8 'A Sentimental Journey through Sydney', edited

Migrants, refugees, escapees or sentimental travellers are the same. Those years Australia received all with open arms, the WHITE AUSTRALIA policy. But all is not gold that glitters, nor are displaced persons all O.K. Where to see this is Sydney.

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es
8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

8 ‘A Sentimental Journey through Sydney’ , edited

Fernando García Izquierdo

The luminosity, the freshness in the air, that transparency emitted from all angles as he gazes out of the window, elates and gratifies him. Sweet twirling view! living right in the middle of a large natural harbour, a man of property at last! He cannot but smile and smile again.
‘And yet and yet, what is success without a woman?’
He throws a searching, pitying glance around and after a while he is convinced he sees and understands, and looks for more. He loves a blond slender girl; he sees she’s going away and disappearing.
… oh, my! is it Margaret, from whom I was turned asunder by the paramilitaries in La Moncloa? or is it Malgorata, taken away from me in Ultimo by the rangers, fleeing from me, so wild and free, and so entrancingly beautiful...
A successful New Australian in good employment; he can now move among the joyous crowd… joyous himself. My people, of whatever origin, countrymen and countrywomen are here, Sydneysiders! Australia, wonderful new country. It is up to me to turn all this into a real world of hope…
‘Oh! and doubts, and fears…’
Time flies, and change does not always come to one’s advantage. And oh, discouragement! It is so easily installed in your heart at times. Elation, depression… falling from the one to the other so easily. How can it be otherwise. Alone in this apartment, sometimes sitting, performing. Some other times thinking, recollecting, studying, or writing…, or listening to a recorderplayer. The music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Grieg.
He’s had his reward, a man of property, contemplating this instant the bay of Sydney, from the tenth floor of a prestigious tower in Kirribilli. “You can take a ferry at Circular Quay, the smaller kind,” he tells his friends and fellow-workers,” and the first stop, the wharf, near a small reserve, that is it.”
His heart rejoices when, in his mind, he counts this early morning a dozen arms of blue sea penetrating the green semitropical land which a couple of hundred years ago, in any case not so long ago indeed, was in the state of nature.
He thinks of the Aborigines’ Dreamtime. Primeval forests which he has no difficulty in imagining. Some people walk about, the jungle, very tall euucalyptus trees and monsters of another kingdom, ages before the arrival of the white men in Terra Australis.
He has read all these things and many more. In his spare time he goes to the Mitchell Library, in the Domain. He has learned about the land, the people, the soul of what is now a lost world, that is a lost continent, known to exist, but never settled, except by men and women coming from southern Asia, the Dravidians, who on arrival had (their ancestors) lived for ages on little islands or great chunks of land.
They found a strange unfriendly terrain and spread all over in tiny groups who learned to adapt themselves. Such a vast continent. No need to particularise, place apart, accumulate, to search for maximising anything, gain, profits, all those things. In any case, Man can own no continent, no planet.
For thirteen thousand years men and women lived on the land working to satisfy their needs, and when they died, they left it to their descendants substantially as they found it.
*
‘Green, green, and many other hues and colours seen along the immense long, deep, blue bay! Numerous arms of some times deep rather calm water, the natural surge of the undulating sea penetrating the earth, the green that I love; tinged with white, red and yellow and grey.’
Residential areas, suburbs, districts, old sections, and new world, once inhabited by people now gone.
The City of Sydney, some towns like Manly, and all kinds of inner suburbs which Luis Galvao does not see, the manor houses of olden generations, in the parks, and gardens, the Easterb Suburbs of wealthy abundance which he imagines, lines of terrace houses inhabited by factory-hands, the mills and factories, oil refineries, industrial exploitations, the large reserves of the north, a unique zoo.
Other waterfronts and middle harbours, the freshness of new waters directly from the ocean, the heavens blue for evermore above, sometimes those gales, stormy weather. He likes it all, newcomer Luis Galvao.

The Harbour Bridge is near his property, one of a dozen towers near Kirribilli wharf. That famous bridge, begun when he was a toddler, spaning the harbour North Sydney, the City which he contemplates, three miles away from his window. He sees the buildings and the thoroughfares and the traffic; the parks, reserves, the treelined avenues; perceives the movement of the cargo ships on the harbour, and liners, ferryboats, launches and pleasure boats.
*
While he stood by the window, contemplating the land, the movement in the country where he lived, observing and analysing all he saw, a big bang swept overhead. It was a jet plane, the first one of its kind he saw in is life. It must somehow have gone off its course, for the airport was away on the coast toward the south. He saw the plane again, turning round. He watched the next moment its ascent to heaven again and how it disappeared in the blue immensity. It would be soon landing upon Mascot International Airport, taking its descent from the Pacific Ocean, cutting vertically through the long line of the littoral, full of long yellow beaches, a set of urban points, the eastern suburbs, new sets of people, Sydneysiders as well, beautiful houses, and gardens, sports fields… the plane is arriving… a bump and the plane finally taxiing over a long tarmac… a few minutes more, and voyagers and crew had savely arrived in one of the most beautiful places of the world.

*
One of those Sunday mornings was Luis Galvao in his apartment in Kirribilli, North Sydney, observing from his window the life and miracles of a city he had come to love, when he heard the ring of the door-bell. He rushed to answer the call.
‘Hallo! Who’s there?’, he asked.
‘Hoo-hoo!’ came the reply, ‘It’s me, Tom Terrific.’
“Oh, hell! Manuel?” thought Luis Galvao to himself, “at this hour! what may be bringing this man here on a Sunday morning?” And aloud he said ‘Come in! Take the lift to the tenth floor.’
… it was an unexpected visit which came to alter most unfortunately an already-formed schedule for the day; and to have his plans upset in that manner had always been for him intolerable - he was one of those authors whom people called Sunday-writers. (He had studied law, which he practised now with success; but he much preferred poetry.)
He stepped onto the landing, struggling against his fatigue, for he had had a bad night. The lift arrived and, in a moment, he had his friend in his arms, an elegantly dressed Manuel, a man of thirty-five, round face, happy and always acting with great exuberance. He kissed Luis, laughing and pressing his body against his.
‘What are you grinning at?’ he asked, his arm still on Galvao’ shoulders.
‘No. I’ve been surprised by your visit. That’s…’ Luis was saying, without raising his eyes.
But Manuel did not let him complete his speech. Boisterously leading the way himself into the flat, he was saying: ‘Come, come! I see you’re in one of your sulky moods, oh dear!’
Galvao, biting his fingers, mumbled: ‘Don’t talk so much and let me think, please.’ He was almost forcibly leading the way into the kitchen. ‘Now, we shall have breakfast. What made you come at this early hour? I should have said…’

