llegbamosjadeandoalabocadelacueva.Nossentbamos,contodoellatidodelasangreenla
garganta,yesperbamos.Lasmejillasnosardanynosllevbamoslasmanosalpechoparasentirel
galopedelcorazn.

Alpocorato,aparecaporlacuestecilladonPayasito.Venaenvueltoensucapaencarnada,consoles
amarillos.Llevabaunaltosombreropuntiagudodecolorazul,elcabellodeestopa,yunahermosa,una
maravillosacarablanca,comolaluna.Conladiestraseapoyabaenunlargobastn,rematadoporflores
depapelencarnadas,yenlamanolibrellevabaunoscascabelesdoradosquehacasonar.

Mihermanoyyonosponamosdepiedeunsaltoylehacamosunareverencia.DonPayasitoentraba
majestuosamenteenlagruta,ynosotrosleseguamos.

Dentroolafuertementeaganado,porquealgunasveceslospastoresguardabanallsusrebaos,
durantelanoche.DonPayasitoencendaparsimoniosamenteelfarolenmohecido,queocultabaenun
recododelagruta.Luegosesentabaenlapiedragrandedelcentro,quemadaporlashoguerasdelos
pastores.

Qutraishoy?nosdeca,conunararavoz,salidadetenebrosasprofundidades.

32
Hurgbamosenlosbolsillosysacbamoslaspecadorasmonedasquehurtbamosparal.DonPayasito
amabalasmonedillasdeplata.Lasexaminabacuidadosamente,yselasguardabaenloprofundodela
capa.Luego,tambindeaquellasmgicasprofundidades,extraaunpequeoacorden.

ElbailedelabrujaTimotea!lepedamos.

DonPayasitobailaba.Bailabadeunmodoincreble.Saltabaygritaba,alsondesumsica.Lacapase
inflabaasusvueltosynosotrosnosapretbamoscontralapareddelagruta,sinacertararernosoa
salircorriendo.Luego,nospedamsdinero.Yvolvaadanzar,adanzar,<<elbailedeldiabloperdido>>.
Susmsicaseranhermosasyextraas,ysujadeonosllegabacomounrarofragordero,
estremecindonos.Mientrashabadinerohababailesycanciones.Cuandoeldineroseacababadon
Payasitoseechabaenelsueloyfingadormir.

Fuera,fuera,fuera!nosgritaba.Ynosotros,llenosdepnico,echbamosacorrerbosque
abajo;plidos,conunescalofrapegadoalaespaldacomounaculebra.

UndaacababayodecumplirochoaosfuimosescapadosalacabaadeLucas,deseososdevera
donPayasito.SiLucasnolellamaba,donPayasitonovendranunca.

Labarracaestabavaca.Fueintilquellamramosyllamramosylediramoslavuelta,comopjaros
asustados.Lucasnonoscontestaba.Alfin,mihermano,queeramsatrevido,empujlapuertecillade
madera,quecrujilargamente.Yo,pegadaasuespalda,mirtambinhaciadentro.Undbilresplandor
entrabaenlacabaa,porlaventanaentornada.Olamuymal.Nuncaantesestuvimosall.

SobresucamastroestabaLucas,quieto,mirandoraramentealtecho.Alprincipionoloentendimos.Mi
hermanolellam.Primeromuybajo,luegomuyalto.Tambinyoleimit.

Lucas,Lucas,cuervomalodelaisladelmal!...

Nosdabamucharisaquenonosrespondiera.Mihermanoempezazarandearledeunladoaotro.
Estabargido,fro,ytocarlenosdiounmiedovagoperoirresistible.Alfin,comononoshacacaso,le
dejamos.Empezamosacuriosearyencontramosunbalnegro,muyviejo.Loabrimos.Dentroestabala
capa,elgorroylacarablanca,decartntriste,dedonPayasito.Tambinlasmonedas,nuestras
pecadorasmonedas,esparcidascomoplidasestrellasporentrelosrestos.

Mihermanoyyonosquedamoscallados,mirndonos.Depronto,rompimosallorar.Laslgrimasnos
caanporlacara,ysalimoscorriendoalcampo.Llorando,llorandocontodonuestrocorazn,subimosla
cuesta.Ygritandoentrehipos:

QuesehamuertodonPayasito,ay,quesehamuertodonPayasito!

