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A Brazilian Tenement [O Cortio]

Alusio Azevedo, 1890.

Translated from the Portuguese by Harry W. Brown, New York: Robert McBride and Company, 1926. CHAPTER ONE From the age of thirteen to twenty-five Joo Romo was employed by a vender who grew rich within the four walls of an obscure and untidy taverna or wayside bar within the bounds of that section of Rio de Janeiro known as Botafogo. He spent nothing from the meager wages he earned during these dozen years, and, upon settling accounts with his master when that worthy resolved to retire to Portugal whence he came, Joo Romo received in payment for his years of toil not only the bar and all that it contained, but also fifteen hundred milreis in money. Established in business on his own account, the youth applied himself with even more ardor, so thoroughly possessed of the mania to grow rich that he willingly endured the most rigorous privations. He slept on the counter of the bar, a burlap sack filled with straw serving as his pillow. Board was secured, at the modest rate of a half milreis a day, at the lunch stand of his neighbor, Bertoleza, a negress in her thirties, the slave of a blind man who had removed to Juiz da Fora to pass the evening of life among the scenes of his youth. Bertoleza lived with a Portuguese man who served as motive power for a hand cart with which he did a dray business in the city. Bertoleza also was a hard worker and her quitanda was the most widely patronized in the neighborhood. In the morning she sold manioc porridge and at night fried fish and liver. In lieu of service she paid her mas3 ter twenty milreis a month, and in spite of this burden she had managed to save almost enough to buy her freedom. But one day her man, pushing a load beyond his strength, fell dead in the street at the side of his cart, like a worn-out beast. Joo Romo showed himself greatly concerned by this catastrophe, even going so far as to participate in the grief of his neighbor, and with such zeal did he lament that the good creature chose him as her nearest friend, to whom she could confide her sorrows. She opened her heart to him and recounted the sufferings and difficulties of her life. Her master "was like to eat the hide off her body." It wasn't any joke scraping together twenty milreis in good money every month and paying it over just for the privilege of working like a dog. And then she whispered to him the secret of the almost-enough for her liberty, and finally ended by begging the vender to take charge of her savings, because once thieves had broken in the rear door of her stand during the night. From that moment Joo Romo constituted himself banker, attorney, and counselor of the negress. It was he who took charge of all she produced and who received and expended the earnings of her business, even remitting the monthly tribute of twenty milreis to her absent master. In business-like fashion he opened with her an account current, and when she needed a little money for any purpose she ran over to the bar and received it from the hands of the vender-"Mr. Joo," as she called him. Joo methodically debited such sums 4 in a notebook on whose paper cover were unevenly pasted letters cut from a newspaper forming the title: "Account of Bertoleza." To such an extent did the vender win the confidence of the black woman that very shortly she decided nothing for herself; but blindly followed the Portuguese's advice in everything. So much so that nobody having business with Bertoleza wasted time on her when the affair might be expedited by going direct to Joo Romo. And her love went with her faith and her money. He proposed that she move in with him and she joyfully agreed, glad to set up housekeeping again with a Portuguese, because, like most negresses, Bertoleza avoided blacks and instinctively sought a man of a superior race. Therefore, with the savings of his new mate Joo Romo purchased a few meters of land at the left of his dingy bar and there constructed a little house of two rooms, the one in front destined for Bertoleza's thriving quitanda and the rear room to serve as the family sleeping apartment, furnished with the belongings of the newcomer. There was not only a bed, but also an ancient bureau of jacaranda with handles of tarnished brass, an oratory full of saints and lined with colored paper, a big trunk of cured cowhide with the hair outside, two wooden stools and an imposing shelf with its traditional cover of giddy calico. The vender never had imagined himself possessed of so much furniture. 5 "Now," said he to the negress, "things are going to be better for you. You're going to be free; I'll make up the difference." During the days that followed he made numerous trips to town and a week later produced a sheet of paper covered with writing, which he read in a loud voice to his companion.

"Now you haven't any master," he declared after the reading, to which she had listened with tears of thankfulness. "Now you're free. From now on everything you make is for you and your children, if you ever have any. Slavery's finished and no more twenty milreis to be paid to that blind pest." "Poor old fellow, he did nothing wrong. He was my master and he collected wages for me, as was his right." "Right or wrong, it's finished. Now you begin a new life." Contrary to all previous custom they opened on this day a bottle of wine straight from Oporto and the two drank in honor of the great event. Little did the poor negress imagine that the imposing certificate of freedom was the work of Joo Romo, not even the stamp which he thought well to affix representing any expenditure, as the sly trickster had emphasized the document's appearance of ponderous legality by pasting on one whose face bore the damning evidence of a previous transaction. Bertoleza's master was far from knowing anything of this swindle. He merely heard that after the tragic death of the carter his slave had fled to Bahia. "Let the old blind devil come here and look for her if he wants to," muttered the vender to himself. "He'll 6 need two pairs of eyes to find her." But notwithstanding this brave front, Joo Romo felt much relieved three months later when he heard of the death of the blind master. The slave would naturally belong to one or another of the old man's children, but from them there was little to fear. A couple of gay sons settling an estate would have enough to do without attempting to trail a runaway negress whom neither of them had seen for years. They would properly conclude that by long years of labor she had more than earned her freedom. Bertoleza now played at Joo Romo's side the triple role of partner, servant, and lover. A drudge she was, it is true, but a happy one. Day after day by four o'clock in the morning she was up and at work. Coffee must be prepared for early customers and midday lunch made ready for the workmen at the quarry on the hillside back of the quitanda. There was the house to be cleaned, cooking to be done, and the counter to be tended in Joo's bar when he was called away. Her own customers were dropping in during the day, and in the evening she was really busy. Installed behind a charcoal stove set close to the door of the establishment, Bertoleza deftly fried a mountain of liver and broiled a sea of sardines which had been brought at daylight from the market at the beach by Joo Romo, in his shirt sleeves, his bare feet thrust into tamancos ( wooden-soled sandals to which the Brazilians contemptuously refer as ('the only invention of the Portuguese"). And her industry was such that she found time to wash and mend, not only her own clothes, but also those of her man. 7 The latter, it must be confessed, did not form a discouraging array. A month's washing for Joo Romo consisted of a few pairs of denim pants and an equal number of cotton shirts. Joo Romo never went out to enjoy himself, nor did he attend mass on Sunday. Every copper brought in by his bar, along with the returns of the quitanda, went straight into his savings fund and thence to the bank. With such zeal was this process followed that when, a year after his union with the negress, the lot adjoining the taverna at the rear was sold at auction, Joo Romo bid it in and without loss of time set about the construction of three small houses thereon. And what miracles of economy and trickery entered into their construction! Joo, himself, was the mason. He carried sand, mixed mortar, and broke stone stone thriftily acquired with Bertoleza's help from the quarry at the rear during hours when the less industrious neighbors were wrapt in slumber. The same methods were followed in abstracting materials from various projects under construction on the neighboring streets. These thefts were conducted with caution and invariably crowned with complete success, thanks to the lax policing of those days. A stroll at sundown enabled Joo Romo to note which jobs had on hand material for the following day's labor. Under cover of darkness he was sure to reappear, accompanied by Bertoleza, whereupon lumber, bricks, tiles, and sacks of lime were transferred to the street with such skill that never a sound reached the ears of the sleeping neighbors. Then, while one carried a load of the plunder home, the other remained 8 on guard, ready to give warning in case of danger. Nothing escaped them, even the ladders, benches, and saw-horses of the workmen forming a part of the loot. And many an artisan cursed the blind trust that persuaded him to leave a tool lying out overnight. It should be recorded here that those three little huts so ingeniously constructed formed the humble beginnings of the great So Romo Tenement. Today a few meters of land, to-morrow a few more, step by step the vender acquired the considerable field lying between his frontage and the quarry at the base of the hill. And as fast as a new patch of ground became his it was promptly covered by a twin sister of the original structure made possible by the involuntary contributions of the neighborhood. All were for rent, and as fast as new huts arose there appeared new tenants to occupy them. Always in his shirt sleeves, with never a Sunday or holiday, never missing an opportunity to snatch what was not his nor paying a debt if it could be avoided, but collecting to the last copper what was due him, a master hand at scant measure and short weight, buying for a song what unfaithful slaves stole from their masters, cutting closer and closer his own expenditures, piling privation on privation, working himself and the negress like a yoke of oxen, Joo Romo finally welcomed the day on which he was able to buy a good part of the splendid quarry at which he had gazed for years, when seated for a moment at sundown in the door of his shack. It was at such moments, the only rest he allowed himself

between dawn and darkness, that he gave full 9 play to the covetousness burning within him. And now it was his-the dream of years had come to pass. He immediately put six men to work quarrying and six others trimming paving slabs and building stone, and then began making money on a large scale-so large that in a year and a half he was able to buy all of the land between his property and the quarry, three fair acres of ground, level and ready for construction. It happened that just at this time there was sold a comfortable two-story residence at the right of Joo Romo's bar, its windows looking out over the vender's land, and its shallow lot extending only part way back to the quarry. The land between was a part of Joo Romo's last purchase. The new owner of this residence was a certain Miranda, a Portuguese merchant with a wholesale dry-goods business downtown on Rua Hospicio. After a general cleaning-up of the house it was Miranda's intention to occupy it with his family, as his wife, Dona Estella, a pretentious woman who affected claims to noble blood, could no longer endure living in the congested downtown section, while her young daughter, Zulmira, was thin and pallid and needed space and fresh air. This is what Miranda explained to his business associates, but the true reason for the move was the necessity, which he recognized as imperative, of placing Dona Estella out of reach of his clerks. For Dona Estella was a little woman who simply couldn't be good. During their thirteen years of married life she had filled her husband's cup with misery. Before the second anniversary of the union had rolled around 10 Miranda had found her unfaithful, caught her in the very act. Naturally, he had been filled with fury and his first impulse was to drive her from the house along with her paramour. But the security of his business was based upon her dowry, the eighty contos in real estate and government bonds with which her family had started the young couple off on the road to prosperity. Miranda's credit rested exclusively on his wife's eighty thousand milreis. Then, too, he had dreaded the scandal and gossip that was sure to be occasioned by an abrupt separation. A man of vanity, he prided himself on the little social position he had won, and had not the courage to endure humiliation and start over again, poor, at the foot of the ladder. He could remember his humble beginning and he dreaded a return to it. He felt all the indignation of the outraged husband but he could not forsake the superior airs he had affected since he had taken his place in the eyes of the community as a rich Portuguese who never mentioned Portugal. Cowed by these considerations, he had contented himself with a simple separation of sleeping quarters and arranged a room apart from that of his wife. They never appeared at the table together and with difficulty exchanged a few words of strained conversation on the rare occasions when they could not avoid each other's company. They grew frankly to hate each other. Each felt for the other a profound contempt which little by little was transformed into complete repugnance. The birth of Zulmira only served to aggravate the situation. The 11 poor child, instead of being a bond between the unhappy couple, was but another obstacle separating them. Estella loved her less than maternal instinct would otherwise warrant because she knew her to be the husband's child, while he, for his part, detested the infant through the conviction that he was not her father. But there had come a night when Miranda's lascivious temperament gained the upper hand. He thought of his wife, but instantly rejected the idea with scrupulous repugnance. He still hated her. But curiously enough, the very fact that honor commanded him to regard her with indifference but served to make the unfaithful wife appear the more desirable. Finally, with no diminishing of his anger at her infidelity he slipped into her room. She was fast asleep. Miranda tiptoed to the bed. He must go back, he thought; things would be worse than ever. But his blood flowed faster and he hesitated, immovable, contemplating her with desire. Estella, unconscious of the gaze of her husband, stirred restlessly in her sleep, and turned upon her back in such manner that the sheet was drawn aside, exposing her smooth white skin. With a start, more of surprise than revulsion, Estella opened her eyes for a moment and then feigned unbroken sleep. It had happened as she expected. When he had failed to turn her out upon discovering her perfidy, she realized that sooner or later he would seek her again. She well knew his temperament, strong in desire and weak in resistance... 12 The honored merchant was overwhelmed with shame and repentance. He could say nothing, and crept back to his own room overcome with self-contempt. Ah, what would he not give to be able to undo that act of blind sensuality! "What an abominable thing to do," he muttered over and over again. The following day they avoided each other, tacitly pretending that nothing unusual had taken place the night before. Along with his complete loss of selfesteem, Miranda felt an increased loathing for his wife. And that night as he lay in his narrow single bed, he swore a thousand times to his poor remnant of pride that never again would he be guilty of a similar madness. But a month later Miranda again repaired to his wife's room. Estella received him as before, feigning the most profound slumber, but the stealthy eagerness of her lord and master overcame her self-control. Estella giggled.

The poor man, unnerved and indeed scandalized, made a gesture as of a somnambulist violently awakened, but the wife proved no less resourceful than diverted, and held him prisoner. Yet no word was spoken. Never had Estella seemed so altogether desirable; no mistress ever displayed such irresistible seductions. And Estella, perhaps piqued by the sullen abstention 13 of the husband and excited by the very dishonesty of his return to her arms, found herself consumed with desire, the while never a word was exchanged between them. From this time onward there had been established between them a life in which the most intense and violent desire alternated with dislike and repugnance. For ten years this state of affairs had continued and each had sufficed for the other. But lately the merchant had not been so frequently drawn to his wife's chamber, and now he made the alarming discovery that certain of his clerks, who lunched leisurely at his table upstairs, delayed with a purpose. It was then he determined that Estella required quiet surroundings, and the wan child fresh air, and purchased the residence next to Joo Romo's bar. The house itself was satisfactory, the only defect being the cramped lot. But happily this was a difficulty easily overcome. By the purchase of a few meters between the house and the bar, and also the plot at the back between Miranda's line and the quarry, the house might be surrounded by a garden, attractive even if small. He therefore sought Joo Romo and broached the purchase, only to be met with prompt refusal. Miranda insisted. "You're wasting your time and your breath," he was assured by Bertoleza's mate. "I wouldn't sell an inch of 14 my land, but I'll buy that little patch you have back of your house if you want to sell it." "My back yard?" "Yes." "And leave me without any garden, without any yard, without anything?" "So much the better for me." "Now look here; stop talking foolishness and tell me what you want for the land I need." "I've already told you what I'll do." "Well, at least let me have the piece between me and the quarry." "Not a foot." "This is just meanness on your part, that's clear. I wouldn't ask anything of you if it were not for my little girl. She must have some space to run about in, and it would be only ordinarily decent of you to sell me this land." "I won't sell any, because I need it myself." "You do not. What the devil can you do with it? A worthless patch of ground wedged in between the hill and my lot. Anyway, you have plenty more." "You wait a little, and I'll show you what I can do with it." "God, but you're stubborn! Look here; if you sell me that piece back of me, you will have a straight line back to the hill and so will I, and you won't have another man's property jutting into yours. You think about it. I'll not build my wall until you make up your mind." 15 "Then your back yard never will have a wall, because I have said all I have to say.', "But, my God, man, think a little. You can't build anything there. Do you think I'll allow you to open windows into my yard?" "I don't need to open windows into anybody's yard." "And if you build up to your line there in front, I'll not let you put windows there either.', "I've no intention of building there in front." "Well, then, what the devil are you going to do with all this land? " "That's my affair. Some day you'll know." "Some day you'll be sorry that you didn't sell me that land." "If I'm sorry, I'll stand it. All I can tell you is that it will not fare well with anybody who interferes with my business." This ended the negotiations. Then there ensued a long and silent conflict between the Portuguese dry-goods merchant and the Portuguese barkeeper, whose line now included a few staple groceries. The former delayed building his wall until he had extended his lot back to the hill, and the latter clung to the hope that he might be able to buy a part of Miranda's back yard, which he estimated would be of enormous value to him when he came to realize the project long forming in his stubborn head-the building of a tenement on a large scale, an endless line of little houses, a veritable hive of rented quarters, the like of which was unknown in all Rio, beside which 16 the existing collective dwellings in Botafogo would be poor and insignificant affairs indeed. This was his ideal. For years had Joo Romo lived solely for the realization of this one great ambition. He dreamed of it every night. He never missed an auction of building materials; secondhand lumber and tiles and bricks he greedily bid in

when they were cheap ; bargains in lime were a delight to his soul. All such material was duly brought home and stored out on the vacant land, which rapidly took on the aspect of the path of a cyclone, such was the variety of objects there accumulated. There were boards and beams, logs and masts of ships, broken-down wagons and carts, chimneys of clay and iron, dismantled stoves, long stacks of tiles of all shapes and sizes, mountains of sand and clay, pyramids of old bricks, broken ladders, a shed full of lime-all the refuse and odds and ends that can be imagined. And their owner, well aware of how easily such things are stolen, turned loose every night a vicious dog to guard his property. This dog was the subject of constant quarrels with the various members of Miranda's household, none of whom could venture out into the back yard after ten o'clock at night without the risk of being pounced upon by the savage beast. "Better build his wall," observed Joo Romo with a shrug of his shoulders. "That I'll not do," replied the other when he heard of the suggestion. "Since he's so damned stubborn, I'll be stubborn, too." 17 On the other hand, every time one of Joo Romo's chickens wandered into Miranda's premises it mysteriously disappeared. The vender protested against such thievery in violent terms, swearing vengeance and threatening a pot-shot or two. "Better fence in his chickens," was the only comment of Estella's husband. A few months later Joo Romo, after a last desperate attempt to buy his neighbor's back yard, resolved to construct his tenement. "Let him be," he remarked to Bertoleza before falling asleep. "Let him be. Use the back door if the one in front is locked. Sooner or later I'll get his land-not a little, but all of it-maybe even the house itself." This he muttered with the conviction of one who trusts implicitly in his own perseverance and in the prodigious power of his money-money that never left his clenched fist without returning multiplied. So thoroughly possessed of the fever to gain was Joo Romo that it dominated him completely, and every act, no matter how simple, was guided and governed solely by pecuniary interest. He had but one preoccupation-to accumulate wealth. From his garden he picked for himself and Bertoleza only the poorest vegetables and fruits that nobody would buy. Much as he loved eggs, the many his hens produced were sold, to the last one. Not infrequently their food consisted entirely of the scraps from the plates of customers. This was not economy; it was the manifestation of a disease, a mania to possess, to turn everything into money. This absorption was betrayed by his very appearance 18 -his thick, squat figure, stiff bushy hair, beard ever clamoring for a shave. He trudged from his little store to the quarry, then back to the garden, then over to count his hens and salvage their eggs, always in his shirt sleeves, his bare feet clamping along in noisy tomancos, peering here and there with his eternal air of greed, claiming with his eyes all that he could not clutch with his fingers. In the meantime, the street itself had changed, the whole neighborhood grew rapidly. New buildings were numerous, if flimsy; chalets and cottages seemed to appear over night; rents were rising rapidly; in a decade property had more than doubled in value. A candle factory and another for the manufacture of macaroni were late innovations. Their employees passed to and from work and the majority of them became customers of the lunch room into which Bertoleza's quitanda had developed. New establishments similar to that of Joo Romo were opened, but none enjoyed the prosperity of his. His bar trade had grown enormously, sales in the various lines of groceries were brisk, Bertoleza was cooking and selling a prodigious quantity of food. A couple of clerks were on the jump from morning till night. A steady stream of coins dropped into the till, whence they journeyed to Joo Romo's strong-box, and his own dirty hands carried them downtown to swell his astonishing bank account. Joo Romo was not now content to secure his stock from local wholesalers. He learned the advantages of importing direct from Europe. For instance, instead of buying wine by the demijohn, he now received it by 19 the barrel from Portugal, and the judicious addition of water and native rum enabled him to perform the profitable miracle of making two out of one. Butter and cheese came direct from the farms and everything else was purchased from the producer. Joo had a horror of the middleman and his commissions, but he overcame this prejudice sufficiently to pass on, at a comfortable profit, certain of his own importations to other merchants doing business on a smaller scale. The aspect of the establishment had changed. The quitanda was done away with, there being little profit in vegetables and the restaurant requiring all the garden produced. A shed was built at the rear beside the kitchen to serve as sleeping quarters, and the former bedroom added to the store space. The place was now a veritable bazaar where everything was to be found. Not only were there things to eat and drink, but all sorts of articles-kitchen ware, dishes, office supplies, overalls, calico prints, beribboned straw hats, cheap perfumes and soaps, silk handkerchiefs embroidered with sentimental verses, jeweled combs, ravishing rings and ear pendants, these last at astonishingly low prices.

And the place was always busy. The store did a thriving business, and the room at the side where Bertoleza ran her restaurant was usually filled with workers from the quarry and the surrounding factories who spent their evenings eating, drinking, and conversing amidst the thick smoke contributed by numerous pipes, frying fish, and a half dozen oil lamps. Joo Romo supplied all their needs, even serving as emergency banker when some unfortunate ran out of 20 funds before pay day. And this was so common an occurrence that few of the laborers collected wages without leaving a part with the thrifty Portuguese. The rate of interest was eight per cent a month, somewhat higher than the pawnshops, but, as Joo reminded the friends he assisted, he trusted them, whereas the pawnbroker demanded their watches. As fast as additions to the tenement were made they were struggled for by applicants who moved in without waiting for the paint to dry. It was the most convenient point in Botafogo for working people. The tenement was specially popular with the quarry laborers, owing to its proximity to their work. Miranda foamed with rage. " A tenement! " he screamed, as if possessed. " A tenement! Damn this vender and his filthy tenement under my windows, ruining my home." He vomited his wrath, swearing vengeance and complaining to the authorities regarding the clouds of dust invading his house and the infernal racket of the masons and carpenters whose chisels and hammers resounded from daybreak till dark. But his anger in nowise delayed the progress of the tenement, whose compact sections reared their heads, one after another, like a line of soldiers in close formation, straight from the venda back almost to the hill, then turning to the left and advancing down the narrow strip back of Miranda's house and pausing abruptly at his line. The completed structure enclosed an open rectangular space toward which all of the houses faced and which was the common front yard of all the ninety21 five cramped dwellings which comprised the visualized dream of Joo Romo's existence. To the wrathful Miranda, this structure seemed like an enormous serpent of mortar and stone, ready to gulp him down at first opportunity. So he lost no time in building his wall. "The sooner the better ," he muttered. "That devil is capable of coming on right into the house." When all was finished, Joo Romo proceeded to build a high brick wall between his property and the side of Miranda's lot, extending clear to the street, where it ended in a lofty arched gateway, lighted by a gaudy lamp of colored glass and surmounted by the inscription : SO ROMAO TENEMENT Apartments for rent Also tubs for Laundresses Houses were rented by the month and tubs by the day, payment strictly in advance. The tubs were really small stone tanks, whose slanting fronts were chiseled to serve as washboards. Each rented for one half milreis per day, water included, and soap to be bought at Joo Romo's store. In the use of the tubs tenants had the preference and to them tubs were free. The abundance of water and ample space in the courtyard for drying clothes created immediate popularity for the tubs, and laundresses came long distances to do their work under such favorable auspices. And the moment one of the little apartments, or even a room that 22 would hold a mattress, was known to be for rent, Joo Romo was besieged with prospective tenants. So here was constituted a great laundry, noisy and agitated, with a network of clothes-lines. Each little residence had a few vegetables growing in the rear and perhaps a plant or flower in front-little patches of green contrasting with the shining sea of drying clothes sparkling in the sunlight and the gray line of stone tanks, before each of which an industrious laundress pounded, rubbed, soaped, and rinsed. It was wet and slippery; slime and mud abounded, and the air was ever filled with the aroma of soapy foam. But here amid such surroundings began to stir, to grow and develop, a little world-something alive, that seemed to have been born there and to belong there, a thing apart, a generation which arose from the mud of the tenement and which made the tenement peculiarly its own. 23 CHAPTER TWO During the two years that followed the tenement prospered, ever more popular and crowded with tenants. Across his wall Miranda fumed and complained, unable to reconcile himself to the exuberant prosperity and activity beneath his windows. It seemed to him a monstrous, noxious weed whose poisonous fumes were exhaled in his face, the while its roots, like deadly serpents, were closing in beneath him, making ready to leap from the ground and destroy him. His own business affairs moved along with normal prosperity, but it was a bitter pill to observe the scandalous good fortune that crowned his vender neighbor's every enterprise. "Such luck for a dirty, barefoot pig, who never wore a coat and who lived, bed and board, with a negress."

In the evening and on Sunday his anger reached its height. At such times, wearied with his daily labor, he lazily stretched himself out beside his dining table, his rest invariably disturbed by the confused clamor that arose from the tenement, suggesting nothing so much as the grunts and groans of wearied beasts of burden. He never could approach his window without noting the warm disgusting odor exhaled by the mass of not too clean humanity herded together. And later, retired to his bedroom, indifferent to the charms of Dona Estella and freed from the fever of desire that formerly had dragged him to her side, it was now the prosperity of his neighbor that embittered his 24 spirit and filled his soul with a fierce resentment that nothing could abate. He was envious of Joo Romo, of the other Portuguese who had succeeded without knuckling to anybody; who was far richer than Miranda and never had to get a start by marrying his employer's daughter or the bastard offspring of some rich customer. Miranda always had considered himself very clever when it came to slick deals and sharp practices. Soon after his marriage he had written to Portugal, in response to a letter of congratulation, loftily explaining that Brazil was to be regarded as a mule laden with gold and easily bridled and tamed by a man of intelligence and ability. He had flattered himself that he possessed these qualities, but now, in the light of his neighbor's achievements, he bitterly confessed that he was but a rank bungler. He had pictured himself as one of the magnates of Brazil, and he had wound up as the slave of a poorly educated woman without scruples of virtue. He had imagined himself as a conqueror in the struggle with his fellows, and now he saw himself as their scorned and victimized laughing-stock. After all, what had he accomplished? He had made some money, true; but how, and at what sacrifice? By mortgaging himself to a she-devil who had brought him eighty thousand milreis and also incalculable shame and humiliation. He had an easy life, but he was eternally tied to a woman he loathed. And what did he get out of it all-what did life mean to him? From hell at home to purgatory in the office, and then back to hell at home. Truly, a rosy path. 25 The cruel uncertainty of his relationship to Zulmira robbed the poor wretch of even a father's consolation. If she were an adopted child instead of being Estella's daughter, he could have lavished his love upon her and thus brought some pleasure into his life. But regarding her as he did, he could see in her only the damning, living document that proved her mother's guilt, and Miranda transferred to her a portion of the full measure of hatred he bore his wife. "A hell of a life," he reflected bitterly. "What a fool I've been," he muttered aloud, springing from the bed where sleep evaded him. Then he paced the floor and finally paused at the window and gave full vent to the envy burning within him. " A lucky dog is Joo Romo; he knows how to get on in this world. God, what wouldn't I give to be as free to-day as I was when I landed here without a cent in my pocket; to be young and have a life of pleasure ahead of me. Ah, if I had it to do over again and had the ill luck to marry a woman that turned out as Estella did, I'd kick her out-kick her so far she'd never find her way back. I might have done it, but I didn't. That's what Brazil has made of me. "I've been a fool," he repeated, glaring at the possessions of the vender, "an awful fool. When it's all said and done, what have I got? A business that I couldn't pullout of without risking most of what's in it, my capital tied up in a hopeless maze of transactions that seem even more tangled, and my senses more and more dulled by the shiftlessness of this cursed country where I'm surely going to leave my bones. What have I 26 of my own, when still to-day my credit depends on the damned eighty contos that shameless creature brought me and which tie me hand and foot?" It was after such a period of self-examination that there formed and grew in the empty heart of Miranda a new ideal-a title. He lacked the temperament that might have led him into the vices to which other men turn-with no family to love, he had no imagination to enable him to find solace in prostitutes. As a drowning man clutches at a straw, he warmed and expanded with the idea of bearing a title. Estella's vanity and pretensions to gentle birth had provoked and galled him, and he would now show her that what had come to her through no merit or effort of her own was within his grasp and could be won by the qualities that he possessed. From that moment he began to dream of a baronetcy, this ambition becoming the cherished end of his existence. It would cost money; at last he had discovered a means of using his money in such a way that he would not have to restore it to his wife nor leave it to be inherited by her brat. This wonderful new idea modified his habits completely. He became a slave to convention, adopted an air of conscious superiority and cloaked his envy of Joo Romo with a front of kindly condescension. As he daily passed the establishment he greeted its proprietor with a patronizing smile which quickly faded-the effort of a great and important personage to show himself benevolent and amiable in his treatment of the obscure and unimportant. Having set in motion the preliminary negotiations 27 for the purchase of his title, Miranda became active socially and opened his house for sumptuous entertainments. His wife, for reasons of her own, rejoiced at this unexpected gaiety. Zulmira was now nearly thirteen and typical of the Brazilian adolescent. Thin and pale, lightly freckled, she suggested a night-blooming flower or the waxy and chilly whiteness of the magnolia. Her hair was a light chestnut, her hands almost transparent, with short, soft nails like those of her mother, and her feet small and delicate. She had sharp, even teeth, and her eyes, her most notable feature, were large and black, and by turns either brilliant or malicious.

It was just at this time that there arrived from the interior the son of a wealthy planter, Miranda's most profitable customer, who entrusted the merchant with control of the youth. Henrique was fifteen and had been sent to Rio de Janeiro to complete his preparation for a course in medicine. Miranda lodged the boy downtown with his clerks who had quarters over the store, but the young student was so unhappy and discontented that the merchant, eager to accommodate so important a patron, saw no way out of the difficulty other than the offer of the hospitality of his home. Henrique was an attractive boy, but extremely shy and with an almost girlish sensitiveness. He proved most studious and so little extravagant that he spent nothing aside from paying his actual expenses. Daily he left the house with Miranda and returned at the close of school, remaining indoors unless accompanied by the family. Very shortly Dona Estella bestowed upon him an al28 most motherly affection and took charge of his allowance, an allowance fixed by Miranda, as the father had given instructions to supply his son with everything needful. He never asked for money. When any article was required Dona Estella charged Miranda with its purchase, the cost plus a staggering commission being duly entered on the account of the indulgent father. Board and room occasioned a monthly entry of two hundred and fifty milreis, which should have made the planter gasp, but he probably was reminded that the boy was surrounded with every comfort and received the respect and consideration of a son of the household. Occasionally on a fine night Dona Estella and her daughter, accompanied by Henrique and a young mulatto servant named Valentim, went for a walk to the beach and along the curving Botafogo shore. And the youth was never left at home when the Miranda family went visiting or attended the frequent parties to which they were invited. The Mirandas were served by a young mulatta named Izaura, a yielding, silly creature who spent every copper she could snatch for taffy at the vender's store. Then there was Leonor, a slender and agile young negress, a virgin, but with instant command of every obscenity known to the Portuguese tongue. This unrivaled vocabulary made Leonor a welcome visitor at the Joo Romo establishment, where the clerks and frequenters lost no opportunity to torment her until she burst forth in an obscene tirade which invariably ended with a threat to have them all haled before the judge. The third and last member of the staff was Valentim, son of a slave of Dona Estella's family, but freed by his mistress. Perhaps because he was a link between her and her girlhood home, Miranda's wife treated this young mulatto with a kindness bordering on devotion. He had the greatest liberty, never lacked money, was ever receiving presents, and, arrayed in well-fitting clothes, invariably served as sturdy escort when Dona Estella and the young people went walking. So kind and solicitous was his mistress that not infrequently was Zulmira moved to jealousy, and in the quarrel that always followed between the daughter and the servant, the mother never failed to take the latter's part. And the doting mistress always saw to it that Valentim had the best there was in the house. When he fell ill with some affection of the kidneys, Miranda packed him off to a hospital, disregarding the tearful pleas of his wife. Dona Estella wept for days, refused to play the piano, wouldn't sing and never once parted her lips in a smile for anybody. Rather than continue the daily scenes before the other servants, Miranda gave in and the triumphant Valentim returned to the tender ministrations of his considerate mistress. There was still another inmate of the Miranda household, old Botelho, who might as well promptly be labeled the parasite he was-a poor old soul nearing seventy, whose disagreeable qualities made him thoroughly disliked. His short white hair, like his mustache and close-cropped beard, was stiff as the bristles of a brush; thin and slightly bent, he moved about like an old bird, 30 this resemblance being emphasized by a hooked beak astride of which rode his iron-rimmed glasses. His thin, short lips displayed his full set of teeth, discolored and so worn that they appeared to have been filed off half-way down to the gums. He always dressed in black, with a round felt hat clamped down over his ears, and never stirred from the house without his ancient umbrella. In his youth he had worked in various offices and later became a slave broker, often recounting a voyage he once made to Africa for a cargo of negroes on his own account. He had engaged in various lines of speculation, making a lot of money during the Paraguayan war, but later his luck changed and it had all slipped through his fingers. Disillusioned and destitute in his old age, he was entirely dependent on Miranda, who had once been his fellow employee and whose friendship he had managed to retain, in early years by accident and in later ones through necessity. Consumed, day and night, by an implacable bitterness, the sodden discouragement of the conquered, and an impotent rage against everything and everybody, Botelho constantly brooded upon the fact that all of his old acquaintances had prospered and only his own weak and trembling hands were empty. And as his state of abject dependence did not warrant antagonizing others openly, he vented his spleen on the times, the customs and the changes, all for the worse, as he was every ready to point out. Thus warm discussions frequently took place at Mlranda's table, especially when the old man hit upon the 31 subject of the abolition agitation and the iniquitous Rio Branco law which declared free future children born to slaves. At such moments old Botelho's wrath passed all bounds and his thunderbolts were hurled right and left, the rancor and venom

within him boiling over and his sunken eyes darting like poisoned arrows. They were bandits and thieves! he shouted apoplectically; how dared they interfere with property honestly acquired. He derided virtue, beauty, talent, youth, strength, and most of all, fortune; this he could not tolerate in anybody. His curses rained on all who succeeded where he had failed, who enjoyed the fruits he never had gathered, who managed to hold on to what he had lost. Denied the privilege of insulting individuals, he turned his batteries on Brazil, the ungrateful land that never failed to enrich the Portuguese but left those like himself in misery. His days were passed according to a fixed schedule from which he never departed. He rose at eight, bathed himself in his room with a towel moistened with spirits of wine, and then spent the morning reading the daily papers while he waited for lunch. This over, he took the tram for the city and planted himself in a tobacco shop in Rua Ouvidor, where he passed the entire afternoon ridiculing and speaking ill of all who passed. He claimed to know Rio de Janeiro inside out and to be thoroughly posted on the black pages in every resident's history. Occasionally Dona Estella entrusted him with a part of her shopping, which he invariably performed most satisfactorily. But his great passion, or perhaps his great weakness, 32 was a uniform. He thrilled over all that pertained to the military, in spite of the fact that he never had been able to overcome an inordinate fear of firearms. A weapon discharged near by threw him into a frenzy of nervousness, but he fairly reveled in all that smelled of war. The proximity of an officer in a gorgeous uniform drew from him tears of emotion. He was thoroughly informed regarding barrack life, army regulations, and the various round of duties that make up the soldier's existence. One glance was sufficient for him to identify the rank, arm, and unit of every warrior who passed. A band, or even trumpet and drums, threw him into a fever of excitement and seldom could he resist joining the throng of small boys who formed the rear-guard, sometimes tramping mile after mile to prolong the ecstasy of near companionship with his glorious heroes. After such debauches he arrived home, usually at dark, so wearied that he was scarce able to stand, his old legs aching from the inglorious return without the stimulation of martial strains. It was then that the reaction came and he cordially cursed the commanding officer who had deliberately prolonged the march for the express purpose of tiring him out. He called on all to bear witness to the studied cruelty of dragging a weak and ill old man over miles of rough cobbles, three hours in a blazing sun. One of Botelho's most amusing obsessions was his hatred for Valentim. The mere sight of the mulatto threw him into a rage; and the young servant, secure in Estella's protection, did everything possible to annoy his old enemy. The helpless victim of the mulatto's 33 persecution longed to strangle his tormentor, but he realized that he must not offend the mistress of the household. Botelho knew Estella and her lapses from grace as thoroughly as he knew his own fingers. Miranda himself had confided to his old friend the entire history of their unhappiness and had frankly explained why he had not packed her off in the beginning. Botelho agreed that the course followed was the only one possible under the circumstances, the old fellow being convinced that commercial expediency outweighed every other consideration. The woman given to such conduct is worthless, he argued, but capital is money, and nobody can hold that money has no value. Therefore, the money should be retained, but the woman ignored. Miranda, comforted by this ripe endorsement of his procedure, assured his friend that the only purpose Estella could serve in the future would be as his spittoon. The old sponger signified his approval of this sentiment by a fervent embrace of admiration and exhorted his friend to stand firm and never weaken in this most befitting attitude of outraged husband. But when conversing with Dona Estella he listened with deepest sympathy to her bitter arraignment of Miranda, hate and discord being balm to his crooked old soul. "If you want to know it," she assured him, "it is perfectly plain to me that my sour-faced husband detests me, and it concerns me just about as much as what shirt I am going to put on. Unfortunately, as society is constituted, women have to live with their husbands when they are married, so I have to put up with what I get 34 whether I like it or not. And even if I do let down the bars to him once in a while, it is only because it is easier to give in than to resist a beast like him." Botelho's wealth of experience did not allow him to repeat to one the remarks of the other, and he was therefore able to remain on excellent terms with both and to render yeoman's service in adding fuel to the flame of domestic infelicity, which, it must be confessed, brought a little sunshine into his otherwise cheerless life. On arriving home earlier than usual one afternoon because of not feeling well, the old man was surprised to hear hushed voices in the partially walled basement, the sounds coming from a secluded corner at the back, cut off by a tangle of vines. Instead of ascending the steps, he carefully tiptoed to a point of vantage where he was able to observe Dona Estella and Henrique, who stood concealed there. Not stirring and scarcely breathing, the old reprobate eyed them, and only when they drew apart did he betray his presence. Estella gave a little scream and the youth turned from scarlet to waxen white, but Botelho sought to reassure them, speaking kindly and confidentially. "You young folks are most imprudent; these matters are not for a place like this. Fortunately, it was only I that happened along, but it might have been somebody else. Surely, in a house with so many rooms it isn't necessary to take such risks down here in the basement."

"We weren't doing anything," replied Estella, recovering her composure. "Ah," returned the old man, feigning deep contrition, "then I do beg your pardon, for I surely thought 35 you were. And even if you were, you need not worry about me, because I am not narrow in these matters. I regard them as most natural and reasonable incidentsall we get in this life is what we take. Whatever I saw is the same to me as though I didn't see it, because I don't meddle with other people's affairs. When a woman is young and attractive and her husband fails to pay her the attention she merits, I hold that she is entirely justified in choosing a substitute. We are as we are made, and we can't help it. We have within us something that gnaws and gnaws and drives us frantic until we kill it, and there is only one weapon effective. I would only urge you to be more careful, to-" "Very well, very well-that's enough," ordered Estella, turning away. "Excuse me; if I have said these things it is only to relieve you of worry so far as I am concerned. I wouldn't have the shadow of a doubt exist regarding my discretion." Henrique had partially recovered his self-possession and began nervously: "But Mr. Botelho, I hope you don't believe that-" But the old man cut him off, putting his arm across the boy's shoulders and drawing him along toward the stairs. "Don't you worry, my boy; I'll never say a word that will get you into any mess." And after observing that they were out of the hearing of Dona Estella he whispered, with the air of kindly protector: "Don't you do this again; you're too young 36 for such business; you'll ruin your health. Just feel how your legs are trembling." Dona Estella lingered below, absorbed in directing a wayward vine in the way it should go and gracefully gathering its flowers. Sometimes she clung to the lattice as she leaned out to secure a coveted blossom, and again she stood upon her diminutive toes to claim a lofty bud, but her air was ever that of the sweet and sensitive little woman who had never been understood. 37 CHAPTER THREE The tenement awoke at five, opening not only its eyes but its line of doors and windows. It was a cheerful awakening which followed seven hours of leaden slumber, in contrast to the reluctant surrender of night to the victorious rays of the rising sun. The lines of drying clothes, left from the night before, gave off the sharp tang of laundry soap. The paving stones in front of the tubs were tinged with blueing or frosty with accumulations of dried lather. One by one, from the various windows were extended drowsy heads whose half-open eyes were intent on determining what kind of day was promised. Noisy yawns mingled with a chorus of throats cleared in unison; the rattle of cups and saucers began, and soon the pungent aroma of fresh-made coffee supplanted that of soap. From window to window were passed morning greetings, and conversations were resumed at the point where they had paused the night before. Young children toddled about the courtyard while were heard the wails of those not yet able to walk. The crowing of roosters and cackling of their spouses, here laughter, there an early start on the day's bickerings-all were mingled in the confused clamor that announced to the world that the So Romo tenement was up and doing. One by one the numerous parrots were hung out, and these, in turn, voiced salutations complimentary and otherwise. The center of movement was now at the water taps, 38 where a tumultuous group of males, females, and youngsters elbowed each other to reach the thin lines of water that trickled from the faucets, and matutinal ablutions were performed. Soon the ground was flowing with water, and the women clutched their skirts between their legs, while they held their hair in a single twisted strand to keep it dry. The men had no such concern and thrust their heads beneath the stream, blowing and puffing with their exertions. The children were even more thorough in their methods and usually managed to wet themselves from head to foot. The unquiet doors of the latrines swung to and fro, finishing touches to the readjustment of clothing usually being made after emerging; the early morning demand for these conveniences precluded their privileges being extended to the children, who therefore availed themselves of the tiny gardens, vacant spaces here and there, and in cases of emergency, the courtyard itself. The tenement was now in full activity and the confused sounds of the awakening neighborhood had given way to the steady din of normal movement. Individual voices no longer were distinguished, but instead was heard the compact roar of the entire populace. Business was in full swing in the store; laborers clamored for their morning coffee; arguments, quarrels, and curses mingled with chuckles and loud laughter; there was now no talking-everybody shouted. There could be felt in that human fermentation, like the damp black loam that feeds the roots of a fragrant rambler, the source of vigorous life, of the animal pleasure of exist39 ence, the triumphant satisfaction of living and breathing and moving on this earth of ours.

A couple of Miranda's windows opened, from one of which Izaura shook a tablecloth, calling below: "Oh, Dunga, if you make cocoanut-balls to-day, I want some!" At the other stood Leonor, torturing her Woolly crown with a metal comb. The man from the bakery entered the courtyard with his huge basket of bread balanced on his head, his folding counter under his arm. Planting his stock in the middle of the open space, he was soon the center of an eager mob. The children besieged his basket and as fast as the family purchase was made, each departed, proudly bearing the long, pointed loaf in his little arms. A melancholy cow tinkled her cracked bell as she entered the premises followed by her muzzled calf, and paused at each door while she mournfully parted with a little of the milk that she well knew should be sustaining her unfortunate offspring. A new note was added to the general uproar-the macaroni factory across the way had started its machinery. A steady stream of customers filed in and out of Joo Romo's store. The water taps long since had ceased their bath functions and now were dripping dejectedly into kerosene tins across whose tops wooden handles had been fixed. A number of laundresses were already at their tubs while others were stringing lines and sweeping the pavement, excellent for bleaching. Work had begun. Strident voices were lifted in the folksongs of old Portugal and the plantation melodies of Brazil. The clatter of the garbage wagon's iron wheels on the 40 stone flagging kept pace with the shameful insults heaped upon its unprotesting burro by his fluent driver. Then there came a procession of market peddlers. The meat man spread his board and his suspiciously regarded scales; others specialized in liver, or tripe, or yards and yards of ox tails; only vegetable peddlers passed them by, as each family had a few feet of garden space in the rear. Cloth and clothing, kitchen ware, both useful and ornamental objects of glassevery conceivable form of merchandise that might tempt the hard-working laundresses found its way sooner or later into the enclosure. Each peddler had his particular mode of announcing his coming, by which his customers were able to identify him in advance of his arrival. Thus, long before the fish vender had followed his hoarse and guttural cry, "Fish and shrimps-fish and shrimps! " into the enclosure, his twin baskets swinging from the ends of a pole across his shoulders, an army of cats were assembling in the courtyard, ready to surround him, rub about his legs and, like Simplc Simon, beg a sample of his wares. As he made his sales from door to door, he carefully replaced the covers on his baskets and when the importunities of the yowling pests became too great, he secured a moment's respite by tossing as far away as possible his smallest sardine, which immediately formed the center of a brief but hard-fought battle. The first to start washing was Leandra, known as Machona to her friends, an aggressive Portuguese much given to shouting, with thick, hairy arms and the general build of a draft horse. She had two daughters and 41 one son, this last a young devil full of mischief, with vocal abilities almost equaling those of his mother. He and the younger daughter, Nenem, lived with Leandra, but the elder daughter, Anna, had a residence apart. Anna, who was married but had separated from her husband, rejoiced in the picturesque appellation of "Das Dores de Nascimento," which, being interpreted, resolves itself into "Birth-pangs." Being too long a title for frequent use by busy people, "Das Dores" was as much of her name as Anna usually heard. Nobody appeared certain whether Mother Machona's widowhood was grass or sod, but all agreed that the three children bore little resemblance to each other. Das Dores' status was better defined; she had been married, but had deserted her husband to bestow her affection and comfort upon a merchant, and the latter, not wishing to leave her to the indifference of a cold and heartless world upon his retirement to Portugal, had passed her over to his partner, along with the business. Das Dores was in the full bloom of her twenty-five summers. Nenem was seventeen. Tall and slender, but strong, she was inordinately proud of her virgin state and the despair of numerous youths ready to discuss everything but matrimony. She ironed beautifully and was unusually skillful with her needle. Leandra soon was joined by Augusta Came Molle. She was Brazilian, white, and the wife of Alexandre, a mulatto of forty years who served on the police force. When uniformed in starched white pants and leather leggings, his brass buttons polished, huge mustache 42 waxed and chin scraped clean, Alexandre radiated dignity, his severe mien inviting familiarity from nobody. But his robes of office once laid aside, Alexandre relaxed; and clad in frayed trousers and open shirt, in slippered feet he made his way about the courtyard, loquacious and affable. It was only at such moments that Augusta dared address her lord, as the gulf of official position cut her off also when Alexandre was on duty. Her honesty had become a proverb throughout the tenement, but it was an honesty accorded little merit, because it came from an indolence of temperament rather than an inflexible integrity. They had a number of children, all of them small. One, Juju, lived downtown in Cattete in the comfortable apartment of her godmother, Leonie, a French cocotte with a superior clientele. A third tub was soon occupied by Leocadia, wife of a blacksmith named Bruno. She was a short and compact Portuguese whose indiscretions had been much discussed by the neighbors.

