He had been eager to go "neighboring." He answered that he went home to work.
The lone piano in the neighborhood alternately tinkled and banged away as the player's moods altered.
He listened, and wondered irrelevantly if Miss Salas could sing; she had such a charming speaking voice.
This particular evening however, he had allowed himself to be persuaded.
"A little mental relaxation now and then is beneficial," the old man had said.
"That phase you were speaking of is natural enough for a beginning.
Besides, that, as I see it, was Alfredo's last race with escaping youth--" Carmen laughed aloud at the thought of her brother's perfect physical repose--almost indolence--disturbed in the role suggested by her father's figurative language. Few certainly would credit Alfredo Salazar with hot blood.
Esperanza had wanted to know if he went straight home after mass.
Alfredo suddenly realized that for several Sundays now he had not waited for Esperanza to come out of the church as he had been wont to do.
The tranquil murmur of conversation issued from the brick-tiled azotea where Don Julian and Carmen were busy puttering away among the rose pots. "Hurry, hurry, or you will miss it," someone had seemed to urge in his ears.
Esperanza must be tired waiting." "She does not seem to be in much of a hurry either," Don Julian nasally commented, while his rose scissors busily snipped away. "What I mean is that at the beginning he was enthusiastic--flowers, serenades, notes, and things like that--" Alfredo remembered that period with a wonder not unmixed with shame. He could not understand those months of a great hunger that was not of the body nor yet of the mind, a craving that had seized on him one quiet night when the moon was abroad and under the dappled shadow of the trees in the plaza, man wooed maid. Was love a combination of circumstances, or sheer native capacity of soul?