Ytodosnosmirabanynosoan,peronadiesabaqudecamosniporquinllorbamos.

33
LaRamaSeca
Apenastenaseisaosyannolallevabanalcampo.Eraporeltiempodelasiega,conuncalorgrande,
abrasador,sobrelossenderos.Ladejabanencasa,cerradaconllave,yledecan:

Queseasbuena,quenoalborotes:ysialgotepasara,asmatealaventanayllamaadoa
Clementina.

Elladecaquesconlacabeza.Peronuncaleocurranada,ysepasabaeldasentadaalbordedela
ventana,jugandocon"Pipa".

DoaClementinalaveadesdeelhuertecillo.Suscasasestabanpegadaslaunaalaotra,aunquelade
doaClementinaeramuchomsgrande,ytena,adems,unhuertoconunperalydosciruelos.Alotro
ladodelmuroseabraelventanucotraselcuallaniasesentabasiempre.Aveces,doaClementina
levantabalosojosdesucosturaylamiraba.

Quhaces,nia?

Laniatenalacaritadelgada,plida,entrelasflacastrenzasdeunnegromate.

Juegocon"Pipa"deca.

DoaClementinaseguacosiendoynovolvaapensarenlania.Luego,pocoapoco,fueescuchando
aquelraroparloteoquelellegabadeloalto,atravsdelasramasdelperal.Ensuventana,lapequea
delosMediavillasepasabaeldahablando,alparecer,conalguien.

Conquinhablas,t?

Con"Pipa".

DoaClementina,daada,sellendeunacuriosidadleve,tierna,porlaniaypor"Pipa".Doa
ClementinaestabacasadacondonLeoncio,elmdico.DonLeoncioeraunhombreadustoydadoal
vino,quesepasabaeldarenegandodelaaldeaydesushabitantes.NotenanhijosydoaClementina
estabayahechaasusoledad.Enunprincipio,apenaspensabaenaquellacriatura,tambinsolitaria,
quesesentabaalalfizardelaventana.Porpiedadlamirabadecuandoencuandoyseasegurabade
quenadamaloleocurra.LamujerMediavillaselopidi:

DoaClementina,yaqueustedcoseenelhuertoporlastardes,querrechardecuandoen
cuandounamiradaalaventana,porsilepasaraalgoalania?Sabeusted,esanpequeaparallevarla
alospagos...

S,mujer,nadamecuesta.Marchasincuidado...

34
Luego,pocoapoco,laniadelosMediavillaysucharloteoininteligible,allarriba,fueron
metindoselepechoadentro.

Cuandoacabenconlastareasdelcampoylaniavuelvaajugarenlacalle,laecharafaltarse
deca.

Unda,porfin,seenterdequinera"Pipa".

Lamuecaexpliclania.

Ensamela...

LanialevantensumanoterrosaunobjetoquedoaClementinanopodaverclaramente.

Nolaveo,hija.chamela...

Laniavacil.

Peroluego,meladevolver?

Claroest...

Lanialeecha"Pipa"ydoaClementina,cuandolatuvoensusmanos,sequedpensativa."Pipa"era
simplementeunaramitasecaenvueltaenuntrozodepercalsujetoconuncordel.Lediolavueltaentre
losdedosymirconciertatristezahacialaventana.Lanialaobservabaconojosimpacientesy
extendalasdosmanos.

Melaecha,doaClementina...?

DoaClementinaselevantdelasillayarrojdenuevoa"Pipa"hacialaventana."Pipa"passobrela
cabezadelaniayentrenlaoscuridaddelacasa.Lacabezadelaniadesapareciyalcabodeun
ratoasomdenuevo,embebidaensujuego.

DesdeaqueldadoaClementinaempezaescucharla.Laniahablabainfatigablementecon"Pipa".

"Pipa",notengasmiedo,estatequieta.Ay,"Pipa",cmomemiras!Cogerunpalograndeyle
romperlacabezaallobo.Notengasmiedo,"Pipa"...Sintate,estatequietecita,tevoyacontar,ellobo
estahoraescondidoenlamontaa...