‘Couldn’t we rather open the windows?’ Manuel interrupted.
‘No!’ came the quick reply.
He did not dampen his friend’s effervescence. Manuel was on his seat already, somewhat separated from the circular table. Luis was standing by the cooker, where he had begun preparations for a meal.
‘Manuel,’ he asked, ‘what do you normally have for breakfast?’
‘Thanks, I’ve already had my breakfast,’ Manuel replied, ‘and could you tell me, dear Luis, what are you doing, still in your pyjamas, on a lovely day like this?’
‘I wasn’t feeling well,’ the other answered. ‘Besides, I don’t intend to go out. As simple as that.’ And going near the table he began to lay cutlery and crockery for two.
‘Not for me, already told you.’
Galvao’s face became sombre and after much humming and hawing, he asked. ‘Well, shall I put the coffee-maker on, or what can I offer you?’
‘Nothing. I’ll have a cup of tea, if you brew a pot of breakfast tea for yourself.’
‘Manuel,’ Luis mumbled, with a worried look on his face, ‘I don’t know why, but I’ve been having nightmares all night. In a word, I feel poorly.’
‘Indeed you need to feel right down bad, if you’re planning to stay at home on a day like this,’ Manuel said. ‘Come on! I’m going to take you out of this beautiful home-unit of yours.’
Luis raised his arm as if wanting to stay the other, to say something, but Manuel would not stop talking.
‘Yes, my dear boy, I shall have to cheer you up, you disgruntled New Australian. It’s homesickness. I know the symptom. A new-comer to this faraway country. Your efforts are at long last successful, you start earning good money, a little fellow climbing to a seventh heaven of joy sort of thing…’
‘You talk too much. Let me speak!’ the other shouted. ‘I don’t care ‘bout mon…’
‘Elation, that’s the word I was looking for’ Manuel Suárez wanted to end his own sentence first, ‘and all of a sudden depression. I’ll make you meet nice people. And that pensive mood won’t stay a minute more on that pretty face of yours’
‘Please shut up!’ Galvao murmurred; he had gone back to the cooker.
Manuel was clapping his thigh, gazing at the other, who was saying insistently. ‘I’m frying some bacon rashers and eggs.’
The visitor’s curiosity had led him to the window. The Harbour Bridge appeared to him at a stone’s throw. All sorts of vehicles, cars, lorries, trains, going to town, going to North Sydney; and dozens of silky white birds flying nearer the skyscraper. Luis Galvao, approaching, asked becoming more congenial ‘Really, old fellow, you must accompany me. One egg for you?’
Manuel burst out, laughing. He sat up on the chair. ‘None for me, thanks. I’ve told you. The only thing I ask you, I repeat, is to hurry up. We’re expected at nine.’
For a minute Luis went on frying, passed bacon and eggs on to his dish. ‘Say, my big boy, shall I offer you some buiscuits, then?’

‘You sit down and eat. I’ve said I will share a pot of tea with you, which I’ll brew myself.’ The visitor again stood, got the biscuits himself from the cupboard and put the kettle on. ‘Strong or weak?’ he asked.
A moment later, he was drinking his tea and simultaneously tackling the biscuits with an ogre’s appettite; first, a small packet of PEAK-FREENs, then a larger, more ordinary lot of ARNOLDS.
There was a moment’s silence; for Luis was carefully buttering his toast, while Manuel Suaréz observed him. For all he said, he liked his friend’s sad meditative expression, which he could not understand.
‘A lot of milk?’ he asked, serving a second cup.
‘Medium. Thanks.’ Luis said; afterwards he moved with his tea into the lounge and sat on the sofa.
Whistling some fine music, Suárez followed him; but he did not sit down. ‘You’ve a lot of books,’ he said, touching a couple of them. ‘Who built the bookshelf?’
‘I did. Hard wood.’

There was a moment’s silence. The visitor had just sat sideways on the sofa, embarking the other in his embrace. However, he clutched his two thighs with his hands. ‘I’ve come to take you to mass,’ he said smiling

Luis Galvao rose instantly, quite alarmed. ‘Rubbish,’ he exclaimed, ‘you don’t intend to take me back to sacramental communion and all that! stuff and nonsense. If you want to go back with the priests, you’re welcome to do so; but don’t count on me. Those superstitions!’
‘Calm down, my boy. I intend to make you see our own people. Many Spanish girls, new arrivals. And men…’
‘Men, migrants of course…’
‘If you could let me finish what I was saying, my good fellow. I plan to get you into a group of recently arrived migrants from the old country. Yes, Spain, Spanish workers. Nothing to do with religion or superstition, dear. Roots, you see.’
‘I see, I see, I see,’ said Luis in a very bad temper. ‘Roots? Working class, you say? Bah! what difference does it make for me?’ said Galvao, disconcertedly. ‘Beside Spaniards are a jealous lot!’
‘Calm down, I tell you, and listen.’
‘I listen, I’ll listen, I’ve been listening to you all the time.’
‘Spain must signify something to you. And by the way, you should show your pretty face from time to time, my sulky fellow, at the Spanish Club. You go there and enjoy yourself. Nothing to do with politics, as I’ve said. You’re poisoning your life for nothing, a revolution that never took place. Be humble, my pretty. You’ll find that nobody hates you. They’ll envy your English, as they admire mine. Moreover, you’re going to meet some women, Yes, Spanish women travelling by themselves. Now, what do you say to that?’
‘Only one woman interests me, and that one I lost,’ Luis replied, with a sigh. He rose from his chair rather nervously. ‘Forever gone. An angel, my adorable fiancée. I saw her disappear for good, beautiful in all her purity… Manuel, the paramilitaries… you must remember. Madrid the 1956-riots.’
‘The paramilitaries? The riots in Madrid… when did you say, and what subtle beauty are you talking about? Are you right in your head?’

