by sídio Ambrogi
On the highest peak , right by
in the empty landscape, in silent peace,
planted by worshipping hands
an iron cross , in majestic grace.
And tired from his long
facing the lonesome and mysterious cross,
the wanderer halts his steps,
praying silently to heaven.
And the great iron cross,
black and silent, defying the tides of time,
impervious and serene,
always the same, watching the sea...
And ... wonder! - in April, so
its arms are entwined by vermillion flowers,
like roses weeping their blood...
* * *
Here goes the whole poem by
Cesídio Ambrogi as a title for our story.
We took it as an ethereous introduction that we could never
make by ourselves.
It happened in the town of
Cunha. Not so far away, in the direction of Campos Novos,
lived Juca Mineiro, with his lovely wife, caring only about
the development of his little piece of land. Meanwhile people
were whispering about the beauty and grace of Mariazinha who,
excempt from all the gossip, was firing up ever more the
passion in the heart of that young fellow who brought her home
in a moonlit night from her godmother's home in the
neighbourhood of the town of Alfenas. Mariazinha was the first
to notice the increasing frequency of Basílio de Campos's
passing by her man's little ranch: if not for having a look at
the coffee bushes, then for a cup of water; and many other
stoppings without a reasonable motive. Then she felt the man's
penetrating stare on her skin and unfathomable feelings
suddenly became entrenched in her up to then chast and
Basílio's ill repute was commented not only in Cunha but in
the whole valley of the Paraíba river where many of his
dreadful deeds marked his path.
This opressed the little faithful womans heart even more.
Sometimes, hugging her little child Gregório, affectionately
nicknamed Gorinho, she kissed his rosy cheeks seeing in that
toddler the fruit of her love for Juca. And how many times
Juca surprised her with a forlorn look in her eyes noticing
the embarassment hidden in her answers to his questions.
One day, comimg back from his
fields he searched for Mariazinha throughout the house. He
seeked and spread helpers around the country looking for her.
To no avail. Days later, a trouper coming from Guaratinguetá
told the disconsolate Juca that Mariazinha was seen riding on
Basílios dapple-grey horse.
Poor Juca! The only thing left
over from those tender times when his loving soul quenched its
thirsts in Mariazinha's ungrateful arms, was Gorinho, a dear
and living memory for his embittered heart. With his son in
his arms he cried, and then disguising his pain turned all his
attention and efforts to the innocent and beloved child. Yes,
innocent. For Juca did all he could so that Gorinho never came
to know who was his mother and how she behaved.
In fact, at the age of twelve, about his mother Gorinho only
knew that "she died" not knowing when or how. Since
he never knew her, he didn't miss her, but blamed his father's
profound melancholy to her death.
His father,while on a
pilgrimage at the basilica of Aparecida, involuntarily
stumbled over Basílio's despicable presence who defyingly
bumped into him. He reached for the knife at his belt but
halted his move. At his side stood his beloved son. If he
plunged the knife into Basílio, Gorinho would from thereon be
pointed at as the son of an adulteress as well as the son of a
murderer. No! Gorinho shoud never become aware of all this!
He decided to move to Ubatuba.
He came here and bought a small ranch,sold his place in Cunha
and was traveling here with his son. By the shores, he
thought, living would be more agreeable, without running the
chance to meet Basílio or someone who could tell Gorinho what
he should ignore through all his life.
Arriving at the highest point of the range, he said:
- Gorinho, can you see that big greenish blue down there? Its
the sea. There, by the ocean, we will live. Look back for the
last time to the lands we've known for all these years and
swear that you'll never come back by this road. Do you swear?
- - But why, father?
- Don't ask son! Swear that you'll never cross this range
- I do, father!
Juca Mineiro nudged the horse
and in silence they went down the range. Suddenly, stopping
Gorinho's reverie a man jumped out from dense bushes and in
anger shouted out:
- Juca, you miserable, you shall die!
And without demurring, shot Juca through the chest.
While an agonizing cry left Gorinhos throat, the stranger
disappeared in the bushes. Juca, deadly wounded, fell from the
horse. Gorinho, hugging his father in despair didn't
understand what was happening.
- The dying man said: My son, you'll lose your father... don't
cry... but before I go, let me tell you my... our... story:
With weakening gasps he told his son all the misfortune that
life had held over his head with Mariazinha's ingratitude.
And his last words were:
- My son ... one day... you'll avenge your father... God bless
Gorinho planted there a simple
cross later substituted by the "Big Iron Cross, black and
silent", thus marking forever the place where his
vengeance would be accomplished.
Eleven years went by. Gorinho
, a young tawny man of twenty three, black and curly hair
,strong and tall, but always under a spell of sadness .At any
given moment his behaviour showed a deep melancholy.
One day, on a bright fresh April morning, seeing the hated
figure of Basílio in a store at the Prainha beach, the
remembrance of his vow of vengeance boiled up in his chest. He
promptly departed quick on his feet along the Mato Dentro road
with a smirk on his lips. He would avenge his fathers death.
A little before the Cachoeira
Grande waterfall at the beginning of the range , he rested a
while . He had overheard Basílio at the store saying that he
was in a hurry, so he should soon be around.
Gorinho, reacting to the smallest noise , hid in the dense
bushes bordering the road until finally at the curve, some
mules showed up. Right behind, Basílio on a palomino, smoking
insouciantly without remembrance at all of the heinous crime
he perpetrated eleven years ago almost at the same place.
Gorinho shuddered. With the knife in his hand he jumped on the
road and shouted:
- Stop you scoundrel! Get down from that horse!
- What do you want? Ain't got no money! I'm taking only these
animals!.. answered Basílio, slowly leaving the saddle, not
recognizing in the "thief " the son of his victim.
- Do you remember my mother?
- Your mother? Don't have a clue! Who was your mother?
- You're right, I never had a mother... do you remember that
slut you stole from my father?
- Ah! It is you, Gorinho? Mariazinha...
Basílio tried to speak,but a cold blade pierced his heart.
Gorinho, steadfast, looked up
to the sky in a silent prayer, and bowing over the corpse
violently teared the bloodsoaked shirt from Basílio. Mounting
on the victims horse he rode up the sierra. When he finally
saw the "lonesome and misterious cross" he jumped
from the horse and with tear filled eyes went to the cross and
draped the bloodstained cloth around its arms whispering :
Father! You're revenged! Here's the still warm blood of the
one who disgraced your life...
He kissed the cross and was
about to leave when he noticed the travelers who came down the
sierra, extasiated by the flabbergasting view. The boy
trembled with fear of getting caught, they were almost too
close, when turning his head to the cross he saw...... a
Now, entwined around the
corroded arms of the cross, there were the green curled
branches of a delicate plant swaying in the breeze adorned
with vermillion flowers exhaling a lovely scent. * * *
That's why Cesídio Ambrogi
said so well:
And ... wonder! - in April,
so travelers say,
its arms are entwined by vermillion flowers,
like roses weeping their blood...
the book "Ubatuba - Lendas & Outras Estórias"
(Ubatuba-Legends & Other Stories)
written by Washington de Oliveira
authorized by the writer