A sentimental walk around Sydney, Three
Mass immigration necessarily implies communitarism. Illiterate migrants need educated compatriots to get on. New arrivals flock together, open clubs, delicatessen shops, Some suburbs, districts in towns and cities are Italian, Russian, Irish etc.
A sentimental walk around Sydney, Three
Fernando García Izquierdo
In the nineteen-fifties Australia received more immigrants than any other place in the world. It was expected that in three decades the country would have doubled the number of its inhabitants. There was talk, all over, of “The Changing Face of Australia”, due precisely to continental European immigration. Another phrase commonly used those days was “Populate or Perish”, which had some connotation with danger run during the second world war, when the continent was nearly invaded by the Japanese. The Australian author George Johnston wrote the following in 1962: “This vital phrase (populate or perish) began to ring in a wartime Australia newly conscious of its gaping spaces and the attraction they exerted for others.” Among the attractions mentioned in the official propaganda distributed in Europe after the war by immigration authorities and agents the figures for motorcars was one. It was said that, apart from the United States and Canada, Australia was the country with the greatest number of automobiles for inhabitant.
He had been told to go and talk to the princess, Luova Danilova, the old lady who sat alone in the far corner of the room where the wedding reception had taken place. Mrs. Danilova was, no doubt, a most interesting imposing creature, who had known life in the capital of imperial Russia, St. Petersburgh, her birthplace. It was about the court she began to speak after presentation.
‘There were balls and dinners. We went to the theatre, the opera, all kinds of spectacles. Oh, it was grand! Those were the days, Mr.Gallway.’
‘Galvao is the name, Mrs.Danilova.’
‘Everyone owns a motorcar these days, Mr. Galvao. What about you?’
‘Yes, Madam, a Hilllman second hand.’
‘I suffer, specially at weekends. So many children, so many motorcars. And now the grandchildren, too. I’m on tenterhooks all the time. So many deaths on the roads. Do you like Russian ballet, Mr Galvao?’
‘I like the music, Madam. I prefer Tchaikovsky to the Germans. But… I’m afraid I don’t get so enthusiastic… about those stylised ladies lifting their arms and stepping interminably on their toes,’ Galvao answered. ‘Sorry Madam.’ For he had seen a frown on her painted face.
‘Literature is your province, I know. Do you like Turgenev?’
‘Yes, Madam. Though… he purchased a young maid, a serf, for seven hundred rubles to have cheap entertaiment during the summer.’
The lady was about to reply when a man of about forty approached her and said something in Russian; then, noticing the presence of the Spaniard, he added in English: ‘We’ll come some other Sunday, Aunty Luova.’ And he was gone.
‘I’m glad Irina’s got that good position in the city. You a friend of Alexander Scziadovo?’
‘An acquaintance rather. I met Lasek at the Barristers’ Admission Board. I know he’s a solicitor. A good practice. I believe you know him well.’
Galvao thought of asking something, but the princess went on about Irina, whose wedding was being celebrated today. She was the youngest of her ten grandchildren and the only one born in Sydney, twenty years ago. Somewhat bored, he was looking at a girl in an armchair, not far away, against the contiguous wall. She might have been thirteen and was so perfectly blond that Galvao’s eyes were continually turning to her. She had come from farther down the large room, where the dinner had ended an hour ago, and had brought with her a plate full of wedding cake, which she was now eating, thoroughly smearing her very pretty face.
‘Lida!’ Mrs Danilova called. ‘For shame!’
Galvao’s eyes followed the girl’s flight down the hall, dish and all.
‘Are you married, Mr. Galvao?
‘Not yet. I doubt whether I will ever attain that state of bliss.’
‘I hope Irina will be happy. Vitas is Latvian, did you know?’ the princess commented, and without letting Luis reply to the question, she went on. ‘Mr. Scziadovo is my solicitor,’ and a very good one he is. I’ve engaged him in connection with a big property I’m purchasing up there Turramurra way. Do you know he’s a Polish Jew?’
‘Oh, there he goes!’ Luis exclaimed, standing up. ‘Excuse me Madam, I must run to catch him.”
Luis Galvao caught up with Lasek Scziadovo as they both were entering the room where the ball was to be held. There were servants scurrying about, finishing the preparations.
‘How did you find the Dowager?’ Lasek asked.
‘Terrific,’ said Luis.
Lasek Scziadovo was pleased to see his friend again. All the same, he was mainly on the look for clients at this moment, as often happened when he went to parties and festivities. The two had stopped short past the roman arch, where there were people milling about. All the same, he showed some interest in what Luis Galvao was saying. A few years older than the Spaniard, he felt like helping him. He had found Luis much in distress when they met, two months before. He now asked Luis whether he liked this chunk of Russia in Sydney.
‘Oh, yes! Thank you for having brought me here,’ replied the other.
It was, in effect, Lasek who had invited Luis, who simply had wanted to witness the orthodox ceremony and had asked for the church’s address. But, after the marriage ceremony, the Pole had grabbed him by the elbow and brought him to the dinner almost by force. ‘They won’t mind. On the contrary,’ he comforted the Spaniard, ‘don’t worry.’
Now, going on into the big room Scziadovo told the Spaniard more about Princess Luova’s family. She was almost ninety (he said), the daughter of a high personality in Nicholas II’s court, and the widow, since 1925, of a general of the White Russian Army that fought for eight years against the bolshevik revolution.
‘Unsuccessfully,’ Luis said the obvious.
A young woman passed by, holding an open Habana-Cohiba box. Lasek took a cigar from the box and introduced it in his jacket pocket, just as Vitas and Irina came to join them, in full wedding apparel. Lasek at once took Vitas aside and began to give him hints about real estate: the newlyweds would surely want to purchase something.
At that a stocky beer-bellied man came to shake hands with the bridegroom, and the Pole was heard talking about horses. “There’s a mare I recommend you, my friend. Chose Begonia. Don’t ignore my tip.’
In the meantime, Luis Galvao, who had been left with Irina was admiring the latter´s really intellectual beauty. It was the young woman who broke the ice.
‘How do you find Russian society,’ she asked beautifully, ‘you being Spanish?’
‘The girls,’ he said, blushing, ‘seem to be all blond… and pretty.’
From further inside the large room came the sound of music:
‘Kalinka, kalinka, kalinka moià!
‘Vsadu iágoda malinka, malinka moià!’
The place now being filled with music, the beautiful bride became still more beautiful, silently repeating the words of the song. He was going to ask her something when… as bad luck would have it, he began to sneeze most desperately. He took his glasses with one hand, and with the other he pressed a crumpled handkerchief against his reddish face.