‘No, Manuel. You’ve heard me talk of my English girl. We were torn asunder by the falangistas in the Moncloa,’ Luis said, sadly.
‘Careful! dear boy, careful!’ his friend warned.
‘And I now tell you this, Manuel,’ Galvao said leaning back, his eyes on the ceiling, ‘I think I’ve seen her again; you must…’
‘Hold it dear!,’ Manuel interrupted him, ‘an English girl, a Ukrainian one. Pretty boy, I’ve seen you passionately in love with a young woman, your only eternal love. You own words.’
Luis Galvao did not answer.
For a while Manuel Suárez was picking up one after another all the utensils and knick-knacks upon the coffee-table. ‘How come you have two ashtrays when you don’t smoke?’
‘Maureen does.’
‘Your secretary?’ asked Manuel with an air of great astonishment. ‘You bring her to your apartment?’
‘It’s over now,’ Luis answered, once again leaning back on the sofa, head upwards, with his eyes only half-opened.
‘Now, my fellow,’ exclaimed the other, bending forward with one hand on his thigh, ‘explain that to me. Bringing a beautiful platinum blonde in here? That’s your bed of love, I guess. Why, I didn’t expect that from my pretty boy.’
‘One day, you know,’ Luis began, without paying attention to what the other said, ‘not long ago, something made me think I’d seen Margaret…’
‘You’ve opted to become mysterious, I see. Come on! Tell me the story of that pretty sphinx who disappeared in Madrid?’
‘Exactly, Margaret. moving along, alone among the madding crowd... here, in Sydney. May I go on?’
‘I’m all ears.’
‘You must remember, Manuel, the day we went to Pyrmont 13, to say good-bye to our friends Heribert and Nino, returning migrants,’ Luis said, meditatively. That day we dined together, a Chinese restaurant in town, you know. There… well, I had a glimpse of an angel sitting not far from us.’
‘I remember the restaurant, of course. But an angel there, my dear, I saw no angel.’
‘A pretty girl, short blond wavy hair, a rosy smile?’
‘Like Malgorata. Now, Luis, not the slightest imagination,’ Manuel said with a sneer. ‘But don’t let me interrupt you. Go on.’
Luis frowned. ‘I thought I’d seen Margaret, my English girl so beautiful.’
‘And why didn’t you talk to her, do something to call her attention? To come out of the doubt, say.’
‘I don’t know what happened to me. I was depressed, I recall.’ There was a pause. Luis bit his fingernails.
‘Some impression is coming back to me,’ said Manuel, ‘correct me if I´m mistaken. You thought it might have been Malgorata, running away from Woomera?’
‘No! It was not that.’
Manuel Suárez smiled, ‘And did you see her again? Hump! - that angel, that mysterious… volatile presence?’
‘Only once, again very briefly. But let me go on: that encounter, that mysterious presence as you say, changed my life.’
‘Now, so serious! My word, you are a bad case!’
‘You don’t understand. A girl of divine beauty, lost. We were about to get married.’
‘What an ass you are, Luis. Is it going to last? Please to know we’ve to go.’

‘You may call me an ass if you so desire. This happened precisely when I had taken the step to ask my secretary to marry me. She said “Yes”, we had planned to spend a long week in Surfers’ Paradise.’
‘And you spent three torrid days together of absolute love. Is that what you wanted to tell me?’
‘No, how could I… if that encounter in the restaurant had led me to believe that my Margaret is alive.’
‘Oh, Luis, dear fellow! you’re simply nuts. Get ready, pray. Let’s get moving.’
‘No. Let me finish.’
‘Didn’t Maureen bang her typewriter on your head?’
‘She took it badly, naturally, and refused to cancel her holiday and went alone to Queensland, stayed there ten days. She loves surfing and surfing made the acquaintance of another Sydneysider: a handsome chap; he’s a law student at Sydney University.’
‘All is well that ends well, then,‘ said Manuel Suárez in a sing-song voice. And, rising from the sofa, and helping the other to stand up, he led him forcibly to the bathroom. ‘And now you get dressed, double quick!’

‘Why the rush?’
‘We’re going to mass, my dear fellow,’ answered Manuel: then, exaggeratedly British in his manners and accent: ‘Oh how necessary it is for Man’s salvation to celebrate the Day of the Lord!’
‘Preposterous!’
‘Get into your shower!’ shouted Manuel, himself closing the door, having pushed Luis inside the bathroom.
*