Laniahablabacon"Pipa"dellobo,delhombremendigoconsusacollenodegatosmuertos,delhorno
delpan,delacomida.Cuandollegabalahoradecomerlaniacogaelplatoquesumadreledej
tapado,alarrimodelasascuas.Lollevabaalaventanaycomadespacito,consucucharadehueso.
Tenaa"Pipa"enlasrodillas,ylahacaparticipardesucomida.

Abrelaboca,"Pipa",queparecestonta...

35
DoaClementinalaoaensilencio.Laescuchaba,bebacadaunadesuspalabras.Igualqueescuchaba
alvientosobrelahierbayentrelasramas,laalgarabadelospjarosyelrumordelaacequia.

Unda,laniadejdeasomarsealaventana.DoaClementinalepreguntalamujerMediavilla:

Ylapequea?

Ay,estdelic,sabeusted.DonLeonciodicequeledieronlasfiebresdeMalta.

Nosabanada...

Claro,cmoibaasaberalgo?Sumaridonuncalecontabalossucesosdelaaldea.

ScontinuexplicandolaMediavilla.Seconocequealgndadebdejarmelalechesin
hervir...sabeusted?Tieneunatantoquehacer!Yaveusted,ahora,entantosereponga,hede
privarmedelosbrazosdePascualn.

Pascualntenadoceaosyquedabaduranteeldaalcuidadodelania.Enrealidad,Pascualnsalaala
calleoseibaarobarfrutaalhuertovecino,aldelcuraoaldelalcalde.Aveces,doaClementinaoala
vozdelaniaquellamaba.Undasedecidiair,aunquesabaquesumaridolaregaara.

Lacasaeraangosta,malolienteyoscura.Juntoalestablonacaunaescalera,enlaqueseacostabanlas
gallinas.Subi,pisandoconcuidadolosescalonesapolilladosquecrujanbajosupeso.Lanialadebi
or,porquegrit:

Pascualn!Pascualn!

Entrenunaestanciamuypequea,adondelaclaridadllegabaapenasporunventanucoalargado.
Afuera,alotrolado,debanmoverselasramasdealgnrbol,porquelaluzeradeunverdefrescoy
encendido,extraocomounsueoenlaoscuridad.Elfajodeluzverdevenaadarcontralacabecerade
lacamadehierroenqueestabalania.Alverla,abrimssusprpadosentornados.

Hola,pequeadijodoaClementina.Qutalests?

Laniaempezallorardeunmodosuaveysilencioso.DoaClementinaseagachycontemplsu
caritaamarillenta,entrelastrenzasnegras.

Sabeusteddijolania,Pascualnesmalo.Esunbruto.Dgaleustedquemedevuelvaa
"Pipa",quemeaburrosin"Pipa"...

Seguallorando.DoaClementinanoestabaacostumbradaahablaralosnios,yalgoextrao
agarrotabasugargantaysucorazn.

Salideall,ensilencio,ybuscaPascualn.Estabasentadoenlacalle,conlaespaldaapoyadaenel
murodelacasa.Ibadescalzoysuspiernasmorenas,desnudas,brillabanalsolcomodospiezasde
cobre.

36
PascualndijodoaClementina.

Elmuchacholevanthaciaellasusojosdesconfiados.Tenalaspupilasgrisesymuyjuntasyelcabellole
crecaabundantecomoaunamuchacha,porencimadelasorejas.

Pascualn,quhicistedelamuecadetuhermana?Devulvesela.

Pascualnlanzunablasfemiayselevant.

Anda!Lamuecadice!Aviaosestamos!

Diomediavueltaysefuehacialacasa,murmurando.

Aldasiguiente,doaClementinavolviavisitaralania.Encuantolavio,comosisetrataradeuna
cmplice,lapequealehablde"Pipa":

Quemetraigaa"Pipa",dgaselousted,quelatraiga...

Elllantolevantabaelpechodelania,lellenabalacaradelgrimas,quecaandespaciohastalamanta.

Yotevoyatraerunamueca,nollores.

DoaClementinadijoasumarido,porlanoche:

TendraquebajaraFuenmayor,aunascompras.

Bajarespondielmdico,conlacabezahundidaenelperidico.

AlasseisdelamaanadoaClementinatomelautodelnea,yalasoncebajenFuenmayor.En
Fuenmayorhabatiendas,mercado,yungranbazarllamado"ElIdeal".DoaClementinallevabasus
pequeosahorrosenvueltosenunpauelodeseda.En"ElIdeal"comprunamuecadecabellocrespo
yojosredondosyfijos,queleparecimuyhermosa."Lapequeavaaalegrarsedeveras",pens.Le
costmscaradeloqueimaginaba,peropagdebuenagana.