‘Oh, dear!’ she said, full of compassion, ‘you also suffer from hay-fever. You must see to it. Go to a hospital…” (two fingers between her raspberry-coloured lips) ‘the hospital… there! Take the bus at Broadway, all the way up past the university… they’ll make a few cuts on both arms, and the doctor’ll find what you are allergic to, some pollen, for sure. Do go’ (her linen hankerchief, too, to her nose.) ‘Oh! my!’
Luis had never seen anyone (woman or child) more handsomely beautiful: that pretty smiling face so round and rosy, her blue eyes, prominent cheeks and that raspberry mouth. He turned his eyes to the girl’s suntanned shoulders and lovely arms full of dimples. Luckily for him, in a way, the bridegroom had finished discussing business with the lawyer and had come to retrieve his beloved. As Luis was going back to find his Polish friend, he heard Lasek talking animatedly to somebody else.
‘Hello! Look who’s here. Oh Britannia, Britannia rules the waves! None other but the famous crooner Freddy Lane.’
As he turned round he saw Scziadovo talking to a bald man in black satin, who was accompanied by a very tall woman. Galvao discreetly moved on. On the band stand there were four men, dressed in breeches and black boots, squatting together while alternatively kicking in the air one foot and then another. A fifth was playing the accordion.
Luis Galvao sat down upon a velvet-upholstered bench, against the wall, watching the dancers. Two violins were now on the stand. Hungarian Music. A waltz. And a song sung by a gipsy girl called Vanika, or Vaniska. A pretty peasant girl, dark and full of temperament: the representation of a country wedding. ‘So classical,’ he thought, ‘and at the same time so popular. Music! Real artists, these Eastern Europeans, all of them.’
… Irina is a lovely name, quite Russian, no doubt. More attached to the earth than we. Ceremonial too. Why the hell among them a religious wedding implies the use of two gold crowns with diamonds. Pretty Russian bride.
… though, she isn’t Russian! Born in Oz, said the old hog. Not an escapee. And Lasek, is he an escapee? a child when he came with his mother. He’s wonderfully progressive when he talks. That is why I like him. The two went across the mountains, on to Austria.
And now the music had changed to a Fox-trot. Accompanied by the tall woman, Freddy Lane was holding the microphone to his lips. There was a small but complete orchestra with the couple, and Vitas, the bridegroom, was playing the electric guitar.
… better look at the dancers! Will some of these be married couples… a church wedding, why not? and big ceremonies: crowns with diamonds. Wedding. A woman’s naked body. A brothel… house of ill fame. The paltry prize is hardly worth the cost. A regular marriage is best.
... oh no! There must be love. I love Malgorata. The rest is not worth it. Something else. She loves me and I adore her body. Oh! my precious Ukrainian girl. Tomorrow Monday they won’t be here. She’s worth being loved. Oh yes!
‘Oh yes, yes!’ Luis Galvao shouted on his seat. It is worth it, precious Malgorata! ‘I love you!’
And just then, by chance, his regard crossed those of a blue-eyed woman he recognised. She had passed by dancing just before him. The couple passed again, and Luis Galvao smiled. And at the same time he caught sight of the man, who sneered.
‘A little woman so pretty!’ the very representation of youth, in the arms of that ugly thing,’ he said to himself.
It was only then that he fully realised the petite-woman dancer was the very same girl he had seen before, eating an extra chunk of wedding-cake on the armchair, when he was with the old princess.
Now being tightly embraced around the waist by that tall man, thin and sickly looking. Luis could hardly believe his eyes. ‘The same person who had been smearing mouth and face with cream and chocolate,’ he repeated. Could it be true? Why, a girl had now become a woman. Petite, dressed in blue muslin, painted and made-up. That’s how things are. ‘And I thought before she was thirteen, so cute and pretty in her light-blue gown. A precious little jewel, smearing her face pure baby-like.
Turning, turning all the couples quite content, untill the scene changed once again. The dance was interrupted by a woman with thick arms and extraordinarily prominent bosom, who came charging among the dancers like a fury, panting and exhausted. She slapped the tall young man’s face a couple of times, and clutching the rebellious girl by the arm, took her into the next room, crying: ‘Stop, Lida! Stop it!’
Luis and Lasek left the ball and the Russian wedding celebrations as they had come, together. They walked towards Bondi Junction, where Galvao had parked his car early in the afternoon. They were linked together, arm-in-arm, swaying and and singing. It was the Pole who sang the words with the proper accent, ‘kalinka, malinka, moià’. It was an excellent late-spring clear night. The moon was not yet out and the prussian-blue sky was full of big and little bright stars.
‘And how d’you find my secretary?’ Scziadovo asked, stopping.
‘Irina? Very pretty,’ Luis smiled at the recollection. ‘Perfect.’
‘She has added life to my office. I won’t see her tomorrow, a pity.’
‘Nor the day after tomorrow,’ Lasek went on. ‘Vitas, of course. They’ve already left. A new Jaguar. Surfer’s Paradise. The old princess paid for the car.’
‘I see. Still, she’ll come back. That freshness will again invade your premises. I say freshness because really… Have you noticed, all newly-married women possess a beauty… Well, really, I don’t know what I’m saying. I’ve drunk too much. Lucky Lasek. That’s what you asked, ain’t it? A good secretary.’
‘Alas! she’s too fat for me,’ Lasek concluded.
They had reached the Junction. The Pole in the meantime, had been smoking his cigar, turning round from time to time and kicking. Before they reached the main road, where the Hillman was parked, they passed by a closed Chinese restaurant, and the Pole frowned. The three garbage bins before the building were not properly closed, and the two friends could see the carcass of at least one cat, head and all, with the entrails full of blood; the lot badly wrapped in newspapers. Luis spat in disgust.
‘You never know what you eat,’ he sneered.
‘That’s why I never order fricassé or a dish of vegetables with some chunks of meat. Vegetables here, for me; and the meat in one big piece,’ said the Pole.
‘I shall do the same from now on. I assure you.’
They had reached the car. Luis opened it. His friend, still smoking, watched; then laying his hand on Galvao’s shoulder: ‘Are you sure you can drive all the way to Ultimo?’ he asked. ‘Come, you can sleep in my house, if you wish.’
‘Why should I disturb you? I can drive,’ Luis assured him. ‘I will drive. No choice.
‘No, my brother. There is an alternative. I’m telling you. You shall spend the rest of the night at my place. It’s over there. Come on.’
They turned into an avenue full of trees between two lines of semi-detached houses. Happy Lasek turned astronomer, pointing to the stars, the cigar between his fingers. He named the constellations one by one: that is, those he recognised. ‘For there is no one that knows them all,’ he said. ‘And as you know,’ he added after a long pull at his cigar, ‘those we recognise… are there, in the northern hemisphere shown… eh! standing up. That’s to say in… our Europe are dis… displayed… and here upside down.
