Tacna! Tell me about the gentleman! Did he steal something? Did he kill the Indian woman?
GRANDFATHER: It’s large, with five bedrooms and a garden where we’ll plant trees. Our room and yours are already furnished. But we’ll do the others up too for our future family – God willing – with the help of Providence and the Camaná cotton fields. I’m hopeful about my new job, Elvira. The field tests we’ve done are most encouraging. The cotton plants are thriving – the climate seems to suit them. With determination and a little bit of luck, I’ll come out on top, you’ll see.
MAMAE: He didn’t kill or rob anybody. He let himself be bamboozled by a she-devil. But it wasn’t that serious: God wouldn’t have had him begging for a job no one would give him, just for that. He wouldn’t have had him living on charity when he was still compos mentis and in good health.
( At the beginning of the speech she has been talking to BELISARIO, however her mind has started to wander and she now talks to herself .)
He wouldn’t have let him feel like a reprobate and he wouldn’t have let him live in such a constant state of anguish that he finally became unhinged and even forgot where he was living …
(BELISARIO stands up and returns to his desk by the proscenium. )
BELISARIO: ( Writing very quickly ) I’m going to tell you something, Mamaé. The young lady from Tacna was in
love with that gentleman. It’s quite obvious, although she may not have realized it herself, and it never came out in your stories. But it’s certainly going to come out in mine.
GRANDFATHER: I beg you, Elvira. Come and live with us. For ever. Or, rather, for as long as you want. I know it won’t be for ever. You’re young and attractive, the young men of Arequipa will go crazy about you. Sooner or later, you’ll fall for one of them and you’ll get married.
MAMAE: ( Getting up ) You’re wrong there, Pedro. I’ll never marry. But I’m very touched by what you’ve said. I thank you with all my heart.
(GRANDMOTHER has got up from the table and goes towards them .)
GRANDMOTHER: Right, Elvira, your suitcases are all ready. There’s just your travelling bag. You’ll have to pack it yourself with whatever you want to take by hand. The trunk will go with the rest of the luggage. And please, from now on, stop being so formal with each other. Loosen up a bit. We’re all family, after all, aren’t we?
( She makes them embrace each other. The GRANDPARENTS lead MAMAE towards the table where they each return to their places. They resume the meal. During the conversation between MAMAE and the GRANDPARENTS, BELISARIO has been writing very enthusiastically, he suddenly stops working, an expression of dismay on his face. )
BELISARIO: Is this a love story? Weren’t you going to write a love story? ( Hits himself on the head. ) You always spoil everything, you keep going off at tangents, Belisario. By the time you get round to writing what you really want to write, you’ll be dead. Look, there may be an explanation. ( Noting down ) A writer is someone who writes, not what he wants – that’s what the normal person does – but what his demons want him to.
( He looks at the elderly group of people who carry on eating ) Are you my demons? I owe you everything, yet now that I’m old and you’re all dead, you still keep coming to my rescue and helping me out, and so I become even more indebted to you.
( He gathers his papers together and gets up; he seems impatient and exasperated; he goes towards the dining room where the family carry on eating impassively. )
Why don’t you give me some real help then? Explain things to me, put me in the picture, give me some clarification? Who was that perverse Indian woman who suddenly found her way into the stories about the gentleman and the young lady from Tacna? It must have been someone, there must have been something that touched on a sensitive nerve in the family history, mustn’t there, Mamaé?