Books > Old Books > The Plumed Serpent (1926)


Page 67

CHAPTER III - Fortieth Birthday

the night, with big clear stars overhead, dropping and hanging with a certain gleam of menace. In Tlalpam there was a heavy scent of nightflowers, a feeling of ponderous darkness, with a few sparks of intermittent fireflies. And always the heavy calling of nightflower scents. To Kate, there seemed a faint whiff of blood in all tropical-scented flowers: of blood or sweat.
It was a hot night. They banged on the iron doors of the entrance, dogs barked, and a nzoZo opened to them, warily, closing fast again the moment they had entered the dark garden of trees.
Don Ramon was in white, a white dinner-jacket: Don Cipriano the same. But there were other guests, young Garcia, another pale young man called Mirabal, and an elderly man in a black cravat, named Toussaint. The only other woman was Dona Isabel, aunt to Don Ramon. She wore a black dress with a high collar of black lace, and some strings of pearls, and seemed shy, frightened, absent as a nun before all these men. But to Kate she was very kind, caressive, speaking English in a plaintive faded voice. This dinner was a sort of ordeal and ritual combined, to the cloistered, elderly soul.
But it was soon evident that she was trembling with fearful joy. She adored Ramon with an uncritical, nun-like adoration. It was obvious she hardly heard the things that were said. Words skimmed the surface of her consciousness without ever penetrating. Underneath, she was trembling in nun-like awareness of so many men, and in almost sacred excitement at facing Don Ramon as hostess.
The house was a fairly large villa, quietly and simply furnished, with natural taste.
`Do you always live here?' said Kate to Don Ramon. `Never at your hacienda?'
`How do you know I have a hacienda?' he asked.
`I saw it in a newspaper - near Sayula.'
`Ah!' he said, laughing at her with his eyes. `You saw about the returning of the Gods of Antiquity.'
`Yes,' she said. `Don't you think it is interesting?'
`I think so,' he said.
`I love the word Quetzalcoatl.'
`The word!' he repeated.
His eyes laughed at her teasingly all the time.
`What do you think, Mrs Leslie,' cried the pale-faced young

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