In the chicken yard, the red hens, masters of the weeds, flee in haste, they hide themselves among laths tossed in a heap, cackling with alarm: strangers have come in among them.
The strangers leave a new hen inside the gate, then lock it and go.
A white hen with ruffled feathers. They let it out of a basket.
The others watch the new hen askance, with one eye, then the other. Slowly they come out of hiding, sidle up to the white bird—
more and more hatred, anger, draws them to her. They peck at her timidly,
then strike harder, they dart at her, crowd above her, inflamed—
they chase her toward the henhouses.
In his heavy boots, the master hurries among them, struggles to pull them apart. Blind, frenzied, they had flung themselves in a pile on the exhausted white bird, covered with blood.
Lavinia is fitting Lena’s gown. Lena looks at herself in the mirror, pulls her belly in and arranges her bra.
Her mother does not notice her, how big she has grown, like dough, she simply sees Lena dressed up for an afternoon visit, as for coffee.
Lena looks at herself again over her shoulder under her thin oily hair.
Then, like a child, she forgets… “You’ll see, mother, I’m going to find my way, you’ll see,” she giggles. And takes her mother in her arms. “What a rich, what a lucky summer we have!”
Lena looks beautiful, even now, in full bloom—Lavinia thinks.
A kind ray gilds her whole being. Good luck, darling. Good luck.
Andrei runs up the stairs. “Granny! Granny! Granny!!!!
I found it in the grass, the cat was going to catch it…”
Andrei has almost lost his voice, with the sparrow nestling cupped in his palm.
Lavinia raises her tired eyes. For an instant, she does not know who, when, which of her daughters… The child’s voice. Her own child, among thousands.