She stepped down from the carretela of Ca Celin through a quick,delicate grace. She was lovely. SHe to be tall. She looked up to my brother v a smile,and she forehead to be on a level v his mouth. "You space Baldo," she said and also placed she hand easy on my shoulder. She nailswere long, however they were no painted. She was fragrant like a morning once papayas space inbloom. And a little dimple showed up momently high top top her right cheek. "And thisis Labang of whom I have actually heard so much." She hosted the wrist the one hand v theother and looked at Labang, and also Labang never stopped chewing his cud. The swallowed andbrought approximately his mouth more cud and the sound of his insides was like a drum. I laid a hand top top Labang"s massive neck and said to her: "You might scratch his foreheadnow."She hesitated and I observed that she eyes to be on the long, curving horns. However she came andtouched Labang"s forehead v her lengthy fingers, and Labang never stopped chewing his cudexcept the his big eyes fifty percent closed. And also by and by she to be scratching his forehead verydaintily. My brother Leon placed down the 2 trunks top top the grassy side of the road. He payment Ca Celintwice the normal fare indigenous the terminal to the edge of Nagrebcan. Climate he to be standingbeside us, and also she turned come him eagerly. I watched Ca Celin, wherein he stand in front ofhis horse, and also he ran his fingers with its forelock and could not store his eye awayfrom her.

"Maria---" my brother Leon said. The did no say Maring. He did not say Mayang. I knew then that he had always called herMaria and also that to united state all she would certainly be Maria; and also in mine mind I claimed "Maria" and also it to be abeautiful name. "Yes, Noel."Now wherein did she get that name? i pondered the matter quietly come myself, thinking Fathermight not favor it. Yet it was only the name of my brother Leon claimed backward and also itsounded much far better that way. "There is Nagrebcan, Maria," my brother Leon said, gesturing widely towards thewest. She moved close come him and slipped her arm through his. And also after a while she saidquietly. "You love Nagrebcan, don"t you, Noel?"Ca Celin drove away hi-yi-ing to his equine loudly. In ~ the bending of the camino genuine wherethe big duhat tree grew, that rattled the manage of his braided rattan whip against thespokes that the wheel. Us stood alone ~ above the roadside. The sun was in our eyes, because that it was dipping into the bright sea. The sky was wide and deepand really blue over us: yet along the saw-tooth rim of the Katayaghan hills come thesouthwest flamed large masses the clouds. Before us the areas swam in a golden haze throughwhich floated big purple and also red and yellow bubbles once I looked in ~ the sinking sun.Labang"s white coat, i m sorry I had wshed and also brushed the morning v coconut husk,glistened like beaten noodle under the lamplight and also his horns appeared tipped through fire.

He challenged the sun and from his mouth came a call so loud and vibrant that the earth seemedto tremble underfoot. And also far away in the middle of the field a cow lowed easy inanswer. "Hitch him come the cart, Baldo," my brothers Leon said, laughing, and also she laughedwith that a huge uncertainly, and I experienced that he had actually put his arm around her shoulders. "Why does he make that sound?" she asked. "I have never heard the prefer ofit.""There is not one more like it," my brother Leon said. "I have yet to hearanother bull speak to like Labang. In all the civilization there is no various other bull choose him."She to be smiling at him, and also I stopped in the plot of tie the sinta across Labang"s neckto the opposite finish of the yoke, due to the fact that her teeth were an extremely white, she eyes to be so fullof laughter, and there to be the tiny dimple high increase on her ideal cheek. "If you proceed to talk about him like that, either ns shall fall in love v him orbecome greatly jealous."My brother Leon laughed and she laughed and they looked at each other and it appeared to methere to be a civilization of laughter between them and in them. I climbed into the dare over the wheel and Labang would have actually bolted, because that he to be alwayslike that, but I kept a firm host on his rope. He to be restless and would not stand still,so that my brother Leon had to say "Labang" number of times. When he was quietagain, my brother Leon lifted the trunks right into the cart, place the smaller on top. She looked down once at she high-heeled shoes, then she gave her left hand to mine brotherLeon, inserted a foot on the hub the the wheel, and in one breath she had swung up right into thecart. Oh, the fragrance of her. But Labang was reasonably dancing with impatience and also it wasall I can do to store him from to run away. "Give me the rope, Baldo," my brothers Leon said. "Maria, sit under on thehay and also hold on come anything." climate he put a foot on the left shaft and also that instandlabang leaped forward. My