El pupilo de Fabricio / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Fabricio’s Pupil

     He was sensible. He loved an indeterminate and peaceful life, with no tyrannical ends. Why had he, svelte and condescending, been born into that massive and tedious family?
     People compared him to his uncle, brother of the deceased father, and they considered him a second example of that man, devoted to theory and reverie, who died early amidst his disconsolate friends.
     The older brother, limited to corporeal satisfactions, had contracted an unequal marriage, and lived far away, unconcerned with his own.
     The family, of an unsocial and austere soul, was composed of the mother and three sisters. They recalled the cruel signification of the Spanish proverb: three daughters and a mother, four devils for a father. Because they refused to convene within the straits of poverty, within the negatives of fate, without any qualms about embracing exhibition and clamor. They were egotistical and hard.
     After a brief education at school, when the head of the family disappeared, he settled down as an employee of a famous grocery store, on whose increase he applied the powers of his nocturnal and quite visible soul for many years. Yet he was unable to seduce, with so much effort, the will of the owner, a professor of energy, in love with Anglo-Saxon initiative, censor of Venezuelan indolence, guided by churlish maxims, a conversationalist of magisterial simplicity, admired by the ladies.
     Life passed by monotonously; he was fleeing youth unsmilingly.
     On one occasion, the hero of this tale took from the cash register a small amount, hoping to replace it before the next calculation, with the aid of a friend; and he dared so much so as to remedy an urgency of his own, to soothe for them the constant scolding. But a fiscal visit brought as a consequence the early examination of funds, the confession of the pilferer and his arrest under the owner’s inculpations.
     More than once he had to come to the courthouse, on foot, between policemen who formed wings at his sides, and with the entourage of onlookers.
     An inexperienced lawyer spontaneously assumed the defense, pleased with the novelty and scandal. He stammered in an adulterous Spanish the remnants of his compact and barbarous erudition.
     It rained citations of Italian origin, parroted with the exemplary mediocrity of the good student.
     But the presumptuous attorney had plenty of reasons. The jury, consisting of humanitarian men, felt, understood and forgave.
     He walked free after a few months. Mortification had stupefied him. The affront impeded his ability to reconstruct his own self-esteem, and he fled far from the city, far from his own, who were always interested and discontent.
     He remembered Fabricio, a humble kid, childhood friend, former servant at home, who had started a family in a village on the neighboring coast.
     He resolved to await, under his curt and affectionate protection, the improvement of his health and his name.
     I met him there years later, an idiot, chasing after a band of rogues with stones. Every so often indecent nicknames were pronounced.

La torre de Timón (1925)

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

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