The sun was high in the sky as Manuel Suárez contemplated the harbour once again from the kitchen: only briefly, for after a minute or two he put on a pinafore and in a moment the place was perfectly clean and orderly; little round table, cooker: all was A one. Which made him think he deserved a smoke. Not being convinced that the air-conditioning was a necessary service, in any case, he moved around, looking for a crank or something, and when he found it he opened the window wide. Laying one elbow on the windowsill he got out a ‘Benson & Hedges’ packet and began to smoke, watching the traffic over the Harbour Bridge, and now not quite pleased with the noise and air polution.
When Luis came back from his shower, clean and shaven and dressed to go out, he found his friend stubbing out a cigarette with his fingernail, on the window-sill. He was not so pleased about the window, but preferred not to show his annoyance. Manuel was a nice chappie after all, and it would be no use to complain, in any case.
‘You know you’ve make me break the Regulations?’ was the only thing he said, closing again the window.
‘Which one?’
‘The community of home owners.’
A quarter of an hour later, when already on the landing, it was Manuel who delayed the going out. ‘Please, wait a momo,’ he exclaimed, turning round to pinch his friend’s cheek. ‘Don’t lock the door. I’ve to go for a piss.’
When he came back, he smelled aggressively of aftershave lotion.
‘You stinker,’ Luis uttered, ‘you sure have emptied my expensive Alpine lotion.’
The lift having arrived, the two friends entered talking and laughing.
A few minutes later they were driving along the Harbour Bridge and on to the Cahill Expressway, which goes to town. Luis Galvao had suggested he would go to the ground floor of the building to get out his own ‘Holden’. ‘We’d better take two cars,’ he had said. ‘I may want to come back earlier.’
‘You needn’t bother, dear Luis. Come on!’ he had answered. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers!’
Thus they reached the expressway, past the forest of the Domain, until they entered the City. Then Manuel turned into Riley Street. The two were mainly silent during the first part of the journey, for Manuel was a careful and attentive driver. Only when entering the inner suburbs did a conversation begin.
‘Liverpool Street! The Spanish Club is just there.’ Manuel uttered, laying his hand on Galvao’s right thigh, who moved his leg to cause the hand to slip down.
There was a moment’s silence, after which, Manuel said: ‘Last month there was the marriage of two Spanish migrants celebrated there, man and woman.’
‘Unnecessary remark,’ Luis said, rather abruptly
‘No, but what I mean to say, two countrymen from different regions, Murcia and Aragon, you see. They met in the Club. The woman’s just arrived, assisted passage. And here is precisely the point. And you, dear, seeing you like women, there’s something to know. Many women available nowadays.’
‘All right, but haven’t I told you? only one woman interests me..’
‘Hah! Hah!’
The Fascist Brigades in Madrid set us asunder!’ said Luis Galvao thoughtfully.
‘Surry Hills!’ exclaimed Manuel, lifting his foot from the pedal to reduce the speed, for now the streets were narrower. ‘These were once forested hills.’
… these hills, these lines of terrace houses, the stormy sky; I saw my English girlfriend here once: her rosy cheeks under a pink umbrella, those curly locks of golden hair, blue thoughtful eyes and roundish face.
… I saw her climbing up to one of those verandas under the rain, opening the door and going backwards into the house, folding the nylon umbrella as she went in. She disappeared.
The two friends had reached Albion Street, the geographical centre of suburb. They entered a little sidestreet, parked the car and retraced their steps to the main street, St. Mary’s Church being there. People were climbing the flight of stone steps to the entrance, bells were chiming, calling the faithful to mass, and many marine birds were flying around the brick spire. The sky was grey.
The two friends dashed up the stone steps, but on reaching the atrio, Manuel, caught his friend by the elbow and, leading him round the building, said frowning: ‘Ah, my Luis, I’m glad we’ve hurried. I’m going to introduce you to a man! in a word, before going in, the priest who is to officiate the Mass.’
As they entered, through the back door, the sacristy, they saw a tall man in ecclesiastical robes, being helped by an altar-boy into the golden chasuble, which the boy passed around the priest’s head stretching himself upwards. When the priest, who had bent down, passed his ginger head through the hole of the golden robe, he saw the two visitors and called out: ‘Oh, my Manolo!’ and came to kiss Manuel.
‘My Jaume!’ Manuel exclaimed in turn.
‘Sorry I can’t stay,’ the priest said, turning to embrace the child: both kissed his hand; and priest and boy disappeared into a darkish passage and the church.
Whereupon, Manuel, who had forgotten to introduce the priest to his friend, led him around the building back to the atrio entrance, saying. ‘He’s Catalan, Don’t you too find him very handsome?’
‘Perfectly so,’ replied Luis, grinning.
Manuel entered the temple, Luis trotting after him. The former dipped two fingers in the font of holy water, touched his friend’s corresponding two fingers, and making the sign of the cross, they both proceeded along one of the lateral aisles.
Luis had not been in a church for decades, and finding himself now in the dark and trailing like a puppy-dog after Manuel, felt suddenly depressed and very tired. There were elegant electric lights hanging from the distant ceiling, and lit wax-candles, but quite insufficient in all, and soon he no longer saw Manuel and guessed his friend was trying to reach the first line of benches, perhaps to be able to be as near as possible to his friend the priest.
The church was stuffy, with a vague scent of dust and candle wax. Rays of light were filtering colourfully through the stained-glass of the windows near the ceiling.
… strange to say, as a boy religion pervaded my life. I became a choir-boy in the Church of El Carmen. Spending so much time on prayers, the wakes of ‘Semana Santa’, mass, confession, communion and long processions.
… the Via Crucis in the early hours of Holy Thursday, up and down a number of pronouced ravines and tree-lined avenues, and in the afternoon admiring the wooden images of Saints, Christs and Holy Virgens in the churches in town.
… religion brought all that was required by our little persons. Life was then so simple. The charm of spirituality! praying with a group of believers, faithful souls. Alone in your corner or together in church, the Magic of the Spirit.
… singing psalms, full of the music of the organ. “Luisito, my lovely son!” (I thought of my mother), “I’m so blessed with a boy like you.” And many years later: “ Oh! Luisito, you were always good, such a religious boy! you have changed.”
There came the sweet music of some little silver bells from the altar; while coming from on high there was a ray of light, and it helped him to find a seat at last among Spanish migrants followed by a throng of protests.
He accomodated himself, nevertheless, and, not knowing what to do, fell to watching the dust particles which in infinite number were floating in the ray of light which, crossing the temple, had helped him to find enough space where to sit.
At length a number of parishioners, rising from their seats, began trailing along the central aisle bending their heads down, the palms of their hands religiously pressed together: some moving silently their lips as if murmuring a prayer. The priest was waiting for them, chalice in hand, accompanied by the choir boy, with his silver paten: for about twenty minutes they thus administered communion to the faithful, who went back to their seats one by one, as quietly as they had come, only now with eyes nearly closed.
‘Gosh, I’m stiffling’ he muttered under his breath, ‘I’m stifling!’ It was not only the lack of oxigen, but all that religious atmosphere, which gave him a sense of moral anguish and actual physical pain.
He was allergic to dust and the pollen of the flowers and plants, a physical ‘maladie’ which in Australia many people seemed to suffer. This was to him a new ailment, which they called
hay fever’.
While the faithful were having communion, leaving a score of benches empty, he had a peaceful forty winks, being alone on his bench, his back leaning against two long planks of varnished wood.
… back in the old country. I had so often gone to mass in the church of the Calle del Carmen, right in the centre of Madrid and many years later demonstrations in Plaza de la Moncloa, how could I have acted so?
… towards the university campus, and it was very strange – I saw nothing coming. First a religious schoolboy in church; then a student struggling aganist the police. And I had abandoned the faith of my grandparents.
‘And now, living in foreign parts,’ he thought, waking up.
Laying his hands together, his fingers intertwined, he bent his brow forward. Then he got his glasses in one hand, holding his feverish forehead with the other. He had a glimpse of the priest and his acolyte, turning their backs on the parishioners, so many silent shadows now, all seated again on their pews. ‘Ave María purísima gracia plena.’ He had made his poor mother suffer so unnecessarily. What did it matter, after all, “rojo” or “fascista”?
‘Rational-animals indeed,’ he thinks to himsself.’
… I should now write a letter to my parents telling them I have changed. Going back to church. That would please them very much, and I would lose nothing thereby. I shall tell them in the letter that a Catalan priest, very handsome, is saying mass. Here. In Sydney.
He heard the sound of music, that solemn effluvium whlch our most respected philosophers say comes from God. ‘Spiritual Energy’ they call it. Specially now, when Luis opens his eyes and sees the choir boy, dressed in his flowing red tunic with those white fringes, twirling his instrument, a sort of metallic circle (it could be silver), a dozen llittle bells hanging underneath. A magic sound finer and purer than anything.
The dust in the air is another thing he perceives as he wakes up, his brow resting on the back of the bench in front, for he is kneeling on the long dusty plank he shares with a score of parishioners, all on their knees now. The gingerhaired priest is handsome in his golden chasuble, he turns round at this moment, taking a step forward, his arms high in the air:
‘Missa ditta est!’
As if the whole church was rocking! plenty of coughing, and discreet calls, noises, and dust again. Everybody rushing to get out of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stands up, surrounded by moving bodies. All the faithful treading in between the benches, stamping their feet on the wooden plank of hardwood, trying to get to one of the lateral aisles. He sat for moment’s rest, letting his countrymen pass by and felt the friction on his nose of women’s skirts, the smell of cheap perfumes, and heard the stamping of advancing footwear, the unbreathable air. Everyone was trying to squeeze out into the atrio, a procession of people from the twenty rows on the two sides of the long central aisle: rising once more Luis Galvao reached the open air.
He felt much better when he stood outside, breathing freely, contemplating with admiration the blue sky, the white and grey of the clouds and far away, on high a bit of the ocean. And inbetween a landscape of houses of varied styles and sizes, following the ondulation of the hillsides, the tracks used by the old waggoners, woodcutters and landworkers of old, many of whom lived in wooden cabins when these were still forest-covered areas.