brothers Leon laughed together he attracted himself as much as the peak of theside the the cart and also made the slack of the rope hiss above the back of labang. The windwhistled against my cheeks and also the rattling that the wheel on the pebbly roadway echoed in myears. She sat up straight on the bottom the the cart, foot bent togther come one side, she skirtsspread over them so that only the toes and heels of she shoes were visible. Her eyes wereon my brothers Leon"s back; I witnessed the wind on she hair. As soon as Labang slowed down, mine brotherLeon handed come me the rope. Ns knelt ~ above the straw within the cart and pulled top top the ropeuntil Labang was simply shuffling along, then i made him revolve around. "What is it you have forgotten now, Baldo?" my brother Leon said. Ns did no say anything yet tickled through my fingers the rump that Labang; and away wewent---back to wherein I had unhitched and waited because that them. The sun had sunk and also down indigenous wooded sides of the Katayaghan hills shadows were stealing right into the fields. High upoverhead the sky melted with many slow fires. When I sent out Labang under the deep reduced that would certainly take united state to the dried bed of the Waig whichcould be offered as a route to ours place throughout the dry season, my brothers Leon laid a hand onmy shoulder and also said sternly: "Who said you to drive with the areas tonight?"His hand was heavy on my shoulder, yet I did not look at him or utter a word till we wereon the rocky bottom the the Waig. "Baldo, girlfriend fool, price me before I put the rope that Labang on you. Why perform you followthe Wait instead of the camino real?"His finger bit right into my shoulder. "Father, that told me to follow the Waig tonight, Manong."Swiftly, his hand dropped away from my shoulder and also he reached for the rope that Labang. Thenmy brother Leon laughed, and he sat back, and also laughing still, the said: "And I intend Father likewise told you to hitch Labang to the cart and also meet us v himinstead of with Castano and also the calesa."Without wait for me come answer, he turned come her and said, "Maria, why do you thinkFather need to do that, now?" that laughed and added, "Have you ever seen therefore manystars before?"I looked earlier and they to be sitting next by side, leaning versus the trunks, handsclasped throughout knees. Seemingly, however a man"s height over the top of the steep financial institutions ofthe Wait, hung the stars. However in the deep canyon the shadows had actually fallen heavily, and also eventhe white of Labang"s cloak was simply a dim, grayish blur. Crickets chirped from theirhomes in the crack in the banks. The thick, unpleasant smell of dangla bushes and also coolingsun-heated planet mingled with the clean, sharp scent of arrais root exposed to the nightair and also of the hay inside the cart. "Look, Noel, yonder is our star!" Deep surprise and gladness to be in her voice.Very short in the west, almost touching the ragged edge of the bank, was the star, thebiggest and also brightest in the sky. "I have been looking in ~ it," my brother Leon said. "Do friend remember how Iwould tell you that as soon as you want to view stars girlfriend must pertained to Nagrebcan?""Yes, Noel," she said. "Look at it," she murmured, half to herself."It is so plenty of times bigger and brighter than it was at Ermita beach.""The air right here is clean, totally free of dust and smoke.""So it is, Noel," she said, illustration a lengthy breath. "Making fun of me, Maria?"She laugh then and also they laughed together and also she take it my brother Leon"s hand and put itagainst her face. I stopped Labang, climbed down, and lighted the lantern the hung indigenous the cart betweenthe wheels. "Good boy, Baldo," my brothers Leon claimed as i climbed ago into the cart, and myheart sant. Currently the shadows take it fright and did not crowd therefore near. Clumps that andadasi and arraisflashed right into view and also quickly disappeared as we passed by. Ahead, the elongated zero ofLabang bobbled up and down and swayed drunkenly from side to side, because that the lantern rockedjerkily v the cart. "Have we much to go yet, Noel?" she asked. "Ask Baldo," my brother Leon said, "we have actually been neglecting him.""I am questioning you, Baldo," she said. There is no looking back, i answered, picking my native slowly: "Soon we will obtain out that the Wait and also pass into the fields. ~ the fields ishome---Manong.""So close to already."I did not say anything more because i did not know what to make of the ton of she voiceas she claimed her critical words. Every the laughter appeared to have actually gone the end of her. I waited formy brother Leon come say something, however he was no saying anything. Suddenly he broke outinto song and also the track was "Sky Sown with Stars"---the exact same that he and Father sang whenwe cut hay in the fields at night before he went far to study. The must have taught herthe song due to the fact that she joined him, and her voice flowed