Anochecayacuandollegalaaldea.Subilaescaleray,algoavergonzadadesmisma,notquesu
coraznlatafuerte.LamujerMediavillaestabayaencasa,preparandolacena.Encuantolavioalzlas
dosmanos.

Ay,ust,doaClementina!VlgameDios,yadisimularenqutrazaslarecibo!Quinibaa
pensar...!

Cortsusexclamaciones.

Venaaveralapequea,letraigounjuguete...

MudadeasombrolaMediavillalahizopasar.

Ay,cuitada,ymiraquinvieneaverte...

37
Lanialevantlacabezadelaalmohada.Lallamadeuncandildeaceite,clavadoenlapared,temblaba,
amarilla.

Miraloquetetraigo:tetraigootra"Pipa",muchomsbonita.

Abrilacajaylamuecaapareci,rubiayextraa.

Losojosnegrosdelaniaestabanllenosdeunaluznueva,quecasiembellecasucaritafea.Unasonrisa
seleiniciaba,queseenfrienseguidaalavistadelamueca.Dejcaerdenuevolacabezaenla
almohadayempezallorardespacioysilenciosamente,comoacostumbraba.

Noes"Pipa"dijo.Noes"Pipa".

Lamadreempezachillar:

Habrasevistolatonta!Habrasevisto,ladesagradecida!Ay,porDios,doaClementina,nose
lotengaustedencuenta,queestamozanoshasalidoretrasada...!

DoaClementinaparpade.(Todosenelpueblosabanqueeraunamujertmidaysolitaria,yletenan
ciertacompasin).

Noimporta,mujerdijo,conunaplidasonrisa.Noimporta.

Sali.LamujerMediavillacogilamuecaentresusmanosrudas,comosisetrataradeunaflor.

Ay,madre,yqucosamspreciosa!Habrasevistolatontasta...!

AldasiguientedoaClementinarecogidelhuertounaramitasecaylaenvolvienunretal.Subia
veralania:

Tetraigoatu"Pipa".

Lanialevantlacabezaconlavivezadeldaanterior.Denuevo,latristezasubiasusojososcuros.

Noes"Pipa".

Daada,doaClementinaconfeccion"Pipa"tras"Pipa",sinningnresultado.Unagrantristezala
llenaba,yelcasollegaodosdedonLeoncio.

Oye,mujer:quenosepayodemsmajaderasdesas...Yanoestamos,aestasalturas,para
andarsiendoelhazmerrerdelpueblo!Quenovuelvasaveraesamuchacha:sevaamorir,detodos
modos...

Sevaamorir?

Puesclaro,quremedio!NotienenposibilidadeslosMediavillaparapensarenotracosa...Va
asermejorparatodos!

38
Enefecto,apenasiniciadoelotoo,laniasemuri.DoaClementinasintiunpesargrande,all
dentro,dondeundalenacieratantiernacuriosidadpor"Pipa"ysupequeamadre.

Fuealaprimaverasiguiente,yaenplenodeshielo,cuandounamaana,rebuscandoenlatierra,bajolos
ciruelos,aparecilaramitaseca,envueltaensupedazodepercal.Estabaquemadaporlanieve,
quebradiza,yelcolorrojodelatelasehabavueltodeunrosadesvado.DoaClementinatoma
"Pipa"entresusdedos,lalevantconrespetoylamir,bajolosrayosplidosdelsol.

Verdaderamentesedijo.Cuntarazntenalapequea!Qucaratanhermosaytristetiene
estamueca!

39
LosChicos
Erancincooseis,peroas,engrupo,viniendocarreteraadelante,senosantojabanquinceoveinte.
Llegabancasisiemprealashorasachicharradasdelasiesta,cuandoelsolcaadeplanocontraelpolvoy
lagravadesportilladadelacarreteravieja,pordondeyanocirculabancamionesnicarros,nivehculo
alguno.Llegabanentreunanubedepolvoquelevantabansuspies,comolaspezuasdeloscaballos.
Losveamosllegaryelcoraznnoslatadeprisa.Alguien,envozbaja,deca:Quevienenloschicos...!
Porlogeneral,nosescondamosparatirarlespiedras,ohuamos.

