Listen to midi music:
When I had sufficiently recovered the suppleness of my limbs to walk with ease, I went for a ramble in the wood, in the hope that Rima would accompany me, and that out among the trees she would cast aside that artificial constraint and shyness which was her manner in the house.
It fell out just as I had expected; she accompanied me in the sense of being always near me, or within earshot, and her manner was now free and unconstrained as I could wish; but little or nothing was gained by the change. She was once more the tantalizing, elusive, mysterious creature I had first known through her wandering, melodious voice. The only difference was that the musical, inarticulate sounds were now less often heard, and that she was no longer afraid to show herself to me. This for a short time was enough to make me happy, since no lovelier being was ever looked upon, nor one whose loveliness was less likely to lose its charm through being often seen.
But to keep her near me or always in sight was, I found, impossible: she would be free as the wind, free as the butterfly, going and coming at her wayward will, and losing herself from sight a dozen times every hour. To induce her to walk soberly at my side or sit down and enter into conversation with me seemed about as impracticable as to tame the fiery-hearted little humming-bird that flashes into sight, remains suspended motionless for a few seconds before your face, then, quick as lightning, vanishes again.
At length, feeling convinced that she was most happy when she had me out following her in the wood, that in spite of her bird-like wildness she had a tender, human heart, which was easily moved, I determined to try to draw her closer by means of a little innocent stratagem. Going out in the morning, after calling her several times to no purpose, I began to assume a downcast manner, as if suffering pain or depressed with grief; and at last, finding a convenient exposed root under a tree, on a spot where the ground was dry and strewn with loose yellow sand, I sat down and refused to go any further. For she always wanted to lead me on and on, and whenever I paused she would return to show herself, or to chide or encourage me in her mysterious language.
So my eyes fixed on that patch of yellow sand at my feet, watching how the small particles glinted like diamond dust when the sunlight touched them. A full hour passed in this way, during which I encouraged myself by saying mentally: "This is a contest between us, and the most patient and the strongest of will, which should be the man, must conquer. And if I win on this occasion, it will be easier for me in the future-- easier to discover those things which I am resolved to know, and the girl must reveal to me, since the old man has proved impracticable."
Meanwhile she came and went and came again; and at last, finding that I was not to be moved, she approached and stood near me. Her face, when I glanced at it, had a somewhat troubled look-- both troubled and curious.
"Come here, Rima," I said, "and stay with me for a little while-- I cannot follow you now."
She took one or two hesitating steps, then stood still again; and at length, slowly and reluctantly, advanced to within a yard of me. Then I rose from my seat on the root, so as to catch her face better, and placed my hand against the rough bark of the tree.
"Rima," I said, speaking in a low, caressing tone, "will you stay with me here a little while and talk to me, not in your language, but in mine, so that I may understand? Will you listen when I speak to you, and answer me?"
Her lips moved, but made no sound. She seemed strangely disquieted, and
shook back her loose hair, and with her small toes moved the sparkling sand at her feet,
and once or twice her eyes glanced shyly at my face.
Oh, when I saw you in the wood I followed you, and talked and talked; still no answer. Why will you not come when I call? To me!" Then, mocking my voice: "Rima, Rima! Come here! Do this! Say that! Rima! Rima! It is nothing, nothing-- it is not you," pointing to my mouth, and then, as if fearing that her meaning had not been made clear, suddenly touching my lips with her finger. "Why do you not answer me?-- speak to me-- speak to me, like this!"
And turning a little more towards me, and glancing at me with eyes that had all at once changed, losing their clouded expression for one of exquisite tenderness, from her lips came a succession of those mysterious sounds which had first attracted me to her, swift and low and bird-like, yet with something so much higher and more soul-penetrating than any bird-music. Ah, what feeling and fancies, what quaint turns of expression, unfamiliar to my mind, were contained in those sweet, wasted symbols! I could never know-- never come to her when she called, or respond to her spirit. To me they would always be inarticulate sounds, affecting me like a tender spiritual music-- a language without words, suggesting more than words to the soul.
The mysterious speech died down to a lisping sound, like the faint note of some small bird falling from a cloud of foliage on the topmost bough of a tree; and at the same time that new light passed from her eyes, and she half averted her face in a disappointed way.
"Rima," I said at length, a new thought coming to my aid, "it is true that I am not here," touching my lips as she had done, "and that my words are nothing. But look into my eyes, and you will see me there-- all, all that is in my heart."
"Oh, I know what I should see there!" she returned quickly.
"There is a little black ball in the middle of your eye; I should see myself in it no bigger than that," and she marked off about an eighth of her little fingernail. "There is a pool in the wood, and I look down and see myself there. That is better. Just as large as I am-- not small and black like a small, small fly." And after saying this a little disdainfully, she move away from my side and out into the sunshine; and then, half turning towards me, and glancing first at my face and then upwards, she raised her hand to call my attention to something there.
Far up, high as the tops of the tallest trees, a great blue-winged
butterfly was passing across the open space with loitering flight. In a few moments
it was gone over the trees; then she turned once more to me with a little rippling sound
of laughter-- the first I had heard from her, and called: "Come, come!"
"Rima! Rima!" I called, and instantly my call was repeated like an echo.Again and again I called, and still the words flew back to me, and I could not decide whether it was an echo or not. Then I gave up calling; and presently the low, warbling sound was repeated, and I knew that Rima was somewhere near me.
"Rima, where are you?"
I jumped up and ran round the tree, feeling sure that I should find her. It was about thirty-five or forty feet in circumference; and after going round two or three times, I turned and ran the other way, but failing to catch a glimpse of her I at last sat down again.