‘Different from how you see them in Europe, yes.’
‘And then, the Southern Cross, a new one… worth a thousand… I tell you, a thousand of ours. The marineers of former times…’
‘Yes, I know, la Cruz del Sur.’
At the bottom of the ravine, the houses became bigger and more luxurious, surrounded all of them by individual gardens. Lasek stopped before one of them, big and nice. He looked fixedly at the Spaniard and there was no trace now of the afternoon’s drinking in his voice. He had become thoughtful.
‘Luis, you know,’ he said passing his arm around the Spaniard’s shoulder, ‘I worked hard for this. I knew what I wanted, you see, I first worked as a taxi driver. At night. Hardly a man yet and in employment. Studying during the day. What do you say. My poor father was a lawyer in Prague. I wanted you to see this. You’ve seen my premises. My friend, you must do the same. And you’ll be a lawyer.’
Mrs. Scziadovo came out of bed to pay her respects to her husband’s friend. She was an elegant lady, tall and athletic, who looked however quite haggard and tired. She led Galvao to the room where he was to pass the night, on the second floor. A big room, opening on to a flower garden down below the window. In the morning the Spaniard had breakfast with the whole family. Three boys and a little girl of five who had recently had whooping cough, and was the reason why Giselle Scziadovo could not go to the Russian wedding.
Luis Galvao once again was on the move, this time towards the street where he had left his Hillman the previous day. He could already see, over the roofs of a set of red-brick houses, an immense blue expanse, and feel that intense maritime freshness on his face. Of a sudden, due to a combination of remembrances, his thoughts went back to the old country, the time when he was a little boy… that day long ago when he saw the sea for the first time. His father had taken the family for their summer holiday to a great port in the North. ‘My blue Santander,’ he thought, ‘was more beautiful.’ False, fantasy; it was not true, it could not be.
‘This one… the blue that I witness, is more intense,’ he changed his mind. ‘The two blues, Heaven and Ocean, and the long line of the Horizon.’
After having quite discreetly changed his wearing apparel and left his suit and footwear locked in the boot, he walked down to Bondi Beach. The promenade was already full of people when he arrived and full of colour, too. Long flower-beds, and the rich black of the soil, with many pansies of all colours, shasta-daisies, gladioli, daffodils and jonquils.
When he went down onto the sands, he saw some people standing against the stone parapet, mostly young men, some talking and playing, others silent and static with their arms crossed over their chests. They all had one thing in common: their noses were smeared with zinc cream. Some of them, in their small swimmers, also wore the small round caps of lifesavers, others wore tennis or baseball caps. They belonged to one or other set of sportive young men, all handsome and always laughing or smiling.
The sun was, even at that early hour, almost torrid. He moved slowly among the people lying on the sand, on large colourful towels: the shapely dolls ever so attractive (though he could not see their faces always hidden under large straw hats.)
Young women were also seen standing up and moving down the sands, showing their splendorous legs and arms, that perfect suntan, and the pretty little tummy with the navel in the centre. Farther on, the sand was full of families with children, protected from the heat by large striped beach-umbrellas and by a most delicious breeze coming from the ocean..
At midmorning there came from the high seas two long boats either completely new or quite recently varnished, with about half a dozen rowers each. Galvao had seen them rowing in, past the first rollers, and stopping before reaching the breakers. A multitude of men, women and children rushed to the water’s edge to watch the young men standing up, their oars pointing to the earth, the two boats rocking most alarmingly.
“They’ve been chasing the sharks away!” someone among the public shouted in admiration.
The sun was now at its fiercest, and Luis Galvao did not have an umbrella or any other sort of protection, not even a sunhat or sunglasses. He just wrapped his head in his towel and lay down on the wet sand, thinking melancholy thoughts. He had first been desiring the girls, all the girls, one by one, as he saw them.
… through a chink in the rolled-up towel I can see the seagulls flying overhead. Then, my eyes closed and still hearing the screeches of the marine birds, I perceive the image of an immense blue expanse… beautiful birds, soaring, soaring high!
… a perfectly nordic type so loving; she loves me, I love her and there is now a possibility of a divorce being granted. To be united in matrimony at last, like Irina and Vitas, (why not?), to be able to constitute a family, with children, like Lasek and Giselle.
“I might get one day Australian nationality,” Luis said to himself. “Even so,” he thought. Once unhappy…” It was his destiny to be always unhappy. For if he became Australian he would stay forever in the new country. “I will not be able to return to her. I promised, we were going to get married. My love, my English girl so beautiful. Thirty thousand miles away.”
… however successful a migrant may be, the lonely heart always looks back to wanted home. Home, homesickness! I must be getting old, if only I were allowed to have a real partner, my own wife, sharing my life with a woman made for me, and I for her!
… something has been torn asunder deep inside, for I love my Malgorata and all the same feel unhappy. She even substituted her image for the one… my previous only love, oh Margaret!
… today is Sunday and I cannot spend the day with her in Harris Street. Five nights running I have been having the same dream: a lost creature in a most beautiful land… alone and isolated like an infection.
… and unattainable, a girl of extraordinary beauty, vague and shadowy like a seagull, one of these flying overhead, swaying this way and that, and after a while becoming a black speck in the blue and disappearing.
… oh sweet birdy girl, my angel, soaring high a moment! and you’re gone, oh my love! Come to me silky form and teach me how to fly. Flying upwards, whirling, diving and sinking to the ground; and ever vanishing in the sky.
… homesickness, absence and loneliness, no-love, all one. Will Irina feel lonely or ever think of Russia like her grannie? No. She was born in Australia. What about Vitas born of Latvian parents, escapees from communism like the others.
… I can do nothing but plead, stretching out both arms imploringly: Don’t run away, love me, pretty girl. She does not reply. Gone, nothing left, the piercing sound of a whistle.
On the sand, under the fierce sun, by the shore, there is a human barrier. “Shark alarm!” someone says. Some life-savers are stopping the bathers from going in the water; other life-savers run along the shoreline, preparing some (for Luis) undefined object or weapon; in one of the newly-varnished boats on the sea, beyond the breakers, rocking madly, the rowers inside, some standing or sitting down act in great agitation, balancing their bodies and muttering something unintelligible.
A man, up on a steel tower, is watching, a pair of binoculars to his eyes. The now menacing blue-emerald mass of water, always so magnificent, some times unfriendly, keeps many young men busy. Luis Galvao watches them, the mass water in perpetual movement right up to the horizon.