She was followed by Paula, an elderly negress, half idiot but respected because of her supernatural power. A few muttered words were sufficient to cut a fever or dispel erysipelas. Course and ugly, with stiff black hair, wild staring eyes, and teeth sharp and pointed like those of a dog, she usually was referred to as "the Witch," to which term she offered no objection. Then came Marcianna and her daughter, Florinda. The former was a middle-aged mulatta of severe demeanor and exaggerated cleanliness, her house being ever wet with its repeated scourings. When annoyed she 43 invariably seized her broom and swept and swept; if really angered, she rushed for a pail of water which she dashed upon the floor and then scrubbed with fury. The daughter was fifteen and of a warm brown tint, with sensuous red lips, white even teeth, and the bright, roving eyes of a monkey. No man could be unconscious of her proximity, but she had yielded to none; not even to the overtures of the puissant Joo Romo, who had tempted her with her choice of any article in the store up to the value of three milreis. Presently there appeared old Isabel, that is, Dona Isabel, this title of respect being accorded her because she had known better days-a poor woman overcome with misfortune. She was the widow of a merchant who had had a millinery shop, but failed and then killed himself, leaving her with a delicate little girl for whose education Isabel had made every sacrifice, even having the child taught French. Prematurely aged, her face was hung with the flaccid pouches denoting a once fat body now grown thin. The lids drooped over her faded brown eyes, which made her seem to be ever weeping, while her sparse gray hair was gathered in a tight little knot on the top of her head. On the street she always wore an ancient black silk dress whose spreading skirt, topped off with an old Chinese shawl clinging to her thin shoulders, gave her the general appearance of a tottering pyramid. Of her former glory she had but one remaining treasure-a golden snuff box, from which, in moments of relaxation, she helped herself to a modest pinch, the operation accompanied by a profound sigh. 44 Her daughter was the flower of the tenement. She was called Pombinha, or "Little Dove." In spite of delicate health and extreme nervousness, her blonde prettiness and refined manners inspired a species of community pride. Isabel did not permit her to wash or iron, such work having been expressly forbidden by the doctor. Pombinha had an admirer, one Joo da Costa, a plodding, industrious youth, highly esteemed by his employer and office companions. He was a young man with a future and had adored Isabel's daughter from the time she was a child, but the wedding could not yet take place. In spite of her eighteen years, Pombinha had not yet crossed the mysterious bridge spanning the chasm between childhood and womanhood. In vain had Isabel worked early and late to secure the various remedies prescribed for the relief of her unhappy daughter. The hearts of the whole neighborhood were wrung with sympathy. What a pity, they agreed, when so much depended on this marriage. Da Costa was soon to become his uncle's partner and was eager to restore Pombinha and her mother to the world whose ease they once had known." And the poor widow nightly implored heavenly intervention in the case, that on her daughter might be conferred a blessing vouchsafed other girls before they had need of it. But the prospect of rest and ease, delightful as it was, could not hasten the wedding. Not for anything in this world would she allow her daughter to marry before she was a "woman." Others might think as they liked but for her part she considered it "neither decent nor honest" to inveigle a 45 nice young man into matrimony with a girl who had not yet matured. No, indeed, much rather would she see her daughter an old maid and herself a drudge in the tenement for the rest of her life. The tenement, to which knowledge of this situation was common property, was divided in opinion. In general, Isabel's course was approved, but there were some who believed that if the old lady would just take a chance, probably everything would be all right. Never a day passed without sympathetic friends making inquiry. To all questions and suggestions the old soul gave a doleful sigh of resignation and responded that in this world happiness was not her lot. When Costa appeared on a visit to his beloved after completing his military service, the neighbors greeted him with the subdued air usually associated with bereavement, overwhelmed with the force of a calamity defying even the best efforts of the Witch. For Pombinha was loved by all. It was she who wrote their letters and laundry lists, summed up accounts, and read the newspaper to such as cared to listen. Her learning was highly respected and brought her a certain amount of luxury, as her services were rewarded by numerous presents. Thus she was always supplied with shoes or slippers and colored stockings, to wear with her neatly starched dress, and had even some overrated jewelry for her adornment. In fact, one observing her at mass on Sunday at the fashionable St. John the Baptist's would never in the world associate her with the tenement of So Romo. 46 The last tub was occupied by Albino, an effeminate youth, weak, thin and bleached, with a melancholy wisp of long brown hair hanging to his slender neck. He also did washing, and the women were so accustomed to his presence that they treated him as one of themselves, freely discussing matters never broached when the other men were about. He was even

the confidant of their loves and their infidelities, to which he listened, neither revolted nor moved. When a couple quarreled or friends disagreed, it was always Albino who performed the office of peacemaker, the women heeding his exhortations to forgive and forget. He formerly accommodated his colleagues by collecting their laundry accounts for them, but once visiting a college dormitory on such an errand, Albino was so badly treated that he declared, with tears and sobs, that never again would he serve as collector. He rarely left the courtyard except at carnival time. Then, masked as a dancer, he abandoned work and enjoyed a week of riotous pleasure among the merrymakers in the city. For this great occasion he labored and saved. When at work he wore an apron that hung about his legs like a skirt, but after work-hours and on Sunday he always appeared in white starched shirt and trousers, and with a handkerchief knotted about his thin neck. He neither drank nor smoked, and his hands were always cold and moist. On this particular morning he had risen more tired than usual, because he had passed a restless night. Old Isabel, who lived next door, corroborated his statement, recounting how she had heard him sighing and even groaning during the night, and realized that he was too 47 distressed to sleep. She then recommended various remedies for stubborn digestion and the two enjoyed a dismal discussion of pains, symptoms, and diseases, which terminated only at midday. In the meantime, at the other tubs Machona, Augusta, Leocadia, the Witch, Marcianna, and her daughter had carried on a shrill conversation which had left them hoarse and exhausted, as in order to be heard each one had to yell a little louder than the others. A line of impatient laundresses from outside were awaiting their turn at the tubs and adding to the confusion of tongues, some seated on huge bundles of soiled linen and others engaged in discussions that threatened at any moment to become quarrels. The last stragglers among the men were now departing for work. Through a door at the rear some directed their steps toward the quarry, from which the ring of chisels presently was heard. Miranda, trim in laundered trousers and black coat, left the house for his office, accompanied by Henrique, who was due at school. Alexandre, who had been on night duty, solemnly entered the gate and proceeded to his door, looking neither to the right nor the left, and greeting not even his wife. He would sleep most of the day. A group of peddlers, Delporto, Pompeo, Francesco, and Andrea, swung their baskets to their shoulders and departed for the day's pilgrimage, wildly gesticulating and pouring forth a stream of Italian. A boy entered and approached the tubs, inquiring of Machona for a laundress named Rita. "Rita Bahiana?-yes, I know her. She's been gone more than a week now." 48 Leocadia added that doubtless Rita was off on a spree with Firmo. "What Firmo ? " inquired Augusta. "That long-legged mulatto who hangs around her part of the time. They say he's a plumber." "Has she moved?" questioned the boy. "No," answered Machona. "Her place is locked up, but her things are still there. What do you want ? " "She's got our clothes." "Well, I don't know anything about it; you'd better ask in there at the store. Maybe they know something about her." "Where?" "Straight in front of you, where that peddler is selling meat. And look where you're going, you young devil, or you'll step in the blueing." Then noting her son, Augusto, who rushed up to learn the business of the visitor, she screamed: "Keep away from here, you pest! Whenever you come around, something always happens. Come here-what have you got? And why on earth are you not at work weeding Mr. Miranda's garden?" "Yesterday he told me to come afternoons." "Oh, yes, I remember. To-morrow, be sure he gives you your two milreis, because it's the end of the month. Run into the house and ask Nenem for the clothes that came last night." And as the child ran to do her bidding she shouted after him: " And tell her not to put on the stew till I come!" After this the conversation turned upon Rita Bahiana. 49 "She must be crazy," censured Augusta. "Imagine going out on a tear before her clothes are delivered. She'll lose all her customers." "She's too wild to ever be tamed. She gets worse all the time. No matter what work she has on hand, along comes a beau and off she goes. Remember what she did last year at the testa at Penha?" "And now with this Firmo mulatto. I never saw anything so brazen. He comes here, as you've all seen, loaded down with booze and food, and then he starts in with that guitar and it's nothing but feast and dance, day and night. I call it scandalous." "And it's not only on Sunday." "I should say not. For Rita every day's a holiday. All she needs is a man." "But she's.not a bad sort, after all. Pity she can't cut out these wild affairs."

"Oh, she's good-hearted; too much so, she can never keep a cent. It just seems that money burns her fingers till she spends it." "And then what can she do? Joo Romo won't trust her for her rent." "True; and look at all the money he has made out of her; she's one of his best customers." And they chattered away, rubbing, soaping, beating, and rinsing, and soon the open spaces appeared in festive array, with lines and lines of silvery banners glistening in the sun. The day was hot and the sun beat pitilessly on the steaming pavement ang glaring walls of the tenement, half blinding the perspiring women. 50 Up in one of the windows of Miranda's house Dona Estella and Zulmira, in loose, cool white, manicured their nails and conversed in low tones, indifferent to the agitated turmoil below them and forgetful of the comfort that surrounded them. In the meantime, within the store things were humming. Already laborers from the neighboring factories were dropping in for their early lunch. At the counter Domingos and Manoel had not enough hands to wait on the mob of servants from surrounding residences who bore away yellow-covered parcels, while an endless stream of coins dropped into the till. "Half a kilo of rice." " A bottle of vinegar." "Two liters of wine." " A handful of tobacco and the rest in soap." All clamored together, and some protested at delay. "Look here, Domingos, my dinner's on the stove." "Hurry up with those potatoes, I've a lot of errands yet." "Manoel, I won't wait any longer for that butter.', Yonder in the restaurant Bertoleza, with her skirt gathered up around her hips, the sweat running down her thick, short neck, rushed from table to stove and from stove to sink, cooking and dishing the food, which Joo Romo himself, uniformed as usual in denim pants and dirty shirt, carried to the waiting customers. Being unequal to this service without help, a waiter had been engaged, an anemic youth who took the orders, chanting a list of Bertoleza's efforts which never varied from day to day. An odor of rancid oil hung over the place, 51 and steam and smoke clouded the air. Paraty, the native rum, circulated freely and the room was a babel of raised voices and clattering dishes. Questions and replies were flying in all directions, discussions and arguments ensued, emphasis being effected by much pounding on the tables. Newcomers entered eagerly and others departed more leisurely, stuffed with the coarse and heavy food. On a bench at the entrance of the store was seated a man dressed in trousers and shirt of denim and wearing slippers of untanned leather. He had been waiting a full hour for an opportunity to talk with Joo Romo. He was a Portuguese of perhaps thirty-five, tall and broad, with stiff and bristling mustache and a mass of coarse, thick hair which swept his forehead beneath a cheap felt hat. He had the neck of a Hercules, but his eyes, big and gentle like those of an ox, radiated humility and kindness. "And can't I talk to him yet?" he inquired, approaching Domingos' counter. "The boss is busy now, wait a little." "But it's past ten, and I haven't had a bite of breakfast yet." "Well, then, come back later." "Can't do it, I live way across the city." Whereupon the clerk shouted into the kitchen, without interrupting his count of clothes-pins: "Mr. Joo, that fellow here to see you says he can't wait any longer." "Tell him not to go, I'll talk to him in just a few 52 minutes," responded the proprietor, as he bore a tray into the restaurant. "But I haven't had any breakfast and I can't stand it any longer," intervened Hercules in a heavy, resounding voice. "Well, son, come in here and sit down. We've got plenty to eat, and no need for anybody going hungry." "All right," agreed the big fellow, passing from the store to the restaurant, where he was eyed with curiosity from head to foot, an operation always performed upon newcomers. He seated himself at a table and the waiter appeared and sang his song. "Fried fish and potatoes, and a half bottle of wine." "White or red?" "Red, and get a move on you, because I am about starved." 53 CHAPTER FOUR. A half hour later, the rush being over and Joo Romo less busy, he dropped into a chair opposite his visitor, really fatigued, but his face and bearing gave no sign of his weariness.

"You were sent by Machucas? " he inquired. "He mentioned somebody he claimed knows how to size up rock, blast it, and do trimming." "I'm the party." "I suppose you've been working at another quarry." "Have been and still am. I'm at the So Diogo, but I don't like it, and I want to make a change!' "What do they pay you?" "Seventy milreis." "It's too much, it's ridiculous!' "I wouldn't work for less!' "Well, the most I pay here to anybody is fifty." "A beginner gets that much." "Don't you believe it; I can get plenty of expert trimmers at fifty." "I doubt if they're any good. And I'll bet my right hand that fifty milreis won't hire a man who knows rock grain, and how to blast without waste and without accidents." "Maybe, but seventy milreis is impossible, away over my head." "In that case I'll go back where I came from; I get seventy there!' "Seventy milreis is a lot of money." 54 "Look here; where I'm working now they know that it pays to give a good man a little more money, and not have accidents like the one that you had last week, to say nothing of the poor devil that had his head caved in." "So Machucas told you about that affair, did he?" "Sure he did; and that accident would never have happened with a blaster that knows his business." "But seventy milreis-good Lord, man; come down a little." "Less than seventy won't do for me-I guess we're wasting time." "Do you know my quarry ? " "Never been up close to it, but I've heard it's good. I could smell granite from the street." "Wait a minute." Joo Romo ran in to the store to give a few directions and immediately returned, with his hat jammed down over his ears, beckoning the other to follow. "Come on and look it over ," he called from the door of the now nearly empty restaurant. The blaster paid his modest bill and followed in silence as the proprietor led the way through the tenement. The clamor was in full swing. The laundresses had finished their early lunch and were again at work. In addition to the rude awning stretched over their tubs, some wore straw hats, the better to protect them from the blazing sun. Machona was engaged in a wordy war with an outside laundress regarding a shirt exchanged and a pair of socks vanished. Augusta appeared about to 55 melt and mingle with the soap before her. Leocadia dropped her work at intervals and turned her attention to vigorous scratching. The Witch muttered along in her idiotic fashion, nobody paying any attention to her monologue, and at her side the solemn mulatta, Marcianna, sucked at a pipe and mournfully groaned a weird song about one Maricas, who seemed to be having a hard time of it. Young Florinda, happy and not at all inconvenienced by the sun, whistled the choruses of the various songs about her, tirelessly wringing her clothes, which were now ready for the line, in contrast to poor Dona Isabel, who emitted her eternal melancholy sighs as she performed a like office for her wash. The weary Albino paused now and then to rest his hands on his thin hips, and then continued beating a pair of white trousers, as though trying to avenge-heaven knows what. His slight frame was atremble and he frequently interrupted work to mop his face with the handkerchief about his neck. Like Isabel, he also sighed. From No.8 was heard a high and sharp falsetto, proof that Das Dores at last had started work. She did not know how to iron without singing. In No.7 her sister, Nenem, also lifted her voice in song, but Nenem was a contralto. A little farther up the line a candidate for the band had unmuzzled his trombone and was making an onslaught on the scale. He did very well up as far as sol, after which he always came to grief. Time after time he essayed it, ever accompanied by the best wishes of the neighbors, the laundresses pausing and 56 holding their breath as the crisis was reached, only to resume work in discouragement after the inevitable catastrophe. At the moment the vender and his companion passed by, Florinda's head was almost touching the ground as she gathered up her work, and Joo Romo improved the opportunity to give her a resounding slap. "Hands off!" she shrieked. Then turning about and recognizing the author of the caress, she continued: "I might have known it was you. Gay boy, coming around here playing jokes and taking liberties with people, and then robbing them blind with your short weights in your damned old store. You can keep away from me; I don't want anything to do with you."

For all of which she received another even harder slap in the same place. And then Joo Romo fled, seeing her reach for a pan of blueing. "You've a lot of people here," remarked the blaster, as they proceeded through the courtyard"About a hundred tenants when everything's filled up," replied the landlord, shrugging his shoulders. "And all quiet and orderly people. No rough stuff goes in this tenement. If anybody starts anything, I appear and it ends right there. The police have never been in here, and I don't intend to ever have them. Yes, I've got a good crowd of people. They play their guitars and amuse themselves without any rows." They left the enclosure, passing through a door held by a weight on a rope, and entered the part of the field left between the tenement and the quarry. "This is shorter," remarked the vender, leaving the 57 path and leading the way through the stunted bushes growing out of the sandy soil. It was just noon and the December sun was directly overhead. The bare granite hillside threw back a blinding glare, and as the two men approached the ground became rougher and the sand coarser. At the right was the dry bed of a creek crossed by a simple wooden bridge. On this sat three small boys, nearly naked and seemingly unconscious of the blazing sun beating down upon them. Under a long, low shed whose tiled roof was supported by a dozen stone pillars, a cluster of Portuguese laborers wielded their hammers and chisels on the huge blocks of granite before them. Near by was the blacksmith's shop, littered with scraps of junk. Two men, clad in cotton trousers beneath leather aprons, were at work at the anvil. Running with sweat, one beat the molten metal which his companion held with one hand, while with the other he worked the wheezing forge. Joo Romo paused a moment to call in: "Oh, Bruno, don't forget the handle of that lantern at the gate." The laborers relaxed for a moment while one responded, "I went down and looked at it, and it's not worth fixing-nearly rusted through; better make a new one." "Well, make it, then," ordered the landlord, reluctantly. "The lantern's about ready to fall." They halted to observe the carts by which the quarry's product was moved. A couple were ready to depart, their burros blinking dejectedly in the fierce heat. Others were in process of loading and still others were drawn aside, their two wheels half buried in the sand and their 58 shafts pointed toward the sky, like a pair of arms supplicating a little more rest. Between them and the quarry were two more small sheds. One, indescribably filthy, served as stable for a half dozen animals. The other was the carpenter shop, one end piled to the roof with odds and ends of lumber, while the space in front was filled with logs and discarded masts of ships. Crossing the few feet of burning sand, they entered the quarry. Some of the workmen stolidly braved the broiling sun, while others had erected rude covers of canvas or palm leaves over their heads. A few sang at their work, and others toiled on in sullen silence. Farther up the rocky face of the hill was a group engaged in preparing a blast. The noises of the quarry were mingled with the confused din of the tenement, the whole giving the effect of an interminable battle. The army of half naked, perspiring men appeared like a host of rebellious devils, vainly attacking the rocky giant that enchained them, huge and immovable, impervious to the onslaughts of the pigmy foe. The blaster paused for a moment to study the quarry. The huge pile of rock glistened and glittered in the sunlight, the whole side of the hill bared with the years of effort which, little by little, was gnawing away its substance. Much as had been taken, it was small in comparison with what remained. He drew his breath as he appreciated the untouched wealth still awaiting the fortunate possessor. Far above, children appeared to be clinging to the rock; they were drillers, preparing the way for the blaster. 59 The visitor shook his head in frank disapproval. "Look over there," he said, pointing. "No, I mean the high part, above that cart. Only a blind man would go in from this side. Notice the seams--can't you see that blasting from this side crumbles the whole rock? Good Lord! I supposed that even a fool would know enough to follow the grain. What are you getting out of that section-a lot of little culls. It makes me wild to see a beautiful piece of stone spoiled like that. You might as well turn loose a cageful of monkeys to do your work as let this continue the way it is going." The proprietor listened in silence, biting his lips with vexation at the idea of so much loss, for he realized the justice of the other's strictures.. "Rotten work," continued the critic. "The blast should have been set off right where that negro is standing now. You can see the seam directly behind him. That whole chunk would have been loosened and not all broken to bits as it now lies. "But you haven't anybody who knows this work.. You can't deny that a lot of blasts have been repeated because too little powder was used, and at other times so much was used that the stone was crumbled. Yes, my friend, if ever a quarry needed a blaster, this one does. And the job's no cinch; much of it is practically cliff, and the man who sets off the charge has got to be pulled away by a rope. It's risky business, and you are going to keep on having accidents So long as you leave it to a bungler.

"Rotten trimming," he added, passing his hand over 60. a block on the ground. "Look at the seam across this piece. It's sure to crack before it's even put in place. What contractor would ever accept that for a door-sill?" Joo Romo perspired in misery, almost tearful to learn that there was so much wrong with his quarry. And worst of all, he realized that there was much truth in the observations of the other. Mentally he began to calculate how much money he would have had without these costly errors. They had now rounded a corner of the cliff and another face of the hill was exposed to view. The blaster drew his breath with admiration. "What beautiful, beautiful granite," he murmured. "What a gold mine." "Yes, but my part of it extends only to yonder cleft," responded the vender. "I tried to buy the rest, but they want too much for it. Anyhow, I have enough here to keep me going for years to come." On this side, trespassing on the land of another, had been constructed a cluster of rude shelters where some of Joo Romo's laborers rested. Before these, perched on four stones, pots of food simmered over a smoldering fire, in some places guarded by children who had brought them from a distance. A few laborers were eating, dipping chunks of bread into bowls of soupy stew, while others were scrawled upon the ground in the shade of the shelters, snatching a moment's repose before returning to the heat of the day's labor. "Strikes me there's a lot of loafing around here. How do you know whether these fellows layoff the time they're entitled to or wbether they lay down on you? 61 If I were in charge of this work, I can tell you that every man would do his share or else take his little hammer and make dust down the road." "But," sighed Joo Romo, "the devil of it is that you insist on seventy milreis." "Right you are, and not a cent less. But with me here on the job, this quarry would produce so much more money that the little extra you pay me would never be missed. Your hands need weeding out, too, because you have got more trimmers than you need for the amount of rock being blasted. They loaf, because very likely they don't get more than thirty milreis." "That's exactly what I pay them," admitted Joo Romo. "Well, you ought to fire half of them and pay the rest fifty milreis, and insist that they turn out the same amount of work. Pick out the best workmen, and they will feel well paid and work hard to keep their jobs." This sounded logical to Joo Romo, as he mentally calculated how much would be saved by six trimmers at fifty milreis, instead of twelve at thirty. "Look over there at that fellow lifting a stone. That's the third time he's let it fall. You've got a poor lot of men here." They turned and left the quarry, Joo Romo walking toward the tenement silent and pensive, but finally addressing the blaster: " And if I hire you, you would move into the tenement?" "Naturally; I couldn't work here and continue living over on the other side of the city.', 62 "And I suppose you would trade at my store?" "That's up to my wife-she runs the kitchen. But it might as well be your store as another.', "Well then," sighed the vender, with the air of one about to plunge into icy water, "I guess we can consider the bargain closed." Seventy milreis was a lot of money, but he cheered himself with the reflection that most of it would find its way back into his till. "Then I can move in to-morrow?" asked the new employee. "To-day, if you like," responded the proprietor. "No. 35 is vacant. Come on, I'll show it to you!' Quickening their pace, they entered the enclosure and turned their steps toward No.35. "By the way, what is your name ? " inquired the vender. "Jeronymo." "And your wife, does she wash?" "Yes, sir, she's a laundress." "Well then, we must see that she has a tub!' Which ended the negotiations that introduced a new element into the crowded tenement of So Romo. 63 CHAPTER FIVE On the following morning at seven, when the tenement was seething with its customary early activity, Jeronymo appeared in company with his wife to take possession of the rooms he had rented the previous afternoon. The wife was called Piedade de Jesus, a most appropriate combination, considering that Piedade means "piety." She was about thirty, of good height and generous form, and with heavy hair, an olive skin, and teeth firm, if somewhat irregular. She had the full, open face of the honest creature she was, and her eyes expressed the stupid kindness she was wont to display toward everybody.

Both had accompanied the two hand-carts that had transported their household goods. Piedade wore a plain serge skirt, a simple laundered waist, and a red silk kerchief over her head. Jeronymo was dressed as on the previous day. The couple appeared much concerned and weighted down with a number of articles too precious to be entrusted to the men with the carts. Jeronymo bore in his arms a pair of ornate glass vases, large enough to serve as boots. Piedade tenderly hugged an old wall clock and clutched a basket from which peered a collection of plaster saints. Thus they crossed the courtyard, followed by the stares of the neighbors, who always regarded newcomers with a curiosity tinged with suspicion. 64 "Who's that little piece of a man?" inquired Machona of Augusta Carne Molle at the ad joining tub. "He's going to work in the quarry-was roaming all over the place yesterday with Mr. Joo." "And the woman with him-that his wife?" "More'n likely," answered the other. "Look like island folk to me." "They've got wonderful furniture," intervened Leocadia. "I'll bet that bed was a wedding present. And their bureau's got a mirror as big as a dish-pan." "And the wash-stand's got a marble top, did you notice that, Leocadia?!" shrieked Florinda, in order that her voice might carry over the Witch and old Marcianna, who were between her and the others. "Yes, I saw it, but it won't compare with the oratory-all covered with carving." "Truly, a work of art," all agreed. Indeed, the new neighbors had made a most favorable impression. It was clear that they were no ordinary trash. "But whether they are good or bad, only time can tell," ventured old Isabel. "True, indeed; you can't judge people's hearts by their faces," sighed Albino. "But," inquired Augusta, "wasn't No.35 occupied by that yellow-faced old man that made cigars?" "It was," confirmed Leocadia, wife of Bruno, the blacksmith. "But he skipped out, owing his rent, and yesterday Joo Romo cleared out his furniture, which he says is worth less than what's due him." "And about two o'clock yesterday he was having a 65 fearful row with two men from the cigar factory who claimed the furniture is theirs. Who knows, maybe old saffron-face has gone to the devil like the tinsmith that lived there before him." "Hardly; the tinsmith killed himself." "Well, I can tell you, I wouldn't live in No.35 if I could have it rent free. Maricas de Farjao died there." Three hours later Jeronymo and Piedade were installed and settled in their new home and partaking of the lunch the wife had hastily prepared. Jeronymo announced that he did not intend to begin at the quarry till the day following and was at Piedade's disposal for any little jobs around the house that she had for him. Jeronymo had come to Brazil contracted as a farm hand, and had labored like a beast on a plantation for two years. There he lived among the slaves and endured the hardest life he ever had known. His contract finished, finding himself with nothing accumulated for all this intense effort and with no future for his wife and little girl, he refused to continue longer and came to the city, where he found employment in a quarry, breaking stone for a miserable wage. By dint of Piedade's poorly paid laundry work, they managed to keep a roof over their heads and not go hungry. Jeronymo, however, was industrious and observing, and of no mean ability. Before long he was quarrying, and gained fame as the neatest and fastest trimmer in the establishment. Blasting fascinated him and he observed and inquired, and never lost an opportunity to learn more about it. His zeal was rewarded and he was 66 made a sort of foreman in the quarry, with a wage of seventy milreis, the highest there paid. "But it was not only Jeronymo's industry that had brought him to the front. Strong as a bull, he was feared and respected by the others, and the uncompromising honesty and integrity that ruled his every act had completely won their confidence. The simplicity of his habits was the wonder and admiration of all who knew him-from home to work, and from work back to his home again, living in the most perfect harmony with Piedade, and taking pride in seeing his child neat and well dressed. He was the first to arrive at his work and the last to leave in the evening, On Sunday he occasionally went to mass and in the afternoon took a walk in the park. On such occasions he wore shoes, a starched shirt, and also a coat. And Piedade wore her earrings, brought from Portugal and never pawned, not even in the first days of hardship encountered by the couple. And Piedade, honest, healthy and strong, was a worthy mate. With industry rivaling his own, she was at work from early till late, and her washing was so beautifully done and her accounts so scrupulously fair that her former customers, nearly all of them, insisted on sending her their work in spite of her removal to Botafogo. From the time Jeronymo had begun to earn better wages he had thought much about improving the condition of his family. He had joined a religious brotherhood with a sick benefit and hospital service for its members, and opened a savings account. The little daughter 67 was placed in a school to learn the things that "nobody had ever taken the trouble" to teach him. In their former home their house was the cleanest, most comfortable and most respected in the tenement

where they lived. But with the death of the old employer, Jeronymo was so vexed by the stupid changes made by the new proprietor that he felt constrained to make a move, and had been recommended to Joo Romo as the best possible successor to the former blaster whose head had not been able to withstand the weight of five tons of rock. The vender put him in general charge of the work and the results were soon apparent. His industry and zeal were an example to the others. Loafing and loss of time he would permit in nobody. The personnel underwent changes. Many former employees disappeared and a few new ones were admitted. The pay of those retained was increased, but their output nearly doubled. At the end of two months Joo Romo rubbed his hands with satisfaction as he noted the growing receipts of the quarry along with an actually reduced expense account, and, most marvelous of all, a contented group of laborers. He was almost tempted to increase Jeronymo's pay, and he called down all sorts of blessings, for which no payment was required, on the head of Machucas for sending him such a treasure. And all the tenement noted that the proprietor regarded Jeronymo with a respect and esteem heretofore vouchsafed no other resident of So Romo. The blaster early came to occupy among his new neighbors the same influential position that had been 68 his in the old home. Soon he was consulted on all matters concerning the neighborhood's welfare, and not infrequently was his advice sought regarding the private problems of the tenement dwellers. Even Alexandre, in full uniform, had been observed to render a sort of little salute to Jeronymo when they passed each other in the courtyard. The two clerks in Joo Romo's store were enthusiastic. "He ought to be the proprietor here. There's a man with guts. Nobody ever pulls the wool over his eyes." And when Piedade de Jesus made her purchases, she was given the choicest articles in stock, full measure and no scale-juggling. Some of the laundresses became envious of Piedade, but the good soul was so kind and inoffensive that she disarmed ill-will, and a search for her defects but emphasized her virtues. Jeronymo always arose at four o'clock, and was therefore first at the faucets for the morning wash. Then, after a huge bowl of broth with a half loaf of bread, he was ready for work and ascended to the quarry, clad in short-sleeved shirt, denim trousers, coarse hair flying in the wind, his big bare feet thrust into rawhide slippers. The sharp ringing of his chisel served as a trumpet call, summoning his companions to the fray, and usually the rising sun found the battle already under way, Jeronymo and his group of humble warriors throwing themselves upon the granite monster and carving from its bowels their daily bread. The foreman returned home only at dusk, exhausted with hunger and fatigue. For their evening meal Piedade always prepared dishes to which they had been 69 accustomed back in Portugal and which Jeronymo especially liked. And there within that modest little room the two spent a brief evening of rest, recounting to each other the various incidents of the day.. After their hours of intense labor beneath a tropic sun, they gave themselves over to the most voluptuous pleasure known to the human frame--complete relaxation and repose. Reclining beneath their smoky oil lamp, ambitious plans for the future of Marianita were formulated by the faithful couple, for the little daughter whose company they enjoyed only on Sundays and holidays, that she might be taught the mysteries denied her simple mother and father. Sometimes until bedtime, unfailingly at nine o'clock, the evening was passed in a journey back to the land of their birth. Seated in the doorway, Jeronymo would pluck the strings of his guitar and in a deep, soft voice sing the plaintive old songs of Portugal, while Piedade closed her tear-filled eyes and lived again the scenes of her girlhood at home with her mother and father, when a stalwart youth shyly came to court her, and won her heart by singing these same melancholy melodies of the land across the sea. 70 CHAPTER SIX It was a gay and festive Sunday morning in the tenenent of So Romo; the month was April, with brilliant sunshine everywhere, though the air was cool and fresh. The tubs were abandoned and the lines empty. Basket after basket of clean, starched clothes left the tenement, usually borne aloft on the practiced heads of the coming generation. The houses cleaned and the morning work done up, the laundresses themselves appeared, spick and span in spotless waists and calico skirts. in place of the coarse straw hats of work hours, the Portuguese women wore bright silk handkerchiefs and the Brazilians a spray of flowers in their elaborately dressed hair. Not a few of the women wore light shawls over their shoulders, more for effect than comfort, as there was no chill in the air. Men, stripped to the waist, were pitching quoits with enthusiasm. A group of ltalians were seated beneath a tree, smoking their pipes and conversing noisily. A few young children were receiving a tardy bath at the faucets, their mothers soaping them liberally, while with tightly shut eyes they wailed their protests. Machona's house was in a turmoil, as the family was going out for the day. She herself shouted and shouted, and Nenem shouted too, and Augusto demonstrated the progress of his mounting years by shouting louder than either of them. Voices were lifted in song, the plebeian mouth-organ sounded forth unabashed, mandolins tinkled and guitars were strummed, and the 71 boisterous trombone mounted to the dizzy heights of the scale's top notes in triumph.

Even the parrots entered into the spirit of the day, and whistled and voiced their choicest profanity. In nearly every doorway rested a laborer in a clean shirt and his "other trousers." A few who could read were intent on a stale newspaper that had come wrapped about the clothes, and one was declaiming in strident tones some verses from "Os Luziadas." All radiated the satisfaction of being at least partially washed and arrayed in clean clothing. From every tiny kitchen came the tantalizing smell of stewing beef. Of the Miranda residence only the two rear windows had been opened, and down the back stairs a servant was carrying slop pails to be emptied in the drain. In spite of the merry clamor of the tenement, there was something lacking in the confusion of sound; the ringing of chisels and the roar of the macaroni factory's machinery were stilled. The quarry appeared forlorn and deserted in its unaccustomed quiet, but in compensation, Joo Romo's establishment was overflowing. Many of the laundresses were grouped about the gateway better to observe the Sunday movement, among them, Albino, in clean trousers and shirt and with his accustomed handkerchief knotted about his neck. He was contentedly consuming a stick of candy purchased from a passing peddler. Within the store, Domingos and Manoel were passing over the counter numberless glasses of white wine, paraty and a sort of orange brandy, while the really thirsty called for huge schooners of native beer, all of which were consumed with noisy demonstrations of sat-. 72 isfaction. Izaura already was entangled in her first investment in taffy, foolishly giggling at the remarks made to her. Leonor had not a moment's peace, leaping from side to side with the agility of a monkey to escape the calloused fingers attempting to pinch her legs, her pursuers emitting guffaws of laughter and seemingly indifferent to her oft-repeated warning that they would find themselves haled before the stern bar of justice of the "orphum's court." But not for anything would she depart, because there in front of the store had arrived a man who played five instruments at once, while his feet managed a drum, cymbals, and a string of bells. It was only eight o'clock but already the restaurant had customers, who took part in the various discussions in the store by shouting their remarks from the room at the side. Joo Romo, in a clean shirt like the others, appeared from time to time with a tray of food prepared in the smoky kitchen by Bertoleza, dirty and sooty, to whom Sunday was different from other days in only one particular-she worked harder. But suddenly occurred an event that threw the tenement into the uproar of a riotous welcome-Rita Bahiana returned after her prolonged absence of months, during which the only news of her was that she regularly sent her rent money. She was accompanied by an urchin from the market, who bore on his head an enormous basket filled with Rita's purchases. From within a wreath of crisp lettuce an over-grown fish gazed out upon the scene with a dull, discouraged eye, in striking contrast to the jovial smiles of a bunch of 73 blonde carrots, a half dozen round-faced beets and a grinning yellow pumpkin. "Leave it there in front of No.9," she called to the boy, whom she then paid for his trip and dismissed. All the way from the entrance of the tenement her progress had been marked by a chorus of noisy greetmgs. "See who's here!" "Hooray, it's Rita Bahiana! " "The cemetery couldn't hold Rita." "Bless me, this damned mulatta gets worse all the time." "Well, you female tramp, where have you been all this time?" "So this time you couldn't pull loose and come back to us." Rita had paused in the middle of the courtyard. She was surrounded by a friendly mob of men, women and children, all eager to hear of her doings. She hadn't come in her Sunday clothes; no, she had just slipped on these things-she displayed her bare foot in a leather-soled slipper-and come up on an impulse. Her abundant wavy hair, fragrant with an oil brought from Bahia, was moulded on the back of her neck, and she radiated the peculiar odor of the immaculate mulatta, mingled with that of the aromatic herbs she loved to fold among her clothes. Never still, with quick turnings and twistings of her active body, she responded right and left to eager queries, laughing gayly and showing the splendid, shin74 ng teeth that invested her face with a really fascinating comeliness. Almost the entire tenement had rushed out to greet ler. Her hands were grasped, and kisses and embraces ained upon her. All wanted to know what the popular mulatto had been doing during her three months' abence. "Come on, tell us, old sweetheart. What have you een doing, you giddy nanny-goat? But really, where lave you been buried all this time?" "In Jacarepagua!' "With which one?": "Firmo!' "What, that affair still going? ! " "Shut up, this time it's serious!' "Serious-what, you? ! Get out-we know you too well, Rita Bahiana!'

"The love affairs of Rita! " exclaimed Bruno amid general laughter. "Half a dozen a year, not counting the others in between!' "You know that's not true," disclaimed Rita, indiglantly. "When I take up with one man I never look at any other!': Leocadia, hidden behind the mulatta, left her place to join in the conversation. She had embraced the absentee fervently, and listened to the rapid fire of questions and answers with tears of emotion. With her hands on her hips, she asked: "But if it's serious this time, why don't you settle down with Firmo? Why don't you two get married?" "I, marry!" exclaimed Rita in amazement. "Don't 75 you think my mother's daughter will ever make such a break as that. Marry-the Lord help us-what for? To stick my head in a noose? A husband is worse than the devil himself; you wake up and find you're a silly man's slave. Heaven deliver me from anything of that sort. There's nothing like being your own boss." This torrent was terminated by Rita's shrug of supreme disdain, which other admiring women imitated, but none succeeded in reproducing. "Rita, you'll be the death of me," giggled Augusta Came Molle in her foolish admiration. She found Rita Bahiana most entertaining and would drop her work on a moment's notice to spend the whole afternoon watching the mulatta dance. Florinda had been helping her mother prepare lunch, but on hearing of the wanderer's return she came running, laughing happily, to throw herself in the mulatta's arms. Even old Marcianna, though without shedding her mantle of gloom, came to the window to wave a solemn welcome. Das Dores, with her skirt gathered up about her hips and a towel serving as an apron, her uncombed hair flying all directions, abandoned her halfcleaned house to plant a resounding slap on Rita's flanks, while she shrieked in her high-pitched voice: "So this time you got a plenty, you shameless mulatta! " And the two, rocking with laughter, embraced with the intimacy of devoted friends whose love affairs are confided to each other. The Witch approached in silence and gravely shook the hand of her returned neighbor, after which she turned to depart. 76 "Oh, you miracle worker! " laughed Rita, slapping the idiot on the back, "what devil are you praying to these days? I want you to give me a charm, Aunt Paula, so my man won't get away from me." And so on, with a greeting for each. Upon noting the approach of Dona Isabel, dressed in her black silk and Macao shawl, she embraced the old lady and begged a pinch of snuff, which was emphatically refused. "Where's Pombinha?" asked the mulatta. But at this moment Pombinha herself emerged from he door, sweet and clean in a new frock of sateen, her lands occupied with her prayer-book, handkerchief, and parasol. "Ah, how pretty she is," murmured Rita, nodding her head. "She is truly a flower." As Pombinha came within reach, she bestowed upon the girl a hug and a kiss. "If Joo da Costa doesn't make you happy as an angel, I'll break his head with my flat-iron! " Then becoming serious, she asked of Dofia Isabel in lowered voice: "Has it started yet?" To which the unhappy mother replied with a mournful shake of the head. Circumspect Alexandre was under the necessity of maintaining his dignity, since he was fully uniformed and about to go on duty, so he limited his greeting to slight wave of the hand; to which the irrepressible mulatta responded by standing at attention and saluting, the gesture accompanied by a deep-throated chuckle that decidedly disconcerted the old fellow. But attention immediately was drawn from his dis77 comfiture by a shout from Rita: "Why, there's old Liborio! That little Jew will never give up his soul to the devil that's waiting for it." And she rushed over to a spot in the bright April sun where a dried-up old creature was warming himself, as he smoked what was left of a pipe, its shortened stem clutched between his toothless gums. "Well, well," he wheezed, shading his eyes with a trembling hand. "How's my old sweetheart?" cried Rita, bending down to pat his shoulder. "Missed me much? I hope you haven't found another girl!" The old man giggled and pinched the mulatta's thighs, after which she pretended to be most indignant, whirling about and clapping her skirt over the old dotard's head, an oft-repeated pantomime which the neighbors found most entertaining. So, amid the general rejoicing at her return, Rita recounted what she had been doing during her absence. Her stay at Jacarepagua had been a continuous cele-. bration, a sort of three-months' carnival. And then, lowering her voice, she confided that she was expecting company and there would be music and dancing. This news filled her hearers with rejoicing, for Rita's entertainments were always the best in the tenement. When the mulatta gathered her friends about her the hours slipped by without their passage being noted, and while Rita had either money or credit there was always something to eat and nobody went thirsty.

"Tell me, Leocadia," she begged, "who are these freaks in No.35?" 78 Bruno's wife imparted the little she knew regarding Jeronymo and Piedade, whom she regarded as worthy folk who didn't know how to enjoy themselves. Rita opened her house and carried her provisions inside, singing as she proceeded with her work. Her very presence seemed to fill the whole neighborhood with joy, for she had been sadly missed. Firmo, her present lover, an irresponsible, happy-golucky mulatto who had so won the wayward fancy of the fickle Rita that she gladly accompanied him to the distant and lonely suburb of Jacarepagua, was bringing a friend for dinner that afternoon. Rita imparted this information as she whetted a knife on the stone of the door-sill, preparatory to slitting open the despondent fish, for which operation the army of cats already were assembling, summoned by the significant rasping of the blade.. Next door in No.8, Das Dores also was preparing for company, her new proprietor usually dining with her on Sundays. She had decided that her house needed cleaning, a fact noted long since by the neighbors, and had determined to make a thorough job of it. She had swept down the ceiling and walls, and there remained to be done the dusting and scrubbing. In her bare feet, with skirt well elevated and a towel about her head, she was carrying pail after pail of water which she swept about in a fashion worthy of Marcianna in one of her worst moods. There was no lack of volunteer assistants, in either No.8 or No.9. Rita's long-closed house begged a cleaning, and this task was undertaken by Albino while the 79 mulatta busied herself at her stove. Florinda, Leocadia, and Augusta all were ready to assist, eager to do anything within their power to contribute to the success of the music and dancing planned for the evening. Pombinha did not appear during the afternoon, as she was completely occupied with her secretarial duties, to which she devoted her Sundays-the seemingly endless succession of letters she was called upon to write for the laundresses and laborers. At a small table covered with a piece of calico the young girl wrote, her pen recording on the cheap tablet before her the message dictated by the sender-a remittance to his family across the sea, or a dun to her slow-paying customer for a laundry bill long due, as the case might be. All was duly written down, with only here and there a change, the better to express the author's ideas, and the envelop was then addressed and borne away by the grateful illiterate, his place immediately to be taken by another. For at such times Pombinha was alone with the friend she aided, none caring to discuss his correspondence in the presence of others. By this process, the young girl was accumulating in her virgin heart the sordid details of the private affairs of all those people, often more fetid than the tenement slime evaporating beneath the blazing sun. "Write and tell her, Pombinha," mumbled a stone cutter, scratching his head, "and make the letters big, So the fool woman'll understand. Tell her that I can't send her the money now, because I'm too hard up, but next month it'll come, sure. She can borrow some there 80 if she has to, and next month I'll get it, but God only knows how. And if my brother Luis still wants to come over, better let me know in time and maybe I can find something for him to do, but times are hard here, just as they are over there, and I hate to advise anybody to come to a strange country to try his luck, when maybe" he will get sick or not get a job, or get homesick and want to go back and not have any money to go with, and then make life miserable for his friends who are just as bad off and can't help him any." After Pombinha had written this, he added : "Tell her that I miss her dreadfully and that I am the same as I was over there, and that I don't go near these women here and don't do anything rotten that would make her ashamed. And tell her that I am going to send for her just as soon as God helps me to do it (and also the Virgin). And tell her not to be angry because there is no money in this letter, and to remember , as we say in Portugal: 'When you haven't got a cent, even the tax collector gets left.' And I almost forgotshe wants to know about Libania. Tell her that Libania has gone to the dogs and lives down on Rua So Jorge and nobody speaks to her any more, so it's best to forget about her and not to expect to ever see the five escudos Libania owes her." All of which was written, sentence by sentence, the only interruption to the pen being the pauses during which Pombinha eyed the stone cutter, her chin cupped in her hand, waiting for him to formulate the next phrase of his message. 81 CHAPTER SEVEN This was the tenement's Sunday, till three o'clock, when there arrived the eagerly awaited Firmo accompanied by his friend, Porfiro; the former bearing his guitar and the latter a mandolin. Rita Bahiana's lover was an unambitious mulatto, of slender, wiry build and agile as a goat. Boastful and impertinent, he enjoyed the reputation of being a clever thief who was enabled to live without steady work so long as windows could be pried open or chickens stolen. Past thirty, he looked like a youth of twenty, with his closely knit frame which appeared to be equipped with springs rather than muscles. He wore a tiny, waxed mustache, and his long heavy mane was ever treated with the smelliest of the barber's perfumes. This mane was worn parted in the middle, two thick tufts hanging low beneath a felt hat pulled down to cover the left ear.

