Camilla stared up at the blue sky so he should not read the expression in her eyes. A dead leaf shook slowly loose from the crest of a tree swinging slowly on the wind, fell like a small dead butterfly at her feet. She bent down and took it in her fingers. Then, without look-ing at him, she murmured:
“It’s horrible to hear you talk like that. . . . I like you . . . no one else. . . . Ah, well, go then, go: I feel ashamed now. Please leave me!”
She threw away the leaf she had crumpled in her hand and covered her face with a corner of her apron. When she opened her eyes, Luis Cervantes had disap-peared.
She followed the river trail. The river seemed to have been sprinkled with a fine red dust. On its surface drifted now a sky of variegated colors, now the dark crags, half light, half shadow. Myriads of luminous insects twinkled in a hollow. Camilla, standing on the beach of washed, round stones, caught a reflection of herself in the waters; she saw herself in her yellow blouse with the green ribbons, her white skirt, her carefully combed hair, her wide eyebrows and broad forehead, exactly as she had dressed to please Luis. She burst into tears.
Among the reeds, the frogs chanted the implacable melancholy of the hour. Perched on a dry root, a dove wept also.
That evening, there was much merrymaking at the dance, and a great quantity of mezcal was drunk. “I miss Camilla,” said Demetrio in a loud voice. Everybody looked about for Camilla.
“She’s sick, she’s got a headache,” said Agapita harsh-ly, uneasy as she caught sight of the malicious glances leveled at her.
When the dance was over, Demetrio, somewhat un-steady on his feet, thanked all the kind neighbors who had welcomed them and promised that when the revo-lution had triumphed he would remember them one and all, because “hospital or jail is a true test of friendship.”
“May God’s hand lead you all,” said
an old woman.
“God bless you all and keep you well,” others added.
Utterly drunk, Maria Antonia said:
“Come back soon, damn soon!”
On the morrow, Maria Antonia, who, though she was pockmarked and walleyed, nevertheless enjoyed a no-torious reputation—indeed it was confidently proclaimed that no man had failed to go with her behind the river weeds at some time or other—shouted to Camilla:
“Hey there, you! What’s the matter? What are you doing there skulking in the corner with a shawl tied round your head! You’re crying, I wager. Look at her eyes; they look like a witch’s. There’s no sorrow lasts more than three days!”
Agapita knitted her eyebrows and muttered indistinct-ly to herself.
The old crones felt uneasy and lonesome since Deme-trio’s men had left. The men, too, in spite of their gossip and insults, lamented their departure since now they would have no one to bring them fresh meat every day. It is pleasant indeed to spend your time eating and drink-ing, and sleeping all day long in the cool shade of the rocks, while clouds ravel and unravel their fleecy threads on the blue shuttle of the sky.