Now, In Return For
What You Told Me, I've Told You Something You Didn't Know."
It came as a great shock to me to hear this.
Hitherto I had thought
that what was wrong with our native friends was that they believed too
much, and this man - this good honest old gaucho we all respected -
believed nothing! I tried to argue with him and told him he had said a
dreadful thing, since every one knew in his heart that he had an
immortal soul and had to be judged after death. He had distressed and
even frightened me, but he went on calmly smoking and appeared not to
be listening to me, and as he refused to speak I at last burst out:
"How do you know? Why do you say you know?"
At last he spoke. "Listen. I was once a boy too, and I know that a boy
of fourteen can understand things as well as a man. I was an only
child, and my mother was a widow, and I was more than all the world to
her, and she was more than everything else to me. We were alone
together in the world - we two. Then she died, and what her loss was to
me - how can I say it? - how could you understand? And after she was
taken away and buried, I said: 'She is not dead, and wherever she now
is, in heaven or in purgatory, or in the sun, she will remember and
come to me and comfort me.' When it was dark I went out alone and sat
at the end of the house, and spent hours waiting for her.
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