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VI


Demetrio Macias' wife, mad with joy, rushed
along the trail to meet him, leading a child by the hand.
An absence of almost two years!

They embraced each other and stood speechless. She
wept, sobbed. Demetrio stared in astonishment at his
wife who seemed to have aged ten or twenty years.
Then he looked at the child who gazed up at him in sur-
prise. His heart leaped to his mouth as he saw in the
child's features his own steel features and fiery eyes ex-
actly reproduced. He wanted to hold him in his arms, but
the frightened child took refuge in his mother's skirts.

"It's your own father, baby! It's your daddy!"

The child hid his face within the folds of his mother's
skirt, still hostile.

Demetrio handed the reins of his horse to his orderly
and walked slowly along the steep trail with his wife
and son.

"Blessed be the Virgin Mary, Praise be to God! Now
you'll never leave us any more, will you? Never . . .
never. . . . You'll stay with us always?"

Demetrio's face grew dark. Both remained silent, lost
in anguish. Demetrio suppressed a sigh. Memories
crowded and buzzed through his brain like bees about a
hive.

A black cloud rose behind the sierra and a deafening
roar of thunder resounded. The rain began to fall in
heavy drops; they sought refuge in a rocky hut.

The rain came pelting down, shattering the white Saint
John roses clustered like sheaves of stars clinging to tree,
rock, bush, and pitaya over the entire mountainside.

Below in the depths of the canyon, through the gauze
of the rain they could see the tall, sheer palms shaking
in the wind, opening out like fans before the tempest.
Everywhere mountains, heaving hills, and beyond more
hills, locked amid mountains, more mountains encircled
in the wall of the sierra whose loftiest peaks vanished in
the sapphire of the sky.

"Demetrio, please. For God's sake, don't go away! My
heart tells me something will happen to you this time."

Again she was wracked with sobs. The child, fright-
ened, cried and screamed. To calm him, she controlled
her own great grief.

Gradually the rain stopped, a swallow, with silver
breast and wings describing luminous charming curves,
fluttered obliquely across the silver threads of the rain,
gleaming suddenly in the afternoon sunshine.

"Why do you keep on fighting, Demetrio?"

Demetrio frowned deeply. Picking up a stone absent-
mindedly, he threw it to the bottom of the canyon. Then
he stared pensively into the abyss, watching the arch of
its flight.

"Look at that stone; how it keeps on going. . . ."





The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
Category:
General Fiction

Mexico - History - 1910-1946
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