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“Where have you come from?”
Manuel’s voice did not sound too friendly as he looked at his wife. She had obviously bathed, and was now tidying her hair. She smiled at him. Although her clothes were drying fast, they still showed the curves of her body. He had to look away. The way the cloth clung to her breasts…
“There’s a brook a bit further” she told him. “I could not resist freshening up. The water is so lovely! I’ve soaked my clothes as well.”
“You’re foolish, Maria! You don’t know the dangers of this forest! Besides, what must the men be thinking?”
Now she laughed aloud. “They are all busy setting up the tents, like you ordered. Rest assured, they won’t be looking at me!”
“How many times do I have to tell you not to leave the company of the others?” he went on, not hearing what she said. “I don’t want it, Maria!”
“Are you afraid that something might happen to me?” she asked, inwardly smiling at his show of feelings.
It was his pleasure to answer Maria. “Of course! I could not bear to lose you, mi cielo!”
“Neither would I.” She went over and kissed him full on the lips. “Not much longer now, cariño…”
He answered her kiss with another one, but then she tore herself free.
“Let’s eat first. Travelling sharpens the appetite!”
The Indians had angled up some fish and were now roasting them, wrapped in banana leaves, over a smothered fire of leaves and fine branches. It was not a fish they had eaten before, but the meat was white and firm and had a good taste.
“They call this fish piranha,” the Padre mentioned. “I believe the Tupi Indians in Brazil use that word too.” He had taken a lively interest in the heathen Indians. He even spoke some words of their language. This came in useful, he had once told Maria, as his aim was to convert these believers in the ancient Aztec gods to Catholicism.
“I was told that a piranha was a very small fish, which eats meat. Commandante Muñoz advised me never to put my hand into the water of any stream, because the piranha’s could snap off my fingers!” Miguel said.
“That’s true enough” the Padre agreed. “It appears though that there are various kind of piranha. The bigger fish are excellent food, as we can all tell from experience!”
They finished their evening meal with a cup of red wine, which they had brought along. Not much later most of the men retired to the tents to sleep.
Miguel and Maria remained by the fire for a while longer. Being responsible for his soldiers, the captain had to make sure that everything was in order and that the guards on night watch had been posted. When he was satisfied, he took his wife by the hand.
“Let’s go to bed, mi esposa.”
As soon as he had closed the flap of the tent, he flashed his white teeth. “You made me a promise, madam! Are you ready to make good of your word?”