He invariably dressed in a well worn black coat and trousers, the latter tight at the knees and wide at the bottoms, all but concealing his slender feet. He wore no vest, and in place of a tie he used a much perfumed silk handkerchief. His mouth usually held a big, black cigar, and he always carried a walking stick the dimensions of a bludgeon. He was a plumber, said to be a skillful one, but as he frequently spent in one day the earnings of a week, he found it necessary to supplement his income by means of the nocturnal activities already referred to. Occasionally a fortunate evening with dice or at rou82. lette increased his capital, and then would he enjoy a period of riotous idleness with Rita Bahiana, such as they had spent during the last three months. If not with Rita, then with some other, for he often observed that "women are not scarce when a fellow's got money to spend." He was a native of Rio de Janeiro and enjoyed the distinction of having been born at court, where his father was one of the Emperor's stable-hands. Until he was twenty he roved about among the various bands of hoodlums, finally entering upon what he termed his "political career," when he became an active element in a group of young men, armed with razors, who persuaded adherents of the opposition party that they didn't want to vote! But he renounced politics-disgusted because he never attained his ideal-to become a messenger in the government office, with seventy milreis a month and office hours from eleven till three. His romance with Rita Bahiana was a complicated affair of remote origin. It had started back in the days when she arrived fresh from Bahia in company with her mother, a brawny negress who ripped tripe from dead hogs at the slaughter house. The mother died and Firmo took charge of Rita, the couple soon separating because of jealous quarrels. Numerous reconciliations were effected, only to be followed by another separation. He declared that he had a "passion" for that girl, and badly as she treated him he "couldn't let her alone, nohow." After their quarrels, Rita usually succumbed to the wooing of another, whereupon Firmo would reappear and give her a thorough beating, at which proof of his un83 dying affection she renounced the substitute and returned to the arms of her first love. The friend that Firmo brought with him on this particular Sunday was older and darker, and had kinky hair. Porfiro was a typesetter, and dressed much like Firmo, whose method of wearing his hat Porfiro admired immensely-more so than he did Firmo's neckerchief, for Porfiro was resplendent in a cravat of red silk. He carried a cane with a silver handle and used an amber cigaret holder. All of this splendor was noted by the tenement, and Porfiro was labeled a model of quiet elegance. After the arrival of the two, the atmosphere in Rita's house thickened. Paraty began to flow and before long there was heard the whine of a mandolin, soothed by the deeper tones of a guitar. The two performers, divested of their coats, had settled down to an afternoon and evening of pleasure. Next door had arrived the business man who inherited Das Dores, and he, also, had brought a friend. Arrayed in frock coats and silk hats, they introduced a new note into the tenement-a breath of perfume wafted from the world of fashion. All were impressed; truly, Das Dores was almost in society. Machona, Nenem, and Augusto had returned from their excursion and were assisting their daughter and sister. They were to remain for dinner. That portion of the tenement had taken on an unwonted air of festivity. In both houses dinner had been set for five o'clock. Rita Bahiana, in a much ruffied gown of white cambric, was hostess to Leocadia, Augusta, Bruno, Alexan84 dre, and Albino, in addition to her other guests. Das Dores had, besides her family and the two men, Dona Isabel, Pombinha, Marcianna, and Florinda. Jeronymo and his wife had been invited to both tables but had refused, preferring to spend a restful afternoon with each other, eating the simple Portuguese food that Piedade prepared and sharing their bottle of red wine. The two feasts proceeded with much hilarity, the chuckles which greeted the soup progressively developing into shrieks of laughter, until a half hour later the whole neighborhood was convinced that the twin dinner parties were a complete success. High-pitched voices mingled with the rattling of dishes inside, while in front gathered a band of eager dogs, ready to retrieve the bones and scraps that came flying out of the windows. Plates filled with samples of the two feasts were passed from one house to the other, in order that each party might appreciate the excellence of the menu of the other. "Listen!" called Vas Dores to the party in No.9. " Ask Rita to taste this shrimp salad, and tell me if she ever ate any vatap fixed better than this. And if she's got any pepper sauce, I want some." The uproar in both houses now became deafening. In No.8 toasts were shouted and out-of-tune songs. Das Dores' gentleman friend's collar and tie had followed his frock coat, and he appeared about ready to shed even his shirt. Stuffed with roast pork and red wine, he rocked in his chair with laughter, while the sweat poured from his flushed face. His friend was making amorous advances to Nenem, unobserved by the others because 85 of the fierce altercation in progress between Machona and her vociferous son, Augusto, who was quiet never a moment. Florinda, always smiling and good-

natured, left the table occasionally to carry a plate of food to her mother, Marcianna having decided at the last moment to forego the feast. With the serving of the dessert, the aroused and informal protector of Das Dores required his light-o'love to seat herself in his lap and bestow upon him ardent kisses, which persuaded old Isabel that it was time to get her daughter out of such an inferno. She therefore professed to be faint with the heat and suggested that they have their coffee outside. And Rita's party was even more animated. Firmo and Porfiro were raising a fearful racket, singing and recounting lewd anecdotes. The former never for a moment removed his arm from the mulatta's waist, and insisted upon drinking from the same cup with her. His friend amused himself by making violent love to Albino, for whom he declared he had conceived an uncontrollable passion. His indignant victim appeared about to weep. Leocadia, whom wine always reduced to a state of immoderate hilarity, rocked with laughter until the chair collapsed beneath her, after which she placed the soles of her feet against those of Porfiro, and in the contest that ensued her merriment was doubled when her opponent went over backward on the floor. Her husband, Bruno, red and sweating as though at his forge, sat and talked and argued and discussed some subject or other, nobody paying any attention to what 86 he was saying. Alexandre, in his simple off-duty attire, was seated beside his wife, quiet and dignified, seldom speaking except to suggest a little less noise, because it was certain that the racket could be heard out in the street. He added, significantly, that Miranda twice had come to the window and looked down at the courtyard. "Let him look as often as he wants," said Rita. "I guess people have a right to spend Sunday as they like in their own house and with their own friends. He's not paying for what we eat and drink." The two visitors and Bruno were of the same opinion. They agreed that so long as they made no reference to the neighbors and did them no harm, the neighbors had better attend to their own affairs. In fact, Firmo knew of a place even hotter than that little room where such people as old Miranda belong, and he was for going right over and recommending it. Porfiro considered that if anybody was to move, it ought to be the parties who were not comfortable. Bruno muttered that Sunday was made to be enjoyed, and thereupon allowed his head to drop upon his arms, folded on the table. Then he arose and rolled up his sleeves, announcing that if the others would excuse him he would go out and settle the matter without further delay. Alexandre calmed him with a cigar. And still another house in the tenement contributed its share to the clamor. Here were dining a group of Italian peddlers, among whom Delporto, Pompeo, Francesco, and Andrea were the moving spirits. They were singing too, but in tune. In the general turmoil their song was not heard distinctly, but now and then, 87 above the heavy voices of the men, was heard a piercing feminine note which brought an instant response from the raucous parrots in the courtyard. In practically all sections of the tenement noisy reunions were in progress, the hard-working tenants resolved to extract from their one day of relaxation all the enjoyment possible. The rotund and dignified form of Miranda again appeared in his window. He was bursting with fury, a napkin tucked in his white coat and his right hand clutching a carving knife as though it were a sword. "Go to hell and do your shouting, you yelling devils! " he shrieked, waving his knife. "This is too much; if this racket doesn't stop, I shall send for the police and turn them loose on you dirty swine." Instantly the doors and windows of the tenement were filled with a sea of leering faces whose mocking laughter enraged him to a point where he was beside himself. "Canalla!" he howled; "I ought to shoot the lot of you like a pack of mad dogs." A chorus of hoots and jeers arose from all corners of the tenement, while Miranda's companions sought to draw him away from the window. "Miranda, you'll only make them worse." "What they need is a few yards of rope." "Come away, papa." "Watch out for a stone, those people are capable of almost anything." About him could be observed Dona Estella, with the pallor of a half-wilted flower; Zulmira, shaking with 88 fear; Henrique, handsome as ever; and old Botelho, who eyed these dregs of another world with profound contempt, as thought he expected nothing from them, as, indeed, he had ceased to expect anything from himself. "Dirty dogs! " seethed Miranda. Alexandre, who had hastily donned his policeman's coat, now appeared beneath the merchant's window and voiced the warning that it was imprudent to insult his neighbors in this fashion. Nobody had given any provocation for such expressions, and if the residents of the tenement were dining in company with friends, Miranda, also, was enjoying the same privilege in his house. It was not well to insult people, because one word brought on another, and should the matter reach the police court, Alexandre, as the only representative of the authorities witnessing the scene, would be compelled to put the responsibility for whatever might happen on the shoulders where it belonged.

"Go to the devil! " snapped Miranda, turning his back. "Ain't he a mean cuss!', exclaimed Firmo, who until now had remained silent in Rita's door, his hands on his hips, staring at Miranda impudently. Then calling louder, to be well heard: "Sharpen your horns, old tame ox, because some day we're going to meet! " Miranda was violently pulled away from the window, which then was closed with a bang. "Never mind the old crank," counseled Porfiro, taking his friend's arm. "Come on, let's drink our coffee before it gets cold." 89 In front of Rita's door were gathered a number of the poorer residents of the tenement, miserable creatures, usually hungry. But even so, none of them appeared downcast. The generous mulatta saw that each was given some morsel from the table and a taste of something to drink. Inside, her house was still crowded with friends. Old Liborio, whose boarding arrangements were a mystery to the tenement, now appeared. He had no kitchen and never left his hovel when it was raining. A character was old Liborio. He occupied the smallest and darkest corner in the cheapest part of the tenement and tottered about, picking and snatching at everything in his path. He whined about his poverty and begged like a mendicant-a piece of bread from this neighbor, a scrap of meat from that, a ragged garment from still another. He was forever searching for cigar stubs to be smoked in his pipe-a pipe which the old villain had stolen from a decrepit blind man. There were whispers that Liborio had money hoarded away, but this he denied with wailing protests, swearing that he existed in deepest misery. The demon of hunger seemed ever devouring him, and he crept about like a starving, homeless dog. Mothers cautioned their children to beware of him, as he had a habit of dancing around and mingling with the youngsters, entering into their play and seeking to win their confidence until he could snatch from them their bread and jam or bits of cake. Rita told him he might come in and eat on the con90 dition that he would not stuff until he burst, right there in her house. And he set to with industry, glaring to the right and to the left, like a dog guarding a bone. He gulped the food down without attempting to chew it, using his fingers when his swallowing apparatus could not do the work unaided, and hiding in his pockets what he feared he might not be able to get down his throat. Onlookers were almost overcome with terror as they watched that ceaseless hopper into which everything threatened to disappear, including his own face. The long nose, trembling on the brink, appeared ready at any moment to take the plunge, and the withered cheeks, watery eyes, outstanding ears and smooth, bald pate, shining like a cheese-all seemed to be stolidly awaiting their fate. Firmo proposed that they get him drunk, just to see how he would act. Alexandre and his wife opposed this, but laughing much, as, indeed, all had to laugh, in spite of their alarm. They were fascinated by the spectacle of that ancient scrap of humanity, a bent skeleton covered by a sack of dried hide, devouring and devouring without a moment's pause the mountain of food that had been placed before him, as though laying up a supply for the next world. But suddenly, a chunk of meat too large to be managed at one gulp became stuck en route, and Liborio began to cough and choke, while his eyes appeared to be popping from his head. Leocadia, who was nearest him, gave the old glutton a vigorous blow on the back, causing him to disgorge the morsel. 91 There was general disgust "Old pig!" cried Rita. "He promised not to stuff like that, but I should have known that he would do it!' "The brute wanted to get it down all at once," observed Porfiro. "It seems that he never saw food before, and never expects to again!' And noting that the old man was almost in tears over this time lost, all urged him to rest a moment and then eat slowly. "Wait a minute, famished wolf. Your dinner's not going to run away from you. There's plenty, even for you!' "Drink some water, Uncle Liborio," counseled Augusta, the good soul running into the other room to fill a glass, which she held to his lips. He drank without ever removing his eyes from the plate before him. "My God! " growled Porfiro, spitting into the corner. "I'm getting worried. He's equal to eating us all without stopping to pick the bones!' With this scene poor Albino was almost ill. He had eaten but little, explaining that nothing rested well on. his stomach. Rita could not resist a little joking, and assured him that this nausea was a significant symptom, and begged that she be told the author of the trouble. "So you are beginning on me, too? " murmured the poor youth reproachfully, hiding his confusion by sipping his coffee. "And take care," continued the mulatta. "You must be most particular about your diet. Remember, very little coffee. It inflames the breasts and is very bad for the milk!' 92

At which Albino turned upon his hostess and informed her that he seriously objected to such jokes. Alexandre, having lighted a cigar, after politely offering it to the others, now decided to venture a pleasantry of his own. So, in his ponderous fashion he related how there was a story about that Albino and the Witch had been observed in a most indiscreet enterprise up under the mango trees back of the tenement. Only Augusta seemed moved to mirth by this sally, and Albino, almost weeping, declared that he never meddled with other people and that other people had no right to meddle with him. "But look here," inquired Porfiro. "Is it really true. that this Miss Nancy has never known a woman?" "He'll have to tell you that himself," answered the mulatta, "and it's time this mystery was solved. Come on now, Albino, and tell us about all the wicked things you have done." "If I had known that this is what you invited me to your house for, I would have stayed at home," mumbled the young man, tears starting from his eyes. "I didn't come here to be a laughing-stock for you." And he would have left them had not the repentant Rita cut off his escape, speaking to him as she would address a creature of her own sex, but weaker than herself. "Don't be foolish, you'll only make it worse by going away." Whereupon Albino wiped his eyes and seated himself anew. Meanwhile the sun had dropped and the evening 93 breeze freshened the air. Bruno snored peacefully in his chair, while his wife, Leocadio, was seated with her legs across those of Porfiro, who embraced her affectionately as they shared a number of glasses of paraty. But Firmo suggested that it would be pleasanter outside, to which all assented except the sleeping Bruno. Old Liborio besought Alexandre to give him a cigar to furnish material for the battered pipe, and, this favor granted, the shriveled rogue tottered away to call at other houses where dinners were in progress. Rita, Augusta, and Albino turned their attention to the washing of the dishes and some necessary sweeping. The Italian chorus had gained in strength and was pouring out melancholy melodies whose cadences were accentuated by alcoholic sobs. Before most of the doorways were gathered groups of the tenement dwellers, enjoying the fresh evening air, but Rita Bahiana's gathering was the largest and most animated, as it was reinforced by the members of the Das Dores party. A twilight incense from numerous cigars and pipes arose and the general confusion somewhat subsided, most of the denizens of So Romo being too full for utterance. The arc-lamp in the middle of the courtyard was now turned on, throwing its beams upon ninety-five thresholds. In the comparative peace of the tenement riotous gayety up in Miranda's house now made itself heard. There was laughter, accompanied by much cheering and the continuous popping of corks. "They're opening a lot of champagne," wistfully 94 observed Alexandre, who long since had removed his policeman's coat. "Yes, but they don't want anybody else to have any fun, selfish pigs," remarked Rita Bahiana. Conversation then turned to the Miranda family, principally Dona Estella and Henrique. Leocadia swore that on one occasion she had climbed up on the pile of empty bottles beside the wall and beheld Miranda's wife and the student locked in a close embrace and exchanging ardent kisses, and that when they saw her they turned and fled like frightened dogs. Augusta Carne Molle devoutly crossed herself and murmured a petition to the Virgem Santissima, overcome with horror at such conduct by a married woman. The friend of Das Dores' sturdy oak paused in his furtive fondling of Nenem to express his astonishment at this report, as he had always supposed that Dona Estella was a good woman. "Don't you think it," broke in Alexandre. "She's a bold hussy. I've seen things in the shadow of that wall that made me blush, even at my age. And not only with the student, but with others, too. More than once she's been down by those vines with a bald-headed old fellow with a beard. And the daughter is headed straight for the same path." This news caused a veritable sensation and Alexandre was pressed for details, which he willingly supplied. Zulmira's admirer was a slim young fellow with glasses and a downy blonde mustache. He appeared to be a student, and passed to and fro in front of his beloved's house in the evening, and sometimes at daylight. 95 "But what do they do?" eagerly questioned Das Dores. "So far, it's only a flirtation between the window and the street. They talk with each other through the farthest one in front-I've seen them often while I was on duty. The young fellow wants to marry her and the girl likes him, but she says her father'll never consent." "And he never calls at the house?" "Never. And that's what I don't like about it. If he wants to marry the girl, he ought to have an understanding with her father and go and see her in a respectable fashion, instead of hanging around in front, talking to her through the window." "But I can't see old Miranda ever handing his daughter over to a young student," interposed Firmo. "You can depend upon it, that old fellow will bait a son-inlaw with a bank account. No poor relations for him."

"And that's just what makes so much unhappiness in this wretched world," sighed Augusta Came Molle. "A daughter of mine shall marry just as she pleases, because these forced weddings always bring misery. My husband is poor and he isn't white, but I am happy, because we married for love." At this moment some minor chords on a guitar were heard. It was Jeronymo. After the boisterous jollity of the afternoon his song sounded sadder and more moving than ever: "My heart is filled with sorrow None others understand, Yes, filled with bitter sorrowI miss my native land." 96 Following his example, other guitars added their voices and soon the courtyard was filled with the plaintive, melancholy songs of Portugal, wrung from the hearts of Lusitania's banished sons, in vivid contrast to the noisy merriment in Miranda's house above them. "Thou, land that I adore, Wilt ease my cruel pain, Pronounce mine exile o'er, Receive me once again." Even the Brazilians were depressed with these yearning laments of their homesick neighbors, and the eventful day threatened to end in a flood of tears. But suddenly Porfiro's mandolin, aided by Firmo's guitar, broke forth in a chorado truly Bahiana, and at the first vibrant note of the exhilarating negro music, the pulses of the tenement quickened and gloom disappeared. As it continued it became, not merely the sound of a mandolin accompanied by a guitar, but the expression of a people-moans and sighs freed in a torrent, gliding and writhing like serpents in a burning forest-the music increased in intensity, music made up of caresses, of kisses and of happy sobs, of brutal caresses of agony. Filled with the fire of madness was this strange music, like the sharp and smarting aroma of certain poisonous plants deep in the Brazilian forest, and astonishing was its effect on its hearers. Their bodies swayed with the sensual rhythm of the melodies, their senses intoxicated with exhilaration. Dispelled was Portugal's gloom by the quick pulsing joyousness of Ba97 hia-the clouds and shadows of old Europe routed by young America's brilliant sunshine. Jeronymo laid aside his guitar and with wrapt attention listened to the weird music, which was carrying on a strange revolution within him-a revolution that had begun the day he felt in his face, like a challenging blow, the dazzling sunshine of this new world; a revolution that revived the first time he heard the chirp of a tropic cricket and the song of a Brazilian bird; that progressed with the taste of the first juicy fruit he had sampled in this new, young land, and that was to be completed by the first woman here who attracted him-a half-white, whose sinuous movements fascinated him as a helpless bird is transfixed by the deadly eyes of a serpent. "What's the matter with you, Jeronymo?" asked Piedade, marveling at his tense expression. "Wait," he replied; "I want to listen." For Firmo had started singing the chorado, accompanied by the rhythmical hand claps of the others. Jeronymo arose, almost mechanically, and approached the group surrounding the two musicians, Piedade following him. With his elbows on the fence surrounding Rita's little patch of flowers and his chin resting on his clasped hands, he stood, neither moving nor speaking, giving body and soul to the seduction of the voluptuous music, as a giant tree allows itself to be encircled and bound by the caressing tentacles of a treacherous vine. And then came Rita Bahiana, who had shed her ruffles and appeared with arms and neck bared to dance. The 98 moon burst through the clouds at this moment, bathing the scene with a soft, silver glow and lending to the rich, warm skin of the mulatta a pallor that made her really beautiful. With infinite grace she danced, simple, primitive, seemingly formed solely to delight the senses, a creature from Eden's garden, much of the woman and much of the serpent. She danced within the circle, her hands at her waist and her entire body in movement. Now her arms were outstretched and raised, and then lowered till her finger tips touched her neck. At times she sank till she appeared to be almost sitting on the ground, while the movement of her arms and hips never ceased. Then she leaped into the air and danced, faster and faster, her arms twisting and writhing, and her blood boiling with a passion that communicated itself to the onlookers. As she flung herself into a chair, the enthusiasm of her admirers knew no bounds. An explosion of applause rent the air and cries of delight burst from every throat. She must dance more, they would not be refused. Seizing Firmo, she dragged him into the center and made him dance. Agile and supple, seemingly made of rubber, he performed astonishing feats. He doubled his legs beneath him and danced with his body almost on the ground, then leaped aloft and cut the most fantastic capers, his arms and legs appearing about to be shaken from his trunk. The dance spirit proved to be contagious; Florinda started dancing and so did even slim Albino, while the company was amazed to behold Alexandre enter the ring and do a solemn shuffle.

The spell of the chorado enchained them all des99 potically, those who did not dance as well as those who did. But none was so affected as Rita. She only, with the sinuous grace of the cursed snake, could truly interpret and express the spirit of her native Bahia-a combination of movement, of the strange perfume of the mulatta, and of the seduction of her voice-low and sweet, with no spoken words, but startling little cries and a crooning murmur, as she danced. Jeronymo gazed and listened, spellbound, feeling his soul pour out of his eyes, which he could not turn from the mulatta. She was a mystery to him, and he was dimly conscious of a confusion of impressions as he stood and stared. She was the brilliant glare at midday, the red heat of the plantation field; she was the aroma of the vanilla tree, filling the Brazilian forest; she was the virgin palm which lifts its head aloft and scorns contact with another living thing; she was poisonousand marvelously sweet; she was the sapoti fruit with its juice like honey, and she was the caju nut, whose fiery oil causes running ulcers; she was the treacherous green snake, a reptile of rare beauty, which had entwined itself about him and filled him with desires beside which his longing for his old home was a sentiment poor, indeed, and its fangs had penetrated his arteries and poisoned him with a venom that he knew would make him burn with fever-a fever of passion for the mulatta, for the half-white Rita, who danced to the music of the chorado of Bahia. All this Jeronymo felt but only half understood, So giddy was he with the change that had come over his 100 spirit. The subsequent impressions of that Sunday ever remained a hazy recollection of events, of the experiences attendant upon unaccustomed drunkenness-an intoxication, not of wine, but of the bitter honey from the calyx of the baneful tropic lily. So he remained, looking on. Other girls danced, but the tall Portuguese had eyes only for the mulatta, even as she fell exhausted into the arms of her lover. Piedade, her head nodding with drowsiness, called to him to come along several times, receiving in reply only an unintelligible mutter, after which she departed alone. Hours passed by, but still he could not leave. The circle had increased. Izaura and Leonor, on cordial terms with the tenement dwellers, were in the front row. Joo Romo and Bertoleza, the day's labors finally over, had come out for a moment to enjoy the scene before wearily falling into their bed. Miranda's family were at the windows, highly diverted with the merry-making. Many passers-by could not resist coming in for the frolic. But of all this Jeronymo had no consciousness; there was but one object before his eyes -the panting mulatta twisting voluptuously in the arms of Firmo. The blaster withdrew only at daylight, when the music had ceased and the wearied dancers had sought their homes. He saw Rita led into the house by her over, his arm around her waist. As Jeronymo paused before his own door, he was alone in the courtyard. The moon, now entirely free from clouds, was majestically sailing on its mysterious way. Miranda's windows were closed, softly, as though 101 not to disturb the unaccustomed stillness. The quarry, far back of the tenement wall, was bathed in light, seemingly lifting its head like a tortured monster, grateful for its hour of peace. There was no sound except the rustling of the leaves and the hum of nightflying insects over the little gardens. But Jeronymo did not sense these things. He was still hearing and feeling the music that had intoxicated his being, and picturing again and again the sinuous mulatta, with her wavy black hair, her soft brown skin, her brilliant black eyes and white shining teeth, and he understood perfectly well that within his heart had started a gnawing canker that he was powerless to uproot. Raising his head, he noted the familiar sky that precedes the dawn, a sky that he never had seen before except after seven hours of sleep. 102 CHAPTER EIGHT On the following day Jeronymo stopped work at lunch time, and came home instead of eating something at the quarry with his fellow laborers. Touching little of the food that Piedade hastily prepared for him, he immediately went to bed, ordering her to notify Joo Romo that he was not feeling well and would stay at home the rest of the day. "What's the matter, Jeronymo?" "Nothing serious. Go on, and do as I told you." "But do you feel bad?" "God! Woman, go and do what I have told you to do, and afterward let your tongue run, if you must." Holy Virgin! Jeronymo was truly in a bad way, and she did not know if they had black tea at the venda. So she hurried out, full of concern. Any indisposition of her husband, however slight, robbed her of her wits. He was so strong, and had never been ill. Could it be yellow fever? Jesus, Holy Son of Mary, forgive her for even thinking of such a thing! Credo. And she fearfully crossed herself. The dire tidings spread among the laundresses. "He got a chill in the night air," affirmed the Witch, who hurried up to No.35 to prescribe for the patient. But he would have none of her, begging her to leave him in peace and let him sleep, which was all he needed. Even this boon was not granted him. The Witch was followed by a second woman, then a third, and a fourth, until the place was

a swarm of swishing skirts. Jero103 nymo was about to protest brutally against this invasion, when a familiar perfume wafted in through the open window warning him that Rita, also, had arrived"Ah," and the frown left his face. "Good afternoon; and how's this, neighbor? Did you fall sick just because I came back? If I had known that you would do such a thing, I would have stayed away." He laughed-for the first time since the evening of the previous day. The mulatta approached the bed. As she had resumed work that day, her skirt was tucked up and her arms, bared to the shoulder, were cold from her washing. Her simple, white blouse was turned in at the neck, showing the firm, smooth skin the color of cinnamon. Jeronymo pressed her hand. "I enjoyed seeing you dance last night," he remarked. "Have you taken any medicine yet?" "The wife mentioned something about black tea." "Black tea?-what foolishness! Tea is only warm water. What you have is a chill. I'm going to make you a cup of strong coffee to be taken with a swallow of paraty, and then you see if you don't sweat and find yourself ready for another. Just you wait a minute." And she hurried away, leaving the whole room impregnated with her presence. Jeronymo had only to breathe in that perfume in order to feel much better. And when Piedade approached, heavy and doleful, muttering to herself, he felt that he had begun to dread her; he discovered all sorts of defects in her heretofore never noted, and he even was displeased by a rancid odor that never before 104 had struck him as disagreeable. The last vestige of his smile disappeared, and he relapsed into his former ill humor. "How do you feel now, Jeronymo? Speak up, man. When you don't answer me, it frightens me so. Have you any pain now ? " "Don't make any tea-I'm going to take something else." "You don't want any tea-Son of God!-it's medicine." "But I tell you I'm going to take something elseMy God! what a woman." So Piedade insisted no further. "I am heating some water to put your feet in." "Well, when it's ready, put your own in it." She made no reply to this. She wanted to tell him that never had he been so irritable and cross with her, but she feared to anger him more. She assured herself that it was one of the effects of the disease that had laid hold of him. Jeronymo closed his eyes to avoid seeing her, and gladly would have avoided feeling her presence if he could. The poor soul seated herself at the side of the bed, humble and solicitous, sighing with concern, living at that moment solely and exclusively for her man, his slave without any will of her own, accompanying his slightest gesture with loving and anxious eye, like a dog at its master's side, seeking to divine his wants. "I'm all right, my girl, you can go on about your work." "Never mind that, the work's not stopping. Leo105 cadia's wringing out my clothes-she had little to do to-day and finished early." "Y OU shouldn't let her do that." "Why not? Only three days ago I did as much for her, and her man wasn't sick either-it was so she could carry on one of her affairs up in the field." "Well, well, never mind. Don't criticize the lives of others. You might much better be at your tub than wasting time here, talking about the neighbors. Better go and fulfill your obligations." "But I tell you, my work's going on-there's no interruption." "There's interruption enough with me idle; it only makes it worse to have you loafing, too." "But I want to stay here with you, Jeronymo." "But this is all foolishness. Go on, get to work." She was about to slink away, like a dog driven from before the fire, when Rita entered with her light, quick step) a little pot of fragrant coffee and a bottle of paraty in her hands, and a thick wool blanket thrown across her shoulder. Piedade gazed at the mulatta in surprise, but could think of nothing to say to her. However, she remained. Rita, hearty and cordial as usual, and happy to be of help to a neighbor, placed the coffee on the oratory and unfolded the blanket. "This will wring it out of you," she said. "You Portuguese are queer folk; the minute some little thing is wrong with you, you're ready to die, and start wearing a death-bed face. Good Lord, what nonsense! Now, wake up and don't be afraid." 106 The patient laughed and sat up in bed. "Isn't it just as I told you?" continued the mulatta, addressing Piedade, and pointing to the unshaven face of Jeronymo. "Just look at that, and tell me if he doesn't seem ready for the tomb."

The Portuguese woman, made no reply, other than a weak smile. Within her, she resented the interference of an outsider in the nursing of her man. It was not her intelligence or power to reason that warned her of peril, but rather her instinct-the curious and subtle suspicion a female senses when her nest is in danger. "It seems to me that you are better, don't you think so?" the wife finally asked, addressing her husband and seeking to catch his eye, but poorly concealing her discontent. "He's better, just with the smell of it," the mulatta answered for him. "Drink it, hurry up, drink all of it, and then just lie and sweat. I'm coming back in a little while, and I want to find you nearly well." Turning to Piedade, she lowered her voice and spoke rapidly and confidentially, with her hand on the other's shoulder: "Within a few minutes he'll be wringing with sweat. Then change all of his clothes, and as soon as he asks for water, give him two fingers of paraty. And take care that there isn't any draft." After which she departed, with a swirl of her skirts that released a wave of marjoram. Piedade then approached the blaster, already rolled in Rita's blanket, and held the coffee to his lips for a second draught, mumbling: "God grant that this doesn't 107 make you worse. You never drank coffee and never liked it." "This isn't because I like it, my child; it's medicine." He never had cared for coffee, in fact, and much less for paraty, but he drank it even to the dregs and then snuggled down under the blanket. His wife tucked it in around his feet, and then brought a shawl to wrap about his head. "Now lie still and keep quiet!' After which she remained by the bed to guard him, breathing softly in order not to disturb him, and tiptoeing to the door every few minutes to beg that less noise be made outside. She was consumed with worry about her man, and radiant with relief a little later when he called to her to come and change his clothing. He was soaked with sweat. After hermetically sealing the room by stuffing old clothing in the cracks of the door and window, to avoid the dreaded draft, Piedade peeled off his wet shirt and drawers and immediately pulled a nightshirt over his head, under which she wielded a coarse towel, rubbing him dry. As she passed this over his body, she suddenly smiled into his eyes and rejoiced that, indeed, her Jeronymo was feeling better. He begged a drink of water, but she offered him only paraty, easily overcoming his protest by assuring him that it was what Rita had ordered given to him. His habits always having been sober, the effect of the fiery, native rum on an organization drained by a thorough sweat and a circulation stimulated by a vigorous rub was not long in making itself felt, and the 108 blaster, deliciously relaxed in his comfortable bed but with every nerve tingling, was really mildly intoxicated. It seemed good to be so far away from the blinding heat of the quarry ; the deadened roar of the macaroni factory's machinery sounded like distant music, and even the clamor of the laundresses down by the tubs gave him an indefinable sense of comfort and well-being. When Piedade recounted to the other women the satisfactory results of the remedy administered, Rita ran up to take a look at the patient. "And what do you say now-are you better, or not?" He turned at the sound of her voice, eyed her eloquently, and passed his left arm around her waist, while with his other he sought her hand. The mulatta interpreted this gesture as an expression of his gratitude for her care and interest, and made no resistance. But the moment he came in contact with the alluring, smooth skin of the Bahian, he was consumed with a wild desire to possess her, and flinging caution to the winds, attempted to draw her into the bed with him. In astonishment, the mulatta sprang out of his reach. "Oh, what a devil! I never imagined you could make such a fool of yourself. What will your wife say when I tell her of this?" But, Piedade's step being heard at that instant, Rita changed her tone and masked her indignation. "Now try to get a fine, long sleep, and when you wake up you should change your shirt again, if you have sweat enough to wet it." And departed. Jeronymo heard the last words with closed eyes, and 109 when Piedade entered the room he appeared overcome with fatigue and drowsiness. She softly approached the bed and drew the sheet a little closer about his head, after which she left him, walking as silently as possible. At the door, Augusta stopped to inquire regarding the state of the sick man. Piedade responded by placing her finger over her lips and shaking her head, to indicate that he was asleep. The two walked a little distance from the door in order to be able to converse, and found a fearful rumpus in progress. The whole tenement appeared greatly worked up over the affair. It seemed that young Henrique had formed the habit of beguiling his hours of leisure between lunch and dinner by lounging in one of the windows of Miranda's house, from which point of vantage he was much entertained by watching Leocadia wash her clothes. The motions of her full, stocky form had attracted his attention and during the hours when she

was at work alone, he winked at her and repeatedly tapped his left fist with the open palm of the right hand, to which she invariably responded by pointing toward the interior of Miranda's house as though suggesting Dofia Estella. On this particular day, however, the student appeared at the window with a white rabbit which he had won the previous night at a church fair. Leocadia coveted the little animal and running to the pile of bottles near the wall, mutely pleaded for it. Henrique, still conversing in pantomime, indicated the conditions on which she might have it. Leocadia inclined her head 110 in agreement and signed to him to await her in the field back of the tenement. Miranda's family was out, and Henrique, half dressed as he was, ran into the street and then traversed the vacant lot beyond Miranda's house to the field the laundress specified, the white rabbit held under his arm. Leocadia was awaiting him beneath the mango trees. "Not here," said she, as he appeared. "Somebody passes here every few minutes. Come over here at the side." He followed her around a clump of bamboos into a little space walled off by banana trees. Peering here and there to make sure that they were unobserved, she reclined upon the ground. The student threw his arm about her.... But suddenly, footsteps were heard approaching the thicket from the direction the two had entered, and without himself being seen, Henrique recognized the burly form of Bruno. With a leap he disappeared through the banana trees, while the furry price of the peccado scampered away to its welcome freedom. An instant later the blacksmith confronted his wife. "This time I've caught you, you slut!" he raved. "Who was it with you?" Without giving her time to reply, he knocked her to the ground, from whence she had scrambled to her feet. Leocadia gave voice to a succession of howls as he rained blows and kicks upon her. "I've caught you at last-deny it this time if you can." 111 "To hell with you," she responded. "I've told you more than once that I am sick and tired of you. You're drunk most of the time, anyhow." Then, seeing that he was about to recommence the shower of blows and kicks, she suddenly lifted a heavy, sharpcornered piece of granite above her head, and threatened him with it. "Touch me again if you dare, and see whether I open your head with this." Well knowing that her threats were never idle, he drew back and contented himself with answering: "Pack your traps, and get out.', "Oh, how awful! As though I haven't been waiting for the chance. You just bet I'll get out, and I shan't need anything from you, either.', "And you'll take none of my things from my house, just remember that, you common strumpet." "Rest easy, old boy, I'll take nothing of yours, for I don't need it." "Drop that stone." "Not much. But if you come one step nearer, it'll drop in your direction. You're the last to arrive, so you'd better be the first to set out.', He turned his back and retraced his steps whence he had come, his hands in his pockets, simulating a superb indifference to the domestic disaster that had just been precipitated. It was then that she remembered the rabbit. "The devil! " she muttered, and started a search about the field. Bruno proceeded to the tenement, where he related 112 what had taken place, for the benefit of all who cared to listen. Excitement ran high; the place seethed like a disturbed ant-hill. "Well, it had to come sooner or later. When a house can't stand any longer, some fine day it's sure to come down. Leocadia has been itching for this very thing." But nobody could guess with whom Bruno had discovered his wife in the thicket. A thousand theories were advanced, dozens of names were suggested, without any satisfactory conclusion being reached. Albino attempted to effect a reconciliation, swearing that Bruno certainly had deceived himself, and that Leocadia was an excellent young woman, incapable of such conduct. The blacksmith slapped the peacemaker's mouth, and nobody else felt moved to interfere in the affair. Bruno proceeded immediately to pitch out of the window into the courtyard everything that belonged to Leocadia. A chair lost a leg as it hit the pavement; it was followed by a kerosene lamp, a box for clothing, a miscellaneous collection of skirts, blouses, and underwear; some hat boxes filled with rags; a bird cage, and a tea kettle. Everything was thrown with furious energy and landed in a heap, the awed neighbors witnessing the ceremony in silence. A Chinaman who had entered the courtyard with a basket of shrimps allowed his curiosity to draw him too close to the blacksmith's window and placed his head in the path of a flying water jug. He howled with such a will that Machona came running, eager to gaze upon a creature able to compete with her. Dona Isabel, her hands crossed over her stomach, 113 looked out upon this

wanton destruction with profound melancholy. Augusta shook her head, entirely unable to understand how a woman who had one man possibly could want another. The Witch indifferently proceeded with her work, unlike Das Dores, who watched the performance, her hands on her hips, about which was gathered her skirt, a cigaret in her mouth and a disdainful expression on her face, as she mentally likened Bruno to the brutal husband she had abandoned. "They're all alike," she remarked, turning up her nose. "If a woman is fool enough to try to please them, they get sick of her; and if she realizes that marriage is a joke and proceeds accordingly, she's treated to kicks and cuffs from some brute like this one. They're rotten, the whole lot of them." Florinda found the whole affair most amusing and laughed openly, while her mother complained bitterly because the kerosene from Leocadia's lamp had fallen over the clothes she had bleaching on the courtyard stones. Her wrath soon was shared by the others, for just at that moment a sack of the powdered coffee commonly used in Brazil left the window, but aimed so high that it struck the eaves and the breeze carried the black dust over the lines of drying clothes. A chorus of protests arose. "This is going too far. They enjoy the fight, and we suffer for it." "Good Lord, if every time Leocadia went up in the bushes to meet a friend this brute had come home and ruined our work, we'd never get a rag delivered to a customer!" 114 "He'd better know it's no fun washing clothes for a living." , "People who can't get along had better not try living among other folks that's orderly and peaceable." Pombinha came to the door, her sewing in her hands, to see what all the disturbance was about, and Nenem, flushed from wielding a hot iron, called out to ask, with a little giggle, if Bruno were planning to refurnish his house. Rita pretended to attach no importance to what was going on, and placidly continued washing at her tub. "Do you remember what a fuss they had at their wedding? Well, now you see how it's turned out. I tell you, a single woman's in luck these days." Old Liborio arrived on the scene, hoping that in the general confusion he could snatch something and escape with it unnoticed. And Machona, noting that Augusto was imbued with a similar purpose, called from the place where she stood: "Get out of there, you young devil; if you touch anything at all, I'll skin you alive!" At this moment a Brother of the Order of the Holy Sacrament entered the courtyard, clad in his red robe, a silver staff in one hand and a little sack for alms in the other. "An offering for the altar candles," he called, and the women dropped other affairs for a moment to kiss devoutly the image representing the Holy Spirit, a dove at the end of the staff. A shower of coins fell into the little sack. Bruno now had cleared his house of Leocadia's belongings and he banged the door shut, giving the key a savage turn in the lock. He passed the curious group 115 in front without addressing them, scowling and swinging his arms with the air of one who had done much, but still not quite enough, to appease his wrath. A little later Leocadia returned, and beholding her possessions all outside and awaiting her, but for the most part wrecked, she advanced upon the door with fury. Facing the neighbors, she rammed with such effect that the flimsy portal gave way and Leocadia landed gazing at the ceiling. But she immediately arose, paying little heed to the general hilarity that attended her carrying of the works, and threw open the window. Then followed a shower of all that remained in the house, a veritable destruction. And she checked off each article as it left her hands : "Here goes the clock. Upah! you devil." And the clock hit the pavement. "Here goes the wash-bowl. Upah! you devil." The neighbors found this entertainment decidedly more diverting than that of Bruno, for now they could take part. They were never sure what was coming next, but they knew a part of the phrase that would accompany it. Therefore, as each household god hit the stones the laughing group chimed in, like a congregation reciting the litany, with " Upah! you devil." "Here goes a soup tureen." "Upah! you devil." "One old nightshirt." "Upah! you devil." "Here are six cups." "Upah! you devil." "Good-by, old pitcher." 116 "Upah! you devil." Leocadia worked fast and within a few minutes a new tenant might have moved in without further ceremony. In front of the house was a pile of rubbish, all that remained of the furnishings of No.17. The short legs of Joo Romo were

bringing him as rapidly as possible to the scene of destruction, but he was overtaken and passed by the blacksmith himself, who ran to his door, armed with a spoke from a wagon wheel. He was red with fury, and a chorus of shouts arose. "Don't you touch her!" "You shan't beat her up." "Grab him, somebody! " "Take that spoke away from him." "Here, help hold him!" Thus they saved Leocadia a clubbing. "Order, order. Stop this fighting! " shouted the landlord as soon as he could make himself heard, meanwhile indignantly wondering who behind him had the temerity to take advantage of the general confusion and kick him. Alexandre returned from duty at this moment, and brimming over with authority, warned Bruno to control himself and leave his wife in peace, under pain of being conducted immediately to the police station. "But you don't know how I caught this worthless trollop this afternoon, or you'd agree that she ought to have the breath beaten out of her," he protested, wrathfully. "But what business had you smashing up my things?" shouted Leocadia. 117 "Now, now, wait a minute," ordered the policeman, seeking to give his voice the proper inflection of conciliating authority. "Speak one at a time. Now, Madam," turning to the accused, "your husband charges that you-" "It's a lie! " she interrupted. "A lie, hey? That's good," laughed the husband derisively. "She had her skirt off and was held down by a man, and now she calls it a lie." "But who was it? Who was with her? Tell us who it was," chorused the group of eager neighbors. "I couldn't see his face, but I'd know him again if I could see him as he was then, and if I catch him, I'll kill him." There was a chorus of laughter. "It's a lie," repeated the accused wife, now overcome with tears. "For a long time this brute has been trying to find an excuse to leave me, and as I never gave him-" but the rest was lost among sobs. Now, nobody laughed, but a circle of murmuring comforters gathered around her. "Now," she continued, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, "I don't know what will become of me, because this man, after everything else I have suffered at his hands, has even broken up the things I brought with me when I married him." "Never mind, don't cry any more," urged Alexandre in his most soothing tone, replacing his pistol in its holster. "Everything's all right now, and your husband's going to take you back and be kind to you." 118 "I take her back! " cried the blacksmith. "Little you know me." "As though I'd go back," retorted Leocadia. "I'd rather live with a cart-horse than endure this brute any longer.', Picking from the heap in front of the house a few articles of clothing that still might be used, she tied them up in a sheet, preparatory to taking her departure. As she turned to leave, Rita ran after her. "Where are you going?" she asked in a low tone. "I don't know yet, my girl; but I'll find a corner somewhere. Even the dogs manage to do that." "Wait a minute," ordered the mulatta, thinking deeply. "Oh, I know. Here, put your bundle in my room for the present." And she ran to the tubs. "Oh, Albino, wring out these clothes for me-that's a good boy. And when Firmo wakes up, tell him I had to go out for a little." Then stepping into her house, she hastily changed into a dry skirt, and throwing a crocheted shawl about her shoulders, she cheerfully slapped Leocadia on the back and whispered to her: "Come along with mewe'll find a place to roost, as you'll soon see." They departed with swishing skirts, leaving the tenement in a fever of suspense and curiosity. 119 CHAPTER NINE SEVERAL weeks passed, Jeronymo now taking every morning a cup of strong coffee "like Rita makes," and accompanying it with two fingers of paraty. A slow but relentless transformation was in progress within him, hour by hour, and day by day, silently but surely remolding him, body and soul. For his energy, even, was weakening. He became contemplative and romantic. This newworld atmosphere and his Brazilian surroundings presented to him now unexpected and seductive aspects that moved him. He forgot his early ambitions and gave himself over to the idealizing of new pleasures, sharper and more violent. He became liberal and improvident, more given to spending than to saving. He lost his old-time austerity and became

pleasure-loving and, to a certain extent, indolent, no longer defying the blazing sun, the barricade of heat which the quarry wall threw back as a desperate last defense against the conquering invader. Thus were slowly modified in him the old habits of the Portuguese villager; Jeronymo became Brazilianized. His house lost its former air of severity, and friends occasionally dropped in for a little glass of paraty after work hours, while on Sundays there was now and then a dinner at No.35. Eventually, the revolution was complete-Portuguese wine gave way to the rum made from the cane juice; stewed dried beef with black beans and mandioca succeeded codfish with potatoes and boiled onions, and, one by one, the other viands 120 of old Portugal were crowded aside by dishes peculiar to Bahia, or Minas, or the shores of Guanabara. Once coffee had firmly established its welcome at No.35, it began dragging in its twin sister, tobacco, and soon Jeronymo was contentedly puffing with the rest. The more he dropped into the life and habits of Brazil, the finer his sensibilities became, even though his physical force weakened. He began to enjoy music and even comprehended to some extent the wilderness poets who sang of blighted love, their songs accompanied on the violin, or native guitar-indeed, Jeronymo himself had discarded the old instrument for the Brazilian. Formerly his one dream had been an eventual return to Portugal, but now, like the sailor on the high seas, his eyes became accustomed to the broad sweeps, and the turbulent Brazilian atmosphere, with its savage gaiety, no longer disconcerted him. But in this transformation, Piedade de Jesus had little or no part. She was cast in one block, and to change her was to break her. The outward modifications of their life she gradually achieved, but her nature under the surface could never be changed as Jeronymo's had been ; she could not attune her Portuguese soul to the tempo allegro of Brazilian life. Outwardly conforming to the new practices of their household, within she was the same silent and grave exile from her native land, overwhelmed by waves of homesickness and yearning, now intensified by the inexplicable changes in Jeronymo, which filled her with sorrow and fear. She had almost come to feel that Jeronymo had disappeared, that this strange being was someone unknown 121 who had usurped Jeronymo's place; and she sometimes experienced the phantastic sensation of being an adulteress as she wakened at dawn at the side of this eccentric individual who simply could not be her man-who bathed daily, and smelled of tobacco, and on Sundays perfumed his hair. How her heart smarted the first time he pushed away, untouched, a bowl of Portuguese broth! "My girl, why don't you observe the way they cook over here?" "Why, I thought-" stammered the poor woman. "You might ask Rita to show you how she fixes things. If we could have some shrimps like those she gave us the other day, it would be fine." This ever-manifested preference for all that was Brazilian distressed the poor creature profoundly; instinct warned her that the disease might progress until it would affect bed, as well as board. She was fully conscious that Jeronymo now belonged to her much less than formerly. His caresses were few, and seemed to be offered from pity rather than inclination. Their relations became less and less frequent, and invariably were provoked by the wife. One night she wept herself to sleep because Jeronymo abandoned their bed for the little couch in the living room, explaining that it was too hot and suffocating in the tiny sleeping room. And he never resumed the old arrangement, the next day slinging a hammock before the open door, as Rita had done in her house. One night she wanted her husband, and went to him, bending over him, and stroking his hair. Jeronymo 122 feigned indisposition and discouraged her attentions, and finally spoke with brutal frankness: "I don't like to mention this, butwell, the truth is, you ought to take a bath every day and change your clothes oftener. It's different here than it was back in the old country. Here it's hot and you sweat a lot, and if you don't do a lot of bathing you don't smell good. You see how it is, don't you?" This was too much; her cup of accumulated sorrows and resentments overflowed, and a flood of tears arose from Piedade's faithful heart. "Oh, my God! Now you're going to bawl-bring me an umbrella!" But she continued to weep, her whole body shaken with grief, and after an interval Jeronymo spoke again: "Now, look here, my girl; you are making altogether too much fuss over a little matter of no importance." "But to me it is a matter of importance. You don't love me any more; you're not the same man to me you used to be. You used to always want me near you, and now you say I stink! " she wailed, her sobs growing louder and louder. "You're talking nonsense," he assured her. "Oh, no; I'm not. I can see how you feel toward me." "It's just your imagination that's got away from you." "Cursed be the hour that we moved into this tenement. Far better for me had the roof fallen in on my head." "Now, my girl, you're complaining against fate with123 out any reason. I hope God doesn't punish you for it."

