The Feather Pillow by Horacio Quiroga
Her entire honeymoon gave her hot and cold shivers. A blond, angelic, and timid young girl, the
childhood fancies she had dreamed about being a bride had been chilled by her husband's rough
character. She loved him very much, nonetheless, although sometimes she gave a light shudder
when, as they returned home through the streets together at night, she cast furtive glances at the
impressive stature of her Jordan, who had been silent for an hour. He, for his part, loved her
profoundly but never let it be seen.
For three months - they had been married in April - they lived in a special kind of bliss. Doubtless
she would have wished less severity in the rigorous sky of love, more expansive and less cautious
tenderness, but her husband's impassive manner always restrained her.
The house in which they lived influenced her chills and shuddering to no small degree. The
whiteness of the silent patio - friezes, columns, and marble statues - produced the wintry
impression of an enchanted palace. Inside, the glacial brilliance of stucco, the completely bare
walls, affirmed the sensation of unpleasant coldness. As one crossed from one room to another,
the echo of his steps reverberated throughout the house, as if long abandonment had sensitized
Alicia passed the autumn in this strange love nest. She had determined, however, to cast a veil
over her former dreams and live like a sleeping beauty in the hostile house, trying not to think
about anything till her husband arrived each evening.
It is not strange that she grew thin. She had a light attack of influenza that dragged on insidiously
for days and days: after that Alicia's health never returned. Finally one afternoon she was able to
go into the garden, supported on her husband's arm. She looked around listlessly. Suddenly
Jordan, with deep tenderness, ran his hand very slowly over her head, and Alicia instantly burst
into sobs, throwing her arms around his neck. For a long time she cried out all the fears she had
kept silent, redoubling her weeping at Jordan's slightest caress. Then her sobs subsided, and she
stood a long while, her face hidden in the hollow of his neck, not moving or speaking a word.
This was the last day Alicia was well enough to be up. The following day she awakened feeling
faint. Jordan's doctor examined her with minute attention, prescribing calm and absolute rest.
"I don't know," he said to Jordan at the street door. "She has a great weakness that I am unable to
explain. And with no vomiting, nothing . . . if she wakes tomorrow as she did today, call me at
When she awakened the following day, Alicia was worse. There was a consultation. It was agreed
there was an anemia of incredible progression, completely inexplicable. Alicia had no more
fainting spells but she was visibly moving towards death. The lights were lighted all day long in
her bedroom, and there was complete silence. Hours went by without the slightest sound. Alicia