into his choose a gentle streammeeting a more powerful one. And also each time the wheels encountered a huge rock, she voice wouldcatch in she throat, yet my brothers Leon would certainly sing on, until, laughing softly, she wouldjoin the again. Then us were rise out into the fields, and also through the spokes that the wheels the lightof the lantern mocked the shadows. Labang quickened his steps. The jolting became morefrequent and also painful as we crossed the short dikes. "But that is so an extremely wide here," she said. The irradiate of the stars broke andscattered the darkness so that one can see much on every side, though indistinctly. "You miss out on the houses, and also the cars, and also the people and also the noise, don"t you?" Mybrother Leon stopped singing. "Yes, yet in a different way. I am happy they space not here."With challenge I turned Labang come the left, for he wanted to go right on. The wasbreathing hard, yet I knew he was an ext thirsty than tired. In a small while we drope upthe grassy side onto the camino real. "---you see," my brothers Leon to be explaining, "the camino actual curvesaround the foot that the Katayaghan hills and also passes by our house. We drove through thefields because---but I"ll be asking Father as soon as we get home.""Noel," she said. "Yes, Maria.""I to be afraid. He may not favor me.""Does that issue you still, Maria?" my brother Leon said. "From the way youtalk, he can be one ogre, for all the world. Except when his leg that was injured in theRevolution is troubling him, father is the mildest-tempered, gentlest guy I know."We concerned the residence of Lacay Julian and also I speak to Labang loudly, however Moning did not cometo the window, so i surmised she should be eating through the remainder of her family. And also I thoughtof the food being made ready at home and also my mouth watered. We met the twins, Urong andCelin, and also I stated "Hoy!" calling lock by name. And they shouted back and askedif my brothers Leon and his wife were through me. And my brother Leon shouted come them and also thentold me to do Labang run; your answers were lost in the noise the the wheels. I quit labang ~ above the road prior to our house and would have gotten down however my brotherLeon took the rope and told me to stay in the cart. He turned Labang right into the open gateand we dashed right into our yard. I believed we would crash into the camachile tree, yet mybrother Leon reined in Labang in time. There to be light below in the kitchen, andMother was standing in the doorway, and also I might see she smiling shyly. My brother Leon washelping Maria end the wheel. The an initial words that fell from his lips ~ he had kissedMother"s hand were: "Father... Whereby is he?""He is in his room upstairs," mother said, her face ending up being serious. "Hisleg is bothering him again."I did not hear anything an ext because I had to go ago to the cart to unhitch Labang. Yet Ihardly tied the under the barn as soon as I heard father calling me. I met my brothers Leon goingto bring up the trunks. Together I passed with the kitchen, there to be Mother and my sisterAurelia and Maria and it seemed to me they were crying, all of them. There was no light in Father"s room. There to be no movement. He satellite in the huge armchair bythe west window, and also a star shone directly through it. He to be smoking, yet he removedthe roll of tobacco from his mouth as soon as he saw me. The laid it very closely on the windowsillbefore speaking. "Did you satisfy anybody on the way?" that asked. "No, Father," ns said. "Nobody passes v the Waig in ~ night."He reached for his roll of tobacco and also hithced himself up in the chair. "She is an extremely beautiful, Father.""Was she fear of Labang?" my father had actually not elevated his voice, yet the roomseemed to resound v it. And again I observed her eye on the long curving horns and the armof my brothers Leon approximately her shoulders. "No, Father, she was no afraid.""On the way---""She looked in ~ the stars, Father. And also Manong Leon sang.""What did that sing?""---Sky Sown through Stars... She sang v him."He was quiet again. I might hear the short voices that Mother and also my sisters Aureliadownstairs. Over there was also the voice of my brothers Leon, and also I assumed that Father"s voicemust have actually been choose it once Father was young. He had laid the roll of tobacco ~ above thewindowsill when more. Ns watched the smoke waver faintly upward from the lighted end andvanish progressively into the night outside. The door opened and also my brother Leon and also Maria come in. "Have friend watered Labang?" Father spoke to me. I told him the Labang was relaxing yet under the barn. "It is time you watered him, my son," my father said. Ns looked in ~ Maria and also she to be lovely. She was tall.


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Alongside my brother Leon, she was talland an extremely still. Then ns went out, and also in the darkened room the fragrance of she was choose amorning when papayas room in bloom.