He descended the steps with others and moved with them along one side of Albion Street. Several groups of Spaniards had formed, some of them newly arrived in the new country, nearly all talking, discussing, chatting, speaking simultaneously. He attached himself to one of the groups. There were far more men than women in general.
The conversation was about past events in the old country, remembrances of recent times or of long ago: failures and victories or present hopes; much was about jobs and money and references to different standards of living. Luis could see at once who was a New Australian of old standing and who had only recently arrived in New South Wales. There were many young men in the group, who numbered about ten in a total of fourteen.
There was the central figure in this group, a man of about forty, who led the conversation. He was accompanied by his daughter. Both were surrounded by enthusiastic young men. His wife had left to talk to another woman of a neighbouring group, whom she had met on the liner coming over. Luis was looking at the girl, of about eighteen, cute, tall and brown-haired. The family already owned a property in Paddington, the neighbouring suburb. Luis heard all this without bothering to intervene in the conversation.
Among other things he learned the family came from Santander, a city he particularly liked. He had enjoyed his summer holidays there as a boy, and the girl somehow was bringing memories from the past. ‘¡Ven aquí, Sara!’ he heard, dreamily. The man was calling her to him.
… oh, poor Luis romantic head, moving about and always too much in the past, dreaming. Oh, joyful reverie! Those days, in Santander, a big port, the fishing trawlers, fishmongers selling on the streets sardines and bonito.
… and recollecting those moments of nice safe childhood, the journeys by train to that big port in the north, and coming back in the fall, he thought of Madrid Unirversity. October was always the happiest month.
... not many women studied then, but he remembered he had had a girlfriend. “The two of us alone strolling along the avenues, the sky overhead so perfectly blue! such clean air. We could see the white peaks of the Sierra.

… I remember Sara Luengo well: a studious face, rather pale. She did not wear spectacles spoiling her looks, and one day we went on foot after lectures to the Plaza de la Moncloa, two or three kilometres from our faculty of law.

… we climbed up all the way instead of catching the bus, in order to save the money, we said; It was simply a fib. It was not saving a ‘real’. We just wanted to be together, exchange impressions, perhaps speak of love.
Feeling the tears welling up in his eyes, he looked about (as if with shame) and was saved from the embarrassment of being seen in that state, by the sudden appearence of the handsome Catalan priest at the entrance of the church on the flight of stone steps, gesticulating and telling his parishioners, who had not budged a foot from the spot where they had landed when coming out of church, that the migrants had to shoo off, disperse at once. Albion Street was not the entrance of a stadium or a bullring: good gracious! that they should be giving every Sunday such a spectacle to the citizens of Surry Hills. Behind the priest appeared the figure of his friend Manuel, and the two handsome men disappeared together into the darkness of the House of God.
Luis Galvao stood looking and thinking. Another moment of indecision. In fact, he knew he would now have to find how to go back to Kirribilli. No hope of finding a taxi. Bells were chiming, announcing that a new mass was about to commence. They brought him back to reality. On the pavement the Spaniards were dispersing, trailing nearly all in the same direction, towards the lines of terrace-houses of Surry Hills, and of Paddington, (precisely where the Santander family were heading.) He had heard the man talking of giving a barbecue party in “his property in Paddington. Others lived in Edgecliff, King’s Cross, or were going to take a bus.
At length, but still fixing his eyes for a mintute on the pretty lass going away, he began to move in the opposite directon; something was telling him he could find there his own way home. The bus-shelter was hardly a stone’s throw away, but in his despondency and self-pity he missed it, and then once more turned the wrong way. A shiver ran down his tired body. All confused, getting into deeper and deeper trouble, for now he was really out of sorts, he no longer could control his nerves. He was looking for a bench or a boulder were to sit, when he saw something he recognised. A line of terrace-houses so identical to the others inhabited by migrants from eastern and southern Europe… “It was here!”
And he began running, searching (had a magic thought full of hope!) right to the bottom of the slope, where he had been on another occasion. In his mind he saw his own love.
... coming all the way from Paddy’s Market, a haversack buckled on my back; following an adorable young woman who in turn was carrying her own bag full with the Saturday morning purchases. It was raining.
… I saw her stopping, a terrace house. Her rosy cheeks under her pink nylon umbrella. Opening the door, pushing her bag and passing into the cottage backwards, folding the umbrella as she went in.
Thus meditating, hurrying for no reason, Luis tripped on a protruding cobblestone and fell flat on the ground. An old man, as it were, came to the rescue, but instead (quite surprisingly) lifted his stick in the air and gave the fallen man a bang on one hand; as the latter had lifted his hand instinctively for protection.
‘Drunk, eh? you dog,’ screamed the attacker ‘And on the Day of the Lord! Oh! how does God…’ he did not have the time to finish his sentence, for Galvao had by now grabbed the stick himself, and given the man (a member of a Temperance Society, as shown by a badge he wore) a well-deserved blow on his backside and throwing the stick far away afterwards.
He saunters in a new maze of ruinous back streets, lanes and alleyways. He sees crumbling old mansions and what perhaps were once respectable ancient dwellings dating perhaps from colonial times: terrace-cottages with no front gardens or area-railings, a score of nondescript cheap properties with rusty galvanised-iron roofs, unpainted façades, no ornaments to speak of, some times wrought-iron trimmings, but no colour, nothing. Though they are inhabited and voices and other sounds now come from within some of them, exceptionally he sometimes hears a human being at a window or on a veranda.
Rather by chance, however, he got positively interested in one of those properties, a house he passed a minute ago and where he saw a young blond lady, who had made him think of the mysterious sphinx with the pink umbrella he saw one evening in a Chinese restaurant in town and with whom he came across by chance in Paddy’s Market one Saturday morning.
He crosses to the opposite side of the street. There is nobody this time on the veranda; but the sound of a foreign ditty now fills unexpectedly the sultry air. ‘Kalinka, kalinka, moìà!...’ He sees the body of a little white bird floating on a small stream of rainwater flowing along the gutter, which Luis takes for a bad omen. He climbs the two steps to the veranda. It is still raining.
‘Kalinka, kalinka, moià! Svadova, làdoga, kalinka, moià!” he hears a foreign ditty coming out through one of the two windows. He approaches the window, a rather large one, with lifted sash through which the song comes out. Inside there is a lit standard lamp, a bed and various other pieces of furniture. On the vinyl checker-patterned floor, a man is squatting, alternatively kicking his heavy black boots up in the air; his breeches are also black, puffy, with long granate stripes. The shirt is also puffy towards the lower part of the sleeves, which are ivory-coloured.
Nearer the window stands, straight and youthful, a blond girl only shrouded in a transparent veil or gown of which she holds the hem high in the air with the tips of four fingers, as when a woman plays castanets. Her suntaned lifted arms, and what he can see from under the lifted veil, greatly delights him. “Oh Malgorata?” he muses.
At length the man straightens himself up and comes from behind up to the young woman, stamping his feet as he advances. Thereafter he begins circling her, still stamping the tall boots; while she remains nearly static, holding the veil tightly with her red-nailed fingers. She smiles and moves her red lips to his face. He bends down, turning his arms, his ballooning silk sleeves.

