Our Friend Manso

By Benito Pérez Galdós; Robert Russell | Go to book overview

XXXI "SHE'S A HYPOCRITE!"

THIS FELL ON MY HEART like a hammer on an anvil, and it set my whole spirit shaking.

"But Lica, calm down, just reason it out clearly . . ."

"I don't reason, you fool, I feel, I sense things, I'm a woman."

"Just what have you observed?"

"Well, Irene has been doing a very bad job with the lessons lately. She's been moving backwards, the way crabs do. Teaching everything backside to. One afternoon . . . I'm beginning to see how important these things are. I caught her reading a letter. When I went in, she put it away quickly. Her eyes were all red. And then this eagerness to move in with her aunt. the cheek of the girl! I'm beginning to see that Auntie is quite some number,too . . ."

"So she was reading a letter. Why does it have to have been a letter from you husband?"

"I don't know . . . I saw it from a distance, just for a moment . . . It was like a bolt from the blue . . . I couldn't see the writing letter by letter; but you know, I thought I could see those special p's and h's José María writes . . . That girl, she's a . . . No, Máximo, something's wrong here, really wrong. Tonight I'll have some straight talk with my husband. I'm going back to Cuba. If he wants to keep mistresses, and go to rack and ruin, and throw away my children's bread, I'm still their mother and I'm going to my own country. I'm choking here in Spain. I don't want people laughing at me when my money's being spent by trollops on their own whims. Mamma, Mamma!"

And just as the heavy, panting Doña Jesusa walked in, good, peaceful Manuela threw such a fit of violent anger and jealousy that we had all we could do to bring her back to her senses. After weeping copiously in her mother's arms--the old lady was uttering heart-rendering moans herself-- Manuela lost control and had such a violent nervous attack, complete with convulsions and arm-thrashings and leg-pullings, that we couldn't quell her.

-155-

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