This quarrel paved the way to others, and before long they were daily occurrences in the blaster's home. There could now be no doubt about it; Jeronymo had eyes and ears only for Rita Bahiana. He never could pass No.9 without stopping and inquiring how she was feeling. The fact that she had been so kind when he was sick furnished the pretext for his attentions. His was a debt of gratitude that appeared incapable of ever being paid. It required presents and courtesies and favors without number. And he developed a marvelous interest in the welfare of the blacksmith's wife. As Rita was her friend and protector, nothing was more natural than that he should make inquiry at frequent intervals as to how the "poor little woman" was getting along. "You did right, Dona Rita, perfectly right. You proved that you are a lady with a very kind heart." "Ah, my friend, in this world we have to be kind, because we never know when we are going to require somebody's kindness." Rita explained to the blaster that she first had taken Leocadia to a group of laundresses in Rua Cattete who were her friends, and later had found a place for her as nurse-girl in a family for whom she once washed. And now, Leocadia had a still better place in a girls' school. "Fine, splendid! " applauded Jeronymo. "Here's how it is," explained the mulatta; "the world's large and there's a place for the fat and a place for the lean. Only a fool commits suicide." Jeronymo never tuned up his guitar without trying 124 to pick out the melodies the Bahian sang. On nights when they gathered for a samba, he was the first to arrive and the last to leave. He would stand abstractedly, as on the first night, and gaze at the mulatta dancing, lost to every other emotion. And she, well aware of the spell she was casting over his spirit, danced for him, and at him, and even touched him with her whirling skirt. And she laughed. There was no doubt, Jeronymo was in Rita's toils. Piedade, in her desperation, sought the Witch and implored her help in getting back her man. The old negress shut herself up with the supplicant, lighted wax candles and burned magic aromatic herbs. Then Piedade cut the cards, and after a complicated arrangement of kings, queens, and knaves, the Witch greeting the appearance of each with a muttered cabalistic phrase, she declared, with the utmost calmness and solemnity, and without removing her eyes from the cards, that his head had been turned by a dark woman. "Rita Bahiana," exclaimed Piedade, convinced of the efficacy of the Witch's magic. "I felt it inside me all the time. Oh, my poor, dear man; my poor, dear man." And she wept, wiping her eyes on the corner of her apron, and begging the Witch, for the love of the poor little souls in purgatory, to find some remedy for this insupportable disaster. "If I lose that man, Dona Paula," the unhappy creature sobbed, "I don't know what's going to become of me. Give me something to bring him back to me-I just can't bear to live without him." 125 After some study and further consultation of the cards, the negress directed the unhappy wife to save a little of the water in which she washed herself, and each day to mix this with the coffee she gave her husband. If this resulted in no improvement, then a stronger charm must be employed. She must cut off a little of her hair, burn it, and then mix it in his food. Piedade listened to these directions in profound and respectful silence, with the doleful air of one who hears from the physician a discouraging report on the state of a loved one. Then she placed a silver coin in the sorceress's hand and promised a better reward if the remedy proved effective. It was not only the Portuguese woman who was embittered by Jeronymo's passion for the mulatta. Firmo, also, had discovered the violent flame his mistress had kindled in the heart of a rival, and eyed the blaster with a silent challenge. He now was working steadily and did not live in the tenement, although he spent his nights at Rita's house, and on Sunday remained the entire day in her company-during the whole noisy celebration that always marked the laborers' weekly rest and relaxation. One day he arrived unexpectedly at noon, and came upon the Portuguese in conversation with Rita as she worked at her tub. He passed by without speaking and entered No.9, where she soon joined him. He made no mention of his apprehensions, but also no attempt to conceal his ill-humor. He was irritable and sullen the whole afternoon and continued in this mood until after dinner, when he sipped his paraty and began to talk of beatings, and operations performed in 126 his wild youth with his trusty razor, citing various similar escapades before the public recently, and expressing the opinion that such methods were the only ones suitable for the settling of scores of a private nature. Among his own past performances he had not counted two "stupid immigrants," because he did not consider them human beings-one could slit them open with the same compunction lavished on a pig. Rita understood the drift of his allusions, and sought to allay his jealousy. Early the next morning the two men passed in the courtyard, and the glance they exchanged could be interpreted only as an open challenge and defiance. But neither of them spoke. Rita resolved to warn the blaster to be on his guard, as she

well knew that Firmo would stop at nothing when in one of his jealous rages. But at lunch time when Jeronymo descended from the quarry, the tenement was in the throes of another scandal, this time at No. Twelve and between old Marcianna and her daughter, Florinda, and the Portuguese's danger was driven from her head by this new excitement. Marcianna had been worried about her daughter. And on this particular day the two had not yet finished lunch when Florinda left the table and ran to the bedroom, where Marcianna found her vomiting in the chamber. "What's the matter ? " she inquired, looking straight at the girl. "Nothing, mamma," was the reply, followed by another period of retching. "But what do you feel?" 127 "Nothing, mamma; no ma'am." "You don't feel anything, but you are vomiting!" cried the old mulatta in impatience, seizing the girl and violently loosening her clothing, after which she lifted the skirts and passed her hands about the abdomen of her young daughter. Unable to discover anything for herself, she ran to call the Witch, who was better versed in such matters. The old negress, without excitement, wiped her arms and accompanied the worried Marcianna back to No.12, where she examined the now cowering Florinda, asked her several questions and addressed others to the mother. Then, in the same matter-of-fact fashion, she pronounced the girl pregnant, and departed as calmly as she had entered. Marcianna, trembling with rage, closed the window and locked the door, placing the key inside her dress. Then she fell upon her daughter and beat her without mercy. With no hope of escape, Florinda shrieked and implored rescue. The tubs were abandoned and irons left to cool, while the neighbors gathered in front of No. 12, pounded upon the door, and threatened to break in the window. There, inside, the old mulatta was still mauling the girl, prostrate on the floor, pausing only to demand: "Who was it? Who was it?" After which the beating was resumed until time for another "Who was it? Tell me who it was." Her daughter howled, but did not respond. "Oh, you don't want to say who it was? Well, just wait now, and we'll see." And she ran to the kitchen for the broom; but the time, short as it was, sufficed for 128 Florinda to open the window and literally fall outside among the excited neighbors. The laundresses were disposed to protect her from further beating, the enraged mother throwing open the door and threatening all of them with her broom. A number of the women sought to calm her. "What's it all about, Aunt Marcianna? What's the poor child done?" "The little bitch is in trouble! " shrieked the old mulatta; "that's what it's all about. That's what she's been headed for, and she didn't need any urging. I've warned her, and she knew better.', "But don't beat the poor child now," said Augusta. "You'll not leave any hide on her." "Then let her answer me," raved the old woman. "I want to know who did this dirty business and she's got to tell me, or I'll break every bone she's got." "Now, Florinda, say who it was," counseled Das Dores. "It's better to tell your mother now, and get it over." The circle waited in unaccustomed silence, avid with curiosity. "There, you see," exclaimed the mother. "She won't answer, the filthy hussy. But I'll show you whether she tells or not." The laundresses had to hold the enraged woman's arms and take the broom from her or she would have fallen upon the unfortunate girl again. Curiosity had now reached the boiling point. From every side came questions and urgings to speak out and clear up the matter, the ever more insistent "Who was 129 it? Who was it?" finally breaking down the girl's stubborn resistance, until she commenced weeping into the torn skirt which she held to her eyes and blubbered : "It was Domingos." "Domingos? " "The clerk in the venda." "Aha, that carrot face! " cried old Marcianna. "Come along here," and she seized Florinda by the arm and dragged her to the store, accompanied by the whole chattering group. Both the taverna and the restaurant were filled with customers. Behind the counter Manoel and Domingos were on the jump. There were many negroes in the place, and the racket was deafening. Leonor was there, playing about and scuffling with one and then with another, showing her double row of big, white teeth, and squealing as the men in the place pinched her thin legs and flat breasts. Two English sailors were drinking a curious mixture of ginger-ale and whiskey, chewing tobacco, and singing drunkenly in their strange, gruff tongue. Marcianna forced her way between the customers and the counter, still clutching her luckless daughter, and shouted: "Oh, you, Joo Romo!" "What's the matter out there ? " called the voice of the vender, who was in the other room, up to his neck in work, serving hungry customers.

Bertoleza, holding aloft a huge cooking spoon covered with grease, appeared at the door, dirty with sweat and soot, as usual, and seeing the place invaded by the crowd from the tenement, called to her man: "Better 130 hurry in here, Mr. Joo; I don't know what's happened." Finally he appeared and impatiently inquired: "What the devil's the matter?" "I've come to turn this girl over to you-your clerk had better look out for her.', Joo Romo stared stupidly from sniveling Florinda to grim Marcianna. "What do you say-what's it all about?" "It was Domingos!" answered many voices. A light broke, and the employer called sternly: "Domingos!" "Yes, sir," responded the clerk in a voice dripping with guilt. "Come here." The culprit sidled nearer, with the pallor of death. "What did you do to this girl?" "Nothing-no, sir; I didn't do anything to her." "Oh, yes, he did," wailed Florinda, as the clerk dropped his head to avoid meeting her accusing eyes. "It was one morning early, very early-about four o'clock, up in the field under the mango trees." This information occasioned a chorus of giggles. "And so, one of my employees goes about seducing the girls of the neighborhood," said the vender, shaking his head severely. "Since you've tried on the shirt, I guess you'll have to wear it; and as I don't employ clerks with families on their hands, you might as well look for another situation." Domingos was too crushed to reply. Silently he effaced himself. 131 The group of laundresses and store loafers then gathered by twos and threes at the gateway, in the courtyard, and in front of the restaurant to discuss the affair , the clerk having his detractors and a few defenders. Various prophecies were aired as to the probable outcome. In the meantime, Marcianna, without loosening her grip on Florinda's arm, had invaded the rear of the establishment in pursuit of Domingos, who had started packing his few clothes. "Well," she demanded, "what are you going to do?" To this he made no response. "Speak up, you puppy." "Oh, dry up," muttered the clerk, still red with shame and anger. "Dry up nothing! " cried the old laundress with fury. "You just go a little slow with your packing. You're going to marry her-she's a minor.', "Like hell, I'll marry her.', "Won't you? We'll see about that." And the indignant mother rushed back to the store. "Young carrot-face says he's not going to marry her.', This announcement had the effect of a war-cry on the clustered laundresses, who crowded to the door , flaming with indignation. "Not marry her?-What does he mean?-He's gone through with all of the performance except the ceremony itself and now he wants to back out. He's trying to make us laugh?-If he gets away this time no mother can protect the virtue of her child.-If he didn't want to marry her, why did he do it?-This young blood is 132 trying to set a new style.-Tell young Domingos there's going to be either a wedding or a funeral, and no matter which it is, he's going to be in it." And other similar sentiments. The neighbor loudest in demanding reparation was Machona, while the one most deeply deploring the wrong done was old Dona Isabel. The former stationed herself in front of the establishment, ready to seize the villain should he attempt flight. Following her example, the others immediately distributed themselves at the various doors and windows from which he might escape; even a guard for the wall on the side toward Miranda's house was not forgotten. Amid the buzzing of voices might be heard ferocious threats of vengeance. "Das Dores, take care; he might get by you, and over the wall! " "Oh, you, Mr. Joo, if your man doesn't want to get married, better send him out here. We have some other girls he might like." "But really, where is the dog?" "They say he's packing his clothes." "He shan't get away-don't let him slip by." "Has anybody called the police?" "That's right, I wonder where Alexandre is."

And much more, lost in the general confusion. In view of the agitation of the neighborhood, Joo Romo went to speak to Domingos. "Don't go out yet," he ordered. "Stay here for the present. In a little while I will come and tell you what to do." 133 Then, stepping to the door leading to the courtyard, he called: "Stop this racket-I can't have this here. You've made noise enough." "Well, then, is your Domingos going to marry her?" the women shouted back. "Why don't you send him out here? We're not going to let him get away. What are you protecting him for?" And old Marcianna, who naturally was the one most insistent, even shook her fist in the proprietor's face. Romo swore that if she continued this performance he would have her put out of the tenement immediately, and to the others he called : "Come, come, now. Let's stop this racket and all of us return to our work. I can't waste any more time, and neither should you." "Then send out the clerk," insisted old Marcianna. "Yes, we want Domingos," echoed the chorus; "we're going to teach him a lesson." "The boy's going to marry her ," announced the vender, catching his breath. "I've already told him he must either do that or pay her suitable damages as a dowry. So all of you can stop worrying about it. I will be responsible for either the marriage or the money." This quieted the mob. The laundresses left the strategic points they had been guarding and, one by one, resumed their interrupted labors. Joo Romo called Domingos aside and warned him to remain within the house until after dark. "And let this be a lesson to you," he added. "See if you can't turn over a new leaf in a new job, and avoid 134 such errors as this. I am going to let you get away without the police taking you-we will consider our accounts balanced." "Accounts balanced-what do you mean? Aren't you going to settle up with me?" "Settle up?" said the vender, shaking his head sadly. "My boy, the amount due you will not be enough for the damages to be paid to the gir1." "But have I got to pay damages?" "Either that or marry. Ah, my son, this sort of thing is the most expensive diversion I know of. Of course, if you are not satisfied to leave as I suggest, you have a right to complain to the police. Then the whole affair can be settled by the court. Perhaps, after all, that would be the best way out of the mess." "But don't I get any money at all?" "Look here. When this row started, I let you hide in here and protected you from that mob of women, and you know that they would have torn you in pieces if they could have got hold of you. The fact that you've still got your eyes in your head, you owe to me. In order to get them to let up on you, I had to promise the money, and now I've got to pay it. If you think it's coming out of my pocket, you're mistaken. You did the dancing, so you pay the piper. I don't furnish such luxuries for anybody, not even my clerks." "But-" "That's enough. As a special favor, you may stay here till dark, but no more talking. Otherwise, out you go, right now." 135 And Joo Romo resumed the direction of his business affairs. Marcianna resolved that she would not lodge a complaint at the police station until she saw what the vender proposed to do about the case. She would wait, at least, till the next day, "just to see." In the meantime, her poor house was cleaned and scrubbed, and then the process repeated. The scandal was the only topic discussed throughout the day. No other subject could displace it when the residents of So Romo stopped for a moment to converse; so much so, that when Augusta and Alexandre received a visit that evening from their daughter, Juju's godmother, Leonie found the tenement still much occupied with Florinda's undoing. Leonie, with the gaudy and exaggerated clothing usually affected by French cocottes, aroused much interest and admiration on her visits to So Romo. Her gown of steel-colored silk, trimmed with ox-blood, was short and saucy, exposing slippers the height of whose heels filled the laundresses with awe. Her twenty-button gloves reached almost to her armpits. A red parasol foaming with a sea of pink lace ( a combination that all agreed was particularly fetching) and with a wonderfully carved handle was an acknowledged work of art. And her hat-not a woman in all of the ninety-five households could behold that hat without emotion. It was a large one, with two enormous wings and a nest , of red velvet, over which hovered a whole bird, though a small one, at which the children stared with fascination, half expecting at any minute to see it take wing 136 and disappear. And Leonie had jewelry-much of it. Her lips wore carmine and her eyelashes were darkened. Then there was her hair-a veritable crown of glory, all agreed. It came to her a modest brown, but with the aid of the chemist's lore she had achieved a shimmering gold. With this marvelous attire and the peculiar

graces of her profession, she was always something of a sensation in the tenement, and all sorts of pretexts were employed to stop a moment at Alexandre's house, or at least walk by, for the purpose of enjoying a closer view. Juju was more or less a miniature edition of her godmother. At the first glimpse of the mincing little figure, Augusta Carne Molle had rushed out and smothered the child with kisses. But to-day the little one's appearance had undergone a change-she, also, had been transformed into a heavenly blonde. Rapidly the news flew about the courtyard, and friends came rushing to see Augusta's girl with "French hair." Leonie was radiant with the success of the innovation. This adopted child was her one luxury, the one thing distinctly hers, the one really worthy impulse of her depraved life. Realizing what she was, she basked in the unaccustomed respect and consideration she enjoyed in the tenement, well knowing that among less simple and ignorant people she was scorned and ridiculed. She was therefore grateful to Augusta and Alexandre for their friendship and for making her the godmother of their child, and she lavished presents and kindnesses upon them. And among the dwellers of So Romo, she actually felt different. Her eyes lost some of their hard glitter, and for a little she forgot the scenes to which 137 she was accustomed, daily, down in Cattete. She wanted no special attention or consideration. She seated herself on the bench at Augusta's side, drank water from the family tin cup, laid aside the marvelous hat, and sometimes went so far as to kick off the tight slippers and rest her cramped feet in the shabby old carpet affairs under the bed. Alexandre and his wife returned her affection with interest. There was nothing they would not do for Dona Leonie. To them, she was the most beautiful and most perfect of women, with the heart of an angel, and her visits were the great events of their narrow lives. Juju, with a sack of candy in each hand, was carried from house to house, passed from arm to arm and from mouth to mouth, like a marvelous and miraculous idol that everyone must kiss. Compliments were unceasing. She was pronounced a rare beauty, a little angel, a French doll, and everything else that was held desirable. On such processions she was borne aloft in the arms of the proud father, deeply moved but solemn as ever, who gravely stopped every few steps to receive the homage of another neighbor and allow a flood of enthusiasm to expend itself. With a faint smile and tearwet eyes, his accustomed expression of stupid dignity gave way to one of humble wonderment how a simple mulatto like himself ever had become the father of so perfect a marvel, and what kind divinity had sent, straight from the skies, a truly fairy godmother of angelic goodness to bring her up. While Juju made her triumphant round of the tenement, Leonie remained with Augusta, the center of an 138 dmiring circle of laundresses and children, conversing most seriously with her friends. She spoke in a low voice and with the air of a person of experience and judgment. She condemned all that was evil and dishonorable, and applauded what was virtuous and righteous. And the women about her, usually so boisterous and forward, now spoke without raising their voices, listening to the words of wisdom and impressed with the goodness of the beautiful lady addressing them. Das Dores glowed with importance when Leonie placed her gloved hand on the laundress's shoulder to inquire how her man was getting along. The group never red of gazing at the cocotte, admiring her good looks and examining the details of her elaborate costume. The richness of her dress caused wonder; fingers tested the softness of the silken hose; the slippers, at close view, were even higher in the heel than they had thought; and as they lifted her skirt a chorus of astonishment arose as they beheld the amount of lace on her undergarments. And the object of this adulation smiled, moved by the heartfelt compliments of the circle. Piedade vowed that Madame's dress was even finer than that of Nossa Senhora da Penha. Nenem in her enthusiasm declared that she envied Leonie from the bottom of her heart, upon which her mother reproved the sin of covetousness. Albino gazed in ecstasy, his chin in his hand and his elbow in the air. Rita brought a few roses and offered them to the visitor. She was well aware of the social position of the blonde French woman, but she praised her beauty warmly. Furthermore, "it takes a 139 smart woman to get all the jewelry and good clothes Leonie wears out of a bunch of stingy rich men." "After all, I don't know," Rita continued later to a group in the courtyard. "It may be a terrible life, as they say it is, but it can't be denied that she has a comfortable time of it and nothing lacking. She has the best to eat and drink, and lives in a good house, and goes riding in the afternoon in a fine carriage. And at night she goes to the theater and to dances as often as she pleases, and on Sunday there are the races and picnics out in the country, and all the money she wants to spend. And best of all, she's not tied to some brute of a man, to be kicked and cuffed about like Leocadia and some others. No, indeed, she does as she pleases, free as love itself. Her pretty little body belongs to herself, and she cedes it only to those that make it worth her while." Back at Alexandre's house, the subject of all these remarks looked about as though somebody were missing. "Where's Pombinha?" she inquired. "I haven't seen her yet.". "Oh," replied Augusta; "she's not here. She went to the Dancing Club with her mother." As the visitor did not understand, it was explained that Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings Pombinha earned two milreis at a dancing school, where she helped to teach bashful young men employed in various offices in the city, it being there that she had met da Costa.

"What Costa?" "Her beau, the one that wants to marry her.', "Oh, yes, I remember." 140 Then lowering her voice, "And is she all right now?" "No, indeed; and they are so unhappy over it. Only this week Dona Isabel made a vow to Our Lady of the Annunciation, but it seems no use." At this moment Augusta appeared with a cup of black coffee which Leonie refused, explaining that she was under medical treatment, and that coffee was forbidden. She would prefer beer. And without giving time for opposition she drew a ten-milreis note from her purse and despatched little Augusto to bring three bottles of Carl Berg. The cocotte, with her own hands, distributed full glasses to the circle, retaining one for herself. There were not enough to go round and the liberal visitor wanted to send for more, but this was not permitted, there being no difficulty about two of her friends sharing a glass. "Imagine spending so much-what a generous heart she has." The change was forgotten purposely, there on the shabby bureau, half covered by the old but well-treated toilet articles. "And teI1 me, honey, when are you coming to see me ? " urged Leonie. "By the end of the week, without fail-I'm going to bring all the clothes. But if you're short of anything, I'll send it early." "I do need towels and sheets; and-oh, yes, a couple of nightgowns would be useful, too." They were promised for the morrow. The hour was now ten, late for the tenement. Leonie had become impatient, and sent out to see if the young 141 man who was to call for her might be lingering at the portal instead of entering. "Is this the same one that came last time?" "No, this one's taller, and wears a silk hat." A number ran to look, but the escort had not yet appeared. Leonie was annoyed. "Lazy loafer," she muttered. "I wonder what he's doing." "Why don't you stay all night?" urged Augusta. "You won't be so comfortable as in your own home, but the night's soon over." "Oh, no, thank you; I must be at home to-night, because to-morrow early I have a lot of things to do." But at this moment Dona Isabel and her daughter returned, and Pombinha, on learning that Leonie had not gone, left her mother for a moment to run in and greet the French woman, for the two were great friends. The cocotte received the girl effusively, kissing her lips and eyes repeatedly. "Ah, my child, what makes you so pretty?" she exclaimed. "Thoughts of you, I'm sure," replied the other, in her innocent simplicity. Then they drew aside for a little conversation, and Leonie produced a present she had brought for Pombinha, a toy of no value except for the merriment it might cause-a mouse nibbling a piece of cheese. It was passed from hand to hand, and most extravagantly admired. "You nearly missed me," remarked the cocotte. "If the person calling for me had been on time, I would now be almost home. 142 "Tell me," she continued, fondling the other's hair, 'when are you coming to visit me? You needn't be afraid-my house is most quiet and orderly. Many nice people come there." "But I never go to the city, or very seldom," sighed Pombinha. "Get your mother to come with you to-morrow and dine with me," urged Leonie. "All right, if she'll do it. Here she comes; you ask er." Dona Isabel promised, not for the day following, but for Sunday. And the group conversed with animation for a quarter of an hour until the arrival of Leonie's escort. He was a youth in his early twenties, without fortune and without employment, but well dressed and most presentable. "Don't mention Sunday before him," whispered the visitor. Juju was asleep and it was decided not to awaken her, but to send her on the morrow, along with the sheets, towels, and nightgowns. As Leonie departed on the arm of her gigolo, accompanied to the gate by a group of admiring friends, Rita playfully poked Jeronymo's ribs and cautioned him to avoid being charmed. "Never by a painted trollop like that," responded the blaster, with a disdainful shrug of his shoulders. Then he extended his hand back of her, and gave her a little slap to indicate the lady of his choice. "Oh, what a brute you are! " she exclaimed, rubbing the point of attack. "Truly, you will never get over being a Portuguese." 143

CHAPTER TEN MIRANDA'S house was preparing for a celebration. The Jornal do Commercio already had informed its readers that the Portuguese sovereign had graciously bestowed upon him the title of Baron de Freixal, and as his friends had advised him that they intended to visit him the following Sunday to offer their congratulations, the new aristocrat resolved to accord them a worthy reception. In the tenement this news caused a sensation and many eyes were turned toward the scene of the coming festivities. Izaura and Leonor appeared at the windows at regular tntervals to shake rugs free of dust, holding them far out and shutting their eyes against the cloud that arose with each shake or blow. Additional servants had been introduced for the great occasion. The floors in front were being waxed by a couple of negro boys, while the kitchen was in a turmoil. Dona Estella, clad in a cambric dressing gown with a wealth of pink ribbon, moved here and there, giving her orders and wielding a large fan, and when she entered the kitchen or used the dripping back stairs, she was much occupied in holding high her trailing skirt. Zulmira, also, came and went, pale and bloodless as ever, and Henrique assisted old Botelho in the arrangement of the furniture and other preparations for the expected invasion. Clad in his white coat, the youth found many pretexts to pause a moment at a window to flirt with Pombinha, who was in her doorway, sewing 144 and pretending to be unaware of his attentions. Seated in a wicker chair, with one leg doubled under the other , exposing a rounded calf encased in a blue silk stocking and tipped by a low shoe, it was only at rare intervals that she raised her eyes to the neighboring house. A hurrying figure entered from the street. It was the stocky new baron, in an overcoat and high hat, clutching an umbrella. He rushed here and there, inspecting the various activities of his subordinates. Trotting through the dining room, he visited the pantry and breathlessly inquired if this and that had been sent, sampling the wines that had arrived in demijohns, issuing orders and countermanding them, reproving this servant and storming at that one, then rushing out of the house again and throwing himself into the waiting carriage to rattle away and make sure that the fireworks ordered were going to be ready on time. There appeared a procession of men with cases of champagne, boxes of port and Bordeaux, kegs of beer, baskets and baskets of food, cans and cans of preserves. Turkeys and young pigs, a quarter of veal, and hundreds of eggs ended their journey at Miranda's house, while every window-sill was covered with pans of compotes, puddings and pastry, set out to cool. But the tenement could not give its undivided attention to these momentous preparations-other events were taking place nearer at hand. Domingos had disappeared during the night, and a new clerk had taken his place behind Joo Romo's counter. When that worthy was questioned regarding the matter, he frowned darkly and inquired: "And what have 145 I to do with it? He made off, I don't know where. Do you expect me to go out and hunt for him, and drag him back here by the neck?" "But you said you would be responsible for him," reminded old Marcianna, who appeared to have aged ten years in those twenty-four hours. "But the young scoundrel gave me the slip. What can I do? You'll have to be patient." "Well, then, I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with the money." "Money-what money? Have you been drinking?" "The money you promised, you vulture. One's about as good as the other. But I'll show you." "Look here, old girl, you be off and don't bother me." And Joo Romo turned his back upon her to listen to Bertoleza, who had approached. "Wait and see, you villain! " cried the old woman, lifting her hand. "It is God that shall avenge me and my daughter.', But the vender walked away, indifferent to her reproaches and to those of the other women who sympathized with her. The others were not so excited as on the previous day. The affair was of yesterday, and therefore had lost the merit of novelty. Marcianna went to the police station with her daughter, but returned in discouragement. She was told that nothing could be done without first locating the culprit. The two spent the whole day in trips to various public officials, to the prosecuting attorney and then to private prosecutors, who wasted little time on them when they 146 found how little the old woman could spend on an action against the yet-to-be-found Don Juan. Upon their return, exhausted with fatigue and burned by the hot sun, they found the tenement dwellers nearly at the end of the day's labors. The peddlers who lived in So Romo were, one by one, returning with their baskets empty or with the remnants of fruit they had been unable to sell. Marcianna was so furious that she said nothing until she had

beaten Florinda again, after which she flung open the door and windows and ran for two pails of water, which she dashed on the floor like one possessed. "Get a broom! " she shrieked. "Help me scrub out this pig pen. It seems to me I will never get this place clean. If it's shut up for an hour, it stinks enough to choke me. Hurry up, we'll all get the pest! " And noting that Florinda was weeping, "Oh, now you are sorry, and you bawl-pity you didn't feel this way about it up under the mango trees." Then the daughter sobbed. "Shut up, you worthless baggage! Do you hear me? Shut up!" Florinda wept louder. "Oh, you want to cry, do you? Well, you shall have something to cry for.', Darting into the kitchen, the old woman seized a stick of wood, but after one blow with it, Florinda dashed into the courtyard and sped to the portal, disappearing into the street. Nobody could stop her, and there arose from the tubs a clamor like that of a startled hen-roost. Marcianna followed to the gateway, and 147 searched and called in the greatest agitation. Then, realizing that her daughter had abandoned her she, too, wept, her arms extended and her eyes gazing into space. The tears ran down her wrinkled face and seemed to wash away the rage that had convulsed her, now leaving her a pitiful, broken old woman, crushed with the bitter grief of a mother bereft of her only child. "But where can she be?" she sobbed. "Where has she gone?" "But you've been beating her since yesterday," responded Rita. "She's run away from you, and she did right. The child's flesh, not iron." "Ah, my daughter." "Oh, yes, now she's your daughter. Pity you didn't remember she was your daughter when you were thumping her." Nobody appeared to feel much sympathy for Marcianna except the old negress, who went and seated herself in the disconsolate woman's doorway, saying nothing, but staring with pitying eyes at her grief-stricken friend. Marcianna finally roused herself from the whimpering stupor into which she had fallen, and suddenly springing to her feet she ran to the rear of Joo Romo's establishment, her hands in the air and her stiff black hair flying. "This damned immigrant is to blame for everything. Curses on you, you thief! If you don't answer for my daughter, I shall set fire to your house! " A sinister smile played for a moment on the face of the Witch as she heard these last words. The vender appeared in his doorway and ordered 148 Marcianna to vacate No.12. "And hurry up about it; I'm not going to have you shouting around here in this fashion. You get out, or I'll call a guard and have your things thrown out. I'll let you stay to-night, but to-morrow, vacate." He had been in a vile humor all day. More than once he had shouted in impatience at Bertoleza, only because she had asked some simple question regarding the work. Nobody ever had seen him so irritable and with so little self-control; he didn't seem the same man whom all had known as calm, methodical, and eventempered. And no one who knew him could possibly have believed that the cause of all this ill-humor was the fact that Miranda had been made a baron. Yes, that vender, humble, squat, and miserable; that immigrant who never laid aside his wooden tomancos and never appeared in clothing other than a shirt without a collar; that animal who fed himself less well than the dogs, in order to save every copper he could gain or extort; that being, shriveled with greed and seemingly divested of the privileges and sentiments of a man; that creature who had never loved nor thought of anything but money-Joo Romo now was envious of his neighbor, Miranda. And his envy was more intense than that of Estella's husband when he bitterly contemplated the vender's good fortune. He had followed Miranda's progress ever since the merchant had come to occupy the house next door; he had seen him on the happy occasions when, full of importance, he was surrounded by fawning adulators; he had seen him receiving at his entertainments im149 portant political figures; he had seen him shining among a group of ladies from the city's most exclusive circles; he had seen him risk much in dangerous speculations, and win; he had seen his neighbor's name on important directorates, or as a subscriber of large sums to public enterprises, or as a moving spirit in works of charity or national celebrations; he had seen him praised and acclaimed in the press as a man of broad vision and great financial talent-he had seen him in all this prosperity and good fortune, and never been envious or jealous. But now, strange as it may seem, merely through reading in the Jornal do Commercio that his neighbor had become a baron, the Baron de Freixal, he had felt a chill creep over his body that threatened to freeze his heart. All through that Sunday he could think of nothing else. Miranda was a baron; his neighbor had been admitted to the nobility. He never had counted on this. Money could be made, and property acquired, but Miranda was now Baron de Freixal. And there in his store these bitter reflections entered into every activity. A pat of yellow butter became the golden

insignia of a prized decoration; he half expected to see the cheese knife tap somebody on the shoulder with: "Rise, Sir Knight." That night when he had dropped into bed at Bertoleza's side, sleep would not come. In that narrow and dirty room, with its smoky ceiling and cobwebbed corners, every object took on the appearance of the robe of a noble order; the cracks through which the moonlight filtered formed diamond-studded crosses. And in Joo Romo's hard head a maze of new pictures began 150 to form themselves. He saw himself in another setting, surrounded by grandeur and luxury that his limited experience only half understood. He felt the touch of silk and lace and velvet; he saw the bare arms and necks of lovely ladies adorned with long ropes of pearls, and heard their soft laughter as they sipped foamy wine of golden hue from delicate and sparkling glasses. Amid a sea of these lovely creatures, floating about in the arms of perfectly groomed men while languorous music filled the air, he saw himself-not looking on, but as one of them-a happy mortal who had arrived at that scene of festive luxury in a deepcushioned carriage with a heraldic device on its door and a liveried coachman holding the reins over a pair of splendid horses. He had been received with low bows and ushered into a room with many tables glittering with rich gold and silver and covered with delicious fruits, and here, amid the light and music and flowers, he stood with a glass in his hand, while the assembled wealth and fashion leaned forward to hear his words. It was a beautiful dream. The only discordant note was, now and then, a snore from Bertoleza, who had kicked off the bedclothes and now exposed her thick, stocky black body, reeking with perspiration, onions, and rancid lard. Because Joo Romo never had known anything of such luxury, he was doubly enchanted by his vision. He continued to picture himself in this wonderful world, surrounded by these charming ladies and gentlemen, who conversed of music, and art, and painting, and literature, and politics. It was a marvelous life that 151 opened itself before his ravished eyes, a life that was full and complete and satisfying. He lived in a palace surrounded by everything beautiful and luxurious. His feet pressed thick rugs; he reclined upon chairs of gold. Expansive mirrors threw back to him his perfectly clad form, and eagerly approaching him were millionaires and noblemen and high officials in splendid uniforms. They grasped his hand and clapped him on the back-and why not? Wasn't he one of them? Yes, indeed. They had come to visit the Baron, the Baron of Gold. He never had been the proprietor of a noisy tenement, whose days were spent in measuring out paraty and serving evil-smelling food, clad in a dirty shirt and a pair of denim trousers, clamping about in wooden tomancos. Not he. He was the Baron of Riches, the Baron of Grandeur, the Baron of Millions. A vender? Who ever started such a yarn as that? It couldn't be. He was the famous capitalist, a proprietor of untold possessions, a banker whose riches steadied the markets of the world. From the far corners of the earth he saw flowing toward him rivers of gold; caravans crossed the desert to bring him their wonders from distant lands; puffing locomotives drew car after car of his products to their destination; a line of majestic ships plowed their way through the parting waves that his commerce might be served. And all was controlled by his hand; his cabled instructions made monarchs tremble, and markets rose and fell at his will. "Wake up, Mr. Joo! It's time to go to the market for the fish." Fairyland had vanished, and there was Bertoleza 152 rousing him for the day's activities, just as she had been doing for years. For Joo Romo had himself always gone for the fish. An employee might pay too much, or hold back some of the change. Indeed, it was an established rule of the vender never to entrust to hired help a transaction where the spending of money was involved. But to-day he reversed the habit of a lifetime, and told her to send Manoel It was four o'clock and he managed to sleep till six, when he arose to find the usual Sunday morning clamor in full swing. Even at this early hour the celebration in Miranda's house was in progress. Flags were hanging from the windows and there were plants and flowers everywhere. At daylight Dona Estella had ordered fireworks set off, and a band of music already was playing at the entry. Miranda and his family had risen early. All in white, with diamond studs in his shirt, he appeared at the window every few minutes to acknowledge the cheers of the populace. At such moments his wife and daughter clung to his arms. The rest of the time he mopped his brow, lighted numerous cigars and moved about, smiling, genial, complacent. Joo Romo observed all this with a bitter heart. The wonderful dream edifice he had erected threatened to come down about his ears. Doubts and misgivings assailed him. Would he really be happy with his mode of life changed? Which was better, after all: to continue as he had lived thus far, in his shirt and tomancos, denying himself every comfort; or to follow Miranda's plan, and enjoy the good things of life? Could he live up to 153 pretensions like Miranda's-could he be a gentleman if he were to try? There was no lack of money-he had plenty of that. But would it be possible for him to spend it as Miranda did? For instance, could he bring himself to exchange several thousand milreis for a little decoration to wear on his breast? And could he smother his selfishness enough to share his wealth with a wife and family? After stinting himself for years, would he ever be able to invite a host of guests to splendid banquets, and fill them with delicate food

and expensive wines? And if he ever did bring himself to a frame of mind where he could do all of these things without its hurting him too much, was he able to fill his role? After all, did he just need the will, or was he too hopelessly ignorant ? Could he learn enough to change his mode of life, marry a woman of education and refinement, establish a home like Miranda's, grace a title after he had obtained it, and not be the laughing-stock of the whole city? How would a body that had never known a coat act in a dress suit? And those feet, with their spreading toes that had yet to explore the inside of a shoe-how could they be crowded into a dancing pump? And those awful hands, stiff and calloused and never cared forwas ever a glove made that would accommodate them? This was not all. The worst would be when he had to speak. What would he say, when it came to receiving guestswould it be sufficient to ask them to have a drink? And the ladies-good heavens! He began to sweat as he imagined himself in the midst of an animated group in somebody's drawing-room. Gone was 154 the easy grace he had pictured the night before. Would he forget, and say things that would make him blush? A deep and dull depression settled upon his spirit. He wanted to leap, but he feared to break his bones. Lack of confidence in himself gave way to black despair. He came to the dismal conviction that all he was good for was to make money, and to his astonishment he began to assure himself that money is not everything. "I have been a fool," he thought to himself bitterly, "a hopeless fool. When I was younger and might have learned things, why didn't I set about it; why didn't I observe how other people live and act, as lots of my acquaintances, worse off than I am, have done; why didn't I at least join a carnival club and learn to dance; why haven't I ever gone walking through Rua Ouvidor in the afternoon, and attended parties and accustomed myself to converse with people; why have I never worn decent clothing and shoes that fit, and learned to handle a cane, a handkerchief, a hat, a cigar, a glass of beerdo all the things that other people seem to know how to do without being taught? Damned economy, that's it. "True, I would have spent something, I wouldn't have quite so much as I've got now, but at least I would have been learning how to do something with money-I would have been a civilized human being." "Seems to me as though you're talking with the spirits to-day, Mr. Joo," ventured Bertoleza, noting that he muttered much to himself and was not intent upon work. 155 "Let me alone. Don't you bother me, either. I don't feel good to-day." "I was just talking-I didn't mean any harm." "All right, never mind." And this ill-nature continued throughout the day. He seemed ready to quarrel with everybody. He always had been on excellent terms with the district fiscal agent, but to-day they had an argument, Joo Romo declaring that he wasn't a worm to be imposed upon through fear of a fine. If they thought they were going to eat him up in taxes, they might try it, but it would cost them dear. And he might remark that he didn't like loafers hanging around his door. Next he had a row with Machona on account of her cat, which had stolen some fried fish the week before. Then he paused in front of the empty tubs, wrathful, and seeking some excuse for an explosion. With a shout, he scattered the children in his path. "Get out of the way, you lousy pests! I never saw such creatures to stop and block the road, just like so many rats." The next victim was old Liborio. " And you, too, are always under foot, you old empty husk. What the devil do you hang on for, anyway?" An instant later he was storming at one of his tenants, a tailor, who had two roosters which he allowed to fight within a circle of enthusiastic friends. The next to catch it were the Italians, who were grouped about their doorway enjoying their Sunday rest and eating oranges and melons, dropping the rinds on the pavement. "This has got to be cleaned up !" he shouted. "It's 156 worse than a hogpen. We'll have yellow fever in here through your filth, you damned foreigners. Clean this up right now or get out. I'm boss here." As poor old Marcianna had not moved out in accordance with his orders of the previous afternoon, his fury approached a delirium. Since Florinda's flight the old soul had done little but weep, the while muttering an unintelligible monologue, with the persistence of a maniac. She had not slept at all during the night; she had left and entered the courtyard twenty times, worried and miserable. She was distrait and did not respond to questions asked her. Joo Romo stopped and addressed her, but she paid no heed to him. The vender, every instant more exasperated, ran to the street for two men, whom he ordered to dispossess his tenant. "Put all her traps outside; here I'm boss; here I'm monarch! " he bellowed, beside himself. And the men began their work. "No, no, not here in the courtyard! " he yelled. "Out there in the street, outside the gateway !'