Luis Galvao now sinks one knee on the cement-floor of the veranda. The girl becomes every minute more beautiful, more like Malgorata. But it cannot be. Manuel has told him she is back in the Soviet Union. Now she is dancing alone, her well-shaped breasts shoving up, her arms thrown upwards with the veil, which floats backwards as if it constituted two wings, from her extended arms.
He sees the man approaching the window. He stretches up on his feet and looks around. When he again leans on one knee, he sees the blond goddess naked on the bed. The sound of music had long ceased to be heard.
Lustly looking at the woman he loves, his eyes suddenly fill with tears; and he no longer sees anything clearly; nor does he hear; all his senses are blurred… but he thinks he’ll now have heaps of opportunities to see his Malgorata again; it is not true what Suárez has said that the Lithuanian took her back to the Kiev orchestra.
On his knees, his tears wiped off by the cotton curtain, which is now ballooning freely in a draught, he sees eight strong fingers holding the lower edge of the sash window, which begins coming down while a subtle and sensual perfume projects out of the house. Oh the vaporous sense of an eastern flower, ancient, exotic, incomensurable, oh love, love, my angel! Always loved.
The man’s hands have brought the sash down to the bottom: with clear eyes (his pocket handkerchief is now in his hand) he peeps again toward the bed of love, trying to catch a sight. He only sees the reflexion of his own sad face on the windowpane.
The tapping of the rain on the corrugated-iron sheet, covering the veranda, brings him back to reality. He finds he is sitting on the gas-metter at the far end of the cottage, upon the cemented veranda. He hesitates, stands up at length, but stll doesn’t know what to do. Clutching his head with both hands, he leans against the wall, without seeing, without looking: only thinking, always sad.
On the painted brick wall he sees a brassplate with the name of a GERTY LAWSON. Perhaps she will be willing to help.
He plies the knocker. The sound reverberates in the narrow street; for a moment it seems as if someone is laughing. At length the door is flung open, and a stout flat-nosed woman with a wart is seen in the doorway. She glares at the intruder and waits, her arms folded under a pair of large breasts: without knowing why Galvao hangs his head down and also waits. (Why has she not spoken?)
‘Miss… Missus Lawson,’’ he articulates at last, ‘I mean… I guess that’s the name, isn’t it?’’ (with a glance at the brassplate.) ‘You’ll… excuse me, Madam, the case is…” (the woman stares without moving) “I’m looking for a girl, you see, a… young lady, my… well, you see, I’m a foreigner myself…’
‘Sir, there are no foreigners in this country,’ the woman grunts. ‘Only Australians. What you are, sir, is New Australian.’
This aggressive answer causes Luis to become still more timid, insecure. He repeats, ‘I’m looking for a girl... blond and beautiful.’
‘Oh, looking for a beautiful girl, eh!’ she exclaims in a sing-song voice. ‘There’s no one here.’
‘Yes missus… I’ve seen her in this here place, twice. But I see ye’re laughing at me, perhaps my foreign accent. Speaking too slowly perhaps for you…’
‘What then?’ she utters, with impatience.
‘What?, that’s to say. Today, happening to pass by and recognising the place I asked myself… that is I am now asking you kindly… would you care to oblige me kindly. Just a minute ago, that window…’ He shuts up all of a sudden.
‘Sir, haven’t we met somewhere?’
Quite alarmed, for he had had the same impression as she: ‘No, na’am. You must confuse me with somebody.’
‘Somebody my foot,’ she yells. ‘We have met before, yes, and you very well know we have.’
‘No, Ma… missus Lawson. Not in that restaurant…’ For he knows he is lying. It happened in a Chinese Restaurant, one midday having lunch in town.
‘Sir, you were saying?’
‘Yes, madam, I was saying she is… an English girl. I recognised her by the accent... talking to the Chinese waitress, Madam.’
She now looks at his hands.
‘I say, why are you trembling so?’

