“You’re a good boy; that’s the way I like you: resignation and obedience. For this time, and in reward for your good sense, we’ll make just one exception. Let’s not part thus coldly.... So,—you may kiss me,—as they do it on the stage—here!”
And she raised her hand up toward his lips. Rafael seized it hungrily and kissed it over and over again, until Leonora, tearing it away with a violence that showed extraordinary strength, reprimanded him sharply.
“You rogue!... Up to mischief so soon! What an abuse of confidence? Good-bye! Cupido is calling you.... Good-bye.”
And she pushed him toward the balcony, where the barber was already holding the boat against the railing.
“Hop in, Rafael,” said Cupido. “Better lean on me; the water’s going down and the boat’s very low,” Rafael jumped into his white craft, which was now dirty and stained from the red water. The barber took the oars. They began to move away.
“Good-bye! Good-bye! Many thanks!” cried dona Pepa. The maid and the whole family of the gardener had come out on the balcony.
Rafael let go the tiller, and turned toward the house. He could see nothing, however, but that proud beauty, who was waving her handkerchief to them. He watched her for a long time, and when the crests of the submerged trees hid the balcony from view, he bowed his head, giving himself up entirely to the silent pleasure of tasting the sweetness that he could still feel upon his burning lips.
The elections set the whole District agog. The crucial moment for the House of Brull had come, and all its loyal henchmen, as though still uncertain of the Party’s omnipotence, and fearing the sudden appearance of hidden enemies, were running this way and that about the city and the outlying towns, shouting Rafael’s name as a clarion call to victory.
The inundation was something of the forgotten past. The beneficent sun had dried the fields. The orchards fertilized by the silt of the recent flood looked more beautiful than ever. A magnificent harvest was forecasted, and, as sole reminders of the catastrophe, there remained only a shattered enclosure here, a fallen fence there, or some sunken road with the banks washed away. Most of the damage had been repaired in a few days, and people were quite content, referring to the past danger jokingly. Until next time!
Besides, plenty of relief money had been given out. Help had come from Valencia, from Madrid, from every corner of Spain, thanks to the whimpering publicity given the inundation in the local press; and since the pious believer must attribute all his boons to the protection of some patron saint, the peasants thanked Rafael and his mother for this alms, resolving to be more faithful than ever to the powerful family. So—long live the Father of the Poor!