The Violent Land

The Violent Land by Jorge Amado Read Free Book Online

Book: The Violent Land by Jorge Amado Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jorge Amado
Tags: Fiction, Literary
It’s fate, woman, that decides what is going to happen to folks. No one is born good or bad; it’s fate that twists us all crooked.”
    â€œBut—” The woman paused.
    â€œGo ahead; say what you like.”
    â€œBut how are you going to live? You’re not the age now to do hard work.”
    â€œWhen people make up their minds to do something, woman, things always get straightened out somehow. And I’ve made up my mind. My son was a good lad; he wouldn’t have killed the colonel. And neither would I soil these hands of mine with blood.” He put out his hands, calloused with the toil of earth. “But they killed my son.”
    â€œSo you—” began the woman, fear and trembling in her voice.
    The old man turned his back on her and slowly walked away.
    â€œHe’d kill all right,” was the comment of a lean-looking individual.
    The music once more grew in volume in the night as the moon swiftly climbed the heavens. The one who was dealing the cards nodded his head by way of confirming what the lean man had said. The pregnant woman grasped Filomeno’s arm.
    â€œI’m afraid—”
    The music of the harmonica ceased. The moonlight was like a pool of blood.

7
    José da Ribeira dominated the other group. He was speaking of things that had happened in the land of cacao; stories and more stories. Every other moment he would spit, happy at being in a position to do the talking and tell these people what he knew. They listened to him attentively, as to one who had something to teach them.
    â€œI almost changed my mind about coming,” said one little woman with a suckling child at her bosom, “when they told me there was a fever going around down there that takes people off in a flash.”
    José laughed as the others turned to him. His tone was a knowing one as he replied.
    â€œThey didn’t tell you any lie,” he said. “No sirree, lady. I’ve seen many a man who was stronger than an ox come down with that fever. Three nights of it and he was done for.”
    â€œIsn’t it something like the smallpox?”
    â€œThere’s a lot of that, too, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There’s smallpox, and chicken pox, and all kinds of pox, and then there’s the black fever, which is worse than any of them. I never saw a man come out of the black fever alive. But that’s not what I mean. This is a new kind of fever. Nobody knows what it is. It don’t even have a name. It comes on you unexpectedly and takes you off in the blink of an eye.”
    â€œSaints preserve us!” said another woman.
    José spat as he went on with his reminiscences.
    â€œThere was a doctor came down there, with a diploma and everything. He was a young fellow, didn’t even have a beard, and good-looking, too. He said he was going to put an end to the fever in Ferradas, but the fever put an end to him and to his good looks at the same time; for he was the ugliest corpse I ever saw, uglier even than Garangau, the one they stabbed to death at Macacos—they cut him all to pieces, gouged out his eyes, cut off his tongue, and stripped the hide from his chest.”
    â€œWhy did they do that, poor fellow?” said the woman with the child.
    â€œPoor fellow?” José da Ribeira laughed, an ingrowing laugh; it appeared that he was enormously amused. “Poor fellow? As if there was ever a worse cut-throat in all the south country than Vicente Garangau. Why, in one day he did away with seven men from Juparana. He was as mean a man as God ever put breath into.”
    The group was impressed, but a man from Ceará spoke up.
    â€œSeven is a liar’s count, friend José.”
    José laughed once more and puffed on his cigarette; he was not offended.
    â€œYou’re a child,” he said. “What do you know about life? You see me here, don’t you, with the weight of fifty years on my

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