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only the rustling of the leaves stirred by the breeze and the chirping of the insects in the sun came to him. All earth seemed to perspire. A diaphanous vapor rose tremblingly from the hot soil; the leaves hung languidly, and through the intense blueness of the sky passed some urubus [1] in search of distant lodgings.

Suddenly a pigeon winged through the air, then another, and still another. They were leaving . . . they were leaving! . . . A beating of wings,—more on the way. They would never return, never! They were fleeing in horror, feeling the approach of death.

For a long time he gazed about him, but could see only the rich verdure waving to the wind in the warm transparency of the atmosphere. He should have taken his child to town as soon as the illness had appeared. But who could have foretold this? He raised his eyes to heaven and they lingered upon the luminous azure; then came another pigeon. He shook his head and, striking his fist against his thigh, slung his spade back upon his shoulder and turned in the direction of his house.

When Joanna saw him on the terrace she appeared to divine his thoughts.

  1. Urubu: the black vulture of South America.