Later on, when the alert is over, and human society comes back to current real life, Luis Galvao scrambles to his feet and saunters down the beach. All has returned to a most normal state of activity. The beach is for humans, the sharks had been hunted down or pushed back to nature far away. The first rippling waves reaching up to his knees, he stops like a stone statue: the water is still too bloody cold! He remains undecided for a while, looking at the oncoming waves, hugging his shoulders with both hands. Just then a gorgeous sun-tanned princess passes by, brushing his shoulder with hers. He follows the apparition with his eyes and sees her diving under a large frothing wave and presently coming up to the surface, curving like a dolphin and into the bright emerald mass again, the pretty rounded buttocks in the air, her sword-like legs sticking up, then only the feet pointing upwards, and finally entirely out of sight. For a while.
Decidedly he too enters the water and swims out to join the dolphin-like creature. He would like to talk to her, to approach that pretty head in the green rubber cap, the pointed nose, those unseeing dark eyes. What colour may her hair be? They both paddle together, five feet apart, in a blue valley between two white-topped rollers. He smiles at her.
‘’Isn’t it wonderful?’’ he mutters.
She turns her pretty head to one side, then to the other, apparently searching for someone to whom the stranger might have been talking. She can’t conceive that a man, a New Australian at that, should have addressed some words to her out of the blue, and in the middle of the ocean, Good God!
In despair Galvao swims towards the open sea, a really suicidal act. He rides a mountain of curling clear water and then slides down upon a shiny blue valley, pushed backward and forward by the tide, like a rag doll. At times he paddles like a puppy for a rest: he sees the Sydneysiders on the beach; other times, a swift change, without his having intervened at all. Matter in movement. He sees the cold distant horizon, the beach having gone out of sight, and finds himself in a low ravine between two huge translucent waves. Then the dark-blue mass goes up, high, very high… and he is pushed up by a more than wild frothing roller, rushing to join the breakers. Up to the snow-white growing top he swims. Ah! He sees once more the sands, people. He is trying to swim back for a long moment and this is his reward: a yard nearer the coast, no more. And there is that fear in his heart. Seconds go by, or minutes, and his anxiety now knows no limit. Still, he must do something with himself, control his agitation. Struggling, still tossed by the mighty sea, praying to God and burning the last remnants of energy left in him, his right arm surges up in the air, a stroke; then the other arm, painfully, slowly… when he sees suddenly over the crest of a frothing wave two big men coming towards him, actually out for him. One of them is tied to the shore by an infinitely long rope. Luis tries to appear calm as they approach; but the lifesavers, paying no heed to his shouts of protest, handle him almost brutally, while other young men on the shore are pulling energetically at the long nylon rope.
Swallowed by the white foaming mass, the mighty breaker which flies up at the water’s edge, a mountain of blue, green and white, Luis first goes up in the air, feet pointing upwards and then falls down with the tumultous mass, legs and arms like the wings of a windmill… and in the water he goes, seeing the earth, the sea, and nothingness. The roller breaks upon the sand (after a last terrific somersault) with a terrific thud.
Sitting down and at a loss, upon the wet bubbling sand of the shore, among a crowd of little kiddies who are playing with spades, buckets and other toys, he breathes. “And the lifesavers, where have they gone?”
Precisely, the two brave handsome young men are standing nearby, looking at him, surprised and in despair at his ignorance and daring.
He trudges up the beach among the multitude of sunbakers, up to the spot where he had left his belongings. He opens his haversack, puts on at once his spectacles, the better to see such an abundant array of bikinis and appetising female flesh. Lonely and homesick though he feels, he has the conscience of being alive and that is enough. Watching around gives him satisfaction: never before had he beheld such a bounty of gorgeous young women lying on multicoloured towels, like so many prizes to be won and as a matter of fact so lonesome every one of them as the molluscs on the rocks. As he is.
Eventually, with the help of his towel, standing against the parapet, he gets rid of his swimmers and slips his shorts on, then climbs up the stone steps onto the sunlit promenade, full of colour and practically deserted. After a drink in a pub with no other customer to give him company, Luis lies down on a patch of buffalo grass under a large gumtree, his head on his haversack, and sets as usual to thinking and worrying. A cool light breeze that comes from the sea gives him some respite for a while. He places his spectacles on the lawn, covers his brow with his tennis cap and falls into a state of stupor, perhaps the beginning of a happy dream.
Presently his dream is interrupted by a strident noise coming from behind the tree trunk near which he is lying. There is a man lying on the buffalo lawn, scarcely two yards away from him. A transistor radio lies on the grass, not far from the man’s sleepy head. ‘’Beg… gone… ya… c’m on, c’m on!’’ He now remembers, does Galvao: the horses at Randwick Racecourse. It is often the same on weekends. ‘’Begonia… followed by Ensign… Wikes now… Wee Dame… and now Grand Champ...ion… followed by Begonia… still Grand Champion… now, Begonia again… still Begonnn… ooh! Grand Champion nowwww… Graaand Chaaampion… Graaaand Chaaaampion… but Wee Dame coming close… coming cloooose… cooomming clooooose…! Wee Dame… Wee Daaame… going on, goooing ooon, gooooing oooon… Begonia again. Going on, goooing ooon, gooooing oooon!… one shoulder ahead now, on, ooon…. And Beg… Beg… Begggonia… Beeegggonnn… ah! Beeeggggooooonnnia! A brilliant winner !!!’’
Luis Galvao stands up in disgust, spits on the grass and moves away. He crosses the narrow roadway, staggers along a line of two-storey houses. Shops, restaurants and public bars, some are actually open, but not many people in them. He has a drink of ice-cold beer again in a pub, goes out and at once turns left to ascend the main commercial road of the district, always seeking the shade whenever possible, until he reaches the intersection where he had parked the Hillman, twenty hours earlier. He had left the car there on previous occasions, because the battery and starter-motor being old and unreliable, he saves himself the trouble of having to use the crank when re-starting the engine, by leaving the vehicle on a hill. Easier this way. Sitting at the wheel he merely has to release the brake, letting the car go downhill by itself, set it in second gear; as he is reaching the bottom, he switches the ignition on and releases the clutch pedal… the engine grunts and soon he is confidently driving along the waterfront, near the line of shops. To his right, vegetation, a green lawn, some trees. Fantastically colourful, plenty of sunlight. The garden he left twenty-five minutes earlier, where he tried unsuccessfully to have a rest, is there. Then he slows down. A round turn. He has the time to see the man sitting against the trunk of the large gumtree, listening to his transistor radio. “The races at Randwick. Stupid fellow,’ Luis mutters, already heading back towards Bondi Beach Road, and up the main commercial section, the way he drove down a moment before with his engine grunting. And on to the intersection and Bondi Junction.