‘No, Madam, I’m all right… I assure you,’’ answers Galvao, putting his wounded hand behind his back.
‘Your hand is bleeding. You should have someone look at it. So, ye’d better go away.’
‘Missus Lawson, did you say… did you just say there is one here.’ (Glancing at the nearest window.)
‘No, I didn’t. What I said is you’ve no business to be here. Please, go away. Yer girl’s never been here. Maybe she is dead.’
‘Dead!’ Galvao exclaims, devastated.
There is the sound of a bang. It’s the lady who has slammed the door on Galvao’s nose.
‘Gosh, this is awful, awful!’ he wails, stumbling up and down a number of crooked hilly lanes, his gaze bent down. ‘Malgorata gone with a Lithuanian, Maureen engaged to a law student and Margaret dead. “Alone, always alone! eternal solitude.”
Eventually his feet bring him back to the same place, he hovers up and down on the opposite pavement undecided, the sun between two elongated grey clouds projects a thousand luminous rays on the street, over the entire terrace. As he crosses the street intending to confront the woman once again, he hears a sound coming from inside the house, on the left, that makes him go to the second window, with the open sash. A sweet woman’s voice flows out : “… for a more humane Mikado there never…”

Like a jet of water hitting a wall and, simultaneously, the voice of an angel from heaven in English as it is spoken in the north of England. He has certainly been lucky to come back to the very house where he saw Malgorata dancing with a Cossack or a Latvian, or that blond Lithuanian.
‘Oh, my!’ he exclaims,quite exultant, ‘I haven’t come in vain!’
The window being accessible from the veranda, he steps on the cement floor, coming near the window. He squats on the cement floor, his arms, his trembling fingers hoping to reach the naked body of the loved one, who is just now having a shower.
The singing again, the Mikado, he thinks of his girl friend Margaret when they went together to Deansgate, Manchester. Gilbert and Sullivan. And The Hallé Orchestra, directed by Sir John Barbirolli.
A small but tidy place; a table and some chairs, a wardrobe and big couch. There is an adjoining bathroom or rather a makeshift glass of modern construction. A glass cabin. In the far corner of the room. It is from there that singing comes out. And behind the colourless steamed glass-door of this cabin a most enchanting vision. And the diffused silhouette of a handsome woman having a shower behind the narrow glass door.

At length, due to the temperature (augmented by the steaming-hot water) in the adjoining room or cabin, or maybe because he was feverish, suffocatig to the point of almost losing consciousness, the place become mysterious. He has come in love with the place, its simplicity, unpretentiousnes: he had always loved life without complications. It must have been in this room.
… once I had a wonderful dream. I dream that I had married my English girl so beautiful. And we were living far away, in a big house where tenants rented one room; the three of us together, for there was a little blond baby girl, named Lue.
… just a bed, a cot, a small wardrobe, a table, a couple of chairs and two or three odd things besides, which were enough for us, loving one other so very much! We slept at night with the window open and were awakened by the noise of the sea.

The noise of running water had ceased and the singing of the Mikado as well. Beads of perspiration, running down copiously from his temples, cause him to get rid of his spectacles which he places in his jacket-pocket. he now sees with more difficulty.
The scene is blurred and misty and he does not know in the slightest what he is doing, body or soul, perhaps seeing, more probably dreaming.
… oh, what bliss! She is here, in this house. We have come again together, by the sea. The singing, the surging sound of water, it is she! We are again together. In a moment having a shower. In my embrace.
… like that day in Wattamola, under a waterfall, that little lake specifically made by King Ocean for us two to swim in the nude and spend that joyful holiday swimming all day, caressing one another without end.
The sound of water suddenly stops, the glass door now slides to one side, and coming out of the cabin a shadow approaches enveloped in a white mist.
“Like a dream. Oh, a naked woman!”