Porquenosotrostemamosaloschicoscomoaldiablo.Enrealidad,eranunadelasmilformasdediablo,
anuestroentender.Loschicos,harapientos,malvados,conlosojososcurosybrillantescomocabezas
dealfilernegro.Loschicos,descalzosycallosos,quetirabanpiedrasdelargoalcance,congranpuntera,
degolpemssecoyduroquelasnuestras.Losquehablabanunidiomaentrecortado,desconocido,de
palabrascomopequeoslatigazos,derisascomosalpicadurasdebarro.Encasanostenanprohibido
terminantementeentablarrelacinalgunaconesoschicos.Enrealidad,nostenanprohibidosalirdel
pradobajoningnpretexto.(Aunquenadahabatantentador,anuestrosojos,comosaltarelmurode
piedrasybajaralro,que,alotrolado,huaverdeyoro,entrelosjuncosyloschopos.)Msall,pasaba
lacarreteravieja,pordondellegabancasisiempreaquelloschicosdistintos,prohibidos.

LoschicosvivanenlosalrededoresdelDestacamentoPenal.EranloshijosdelospresosdelCampo,que
redimansuspenasenlaobradelpantano.Entresusmadresyelloshabanconstruidounaextraa
aldeadechabolasycuevas,adosadasalasrocas,porquenosepodanpagarelalojamientoenlaaldea,
donde,porotraparte,tampocoerandeseados.Gentuza,ladrones,asesinos...decanlasgentesdel
lugar.Nadieleshubieraalquiladounahabitacin.Ytenanqueestarall.Aquellasmujeresyaquellos
niosseguanasuspresos,porquedeestamaneravivandeljornalque,porsutrabajo,ganabanlos
penados.

Elhijomayordeladministradoreraunmuchachodeunostreceaos,altoyrobusto,queestudiabael
bachilleratoenlaciudad.Aquelveranovinoacasadevacaciones,ydesdeelprimerdacapitane
nuestrosjuegos.SellamabaEfrnytenaunospuosrojizos,pesadoscomomazas,queimponanun
granrespeto.Comoeramuchomayorquenosotros,audazyfanfarrn,leseguamosadondelquisiera.

Elprimerdaqueaparecieronloschicosdelaschabolas,entropel,consunubedepolvo,Efrnse
sorprendidequeechramosacorrerysaltramoselmuroenbuscaderefugio.

Soiscobardesnosdijo.Esossonpequeos!

Nohuboformadeconvencerledequeeranotracosa,dequeeranalgoascomoelespritudelmal.

Bobadasnosdijo.Ysonrideunamaneratorcidayparticular,quenosllendeadmiracin.

Aldasiguiente,cuandolahoradelasiesta,Efrnseescondientrelosjuncosdelro.Nosotros
esperbamos,detrsdelmuro,conelcoraznenlagarganta.Algohabaenelairequenosllenabade

40
pavor.(Recuerdoqueyomordalacadenitadelamedallayquesentaenelpaladarungustodemetal
raramentefro.Yseoaelcantocrujientedelacigarraentrelahierbadelprado.)Echadosenelsuelo,el
coraznnosgolpeabacontralatierra.

Alllegar,loschicosescudriaronhaciaelro,porversiestbamosbuscandoranascomosolamos.Y
paraprovocarnos,empezaronasilbaryarerdeaquellaformadesiempre,opacayhumillante.Erasu
juego:llamarnossabiendoquenoapareceramos.Nosotrosseguamosocultosyensilencio.Alfin,los
chicosabandonaronsuideayvolvieronalcamino,trepandoterraplnarriba.Nosotrosestbamos
anhelantesysorprendidos,puesnosabamosloqueEfrnquerahacer.

Mihermanomayorseincorporamirarporentrelaspiedrasynosotrosleimitamos.Vimosentoncesa
Efrndeslizarseentrelosjuncoscomounagranculebra.Consigilotrephaciaelterrapln,pordonde
subaelltimodeloschicos,yseleechencima.

