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Springs and Autumns

Baltasar Porcel

And according to the law of life both would die, Diumenge before the name of La Paret. But he died before any of the ideal suitors for his daughters could find their way to La Paret, bearing a bouquet of roses in one hand and a gold wedding band in the other. And so his dream collapsed. In spite of the fact that the daughters felt the disaster coming, they procrastinated and gave roundabout excuses for what was happening, and then signed over their control of the estate, giving power of attorney to Ramon Consolat. He then became the one who sold off the estate piecemeal and brought ruin to La Paret.

The girls never really wanted to know what was going on, cloistered ass they were in hostility and confusion after they were suddenly orphaned by a father they both loved and enjoyed.They had lived according to the firm belief that their world—-in reality the bell jar built around them by their father—-would last forever. Elisa, the eldest of the five, was a tall, square-shouldered explosion of bitterness in every thought and word she uttered. She gave orders day and night, driven by a rigorous standard: to be, but not to do. Margarida, on the other hand, outdid herself with sweetly flowing gestures, rolling her eyes, her skin pale and transparent. She obeyed without being aware of what she did. And Caterina, heavy-bodied and weak-minded, finally married Ramon Consolat.

Consolat owned a van and worked as a delivery man. He was always dirty from rolling barrels, hefting sacks and baskets of produce. His father had been the last farm manager at La Paret. Caterina married out of desperation and for a chance to flee the despair of her family. The sisters needed money, however little it might be, in order to survive after years of eating fowl from their chicken house—whose occupants had become progressively scrawnier from lack of grain—and the few vegetables they were able to grow in a comer of the courtyard. But well before the wedding and with his father already retired as farm manager, Ramon in his own churlish way had begun to do more and more jobs for La Paret without having agreed with the evasive sisters on any payment. At least on the surface, these labors were inscribed in a mythical, brutish book of reckoning, a continuation of the ancient hierarchical scheme of things that had bound his father to the estate. But in reality, other appetites were at play: Ramon, as he worked around the house, would often run into Caterina, ogling her with gluttonous eyes, drinking in her prominent hips and heavy breasts. The sisters observed his stares but held their tongues.

Until one day, what everyone had expected to happen happened. Elisa told Ramon in a tone as dry as that she used when ordering him to bring firewood or fix the roof, "You can marry Caterina whenever you want."

His only reaction was to grunt in agreement.

PORCEL, Baltasar. Springs and Autumns. [Primaveres i tardors]. Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press, 2000.
Traduït per John L. Getman
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