The poor creature made no protest. She dragged herself along after her roughly handled belongings, still muttering. Passers-by stopped and eyed the scene with curiosity, but nobody could understand what the old mulatta was saying. It was a droning mumble, accompanied by a solemn and continual shaking of the head. An old mattress was ripped open and half emptied; furniture, most of it without varnish, had suffered much in handling; clothing had been thrown out with no attempt at packing; dishes and kitchen utensils formed 157 a pile of rubbish by the curb. The man with the many instruments was giving his usual Sunday concert near by; customers passed in and out of the store; the tenement dwellers were setting out in their Sunday clothing; neat bundles of clean clothes were starting on the way to their owners, and sacks of soiled ones were entering the portal for washing. But to none of these things did Marcianna give any attention. She crouched by her wrecked belongings and muttered, no longer weeping, but gazing straight ahead with unseeing eyes. Several of the neighbors, overcome with pity for the old soul, went out and offered her food and tried to talk with her. She made no response to them, nor even appeared to hear them. They called her by name repeatedly, but she gave no sign of recognition. The laundresses whispered together, crossing themselves. Surely Aunt Marcianna had lost her wits. Rita came out with a plate of food for the unfortunate neighbor. "Aunt Marcianna," pleaded the mulatta, "don't stay here like this. Get up, and we'll help you take care of your things till you have a place to put them." There was no response-Marcianna only continued to mumble. "Come on, it's going to rain. You mustn't stay out here. I've felt two drops in my face already." "That won't prevent it." This strange remark was made by the Witch, who stood gazing upon the hapless mulatta crouched in the street. Rita could remain no longer, because Firmo had ar158 rived in company with Porfiro, the two bringing a number of parcels containing provisions for dinner. Das Dores' man also had arrived; it was three o'clock. Miranda's house was ever more crowded with visitors and his reception was attracting much attention. Inside, the music played almost without ceasing, eager couples dancing the waltz and the quadrille. Servants hurried from the pantry and dining room to the front of the house, bearing trays of full glasses. Henrique, flushed and perspiring, appeared at a window frequently, eagerly looking for Pombinha. He was disappointed, for she was passing the day with Leonie in accordance with her mother's promise. Joo Romo, after visiting his wrath upon Bertoleza and the clerks, left the store and again entered the courtyard, where nothing met with his approval. He censured the quarry workers severely, this time including Jeronymo, whose size and strength formerly had intimidated him. He pronounced the work up at the quarry rotten. For the past three weeks everything had stood still. Always they were getting ready to blast a new section, and always they put it off. Here Sunday had arrived and everybody was laying off, and still no powder burned. Just a bunch of loafers. And that Jeronymo, who used to be on the job every minute, was now setting a bad example to the rest. All he could think of was trying to get a samba started every night, so that he could stand and stare at Rita Bahiana. He seemed to have been bewitched by her. Piedade, hearing evil spoken of her man, leaped to 159 her feet and searched for a weapon. Armed with two stones she started for the vender, and a battle would have ensued had not the threatened rain arrived in a sudden downpour. Everybody sought cover in his particular corner except the children. These shed their clothes and leaped about the courtyard, ducking in and out of the torrent that poured from the eaves, and sometimes lying on the ground, pretending that they were swimming. When Joo Romo returned to the store, he, too, fleeing from the rain, a clerk handed him a card from Miranda, inviting him over that evening for a cup of tea. At first the vender was pleased and flattered by the invitation, the first of the nature he ever had received in his life. But after further reflection his anger burned more fiercely than ever. This invitation was intended as a slight, a bit of irony calculated to irritate and provoke him. "Why did the old wind-bag invite me, when he knew for certain that I wouldn't come? Why, if not to emphasize the difference between us? To hell with old Miranda and his titles and his parties. I don't need anything from him. I can get along without any attention from bounders like him. If I liked parties, I'd have them myself." In spite of these assurances, he began to imagine how it would be if he were provided with the proper clothing and were to accept the invitation. He saw himself dressed in a good suit of nice broadcloth, with a 160 heavy gold chain hanging across his vest and a diamond pin in his tie. Entering the salon, he would smile at all present, addressing a few words to this one and a remark to that one, not talking too much, but being affable to all. He could imagine the voices on every side discreetly whispering that he was a man extremely rich and of the greatest independence. And he could

mentally picture how they would gaze at him and seek opportunities to meet him, and how kindly the ladies would talk to him, especially the ones with marriageable daughters. Filled with these ideas, he was abrupt and disagreeable to the customers, treated Bertoleza with unprovoked harshness, and finally, on beholding Marcianna huddled in a corner of the store, where she had been led by some negroes who took pity on her forlorn state out in the rain, he lost his temper completely. "Look here; what the devil do you bring this old simpleton in here for? I like to see people charitable with their own property, but not with mine. This isn't a shelter for homeless vagabonds." Then turning to a policeman who had entered for a glass of paraty to overcome the effects of getting wet, he remarked: "Say, my friend, this woman's a tramp and has no home, and when I close up I can't leave her here inside the store." The policeman departed, and an hour later a guard came and led Marcianna off to the lockup, not making the slightest protest, but still mumbling her unintelligible monologue. A wagon from the municipal warehouse cleared the street of her belongings, in accordance 161 with regulations, and the only person who appeared to be truly impressed by the tragedy was the Witch. In the meantime, the rain had ceased completely and the sun appeared for a moment before setting. Birds resumed their song in the trees and the tenement eagerly started in to make up for lost time. Above, in the residence of the Baron, the celebration became ever more boisterous, and at intervals an empty bottle was thrown into the courtyard, occasioning protests and hoots. A full moon had been in evidence since sundown, and the night was beautifully clear and fresh following the rain of the afternoon. The samba broke out earlier and more animatedly than usual, probably incited by the merriment in Miranda's house. It was a wild festivity. Rita Bahiana seemed carried away with enthusiasm, inspired, divine. Never had she danced with such grace and abandon. She sang, too. And each verse that came from her red lips seemed to breathe of love, like a dove cooing to its mate in the cote. Firmo, overcome with passion, made his guitar weep and moan; the instrument and Firmo both paid their tribute of wild devotion to the mulatta from Bahia-to Rita and her dancing. Jeronymo could not contain himself, and when the dancer fell panting and exhausted at his side, he murmured to her with a voice strangled with emotion : "My love, if 1 could have you for mine, I would give the devil my soul." Firmo did not hear the remark, but he interpreted the. expression that accompanied it, and scowled fiercely as he eyed the blaster. 162 There was no abatement in the evening's pleasure, however. Das Dores took part, and so did Nenem and a friend who was passing the day with her. The admiring circle beat their palms in time to the music, and then offered wild applause to each dancer. When Piedade's husband leaned close to the mulatta a second time to whisper a message, Firmo had great difficulty in restraining himself from flying at the Portuguese's throat. But when Rita, in a moment of imprudence, almost touched the blaster's ear with her lips, as she murmured to him some remark the others were not intended to hear, Firmo bounded across the space between them and glared at his rival, measuring him from head to foot with an expression intended to provoke. The Portuguese, also, arose and returned the other's glare. The instruments stopped and the circle remained in profound silence, nobody stirring from his place. The brilliant moonlight streamed down upon the two men eying each other with hate. Jeronymo was tall and broad, built like a bull and with a neck like that of Hercules; his was a quiet strength, his wrist was of steel and with his fist he could fell an ox. The other was a trifle shorter, slim and supple, and with the agility of a cat. It was a case of brute strength pitted against nervous energy-and neither of them was afraid. "Sit down, sit down." "No fighting here." "On with the dance." Piedade rushed forward to pull her man away from 163 the scene, but the blaster shoved her aside without removing his eyes from the mulatto. "Let's see what this goat wants of me," he muttered. "I'll teach you a lesson you need, you ignorant immigrant," answered Firmo, facing his antagonist, dancing on one foot and then on the other, and working his arms as though he intended clinching with the big fellow. Jeronymo, enraged by the insult, advanced upon the other, aiming a blow intended to kill. The goat, however, suddenly dropped upon his back, braced himself with his arms and threw upward his right foot, with the result that the savage blow was lost in space and the blaster received an unexpected kick in the stomach. "Canalla!" he shouted with fury, and threw himself forward toward his still crouching antagonist, only to have the breath knocked out of him by the latter's head.

"Get up if you're not dead yet! " shouted Firmo, resuming his dance. Jeronymo arose and again lunged forward at the nimble mulatto, but Firmo leaped backward, lifting his foot as he did so, and the Portuguese's fist hit nothing, while he received a jarring kick in the chin. Blood flowed from his mouth and nose and there arose a clamor from the women, while Firmo delivered light but effective blows left and right. Joo Romo ran and closed the portal to prevent entrance from outside, and then hurried up to the scene of the fight. Bruno and the other quarry workers were trying to seize the mulatto, who was still dancing about, now 164 worked up to a frenzy of fury, and successfully evading their efforts to subdue him. The women were in a state of terror, some shouting and others weeping, the one exception being Rita Bahiana, who stood a little apart, with arms folded, watching this battle for her sake, the suggestion of a smile on her red lips. The moon paled and the sky took on a dull gray appearance, in contrast with its former brilliance, while there was a misty dampness in the air. Piedade was howling for the police and Miranda's windows were crowded with frightened faces. Whistles were blown and orders shouted all directions. In his helpless rage against the nimble plumber, Jeronymo had ripped a picket from the fence and with this he landed a blow on his dancing rival's head. With a quick movement the mulatto drew a keen-bladed razor from his pocket. His face dripping with blood and a froth of fury about his lips, he leaped from side to side, endeavoring to approach the burly Portuguese. The onlookers were now overcome with horror. The men stood rigid waiting for the outcome, while the women wept in each other's arms. Albino had lost his senses, and Piedade was on her knees, wailing and shouting that her man was being killed. Das Dores cursed men generally, being apparently sincerely neutral in the present conflict. Machona had a flat-iron, but whether she intended to make it a three-cornered fight was uncertain. Augusta was begging that the portal be opened so that Alexandre might be admitted when he came home. Through the rear door leading to the quarry a number of outsiders had entered, and with much dif165 ficulty Dona Isabel had found her way in by that entrance on returning from her visit to Leonie with Pombinha. The old lady hurried her daughter into the house and locked the door, bitterly complaining against the fate that doomed her to live in such surroundings. But the Brazilian and the Portuguese fought on. It was now a more equal contest, as the Portuguese handled his club with skill-so much skill that Firmo kept out of its way. In vain did the plumber attempt to reach his rival without being clubbed. Already he had been struck on the head and on the body and was bleeding profusely. The crowd breathed with relief to see the tide of battle turning in favor of the tenement dweller. Jeronymo's brute strength was telling; his club swung with the same energy, while Firmo visibly was weakening. The plumber's forces were failing and he did not dance so jauntily. Suddenly, a blow reached him across the hips and he dropped to the ground amid the smothered cries of the onlookers. But his quickness had not yet deserted him, and his lithe body shot forward under the swinging club. Something in his right hand flashed upward and the Portuguese felt a sharp sting across his belly from left to right. As the blaster sank to the ground the slim mulatto sped to the rear of the tenement and disappeared through the door into the field. The cries of "Catch him! Grab him!" were of no avail-he was gone. Piedade had thrown herself across the bleeding form of her husband, while Rita, her smile now vanished, knelt down and brushed back the hair of the fallen giant. 166 "Get a doctor, somebody," she begged. At this moment there was a vigorous pounding on the portal, with repeated cries of "Open! Open! " The door was heavy and strong, and did not yield. Joo Romo rushed across the courtyard like a general whose forces threatened to weaken. "The police mustn't enter-don't let them in. Hold the door shut." "No, no, they mustn't come in," agreed the tenement dwellers with one voice. "Hold the door, don't let it open." Jeronymo was carried to his bed by the men, and there lay groaning in the arms of Piedade and Rita. "Hold the gate-we're coming," and from every corner of the courtyard hurried men armed with clubs, pieces of pipe and anything else that could serve as a weapon. It was in a spirit of standing together as neighbors for the protection of their homes. They would feel forever disgraced and dishonored if the police entered and interfered in their affairs, which they haughtily considered themselves competent to regulate. So long as it was a row between two men over a woman, there was no cause to interfere-the winner got the woman and the loser dropped his pretensions to favor. But now the proposition was quite different. A hostile force threatened to invade their collective dwelling, and they rallied to a man in its defense. Then, too, the police were objects of special hatred to the tenement dwellers. Whenever there was disorder and the police were permitted to quell it, they usually were guilty of all sorts of excesses. They invaded 167 rooms and broke everything within reach, leaving any house they visited a complete wreck. It was therefore an ancient feud and a firm determination to protect what was their own that animated the laborers in their resistance.

While the men held the gate, the women were dragging forward everything heavy that might serve as reinforcement for the portal. Stones, carts, barrels, stove wood, empty bottles, every object that could be moved or thrown was piled high back of the heavy door to form a barricade across the passage, should the portal be forced. But the besiegers, also, had received reinforcements and the pressure from outside was multiplied. The door shuddered, bent inward, and little by little began to open; but the tenement dwellers' defense was not ended. Outsiders who had entered through curiosity now made common cause with the defenders, as they were sure to be carried off with the prisoners if the police won the battle. The pickets surrounding the little gardens were soon in the hands of the besieged. Machona's skirts were up about her hips and it was clear now what she intended to do with her flat-iron. Das Dores, never considered of much account in a fight, showed herself one of the most determined of the Amazons. The door finally gave way and fell sidewise with a clatter of bricks. Four guards fell in with it, and were received with a shower of stones and bottles. But others followed, till twenty had assembled inside. A sack of lime emptied over them demoralized their formation. 168 The fight now began in earnest. The breastworks of rubbish across the passageway still lay before the attacking party and over this their sabres could not reach well enough for effective use, while the well-aimed missiles of the defenders were claiming many victims among the forces of law and order. The sergeant's head was cut by a broken bottle and two guards had retired from the fray. It was impossible to storm the tenement without a larger force, but still the police held on, resolved not to make a humiliating retreat. Had they been armed with pistols, they were in a frame of mind that would have meant opening fire. One of them got over the barricade of rubbish, and was so badly beaten that his companions had to assist him from the scene. Bruno, dirty and bleeding, had gotten a rifle, and Porfiro was jocularly wearing a police helmet. "Out with the bandits, out with them, out with them! " With each missile thrown went a cry of "Here's a stone for you! -and here's a bottle! -some lime for your eyes!-a stick of wood for your fire!" And outside the whistles grew more and more insistent. But at this moment, when the fate of the battle still hung in the balance, Nenem appeared in great excitement, calling that a fire had broken out in No. 12 and that smoke was pouring from that section of the tenement. "Fire!" At this cry the tenement dwellers were panic-stricken. A fire could wipe out their homes in a few seconds, as they well knew. 169 There was now the wildest confusion. Each sought to save what was possible of his belongings. The police took advantage of the new peril to invade the premises, dealing blows to right and left in an attempt to avenge their humiliation. The tenants were rushing about distractedly, Some attempting to save their more precious possessions and others fleeing from the police. And the guards in their exasperation were breaking in doors and leaving destruction in their wake. Suddenly, a sharp flash of lightning was followed by a roll of thunder and a drenching rain. 170 CHAPTER ELEVEN It was the work of the Witch. The old idiot had been powerfully affected by the curse of Marcianna, and the mulatta's threat to set fire to the place had planted a suggestion in the weak mind of the elderly negress that the further excitement of the day had fanned and encouraged. While the attention of the others was directed to the defense of the tenement she had furtively carried straw and rubbish into NO.12, and built a bonfire there. Fortunately, the sudden and heavy rainfall saved the tenement from destruction. But even so, the damage to the householders was serious, as a number of the houses not reached by the fire had been entered and sacked by the police. The rain, which had been practically a cloud-burst, was regarded as providential, because it not only quenched the flames, but it also cooled the heated tempers of, the battling hosts and caused the police to withdraw before the place had been wrecked completely. And they had taken with them no prisoners. If they had taken one, they would have felt obliged to take all. What for? They had wreaked their vengeance inside, and they were satisfied. Joo Romo did all possible to discover the author of the attempted destruction, but to no avail, for the tenement dwellers were so intent on their battle that the Witch's movements were not observed. The more superstitious called attention to the fact that the fire started in Marcianna's vacated rooms, and, in view of her 171, curse, advanced the theory that a supernatural power had taken a hand in settling accounts with Joo Romo. But this view of the case was largely counterbalanced by consideration of the providential rain that had come to his rescue. At daybreak So Romo was up and taking stock of its situation. A few sadly gazed upon their wrecked belongings, too discouraged to do more than lament, but the majority of the tenement dwellers were accustomed to hard knocks, and

philosophically decided that things might be worse. These set about cleaning up their houses, and repairing and replacing their damaged furnishings. "The proprietor himself was on the scene early, furious over the injury wrought to his property. The front gate was a pile of kindling wood, and into the barricade had gone much that was his. Windows without number had been shattered, and the combined destruction of fire, water, and the police meant a considerable loss. How could this loss be passed from his shoulders to others? That was a subject of anxious study on the part of the vender, who wrestled with the problem all day. A per capita tax might be levied on the tenants to cover the cost of the repairs, or he might raise the rents, and thus make up the damage and enjoy an increased return in the future. But in the meantime, he set about with his characteristic energy to make the damaged houses habitable. A tenement not in rentable condition struck him as a poor investment. Then, too, he did not care to run the risk of being fined by the sanitary inspector. So building materials were dumped into the 172 courtyard, and painters, carpenters, and glaziers arrived on the scene to commence work. At noon Joo Romo had to obey a summons to appear at the district police station. Clad in his usual shirt, trousers and tomancos, he proceeded to the city, accompanied by a large delegation from the tenement. Some went from a spirit of solidarity, and others from simple curiosity. A number of the women bore children in their arms, and all were most excited. The trip was made on foot, other pedestrians not being certain whether they were witnessing a religious procession or a circus parade. The tenants enjoyed the excursion thoroughly. They engaged in animated discussion, pointing out to each other individuals and objects that aroused their interest, and upon arrival at their destination all crowded into the room where police hearings were held. The investigator addressed himself exclusively to So Romo, but always received a chorus of replies, in spite of his protests and threats. The information he sought was not forthcoming, but he was inundated with a flood of complaints about the procedure of the police, one tenant exaggerating the damage he had suffered. So far as the conflict itself was concerned and by whom started, the vender was able to throw little light on the subject, stating that he was absent when the affair began. But he did see the guards invading his property and ruthlessly destroying everything within reach. "I'm glad of it! " shouted the investigator. "It will teach you not to resist the police." Then there arose a chorus of excited orations, condemning the police and justifying the resistance. They 173 were tired of the violences of those bandits; the police guarded nobody's property, but wantonly destroyed everything in their path; the police protected nobody, but attacked everybody; if a group of friends gathered to enjoy themselves, immediately they were set upon by uniformed ruffians; in these constant riots between peaceful neighborhoods and the guards, the latter invariably were the aggressors; if honest and hardworking people were only left alone in their homes, these scandalous fights never would take place. And much more. The same spirit of standing together as neighbors that had led to the defense of the tenement, now united them with bonds of steel in defending their cause in the police court. The investigator, after fruitlessly questioning them one by one, gleaned not a single item of the information sought, but heard plenty of charges against the organization of which he was an important member. In despair, he cleared them all out, and they turned homeward with every demonstration of a victorious army. Nor was the investigation of the fight that preceded the riot much more successful. The doctor who descended from Miranda's house to lend first aid to Jeronymo had not been able to obtain any details of how the wound was received. He was assured that it was an accident, that the men were only scuffling in play and that there was no intention to injure anybody. Rita betrayed tireless concern for the patient. It was she who rushed away for medicines and bandages, who served as the doctor's assistant and acted as the victim's 174 nurse. Many of the others visited Jeronymo to demonstrate their sympathy and interest, but it was Rita Bahiana who never left his bedside after the doctor's departure. Piedade was in a state that allowed her to do little but weep and wring her hands. The mulatta did not weep, though her face betrayed deep suffering. The affair had taken on a romantic character for her. She now decided that this big man so kind and good, this inoffensive giant, was very dear to her. Her heart glowed as she realized that it was for her sake that this tranquil Hercules, who could have killed Firmo with one blow, had almost given his life. Her woman nature was captivated completely by this sanguinary proof of his devotion, and she was deeply touched to see him smile into her eyes in spite of his pain, glad of the disaster that enabled him to feel her hand on his brow. Without speaking a word he told her over and over again, with his eloquent eyes and the tender pressure of his fingers, that he loved her. And Rita responded to these silent demonstrations without the slightest scruple, smoothing the matted hair and ministering to his needs. Even there in the presence of his wife, she made no attempt to conceal her love, bestowing upon him every caress except a kiss.

From midnight on, only Rita and Piedade remained with the patient. It had been decided that on the morrow he should be transferred to the hospital of the Brotherhood of Santo Antonio, of which order Jeronymo was a member. Therefore, on the following day, while a portion of the tenants were accompanying Joo Romo on his visit to the police station and the rest 175 were working like ants to make their damaged homes habitable again, a makeshift ambulance removed Jeronymo to the hospital, attended by the woman he had married and the woman he loved. The two returned home only at dark, drooping with weariness. Practically the entire tenement was in the same state. The day had been one of feverish activity as laundry work had been carried on with difficulty The workmen, also, were drawing water for their use and tubs, taps, and even cans were at a premium. But weariness and hard work did not suppress all conversation. The conflict of the previous night was much discussed. Some dwelt upon the violence of the police others exulted over details of their resistance; some boasted of the defiance hurled in the very teeth of the official investigator, and still others engaged in complaints and recriminations. All had suffered damage to either property or person, and in their fever of indignation displayed their ruined furniture or wounds of battle. But by nine o'clock there was not a living soul in the courtyard; the exhausted tenement dwellers had retired for needed rest. Even the venda closed earlier than usual, and Bertoleza had fallen upon her bed in complete fatigue. Joo Romo took his place by her side but could not sleep. He felt a chill and pains in his head. He awakened his companion, and with man groans begged her to give him something to make him sweat, convinced that he had an attack of fever. The negress rested only hours afterward, when the vender's clothing had been changed and he had fallen 176 asleep. Even then her repose was brief. It was soon time for her to rise, build her fire, heat water for the laborers' daylight coffee, start Manoel off to the market for fish, and do the dozen and one things that she always did, besides looking out for the matters that customarily fell to Joo Romo. And never for a moment did she forget the sick companion of her joys and sorrows, stepping softly and making as little noise as possible, that he might sleep. Outside, breaking day renewed the life of the tenenent, and the endless struggle was taken up where it lad been laid down the night before. A good night's rest had put everybody in better humor. Pombinha, however, awakened this morning depressed and nervous, without courage to leave her bed. the asked her mother for coffee, which she sipped, and hen sank back between the sheets. "Don't you feel well to-day, my child?" asked Dona Isabel, passing her hand over the girl's forehead. "You don't seem to have any fever." "No, I'm only sort of weak, but it will pass. I'll be all right in a little while." "You had too much ice at Madame's house. Rememer I told you it wasn't good for you. Now, the best ling is hot water to put your feet in." "No, no, for heaven's sake. In a few minutes I'll be up." At eight o'clock she did get up, and indolently bathed her face and hands at the little iron washstand. Then she combed her hair and had no strength for further exertion. Her glass told her that she was of an un177 usual pallor. When she smiled it was a pathetic little movement of her mouth, devoid of mirth-in fact, her lips made her think of a story she had read about a poor little flower whose delicate white petals, so like her lips, drooped and died because a loving big butterfly forgot her. He scattered his pollen about on all of the other flowers and they bloomed and delighted the hearts of the children in the garden, but because he passed her by and gave her none of the precious pollen, the poor little white flower faded and perished. The visit to Leonie had not proved satisfactory.The hugging and kissing of the cocotte grated on the sensibilities of the young girl, and she was glad when they had started homeward. The French woman had slipped on her finger a ring with a diamond surrounded by little pearls, a gift which Pombinha firmly refused, finally accepting it only at Dona Isabel's insistence. Then had followed the nerve-racking events of the night, with the fight in the courtyard and the conflict with the police, after which they had faced the possibility of seeing their little home burned. The news of Florinda's flight and Marcianna's pitiful condition also did much to depress the sensitive girl. As the morning wore on, she felt no better and at lunch time turned up her nose at the simple meal old Isabel had prepared. She was too nervous to sew and the book she tried to read fell from her lap. At noon the narrow walls of No. 15 so oppressed her that she could no longer stay inside, and she announced that she was going out to walk in the field back of the tenement. Dona Isabel protested that she could not leave her 178 work at the moment, and was astonished to be assured that her daughter did not want her company-she preferred to be alone. This agitation, which led her to dread conversation with the neighbors, hurried Pombinha through the length of the courtyard and she passed through the little door at the rear with a sense of freedom. The field itself was deserted, but she could see the workers in the higher parts of the quarry, and the sharp ringing of their chisels sounded near at hand.

The loneliness of the field soothed her wrought nerves and she sank down in the shade of the bamboos with a sigh of relief. It was truly restful after the illspent night. Little by little the fair head began to nod, and in a few minutes Pombinha was extended in the shade fast asleep. And, she was no more Pombinha-she was a flower! Had she not often been told that she was a flower? Now she realized that it was true. She had delicate, white petals and she swayed in the breeze like the other flowers, but she discovered that she was different from them. The others were sturdy, blooming, fragrant flowers, and only she was a little faded, wilted flower. She was weeping with sorrow because she was not like the others, when suddenly a beautiful, big butterfly lazily winged his way about the garden and all of the flowers called to him to come and rest a moment on their petals. He flew about and alighted here and there, but never once did he notice the poor little white flower. So she gathered her courage and she, also, called to the beautiful butterfly, but he did not hear. Then she called 179 still louder, but he flew among the others and paid no attention to her; and then she called with all her strength, making her little voice as loud as she coulda truly desperate cry, and he flew down close to her. "Light here upon my petals, too," she begged, but the butterfly still hovered So far away that she could not touch him. "Yes, yes, light upon my petals, too" "But, little flower, my wings look soft as satin, yet they burn like fire. My pollen brings life, but it also brings pain. Think well, little flower, perhaps you are happier without my touch." "But light upon my petals, butterfly, only that can make me happy." And then the butterfly hovered no more but alighted on the petals of the little flower, and she swayed and trembled with the pain of his touch. Truly, his wings did burn like fire, and the little flower was racked with an agony that threatened to send her drooping to the ground. Then she woke up. For a moment she lay trembling under the bamboo trees, frightened and happy, sorry and glad. A single reverberating toll from a church spire told her it was one o'clock. The victorious sun had moved on in his course and had searched until he found a tiny path through the bamboo's foliage, through which he sent down a slender ray of gold to bless another woman bestowed upon Adam's race.. 180 CHAPTER TWELVE Pombinha hurried back to the tenement and called her mother with such insistence that Dona Isabel left her tub and ran to No. 15, full of misgivings. Upon seeing the flushed face and burning eyes of her daughter, she immediately diagnosed the case as fever and started her preparations accordingly. But the girl drew her into the little bedroom and whispered her momentous tidings. The old soul dropped to her knees, tears of joy streaming down her flabby cheeks, and clasping her hands, repeated over and over again: "Praise be to Our Blessed Lady of the Annunciation." Such good news was not to be suppressed. While Pombinha took a warm bath and changed her clothing, Dona Isabel went forth to announce the glad tidings to the rejoicing neighbors. Her expression of perpetual gloom had given way to a tremulous smile, and her quavering voice had a ring of youthful joy as she imparted to all who would stop to listen-and there were none others: "My girl is a woman, my prayers are answered." The happiness of the proud mother was reechoed in the hearts of the tenement dwellers. Singly and by groups they arrived to express their satisfaction at the joyful state of affairs and rain their congratulations upon both mother and daughter. Dona Isabel lighted two candles before her oratory and abandoned work for the day. She was so excited that she did not realize what she was doing and rushed in and out of the house, ra181 diant with bliss. Every time she passed Pombinha she stopped and kissed her and whispered anxious counsel, urging the greatest caution-to beware of dampness; to drink nothing cold; to save her strength and avoid fatigue; to go straight to bed if she felt weak; and not to sit in a draft. Dona Isabel felt that Joo da Costa should be informed of their great good fortune without delay, considering that he was so intimately concerned, and that the marriage day should be fixed immediately. Pombinha demurred, holding it unmaidenly to exhibit undue haste in so delicate a matter. The elated old lady was so beside herself that she resorted to subterfuge, almost for the first time in her life. She agreed with her daughter and then sent a confidential message to her future son-in-law, who made a fortuitous appearance in the afternoon and stayed to dinner, with as many others as the house would accommodate. Two chickens were sacrificed for the feast, and wine was served. The neighbors who could not be included at the dinner were invited in for tea and cakes in the evening. Nenem and Das Dores appeared in their best dresses, and in general the family friends attached due importance to the occasion. An admiring circle was ever formed about the adored Pombinha. She was made to feel that now a great burden had been lifted from the hearts of So Romo. From this day forward a marked change came over Dona Isabel. Her drooping lines turned upward, and she began to sing as she worked at her tub or cleaned her house.

But this joy was confined to Isabel and her daughter. 182 In general, the tenement had taken on a melancholy tone since the night of the fight. There were no more moonlight nights of music, and the samba was a thing of the past. Rita appeared silent and retrospective. Firmo had been forbidden the premises by Joo Romo under pain of being surrendered to the police. Piedade went about sighing continually for her absent husband, and her spirits drooped even lower after her first visit to the hospital, when he had received her coldly, without a single endearment-making no secret of his eagerness for news of the other one-of that cursed mulatta, who, after all, was the one responsible for the whole sorry mess and who deliberately had set about robbing an honest, hard-working woman of her man. When the disprized wife returned from this visit, she threw herself on her bed and sobbed till daylight, when she slept through sheer exhaustion. Another sufferer was Bruno, who appeared more and more melancholy every day. In his anger at the time of their separation, he assured himself that he was glad to be rid of his wife, but within a month he was confessedly lonely, and now, after nearly five months of her absence, he was filled with longing for a reconciliation with Leocadia. The Witch, who consulted her cards for his benefit, cheered him immensely by assuring him that his wife still loved him. So Dona Isabel and Pombinha were alone in their joy, and they, truly, were happy and content. The dancing class arrangement was canceled, and nearly every evening Joo da Costa appeared at seven to remain till ten with his betrothed. He was served with 183 coffee in a special cup of porcelain and not infrequently he ordered from the venda a bottle of German beer , which was consumed by the three while projects for their joint happiness were discussed. At other times Pombinha's intended would light his Bahia cigar, and sit and admire his future bride. He was a decent young man and held nice girls in great respect. Therefore he did not expect to take liberties with Isabel's daughter before the nuptial knot was tied. Pombinha frequently continued her sewing, chirping like a happy bird preparing its nest. Since her momentous dream beneath the bamboos life had taken on a different aspect. Her very appearance reflected the joy and expectancy blooming within her. She had grown plumper, and a hitherto absent color flamed in her cheeks. She felt like a bird that had broken the bars of its cage and was enjoying the bliss of trying its wings in the open stretches. Old Isabel was content to sit and contemplate a beautiful girl and a serious young man on the threshold of life, at intervals regaling herself with a pinch of piquant pleasure from her golden snuff box. The date of the wedding once agreed upon, the invariable subjects of discussion were the bride's outfit and the little house which Costa was preparing for the honeymoon. The three were going to live together and would have a cook and another girl as laundress and general servant. The young man brought bolts of cotton and linen, and while the mother hemstitched napkins and sheets, the daughter joyously operated a sewing machine that was also a gift of the promised husband. 184 One afternoon at about two, as Pombinha was putting the finishing touches to a pillow slip, Bruno stopped and awkwardly leaned against the doorway, his eyes upon the floor, scratching his head with embarrassment. "Say, Pombinha, I've got a little favor to ask of you, but I hate to bother you when you're so busy getting ready for the wedding-" "What do you want, Bruno?" "Nothing much-I thought maybe you'd fix up a letter to that devil-but never mind to-day-some other time when you have fihished what you're doing." "A letter to your wife, Bruno, is that what you want?" "Yes, poor thing, she's not really bad-it's just that she's such a fool and it seems to me that we ought to pity even the brutes." "Surely. I'll be glad to write it for you; do you want to do it now?" "Oh, there's no hurry.You finish what you're doing, and I'll come back." "No, no; come in and we'll get it done. This sewing I can do at any time." "May God reward you, you're surely a nice little girl. I don't see how we're going to get along after you've gone." And he continued these expressions of appreciation while she laid aside her needlework and prepared a little table with writing materials. "All ready now, Bruno; what do you want to say to Leocadia?" "Well, tell her first of all, that about that stuff 185 of hers that I smashed up, I'll get her new stuff for that. And that it was rotten of her to smash up my stuff, but I'm not sore about it now-water that's passed under the bridge don't turn the mill any more. And that I know that she's out of a job now and down on her luck, and she owes a month's rent, but not to get worked up about it, because she can send the landlord to me and I will fix it up with him. And I think she had better not eat in the nigger woman's house any more, because she is telling everybody that this is the first time she ever had tramps coming there for meals, and by tramps she means women that ain't respectable. And tell her that if she knew how to behave herself she would not be living around like that with everybody taking a kick at her, because I can earn enough money to keep her stomach full and a roof over her head and take care of her children, if God sends any, and that the blame for what's happened is hers entirely, but if she thinks that she can be a decent and respectable woman-"

"Yes, Bruno, that's all written." " And not go round blinking at every man she sees-" "Yes, and what more?" "That I don't wish her any evil and only hope that she can get along all right, but she ought to think more about how these things look to other people and ought to remember that a woman that's got a husband-well, that if she wasn't such a damned fool and would try to be a good woman-" "But, Bruno, you've said all this before." "Well, tell her, Pombinha, that if she wants to be 186 a square woman, I'm here the same as ever, and I don't hold spite against nobody-" "All right, what next?" "Tell her-well, what else had I better say, Pombinha?" "Whatever you like, Bruno, it's your letter." "Well tell her-" "Yes?" "-thatTell her-no, don't tell her anything more. Just close it up." "Then that's all-nothing more but the signature?" "No, wait a minute," said the blacksmith, wavering. There was a moment's silence, after which the big fellow forced his lips to utter the phrase upon which the whole message was built, the phrase which he stammered with eyes full of tears and his voice strangled with sobs. "Tell her I want her to come back to me." Pombinha was impressed with this scene-though it was by no means a new one to her experience. Many letters had she written under similar circumstances and with even more moving demonstrations of emotion, but it was only since the afternoon when she became a woman, burned with the butterfly's wings, that she understood the true significance of this grief. For her understanding had made a great stride forward, as had her physical being. Much that was obscure, or but faintly comprehended, now appeared in bold relief. Sentiments and passions, of which she had heard, but of whose nature she was ignorant-these she 187 now felt and recognized in the blood flowing through her young virgin body. Now, beholding the tears and sobs of Bruno, she began to evaluate the weakness of men, the fragility of these coarse, strong creatures, whose iron muscles and powerful forms lie beaten and crushed by the delicate hand of a woman. It was a terrible education that this poor child had received in the sordid life of the tenement, one that doomed her to become the victim of her own intelligence. After Bruno's departure to post his letter, Pombinha sat and pondered, her elbows on the table and her chin in her hands. Truly, they were weak creatures, and they succumbed to a mysterious power that only women could wield-a power that brought them cringing and begging a caress, frequently a caress from the hand that had flouted and dishonored them. How many cases had she not encountered in her office of community correspondent-how many other creatures like Bruno, who sniveled and wept for a woman whom everybody else recognized as worthless? Would she, herself, prove to have this power? She smiled,-but it was a smile with claws in it. And many things became clear to her as she sat and pondered on these matters. She remembered the many pictures Leonie had shown her on the day of her visit to the cocotte. They were photographs of men, many of them elderly, highly placed and respected, who had written endearing expressions addressed to a prostitute, for whose sake they had humiliated their families, forfeited the respect of the community, and squandered their possessions. And the woman for whom all this sac188 rifice had been made had calmly stripped them of all that could add to her comfort or satisfy her caprice, and then coldly closed her door to them when they had nothing more to offer her. Yes, it was a wonderful thing to be a woman of fascination,-so ran the thoughts of this tenement virgin, -to be able to bend these vain masculine creatures, to wring their hearts and make them weep. How better could a woman's charm be employed than in proving to the world what a ridiculous slave is man, and how ready to cast his all at the feet of her who permits him to taste a few, a very few, of the delights in her power to afford him, and then let him perish, kissing the jeweled hands that strangle him? "Ah, yes, these men," sighed the future bride of Joo da Costa, as she resumed work on the linen for the new nest, the task in hand being an edging of lace to adorn the pillow on which her head should rest at the moment she received the first kiss of a lover-husband. For had she not seen Jeronymo and Firmo fiying at each other's throats like two dogs in the street disputing a female? And there was Miranda in his house in front, pompous and important, pretending to be ignorant of Dona Estella's infidelities. And then Domingos, who worked like a slave but could sacrifice his sleep to meet a girl before daylight and

then tamely submit to being robbed of his earnings and his prospects. She remembered a long succession of laborers, ending with Bruno, whose secrets had been confided to her, and she was forced to the conclusion that they were all alike. 189 Pombmha was a victim of circumstances. A modest violet growing in a shady dell matures with all of the attributes that a sweet and fragrant violet is expected to possess, but if it has the infelicity to sink its roots into a dung-hill where the merciless sun beats down upon its unprotected head, the over-rich soil and intense light blast its hope and shrivel its soul. And it was so with Isabel's daughter-her environment had robbed her of the innocent trust with which other girls approach matrimony. She mentally weighed Costa. Would he be like these others? Yes, she could picture him-de jected, griefstricken and weeping. For he was a plodder, passive and resigned in accepting the existence that destiny assigned him, incapable of revolting against his fate. He had no ideas of his own, not even the vices that most young men have. He would be incapable of a great crime-just a poor little fellow, content to work for those he loved, propagate his species, and, when the time came, shed those same shameful and ridiculous tears she had just seen dripping from Bruno's ragged mustache. And this coming marriage that had been the golden dream of her existence? Now, as the moment of its realization approached, she felt a repugnance and dread. Gladly would she back out of it but for her mother. Those patient years of drudgery must have their reward and Isabel's weary old body must know a few years of ease. So, a week later the tenement was bursting with suppressed excitement and No. 15 was filled with roses. 190 At eleven o'clock a carriage stopped at the portal and there descended a fat lady dressed in gray silk. It was the madrinha, or dame of honor, come to conduct the bride to the church of St. John the Baptist, where the ceremony was to be performed at noon. And the courtyard was lined with the friends and neighbors who had known and loved little Pombinha since her childhood, and who now stood with their hands crossed back of them; and while their lips were smiling, most of the eyes were filled with tears. Framed by the doorway, she made a lovely picture as she stood for a moment to survey the old friends among whom she was to live no more. All in white, with her veil and flowers, slender, graceful, and lovelytruly, a little dove poised for a moment before her great flight; agreed the worshiping laundresses. She was visibly moved by the homage of her humble friends, waved her bouquet, and threw kisses to them as she left the door. Old Isabel was weeping like a child, embracing her friends, one after another. "May God keep her virtuous and give her an easy time with her first child," was the pious sentiment expressed by Machona, who for once was not shouting. The bride smiled and dropped her eyes. A faint suggestion of disdain was in the smile. She turned toward the portal, followed by the blessings of the tenement dwellers, none of whom now pretended to hide his tears, but all of whom rejoiced to see her restored to the social state to which they felt she belonged. "She was never born for this," remarked Alexandre, 191 solemnly twisting his mustache. "It would be a pity for her to stay here." Nenem ran down to the carriage to kiss Pombinha on the lips and beg her not to forget to send her a blossom from the bouquet-a charm to catch a husband, for Nenem feared she might be left an old maid. 192 CHAPTER THIRTEEN As fast as tenants moved away from So Romo, there vere numerous applicants for the vacant quarters. Delporto and Pompeu were carried off by yellow fever and he other Italians nearly followed them. But the number of residents continually increased. Rooms were sublivided into cells the size of sepulchers and the women produced children with the regularity of cattle. So the rooms that had been Dofia Isabel's were immediately rented to a widow with five single daughters ranging in age from fifteen to thirty. A new tenement had been built a little farther up the street, graced with the simple if not elegant name of Cathead. A Portuguese, who also had a venda similar to flat of Joo Romo, figured as its proprietor, but it was an open secret that the real owner was a prominent capitalist, who considered that his social and political importance did not permit that his name be associated with a business of this character. Joo Romo was much annoyed at so close a competor who might succeed in robbing So Romo of some of its prestige and popularity. He therefore sought by every means at hand to discredit and molest his rival, inciting the fiscal agents to impose fines for little infractions of city ordinances that he was able to point out, and bribing the local police to vex and irritate the proprietor at every opportunity that presented itself. At the same time, he exerted all possible influence with his tenants to prejudice them against the new collective 193 dwelling. Those who refused to subscribe to these sentiments were speedily dispossessed as fast as they were discovered. There could be no half measures, he announced; all must be either fish or flesh, and there must be no traitors remaining among them.

It is needless to remark that this attitude brought a ready response from the residents of the Cathead, and there immediately began a tremendous rivalry between the two communities which was aggravated day by day by quarrels and disputes over the most trival matters,such as the charge that the laundresses of one group were trying to entice away the best customers of the other group. Very shortly the two elements were openly arrayed against each other, the inhabitants of the new camp calling themselves Catheads, after their tenement, while the So Romo contingent became known as Codfish, after one of the most popular of the delicacies prepared for the public by Bertoleza. A Codfish could not maintain anything approaching friendly relations with a Cathead. To remove from one tenement to the other was an act of black treachery, whose author was ever after a target for the finger of scorn. To furnish discreditable information to the enemy was a serious crime calling for punishment; thus, when a fish peddler had the indiscretion to tell the Catheads about a noisy quarrel between Machona and her daughter, Das Dores, nobody was surprised to hear that he had been set upon at night and badly beaten, over near the cemetery of St. John the Baptist. Alexandre was a conscientious policeman, performing his duties with an austerity and zeal that won universal admiration, but he always had a Cat194 head or two on his list of delinquents who required a summons to district headquarters for investigation, and, perhaps, a fine. The other policemen were lined up on one side or the other in the.same fashion. The guard who accepted a drink in Joo Romo's taverna must refuse a similar courtesy up the street. In the middle of their courtyard the Catheads unfurled a yellow flag; the Codfish responded by hoisting a red one. The two colors glared at each other in defiance. A battle was inevitable; it was only a question of time. As soon as the new tenement was opened Firmo installed himself there, along with his friend, Porfiro, in spite of Rita's remonstrances, for she would cut herself off from Firmo rather than desert her old friends and neighbors. From this time discord appeared between the lovers, and their encounters became less frequent and more difficult. Nothing in the world would influence Rita to set foot on Cathead soil, and with his new allegiance Firmo was less popular than ever among the Codfish. They therefore had a rendezvous in Rua Baptista, where a sordid old wretch rented his room by the hour during the day to such persons as had need of it. The plumber answered Rita's objections to his remaining among the Catheads by reminding her that there he was safest from pursuit and punishment for knifing a Codfish, and that Jeronymo, when fully recovered from the wound, was likely to attempt to avenge himself and Firmo might need the help of the Catheads. In his new abode Firmo acquired popularity rapidly and came to be regarded as a leader, for the Catheads were charmed by his abilities to entertain and 195 awed by the tales of his past villainies. With him as commanding officer and Porfiro as first lieutenant, they considered that they were ready for any eventuality. But at the end of three months Joo Romo came to the conclusion that the opening of the new tenement had not hurt his business, rather had it increased with the greater movement on the street. He therefore again turned his thoughts to Miranda, the one rival who had the power to move the vender to envy. Since Miranda's assumption of his title marvelous changes had come over Joo Romo, an alteration that stupefied his acquaintances. He had a good tailor make him some clothes, and on Sundays he now sat outside his establishment in a clean white coat, wore socks and slippers, and read the newspapers. In the afternoon he strolled on the beach walk in a neat wool suit, with shoes on his feet and a necktie under his chin. And he was regularly sheared and shaved by the barber, had brilliantine applied to his neatly trimmed mustache, and made many changes in his habits. He became a member of a dancing club and spent two evenings a week there in lessons; he wore a watch with a gold chain; he had his bedroom cleaned, ceiled and walled, and then painted; he bought some secondhand furniture; he had a simple shower-bath installed, and with many a shudder, but Spartan courage, began to accustom himself to its use; he had a table set for himself with a cloth and a napkin, and he had wine with his dinner-not the kind served to the laborers, out of a barrel, but wine that he 196 bought by the case especially for himself. On holidays he went to the park and later dined at a fine restaurant, after which he attended the Theater Pedro de Alcantara. For three years he had been a subscriber to the J ornal do Commercio, and now he took two other papers, and read French romances translated into Portuguese. Painfully he waded through these, because by so doing he was convinced that he was educating himself. He employed three clerks, and no longer served his customers in person, and rarely was seen behind the counter. Shortly he began to appear in the Rua Direita, at the stock market, and in various banks, his hat on the back of his head and an umbrella clutched under his arm. He also began to invest in English bonds, bought shares in a number of companies, and loaned money, but now with good security. And Miranda's attitude was different now. He was no longer patronizing. He raised his hat and smiled in friendly fashion, and upon meeting his neighbor in the street he stopped for a few minutes' chat and urged the vender to visit him. He specially invited him for Dona Estella's birthday, then approaching. Joo Romo voiced his gratitude for this kindness, but he did not go. No such change was to be noted in Bertoleza. She was the same greasy, dirty negress she always had been, up to her neck in work from daylight till bedtime, with never a Sunday nor a holiday. She took no part in the development her man

was undergoing. On the contrary, the higher he ascended in social importance, the lower the uncomplaining drudge seemed to sink. She was 197 like a worn-out horse whose rider abandons and forgets it when it is of no further use in carrying him on his way. And she grew to be melancholy. Old Botelho became even more intimate with Joo Romo than did Miranda. The old parasite never passed the store on his way to and from his loafing place in the city without stopping a moment to greet the vender with some ingratiating phrase. Usually the object of these, attentions responded cordially, pressing the old fellow's hand and inviting him to have something to drink -yes, indeed, Joo Romo could now offer a friend a drink. But old Botelho never was amiable to anybody without a motive, so one afternoon as the two strolled toward the sea for a little walk before dinner, the old scamp made his usual complimentary references to his friend, the Baron, and to the Baron's virtuous wife, and then eyed his companion significantly. "But it's the young one that interests you, isn't it, Mr. Joo?" "How's that? What young one?" "Now look here, do vou think I've never been in love?" The vender tried to deny that he had any romantic ideas whatever, but the old fellow brushed aside his negations. "It would be a good match for you-a splendid girl-disposition of a dove-education of a princesseven knows Frenchplays the piano, as you have heard-sings, too-draws very cleverly-wonderfully skillful at needlework-and"-here he lowered his 198 voice-"the rest of it is absolutely solid-real estate and bank stock." "Are you certain about that-do you absolutely know?" "Absolutely-have seen the settlement-word of honor." They were silent for a moment, after which Botelho continued: "Miranda's a good sort, poor fellow-he has these ideas of grandeur, but he's not to blame-he gets that from his wife. And I know that he thinks a lot of you -if you just go about it right you'll have no trouble landing the daughter." "But probably she wouldn't like-" "Don't talk rubbish! A girl like that, brought up to obey her parents, never thinks what she likes. If you had somebody there in the intimacy of the family who was working for you, helping the thing along, and impressing them with the advantages of having you marry into the family, you would see whether she wanted you or not-somebody there helping you, like me, for instance." "But you'd hardly like to interfere in a matter of this sort. They say Miranda's very independent and does as he pleases." "And they're right who say so." "Still you'd be willing to-" "Help you along? Surely, I would. In this world we are placed to assist others so far as it is in our power. The only trouble is that I am not rich-" 199 "Ah, that's easily fixed. You get the matter settled and you'll not have cause to repent." "Well, I think we can come to a satisfactory arrangement then." "Do you suppose they'll consider me too old?" "Good heavens, no. What an awful thing to say! " "Well, then-" "We'll talk about it later, at our leisure-it's not a matter to be hurried through." From that time on, when the two were alone they devoted most of their conversation to the best means of winning Miranda's daughter, of convincing her that her happiness depended upon a marriage with Joo Romo. Botelho wanted twenty thousand milreis for his assistance, the obligation secured by a note payable after the wedding. The vender offered ten thousand. "Well, if that's the best you can do, I'm afraid you can't count on me," grumbled the old man. "You can go about it yourself, but rest assured that you can't depend on any help from me. You understand?" "YoUumean that you'll work against me?" "Work against you? God forbid! I never work against anybody. But I fear that you are working against yourself-not letting me help you win so desirable a prize. Miranda is worth a thousand contos, and you ought to realize that the enterprise is not so easy as you may think." "Maybe." "The Baron naturally has in mind a son-in-law with a position of importance here in the country-a 200 deputy, or some other man who cuts a figure in political circles." "Or maybe a prince?" put in the vender sarcastically.

