Part 2

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Six years have passed. The last days of a luxurious August welcomed my return to my native valley. My heart was filled with patriotic love. It was now the last day of my journey, and I was enjoying the most fragrant summer morning. The sky was a pale shade of blue: to the east and above the towering mountain ridges, golden little clouds roamed like the gauze of a dancer's turban scattered by a loving breath. To the south floated the mists that during the night had embraced the distant mountains. I was crossing flat meadows of green grass, watered by streams whose passage was obstructed by beautiful herds, leaving at this time, their shaded shelters to go into the marshes or under paths vaulted by flowered pisamos* and lush fig trees. My eyes had eagerly looked at those sites half hidden to travelers by the tops of old gruduales*; and those cottages where I had left people that were virtuous and friends. At such times the arias from the piano of U. would not have touched my heart. The perfumes that I was breathing were so pleasant compared with her luxurious dresses... The songs of those nameless birds had such sweet harmonies to my heart!

I was speechless in front of so much beauty, whose memory I believed to have kept in my mind because some of my verses that my classmates had admired, reflected pale shades of them. When in a ballroom, flooded with light, full of voluptuous melodies, with a thousand mixed aromas, of whispers of so many garments of seductive women, we meet the one whom we have dreamed of at eighteen, and a fleeting glance from her burns our forehead, and her voice silences for an instant any other voice for us, and her flowers leave behind unknown essences; then we fall into a heavenly prostration: our voice is powerless, our ears no longer hear hers, our eyes can not follow her.

But when, hours afterwards with our mind refreshed, she returns to our thoughts, our lips whisper her praise in songs, and it is this woman, it is her voice modulation, it is her glance, it is her light step on the carpet, which that song mimics, and which the masses would believe to be ideal. Thus, the sky, the horizons, the pampas and the peaks of the Cauca Mountains, leave those who contemplate them speechless. The great beauties of creation can not at once be seen and sung: it is necessary for them to return to the soul paled by our unfaithful memory.

Before sundown, I had already seen on the hillside sparks of whiteness of my parents' house. As I approached it, I counted anxiously the groups of willows and orange trees through which I saw shortly afterwards lights crossing distributed among the rooms.

I was finally breathing that never forgotten smell of the orchard whose growth I witnessed. The shoes of my horse sparkled on the cobblestones of the courtyard. I heard an indefinable scream. It was the voice of my mother. When she embraced me in her arms and drew me close to her chest, a shadow covered my eyes: a supreme pleasure that shakes a virgin nature.

When I tried to recognize in the women I saw, the sisters that I had left as girls, Maria was standing beside me, her eyes veiled by wide lids fringed with long eyelashes. It was her face that covered with the most noticeable blush when my arm rolling from her shoulders, brushed her waist; and her eyes were moistened, even when smiling at my first affectionate expression, like a child whose crying has been silenced by a maternal caress.

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*sub-tropical trees

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