As she draws nearer, it seems to him that she floats or the haze advances with her, no longer naked, but wearing an oriental sarong, white, silky, her shapely legs coming out from the folds of what is simply a towel. Luis tenderly caresses her knee.
‘Why so pale, my angel? Listen, I know you’ve suffered. I’ve come to help you. Soon I’ll come with my car and we’ll go to Surfers’ Paradise so you will rest and get better. This most endearing foot, oh! let me kiss it once and twice and a hundred times.’
She looks at him in mute agony, thinking no doubt that her man is ill, wounded in a war, she kisses his wounded left hand, the two bodies intimately together, cuddling. Eternally in love.
‘Come with me,’ she says, her pretty blue eyes now overflowing with happiness; ‘My sweetheart,’ he replies, ‘how my yearning heart has been waiting for this moment!’
Of a sudden Luis Galvao heard a scream and felt an extraordinnary power grabbing and pulling at him from behind; some big claws indeed, clutching his jacket and shirt and tie nearly throttling him.
‘Aha, thief! I’ve caught you!’ A fat woman who now held him tightly by the lapels of his jacket.
Standing on the cement floor of the veranda, facing the woman, who is dressed to go out complete with a white hat with artificial flowers, he struggles, shouts with all the strength of his lungs. ‘Let go, you whore!’
But the woman, holding him tight, yells into his gaping mouth. ‘Oh no, sir, you won’t run away from me this time; for I’ve called the police. You’re out of your mind, gone mad. They’ll clap you into Callan Park.’ And turning her gaze upwards to the sky, she starts praying: ‘Lord, help me in my task, look after him, for he doesn’t know what he does! Look at him, how he’s trembling, he’s got the shivers! His mug’s drenched with perspiration!’
And Luis Galvao knows that he will now have to call all his talents into activity to escape from that witch. The loud sound of a siren is heard approaching. Taking advantage of a moment’s hesitation on the part of his enemy and as the sound grows louder, he lifts his fist as much as he can to the height of the woman’s face, and gives her a tremendous punch which causes a wart under the lower lip to burst, splattering blood most alarmingly about.
‘Ay, ay!’ she cries, taking her hand to her face, ‘ah, you reffo bastard!’
Luis no longer hears her, for he is running away at full speed. As he reaches the corner and turns round into another street, he catches sight of the Black Maria racing up to the spot he has just left, blowing its siren at full blast, and he dashes into another side-street, hiding behind a big shiny dustbin, in time to see the police van rushing down the main chasing him, but failing to see him.
Luis at once comes out his hole and stalks around another corner, and into a thoroughfare called Reservoir Street. Indeed this road is in a way full of traffic and people. Again he is disturbed by the sound of sawing timber, until he gets convinced that it is only the product of his imagination. He gets his pocket handherchief in his hand and dries with his feverish brow.
Being the Day of the Lord, he was astonished to see, parked on the opposite side of the street, a big lorry loaded with about a hundred freshly-cut planks of timber: so long indeed these planks appeared to be, that they stuck out of the body of the vehicle, a floating red cloth having been tied up at the end of one of planks in the middle.
There were two workers with the lorry, one in the cabin, sitting on the driver’s seat, the other at the entrance of what seemed to be an industrial or commercial establishment, that was closed. Displayed on the wooden pallisade which appeared to surround the place, there was the title of the establishment itself, SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT.
It was preciseky this merchant (he rememered) that sold him a month before ten planks of hardwood for his bookcases in Kirribilli. He recalled the day of his expedition to this yard. He was loading the wood on his car, when Mr Sugar told him, “I warrant you’re taking in your estate Ford the hardest eucalypt in the world.” And he was telling the truth.
Luis was thinking of that day, some three months ago, when suddenly and unexpectedly, his tummy began rumbling most desperately, no doubt because of the agitation of the morning. The load of timber being just there, forming (for him) like a little room or an artificial cavern, under the long spread out planks at once he dived; and in another instant, having pulled down his trousers, Luis Galvao passed motion most tranquilly, hoping nobody had seen him.
It was not there his bad luck. It happened that just at that moment, the lorry’s engine roared, the air suddenly stunk of Diesel and the vehicle began to move. In a word the load of timber was being taken into Mr Sugar’s yard, and our hero was left squatting in the open (as one would say with his fingers in the pie), for he had not finished buckling his leather belt when he was stretchng up and the lorry abandoned him.
He saw it and its load turning left, and into the establisment it went, of which the gate again was pushed back and locked from inside. The palisade, the title SUGAR TIMBER MERCHANT, and on the gate in great characters the word in white CLOSED. Mr Baruch Sugar was most respectful of the Sabath day and could not forget pinning up this white word on Sunday. For the rest, being Jewish, he had his own Sabath, which happened to come on Saturday.
As for Galvao he certainly felt defeated. Having been left there, under the grey sky, in a rather bad state, shivering and filled with shame, he had no option, tired as he was, but to get on moving. He crossed the roadway, climbed upon the pavement, and joined the crowd.
He was lucky though. Had all this happened to him in Madrid, he would not have come out of this difficulty so lightly. The Madrileños would have jumped upon him and all but would have lynched him.
But Australians are different. They do not mind other people’s business. Quite correctly and politely they do not interfere directly in their neighbours’ affairs. ‘Live and let live’ is their theme. He wondered if a majority of passers-by saw him squatting under the planks of timber, doing his personal business with such virulence, or afterwards when the vehicle entered the yards.
So, he now turned round and joined the Sunday crowd, advancing with them, apparenty with renewed energy. There something in the moral tune ‘Onwards Christian Soldiers’. Go, go, go, wherever they may go. The weather was rather sultry and for him rather uncomfortable. He was shaking with fatigue and cold, his flannel jacket and trousers being insufficient for protection, in his state of misery. He went notwithstanding on and on, on…, reached a large oblong space or plaza, more commonly square, on whose four sides there small and medium-sized properties inhabited most probably by middle-class Aussies.
There was in this plaza one edifice substantially different from the rest: a red-brick cubic building, with an unpretentious little tower or spire in which a bronze bell seemed to have found refuge. He made a beeline for this building, which was a protestant temple of one of the dozen denominations… JESUS IS LIGHT, and entered the church with the crowd; and sat with them on the very tidy benches provided by the officer of the sect or whatever. These seats were orderly placed, in ten rows of benches twice, right and left, with a passage in between; this was the aisle that there was in the temple. Generally, but not necessarily, women and children sat on the left block of benches, and men on the right.
Opposite the entrance, on a wooden platform there appeared a man in black, who held a black book in his hands. Galvao noticed he wore spectacles, like himself, and patent leather shoes. The man read aloud for a while. At times the congregation responded, reading from their own little black books, with a shining purple border; and other times, without bothering about the books they all suddenly set out singing loudly.
There was on the back of the bench in front a sort of wooden-case where some of those little black books were offered for the congregation to use during the service. He picked one of them up, thinking that in the old country, if the same book-offer were made to churchgoers, all those books (there were bookcases on all the rows of benches) would not have lasted one day, pinched by ordinary rogues, that had entered the House of God, like any other house to see what they could steal.
As soon as he was rested and, though still trembling, medically out of danger (as he thought), he silently took his leave, sliding along the central passage. There was at the temple’s end a sort of wooden frame or large casement, beyond which he found still more little black books, on two tables, offered for the parishioners to borrow, free of charge. He glanced at the books with a sneer and sneaked out of the House of God. Outside it was drizzling.
And again stalking up and down the streets and alleys of Surry Hills, when he unexpectedly came upon a place he recogniced, the conjunction of Albion Street and Crown Street, where Manuel Suárez had parked his car this morning. Around the spire of Saint Mary’s, two or three birds were still flying, but the big woodcarved doors were closed. A trickle of churchgoers were descending the steps. They spoke Italian. On the tiny green square there was not a bench; just a lawn. He saw a cubic block of marble or granite, probably intended to be the pedestal of a statue, who knew?
Anyhow, he was tired and almost at the end of his tether. He approched the pedestal and sat upon it, thinking deeply. He remembered having read in the library the strange adventure of soldier who died abroad many years ago at twenty-two. It might be the death of this Aussie fighter that the Surry Hills authorities wanted to commemorate, an ANZAC martyr. Everything was ready, the budget had been voted and spent, the statue made, and when all was going to be officially inaugurated, someone suddenly discovered that the dead soldier had been a drunkand and a raper of honest women, and the whole project fell through.
Luis was thinking of this, resting upon the pedestal, bending forward, his brow on the palm of his hand, arm on one knee; the other (wounded) hand touching his left thigh, when he heard someone calling him: ‘Luigi Amico!’
He opened his eyes and saw Giuseppe Gardi. They had been good friends about a year ago, when he used to spend all his Sundays in the Italian Club, at Leichhardt.
‘Pippo, please,’ he replied, ‘can you help me to find a taxi stand or the nearest bus shelter. I think I’m ill.’
‘Ma, what’re you saying?’ Gardi said approaching and touching him on both shoulders. ‘We’ll take you by car wherever you want to go.’ (for he was accompanied by his wife and two kiddies.)
And that is how poor Luis Galvao’s misadventures came to an end that Sunday, early afternoon, of bad memory. When they reached Galvao’s place, the Italian offered to take him upstairs to his flat.
‘No, please, Pippo, don’t worry,” Luis annswered, ‘the lift is there waiting. Thank you very much.’
The man was helping him. Wife and kiddies were staying in the car. When they were opening the lift, his friend again offered to go up with him, but Luis did not think it necessary. From the hall Pippo saw him press the right button, and closed the door. Tenth floor. Luis Galvao got out, opened the door of his home-unit, went inside and closed the door. His physical and intellectual energies under such heavy contribution, the result not only of his present ailment but of the extraordinary agitation of the past four months of working as a lawyer, absolutely at an end.
He hurled himself fully dressed on his bed, and lost consciousness altogether. And there, on his bed, he lay.
Near the window, alone, and with no possibility of being looked after by anyone.

fg.izquierdo@yahoo.es

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