El duende / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Elf

     The cardinal would circumvent and regale me ever since I surprised his traps in the game. I had been active in innumerable gambling dens.

     Terrestrial ambition had diverted him from contracting the vows of the priesthood. The murmurers imputed him with the project of gaining influence and command in an arrogant family, by means of a secret marriage.

     He would constantly approach the object of his urges. A woman of proud lineage was watchful beside her consort reduced to bones by a progressive illness and expected widowhood at each step.

     The Supreme Pontiff, animated with a healthy intention, sent me away from among his family, who were unsettled against me by the cardinal, and he entrusted me with an errand for the diocese of Ravenna. I was captivated by the ancient beauty and its precise rhythm and I censured, in the city of my exile, the prodigious art of the Byzantines and the delirium of Dante, an absurd poet, buried right there.

     I have searched the cardinal’s motives against my person and dignity. Perhaps he thought I was on the trail of his guilty relations with a syndicated breed. An unruly boy, the most spoiled of his servants, knocked me over in his palace, tangling me up with an invisible thread, and I lashed him to my satisfaction. The cardinal had taken him from the arms of an evil woman, a relic from a tribe of idolaters.

El cielo de esmalte (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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