He hits the dual-carriage road to town, leading first to the large euchalypt forest called Centennial Park. The air is cool and full of freshness among so many lofty trees and other vegetation. On the side, narrow reddish paths and people promenading, and bigger ways for bicycles. Entering the city, still on the highway, the temperature rose again as he hits a series of strangely quiet thoroughfares. Thicker traffic, however, cars and mainly double-decker buses in the commercial districts. They always look strange on Sunday: CLOSED, CLOSED, and for Luis Galvao a most bizarre sense of loneliness.
BUY A JAGUAR, CORIO WHISKY, FLY ANSETT-ANNA TO SURFER’S PARADISE, WATER-SKI AT NARRABEEN LAGOON, HOLDEN THE AUSTRALIAN CAR, FORD THUNDERBIRD, ESSO, PUT A TIGER IN YOUR TANK…
The cars came pouring out of town through side-streets and thoroughfares. Parramatta Road, called also the highway to the west, and our little yellow Hillman was in the number. We turned eventually south towards Botany Bay.
… Marrickville. I put a tiger in my car at a service station owned by an American who fought in the South Pacific during the World War, and stayed in Australia for good. We continued our journey and stay for the night at Cronulla.
… another day we travelled north to Narrabeen lagoon. “If he comes back and finds I am not in Ultimo,” she said, suddenly, quite afraid. My reply comforted both us: “He’ll sure have already been caught up by those now tracking him.”
… at the moment we were plodding on a big desert of fine sand, only the two of us, feeling happy as long as we forgot about the Cormmorant: we called the bear now by that name, the only bird capable of sailing away, over a stormy sea.
… Krappov was being hunted down, by some important Tel Aviv lawyers, for crimes against humanity, and he had not appeared in Harris Street for three weeks. His present employers were hunting him somewhere in the outback.
… it was Manuel who told Luis, the bear’s real name was not Leonidas Krappov, but Ladislaw Crashchov. That was what of sudden was revealed to me, and Malgorata was aware of the fact. Why had she kept it a secret?
… she smiled sweetly on me, and I took her in my arms and kissed her pretty mouth. We had been walking on the firm wet sand by the water’s edge; but now, our thongs in our hands, we decided to climb up a dune of golden sand,
… I was in a state of perfect bliss. From where we were, we saw the blue ocean, on our right; and on the left the forest, and beyond the trees (through the thinnest trunks) we already saw the lagoon.
… “Never, oh never shall we separate again!” I said, when we sat down again (having first collected our belongings) and lay down on the warm sand under one of the leafy trees. She looked delicious in her bikini.
… down below, on a beach of still finer sand, the arm of water linking the lagoon with the ocean entrance, officially called The Head, the opening through which Mighty Ocean came in and went out every twenty hours.
… my reflexions were interrupted by a sudden strident sound, like an explosion. A speed-boat passed rapidly by, coming from the middle of the blue lagoon towards the Head. The turbulent ocean?
… it was manned by an old mariner with a white-and-blue cap on. Two other people were on skis behind, holding on to long ropes. Their bodies were tense, their absortion in what they were doing complete
… the screaming of an engine was heard again, and again the boat was there, flying towards the lagoon. The skiers, a man and a woman leaned back holding the ropes, their forms tense and unattractive, bending their legs.
… precious-looking girl in a black bikini, shrouded in flying foam and salt. Maybe with her boyfriend, or just two pupils of the nautical centre, concentrated on the sport. Just like robots.
Twice unhappy, Luis Galvao pressed the accelerator as he entered Oxford Street. No longer dreaming, he imagined Malgorata going away (no way of getting rid of the blasted husband), and there was also the fact of those inaccessible pretty girls around. None for him. So, it must be his fault, a useless solitary man. A cry-baby to boot.
He crossed the main thoroughfare, George Street, hit Broadway on the left, saw the great building of “GRACE BROS department store” turned to the right… and he passed quietly into Harris Street.
As he is silently proceeding up to his bedroom, he stumbles against a sloppy fat fellow who is trudging down the narrow flight of stairs, Nino, the Sicilian. He is coming out of Manuel’s bedroom, whose door he has left wide open. Galvao can see his Spanish pal sitting stark naked on his bed, his head miserably bowed down, twiddling and twisting his ten fingers in an awkward fashion.
Heribert, in the room they share, is sprawling on his bed, either asleep or more probably drunk, for there are two beer bottles of the largest size lying empty on the uncarpeted floor. At once Galvao sheds off his shirt, kicks the thongs off his feet, and throws himself down on his own bed, face downwards, to let his sore back benefit from the cool breeze that comes in through the open window.
‘Alone in the whole bloody world!’ he wails, thinking of the girls he has seen on the sands, and then: ‘ Weep, weep Baby! It is lack of comppany, love! not hate!’
‘If I had never met Manuel Suárez, never heard the word Ultimo, Harris Street, this ay! this damned boarding house,’ he moans. ‘Oh, my love!’
Through the window now comes the noise of a transistor radio: it must be short wave, for the sound is so poor at times that it can hardly be heard, then rising to such a pitch that Galvao has to renounce for the time being the restful sleep he had expected to enjoy.
‘It’s Krappov,’ Heribert growls, waking up, ‘listening to The Voice of America, the fucking bastard!’
‘What you don’t know is the fucking bastard finds himself now, at this point in time, in a fine pickle, and has become a real savage.’
Luis Galvao did know, but said nothing. Heribert Wormser starts this coming week on night shift, and he hopes the German will disappear and doesn’t try to open old sores for him, as he often does.
As the afternoon advances, more noises are heard coming from the neighbouring gardens and backyards: the sound of engines starting up (power mowers) as well as human voices: the neighbours calling one another, ‘Good ev’ning, Mr. Lee!’ ‘How d’ye do, Miss McCann?’ ‘Very well, Fabian, an’ you?’ ‘Come down an’ join us, Paddy old bastard !’
He sits up and gets on his knees, laying his forearm on the window-sill, watching. The sun was declining in the west and there was now a cool breeze and nice shade where he is.
Down below Malgorata is hanging the washing on the clothes-hoist; but though he looks intently at her and at times whistles a note or two, which should attract her attention, she does not even once turn her gaze to the window or deign to throw him a glance out of the corner of her eye when she turns to go in, a wicker basket under her arm. He sees her pretty blond head, just passing under the window, then disappearing in the porch leading to the kitchen. He falls back on his bed, his head on the pillow, under his ten intertwined fingers. His room-companion is dressing to go out.
