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Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest

Chapter X
On the following day Rima continued in the same inexplicable humour; and
feeling my defeat keenly, I determined once more to try the effect of absence on
her, and to remain away on this occasion for a longer period. Like old Nuflo, I
was secret in going forth next morning, waiting until the girl was out of the way,
then slipping off among the bushes into the deeper wood; and finally quitting its
shelter, I set out across the savannah towards my old quarters. Great was my
surprise on arriving at the village to find no person there. At first I imagined that
my disappearance in the forest of evil fame had caused them to abandon their
home in a panic; but on looking round I concluded that my friends had only gone
on one of their periodical visits to some neighbouring village. For when these
Indians visit their neighbours they do it in a very thorough manner; they all go,
taking with them their entire stock of provisions, their cooking utensils, weapons,
hammocks, and even their pet animals. Fortunately in this case they had not
taken quite everything; my hammock was there, also one small pot, some
cassava bread, purple potatoes, and a few ears of maize. I concluded that these
had been left for me in the event of my return; also that they had not been gone
very many hours, since a log of wood buried under the ashes of the hearth was
still alight. Now, as their absences from home usually last many days, it was plain
that I would have the big naked barn-like house to myself for as long as I thought
proper to remain, with little food to eat; but the prospect did not disturb me, and I
resolved to amuse myself with music. In vain I hunted for my guitar; the Indians
had taken it to delight their friends by twanging its strings. At odd moments
during the last day or two I had been composing a simple melody in my brain,
fitting it to ancient words; and now, without an instrument to assist me, I began
softly singing to myself:
Muy mas clara que la luna Sola una en el mundo vos nacistes.
After music I made up the fire and parched an ear of maize for my dinner, and
while laboriously crunching the dry hard grain I thanked Heaven for having
bestowed on me such good molars. Finally I slung my hammock in its old corner,
and placing myself in it in my favourite oblique position, my hands clasped
behind my head, one knee cocked up, the other leg dangling down, I resigned
myself to idle thought. I felt very happy. How strange, thought I, with a little self-
flattery, that I, accustomed to the agreeable society of intelligent men and
charming women, and of books, should find such perfect contentment here! But I
congratulated myself too soon. The profound silence began at length to oppress
me. It was not like the forest, where one has wild birds for company, where their
cries, albeit inarticulate, have a meaning and give a charm to solitude. Even the
sight and whispered sounds of green leaves and rushes trembling in the wind
have for us something of intelligence and sympathy; but I could not commune
with mud walls and an earthen pot. Feeling my loneliness too acutely, I began to
regret that I had left Rima, then to feel remorse at the secrecy I had practiced.
Even now while I inclined idly in my hammock, she would be roaming the forest
in search of me, listening for my footsteps, fearing perhaps that I had met with
 
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