Conlasorpresa,elchicosedejatrapar.Losotrosyahabanllegadoalacarreteraycogieronpiedras,
gritando.Yosentungrantemblorenlasrodillas,ymordconfuerzalamedalla.PeroEfrnnosedej
intimidar.Eramuchomayorymsfuertequeaqueldiablillonegruzcoqueretenaentresusbrazos,y
echacorrerarrastrandoasuprisioneroalrefugio,dondeleaguardbamos.Laspiedrascaanasu
alrededoryenelro,salpicandodeaguaaquellahoraabrasada.PeroEfrnsaltgilmentesobrelas
pasaderasy,arrastrandoalchico,queserevolvafuriosamente,abrilaempalizadayentrconlenel
prado.Alverloperdido,loschicosdelacarreteradieronmediavueltayecharonacorrer,comogazapos,
haciasuschabolas.

SlodepensarqueEfrntraaaunadeaquellasfurias,estoyseguradequemishermanossintieronel
mismopavorqueyo.Nosarrimamosalmuro,conlaespaldapegadaal,yungranfronossubaporla
garganta.

Efrnarrastralchicounosmetros,delantedenosotros.Elchicoserevolvadesesperadoeintentaba
morderlelaspiernas,peroEfrnlevantsupuoenormeyrojizoyempezagolpearlelacara,la
cabeza,laespalda.Unayotravez,elpuodeEfrncaa,conunruidoopaco.Elsol,brillabadeunmodo
espesoygrandesobrelahierbaylatierra.Habaungransilencio.Slooamoseljadeodelchico,los
golpesdeEfrnyelfragordelro,dulceyfresco,indiferente,anuestrasespaldas.Elcantodelas
cigarrasparecahabersedetenido.Comotodaslasvoces.

Efrnestuvounratogolpeandoalchicoconsugranpuo.Elchico,pocoapoco,fuecediendo.Alfin,
cayalsueloderodillas,conlasmanosapoyadasenlahierba.Tenalacaraoscura,delcolordelbarro
seco,yelpelomuylargo,deunrubiomezcladodevetasnegras,comoquemadoporelsol.Nodeca
nadaysequedas,derodillas.Luego,caycontralahierba,perolevantandolacabeza,parano
desfallecerdeltodo.Mihermanomayorseacercdespacio,yluegonosotros.

Parecamentiralopequeoylodelgadoqueera.Porlacarreteraparecanmuchomsaltos,pens.
Efrnestabadepieasulado,consusgrandesymacizaspiernasseparadas,lospiescalzadoscongruesas
botasdeante.QuenormeybrutalparecaEfrnenaquelmomento!

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Notienesanbastante?dijoenvozmuybaja,sonriendo.Susdientes,conloscolmillos
salientes,brillabanalsol.Toma,toma...

Ledioconlabotaenlaespalda.Mihermanomayorretrocediunpasoymepis.Peroyonopoda
moverme:estabacomoclavadaenelsuelo.Elchicosellevlamanoalanariz.Sangraba,nosesabasi
delabocaodednde.Efrnnosmir.

Vamosdijo:Esteyatienelosuyo.Yledioconelpieotravez.

Lrgate,puerco!Lrgateenseguida!

Efrnsevolvi,grandeypesado,despaciosohacialacasa,muysegurodequeleseguamos.

Mishermanos,comodemalagana,comoasustados,leobedecieron.Sloyonopodamoverme,no
poda,delladodelchico.Depronto,algoraroocurridentrodem.Elchicoestabaall,tratandode
incorporarse,tosiendo.Nolloraba.Tenalosojosmuyachicados,ysunariz,anchayaplastada,brillaba
extraamente.Estabamanchadodesangre.Porlabarbillalecaalasangre,queempapabasusandrajos
ylahierba.Sbitamentememir.Yvisusojosdepupilasredondas,quenoerannegras,sinodeun
plidocolordetopacio,transparentes,dondeelsolsemetaysevolvadeoro.Bajlosmos,llenade
unavergenzadolorida.

Elchicosepusoenpiedespacio.Sedebiherirenunapierna,cuandoEfrnlearrastr,porqueiba
cojeandohacialaempalizada.Nomeatrevamirarsuespalda,renegrida,ydesnudaentrelos
desgarrones.Sentganasdellorar,nosabaexactamenteporqu.nicamentesupedecirme:"Sislo
eraunnio.Sieranadamsqueunnio,comootrocualquiera".

42