Bellamore’s Triple Theft

Bellamore’s Triple Theft
(El triple robo de Bellamore)
by Horacio Quiroga

Some days ago the courts sentenced Juan Carlos Bellamore to five years in prison, for robbing several banks. I have some relationship with Bellamore: he is a thin and serious young man, carefully dressed in black. I believe him quite incapable of these deeds, of any deed whatsoever that requires keen nerves. He knew that he was an eternal bank employee; I heard him say so many times, and he even added sadly that his future was a dead end; there would never be anything else. I also know that if there is an employee who is punctual and discreet, it would certainly be Bellamore. Without being his friend, I held him in esteem, regretting his misfortune. Yesterday afternoon I discussed the case with a group of acquaintances.

“Yes,” one of them told me, “they have given him five years. I knew him a little; he was quite reserved. How did it not occur to me that it should be him? The accusation was prompt.”

“What?” I asked, surprised.

“The accusation; he was denounced.”

“Lately,” someone else added, “he had lost a great deal of weight.” And he concluded gravely: “Me, I no longer trust anyone.”

I quickly changed the subject. I asked if the accuser was known.

“It was made known yesterday. It’s Zaninski”

I very much wanted to hear the story from Zaninski’s lips. First, the peculiarity of the denunciation, with absolutely no personal interest; second, the means that he used for the discovery. How had he known it was Bellamore?

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The Other’s Crime

The Other’s Crime
(El crimen del otro)
by Horacio Quiroga

The adventures that I am going to relate date from five years ago. Back then, I was just leaving my adolescence. Though not they call high-strung, I had the highest degree of talent for gesticulation, at times carrying myself to extremes so absurd that I came to inspire real shock while I spoke. This imbalance between my ideas—the most natural possible—and my gestures—the wildest possible—amused my friends, but only those who were in on the secret of this unequalled eccentricity. My tics only went so far, and not always. My friend Fortunato came later onto the scene: he who is the subject of all I am about to tell.

Poe was at that time the only author that I read. That damned madman had come to dominate me completely; there was not a single book on my table that wasn’t one of his. My head was full of Poe, as if it had been emptied into the mold of “Ligeia”. “Ligeia!” How I adored that tale! Adored all of them, and intensely: Valdemar, who died seven months afterwards; Dupin, in search of the purloined letter; the L’Espanaye women, desperate on the fourth floor; Berenice, dead and betrayed; all, all were familiar to me. But above all, “The Cask of Amontillado” had seduced me like my own intimate affair: Montresor, “The Carnival”, “Fortunato”, were for me so familiar that I read this tale without naming the characters; and at the same time I envied Poe so much that I would have cut off his right hand with pleasure for writing that marvellous intrigue. Sitting at home, in the corner, I spent over four hours reading this story with a delight of which certainly a large part was an aversion to Fortunato. He dominated the entire tale, all of it, everything. Not a smile, not any impatience of Fortunato escaped my scrutiny. What did I not know about Fortunato and his deplorable disposition?

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For a Sleepless Night

For a Sleepness Night
(Para noche de insomnio)
by Horacio Quiroga

No man, I repeat, has told, with greater magic the exceptions of human life and nature, the ardours of the curiosities of convalescence, the close of seasons charged with enervating splendours, sultry weather, humid and misty, where the south wind softens and distends the nerves, like the chords of an instrument; where the eyes are filled with tears that come not from the heart; hallucination at first giving place to doubt, soon convinced and full of reasons as a book; absurdity installing itself in the intellect, and governing it with a crushing logic; hysteria usurping the place of will, a contradiction established between the nerves and the mind, and men out of all accord expressing grief by laughter.

— Baudelaire (Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Works)

We were all surprised by the fatal news; and we were left terrified when a servant brought us–flying– details of his death. Although for quite some time we had noticed signs of instability in our friend, we didn’t think that it could ever come to this extreme. He had carried out the most dreadful suicide without leaving a memento for his friends. And, when we had him in our midst, we turned our faces away, prisoners of a horrified compassion.

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Juan Darién

Juan Darién
by Horacio Quiroga

Here is the story of a jaguar who was raised and educated among humans, named Juan Darién. He attended four years of school dressed in trousers and shirt, reciting his lessons correctly, though he was a jaguar from the jungle; but this is because his figure was that of a man, as narrated in the following lines.

Once, at the beginning of autumn, smallpox visited a village from a distant country and killed many people. Brothers lost their little sisters, and children just beginning to walk were left without father or mother. Mothers in turn lost their children, and one poor young widowed mother took herself to bury her baby son, the only thing she had in this world. When she returned home, she sat thinking about her little child. And she murmured:

“God should have more compassion for me, and he has taken my son. In heaven there may be angels, but my son doesn’t know them. It’s me that he recognizes, my poor son!”

And she gazed out in the distance, as she was sitting at the back of her house, facing a small gate through which the jungle was visible.

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The Spectre

The Spectre
(El espectro)
by Horacio Quiroga

Every night in the Grand Splendid in Santa Fe, Enid and I attend the film premieres. Neither storms nor icy nights prevent us from appearing, promptly at ten o’clock, in the pallid half-light of the theater. There, from one box or another, we follow the stories of the film in silence and with an interest that might draw attention to us, if our circumstances were other than they are.

From one box or another, I said; because its location is indifferent to us. And although we might be missing from the same spot some night, the Splendid being full, we settle ourselves, silent and always attentive to the performance, in any already occupied box.

I don’t think we bother anyone; at least, not in any appreciable way. From the back of the box, or between the young woman on the balcony and the boyfriend clinging to her neck, Enid and I, separate from the world that surrounds us, are all eyes towards the screen. And if in truth some people, with a nervous shiver whose origin they don’t quite understand, occasionally turn their heads to look for what they can’t see, or they feel an icy draft they can’t explain in the warm atmosphere, our intruding presence is never noticed; because it’s necessary to admit now that Enid and I are dead.

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The Rabid Dog

The Rabid Dog
(El perro rabioso)
by Horacio Quiroga

On the 20th of March of this year, the residents of a town in the Santa Fe Chaco pursued a rabid man who, while trying to unload his shotgun on his wife, shot and killed a peón who crossed in front of him. His neighbors, armed, tracked him into the bush like a wild beast, finally discovering him climbing a tree, still with his shotgun, howling in a horrible way. They saw no choice but to shoot and kill him.

March 9.

Today it’s been thirty-nine days, hour by hour, since the rabid dog entered our room at night. If there is a memory that will live on in my mind, it’s that of the two hours that followed that moment.

The house had no doors except for the room Mamá occupied; since from the start she had been prone to fear, I didn’t do anything, in the first urgent days of moving in, other than saw boards for the doors and windows of her room. In our room, and in the hope of more work space, my wife contented herself—under a little pressure on my part, true—with magnificent doors of burlap. As it was summer, this detail of rigorous ornamentation didn’t damage our health or our fear. It was through one of these burlap portals, the one that gave onto the central corridor, that the rabid dog entered and bit me.

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The Artificial Hell

The Artificial Hell
(El infierno artificial)
by Horacio Quiroga

On nights when there is a moon, the gravedigger advances through the tombs with a singularly stiff step. He is nude to the waist and wears a large straw hat. His fixed smile gives the impression of being stuck to his face with glue. If he were barefoot, one would notice that he walks with his big toes turned down.

There is nothing strange about this, because the gravedigger abuses choloroform. The hazards of his trade led him to try the anesthestic, and when choloroform bites a man, it rarely lets go. Our acquaintance waits for night to open his bottle, and as he has great common sense, he chooses the cemetery for the inviolable theater of his binges.

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