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Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest

Chapter VIII
When morning came I was too stiff and sore to move, and not until the following
day was I able to creep out to sit in the shade of the trees. My old host, whose
name was Nuflo, went off with his dogs, leaving the girl to attend to my wants.
Two or three times during the day she appeared to serve me with food and drink,
but she continued silent and constrained in manner as on the first evening of
seeing her in the hut.
Late in the afternoon old Nuflo returned, but did not say where he had been; and
shortly afterwards Rima reappeared, demure as usual, in her faded cotton dress,
her cloud of hair confined in two long plaits. My curiosity was more excited than
ever, and I resolved to get to the bottom of the mystery of her life. The girl had
not shown herself responsive, but now that Nuflo was back I was treated to as
much talk as I cared to hear. He talked of many things, only omitting those which
I desired to hear about; but his pet subject appeared to be the divine government
of the world--"God's politics"--and its manifest imperfections, or, in other words,
the manifold abuses which from time to time had been allowed to creep into it.
The old man was pious, but like many of his class in my country, he permitted
himself to indulge in very free criticisms of the powers above, from the King of
Heaven down to the smallest saint whose name figures in the calendar.
"These things, senor," he said, "are not properly managed. Consider my position.
Here am I compelled for my sins to inhabit this wilderness with my poor
"She is not your granddaughter!" I suddenly interrupted, thinking to surprise him
into an admission.
But he took his time to answer. "Senor, we are never sure of anything in this
world. Not absolutely sure. Thus, it may come to pass that you will one day
marry, and that your wife will in due time present you with a son--one that will
inherit your fortune and transmit your name to posterity. And yet, sir, in this world,
you will never know to a certainty that he is your son."
"Proceed with what you were saying," I returned, with some dignity.
"Here we are," he continued, "compelled to inhabit this land and do not meet with
proper protection from the infidel. Now, sir, this is a crying evil, and it is only
becoming in one who has the true faith, and is a loyal subject of the All-Powerful,
to point out with due humility that He is growing very remiss in His affairs, and is
losing a good deal of His prestige. And what, senor, is at the bottom of it?
Favoritism. We know that the Supreme cannot Himself be everywhere, attending
to each little trick-track that arises in the world--matters altogether beneath His
notice; and that He must, like the President of Venezuela or the Emperor of
Brazil, appoint men--angels if you like--to conduct His affairs and watch over
each district. And it is manifest that for this country of Guayana the proper person
has not been appointed. Every evil is done and there is no remedy, and the
Christian has no more consideration shown him than the infidel. Now, senor, in a
town near the Orinoco I once saw on a church the archangel Michael, made of
stone, and twice as tall as a man, with one foot on a monster shaped like a