‘Out to the docks ?’ Luis asked, hoping to change the trend of his inner thoughts.
‘And you won’t see me for sixteen hours. Is that what you mean?’ he asks sharply, and goes on: ‘A Japanese cargo ship with plenty of goods. Yes.’
Galvao turned his gaze back to the yard.
The German went on with his own preparations, then came close to Luis, and commented: ‘Pretty woman’s making you suffer, yes? What did I tell you, eh?’ he sniggered.
‘Don’t laugh at me!’ Luis warned.
‘I’m doing it for your own good,’ Heribert said, harshly ‘always have, yes.’
‘All right. I know I’d have saved myself some trouble had I followed your advice. But now you stop it, hell. What can I do, anyhow? I feel lonely, don’t you feel lonely too?’
‘I know what I do, and I’ve found something, yes! A proper German woman. Kith and kin. That’s what you’ve to do.’
‘All right, I understand,’ said Luis, for some reason becoming furious.
‘Now, now! don’t bloody get too touchy. Right, you want this one pretty wavy-haired blondy. Look sharp, that is all, yes?’
‘Yes, yes, yes!’ Luis shouted. ‘But now you shut up and tell me. This one is the one for me. What did you mean, before? Are the Jews after him?’
‘You ask? It doesn’t concern me. You should know. And if you want my advice, keep off the bloody woman, that’s all.’
‘Now we know. You’re jealous, that’s why.’
‘Not at all, sir. I’ve told you, I’m doing it for your own good.’
‘Well, many thanks.’ Luis said, cutting short all further discussion.
Approaching the Spaniard once again, Heribert hissed: ‘Stop that bloody business - unless you’re a suicidal maniac. I say it also on my account, by the way: I generally like to lead a tranquil existence, and would hate to be involved with the Law and all that Coroner’s business, for he is going to tear you to pieces.’
‘Nonsense, be off with you.’
‘Luis, you’ve just said I could’ve saved you from trouble if you had only listened to me, yes? Then, follow my advice now and you’ll escape from greater harm.’
‘Murder,” said Heribert, lowering his voice. ‘At present he’s exceedingly nervous. Get out of his way. He’s being hunted as a confirmed murderer. He won’t mind one murder more, yes.’
‘I know. What else?’ said Luis, sniggering.
‘Don’t be so facetious.’
‘Yes, and if you’ve got to have her, don’t do it in the bear’s den, at the very least. Yes?’
Galvao did not reply, and the other went on: ‘And remember, the walls have ears. You follow me?’
‘Not quite. What do you mean?’
‘Sheisse! Your pal out there. Haven’t you noticed they love one another, those two men? Hasn’t your compatriot told you that he lived in the outback… had an affair with that bear? He’s a sissy, for all he leads a pack of blackguards he calls the bushrangers?’
‘You’re bloody enigmatic. He has told me, as it happens.’
Heribert laughed and Luis scowled, pushing him away.
‘Ha! Keep him at arm’s length,’ Heribert said in a terrible whisper. Then he straightened his back with a little shake, walked to the window, came back and added: ‘Hasn’t it occurred to you that he may be double-crossing you?’
Galvao said nothing, and as the other was approaching the door on his way out, he commented, not without a tinge of malice in his voice: ‘Heribert, you are a queer fish, you are. Calling that bear and his chums blackguards now’. He stopped short, glancing at the map of the Third Reich. ‘And you a German! Now, as I recall and have read in my books, those blackguards fought on the side of Germany during the war, didn’t they?’
‘Like Judas they did,’ the German growled, already holding the door handle. ‘A race of degenerates, them too, Slavs. No better than Jews, believe me, or them yellow monkeys and niggers, gypsies, pimps, homosexuals, the lot!’ And he was gone.
Luis Galvao put on his shirt and went downstairs to make himself some supper. He found Krappov sitting at table already half drunk. Malgorata was bustling about the kitchen, always ready to obey her husband and fulfill his every whim at once.
Galvao uttered a polite “Good evening,” as he entered the room, which received no reply. He had come with a special intention, and to the fridge he walked. Returning to the table, he observed the young woman looked very pale, and when they at last exchanged a glance she seemed not to recognise him. Like an alienated person, a timid pussy cat, an irrational object.
“Why does she not raise her gaze, have I turned all of a sudden into an enemy? Perhaps the old illness has cropped up… the despair at having lost… the violin… an escapee, an experience that led her to Callan Park Mental Hospital.”
Luis did a second trip, this time to the cupboard, and she also rose from her seat. Unable to react he stopped short, as she walked back to the table. He noticed she trembled in every limb each time the bear uttered the smallest grunt; and felt so stupid somehow that he thought of leaving the room at once, forgetting about supper, and climb back to his room and go to sleep. But he stayed put and, after a moment, went on, got his things from the communal cupboard and fridge, lay them on the table and sat in front of the couple. The man grunted, the woman avoided looking Galvao’s way, who still tried to exchange some civilities, a word or two, with the suffering girl specially. Nothing made her raise her eyes to him.
Luis had not seen Malgorata so near for days, for Krappov had made an unexpected appearance in Sydney, then in Harris Street. He noticed now that she was a different woman. Dual personality. All her beauty was gone. For the first time he learnt something few men knew. It was not lust… or compassion. He needed her because he loved her. Not only her body. Her mind, her spirit, her soul.
‘Why can she not smile again?’ he asked himself. ‘Where is her pretty rosy face. Beauty, where has it gone? How can a change come so radically.’
Those eyes which he had come to like had suddely become again so disparate. She had evidently been crying. The bastard had been beating her, perhaps in the morning after mass, for he had not heard them disputing, or cries, after coming from the beach in the afternoon. Luis Galvao knew that it was a habit among the bastard Cossacks to thoroughly thrash the wife on Sunday for example’s sake.
No good came out of anything he did. What was the use, he thought and concluded that the sooner he left the better; but something happened to the man of a sudden which sent him trembling, the bastard!
Something had transformed him into a beast of another sort. He cried in Ukrainian, a language Galvao did not know. He looked at the landlord’s eyes. The bear turned into a lion. No! No! No! You won’t! I won’t be caught!!
Confused, disorderly howling, and the strange thing was that he began then swearing in Spanish. Luis Galvao remembered that Manuel Suárez had told him how the Red Army had once been near catching him and making him pay for his crimes. It was the American High Command in Orleans that had shoved him into Spain, whence he sailed for Sydney
But what was he supposed to do? Just a week or so ago they were in Narrabeen. They had talked, half joking, half seriously, about eloping to Western Australia, across the Nullarbor plain and had laughed heartily thinking that the Hillman would have collapsed in the desert.