"Right now there's a little doctor of a good family who hangs around quite a lot. And she usually seems glad to see him." "If that's the case, better let them go ahead." "I guess you're right. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I could make a better arrangement with the young doctor himself." "All right; then we will consider this affair definitely off." To which suggestion old Botelho assented. But on the following day the subject was again under discussion. "I'll tell you what I'll do," said the vender. "I'll give you fifteen thousand." "Twenty," insisted the old parasite. "Twenty's too much." "Less than twenty won't do." "But I'm not paying any twenty." "Nobody's going to compel you to. Good-by." When next they met, Joo Romo laughed at Botelho without saying a word. The old villain responded with a gesture implying that he was far from interfering in matters that did not concern him. "You're a devil of an old bandit," laughed the vender, with a slap on the shoulder. "Aren't we ever coming to an agreement?" "Twenty." 201 "And if I agree to the twenty-" "In that case, my noble friend will receive an invitation from the Baron to dinner the following Sunday, and upon arrival will find the ground all prepared." "All right, go ahead and let's see what you can do." It developed as the old rogue had promised. A few days after the agreement had been signed and sealed, Joo Romo received a card from his aristocratic neighbor soliciting the pleasure of his company at dinner with the Baron and his family. Who can imagine the tremor that convulsed the vender as he read that card. The days that followed were spent in serious study-in preparing for that visit. Time and time again he rehearsed what he would say, conversing with himself before the little mirror in the lavatory; and when the great day came, he bathed himself twice, scoured his teeth, perfumed himself from head to foot, trimmed and polished his nails, and with his new suit brushed free of the slightest speck of dust, made his smiling but frightened entrance into the Baron's pretentious drawing-room. At first encounter with the thick rug, upon which his great feet in their unaccustomed shoes performed like a pair of obstinate turtles determined to go in opposite directions, he felt the sweat start from every pore and trickle down his neck, giving him the appearance of having trudged from the city in the hot sun. His big red hands dripped, and there seemed nowhere to put them and nothing to do with them, because the Baron solicitously had relieved the visitor of his hat and umbrella. How he repented that he had come! 202 "Make yourself at home, man," urged his host, heartily. "If you feel the heat, come and sit by the window. Don't stand on ceremony! Oh, Leonor, bring some vermouth-or perhaps my friend prefers a glass of beer? " With bashful smiles Joo Romo accepted everything that was offered him, too embarrassed to attempt to speak. The beer made him perspire with even greater freedom, and when Dona Estella appeared with her daughter their damp neighbor squeezed their hands till it hurt, so nervous had he become. And that floor, polished like a mirror. Twice he slipped; once saving himself by catching the back of a chair. The chair, having casters, skated some distance but came to a stop without disaster. Zulmira giggled, but at a warning glance from the Baron she stifled her mirth and conversed in a low tone with her mother. The daughter of the Miranda household was now seventeen and had filled out in form and lost much of her anemic pallor. But the last few years had left their marks on Dona Estella, hurrying her on toward middleage in spite of her frantic efforts to stay the process. Two teeth were obviously the work of man; her hair was dyed, and clusters of lines at the corners of her mouth robbed the lips of their old-time petulant charm. But her neck was yet full and smooth and the arms still drew admiration. At the table the Mirandas' guest ate so little and drank so sparingly that his hosts good-naturedly charged him with not liking their food. The poor man begged them, for God's sake, not to imagine such a thing! and 203 swore upon his word of honor that never had he tasted anything so delicious as the dishes there served. Botelho, also, was present, together with an old planter in the city for a few days and entertained by the Mirandas. Henrique had passed his examinations after the first year in medical school and had gone home to visit his family. Izaura and Leonor served the dinner, nearly bursting with merriment to encounter Joo Romo in a suit of clothes and eating with a fork.

In the evening the Mirandas were visited by a family which included a number of sprightly young ladies. These were followed shortly by a group of youths, so that before Joo Romo realized what was happening he found himself playing forfeits for the first time in his life. In the larger circle his confidence increased and he made no serious blunders. At half-past ten tea was served, and when the vender descended into the street after the final leave-takings, he stretched his neck within his wilted collar and heaved a sigh of relief, for Joo Romo was definitely launched in society. A sense of having acquitted himself creditably warmed his heart and he filled his lungs with the night air, after the challenging fashion of one who seeks new worlds to conquer. Then he hurried homeward to kick off those damned shoes! But his satisfaction vanished at the sight of Bertoleza extended on the bed, mouth open and snoring noisily, the cover pushed from her thick, black, shining legs. And he would have to take his place there at her side: amid the kitchen odors that contrasted So incongruously 204 with the perfumes of Miranda's salon, and place his head on the long pillow dented by the kinky wool of the sleeping negress! Society's newest recruit sighed with resignation and removed his clothing. Then, as he gingerly deposited his stocky form on the edge of the mattress, it dawned upon him for the first time that this black woman, the companion of a dozen years, might prove an inconvenient obstacle to his marriage. Strange he had never thought of it before, and he lay awake, wrestling with the problem. How glad he was that there were no children, how he blessed the Witch for her help on the two occasions when such a disaster had seemed imminent. But how was he to rid himself of so embarrassing an encumbrance? It seemed incredible that he had never thought of this before. And he realized that during these years he had lived a life so closely linked with that of the negress that he had forgotten completely to take account of her in his flights of inordinate ambition. He revolved the problem in his mind until daylight without encountering a solution. After arising and beholding her there as usual; slitting open fish and ripping out their entrails, the association of ideas prompted him to whisper to himself: "If she would only die." 205 CHAPTER FOURTEEN During the three months that followed the fight when he had used his razor on his rival, Firmo continued meeting Rita Bahiana in the squalid room in Rua Baptista, but she came reluctantly, and constantly appeared cooler and more indifferent. "I think there's somebody else hanging around you," muttered the jealous mulatto, "but for the sake of both of you, I hope I'm wrong." At these meetings she was sure to be tardy and her invariable comment on arriving was that she was in a hurry and could not tarry long. To Firmo's protests she always explained that she was behind with her work-clothes for a family leaving the city to-morrow, to be delivered without fail that same night. They already had sent for them twice. "You're always in a hustle about your work these days," complained the plumber. "Naturally, my son. If I lie around asleep, I won't get any rent paid." "But don't say that I don't give you anything. Who was it bought this dress you're wearing to-day ? " "I never said that you don't give me anything. But what you give me won't pay my rent and keep the kettle boiling. And furthermore, I don't ask anything of you." Thus they quarreled during their love encounters. One Sunday Firmo waited and waited, and Rita did not appear. The afternoon was hot and no breath of air 206 entered the stuffy, evil-smelling room. He had brought a parcel of fried fish, some bread, and a bottle of wine, that they might lunch together. Hours had passed, and Firmo paced the few feet of floor space like a caged animal. In his anger he assured himself that if Rita were to walk in at that instant he was ready to throttle her. The sight of the parcel of food maddened him, and with a flood of obscenity he dashed it into the slop pail. Then he seated himself on the bed and waited some time longer, crossing and uncrossing his legs, beating the pillow and swearing with wrath. At last he could bear it no longer. He banged his way out of the room with a solemn oath that the mulatta should pay dearly for thus trifling with him. An insane desire to wreak his vengeance upon her without a moment's delay led him to approach the tenement, but he dared not enter. He therefore decided to wait until night and then send her a message. He wandered disconsolately about the streets, finally dropping into a taverna near the beach where he and Porfiro frequently drank and loafed. His friend was not there, but Firmo flung himself into a chair and called for a glass of paraty. He lighted a cigar and thought things over. A young mulatto, resident in the Cathead, dropped down at the same table and without any preliminaries informed him that Jeronymo had that day been discharged from the hospital. Firmo stiffened. "Jeronymo?" "Yes, he appeared at, the tenement this morning."

"How do you know?" Pataca told me so." 207 "That explains it, damn her! " muttered Firmo through his teeth, as he beat the table with his clenched hand. "Explains what?" asked the other. "Oh, nothing much-I was just thinking. Have something to drink?" Two glasses were brought and after a pause Firmo again muttered: "That's it, I'm sure. That is why she has acted so queer lately, and now, to-day-" and his face grew livid with jealous fury. "But I'll show her-I'll show both of them. He didn't get it deep enough the other time, but wait till he meets me againand it'll be done to-day, too!" He gulped down the burning liquid and leaped to his feet, pausing a moment to glare at his companion. "Look here-not a word of this to those damned Codfish. If you work your mouth you'll settle with me, and you know what that means." The young mulatto hastily promised that not a word should escape him. His information was correct. Jeronymo had returned from the hospital that morning. He was thin and pale and he walked with a bamboo stick. His hair and beard had been allowed to grow during his illness, and he had sworn that they should not be cut until he fulfilled a vow he had taken, a promise made to his pride and his self-respect. His wife had gone to the hospital to accompany him home. She walked at his side as silent and depressed as himself. The neighbors received them with sympathy, but there was no noisy welcome. Rather, 208 a hushed quiet was maintained by all when they saw the invalid. Voices were lowered and Rita Bahiana's eyes filled with unshed tears. Piedade led her man to their home. "Will you have a little broth?" she inquired. "I'm sure you must not move about yet for a while." "Oh, yes, I can," he assured her. "The doctor told me to walk as much as possible to exercise my legs and gain strength. I was so long in bed-it's only a week ago that I put my foot on the floor." After walking back and forth across the room several times he paused and remarked: "What I want most is a cup of coffee, but I want it good, like Rita makes. Ask her if she minds making some." Piedade heaved a sigh and turned unwilling steps oward No.9 to make the request, deeply hurt by his preference for the coffee of the other. "My man wants some of your coffee and turns up his nose at what we have at home," she announced, sullenly. "He wants you to make some for him. Can you do it?" "Yes, indeed; glad to do it," responded the Bahian. "In just a minute it will be there." But she did not have to carry it to him, for the blaster appeared shortly, and called to her from the door: "I wanted to save you the trip up there, so I came down for it. I suppose I may come in?" "Surely. Come in, Jeronymo." "I thought it would taste better down here," he added, sinking into a chair. "Maybe so; but it seems to me that you're sort of 209 looking for trouble. Your wife is mad at me and is going about doing a lot of talking. Now I don't want any rows with my neighbors. You see how it is." Jeronymo shrugged his shoulders. "Poor thing, she's a good creature, but I-" he began. "Shut up, you devil. Drink your coffee and stop speaking evil. That's the vice of the Portuguese--eating and running down folks." The blaster grinned as he swallowed the delicious coffee. "Oh, I'm not speaking ill of her. I am merely saying that I don't find much in her that pleases me." And he sucked his drooping mustache. "You're the same brute as ever! A woman's a fool that trusts a man. I'm sure I don't want to know any more about it. I've already finished with the other one." A tremor Shook the blaster's frame. "What other? Firmo?" Rita repented what she had said, and began to stammer. "Absolutely worthless. I don't want to hear anything more about him." "And doesn't he still come here?" eagerly inquired the Portuguese. "Here? I should say not! I wouldn't open the door to him. When I get down on people, I stay down on them." "Is this true, Rita?" "What? That I don't want to know anything more about him? I should say it is true. Never again shall I be caught with a specimen like him!" 210 "What's he doing?"

"Don't know, and don't care. I'm through with him." "But have you somebody else?" "I-somebody else? Hardly. I have none and I want none-no more men for me." "Why, Rita?" "Because it's not worth while." "But if you found one-one that is really true and sincere-" "That kind don't exist." "But I know one that loves you more than anything else in the world." "Tell him to love somebody else." But as she turned to remove the empty cup, he seized her around her waist. "Look here-listen to me! " "Now stop this. Your wife may see." "But come here." "Not now." "When?" " A little later." "But where?" "I don't know." "But I must talk with you." "All right, but not like this-it looks bad." "But where can we meet, then?" "Oh I know-" But Piedade appeared at the door at that moment, and Rita changed her tone as though continuing conversation along a different line. 211 "Cold baths are fine for this. They're splendid for hardening the body." The downcast wife entered and informed her husband that Ze Carlos was there with Pataca, and that they wanted to talk with him. "Ah, yes. I know who it is. Good-by, Dona Rita. I'm much obliged. When we can do anything for you, you know where to find us." Outside the two men were waiting for him and Jeronymo conducted them to the house where Piedade had lunch ready for him, signaling them not to discuss the matter regarding which they had called. The blaster hurried through his meal and then invited them to take a short stroll with him. Once in the street he turned and asked: "Where can we go to talk?" Pataca suggested the taverna of Manoel Pepe, in front of the cemetery. Ze Carlos agreed, adding that there were back rooms suited to conversation. So there they turned their steps, nobody speaking until the corner was reached. "And you still want to go ahead with what we talked about?" inquired one of the two. "More than ever," responded the blaster. "What's your plan?" asked the other. "I don't know yet. First of all, we have to find out where the damned goat hangs out at night." "Oh, that's easy-at Guarnize's place," broke in Pataca. "Guarnize's place?" 212 "That taverna near the corner of Rua rassagemthe one with a rooster over the door." "Oh, yes; opposite the new pharmacy." "Exactly. He goes there every night-I saw him there last night, making a lot of noise." "Drinking some, is he?" "Like a fish. And he was mad about something that Rita Bahiana had done that he didn't like." They had now reached the taverna, which they entered, and soon were seated on empty soap boxes about a pine table in the rear. They ordered paraty with sugar. "Where do they meet now?" inquired Jeronymo, in a matter-of-fact fashion, as though he were not greatly interested. "Still in So Romo?" "He in So Romo? Just imagine it. I should say not. Why, now he's the ringleader of the Catheads!" "Oh, then she goes there?" "Hardly. I don't think anything on earth could drag her over there-Rita's a Codfish from her toe-nails up." "I don't see how it is they have never busted up," remarked Ze Carlos, yet talking of the mulatto, while Jeronymo listened with an abstracted air, still gazing at the table.

"It seems to me that we might as well go ahead and finish up this job to-night," remarked Pataca, as though echoing the unspoken thought of the blaster. "I'd like to, but I'm afraid I'm pretty weak yet." responded the latter. 213 "But your club is strong enough. And remember, we'll be there, too. In fact, if you want to, you can stay at home and leave the affair to us." "No, not that," said Jeronymo, striking the table. "I chew my cud with my own teeth." "I'm agreed that we ought to do it to-night," intervened Ze Carlos. "To-day's bread is stale to-morrow." "I'm fairly itching to start in," added Pataca. "All right, to-day it is," resolved Jeronymo. "The money is ready there in the house, forty apiece. After the job, the money'll be paid. And then we shall fill up with good wine." "And what time shall we meet?" inquired Ze Carlos. "As soon as it's dark, and right here." "It will be finished to-night, God willing." Pataca lighted his pipe and the three entered into an animated discussion about the sensation that was sure to be caused by the execution of their plan. What a face the goat would pull when he confronted three trusty clubs!-then he would discover what a long thrust he had made with his razor ! Two laborers in their shirt-sleeves entered, and the plotters subsided. Jeronymo lighted a cigaret from Pataca's pipe and departed, after reminding his companions once more of the time and place, leaving on the table the coins for the drinks served. He returned direct to the house. "You ought not to walk about in the sun like this," reproved Piedade as he entered. "But the doctor told me to take all the exercise I can stand." 214 He did feel tired, however, and threw himself on the bed, where he immediately fell asleep. His devoted wife drove the flies away from him and covered his face with a piece of loose-woven cotton that she used to protect freshly laundered clothes on their way to her customers. Then she tiptoed out of the room and softly closed the door. Two hours later Jeronymo ate a hearty dinner with a bottle of wine, and afterward sat in front in conversation with Piedade. Later they formed a group with Rita, and Machona's family. It was Sunday, the various tenement dwellers were getting the most out of their one day of relaxation, and after the dreary monotony of the hospital, So Romo seemed to Jeronymo a most cheerful and homelike place. Men were smoking and conversing; women nursed their babes in the courtyard unabashed; the children ran about and played, and the parrots vied with the Italians in vocal demonstrations as visitors arrived and departed. Augusta solemnly traversed the pavement as though she were eager to announce to the interested neighbors that within a couple of short months Alexandre again would experience a proud father's joy. She bore in her arms the last blessing vouchsafed the worthy couple. Albino was installed in front of his pocket in the tenement, intent upon a picture he was making by laboriously cutting bits from match boxes and gluing them in a mosaic on a square of cardboard. Upstairs in Miranda's house Joo Romo stood at a window beside Zulmira, who was amusing herself by tossing bits of bread across the wall to the tenement 215 chickens. The vender was dressed in a gray wool suit with the latest thing in ties, evidently at ease among surroundings that a short time ago had filled him with terror. As they conversed, Miranda's daughter smiled and dropped her eyes, while those of Joo Romo at intervals swept the tenement as though he disdained its dwellers, who, while they labored to enrich him, lived herded together like cattle and toiled from sun to sun with no ideals or ambitions other than to eat and sleep and procreate. After nightfall Jeronymo went to Pepe's taverna, as appointed. The others were already there, but unfortunately the three could not converse freely because of so many customers near them. With their heads almost touching, th~y whispered over their paraty. "And the clubs, where are they?" inquired the blaster. "There by those barrels," responded Pataca, pointing to a lengthy parcel leaning against the wall. "I thought we had better not have them too long; they're about like this," and he indicated a point on the wall the height of his breast. "They're in fine shape." "Good! " approved Jeronymo, draining the last drop of his liquor. "And what are we going to do now? It seems early for Guarnize's place." "Yes, it is early," confirmed Pataca. "Let's stay here a little while longer and then go over there. I'll go in, and you two wait outside where we agreed. If he's not there I'll come out. If I find him, I'll try to get in conversation with him, start some kind of a row and 216 make him come with me to fight it out. Then you can start in, and the goat's finish is easy to see." "Fine! " applauded Jeronymo, signaling for more paraty. He drew from his pocket a roll of bills. "Drink what you like, there's no need for anybody to go thirsty."

He proceeded to count out two piles of forty milreis each, which he carefully placed in his left pocket with the observation: "This will not be mine much longer." Then he spread a twenty-milreis note on the table with: "And this is for the celebration of our victory." He folded the rest of the money with fingers now thin and white, and placed it in his right pocket, muttering through his teeth: " And here is more to be used if anything goes wrong." "Bravo!" exclaimed Ze Carlos. "That's what I call doing things like a gentleman. You can count on me in life or death." Pataca thought it would be nice to have some beer. "None for me, but you have some," urged Jeronymo. Ze Carlos mentioned that he would prefer white wine. "Whatever you like," invited the blaster. "I'll have some of the wine, too. We're not spending the money of a razor artist-it was earned by honest labor in rain and sun by the sweat of my brow. So drink it down without making up a face, because it should hurt nobody's conscience." The others heartily applauded this speech and required no further urging. And they toasted their liberal friend as they drank. 217 "To the boss, Jeronymo,"-a sentiment the blaster graciously acknowledged and ordered the glasses refilled. "To Dona Piedade de Jesus," for which the lady's husband murmured a curt "Thanks" and then remarked that it was time to be at the work in hand, rising and looking at the clock. His two companions emptied their glasses and arose reluctantly. "It's mighty early yet," mumbled Ze Carlos, spitting through his teeth and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "But we may be delayed," reminded his companion, reaching for the parcel by the barrels. "If we have to wait, we can do it there as well as here." "Yes, let's start along," urged Jeronymo, who suddenly began to fear that the night might slip by without his bringing to realization this important enterprise. He paid the bill and they started out, walking slowly and in silence after the good-fellowship.of the dingy bar. They turned down Rua Sorocaba and proceeded toward the beach with an air of suppressed excitement, stopping only when they saw Guarnize's place near at hand. "You're the one to go in, aren't you?" the blaster inquired of Pataca. For answer the latter handed over the parcel of clubs and departed into the taverna, hands in his pockets, eyes on the ground, and pretending to be drunker than he really was. 218 CHAPTER FIFTEEN Guarnize's place was well filled that night. The dozen wooden tables with oilcloth covers were occupied by groups of three or four men, nearly all in their shirtsleeves, drinking and smoking in the midst of noisy conversation. There were steady calls for native beer, wine, paraty and orange brandy. On the sand-covered floor were scraps of cheese rind, bits of fried liver, and fish bones, by which it was evident that Guarnize was prepared to allay hunger as well as slake thirst. And sure enough, there at the side of the bar was a counter covered with roast beef and potatoes, a ham bone with most of the meat hacked away, and a platter of fried fish. On a shelf back of the counter was a liberal assortment of canned goods. Two large kerosene lamps lighted the room, their smoke curling up to the sooty ceiling. Through the calico curtain of a door at the rear came the confused rumble of many voices from an interior room, dulled as if they were unable to penetrate the thick, heavy atmosphere of Guarnize's place. Pataca paused at the entrance a moment and then entered, simulating a state of heavy intoxication. From group to group his eyes traveled, but Firmo was not in sight. However, he did see a familiar face, and turned his steps to a table where sat a thin, ill-dressed mulatta, in company with an old woman almost blind and an elderly man, entirely bald and evidently suffering from 219 asthma, as at intervals he made the cups on the table dance with a fit of violent coughing. "Hello, Florinda!" called Pataca, clapping the girl on the shoulder. She turned and recognized him, and returned his greeting. "Where have you been keeping yourself ? " he asked. "I haven't seen you for a long time." "Oh, I'm the same as ever. Since I have been with Mr. Bento, I seldom go out." "Ah," said Pataca, "then you have a lover?" "Always have had." And then, rendered loquacious by this unusual treat of a glass of beer on Sunday evening, she related that when she fled from the tenement she roamed about the rest of the day, and when night came she crept into a building that was under construction and slept there. The following morning she started from house to house, begging employment as maid or

nurse-girl, and finally was taken in by an elderly bachelor with whom she lived several weeks. He provided her with good clothing, plenty to eat, and even gave her money and jewelry, but she did not like him and he made so many demands upon her that she ran away from him, carrying along everything he had given her, and went to live with a vender at the corner, one who had made love to her when she visited his store to make purchases. "And you're still with this vender?" asked Pataca. "No, indeed. Before long I was sick and he wanted to get rid of me, so he turned me out, pretending that he believed I was secretly carrying on an affair with a man 220 near by named Bento, a furniture maker. And worst of all, he kept the things I had brought from my first man. So when I was out on the street and homeless, Bento did take pity on me and I have been with him ever since. We are very poor, but he is kind to me, so I have no reason to complain." Noting that Pataca was looking about as though searching for somebody, Florinda supposed that he was interested in seeing Bento, whereupon she added: "He isn't here-he's inside. When he's gambling he doesn't like to have me near him. He says I spoil his luck." "And your mother?" "Poor thing! She's in the asylum." The girl commenced to talk of Marcianna, but Pataca paid little attention, for at that moment the red curtain was brushed aside and Firmo appeared, his step unsteady and his face flushed. He tried to count a handful of small bills, but soon gave up the attempt and stuffed them in the pocket of his trousers. "Porfiro, aren't you coming?" he called back into the room whence he haa come. Receiving no answer, he continued into the barroom. Pataca took leave of Florinda hastily, and again moving with every evidence of intoxication, he managed to lunge into Firmo, to whom he offered a drunken apology. Firmo turned about in anger, but recognizing the other he overlooked the incident and they decided to have a drink together, after which they became involved in a heated argument, each insisting upon making payment. The mulatto carried his point and offered a bill, and the Portuguese was pleased to note that Firmo's state was such that 221 when he received the change the coins slipped through his fingers and fell upon the floor. "What time is it?" inquired Pataca, gazing with halfclosed eyes at the clock on the wall: "Half-past eight. Time for another drink, but this time it's on me." So they drank again, and Jeronymo's fellow conspirator remarked: "You must be happy to-day-I see you've had a streak of luck." "No, I'm not happy," mumbled Firmo, making an unsuccessful attempt to clear his mouth of saliva. "Well, wipe off your chin and tell me what's happened. Some row over a woman, I'll bet." "Yes, that damned Rita kept me waiting to-day and never showed up. And I know why. I know that pest of a Jeronymo got back home to-day." "That so? I hadn't heard of it. And Rita's with him?" "No, not yet," responded Firmo, too befuddled to remember that his own information regarding the blaster's return home came originally from Pataca. "And what's more, she's not going to be with him, either. For I'm looking for him and the minute I see him I'm going to slit him open, just like a pig." "Well, you had better go armed, because you may meet him any minute." Firmo drew his razor from within his shirt. "Hide that. You shouldn't be showing it here. That bunch at the middle table haven't taken their eyes off you since you came out here." "Well, let them look, and if I take a notion, I may show them how it works." 222 But Firmo stopped suddenly, for a policeman paused at the door. "Better give me the razor-if he's after you, you won't want to be arrested with an iron like this on you." But the mulatto summoned his nerve. They couldn't arrest him, and the fight was so long ago that they were not looking for him any more. And he refused to allow the Portuguese to examine the razor, explaining that it never left his own hands, and that he would not pass it over even to his own father. When Pataca charged Firmo with lack of confidence in a friend, the plumber replied: "I trust my own teeth, and sometimes even they bite my tongue." "I saw somebody you know, and you'd never guess who it was," ventured the Portuguese. "Who?" demanded Firmo. "Rita Bahiana." "Rita Bahiana? Where? Who was with her?" "I saw her just before I came in, out there on Saudade beach, but I don't know who it was with hersomebody that looked familiar to me."

Firmo struggled to his feet and staggered toward the door. "Wait," called the other. "I'll go with you, if you like." He caught up with Firmo outside the taverna and hooked his arm with that of the mulatto in a friendly fashion. "Now walk slow, and appear unconcerned. Otherwise your bird will get away." The beach was deserted. A fine rain had begun to fall, 223 and a chilly wind swept in from the sea. The sky was inky black and the poor little lamps along the road made no attempt to penetrate the darkness. "Where is she?" demanded Firmo, trying to steady his legs. "A little further along-near where they're cutting stone from the cliff. You'll have to watch the road!" So they continued on toward the rocky hill which nearly touched the sea, midway to the asylum. But two figures stepped forth from the gloom. Pataca recognized them, and seized Firmo's arms from behind. "Catch his legs," he called to the others, who lost no time in obeying him. They produced cords with which they tied him hand and foot, and he was helpless. It was then that Pataca felt for the razor where he had seen Firmo thrust it, and the mulatto was disarmed. Then Pataca reached for his club, also. Long after the slender body was still, the three men continued to rain their blows upon it. Only when they were too weary for further exertion did they cease. Then they gathered up the broken, bleeding, pulp-like mass and threw it into the sea, along with the stained clubs, after which they fled to the city, halting only when they had reached Rua Cattete. Here they stopped a moment at a kiosk and drank paraty as though it were water. It was now past eleven and they continued on their way, pausing under a street lamp where Jeronymo, in spite of the rain, pulled out the eighty milreis and divided it between his two companions. Then they hurried on to Gloria and ascended some steps to a deserted restaurant, where they ordered food and drink and con224 versed at length in low tones. But at one o'clock the proprietor closed his place and they had to leave. So back to Botafogo they directed their steps, and on the way. Jeronymo inquired of Pataca if he still had the mulatto's razor, explaining that he would like a souvenir of his rival. Pataca passed it over without objection, and at the portal of the tenement the three separated. Jeronymo entered noiselessly and crept up to No.35, where by peering through the keyhole he ascertained that there was a light in the bedroom and therefore his wife was awaiting him. For a moment he hesitated, but imagining the disgust he was sure to feel at her proximity, he straightened his shoulders and proceeded resolutely to the mulatta's door, upon which he softly tapped. Rita had retired, nervous and frightened. She had failed that day to keep her appointment with Firmo, and she wondered how she had dared to commit such an imprudence-now, in the moment of greatest danger she had done what she long had wanted to do, but never bad found herself with the necessary courage. For, deep within her, she had a wholesome fear of the nimble plumber. In the beginning, they had been drawn tosether by a similarity of temperament, by a common physical passion and the enthusiasm both felt for the chorado and the samba; and then she had continued her relations with Firmo from force of habit and because there never had been anybody she liked better. True, after their quarrels she had taken up with others for a time, but she had always been glad to break away from them and return to him. All this had changed with the 225 coming of Jeronymo. He fascinated her with his strength and his seriousness, and the instinctive attraction of the male of a superior race immediately awakened a response in her mulatta blood. And Jeronymo, the quiet, faithful Portuguese husband, the flawless standard by which all the other men in the tenement had been weighed and found wanting, -in his heart Jeronymo had renounced the wife of his youth, his own blood, and his own traditions. The darkskinned woman represented to him the golden fruit of this new land, to whose enchantments he had yielded, one by one, until now he was ready to cast aside the last tie that bound him to the old order of things. That they loved each other with reckless passion, both understood perfectly. By the tragic outcome of his fight with Firmo, Jeronymo had taken on the hue of a martyr in the eyes of Rita, a being who had almost sacrificed his life for love of her. And a woman for whom a man makes a great sacrifice or takes a mortal risk immediately assumes in his eyes a romantic perfection rendering her far more desirable than when she represented just a woman with whom he had fallen in love. So, although the Portuguese had loved the bronze Bahian from the first night he had seen her dance, it was during the long weeks in the hospital that his heart fed on her image as he counted the days between her visits. So on this night Rita had worked herself into a frenzy of anxiety. For the first time she had failed to keep an appointment with Firmo, and this on the very day that Jeronymo had returned from the hospital 226 Knowing Firmo as she did, she could imagine how he would drink himself into a reckless rage and then might even come to the tenement to provoke the blaster, and the fight that was sure to follow would be fatal to one, possibly to both. Of all the feeling she had formerly nurtured for the mulatto, there remained now only fear. The tender part of her sentiment had vanished. She saw

in him this night only a stealthy brute armed with a treacherous knife. Therefore, when she heard the cautious tap at her door, her heart stopped beating within her. "It's Firmo!" she thought, scarcely breathing. And in her mind's eye she saw the plumber, drunk and vengeful, noisily demanding satisfaction of the blaster. She made no answer, but listened intently. The cautious knock was repeated. She wondered at it. Such prudence was foreign to the mulatto's nature. Surely, Firmo would have had the entire tenement roused ere this. So she crept to the window and softly opened one of the shutters. "Who is it?" she whispered. "I'm here," answered Jeronymo, coming closer to the window. Hastily she opened the door. "You, Jeronymo! Why are you up so late?" "Softly," he whispered; "don't make any noise." Rita began to tremble as she looked at him more closely. With his blood-stained hands and clothing, his muddiness and dampness, his breath reeking with liquor, he suggested to her nothing but crime. "Tell me where you've been," she begged. 227 "Settling affairs for you and me," he replied. "Here is the blade with which I was wounded." And he tossed on the table Firmo's razor, which the mulatta knew as she knew her own fingers. "Where is he?" "Dead." "Who killed him?" "I did." For a moment neither spoke. "And now," finally continued the blaster, "I am prepared to do everything necessary to have you for mine. We shall leave here and go where we can be happy together. What do you say ? " "How about your wife?" "I shall leave her the money I have saved and I'll keep on paying the expenses of the child at school. I know that I shouldn't abandon her, but I can't live with her any more. Even if you were to refuse to go with me, Rita, I would leave her just the same. I don't know why, but I simply can't endure her now. A man gets that way. Fortunately, my trunk is still at the hospital and I can take it away from there to-morrow." "And where shall we go?" "Oh, there are plenty of places to go. We can get along well enough anywhere we settle. I have five hundred milreis to live on till we can get ourselves established. I shall stay here with you till five o'clock-it's a little after two now. I'll leave without Piedade seeing me. I'll send you word as soon as I've made arrangements for us, and you can join me. What do you say? Are you agreed?" 228 The mulatta's response was to fling herselt into his arms and hang upon his lips, devouring him with kisses. Her romantic nature was further moved by this new sacrifice of the Portuguese for her sake, a blind dedication that impelled him to cast aside family, dignity, future, and the fruits of his past labor, all for herthis carried her away with enthusiasm. After the racking anxiety she had undergone during the earlier hours of the night, her nerves were at a tension where they threatened to snap. Ah, she was not mistaken. This placid giant, this unshaken Hercules, was capable of everything. She felt his muscles of iron close about her, and she gave herself up to languorous surrender. "But tell me-say it! " he insisted. "Yes, yes, my captor," she gasped, speaking into his mouth. "I want to go with you-I want to be your mulatta-I want just you." And then she realized how wet he was, and she tore herself from his arms, solicitous for his welfare. "Wait, there's plenty of clothing here-I've customers of all sizes. Heavens, take off everything that is wet-you'll have a relapse! I'll build a fire and by five your suit will be dry again. Take off your shoesand just look at that hat! You're perfectly dry? Dry? Yes, you're dry as a tub full of water. You take some paraty to drive off the chill, while I make coffee." Jeronymo drank the paraty, changed his wet underclothing for dry, and lay down on Rita's bed with a sense of comfort and well-being. "Come here," he called, his voice a trifle hoarse. 229 "In just a minute," she answered. "The coffee's almost ready." And so she came to him bearing a little pot of the fragrant liquid that both remembered as the mute messenger of their love.

But strange to say, when they turned to drink the coffee-alas, it was cold. 230 CHAPTER SIXTEEN During all these hours Piedade de Jesus awaited her husband. She had heard them struck, seated impatiently at the door-eight, half-past eight, nine, half-past nine. Holy Mother, what could have happened to her man? Still weak and ill he had disappeared after dinner and there had been no news of him since. Never had he done such a thing before. Ten o'clock. She called on Mary, Mother of Men, for help. Then she ran to the portal, but nobody had seen Jeronymo, none could tell her anything. So she ran up the street as far as the corner, but there was no sign of her husband and she returned in despair. At half-past ten she closed the door and sat down to wait, her heart in her mouth and her ears straining for his footsteps. At last she wearily lay down on the bed, but without removing her clothing or extinguishing the lamp. In the other room, on the table, still awaited the frugal little supper she had prepared for him before bedtime. She could not sleep; a thousand fears and conjectures were racing through her brain. She imagined her man in a dozen combats and slashed by a dozen knives. And Firmo figured in all these scenes of blood. At last her wearied body relaxed and she fell into a doze from which the slightest sound roused her and hurried her to the window. But it was not the blaster the first, nor the second, nor the third, nor any of the other times she so eagerly peered into the gloom. 231 And when it began to rain, Piedade became even more tortured, for now she imagined her husband out on the sea in an open boat and chilled with the cold. She crept to her oratory and prayed in a voice hoarse with anguish. At each flash of lightning and faint rumble of thunder she cowered in terror. She began to suffer still more from her imagination. The rain on the roof whispered terrible things to her; the smoke from the lamp curled upward as though it were trying to write its message of warning. Glancing at an old suit surmounted by a hat on a nail in the wall, she screamed with fright, so suggestive was it of a body hung by the neck. Weak and trembling, she crossed herself and crept again to the bed. She wondered what time it was, but feared to look. Days seemed to have passed since her solitary vigil had been started. Again she fell into a half-slumber from which she suddenly roused herself. Surely she heard voices outside in the courtyard, bearers of evil tidings, she thought. She strained her ears and listened, but again all was silent. It must be Alexandre returning from night duty, she told herself. Maybe he could help her, and she half rose to go to his door, but a chill was shaking her from head to foot, and she felt too weak to walk. She began to feel that the light would never come. The month was August and the sun seemed to dread facing the cold fog of dawn. At five o'clock, as she knew by the neighboring church bell, she heard voices in the courtyard. They were hushed tones and-Santa Maria, could that be the voice of her man? How like it was to Jeronymo's, and the other was the voice of 232 a woman. But no, if the blaster had arrived he surely would come home first to relieve the anxiety he knew she would be suffering. Truly, this night of terror had upset her nerves and she could hear things that were not happening at all. But the light became clearer and gradually the tenement bestirred itself with the reluctance that always marks the beginning of another week's labor. Heads were aching from the excesses of a joyful Sunday celebration and no welcome awaited the dawn of another day of toil. But houses were opened and the morning cluster around the faucets began. Piedade threw a shawl about her shoulders and stepped into the courtyard. Machona had just appeared in her doorway after emitting one whoop that was intended to arouse her whole family, once and for all. "Good morning, neighbor; and how's your husband? Better, I hope." But Piedade answered with a sigh: "Ah, don't ask me, Leandra." "What's the matter-is he worse?" "He wasn't at home all night." "Not at home-good Lord, where was he?" "I'm sure I don't know." "Well, hasn't he come yet?" "No, and I'm weak as a fish-never closed an eye all night. There never was a woman so wretched as I." "Do you think something's happened to him?" For answer Piedade started to sob, wiping her tears 233 on the corner of her shawl, while the other employed her vocal trumpet to make known to the entire tenement the startling news that Jeronymo had not set foot in his house during the whole night. "Maybe he went back to the hospital," suggested Augusta, as she gave the floor of her parrot's cage some needed attention. "No, he left the hospital for good yesterday," objected Leandra. "And beside that, nobody can get in there after eight o'clock at night," added another laundress.

The comments were multiplied and various theories advanced; there appeared to be a general disposition to make Jeronymo's strange behavior the scandal of the day. Piedade responded coldly to questions asked her. She was pale and dispirited, and she made no move to start her washing. She did not change her bedraggled clothing and when she tried to eat the food choked her. All she could do was weep and lament. "I'm a wretched woman," the poor creature repeated every instant. "If you go on like this, you'll be in fine shape," warned Machona, who had paused in her work long enough to sink her teeth into a slice of bread spread with butter. "Why the devil do you take on so? Your man isn't dead, and you shouldn't be worrying in this fashion." "How do I know he's not dead?" wailed the wife. "If you could only know all the awful things I saw last night." 234 "Did you see him in your dreams?" asked Machona, visibly impressed. "In dreams, no; because I did not sleep. But I saw all sorts of sights." "Well, if they were ghosts of the dead, of course it's serious. But better trust in God and not carry on like this, because if you complain too much about a misfortune, it always brings others after it." As Machona ran back to the tubs to tell the others how Piedade had seen the bloody corpse of her husband in a vision during the night, the poor wife herself raised her voice in a wail that was heard to the furthermost limits of So Romo, strangely suggestive of that of a lone cow, lost in the wilderness at nightfall. Then she turned homeward while the other tenement dwellers took up their usual occupations. Voices were raised in song, laughter was heard, peddlers entered and departed, the day's purchases were made, Joo Romo's store was visited by a steady stream of customers, and the rumble of the macaroni factory's machinery began. at its appointed time. But Piedade gave no heed to these things. She sat on the door-sill of No.35, patient and sorrowing like a dog awaiting the coming of its master, at times wailing in her grief and then weeping softly. She wished that she might die there on that block of granite, where so often she had sat at Jeronymo's side, her head on his shoulder and her ears filled with the strumming of his guitar and the songs of the old home across the sea. But still her husband did not come. When further inaction became impossible she arose 235 and passed into the held back ot the tenement, where she conversed with herself aloud. In moments of desperation she raised her clenched hands, not against the man she awaited, but in impotent rage against the bright sunlight, this tropic glare that causes men's blood to boil and their senses to overcome their reason. And her very soul rebelled against the prodigal fruitfulness of this new land, the wealth of nature heaped upon men in such profusion that their hearts are led astray and they forget the vows they once made. With wild sobs she cursed the hour she had left her native land, a land that was old and exhausted and ill, but tranquil and peaceful. Ah, yes, Portugal's fields were cold and melancholy in their pale green; not like this young, new land bathed in sun and perfumed by an exuberant vegetation, where every leaf hid a venomous reptile and every flower the fatal honey of lust. In that calm sweet land from whence she came no tiger's roar disturbed the moonlight night, nor did the hideous tapir break his way through the forest's shade. There never sounded the rattler's warning of death, nor did the coral, beautiful and deadly, lie in wait along the unwary traveler's path. There her man would never have been struck down by the assassin's blade nor would he have been enticed from his fealty to his wedded wife. So she cursed the hour she set foot upon this Brazil -she cursed it from the bitterness of her heart. And returning home, Piedade was further enraged to hear within No. 9 the song of the Bahian. Yes, the mulatta, the tropic snake, the dancer of the samba, was 236 gayly and happily singing as she ironed, appearing at the window every few minutes to flip some cinders from her iron and to gaze to the right and the left, affecting indifference to matters that did not concern her, then again disappearing, still singing and intent upon the work in hand. Ah, nobody heard her make any comment on the disappearance of Jeronymo. She seldom emerged, and when she did she stopped to gossip with nobody. "Worry and unhappiness do not keep the pot boiling," was the phrase with which she dismissed the matter. But as the morning wore on, Rita became thoughtful and preoccupied. In spite of her relief that nevermore would she have to settle her score with Firmo, and that she had definitely thrown in her lot with the blaster as her mate, she was haunted by a ague uneasiness and a sense of oppression that weighted upon her heart and stifled her song. She was eager for news of the events of the preceding night, so impatient that she felt further delay unendurable. She observed that shortly before noon Piedade could wait no longer, and had started out in deep affliction to search for her husband, resolved that she would not return until she had found a trace of him, even through she had to visit the hospital, the brotherhood, the police, and the morgue itself. And then Rita decided that she was just as eager for news as was Piedade, so she hastily changed her dress and also left the tenement. It happened that both returned home at about the same time, and found So Romo seething with chatter over Firmo's death and its effect on the Cathead com237 munity, who attributed the crime to the Codfish and swore to avenge the murder of their leader. The very breeze that blew from the enemy's premises seemed charged with a message of hate and vengeance. Even the sun took on the mood of the warring factions and set in a sea of blood.

Piedade returned to the tenement, not overcome with grief but boiling with fury. Her expedition had been crowned with signal success; she had learned far more of her husband and his movements than she ever had dared to hope. She knew that he was not dead-no, indeed, he was very much alive. Through a policeman friend of Alexandre's she was informed that he emerged very early that morning by the road leaving the quarry and had given the other to understand that he was coming from home at the moment, having left the tenement by the rear door. Also, she learned that her husband had obtained his trunk from the hospital, and that he had been drinking heavily the evening before at Pepe's place with Pataca and Ze Carlos, after which all three had walked toward the beach, somewhat intoxicated. Not having heard anything of the crime, the poor woman decided that her husband had gone on a wild spree with his friends and on coming home tipsy, very late at night, had remained with the mulatta, "who had long been doing her very best to bring this very thing about," and who finally had succeeded when her man was drunk. With this theory perfected and consumed with jealousy, the flouted wife hurried home to the tenement fully expecting to find her delinquent husband already 238 there, and to visit upon his head the wrath and resentment which threatened every moment to choke her. She proceeded direct to No.35, not stopping to exchange a word with anybody. She counted on finding it open and the wayward blaster awaiting her. With cruel disappointment she found the door closed and locked, just as she had left it. She sought the key from Machona, who was to give it to Jeronymo, and the neighbor inquired again for the missing one and imparted the news of Firmo's assassination. Upon a circumstance like this Piedade had not reckoned. Her face paled and a chill crept over her, while a presentiment of evil smote her heart. Fearing to speak, she hurried back home and with a trembling hand opened the door and entered. Overcome with fatigue and excitement, she sank into a chair. She had not tasted food all day, but she felt no hunger. Her head was whirling and her legs were heavy as lead. "Could he have done it?" she asked herself over and over. The bits of information she had gathered were rehearsed again and again in her mind and in vain did she attempt to fit them together to make a convincing picture of Jeronymo's movements. Only one idea could hold her attention. This single thought crowded all else from her consciousness: "If he killed Firmo and then spent the night in the tenement without coming home, it is because of Rita Bahiana, and he abandons me for her." She tried to persuade herself that such a thing could not be. No, no, indeed; her Jeronymo, the husband of 239 so many years and the father of her child, the man whom she had loved so faithfully and who had never had any reason to complain of her, to whom she had dedicated her whole life-never could he abandon her for-what? For a-she knew not what to call her; a devil in skirts, a creature belonging as willingly to Peter as to Paul; a wanton who lived only to idle her time away with music and dancing rather than work; a worthless pestBut still, he had been there in the tenement and he had allowed her to eat out her heart with worry through all those hours. Where else but Rita's house? Why did he not want to face his wife? Why had he taken his trunk from the hospital and where had it gone? God in heaven, could it be possible that her man never intended to return to her again? While these bitter reflections were assailing the woman he had married, there also arrived the woman he loved. She was accompanied by a small boy. She returned smiling and happy, for she had been with Jeronymo. They had even dined together in a little restaurant. Their plans were complete; all the arrangements were made for their future love-nest. She would not move out immediately, as that would cause too much talk in the tenement. Day by day she would take with her a few necessary things and that would attract no attention. Every morning she would be there in So Romo engaged in her usual activities, but the nights would be spent with her new lover. In a week or ten days the final move would be made and the old circle would know them no more. 240 For his part, the blaster would send a letter to Joo Romo giving up his place at the quarry ; and another to Piedade, expressed in kindly terms, explaining that by one of those fatalities from which none can escape, he must live separately from her, but he would hold her always in the same esteem as before and would continue to pay their little girl's expenses. This done, all was accomplished and he could settle down to a life of bliss with his mulatta-a loving couple, free and independent, living one for the other, in an eternal intoxication of pleasure. With the details of this plan fresh in her mind Rita Bahiana, followed by the boy, was passing Piedade's door when the latter spied her and leaped from her chair. "One moment, please." "What is it?" asked Rita, stopping and turning her lead in the direction of the door, but with a manner hat indicated plainly her hurry and her disinclination to talk. "Tell me something," requested the other. "Are you going to move?" The mulatta had not counted on so direct a question, fired point-blank, and could find no words for a reply. "It's true you're going to move, isn't it?" insisted the other, her face flaming.

