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By Carlos Fuentes, Lysander Kemp

Felipe Montero is hired in the home of an elderly widow to edit her deceased husband's memoirs. There Felipe meets her attractive green-eyed niece, air of secrecy. His ardour for air of secrecy and his slow discovery of the real dating among the younger girl and her aunt propel the tale to its striking conclusion.

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You look around and a girl is standing there, a girl whose whole body you can't see because she's standing so close to you and her arrival was so unexpected, without the slightest sound — not even those sounds that can't be heard but are real anyway because they're remembered immediately afterwards, because in spite of everything they're louder than the silence that accompanies them. " "Aura. My companion. " The girl nods and at the same instant the old lady imitates her gesture. "This is Senor Montero.

For all day. You and I could . " "Well . . perhaps not yet. I'm under contract. But as soon as I can finish the work, then . " "Ah, yes. But she's going to be out all day. " "I'll wait for you this evening in my aunt's bedroom. " You put on your shirt and coat and follow the sound of the bell calling you to the dining room. In the parlor the widow Llorente comes toward you, bent over, leaning on a knobby cane; she's dressed in an old white gown with a stained and tattered gauze veil. She goes by without looking at you, blowing her nose into a handkerchief, blowing her nose and spitting.

Then you slowly push it open until you can make out, beyond the spider's web of candles, the empty bed on which her rabbit is gnawing at a carrot: the bed that's always littered with scraps of bread, and that you touch gingerly as if you thought the old lady might be hidden among the rumples of the sheets. You walk over to the corner where the trunk is, stepping on the tail of one of those rats; it squeals, escapes from your foot, and scampers off to warn the others. You fit the copper key into the rusted padlock, remove the padlock, and then raise the lid, hearing the creak of the old, stiff hinges.

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