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.He went up to the gate of the crypt and looked down the steps into the darkness.He turned to the altar.The figure of the Virgin was there in her niche, surrounded by scaffolding.Bonafé stood looking at her for a moment and then, with the determined air of one who has planned his move, he climbed the ladder to the figure, some five metres above the ground.The reddish light from the windows illuminated the foreshortened baroque carving, the heart pierced with daggers, the eyes of our Lady of Sorrows raised to heaven.And on her cheeks, blue mantle and crown of stars gleamed Captain Xaloc's pearls.Bonafé took out his handkerchief, again mopped the sweat on his brow and neck, and dusted the pearls.He peered at them closely.He took a small penknife from his pocket.He gently scraped one of the pearls set into the mantle and stared at it thoughtfully.Then he carefully prised it out.It was about the size of a chickpea.He held it in his palm for a moment, then put it in his jacket pocket with a satisfied smile.In the deserted nave, the evening light filtered in past the torsoless Christ on the damaged window, reddening the drops of sweat on Bonafé's flabby face.He mopped it yet again with his handkerchief.At that moment he heard a gentle rustle behind him and felt the scaffolding move very slightly.XICarlota Bruner's TrunkAll the wisdom in the world is in the eyes of those wax dolls.Valery Larbaud, PoemsThe English clock struck ten as they were finishing dessert, and Cruz Bruner suggested they take their coffee out into the cool courtyard.Quart gave the duchess his arm and they left the summer dining room, where they had dined among marble busts brought, together with the mosaic laid in the main courtyard, four centuries ago from the ruins of Italica.In the surrounding gallery with its coffered mudejar ceiling, ancestors in white ruffs and dark clothes stared gravely from their frames as Quart and the duchess passed.Leaning on his arm, the old lady, in a black silk dress with small white flowers at her neck and wrists, pointed them out: an admiral, a general, a governor of the Low Countries, a viceroy of the West Indies.As they passed the lamps from Cordoba, the slim shadow of the priest was visible beside the small, stooping shadow of the duchess, between the arches of the gallery.And behind them, in a black ankle-length dress and sandals and carrying a cushion for her mother, walked Macarena Bruner, smiling.Quart sat between the two women, beside the tiled fountain.The courtyard, full of flowers, smelled of jasmine.Macarena dismissed the maid, after the maid put down the tray, and she served the coffee herself on the marquetry table.Black for Quart, with milk for her.Coca-Cola - not too cold - for her mother."It's my drug, as you know," said the old lady."My doctors don't allow me coffee.""My mother sleeps very little," Macarena told Quart, "if she goes to bed early, she wakes up at three or four in the morning.This keeps her awake.We all tell her it can't be good for her, but she takes no notice.""Why should I?" asked Cruz Bruner."This drink is the only thing from the USA I like." "You like Gris, mother.""That's true," conceded the old lady between sips."But she's from California: she's almost Spanish."Macarena aimed to Quart."The duchess thinks that in California the landowners still wear charro outfits covered with silver buttons, Brother Junipero's still preaching, and Zorro's still riding around fighting for the poor.""You mean they aren't?" asked Quart, amused.Cruz Bruner nodded energetically."That's how it should be," she said."After all, Macarena, your great-great-great-grandfather Fernando was governor of California before they took it from us."She spoke with all the assurance of her lineage - as if California had been snatched directly from her or her family.There was something singular in the mixture of familiarity and courteous if somewhat haughty tolerance with which the duchess addressed people.Quart looked at her wrinkled hands and face covered with liver spots, at her withered skin and the pale line of lipstick on her lips, at her white hair, pearl necklace and fan decorated by Romero de Torres.There were few women like her left.He had met some - lonely old ladies dragging their lost youth and nostalgia around the C6te d'Azur, matrons of the ancient Italian nobility, shrivelled central-European relics with Austro-Hungarian surnames, devout Spanish ladies.Cruz Bruner was one of the last.Their sons and daughters were either penniless layabouts, fodder for the tabloids, or else they worked from nine to five in offices and banks, or ran wineries, shops, and fashionable nightclubs, dealing with the financiers and politicians on whom their livelihoods depended.They studied in America, visited New York rather than Paris or Venice, couldn't speak French, and married divorces, or models, or parvenus.Cruz Bruner had spoken of this with a mocking smile during dinner.Like a whale or a seal, she said, I belong to an endangered species - the aristocracy."Some worlds don't end with an earthquake or a great crash," the old lady now said, looking doubtfully at Quart, wondering if he understood."They expire quietly, with a discreet sigh." She adjusted the cushion behind her back and for a few moments listened to the crickets in the garden.A soft glow in the sky announced the moon's arrival."Quietly," she repeated.Quart looked at Macarena, who had her back to the light from the gallery, half her face in shadow.Her hair had slipped over her shoulder.Her legs were crossed, and her bare feet in sandals showed below her black dress.The ivory necklace gleamed at her neck."Not Our Lady of the Tears," he said."Her departure from this world is anything but quiet."Macarena said nothing."Not all worlds disappear willingly," the old duchess whispered."You have no grandchildren," said Quart.He tried to sound neutral, casual, yet it came out sounding provocative, even rude."True.I don't," replied Cruz Bruner, and she turned to her daughter.Macarena sat forward then, and in the moonlight Quart saw her anger."It's none of your business," she said at last, evenly, to him."Maybe it's none of my business either," said the duchess, coming to her guest's aid."But it's a pity.""Why?" Macarena asked sharply [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]