The man scowled and leered at his lodger as the latter went on eating his supper: a fried egg, bacon rashers, a mug of tea, some bread. Facing him and his quite prostrated wife, who had lapsed into a surly silence painful to behold, so distraught and helpless, and… he being unable to offer her the slightest help, was more than he could bear. And how could she look, the lovely creature, there was no feeling in her heart but fear.
There was a sudden clap of thunder in the distance. Krappov grunted once again. He had all this time been drinking from the bottle. The storm was rumbling in the distance. At length, realising he was making a fool of himself, he stood up and went to the sink. When placing his things back in the fridge and plates and cutlery in the cupboard, he again came beside Malgorata, and their hands actually touched. She at once withdrew hers as if she had received an electric shock, and their eyes crossed. ‘A pretty jewel in distress!’ he thought. Her eyes filled with tears. She passed on to the sink. He moving on.
Krappov took the last swig out of the bottle and gave it to his wife, who had just sat down again. And Luis was gone.
On his way back to his room he went into the toilet. He felt very sick. In his room, two minutes later, he began to pace about, from the bed to the door and back again. Then he sat for a moment on the single chair that there was in the place. Thunder was rumbling in the distance, making him shake with fear and nervousness, his knees banging against one another. He stepped up to his bed, got on his knees, pressing his thighs and waist against the wall and window-frame, watching. The sky now was dark blue, Some black clouds were floating about upon the dark-blue expanse. Pushing his thighs forcibly against the wall, his elbows on the windowsill, he half-closed his eyes.
When he opened them again, it was drizzling. In a minute it was raining in real earnest. Suddenly a woman´s voice was heard, a man darted out of the kitchen, and into the rain. The yard was becoming flooded.
It was the landlord, in his leather jerkin and helmet, dashing to the clothes-hoist to grab an overall or something, which at once the gale blew up like a parachute; but the fellow was a strong bear. He managed to hold on to the garment, rushed back to the building, under the kitchen porch, folding the parachute, and disappeared.
Thunder was rolling nearby and in the brightness of the recurrent lightning, he saw the flooded yard, as he had not seen it before: the body of a motorcar which had been there for months or years: a rusty ‘55 Austin Somerset’ with its tyres submerged in muddy water.There was an outside brick toilet with a tiny galvanised-iron roof, a high brick wall which marked the end of the property. A big iron gate. There was also a small wooden door. Its bolt must have given way, torn by the strength of the gale, and the rotten planks kept flapping backwards and forwards, producing a frightening ghostly sound. Every time the door opened, there was a square of yellow light, in the dark brick wall, coming from a lamppost in the back lane.
Feverish and trembling he let his tired head fall upon his arm on the windowsill, the rain battering on his head and shoulders. But he did not react: it was as if he had lost conciousness altogether and was not touched by the elements.
… a migrant and an intellectual. Melted into nothingness; his interest in politics faded, his mind a complete blank. What he hoped to attain had become a chimera. In a factory all day, looking for her; otherwise his mind was a blank.
… a robot of a man without a will, he had become. Mingling realities with fiction. Strange visions which he could not control or interpret. He sees human figures. Margaret? Malgorata? Strange voices. Human calls… or inhuman sounds.
... two women, walking separately. Then together. Becoming one, who vanished before his very eyes, in the middle of a crowd of robots. And all becomes then blurred, incomprehemsible, little by little.
Lifting his head of a sudden Luis Galvao see again the outside toilet with its iron roof, two pellargoniums, red flowers-white flowers. The Austin motorcar and the brick wall beyond.
The rotten wooden door is flapping and banging all the time. Until he realises the noise has little to do with it, a woman is crying somewhere, police agents accompanied by men with briefcases wearing gabardine coats and black hats. The sounds and cries do not come from the cottage: Bang… bang! Bang parangan, bang baragum, banbaranbangbanbang!
Every time the banging is heard, the representation of a square of yellow light comes to his mind, cut against a black wall. A figure appears in the middle of the square. Not irregularly, but intermittently. It is the silhouette of a man or phantom, screeching: ‘’Ahoy! Those in the house! Gimme shelter! I’m drowning, drowning! Ahooooy!’’ An escapee! Holding on to a parachute. A man in military fatigues. Somebody’s landed in the lane beyond the black wall. A man? a squadron of paramilitaries? Someone’s trying to enter the yard, stay on the ground holding on to a floating parachute. Luis hears the sound of an engine. A helmet is hanging from the man’s leather belt, and a big kalashnikov gun.
When the figure disappears the sound of an engine is still heard, coming near. The vision of a black motorcycle, a bear riding it. ‘’¡Hijo de puta!’’ “Galvao, Bastard! bastard, bastard!”
In the end Luis Galvao, realising only now that he is getting thoroughly wet from the rain, pulls the sash-window down with a slight bang, gets rid of his damp clothes and falls down backwards, stark naked on the bed, his nose and feverish face under his interlocked folded arms.
For sometime still the sound of an engine is hurting him, not physically. It is the psyche, deep inside him, a sound that starting up somewhere in the back yard goes on interminably inside him, becomes unbearable. Luis howls, wants to jump out of the window.
Awaking with a start, Luis Galvao heard the sound of music so near as to think she was playing the violin near him. Oh, my Malgorata.
… Edvard Grieg, the Peer Gynt Suite. Solveig, “perfume de femme” and fine sunlight flooding the bedroom.
… I was thinking of the Norwegian adventurer, a vagabond in search of adventure, commodity and specially money… and I, a selfish man, forgetting in the meantime my own betrothed.
… finally returning to the old country, old himself Peer Gynt, a rag, very ill, unrepented. His was a finished life.
… she was sitting on a stool outside her cabin, by the sea, but couldn’t see him arrive. Nothing! Instinct, rather than sight ‘Are you here? come to me! approach, ever my only love.
… she has been awaiting his return (“my beloved!”) all these years, let me now touch your face, your eyes, “can you see?”
… on his knees he approaches, almost without life, crawling… and rests his head on her lap. ‘Sleep now, dearest love,’ her fingers caressing the haggard face.
… It was love, that summernight, August 1953. The moonlight bathing the Yorkshire landscape. But in the spring of 1956 in Madrid we were taken asunder. Bliss had turned into despair.
Somebody was knocking at the door of his bedroom. Luis Galvao stood up and went to see. It was Malgorata. She came in, closing the door behind her. That short wavy blond hair. The charm he saw in those dear eyes!
‘The Cormorant is no more,’ she said, crying with happiness. He had been blown away into the desert. More she did not know. A turbulent dust storm would swallow him. Easy to fall over and into a world of fantasy. Let us forget, oh Luis, my beloved. “Love me, love me! Us together, happiness has come to us, for ever.” She had fallen into his arms, hiding her weeping eyes from him.