"Well, what have you to do with it? Whether I move or not, I don't have to account to you for my actions. Better attend to your own affairs." "My own affairs are exactly what I am thinking about, and the way you are interfering with them, you 241 gypsy vagabond! " cried the Portuguese woman, advancing to her doorway. "What's that! " screamed the mulatta, whirling about. "Do you think I don't know what you've been doing? You turned my husband against me and now you're getting him to run away with you. If he had any sense he'd know better than to get mixed up with a filthy, black slut like you." "Come out of your house if you dare, stupid sow," invited the Bahian. Already the neighbors were gathering to witness the altercation, the laundresses leaving their tubs and wiping their bare arms on their aprons as they hurried to the scene. They formed a silent circle, none caring to interfere in the quarrel, but all intent on missing none of its details. The men who happened to be near laughed and indulged in various pleasantries, as always happened when war broke out among the women. "Go to it, girls! Don't either of you take any back talk!" At the mulatta's challenge Piedade rushed from her doorway, armed with one of her wooden tomancos. She was hit on the chin by a stone on the way, and retaliated by delivering a blow on Rita's head with her footgear. Then the battle became one of teeth and nails. Gasping with fury, they clawed and bit each other, dancing about in the circle of buzzing onlookers. Joo Romo hurried to the scene to separate them, but the others protested. Miranda's family came to the windows, coffee-cups in hand, as they were just finishing dinner, 242 but they betrayed little excitement. Such scenes were no novelty to them. As the battle raged the spectators gradually formed into rival camps, their sympathies leading them to divide along racial lines. The Brazilians were on Rita's side, while the Portuguese favored the cause of Piedade. They engaged in warm disputes as to the fighting qualities of the two contestants and each side raised a cheer whenever its favorite landed a successful jab or drew blood by a timely claw. But most unexpectedly, Piedade lost her footing and found herself face downward on the ground with the mulatta sitting on top of her, raining blow after blow on her neck and shoulders. "Take that, old hen-and that-and that, and maybe you'll learn enough not to insult a lady who walks by peaceably, minding her own business!" The Portuguese now stepped forward to pull Rita off her victim, but the Brazilians refused to permit any interference. "Hands off!" "But she'll kill her." "What of it? It's their fight." Tempers were aroused and the uncomplimentary terms "immigrant" and "goat" filled the air. Then someone threw a pail and in a moment the, battle was general. Instead of a quarrel between two women over one man, there was now in progress a conflict between the Foreign Legion and the National Guard, into which fifty men and women had thrown themselves with a zeal worthy of a better cause. Stones, pickets wrenched 243 from fences, and every appliance commonly used in washing the linen of the human race entered into the fray. From Miranda's window a police whistle was blown repeatedly, and through the portal people began pouring in from the street. Joo Romo now rushed back to the scene but was impotent even to make himself heard in the midst of a contest that seemed to fill the entire courtyard. He was unable to close the portal or even the doors of the store, so he emptied the till of its contents and stood guard over his stock with a piece of pipe. Bertoleza had her stove covered with pots of boiling water, ready to assist her man in the defense of his property. Meanwhile, the battle continued without any apparent advantage for either side. The quarry workers had abandoned their work and rushed to the courtyard, thoughtfully bringing their implements with them. Amid curses and groans there were cheers for Portugal and then shouts for Brazil. Sometimes a determined rush by a group of the more vigorous warriors rolled back the wave of humanity, but invariably it rallied and the lost ground was regained. The police had appeared, but their numbers discouraged any attempt to interfere, so they merely looked on. But at the climax of the combat came a roar from the street, a confusion of many voices audible and distinct above the noise of battle. It was the hosts of Catheads come to avenge with blood the murder of their leader. Civil war was to resolve itself in the twinkling of an eye into a defense against invasion. For as the Codfish realized the significance of the 244 war-cry in the street, they ceased their struggle and prepared to resist the hated enemy. Houses were hastily ransacked for better weapons and these were now passed about indiscriminately among the tenement dwellers. There were no Portuguese now, and no Brazilians-all were Codfish, fired with a zeal to defend their homes and families to the last man.

The host in the street intoned a battle song as they advanced, to which young Augusto, from his perch on the lamp-post in the middle of the courtyard, replied in shrill tones. He was a picturesque figure, with a kitchen knife thrust into Nenem's red silk sash which he had tied about his waist. A thin young mulatto, to whom nobody in the tenement had ever before paid any attention, posted himself in the gateway, entirely unarmed, ready to receive the approaching army. He inspired confidence because he was laughing. At the head of the Catheads was Porfiro. A feather and a yellow ribbon adorned his hat and he danced from side to side, shouting commands and words of encouragement to his followers. These pressed forward, still singing and for the most part armed with razors, carried openly in hand. The Codfish half filled the courtyard and awaited the enemy in comparative silence. Their own preliminary bout had aroused their fighting blood and they were eager for the fray, but were already too hoarse to shout, as they grimly steeled themselves to resist the onslaught of Firmo's friends. And in spite of its responsibility for all that had happened, the sun beat a cowardly retreat and sank out of sight as if it were 245 completely indifferent as to the outcome of the impending struggle. Up in Miranda's window old Botelho was in a fever of excitement. Always aroused by all that smacked of warfare he was now to behold a real battle seemingly staged for his special benefit. So he cheered for both sides and earnestly prayed that neither would give in. The enemy now appeared at the portal, and ten Codfish advanced to meet ten Catheads. The fight commenced, not in blind confusion, but after an orderly plan. Porfiro continued to direct the movements of the attacking forces, singing and dancing back and forth. Razors were wielded and clubs swished through the air. Each contestant had an adversary his equal in size and strength, and both sides watched the attack and defense with bated breath. Backward and forward leaped the men. A sudden, vicious lunge seemed certain to slash its victim, but with the quickness of a cat he dropped to the ground and escaped untouched. Again and again a blow from a club all but crashed down upon an enemy's head, but an agile leap to the side left it spent in the air. Which would tire first and be caught napping? This was the thought in the mind of every onlooker. But the same element that had taken a hand in the last invasion of So Romo again intervened. Suddenly a huge cloud of black smoke rolled upward from the back section of the tenement. It was a fire in No.88; this time a blaze of magnitude and to be fought without the aid of the providential downpour that had saved Joo Romo's property the day of Mar246 cianna's tragedy. The Witch at last realized the dream that had smoldered all these months within her poor deranged head. The battle near the gate gave her the opportunity she wanted and she had crept to the farther end of the tenement and poured over the floors of No.88 the cans of kerosene she had accumulated for this very purpose. It was a fire fanned by a strong wind from the hill, and it traveled down the line of flimsily constructed sections with alarming rapidity. The Catheads were an honorable foe and scorned to take advantage of this fortuitous occurrence. The Codfish must rescue their children and such of their effects as could be dragged from the burning structure. The fight must wait until another time. Now they were even disposed to turn in and assist their opponents in combating the misfortune that had overtaken them, and Codfish and Cathead labored side by side in the work of rescuing all that could be saved from the doomed tenement. It was a scene of indescribable confusion. The children wept, the women rushed about like lunatics and the men struggled with loads of furniture and clothing which they endeavored to drag to places of safety. From the street poured in a crowd of curious loafers who were soon driven back by the heat from the burning building. Church bells in the vicinity were ringing a violent appeal for help. This was not a fire to be extinguished by a group of neighbors with pails of water. The Witch appeared at the window as the fire reached her section. She presented a horrible appear247 ance. Her skin shone in the brilliant glare like polished bronze, her coarse black hair was flying like the mane of a wild horse, and she shrieked with laughter as the flames scorched her. For her dream had come to pass. Thwarted once, she at last saw the tenement a mass of devouring flames which her diseased mind led her to choose as her fiery tomb. For as she sank backward, overcome with heat and smoke, the roof caved in upon her and the Witch was seen no more. The arrival of the fire department saved the lower part of the tenement from destruction. A number of lines of hose were laid from the fire engines to the courtyard, and the steady streams at last stayed the progress of the flames. During the course of the fire the proprietor had noted the frantic state to which old Liborio was reduced and his continued efforts to reach the tiny hole he occupied. At last evading the restraining hands of the others, he disappeared into the tenement perilously near the point where the fire was raging. Joo Romo hurried after the old man and entered in time to see him clutching at something beneath the filthy mattress on the floor that served as his bed. But the old man's strength failed him and he fell in a huddled heap. As the vender entered, the decrepit old husk raised himself and confronted the intruder like a wounded animal cornered, and then threw himself upon the mattress. The Portuguese brushed the shriveled form aside and began pulling from beneath where it had lain some half dozen bottles. With a cry of

despair, old Liborio clawed at the vender and attempted to bite his hands 248 with toothless gums, but the exertion was too much for him and he sank back, exhausted, and with glazing eyes. A glance assured Joo Romo that the bottles were stuffed full of paper currency and he hastily gathered them up and placed them inside his shirt, while the old miser made one last effort to clutch at his despoiler. The vender hurried to the store and placed the bottles in a drawer whose key he carried, and then returned to the point where the firemen were operating. By midnight the blaze was extinguished and the fire fighters withdrew, leaving sentinels posted before the smoking ruins of the thirty-odd sections of the tenement that had been destroyed. It was not until five o'clock that Joo Romo could examine the bottles he had taken from Liborio's hovel. They were full to the neck with bills of all denominations, but he decided to delay further investigation until he was safer from interruption. Bertoleza had waged a tremendous warfare against the flames and had received burns on various parts of her body. She was treating these and the vender wished to conceal from her his discovery of old Liborio's hidden treasure. During the day that followed, the police made an investigation of the fire and the damage wrought. The bodies of the Witch and Liborio were recovered and placed in the courtyard, awaiting the wagon from the morgue. They were visited by groups of the curious from the street, some of whom tossed a coin at the feet of the carbonized skeletons, while at the heads pious neighbors had placed burning candles. 249 Rita had disappeared during the confusion of the disaster and Piedade was prostrated by a raging fever. Machona had suffered a cut on the ear and a sprained ankle. Unable to walk about, she spent her time directing the activities of her family, and this with such effect that no resident of the tenement was left in doubt as to what Machona wanted done. Bruno had received a razor thrust in the groin and two other laborers at the quarry had been seriously injured. One of the Italians had lost his front teeth and a young child of Alexandre and Augusta had been crushed to death. Every one was computing the damage and bitterly complaining against fate. On a table in Augusta's house lay the little body of their child, covered with flowers, a crucifix and two candles at his head. Alexandre, arrayed in his best uniform, sat at the side, his head in his hands, weeping copiously as he received the condolences of visitors. The burial took place in the afternoon, the expenses being borne by Leonie, who appeared in a new creamcolored gown and with a coachman in livery. Miranda, or rather the Baron de Freixal, called early upon his neighbor to express his sympathy and to commiserate with Joo Romo. After a cordial embrace, he expatiated upon the inexplicable purposes of Providence which visits catastrophes upon the just as well as the unjust, and then discreetly inquired if it were true that the proprietor had hastened to insure his structure after the previous fire. Upon the vender's confirmation of this rumor, the Baron's grief changed to joy and he heartily congratulated the landlord on 250 his business acumen and foresight. For Joo Romo's property was so well covered that he had every hope and expectation of making the fire result in some gain instead of loss. "My friend, caution and broth never do any harm to a patient," remarked the vender with a chuckle. "Out there," pointing to a number of his tenants woefully regarding their charred belongings, "are the ones that see no silver lining to this cloud." "But they have nothing of any consequence to lose," airily replied the noble Baron. The two neighbors proceeded to the end of the courtyard to inspect the destruction that had been wrought, after which Joo Romo observed, with a majestic wave of his hand: "I'm going to rebuild all of this, larger and better than ever." Then he explained his project. The courtyard was wider than was really necessary.He intended to extend the line of houses farther toward the front on the lefthand side, against the wall toward Miranda. The burned part would be rebuilt and a second story added to the whole, an upstairs veranda to continue all the way around the courtyard being a feature of his plan. Then, instead of a hundred tenants, he expected the new construction would enable him to accommodate at least four hundred, each paying a rental of from twelve to twenty milreis per month. The Baron slapped the vender's back with approval. "You're a devil of a fellow! " he exclaimed with enthusiasm. And as he departed he again mentally reviewed the rise of Joo Romo to this position of affiu251 ence where he could determine upon extensive building operations without consulting others or asking their help. What remained of the old envy was transformed at this moment into blind and unlimited admiration. "A hell of a fellow for getting on!" he muttered as he proceeded downtown to his place of business. "A lot of force and an unerring business instinct. Pity he's settled down with a negress. Seems strange that so clever a fellow ever fell into such a mess." It was only at ten o'clock that night, after Joo Romo had made sure that Bertoleza was soundly asleep, that the vender was able to commence the settlement of what he facetiously called "Liborio's account." He was so weary that he could scarcely stand and it required an effort to keep his eyes open, but the suspense of further uncertainty as to just what those bottles contained was not to be borne longer. So he lighted a candle, and with closed doors and windows began the work of extracting the miser's wealth and counting it.

He found that the crumpled bills could not be shaken from the bottles and he therefore drew them out, one by one, with a hooked wire. But as a child slowly sucks sweets to make the pleasure last, so Joo Romo derived much enjoyment from what most people would regard as insufferable monotony, to be ended easily by a few blows with a hammer. The first bottle yielded so substantial a return that the vender's spirits soared high and drowsiness and fatigue vanished. But the second bottle proved cruelly disappointing. The notes in this one were very old and nearly all of 252 them outlawed, their period of redemption having expired. He was seized with a fear that the remaining bottles might likewise contain worthless paper, but he clung to a desperate hope that the second might prove to have been the oldest bottle. So he continued this delicious labor. With one bottle still untouched he noticed that the candle had burned to the bottom and was spluttering in its death throes. So he hurried for another and observed that it was nearly three o'clock. Alas, how time had flown! where had the night gone? As he finally finished his sorting and counting, the first carts were passing the door. "In all, fifteen thousand four hundred and some odd milreis," muttered Joo Romo between his teeth, without taking his eyes from the two piles of bills before him. A trifle over eight thousand milreis, or more than half of it, was represented by outlawed, worthless notes. And as he considered these, Joo Romo burned with indignation. He cursed old Liborio for cheating him in this fashion, when it would have been so easy to have exchanged these old notes for new issues. And he cursed the government for its dishonesty in repudiating its own money, just because it was presented at the treasury this year instead of last. He felt a profound remorse for not having made a thorough search of Liborio's belongings when the first rumors reached him of the miser's hidden wealth. It is thus that carelessness is punished, he reflected virtuously. Had he but taken the pains to learn more of Liborio's affairs in the beginning, when the old wretch appeared with a mattress 253 on his back, begging a corner to serve as his shelter, it might have been possible to arrange to exchange food and covering for the considerable sums that this whining beggar had managed to acquire. But even so, nearly seven thousand milreis in perfectly good money had been "left him" by Liborio, and the rest was not so worthless as it might appear. Much of it, perhaps nearly all, could be handed out to impatient customers in change at the venda. Mingled with good money it would be accepted and carried away, a few bills to-day and a few more tomorrow, and even though there might be protests and complaints afterwards, Joo Romo knew how to meet such situations. Instinct always told him when to make graceful restitution with profuse apologies for so regrettable an error, and when to stand his ground defiantly. There were always happening along foreigners and country people who would not, or could not, return to make trouble about one bill that was no longer worth anything. And furthermore, it was not a crime. The money was good once, and it was not his fault that it had been outlawed. Was he to be blamed that old Liborio had hoarded it away with no thought of redeeming it? Most certainly not. Then why should the loss be his? If anybody were guilty of sharp practice in this matter, it was the government, wherefore complaints should be made to the authorities. So the proprietor carefully put away his unexpected inheritance, resolving to employ it in commencing the realization of his plans for a greater and grander So Romo. 254 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN A few days later work on the new building was started and the disorder of cinders and charred ruins gave way to bits of broken stone and scattered bricks. Hammers resounded from daylight till dusk-percussion instruments added to the tenement symphony of the beating of clothes, shouted conversations, the clank of heavy flat-irons and the monotonous, high-pitched falsetto singing of the laundresses. The tenants who had been burned out made the best arrangements they could in the surrounding neighborhood. In a few cases they doubled up with smaller households in So Romo, and when this was impossible temporary shelter outside was sought. But none moved into the Cathead community. Work was begun first on the new section to be built against Miranda's wall, and as fast as the little homes were ready they were occupied, former tenants being given the preference. One of the Italians had died in the Santa Casa charity hospital and another was very ill. Bruno had entered the infirmary of the Portuguese brotherhood of which he was a member, and there he was visited by Leocadia, who had ignored the appeal written to her by Pombinha. This visit resulted in a reconciliation attended by copious tears shed by both, and Leocadia resolved to return to So Romo and her husband. She became very severe in her manner and could brook nothing in her presence that smacked of impropriety. Piedade recovered from her attack of fever, but was completely transformed. With difficulty could she be 255 recognized as the calm, contented wife of Jeronymo who had moved into the tenement the previous year. She had grown very thin, her once vivid coloring had disappeared entirely, and she was now an ugly creature who went about muttering in perpetual gloom. Indeed, there were whispers among the neighbors that the soul of the Witch had entered Piedade's body the night of the fire. No complaint passed her lips, nor did anybody ever hear her mention her husband's name.

During the months that the monument to Joo Romo's enterprise was under way, the tenement changed its character entirely. Instead of a collective dwelling, it became a hive of busy workers, a huge shop where masons, carpenters, and painters spread confusion everywhere. The laundresses fled to the field back of the tenement and there washed their clothes and spread them to dry, to escape the dust raised by the laborers inside. At last the work was finished and order , if not peace, settled down upon the new So Romo. But only for a moment, for the tenement dwellers were astonished one fine day to behold preparations going on for a new structure in the street, on the land where Joo Romo had continued his business all these years, in wretched shanties augmented at intervals by a room here and a closet there. The vender had resolved to build on the front of his lot an edifice worthy of the human hive at the rear. His plans were ambitious. On the ground floor there would be ample accommodations for his now extensive business, and above would be a habitation larger, finer, and more luxurious than even that of Miranda him256 self. There would be four windows on the street and eight at the side. The Baron and Botelho paid daily visits to the premises, much interested and most enthusiastic. They heartily approved the plans for the structure, examined with the critical eyes of experts the material assembled, and even reproved the workmen when progress seemed dilatory. Joo Romo, now always arrayed in a coat and vest, with white shoes, and a gold chain across his chest, spent little time in his store and inspected the progress of the new building only at odd moments and on holidays when the banks and stock market did not function. For Joo Romo was now rated one of the city's capitalists and was much occupied with his activities downtown. He lunched at smart hotels and drank his beer with the giants of great enterprises. And the negress who once ran a lunch counter in a little shack where the barefooted and dirty Joo Romo boarded for half a milreis per day-what of her? What niche was she to fill in the new scheme of things? This question was given much anxious consideration by the noble Baron and old Botelho. For the splendid new building with its luxurious living apartments upstairs was almost completed, and the expensive new furniture ordered from Paris and all the delicate porcelain which Dona Estella had chosen; the rich heavy napery, the monogrammed silver and sparkling crystal-were these destined for the use of Madame Bertoleza? Or was she to continue as a servant? Impossible, as all Botafogo knew her status in the vender's household and the role she had played in his career. 257 But neither the Baron nor his parasite could quite muster courage to broach the subject to the vender himself, and had to content themselves with veiled observations and speculations as to how the resourceful Joo Romo would eventually solve the problem. The damned old wench-she was the fly in the ointment, the only defect in an otherwise important and worthy member of the community! The intimacy that had budded after the memorable understanding with Botelho was now in full bloom. Not a Sunday passed that Joo Romo did not dine with the family of the Baron de Freixal. They attended the theater together, upon which occasions the vender gallantly offered his arm to young Zulmira. He sought to win the favor of the family by showy, expensive presents. When in the city, if occasion arose to take any sort of refreshment, he always insisted upon ordering two or three times the quantity that could possibly be required. He sought to prove his devotion by offering flowers, candy, and rare fruits at the most inopportune moments. At charity bazaars he was so prodigal in his purchases for the Miranda family that they never returned home from such affairs without one or two porters loaded down with the plunder. Joo Romo had changed since the days when he could not bear to eat an egg that might be sold. This astonishing metamorphosis in her man was not lost on Bertoleza. His transformation was complete. His embraces were ever more rare, and then accompanied by such visible repugnance that the poor creature felt he might better have refrained. Often did she de258 tect emanating from him the perfumes of foreign cocottes, and she wept in secret but had not the courage to assert her rights to her man. In her obscure and lowly position of beast of burden it was not love alone that she craved, but security for her future, an assurance that she would not face want when old age had crept upon her and her weakened frame could no longer toil from the darkness that precedes daylight to that which follows it. So she spoke no word that might offend her lord and master, but day after day went about her accustomed duties with the same cowardly resignation that impelled her parents to permit her to be born and to grow, a miserable captive. She had come to hide herself from all, never visiting the tenement dwellers nor appearing in the store, overwhelmed with shame that others might see her and know that the elegant Joo Romo's woman was ugly and black. So she remained in solitude, cursing the fate that had darkened her skin and made the cloud that threw its sinister shadow across the brilliance of the path of the man she loved. For Bertoleza loved Joo Romo. To him she offered the irrational and fanatical adoration of the Amazon caboclo for the white who imposed the fetters of slavery, the semi-savage, who has been known to die of jealousy, and is even capable of self-inflicted death. Better that than to permit her cherished idol to be disgraced by the discovery of a shameful love. But with this adoration was mingled a strain of self-pity. She had toiled at his side these many years; his prosperity was based upon her labor as well as his own; for the sake of the old days when he loved 259 her, or at least made her believe

he did, could he not offer her a little tenderness now and then, as a master in moments of good humor stoops to pet his dog? Such was not to be the destiny of Bertoleza, for shortly it became plain to her that she was no longer Joo Romo's woman, only his servant. She was still the first to arise and the last to retire. Before the sun was in evidence she was wielding her long, sharp knife, slitting open and cleaning the fish that had arrived for , the day's sales and completing one task only to take up another until she finished her day, seated as of old in the front of the restaurant, frying fish over the charcoal stove for passing customers. With never a day of rest nor a moment to care for her own person, she became uglier and more repellent, her heart cankered with a despondency betrayed by two deep lines that formed at the corners of her loose lips. Finally, convinced that although she was not yet dead she had really ceased to live, she settled down in a sodden torpor, addressing nobody and ever mumbling to herself. She became illnatured and morose, suspicious of all who approached her. She took no interest in events about her and went through her accustomed tasks as does a machine that neither thinks nor feels. But this wall of indifference broke down one day after Botelho had held a long conversation with Joo Romo. Tears flowed from the sunken eyes of the poor creature and she had to abandon her work that her sobs might not be heard by the customers. "Go ahead and make your proposal. The time's ripe." "What?" 260 "You can ask for the hand of the daughter. Everything's ready." "The Baron will consent?" "Sure he will." "But are you certain about it?" "Look here; if I were not certain, I would never tell you to do it." "But has he actually said so?', "I talked to him about it. I made a proposal in your name. I said that I was authorized by you to ask for the hand of his daughter. Did I do wrong?" "Wrong? I should say not. If you told him that and he agreed, I should think there's nothing more that's necessary." "Well, if Miranda himself does not come to talk to you about it, I think you ought to introduce the subject the first time you see him." "Or I might write." "Yes, that would be all right." "And the girl?" "I'll answer for her. Aren't you still receiving flowers? Of course. So you just keep on sending yours in return, and take my advice and strike while the iron's hot!" * * * To take up again the fortunes of Jeronymo, it should be explained that he had returned to the So Diogo quarry where he formerly worked, and was installed with Rita in a tenement near by. He had made heavy expenditures because he carried nothing from So Romo but money, and it was necessary to buy furnish261 ings for the new home. And Jeronymo had forgotten how to save. The cleanly habits of Rita had full play, and their house was the neatest and most attractive in the neighborhood. The bed was curtained and had linen sheets and embroidered pillow cases. The windows were hung with fresh chintz and their table never lacked a spotless cloth and napkins. There were also plenty of underclothes for daily changing. The blaster now had become accustomed to delicate porcelain and scented soaps. A flowering vine clambered to their roof and the bees hovered about its scarlet blossoms. A warbling canary's cage hung in the dining room and Jeronymo had installed a little shower of their own back of the kitchen, as the common bath disgusted the Bahian, who on this point was most scrupulous. But such comforts cost money and during their honeymoon neither of them did much work. Life to them was an existence of pleasure, of eating and drinking, of music and dancing, of kisses and embraces. Jeronymo decided that only now had he learned to live, while all who knew him marveled at the change that had come over the once severe, abstemious, industrious Portuguese. Rita had torn from his heart the last lingering regret for his native land and the scenes of his youth. No more did his eyes fill with tears as his guitar wailed forth the melancholy laments of Portugal. He now strummed the native violin, playing the chorajos of Bahia, and he no longer hungered for the traditional dishes of Portugal, for his palate craved only the spiced foods of Brazil. As for the wife of his youth, his caresses were solely for the bronze Bahian, bathed thrice 262 daily and perfumed with the aromatic herbs he, too, had learned to love. The Portuguese was thoroughly Brazilianized. He had become lazy and loved ease and luxury, while improvidence and extravagance supplanted his former thrift and anxiety to acquire wealth. His world was now bounded by Rita Bahiana, and his ideal of human achievement was to love the mulatta and be loved by her. The death of Firmo and the method of its

realization had brought not the slightest cloud over their happiness. Both considered it the most natural circumstance in the world. "Firmo was an assassin who had killed many enemies and had done much evil. He therefore met the end he deserved and his fate was inevitable. If Jeronymo had not killed him, somebody else would have done it sooner or later. And who was more justified than Jeronymo?" But Piedade de Jesus could not reconcile herself to her abandonment. She made no complaint to others, but at home alone she wept and mourned. She, too, was so transformed by the tragedy of her life that she bore little resemblance to the calm, efficient woman who had entered So Romo at Jeronymo's side. In the beginning she attempted to bear her enforced widowhood with courage, but it was useless. Day by day she sank lower into despondency and her moral fibre began to disintegrate. She grew careless in her work and was seized with fits of laziness and slovenliness. Her customers first complained and finally sent their work elsewhere. She began to encounter difficulty in earning enough for her living expenses and it required the utmost will-power to 263 keep herself from spending Jeronymo's savings, the money that must be kept for the poor child, orphaned by an agency more cruel than death. One day Piedade complained of pains in her head, a ringing in the ears and a feeling of nausea, and with one voice the other laundresses counseled paraty. The advice heeded, she found her pain and nausea immediately relieved. The following day she repeated the dose with equally satisfactory results and the added comfort of noting that the effect of the alcohol for a time deadened the pain in her aching heart. From that time forward the poor woman became habituated to constantly increasing libations of the fiery native rum, the only remedy to assuage her grief. Jeronymo never had allowed visits of the little girl to the tenement. He and Piedade spent their Sunday mornings with her at the school where she was interned, but he could not bring himself to throw the child into contact with the tenement surroundings and influences. But now that he was no longer there to prevent it, Piedade availed herself of the consolation of the daughter's company on Sundays. She was now a child of nine, inheriting the vigorous physique of her father and the kind, gentle expression of her mother. These were the only moments of happiness in the poor woman's life, these Sundays in the companionship of her little girl. The old residents of the tenement discovered a remarkable similarity between the young visitor and the never forgotten Pombinha, and devoted to the newcomer much of the rapturous affection that had been lavished upon Isabel's daughter, for the simple 264 souls required some object of a slightly superior nature which they might love and venerate. By general consent she became known to them as "Senhorina." In spite of Jeronymo's behavior, it never occurred to Piedade that he had forfeited any of his rights as a father and she was therefore somewhat uneasy about having disregarded his wishes in permitting the child to visit the tenement. But what harm did it do? She assured herself that she had a right to this one comfort, since her life had been despoiled of its stay and support. Pombinha had lived in the tenement and had grown up pure and undefiled and in due time honorably married. "Those are lost that are born for perdition"a rather Presbyterian doctrine for a good Catholic. So Senhorina continued to visit So Romo, at first coming Sunday morning and returning to her school in the afternoon, and later arriving Saturday afternoon and remaining with her mother until Monday morning. Jeronymo, upon learning this from the Mother at the school, was much angered, but after further reflection he decided that Piedade was entitled to this consolation and therefore entered no objection, although he himself could see his child only by visiting her on work days. Usually he carried her presents of fruit and candy, and always inquired solicitously if she lacked clothing of any kind. But one fine day he presented himself so intoxicated that he was refused admission, and thenceforward his embarrassment was such that his visits became rare. A little later Senhorina carried to her mother one Sunday a bill for four months' board and tuition, to265 gether with a letter stating that unless prompt settlement were effected the child could no longer be cared for at the school. Piedade wrung her hands and began to weep. If her husband had reached the point of refusing to support his child, where was she to find the money to educate the girl? So she went to appeal to Jeronymo, as she already knew where he was living; but he was vexed with her coming and sent out word that he was not at home. However, she insisted that she would wait there until she could talk with him, raising her voice and explaining that she was not there on her own account, but because of the child who was threatened with expulsion from school. Jeronymo appeared finally, with the hangdog expression of a victim of vice who has not enough strength of will to throw it off. At sight of him for the first time since the day of his return from the hospital, the poor woman lost control of herself entirely and burst into a frenzy of weeping. The delinquent husband dropped his eyes, embarrassed at this display of emotion and overcome with the change he beheld in his abandoned wife. Filled with contrition for the grief he had caused her, he treated her gently and almost begged her forgiveness, his voice husky and his throat contracted. "My poor woman," he stammered, placing his hand on her head.

And the two stood, mutely gazing at each other. Piedade longed to throw herself into his arms and beg him to come home with her and again be her man. For a moment a ray of hope illumined her heart that happi266 ness with the husband of her youth might yet be hers. She had come steeled to hear hard words and bitter reproaches for invading the paradise of the loving couple. She had even half expected to be met with insults, and perhaps be covered with ridicule, by the new companions of Jeronymo and Rita. So on finding him sorrowful and compassionate, her heart melted within her and her love proved stronger than her indignation and resentment. Thus, when Jeronymo, his eyes wet with tears, allowed his hand to slip to her shoulder and then to her waist, she swayed toward him and buried her head on his breast, shaken with sobs she made no effort to suppress. So for some moments they wept in each other's arms. "Don't feel so bad about it," he murmured. "We're unfortunates, that's all," he added, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. "It's just as though I had died, and you ought to think of me as being dead. You can be sure I shall always esteem you and never wish you any harm. Now you go back home and don't worry. I'll pay the school bill for the kid, and I'll help look out for you, too. And when you pray I want you to ask Nosso Senhor to forgive me for the sorrow I have caused you." He accompanied her to the entrance of the tenement, where she left him, her head drooped to her breast, her lips unable to speak a word, and tears falling on the old woolen shawl about her shoulders. But Jeronymo did not pay the over-due bill that day, nor the next, nor the one after that. The month wore along and still it was not paid. He was mortified to fail alter thus promising, but he could think of no ex267 pedient for raising the money. What he earned scarcely sufficed for the expenses of himself and Rita. He had drawn wages in advance and he had unpaid bills with most of the merchants in the vicinity. Rita was extravagant and loved to invite friends in to eat and drink, and she had a pronounced weakness for offering presents on birthdays and holidays and without any special motive at all. He feared to curb her generous impulses, as he was reluctant to make any move calculated to disrupt this dream of happiness. So thoroughly was he under the mulatta's spell that he remained silent in the face of this reckless spending and even affected complete approval of her procedure, although within himself he was disturbed and miserable and wondered how long it could be kept up. The constant remembrance of his wife and child and his failure to make the promised provision for them awakened remorse in him proportionate to his outward manifestation of satisfaction with Rita's methods of domestic economy. He fully realized the baseness of his conduct to Piedade and the little girl, but the very idea of bringing about a storm that might result in a separation from Rita Bahiana threw him into a frenzy of fear. He repeatedly assured himself that he would endure anything rather than the loss of his new love. And to stifle the voice of conscience that had been constantly accusing him since the day his promise was given and never fulfilled, he began to drink harder than ever; for Jeronymo to arrive home thoroughly drunk became an almost daily occurrence. So, after the end of the month, when Piedade repeated her visit one Sunday, 268 this time accompanied by her little daughter, she found him drinking in a circle of friends. Jeronymo received them with noisy glee and insisted that they enter. He kissed the child repeatedly and held her up by the waist, commenting with enthusiasm on her good looks. He urged refreshments upon them and called the mulatta. The two women must make up and become friends-that he had determined. There was a scene of strained politeness when the Portuguese woman and the Bahian confronted each other. "Come on, come on, hug each other and be sisters!" exhorted Jeronymo as he placed a hand at the back of each and bumped them together. "No scowls allowed here." The rivals permitted themselves a chilly handshake, but without meeting each other's eyes. Piedade was scarlet with shame. "So far, so good," announced the blaster in his hearty fashion. "Now to complete our reunion you and the kid must stay and have dinner with us." The wife began to excuse herself, muttering a number of reasons why it would be impossible, but her husband refused to accept any of them. "But I'll not let you go. I've got to have my daughter here a while longer to cure me of my lonesomeness for her." Piedade sat down in a corner, impatient for an opportunity to come to some understanding with her husband regarding the bill at the school. Rita, volatile as are most half-castes, held no rancor and outdid her269 self to entertain fittingly the family of her man. The other visitors took their departure before dinner. Because of the distance from So Romo the table was set at four o'clock and dinner began with everybody in reasonably good spirits. Senhorina, accustomed to the limited circle of her school, seemed to be overcome with bashfulness and her father devoted himself to an effort to vanquish her timidity. He plied her with questions about what she did and what she was learning. The wine had been poured immediately after the soup, and ere the meal was over the adults at the table were all rather befuddled, Jeronymo drinking much and urging the two women to do likewise. So before it was time to leave the table Piedade had resumed her

tearful mood and began to complain bitterly of her fate, which naturally led her up to the matter of the unpaid bill at the convent. "Now, my girl," remarked the blaster, "never mix tears with wine. Let's leave troubles for some other time. Don't spoil the dinner." "But how do you expect me to think and talk of other things, when affairs are going so badly for me?" the poor woman replied. "Well, if you come here only to spread gloom, it's better you should stay away," muttered Jeronymo, with a scowl. "Howling doesn't make things any better. I don't see why you should blame me because you are unhappy. I am, too, for that matter, but I don't go about blaming other folks for it." Whereupon Piedade broke forth in sobs. "Oh, of course, there you go at it!" shouted her hus270 band, reaching across the table and giving her a vigorous shake. "Now shut up. The more a man tries to be reasonable and patient, the more you try to make him lose his temper." Senhorina had run to her father and caught his arm, but he pushed her away angrily. "And you, too. It's always the same thing, and I'm not going to stand it any longer." "I didn't come here for a pleasure trip," wept Piedade. "I came to find out what you are going to do about the school bill." "Pay it yourself with the money I left you. I have none of my own." "No, never that. A thousand times, no." "Oh, so you want to hang on to that for yourself?" "You're even worse than I supposed," she sobbed. "Oh, am I! " he shouted. "Well, you get out of here quick, before I handle you as you deserve." But she made no move to go, her head falling to her arms over the table. "Ah, my poor little girl. God of mercies, who is going to look after her?" "The kid doesn't need to go to school any longer. You leave her here with me and I'll see that she's looked after. She needs her father's care and protection, anyhow." "What, separate me from my daughter, from all I have left?" "Woman, cool off and come to your senses, if you can. You are separated from her the whole week, aren't you? Well, in place of her going to school she will stay here in my house during the week, and on Sun271 day she can go and visit you just the same as she does now." "But I'd rather stay with my mother," announced the child, clinging to Piedade. "So you're an ingrate, too? !" shouted Jeronymo. "You make war on me just like she does. Well, go to hell, the both of you, and don't come around here and make my blood boil, or I may treat you I should." "Let's get out of here! " cried Piedade, grasping the child by the arm. "Cursed be the hour I set foot in this house. I might have known that a man who deserts his wife and child never could be moved by their tears and sufferings." So the two disappeared, and Jeronymo wandered back and forth, muttering to himself in his drunken anger. Rita had taken no part in the quarrel, nor did she betray on which side her sympathies lay. But she now stated that if Jeronymo wanted to return to his wife he could and would do so, because when a man and woman are bound together only by ties of love, there is no obligation involved other than mutual desire, one for the other. Jeronymo dropped into a chair and poured himself a glass of orange brandy which he drank at one gulp. "No, there'll be no separation here," he remarked, decidedly. The mulatta stepped back of his chair, pulling his head against her breast, and kissed him on the mouth, removing with her lips the drops of liquor clinging to 272 his mustache. Jeronymo drew her down upon his knees and held her tightly in his arms. "Don't worry about things, my love," she whispered, running her fingers through his hair. "It's all over now, and we're going to be happy." "Yes, you're right," he muttered. "I was a fool to ever let her set foot in the house." And so they clung to each other in a delirium of embraces and caresses, as though atoning for the time they had lost through this most unpleasant interruption. Outside, in the shadow of the portal, Piedade tarried a few minutes, leaning on the shoulder of her child while she endeavored to regain her composure and stop her flowing tears, before venturing out on the street to begin the dreary return to the curious glances of So Romo. 273 CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

They reached home at nine o'clock, Piedade too crushed with grief for conversation on the way. As soon as the child had gone to bed, the weary mother took refuge in tears and assured herself over and over again, in the midst of her sobs: "It's finished now; there's nothing more." She remembered her bottle of paraty, and drank some. She felt better, so she drank a little more. And after a third drink she decided to go out into the courtyard and steal a little of the good cheer and happiness with which the tenement dwellers were ending their day of relaxation. Das Dores had been giving a dinner. Her highpitched laughter could be heard, contrasting strangely with the coarse, gruff voice of her man, and both thrust into the background when Machona decided, now and then, to chide the never satisfactory behavior of her son, Augusto. From various parts of the tenemerit came the music of guitars accompanying song. But the tenement was different after its reconstruc-. tion. As Joo Romo had determined, the courtyard was narrower, the space between the two rows of habitations being now no more than a street of ordinary width, smoothly paved, and lighted by three large lamps placed at regular intervals. And now there were six latrines, six groups of faucets, and four baths. No more space was available for the tiny gardens at the rear and the little patches of flowers in front of each door. The new section at the left completely cut off the view from 274 Miranda's house, and the second story, with its veranda around the whole courtyard, had made a total of four hundred rooms or tiny apartments for the inhabitants of So Romo. Walls were painted white, doors and windows green, and the gutter-spouts red. As usual, tenants were not lacking and no section of the tenement was long vacant. Many of the windows had potted plants and blossoms in place of the former flower beds, while a number of So Romo's dwellers had gone to exaggerated lengths in beautifying their new homes. None had outdone Albino in this respect. His house was on the ground floor, and from the courtyard might be observed the red paper he had selected for his main room. The furniture was highly polished, vases of flowers were on the commode, the mirror of his bureau was wreathed in artificial roses, and his oratory was resplendent with silvered and gilded palm leavesall suggestive of a church, decorated and reeking with incense. And the pale launderer, ever in his white trousers and with a perfumed handkerchief about his thin neck, with his large, looselipped mouth, outstanding ears and long, damp hair, was eternally cleaning and polishing and washing and dusting everything within his abode, as though on the eve of receiving a distinguished guest. The neighbors could find no words too flattering for such order and cleanliness, and agreed that it was indeed a pity that Albino was ever pestered with ants in his bed. He waged a continual warfare against them, but they seemed to multiply and cling to their favorite haunt, in spite of his best efforts. Just across the way lived Bruno and his wife, their 275 house entirely furnished with new things. One of the courtyard lamps was directly in front of them and its rays were reflected from their window like a suspicious stare from within at all who passed outside. Now, however, the couple lived in blissful peace and Leocadia was most discreet. Alexandre swore that in all his goings and comings at various hours of the day and night he had never once caught her in a compromising situation. So far as affairs went with Augusta and Alexandre, the neighbors agreed that Joo Romo had done well to add the second story, as otherwise accommodations never could have been found for the policeman's family, which was increasing by leaps and bounds. Among the So Romo tenants were Pataca and Ze Carlos, Jeronymo's accomplices in disposing of Rita's old lover. Beyond them was a quiet individual, said to be a postal employee, who left regularly in the morning and returned punctually at ten o'clock at night. On holidays and Sundays he went out only for meals and the rest of the time remained shut up in his room, never talking with any of the neighbors. The character of the tenement had changed much. Most of the newcomers were of a higher social level than the old tenement dwellers. There were many students, clerks, and others whose manners and dress proclaimed them better educated than the old circle upon which Joo Romo's prosperity was founded. There were many Italians on the upper floor, and both the proprietor and the neighbors were constantly at war with them because of their predilection for throwing 276 refuse on the pavement in front. Machona had remained on the ground floor and Nenem kept the window full of flowers. Miranda's house appeared to have shrunk a few feet from fear of contact with its over-grown neighbor, over whose arm it seemed to gaze imploringly at the still loftier residence of Joo Romo, which was now an imposing structure, the silk hangings at the windows suggesting the rich furnishings to be found inside. The portal of the tenement was no longer even with the street, but was several yards farther back, at a point near the rear of the vender's new building. The space between the street and the portal had been made into a narrow garden by lining the stone walk with flowering shrubs and a few park benches-a more soothing view from the windows of the wealthy proprietor. No longer did a sign inform the passing public that here was located the Tenement of So Romo. No, indeed. There was now a solid block of granite in which was chiseled in letters that all might read :