"Rima, Rima!" sounded the mocking voice as soon as I had sat down. "Where are you, Rima? I shall catch you, Rima! Have you caught Rima?"
"No, I have not caught her. There is no Rima now. She has faded away like a rainbow-- like a drop of dew in the sun. I have lost her; I shall go to sleep." And stretching myself out at full length under the tree, I remained quiet for two or three minutes. Then a slight rustling sound was heard, and I looked eagerly round for her. But the sound was overhead and caused by a great avalanche of leaves which began to descend on me from that vastleafy canopy above.
"Ah, little spider-monkey-- little green tree-snake-- you are there!" But there was no seeing her in that immense aerial palace hung with dim drapery of green and copper-coloured leaves.
But how had she got there? Up the stupendous trunk even a monkey could not have climbed, and there were no lianas dropping to earth from the wide horizontal branches that I could see; but by and by, looking further away, I perceived that on one side the longest lower branches reached and mingled with the shorter boughs of the neighbouring trees.
While gazing up I heard her low, rippling laugh, and then caught sight of her as she ran along an exposed horizontal branch, erect on her feet; and my heart stood still with terror, for she was fifty to sixty feet above the ground. In another moment she vanished from sight in a cloud of foliage, and I saw no more of her for about ten minutes, when all at once she appeared at my side once more, having come round the trunk of the more. Her face had a bright, pleased expression, and showed no trace of fatigue or agitation.
I caught her hand in mine. It was a delicate, shapely little hand, soft as velvet, and warm-- a real human hand; only now when I held it did she seem altogether like a human being and not a mocking spirit of the wood, a daughter of the Didi.
"Do you like me to hold your hand, Rima?"
"Yes," she replied, with indifference.
"Is it I?"
"Yes." This time as if it was small satisfaction to make acquaintance with this purely physical part of me.
Having her so close gave me an opportunity of examining that light sheeny
garment she wore always in the woods. It felt soft and satiny to the touch, and there was
no seam nor hem in it that I could see, but it was all in one piece, like the cocoon of
the caterpillar. While I was feeling it on her shoulder and looking narrowly at it, she
glanced at me with a mocking laugh in her eyes.
Would you like me always to do what you wish, Rima-- to follow you in the woods when you say 'Come'-- to chase you round the tree to catch you, and lie down for you to throw leaves on me, and to be glad when you are glad?"
"Then let us make a compact. I shall do everything to please you, and you must promise to do everything to please me."
"Little things, Rima-- none so hard as chasing you round a tree. Only to have you stand or sit by me and talk will make me happy. And to begin you must call me by my name-- Abel."
"Is that your name? Oh, not your real name! Abel, Abel-- what is that? It says nothing. I have called you by so many names-- twenty, thirty-- and no answer."
"Have you? But, dearest girl, every person has a name, one name he is called by. Your name, for instance, is Rima, is it not?"
"Rima! only Rima-- to you? In the morning, in the evening ... now in
this place and in a little while where know I?.... in the night when you wake and it is
dark, dark, and you see me all the same. Only Rima-- oh, how strange!"
She turned her face more towards me and with head a little thrown back and inclined to one side, gazing now full into my eyes as I had wished her to do. After a few moments she glanced away to the distant trees. But I could see into those divine orbs, and knew that she was not looking at any particular object. All the ever-varying expressions-- inquisitive, petulant, troubled, shy, frolicsome had now vanished from the still face, and the look was inward and full of a strange, exquisite light, as if some new happiness or hope had touched her spirit.
Sinking my voice to a whisper, I said: "Tell me what you have seen in my eyes, Rima?"
She murmured in reply something melodious and inarticulate, then glanced at my face in a questioning way; but only for a moment, then her sweet eyes were again veiled under those drooping lashes.
"Listen, Rima," I said. "Was that a humming-bird we saw a little while ago? You are like that, now dark, a shadow in the shadow, seen for an instant, and then-- gone, oh, little thing! And now in the sunshine standing still, how beautiful!-- a thousand times more beautiful than the humming-bird.
Listen, Rima, you are like all beautiful things in the wood-- flower, and bird, and butterfly, and green leaf, and frond, and little silky-haired monkey high up in the trees. When I look at you I see them all-- all and more, a thousand times, for I see Rima herself. And when I listen to Rima's voice, talking in a language I cannot understand, I hear the wind whispering in the leaves, the gurgling running water, the bee among the flowers, the organ-bird singing far, far away in the shadows of the trees. I hear them all, and more, for I hear Rima. Do you understand me now? Is it I speaking to you-- have I answered you-- have I come to you?"
She glanced at me again, her lips trembling, her eyes now clouded with some secret trouble. "Yes," she replied in a whisper, and then: "No, it is not you," and after a moment, doubtfully: "Is it you?"
But she did not wait to be answered: in a moment she was gone round the
more; nor would she return again for all my calling.
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This page http://www.webwinds.com/yupanqui/greenmansions2.htm is copyright 1998 by Tracy Marks. It was created when Tracy was Tika Yupanqui in the online Native America community of Machu Picchu at Ancient Sites. For links to her articles on Native American subjects - Iroquois Dreams and Apache Puberty chats, see her Ancient Sites Native American index.
SAVE THE AMAZON RAINFOREST!
For those of you interested in the Amazon rain forest, check out Heroes and Villains of the Rainforest: Latin American History through Film, and the article Tropical Rainforests: Latin American Society in Transition.
These articles, Why Is the Rainforest being destroyed in Brazil?, The Deforestation of the Amazon, Amazon Facts: Our Disappearing Rainforests, and ,Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, and the Wikipedia article on The Amazon rainforest are also informative. Wikipedia also has an article on the Native American People of Brazil.
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