‘Eternal love for us, the cormorant is hiding in the eye of the cyclone, will never come back’ he murmured, satisfied. For he knew there was love. She had been so alienated the previous day to save him. The Cormorant would have strangled him; and now Luis knows she loves him, she had suffered too, because the slightest manifestation of love and recognition would have doomed her, and him.
‘We must not lose hope,’ she exclaimed, touching his thougtful brow. Yes, of course, they were made for one another. It was love, not lust or mere desire. That deep dear feeling which alone converts a couple of lovers into... One.
Touching her pretty face he smiles; she was rolling her eyes, pointing her forefinger at his specs, which she first pushed up upon the brigde of his nose, and then took them in her hand and deposited them on the bedside table, smiling again, that playful smile of hers.
‘Oh, my beautiful angel!’
Sitting on the bed, they still remained together, interchanging caresses in silence. Voices were heard coming in through the window from the neighbouring properties. Names were shouted across palissades, familiar calls, the sound of a power-mower bringing with it the smell of cut grass.
The sun, the warm air, the aroma of some roses, and the voices, the song of the birds, the smell of cooking from the kitchen of a Hungarian woman married to an Australian who lived next door. Still together they approached the window. The varied colour of an Australian landscape during the hot months, that instantaneous attraction consisting of the feeling of a beloved girl getting closer.
He had even forgotten that today was Monday and he had suddenly to interrupt all other considerations to rush away to the factory. He should have gone to the factory long ago.
And yet they knew: that permanent danger, that Sword of Damocles, was still hanging over their heads: the fear that one day the Cormorant would be back, corroding their lives, their state of bliss gone as when two children see their icecream dissolving into liquid in the sand on a beach. The Cormorant is the only marine bird capable of flying into the very eye of the storm, a terrible gale… and come back. He saw her somehow flying away over the storming seas and… Poor Luis Galvao, forever lonely.
‘Malgorata, my angel, more than ever I need you.’
They were spending the night in a hotel at Cronulla, a coastal resort fifteen miles south of town. The month of November meant for them a celebration. Where would they be spending his yearly vacation?
Not only Galvao was in employment; she too. Margorata had been taking so seriously her violin, that all her qualities had come back, and she was teaching the violin to the children of a Polish couple in the terrace, Silwia and Tomec.
… the first day they drove south and into an extensive reserve of primeval jungle, thousands and thousands of gigantic euchalyptus trees, with some primeval oaks, red cypress, ferns and other natural vegetation.
… they parked the Hillman at the end of a long dirt road which had led them on to an large platform of grey rocks and a lawn of dark-green hue. A long rocky cliff, with a beautiful view of the ocean and a very long yellow beach down below.
… the sun was high in the sky, but it was cold because of tremendous gale winds which were approaching. Each was carrying a small haversack and wore among other things heavy boots and thick woolly pullovers.
… after a while of walking and admiring the beauty of the scenery and the strange panorama of weedcovered rocks with soft yellow sand down below, Malgorata insisted that they ought to look for a way to go down to the deserted beach. They found a footpath, dangerous and steep; once more she insisted.
Avoiding a few thorny brambles, and holding tight on to fern-trees and bushes (and sitting down on small rocky platforms when they found one) they reached the bottom of a the cliff, zigzagging, right, and left. The descent became dangerously steep and slippery towards the end. But they had to go on.
Malgorata took a tremendous leap forward, landing upon a sand dune. She stood up, got rid of her haversack, pullover, skirt and boots, and ran to meet the enemy at the water’s edge.
Like an enormous wild bull flying up, curling his dreadful head down with monstruous precipitation, thus saw Luis Galvao the mountain of water coming down to crush his beloved.
‘Stop! Come back here,” he screamed, above the noise of the sea, running to catch her.”You’re going to be crushed.”
… there in a moment, in my imagination, I saw her precious body crushed to death. Never in my life had I seen a wilder more destructive thing, Pacific Ocean, oh, such might! The rollers were continually arriving, pushed onwards and onwards by the mighty wind.
“Malgorata!” Luis pleaded, already holding her.
Both had received, nonetheless, a powerful shower, like millions of floating drops and liquid salt, all around. Her short hair was drenched as well as her bikini. But he had suffered the worse lot, for (but for his boots) he was still fully dressed. They clambered up the sands, still hearing how the ocean kept on beating the earth, the firm sandy ground, intermittently, with a most terrible thud. Both trembling with cold, Luis helped Malgorata to pull her pullover on. He offered her his swimmers, which she took in substitution of her bikini, and they began to gather twigs, broken branches and even tree-trunks brought there by the storms.
The weather changed. They sought by the cliff among the weed-covered rocks a cave or grotto, and made a fire. They lay their clothes to dry by the fire, and stepped to the entrance of the cave to watch the rapidly approaching storm. It was nearly 2 p.m. when it began to rain. Sitting on the sandy ground inside, they had their lunch and drinks..
For a while, on the sand he folded her in his arms, gazing at her eyes which he now found so attractive. It was not colour, mascara, brightness or size. It was an expression of great love. He recalled to his mind the dear woman playing the violin for him, these last few days.
‘Oh Luis, thank you for what you’ve done for me. I love, I adore you!”
He responded with a long kiss.
‘Let’s find a way of escaping permanently from his grip.’
She set him thinking, and she insisted: ‘Where nobody knows us.’
They were still in each other’s arms, and he was caressing her cheek with his lips, while holding with his hands her still tousled blond head.
‘Please!’ she repeated. ‘We shall continue all the time together, Luis. Man and woman. Do you still fear? We are in love. Love is above all other feeling. Even fear. Ours is able to move mountains.’ She cuddled against her beloved, who pressed his own shivering body against hers. ‘Luis, my only love!’
Her eyes were fixed on him, like a pussy-cat’s, pleadingly. She was tender, reassuring, loving. ‘We can drive to Perth, Luis. They say that Western Australia is another world.’
Luis did not reply at once. That was the trouble with him: he thought too much. ‘Across the desert, do you know what you’re saying, the Nullarbor Plain?’
‘Others have done it,’ she said, touching his hand and passing her other hand under his chin.
‘In our Hillman?’ he asked at last.
‘Then, we can prepare our journey… everything, camping-car, full gear,’ she exclaimed, now on the brink of tears, ‘Luis, we can try, let’s go. Let us be happy together… all the time.’ There was such a flash in her eyes, as she repeated: ‘Can we not?’
‘We shall see,’ he replied in a surprisingly low tone of voice.