AVENIDA SO ROMAO The Cathead community hung its head in shame, conquered and crushed. Its confessed inferiority gave it no courage to compete with this Phoenix risen from the ashes. As the collective dwelling of Joo Romo grew in popularity and arose in estimation, the one-time competitor sank into the mire and gained in ill-repute. Rarely did a week go by that the police did not raid the once proud stronghold of the Catheads, and many of its more desirable residents were driven to recant 277 and seek shelter within the imposing bailiwick ot the Codfish, where a man might know a little peace and enjoy himself without being set upon by a troop of hoodlums. But with the departure of Rita Bahiana were ended the nights of the chorado and the samba. None could dance like Rita, and few tried. The new order of things called for affairs within doors, where tea was served and guests wore socks and laundered shirts. When the room was of a size to permit, there was an endless succession of polkas and quadrilles, and many other modern ideas filtered down from the great social world of the capital. So on this Sunday when Piedade returned from her fruitless visit to Jeronymo, the tenement was dull and quiet. Here and there was a small group gathered around a doorway listening to a singer accompanied by a guitar. The most animated party decidedly was that of Das Dores, so there Piedade directed her steps, gloomy and depressed. "You wander about like a hen that's not allowed to set," remarked Pataca, as he seated himself at her side. "Pitch your troubles over your shoulder, and never look back at them. Life isn't so bad as you think it is. Your man left you ? Well, what of it? Grab another one, and maybe you'll like him better than the first one! " She could only sigh in response, too sorrowful to attempt to talk. But the bottle of paraty was making its round and when it had paused before her twice, Piedade seemed a different woman. She began to talk, and even found herself laughing at some of the stories that were 278 told, after which she became the most animated of all, and amused the others with her comments on the new-comers in the tenement. Pataca was vastly entertained by her conversation and drew her up close to him with his arm about her waist, mumbling in her ear that she was the sort of a woman for love of whom a man goes to the devil. Piedade laughed noisily and threatened to break his head unless he let go of her leg. The rest of the party found this interchange of pleasantries a source of innocent merriment, and applauded with many chuckles. And still the paraty bottle went round the circle, keeping Das Dores ever on the move to replenish the supply. Piedade explained that she was weary from her long walk and required a stimulant, suiting the action to the word so frequently that before long she was completely and almost helplessly drunk. When Joo Romo returned from his usual Sunday visit to the Miranda household he found her reeling about amid the laughter of the onlookers, announcing that her performance was a demonstration of how Rita Bahiana danced the chorado. Her skirt was held up to her knees, arid upon making an attempt to kick as Rita did, she lost her balance and rolled over and over on the ground. The proprietor was attired in a frock coat and a silk hat, and he hurried straight to the group, now swelled by dozens of other residents of the tenement who had come to enjoy Piedade's efforts. He announced that the hour for such pleasure had passed and that all should retire to their own quarters. 279 "Come, come; everyone to his own house and to sleep, for to-morrow we all must work." Piedade was the only one to protest. She objected to leaving so pleasant a party and assured the vender that she had a right to enjoy herself among friends. "What the devil-we're not hurting anybody." "Better go to bed and sleep it off," advised Joo Romo. "You, with a young daughter almost grown up. Aren't you ashamed to be out here, drunk and acting the clown to amuse your neighbors?" Piedade decided that this insult could not be passed over unnoticed, so she rolled up her sleeves and hitched up her skirt, announcing that the vender would have to defend himself. But Pataca placed himself between them, begging the proprietor not to take the woman's words seriously, as he must realize that she was irresponsible. "All right, all right," replied Joo Romo, "But all of you go to bed, and let's have quiet here." And he did not leave until the group dissolved and each took his departure. After the others had gone their several ways, Piedade and Pataca remained in the courtyard, discussing the vender's abrupt dismissal of their friends and moralizing upon the harshness of the rich in their treatment of the poor. Both realized that they could not stay out on the pavement longer, but neither cared to face the solitude of home. "Have you got anything to drink in your place?" finally inquired Pataca. She was not certain, but she would see. She beckoned to him from the door. There 280 was a half bottle of paraty and a little less wine. But he must not make any noise, as the child was sleeping. They entered on tiptoe, conversing in whispers. Piedade turned up the light, observing that they would soon be in darkness, as the oil was nearly gone. Pataca remembered that he had a candle in his room and went after it. He returned, bringing also a piece of cheese and some fried fish. Piedade cleared the table of her ironing paraphernalia and produced some bread and the two bottles. The tenement was in silence, the only sound reaching them being the

occasional barking of a dog. Piedade began to recount her woes as they ate their midnight supper, finally breaking into sobs. When these had passed, she described the events of the afternoon, giving him the particulars of her visit to her husband with their little girl, the dinner in company with the mulatta pest, and the final quarrel and humiliating return. Pataca was shocked, not with Jeronymo's conduct, but with that of Piedade. "Just to think," he remarked, "that you could lower yourself to go and seek him in his house, after the way he has treated you!" "But he treated me all right the first time I went there. To-day, I don't know what could have happened, but he did everything but kick me out." "And he did right-you deserved worse. You ought to have been clubbed for going to him there with his new woman." "Maybe you're right." "Of course I am. There are plenty of men, my girl. 281 The world is large, and for every sore foot there is an old shoe." Then placing his arm around her, he asked, "Why don't you let me make you happy, and forget the other one?" Piedade repelled him, begging him not to talk foolishness. "Foolishness is what makes life worth living," he assured her. The little girl had been awakened and came to the door to see who was there and what was happening, but they paid no attention to her and she returned to bed. So they continued to talk, and as the paraty crept lower in the bottle the deserted wife's pain grew less, and she ate with relish, and even giggled at Pataca's coarse jests which he punctuated with pinches on her thighs. "The best pleasures in life are the ones that come to us unexpectedly," he declared, red and excited, and eating fish with his fingers. "Only a fool sits and mopes." Then he remembered that he had come into the house especially for a cup of coffee. "I'm not sure if there is any, but I'll go and look," remarked the laundress. And she stumbled into the kitchen and fumbled about in the dark. "Hang on to the tiller when the sea's rough!" gayly cried Pataca as he seized her in his arms. * * * As Pataca left, he slammed the door in annoyance. "Hell! " he muttered. "I didn't get any coffee after all." 282 CHAPTER NINETEEN After quieting his noisy tenants Joo Romo ascended to his abode, but with no thought of repose. Clad in pajamas and slippers, he walked the floor of his new sleeping apartment-a luxurious chamber of generous size, decorated in blue and white with a design worked out in gilt flowers. An oriental rug covered most of the floor space, and a nickel alarm-clock now replaced Bertoleza's shake and grunt. The bed was a double one and the rest of the furnishings were obviously designed for the use of a couple instead of a bachelor, for the vender's thrifty instincts came to the surface sufficiently to prevent him from buying expensive bedroom furniture which later would have to be discarded. The subject of his preoccupation was Bertoleza, a problem that permitted neither rest nor inaction. At that moment she was asleep downstairs in a tiny, ill-ventilated pocket of a room next to the toilet. "What the devil am I going to do with the black pest?" he asked himself a dozen times, scratching his head in perplexity. For this night the Baron had taken the bull by the horns and broached the subject of marriage. He informed Joo Romo that Botelho had communicated to him the message that had been confided to the discretion of their elderly friend, and said that he considered the union a most suitable one. Therefore, the Rubicon lay at his back; Zulmira had accepted his proposal, 283 and Dona Estella was to fix the date ot the wedding. But what about Bertoleza? The vender trudged back and forth without hitting upon any means of overcoming this difficulty. What a mess he had gotten into by living with the negress these many years! Why had he not effected a separation long years ago when he first began to prosper? And how could he get rid of her at this late moment without causing a flood of disagreeable comment, especially now that his engagement was all but announced? His soul revolted at the idea of his helplessness before so contemptible an obstacle, one that was silent and brooding, and that crouched in his path like an evil curse, threatening to bring down in ruins the splendid career upon which he had launched himself by frightful toil and privations. What an injustice that his happiness and success should be endangered at this critical moment by a creature whom he had taken in, befriended and protected-for whom he had provided a home these many years. And Joo Romo felt so sorry for himself that he was on the verge of tears. Now and then he enjoyed a moment's surcease from these painful reflections by dwelling upon the advantages that would accrue to him by his projected union with this delicate and aristocratic Brazilian girl, and a vista of rose-strewn

paths to future glory opened before him. In the first place, he would become a member, or at least a relative-in-law, of a family of traditional pride and position, as was that of Dona Estella. Also, his property would be increased considerably by 284 the dowry of his bride, who was to enjoy a generous settlement. Finally, all of the wealthy Miranda's estate would eventually be his, as Zulmira was an only child. And thus might be realized in its fullness the dream of grandeur that had assailed him when first his envy was aroused by his neighbor's title. With these added riches and the social prestige that would envelop him as son-in-law of the wealthy Baron de Freixal, he saw himself advancing, little by little, and pushing others aside until he became the recognized head and chief of the powerful Portuguese colony of Rio de Janeiro. Then, navigating his bark under full sail he would bring home a cargo worth while-it was a simple matter to hand out a package of money with the request: "The title of Viscount, if you don't mind?" Yes, surely; and why not? Viscount to begin with, and later, Count. They would see. He would show them how a man of brains and determination does these things. For during these past few years, since the seed of envy had germinated in his heart, he had nourished one fixed idea from which he never deviated. Somehow, some time, and somewhere, he would secure for himself a title that outranked that of the Baron de Freixal. Then he would make a tour of Europe, a triumphal journey, the echoes of which would shake both the Portugal of his childhood and the Brazil of his manhood. People who had long ignored him would proudly claim to have been his friends for years. "And Bertoleza-are you going to take her along?" whispered a small voice within him. 285 "True, there's Bertoleza," he replied, not pausing in his tramp about the room. Good heavens; was he never to get himself moved around, or over, or through that dark shadow across his path? What a position for a man of promise to find himself in-tied to a frightful, black creature, not by a legal tie, but by a bond of shameful concubinage which once had seemed the most natural circumstance in the world, but which now filled him with nausea. He could not get her out of his thoughts. There she brooded, like a huge inky cloud that threatened to envelop him. And she reminded him of everything he was most anxious to forget. Truly, Bertoleza must be suppressed. She was the living document of all that was bad and discreditable in his past, all that proved him to be the common upstart he wanted the world to forget. In fact, it would be a crime to keep her at his side. Society's surest and safest bulwark is the family, and it is the duty of every man to constitute himself the head of a household where order and reverence prevail. Concubinage is an institution that reputable citizens must frown upon, and as a rising capitalist and future leader in the community it behooved him to set an example and show the world where he stood on this question. But these virtuous reflections were crowded aside by what he knew to be his real feelings in the matter. Bertoleza to him meant a dirty, barefooted immigrant boy whose board cost half a milreis a day; she meant trudging home from the market with a basket of fish; she meant night after night of operations as a common sneak-thief; she meant years of close companionship 286 with a negress on a filthy mattress crawling with vermin; she meant the period of sharp practice and petty cheating incompatible with honored business methods. She was a disease, a cancer that must be cut away if he were to enjoy health, strength, freedom, and honor. Yes, indeed, Bertoleza must be wiped out, like a black mark on a clean page. She must give way to a pale girl with delicate hands and perfumed hair, who was all that is good and clean; who laughed and brought joy; who represented the new life that opened before him-a life of skilled fingers at the piano, of vases of flowers, of silks and laces, of tea sipped from thin porcelain. She represented the sweet existence of the rich, and happy, and strong; of those who have inherited without labor, or who have climbed to that proud eminence over the weaker and, it may be, the more scrupulous. Joo Romo still could feel the touch of Zulmira's fingers upon his arm as they had paced the curving shore of Botafogo, and he still could see the limpid eyes that spoke a tender message of love. His thick, red hand had trembled at contact with the soft, white skin that in the natural course of events would soon be his to caress at will. But Bertoleza-yes, he must despatch her, pack her off, get rid of her, and that without delay! It was midnight by the nickel clock when Joo Romo lighted a candle and descended to the rear of the floor below, where the negress slept. He approached her door noiselessly, like a criminal bent on murder. She lay on her side, her face hidden within her arm which was doubled under her head. As usual, she had kicked off 287 the covering and most of her thick black body was exposed. Joo Romo contemplated her in silence a few moments. And this miserable negress, indifferently slumbering like a wearied animal, was the one great obstacle to his happiness and progress. Could it be possible? "What if she were to die?" This phrase moved through his mind like a cool and comforting breeze on a parched and fevered skin. Ah, yes, if she would only die. That would be the best possible solution of the stubborn problem. And it naturally prepared the way for the next thought. "Suppose I were to kill her?"

But a chill of terror swept over him as he realized whither his ideas were leading him. "But suppose I were to do it; how could it best be done?" Yes, he reflected, how could she be despatched so that there would be no clue or trace by which the crime could be fastened upon its author? Poison would not do, and a shot would be worse. It might be possible to take her out for a good time, and lure her to some lonely place where, by apparent accident, she could be pitched into the sea. That was feasible, but the objection was that he never had taken her out for a good time and it would be difficult to arrange such a matter at this late day. The devil! When a man wanted to wipe out a discreditable past and achieve the heights of honor and fame, it did seem as if matters ought to be made a little simpler for him. 288 So he stood, holding the candle and never removing his eyes from Bertoleza, who continued to lie immovable with her face hidden within her arm. But wouldn't there be any way of doing it right there? And he took a couple of steps toward the bed, his gaze still fixed upon the motionless form. With a sudden movement the negress sat bolt upright, and stared at him with eyes in which there was no evidence of drowsiness. "Ah," he exclaimed, catching his breath. "What do you want, Mr. Joo?" she asked. "Nothing. I just looked in to see how you are-came just this second. How are you feeling? I hope the pain in your side has stopped." She shrugged her shoulders without answering. There was a moment of embarrassed silence between them, after which, Joo Romo not being able to think of anything further to say, he turned and left, accompanied by the steady gaze of the black woman, a gaze which he could feel upon his back. Could she have suspected, he asked himself as he ascended the stairs. But what? What was there to suspect? So he climbed into bed, resolved to think no more about the matter, but to go to sleep immediately. But his mind rebelled and sleep would not come, while, like sharp nails driven into his brain, he continued making resolutions concerning Bertoleza and what must be done to efface her. He must get rid of her-the sooner the better, and one way or another it would be done. She had not 289 spoken a word about herself and her future, but Dona Estella was about to name the date of the marriage, and he did not want Bertoleza in evidence when inquiring and interested eyes were turned upon the accepted suitor of the Baron's daughter. If she were still there in his house, he could imagine how the choice bit of gossip would be bandied about and he would have to face not only the wrath of the negress herself, but the covert smiles and comments of new friends and acquaintances. "Just imagine, he's got a negress in the house with him, has had her for years, and now he's getting ready to marry one of the nicest girls in town.-He's surely a specimen, that fellow.-It only goes to show that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.-This new capitalist is wonderfully dressed if it were not for the black patch on the seat of his pants-Monday, Wednesday, Friday-white; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday-black; they'll cut the cards for him Sundays.I hope they'll be able to live like sisters, in peace and harmony." And the vender buried his head in the pillow as he pictured the avalanche of talk that was sure to be loosed. Miranda's family were thoroughly informed regarding Bertoleza, of that he was sure. Izaura and Leonor certainly had attended to so delightful a duty, even if it had not been apparent to the members of the family themselves. And they had spoken no word, depending on his discretion and good sense to have Bertoleza entirely out of the way before the coming marriage became public property. But he had done nothing; he had waited and waited, dreaded and postponed, just 290 like a coward. Well, that phase of it was ended. Immediate action would be taken and their anxiety relieved. A great light broke over him-so this was why Dona Estella talked about marking the date and still did not settle the matter. She was delicately waiting for him to remove this one last obstacle, and he had been so dense, such a stupid fool, that he never had realized her purpose. If he had gotten rid of her long ago, when he first tired of her, nobody would have suspected anything. It would not have seemed reasonable that a man would make an end of a poor woman with whom he had lived in peace and harmony many years, and who was his right hand in running his business. But now, if Bertoleza were suddenly to pass to the other world, the clammy finger of suspicion would point straight at him. The circumstance of their separate sleeping quarters and the whispers of his coming marriage would offer too logical a motive for his participation in such a crime. So, at four o'clock he still had not slept a wink and could only toss about and wonder how Bertoleza might be made to step off the stage and end his torment. And at seven o'clock he was awakened from his tardy slumber by a tumult in the courtyard. There had been a disaster at the quarry. Machona was washing at her tub, shouting and arguing as usual, when two laborers, followed by a group of the curious, carried into the courtyard a plank upon which had been placed the crushed and bleeding body of her son. Augusto had gone, as was his daily custom, to play at the quarry with two other boys of about the 291 same age, and in a dare-devil

spirit had climbed to a point almost at the brow of the cliff, from which he had fallen and met a horrible death on the rough stones below. The body was little more than a red mass of dripping flesh and broken bones, and its ghastly appearance threw the tenement into a turmoil, the women weeping and crossing themselves and the children crowding about in awed silence. Albino, who was washing at the tub beside Machona's, promptly fainted; while Nenem, who was very fond of her brother, went from one fit into another. Das Dores cursed the laborers collectively for allowing a young boy to undergo such peril under their very noses. The mother emitted one wail of despair and fell at the side of the bruised body, which she kissed repeatedly, whimpering like a child. It was difficult to recognize in her the wild, noisy Machona whom all feared when her temper was aroused. The mothers of the other two youngsters were awaiting the return of their offspring, livid with rage, and as the pair of unfortunates appeared they were fallen upon, not with tears, but with the most thorough thrashing ever visited upon either of them. "Look there at poor Augusto, you imp of Satan! " cried one wrathful mother, as she held her son by the neck and plied her slipper. "He was not the one to be taken-it should have been you. He was of some help to his mother and earned two milreis every month by weeding the Baron's garden, but you can only play about and cause trouble. So take that, and that, and that! " 292 Upon hearing the commotion below, Joo Romo appeared on his veranda, still in pajamas, to learn what had happened. Contrary to his usual indifference to the misfortunes of others, he was moved by the untimely and tragic taking off of the child. "Poor kid, so young and such a live one-and his living on would not have injured anybody. Pity it couldn't have been that old devil of a Bertoleza, who hangs on to life only to poison the happiness of others." The stocky negress stepped out at that moment to see what was causing all the racket and he noticed with discouragement that she seemed to be in excellent physical health, despite her air of despondency. Her short, thick legs moved with precision, and thence upward to the compact roll of her kinky wool, in which not one white strand was to be seen, she gave the general impression of solid construction, built for service. "God," he murmured, "she's good for a century yet. "But even so, I'll send her on her way and the job'll be done neat and clean," he assured himself, as he dressed. But as he was completing this operation, a familiar knock was heard at his door, followed by Botelho's husky voice. "What, still between the sheets?" The vender bade him enter and make himself at home; They discussed the tragic event of the morning and Joo Romo complained of headache, adding that he could not imagine what was the matter with him that made it impossible for him to sleep before daylight. 293 "The heat, probably," suggested the old man, as he lighted a cigaret. "But I've come to talk to you; you mustn't be annoyed, but-" Joo Romo supposed that the parasite had come to ask for money, and started his defense by breaking in upon the other with the observation that business was going bad for him, but ceased when Botelho continued, his eyes fixed on the tips of his fingers. "Don't talk of business affairs now; this is a matter that concerns you privately and one that other people ought not to meddle with, but-" The vender more or less guessed what Botelho wanted to introduce, and felt that it would be a relief to discuss it with somebody, so he urged the old man to speak freely and without embarrassment. "Well, it's about-you know that I have been helping along your marriage with Zulmira, as you asked me to do, and there at Miranda's they talk about nothing else and they are all much pleased with it, but-" "Come out with it, man." "There's one point that ought to be cleared up-an insignificant matter, but still-" "Good God, man, why don't you come to the point and tell me what it's all about! " At this moment one of the clerks tapped at the door to announce that breakfast was ready. "Come and join me," urged the vender. "I'll send over word that they're not to wait for you." So, availing himself of the comfort of eating without a coat, Joo Romo conducted his friend to the dining room, which still gave off an unsociable odor of fresh 294 varnish, while everything in the room was so painfully new it gave one the feeling that the furnishings were for sale and that nobody lived there. "Now, come on and let's hear what it is you came to tell me," invited the vender, as he seated himself at the end of the table and motioned his guest into a chair at his right.

"It's this," began the visitor in a mysterious tone. "They say that you are living with a woman-a negress. Of course, I don't believe it, but I thought you ought to know that people are saying these things." "Well, what else?" "Of course, it's reached our house, too. Miranda defends you and insists that it can't be true-I tell you, there is a wholesouled, generous man. But Dona Estella-well, you know how women are-she turns up her nose at his denials, and-well, to put it in a word, I'm afraid that unless you do something to stop this talk, there may be a smash-up." He paused a moment because there had entered a boy with a platter of stewed beef with potatoes. Joo Romo made no reply, and after the servant's departure he remained abstracted, tapping his teeth with his knife. "Why don't you send her off?" finally ventured Botelho, as he poured wine into his glass and that of his host. Even this question brought no immediate response, but after a moment Joo Romo seemed to form a resolution, and leaned forward to whisper confidentially to the old man. 295 "l'm going to tell you something, and it may be that you can help me out of this fix." After looking about on all sides, he hitched his chair closer to that of his visitor, and then began in a low voice: "This woman went to living with me when I first started in business. At that time, I admit, I needed somebody like her to help me along-and she did help me a lot, that I don't deny. She did a lot of work." "And afterward?" "Well, she was used to staying here and so she kept on staying; and she was used to running the kitchen, so she kept on running it; and she never wanted to leave and I had no very good reason for packing her off, so she's still here, and she is-" "She's the rotten peach that's going to spoil the pie," declared the old man with conviction. "Yes, she is an embarrassment, now that I am going to get married. But what the devil can I do? You see that I can't throw her out into the street, don't you? That would be ungrateful, it seems to me, and then she would surely raise a row." "Does she know what you are planning to do ? " "She must suspect something, because she's no fool. So far as I am concerned, I haven't told her anything." "But are you still living with her?" asked the old man, eying the vender fixedly. "Of course not. Not for a long time." "Well then, it's perfectly simple. Set her up in a good business that will support her in another part of town, give her some money, wish her good luck, and 296 everything's fixed. An aching tooth should always be pulled out." What Joo Romo intended to respond to this suggestion will never be known, for at that instant the door opened and Bertoleza entered-entered so transformed that it was with difficulty the two men recognized her. She was so livid, with her eyes starting from her head and her whole body trembling with excitement, that the two men fairly cowered in their places. As soon as she spoke, flakes of foam could be seen in the corners of her mouth. "You are much mistaken, Mr. Joo, if you think you are going to toss me aside. I am a negress, that's true, but I have feelings. Who eats my flesh must also gnaw the bones. No other creature would have stayed at your side, year after year, wearing out herself working for you, with never a day of rest since she joined her fortunes to yours. Who else would slave for you from daylight till dark, and then, when her years of activity were nearing their end, would consent to be pitched out into the street like a dead cat? No, Mr. Joo, it's not going to be like that in this case." "Good heavens, my girl, who on earth ever told you that I have thought of turning you out?" inquired the capitalist, catching his breath. "I listened to what you two were saying, Mr. Joo. I'm not so blind as you think. You are slick, but so am I. You are getting ready to marry Miranda's girl." "Yes, I am. Naturally, some day or other I must think about marriage. I don't want to be a bachelor always, for I don't like the wild life that most single men 297 lead. So, of course, I want to get married. But I don't intend to put you out in the street, as you say I do. Just this minute I was talking to Mr. Botelho about fixing up some sort of a little business for you, and-" "No. I began with that kind of a business, and I'm through with it. I need rest, too. It was for a quiet and peaceful old age that I have slaved and toiled with all of the strength God gave me." "Well, for heaven's sake, tell me exactly what you want." "Just this. I want to stay here at your side. I want to enjoy the fruit of the labor we have performed here together. I want my part, just as you have yours. I insist upon my right here as being just as good as yours." "But don't you see that this is impossible? Don't you know yourself? I esteem you highly, my girl, but I am going to arrange matters for you according to my judgment, and in the way that I know to be best for you. I am not going to attempt some foolish and insane arrangement, just because you think you want it, Rest you shall have, and you shall never want for anything. But for us to continue to live together-that's so absurd that it's funny. Strange you haven't suggested that we marry."

"Oh, yes, now you can ridicule me-now that I am not necessary to you any longer. But back in the days when you did need me, then my black body did very nicely for you, and you built your fortune on the sweat of my labor. Then the negress served for every purpose, kisses and all, but now she's of no further use, so she can be thrown out on the dunghill. No, Mr. Joo, 298 God does not run the world that way. Even the old dog is allowed to lie around in the sun when his hunting days are over, and my right to a place in the house built by my toil is not going to be denied me. You want to marry? All right. But wait until I have closed my eyes. Don't be an ingrate." Joo Romo arose from the table in wrath and stalked out of the room, after hurling an insulting epithet at the obstinate Bertoleza. "Not worth while making her any worse," soothed old Botelho, as he followed the angry vender into his bedroom, where he jammed his hat on his head and struggled into his coat. "I can't stand listening to her complaints any longer. I've got to get out of here and get my breath! " declared Bertoleza's man, with clenched fists. "Keep calm-don't get excited," advised his visitor. "If she doesn't want to go peaceably, she'll go otherwise, I'm telling you," continued the vender. And he rushed down the stairs, followed by feeble Botelho, who threatened to be left behind. At the corner the vender stopped a moment and turned his flaming eye toward his companion. "Well, you saw?" he inquired. "Yes, I saw," replied the old rascal, not lifting his head. Then they walked at a slower pace, both silent, and each occupied with his own thoughts. After a time Botelho inquired if Bertoleza was a slave when Joo Romo took charge of her. The question gave the vender a brilliant inspiration. He had 299 been thinking of having her interned in the Pedro II Asylum, as mentally deranged, but now a still better plan suggested itself. Why not turn her back to her master-restore her legally to slavery? It wouldn't be difficult, he considered. All that would be necessary was to notify her owner where she could be found and let him go with the police and seize her. So, he responded to Botelho, resolved to ask the old villain's opinion of his idea. "She was, and for that matter, still is." "Oh, she is a slave? I suppose you own her?" "No, a family called Freitas de Mello-first name I've forgotten. They live out in the country some place. I have a memorandum about them at home. She gave them the slip and they lost track of her." "Well, then the case is simple. Just send her back to her master." "But suppose she won't go?" "Won't go? That's good. How's she going to help herself, if the police take her?" "But she'll insist on buying her liberty." "Well, let her buy it if the owner's willing, and she's got the money. You have nothing to do with that. Then, if she comes back, don't let her in, and if she annoys you, you can complain to the authorities. Ah, my friend, these things should be done thoroughly, or else not be done at all. After the way she talked to you there at the table, you ought to understand that there's no use trying to be kind to her and make things easy for her. It's plain that she feels no gratitude for all you have done for her these many years. It's not just 300 that you are getting married-she's a dangerous woman to have about, and you ought to get rid of her." Joo Romo listened, walking along in silence and without further evidence of agitation. They had now reached the sea front. "Do you want to undertake this business?" he asked, as they awaited the tram for the city. "If you do, I am willing to offer you a reward for your trouble-" "How much?" demanded Botelho, his faded eyes lighting up. "A hundred milreis." "No, you'll have to double it." "All right, two hundred." "Agreed. I'II come over and get the data you have regarding her and the people that own her, and the next thing you know, you'll be rid of her." "Good. I'll have it ready for you this evening." "Leave it to me," repeated the old villain. "You can sider yourself free, so far as she is concerned." 301 CHAPTER TWENTY From this time, Bertoleza seemed even more despondent and gloomy than before, muttering to herself and never exchanging a word with her man unless the exigencies of the work rendered it unavoidable. There had grown between them an abyss of suspicion that left both constrained and embarrassed when circumstances threw them together. The poor

woman lived in perpetual terror, full of apprehensions, positive that sooner or later she would be assassinated. She ate only what she, herself, prepared, and a quick step behind her threw her into a spasm of fear. At night she locked her door and tied the key to her wrist, and the slightest noise outside brought her bolt upright, quaking with nervousness and ready to shriek for help. But in spite of her mental agitation, her physical being continued well as ever, and the business prospered in its customary fashion. The demand for the product of her kitchen kept her busy, and it never occurred to her that her quarrel with the proprietor offered any excuse for lessening her own effort. Daily there were bales and bales of goods from the custom-house unloaded at the door of Joo Romo's establishment, while barrel after barrel of wine.rolled in at the wide door of the storehouse. For Joo Romo had devoted himself to the building up of a wholesale business and this had grown until his annual turnover was astonishing. And his staff was a marvel when compared to the old days when Domingos and Manoel in 302 the store and Joo Romo and one waiter in the restaurant sufficed to serve his trade. Now there was an army of employees, a complicated personnel of various kinds of clerks, two bookkeepers, a treasurer and a buyer, a customs broker, and a number of correspondents who sent out of Joo Romo's office hundreds of letters in various languages. On a buffet was ever spread an appetizing lunch of ham and various kinds of cheese, with everything to drink imaginable. Here were effected transactions involving fortunes; bids for staggering contracts with the government were determined; loans to corporations were decided, and the purchase and sale of stocks and bonds occurred daily and excited no comment. Here came everybody-big and little capitalists procuring investments or begging a loan; exchange brokers seeking the ear of Joo Romo, while his subordinates treated with government employees who offered orders for delayed salaries in exchange for ready money; theatrical managers and publishers of newspapers sought short-time loans to tide them over a threatened crisis; widows called to discount their pensions; students were paid their allowances by request of their fathers, out-of-town customers of Joo Romo; the quarry foreman and other heads of his various enterprises presented their pay-rolls for cash for their men. Lawyers were numerous, and other birds of passage called, each with some special scheme in which to interest the capitalist, usually armed with a brief-case and with a cigaret hanging over an unshaven chin. Yes, ruly, Joo Romo had become a man of affairs, a 303 power in the community, one of the financial rocks upon which the city's prosperity rested. And as his commercial enterprises prospered, so did his tenement thrive. No longer was it possible for any passer-by to enter and become a tenant. No, indeed. Now it was necessary to furnish a reference and a bond. Rents had risen and many of the poorer families had moved out. There were fewer laundresses, and So Romo now was populated by commercial employees, students, small merchants and the like. The tenement was growing more aristocratic. A number of artisans had installed their business establishments on the ground floor. For instance, in one of the sections closest to the street was a tailor, a man of serious mien with white sideburns, who ran his machine between two journeymen and was also assisted by his wife, the latter a native of Lisbon, the color of a beet and very well developed. She had a respectable mustache and the beginnings of a beard, and was most circumspect. Next door was a watchmaker, a little man with a bald head, who looked like a mummy as he worked for hours humped over his table with a black-cased glass screwed into his eye. And still farther along was a sign-painter who gave the passing public a sample of his skill, for he had painted a climbing vine about his window with so much art that the admiring neighbors pronounced it more convincing than a real vine, their enthusiasm being fired especially by the birds of brilliant plumage that precariously balanced themselves on the slender twigs. And a cigar-maker had rented no less 304 than three sections where he installed his business, assisted by his four daughters and two sons. Florinda, who had now formed an alliance with a railroad employee, returned to So Romo and became noted for the neatness of her little home. She was in mourning for old Marcianna, who had died in the asylum. On Sunday her man liked to invite in some of his friends for dinner, and afterward they had music and dancing, which carried Florinda back to the old days when Rita Bahiana arranged such affairs for the neighbors. But now these gatherings were held indoors, as the new air of austerity that had been taken on by the avenida could not countenance such entertainments in the open. Machona had lost much of her old-time spirit, and since the death of Augusto seemed broken and weary and much less inclined to shout. Her house was visited by a group of eager young men, all of them evidently intent on becoming her sonin-law, for Nenem had grown into a beautiful young woman and her fear of being left an old maid had vanished. Alexandre had been promoted to the rank of sergeant and appeared even more imposing in his uniform, with boots polished until they fairly blinded his neighbors. Augusta continued on as ever, always with a tiny creature in her arms, or else about to produce one. Leonie visited her friends occasionally, usually creating a sensation with some startling innovation in the matter of dress. One Saturday afternoon she threw the tenement into a fever of excitement by bringing with her none other than Pombinha, who also had joined the scarlet sisterhood 305 whose kisses wear price tags, and who now lived in the same house with Leonie, her counselor and guide in embarking upon her new career.

Poor Pombinha! A short experience in wedded bliss had convinced her that she could not endure her husband. For a time she struggled to reconcile herself to existence with a man without imagination and without ideals. She listened with feigned interest to his banal and monotonous recitals of what this one had said down at the office and what that one had replied; why so-andso's account seemed impossible to collect, and all the rest of the petty affairs that made up his world. She heeded his tearful complaints when he became jealous, and attended him with devotion when he fell ill. She tried to conform to his tastes and to interest herself in what he liked. She attempted to put out of her heart her love for music, for art, for books and for everything else that was beautiful and that tended to draw her away from the sordid soul of Joo da Costa. She tried to convince herself that she was interested in what he said, what he earned, how he got on, and all the rest of the cramped workings of his narrow mind. But suddenly she was thrown into contact with a libertine of talent, a poet who was also a gambler and a confidence man, and her fall was hard and swift. The plodding husband suspected nothing for a time, but his mistrust once aroused, he followed her on one of her mysterious errands and caught her in So hopelessly compromising a situation that he could no longer doubt that he had been betrayed. This time it was not with the poet, but with an actor who had wrung tears of emotion from 306 Pombinha's pretty eyes as he depicted the sufferings of a wronged husband in a play at the Theatre Apollo. From sympathy for the character to love for its protagonist was a simple transition, and the inevitable followed. When she was convinced of her unfaithfulness, da Costa renounced his wife, in spite of his great love for her, and turned her over to Dona Isabel, after which he fled to So Paulo, where his firm had a branch of its business. Poor old Isabel, who had known of her daughter's deviations from the narrow path long before the young husband made his doleful discovery, was overwhelmed with grief and humiliation, and with many tears begged the wayward Pombinha to repent and put aside frivolity. Then the old soul wrote to her son-in-law, asking him to reconcile himself with his wife, promising that she would answer for Pombinha's conduct in the future. But the young man did not reply to the letter, and shortly afterward Pombinha disappeared from her mother's house. Dona Isabel nearly died of heartbreak. Where could the child have gone? She searched everywhere, but only when many days had passed did she finally discover that her daughter was living with Leonie -the serpent had conquered at last, and the tenement flower was in full bloom. The poor woman mourned her child as one dead, but she was too old to work and years of toil had broken her health, so with tears of shame she came to accept the money Pombinha sent her. And from that time on her daughter continued to be the sole support of Isabel's old age, though bitter was the bread bought with prostitutions wage. And as the human heart longs for the companionship of the best loved fellow-being, eventually Isabel took up her residence in the same house with her daughter. But she never appeared in the salon when callers were present, and if outsiders did surprise her hiding in her corner she pretended to be a servant, so great was her humiliation at being found in such surroundings. What most grieved her, and what she never could witness without a quiver of the heart, was Pombinha's habit of drinking herself into a frenzy of glee with champagne, and then, at the close of dinner, in the presence of all, throwing herself into some man's lap, to hug and kiss him with an abandon that chilled the blood of virtuous old Isabel. She always wept to see her daughter drunk, for she knew that at such moments the girl's excesses knew no bounds. And the insane orgies that took place in the house so weighed on the mother's spirit that she sickened and had to be taken to a private infirmary where, after a lingering illness, the poor old creature mercifully was allowed to die. So now the two cocottes, inseparable friends, welded into a terrible solidarity that nothing could break, making them a species of two-headed serpent, dominated high and low in Rio de Janeiro. They were seen wherever there was pleasure and wherever there were men. They walked in Ouvidor; in the afternoon their open carriage traversed Cattete with Juju between them; at night they occupied the most conspicuous box at some theater, to be visited by decrepit old counselors and 308 other men high in political life, later betaking themselves to private rooms in quiet hotels where they entertained fat, rich planters visiting the metropolis to sell their crops and spend their money-money easily won by slave labor and lavished on sirens such as Leonie and Pombinha. With only three months of experience in the business of marketing commercialized love, Pombinha was the acknowledged equal of her teacher. None could excel her in extracting the last cent her victim carried and no other in all Cattete was so skilled in the difficult art of pleasing an exacting patron. Secrets of the profession that others acquired by a long and painstaking apprenticeship seemed fairly to leap at her. It was a case of an unhappily vivid intelligence prepared by years of observation of all types of human nature in an environment where emotions seldom are suppressed-the tenement tree had borne its fruit. But there in So Romo she was still adored as in her girlhood, by the old and faithful friends whose letters she had written and whose secrets she had shared. When she and Leonie accompanied Juju home on a visit, Augusta's door would be crowded by an admiring throng, as in bygone times. Pombinha was most liberal in helping such of her old friends as had fallen on evil ways. Chief among these was the wife of Jeronymo, whose daughter was her special pet, and who now filled in the tenement the niche that once had been Pombinha's own. Indeed, Pombinha lavished upon little Senhorina a

devotion that rivaled the old preference Leonie had shown 309 for herself. The chain was ever extending itself and the same influences were at work in the tenement. The poor unprotected daughter of Jeronymo was being silently prepared to take her place at the side of Leonie and Pombinha when her hour arrived. It was Pombinha's generosity that provided food and shelter for the luckless Senhorina and her drunken mother, for Piedade had reached such a level that nobody longer entrusted work to her. She had lost every vestige of pride, and her addiction to drink was such that she threw herself into the arms of any ruffian who appeared at her door with a bottle of paraty. This might happen once or half a dozen times in a night. She awoke weary, ill and despondent the following day, but a little of the marvelous liquor restored her good spirits and her sense of well-being. She was so undesirable a tenant that Joo Romo's agent three times had given her notice to vacate her section, but always her own pleas, reinforced by those of the pitying neighbors, had gained a respite, that she might find another place to live. On the day following Pombinha's last visit, she finally had been dispossessed, but with the money just given her she was able to seek refuge in the Cathead community, which now had sunk to the lowest depths of degradation, and there she found others as miserable as herself. For as So Romo had risen and progressed, so had the Cathead continued to decline, seemingly eager to conserve for itself the characteristics of the lowest type of hovel where humans are sheltered. Here the samba at night was followed by the traditional fight for the 310 most sensual dancer. Here victims were done for, but no assassins ever discovered. On floors reeking with filth and infested with vermin, brothers and sisters lay in disgusting proximity. Here the dregs of humanity existed and multiplied amidst the dirt and disease that surrounded them. 311 CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE At the entrance to a tea-room in Rua Ouvidor stood Joo Romo, awaiting the Miranda family who were downtown shopping that afternoon. He was dressed in a perfectly tailored suit of gray cashmere and felt that he looked very well. It was two o'clock in the afternoon and the narrow street was thronged. The day was magnificent, with a brilliant sun and yet a freshness in the air that invited exercise. Patrons leisurely passed in and out of Pascoal's; fashionable youths puffed their cigarets and awaited an opportunity to address a word to their namoradas; groups of ladies in silk gowns en joyed light repasts with wine from Oporto. The crowd breathed an air of quiet opulence with the subdued hum of wellbred conversation. Discreet flirtations were carried on by means of the numerous mirrors, and at the bar were men refreshing themselves while others munched the French pastry for which the establishment was famed. The more sedate were scanning the pages of an early afternoon newspaper, and clerks were on the jump wrapping up delicacies in colored paper, leaving a loop in the cord by which the parcel might dangle from the purchaser's finger. In the rear, at one side, was the catering department, where might be seen miracles of the confectioner's art, ready for a banquet to be given that night,to some group of the city's elite. As the hour wore on, numerous functionaries from adjacent government offices dropped in for their after312 noon vermouth and various reporters from a half dozen journals hovered about, eager to overhear a bit of political gossip. But Joo Romo never forsook his post by the entrance, leaning on a tightly-rolled umbrella with a marble handle. He acknowledged the smiling salutes of numerous groups who passed, and now and then one stopped a moment to chat. He was amiable and gracious, and he betrayed no impatience other than an occasional glance at his heavy gold watch, whose case opened and closed with an impressive click. The family of the Baron de Freixal appeared at last. Zulmira walked a trifle in advance, dressed in a most becoming gown of pongee, very elegant in her nervous, pallid fashion. Then followed Dona Estella, all in black, grave and severe, the dignified matron of unassailable virtue. Miranda wore a frock coat with a tiny ribbon on his breast, a silk hat, patent leather footgear, and a collar that would have risen higher except that his chin was in the way. At sight of Joo Romo he smiled cordially as did Zulmira, but Dona Estella was guilty of nothing so frivolous and carried herself with the air of one who attached no importance to any individual whatsoever outside her own tightly-laced stays. The prospective son-in-law and future Viscount rushed forward to meet them, solicitous for their comfort, and conducted them to a table where he was most insistent that they allow him to offer them refreshment. After consulting with Dona Estella, Joo Romo ordered sandwiches and muscatel, but Zulmira preferred an ice and a liqueur. And only the daughter of the household appeared to have anything to say. She chat313 tered brightly and the others listened. Finally, when she attacked her ice, Miranda eyed the ceiling and commented on the re-decoration of the establishment. Dona Estella politely asked Joo Romo what he thought of the new opera company, which caused him much embarrassment, but he finally found courage to remark that the one who sang Lucia looked fearfully fat, especially in her nightgown. Happily, at this moment Botelho arrived, bubbling over with excitement. There had been a tragedy at a barracks near the city, an encounter between an officer and a subordinate. The officer had insulted a sergeant and the latter had replied

with a blow, whereupon the officer ran the other through with his sword. And very properly, ruled Botelho, who added that in matters of discipline he believed in inflexible severity. A sergeant capable of lifting his hand against his superior most certainly deserved to be cut down. The old man's eyes glowed with enthusiasm and he listened eagerly while Miranda cited an analogous incident that had happened twenty years before. Then followed an interminable series from the storehouse of Botelho's memory , but the others wearied and seized a moment's pause to rise and depart. Joo Romo offered his arm to Zulmira and the Baron escorted his wife. They strolled slowly on through Ouvidor to So Francisco Square, where the Baron urged Joo Romo to accept a place in his carriage, but the vender declined, not yet being ready to leave the city. 314 As the carriage rolled away, Botelho plucked his arm. "Well, it's all fixed; the man goes after her to-day." "Yes, to-day? " repeated Joo Romo with interest, pausing to hear further details. "Thank heaven; seems to me it's about time! " "About time?" replied Botelho in an injured tone. "You don't realize how I have sweat over this affair. It was an awful job." "But think how long it has taken you-it seems years ago that we talked this matter over." "But what could I do? I couldn't get hold of the man-he was away. I wrote and wrote, and only a couple of days ago did I finally reach him. Then I went to the police station twice, and again to-day; and it's finally fixed that they go after her this afternoon. But you ought to be there to give her up, because the police may not care to take her in your absence without your consent." "But that's just what I want to avoid. I want it to appear that it happened when I was away and didn't know anything about it." "But to whom will they apply when they get there? Who can give her up but you? I know it's embarrassing, but you ought to see it through." "You might be there to represent me." "Oh, hell! That would be worse yet. Then it would be perfectly clear that it's a cooked-up job. No, you must be at home and you must be taken by surprise. That's the way to do it, and now that you have started in, you ought to go on with it. The men will arrive and 315 demand the slave in the name of the law. There is nothing you can do, no matter how much you hate it, but give her up to her rightful master. Then you will be rid of her, and after that you won't have to see her mooning around, nor listen to her whining complaints." "Yes but-" "Oh, I know. She'll yell and take on, but you must be prepared for that. There is nothing you can do but give her upyou're not the one that made her black." "All right, let's go out there. It must be time." "What time is it?" "Half-past three." "Yes, we'd better be moving." They retraced their steps down Ouvidor to take the tram at Goncalves Dias. The So Clemente car was not yet due, and Botelho wanted a drink of water while they waited, but once inside the cafe he changed his mind and took cognac. "You really don't have to say a word," he counseled. "All you need to do is to act as though it is nothing that concerns you." "But suppose her owner wants me to pay wages for all the time she has been there with me?" asked Joo Romo, his face clouding. "But, my son, how can he do that when you never hired her from anybody? You didn't know she was a slave when she came along and wanted a place to work for her board. You supposed she was free, naturally. Now that her owner appears and claims her, you give her up to him, because you are an honest man and would not think of trying to keep what belongs to another. 316 Of course, she may claim wages for her work, and you can give her something to take with her, just to show that you are generous and want her to feel well treated." "How much ought I to give her?" "Oh, five hundred milreis, to do the thing handsomely." "All right, I'll give her that much." "Then it's all fixed. There will be no further difficulty. You'll see how relieved the Mirandas will be." The So Clemente tram arrived and they joined in the scramble for seats, but because of the crowded condition of the car they were separated and could not converse on the way to Botafogo. At Carioca Square they passed a luxurious open carriage, and Botelho looked back at the vender with a significant laugh. Within the carriage was Pombinha, covered with

jewels, and at her side Henrique, both extremely gay and evidently out for a good time. The young man was now in his fourth year at medical college and had broken loose from the restraint of Miranda's household, to live among other sons of the rich and take his part in the wild night-life of the capital. On their arrival home, Joo Romo insisted that his elderly companion enter and rest a moment in his office. The former needed moral support and the latter's malicious nature made him anxious to miss none of the details of the contemptible farce that was about to be enacted. A clerk entered and respectfully asked several quesons regarding business matters, the proprietor's replies being brief and curt, as becomes a great capitalist. 317 Then in his turn, he inquired if anything important had transpired during his absence. The answer being negative, he took Botelho's arm and led him toward the stairs, suggesting that the old parasite remain for dinner, as it was already half-past four. Little urging was required; the old man was quite accustomed to meals at the vender's table. The dinner proved a dismal affair, both being keyed to a nervous pitch, and the soup had hardly been taken away before Joo Romo was clamoring for his dessert. They were sipping their coffee when an employee entered to inform the proprietor that he was wanted below by a gentleman accompanied by two policemen. "I'll be right down," he announced, the cup rattling on its saucer. He met the eyes of his companion, and no words were necessary. Both hurried down the stairs. "Who wants to see me?" inquired Joo Romo innocently, entering the store. A tall man stepped forward, obviously from the country, and handed him a sheet of paper. This the vender read slowly, with a trembling hand. A silence had fallen upon the place, the clerks pausing in their duties through curiosity regarding the presence of the police. "Yes, it's true that she's here," he finally stated, returning the paper to the stranger. "But I supposed that she was free." "No, she is my slave," affirmed the other. " Are you willing to give her up?" "But, immediately?" questioned the vender. "Where is she?" asked the other, suspiciously. 318 "She ought to be in the kitchen. You may enter if you like-" The stranger motioned the two policemen to follow him and they proceeded to the rear of the building, Botelho indicating the way. Joo Romo followed, very pale and his hands clasped nervously at his back. They crossed the store, entered a short corridor, and then traversed a little paved patio, opposite which was the kitchen. Bertoleza, having sent up the dinner for her man, was preparing that of the clerks, and they found her squatting on the floor, cleaning the fish to be fried. She immediately recognized the elder son of her old master and a chill gripped her heart. Then a great wave of understanding swept over her and all was plain to her before a word had been spoken. She realized that she was lost, that her freedom was a cruel farce, and that since her lover had not the courage to kill her, he had resolved to send her back into captivity. Her first impulse was to flee, but they stood between her and the door, and escape was cut off. The stranger advanced and took her by the shoulder. "This is the one," he remarked to the guards, who motioned her to rise. "Take her along-she's my slave." The negress remained immovable, one hand braced upon the floor, and the other clutching the long, sharp knife she used in her work. The police, seeing that she made no effort to rise, stepped forward to drag her with them. The woman's eyes flashed as she leaped to her feet with a sudden resolution. The practiced hand that had slit open a million fish did not fail her. Jerking 319 aside her flimsy shirt, she made a quick movement with the long knife, and ripped her abdomen from side to side. She sank to the floor without a groan, her glittering eyes fixed upon the ashen face of Joo Romo. The vender had fled to the darkest corner of his office and there sat alone, his trembling hands mopping the cold sweat that stood on his forehead. A carriage arrived in front and three gentlemen in frock coats and silk hats alighted. A clerk approached to advise his employer that there were callers, and a husky voice directed that they be shown to the salon upstairs. He pulled himself together and went up to receive his visitors. It was a committee which had come to present to him his certificate as a life member of the Society for the Abolition of Human Slavery. THE END 320

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