Not too far away there was Uncle Francisco, with its cart that very slowly, took an enormous burden of corn and hay, so heavy that the wheels shrieked and it was possible to see olives oil dripping, as if the olives were squeezed, to lubricate it. He heard and said loudly: — My dearest son! You should have told me! I'm going to pick up the hunting-gun! — A few moments after there was a huge sound that was heard all over the mountain. After that a shriek of agony, very sharp and loud… it wasn’t heard much longer. I also felt that the animal was conscious of the tragedy of the end of his life. Nevertheless, this not assumed feeling was followed by a big party. Filipe got down from the tree and helped us bring the enormous pig… Of course several men were needed. In the next day, he was singed and suspended by the paws, with his head down, at my uncle's wine cellar. The meat was distributed by everyone.
The disappearance of a child was not very frequent, in fact, until that day there wasn't any, as far as I remember. No, I'm not referring to that our adventure running from the wild boar… but to the disappearance of little Maria, just two days after. In high Summer, August, when the women that made the harvest were full days working cutting cornfields. Several of them used to take with them their children and but sometimes they would get distracted, leaving the kids free to play and use their imagination. Little Maria was also with her mother, but one day she disappeared and nobody knew to where she might have gone. It was all very unexpected, solitary and silent. Not even the wind seemed to "whisper" in between the valleys and the undulation of the corn-fields wasn't bringing news or could calm down the suffering of that mother. She was suffering as if someone had cut off one part of her body, she felt suffocated just like if it had really happened. It was like she had lost all her body and all that was left behind was a prison named absence.
I was helping and, above all, observing the works at the house of my Uncle Francisco. He and the stonemason were seriously committed in the mix of clay and stones that they would carry to the second floor, using buckets, one in each arm. They impressed me because, even with all that hard work, they still had the clear-sightedness to carefully save any living ant from the sand that would have the misfortune to appear there...
— One more worker of God I have to save! — Said my wise Uncle. My astonishment for them was growing. I used to compare them to any worker of the fields: they collect the seeds and transport them, as the women reapers; they take pieces of grass like the peasants, the wood of the forest and, if necessary, hunt as the hunter.
One particular question was frightening my mind: — And do they think like us? — The astonishment and the magic that only a child can feel, I also felt. That was like an anticipated revelation that made me want to believe that it was not a sign of madness.
— Help! — We heard and went to the window trying to understand what was going on.
— Little Maria disappeared! — Late morning groups of people were gathered and went to the surroundings of the village, to look for that little girl. The valley where she disappeared, permitted an easy access to any part of the region, even for a small child, so everyone started to look for her near the river and also in the forest… at the corn fields, but without success. Few were those that had a proper lunch. Children were the privileged ones. But, despite that, right after lunch they continued to look for Maria. But nothing. The strong heat of the Summer, not even at night disappeared. The sound of the orchestra of crickets gave a sense of calm that was not enough to make disappear the desperation of our search. It seemed that to mother nature, that situation was indifferent. Despite that, my bare feet walked until exhaustion… and, finally, I fell asleep… on my bed made with a mattress of straw. But not even in my dreams I gave up seeking her… I was a mad man that searched without clues: just using his instinct.
In the meantime, one voice: — I'm here… here… help me… Mother! Mother!... — And a cry, that I felt, was confusing itself with mine.
And I answered: — I'm going... I'm arriving… I love you very much. — I said that aloud and woke up frightened. My heart was beating as the one of a little bird between the hands of a man. But I rose up immediately, not even washed myself, not even dressed, because I still was with the clothes of the day before. I searched for my mother. She wasn't anywhere. I searched my father. He was also absent. I gave a look through the kitchen window and I saw no one. Then I left home running to João's house. I felt hope because I realized everyone was still searching her… It was that! At least I wasn't hearing crying of consummated agony.