Am not a child but standing very straight in her

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am not a child.”But standing very straight in her white frock, her eyes shining in the dark and her chin thrust up, she looked so young, so fragile, that his heart was touched. He sighed, smiled ruefully, and shrugged his shoulders.“Yes, the heat ahs touched you in the head, Lupeng. And since you are so set on it—very well, let us go. Come, have the coach ordered!”THE CULT OF the Tadtarin is celebrated on three days: the feast of St. John and the two preceding days. On the first night, a young girl heads the procession; on the second, a mature woman; and on the third, a
very old woman who dies and comes to life again. In these processions, as in those of Pakil and Obando, everyone dances.Around the tiny plaza in front of the barrio chapel, quite a stream of carriages was flowing leisurely. The Moretas were constantly being hailed from the other vehicles. The plaza itself and the sidewalks were filled with chattering, strolling, profusely sweating people. More people were crowded on the balconies and windows of the houses. The moon had not yet risen; the black night smoldered; in the windless sky the lightning’s abruptly branching fire seemed the nerves of the tortured air made visible.“Here they come now!” cried the people on the balconies.And “Here come the women with their St. John!” cried the people on the sidewalks, surging forth on the street. The carriages halted and their occupants descended. The plaza rang with the shouts of people and the neighing of horses—and with another keener sound: a sound as of sea-waves steadily rolling nearer.The crowd parted, and up the street came the prancing, screaming, writhing women, their eyes wild, black shawls flying around their shoulders, and their long hair streaming and covered with leaves and flowers. But the Tadtarin, a small old woman with white hair, walked with calm dignity in the midst of the female tumult, a wand in one hand, a bunch of seedling in the other. Behind her, a group of girls borealoft a little black image of the Baptist—a crude, primitive, grotesque image, its big-eyed head too big forits puny naked torso, bobbing and swaying above the hysterical female horde and looking at once so comical and so pathetic that Don Paeng, watching with his wife on the sidewalk, was outraged. The image seemed to be crying for help, to be struggling to escape—a St. John indeed in the hands of the Herodias; a doomed captive these witches were subjecting first to their derision; a gross and brutal caricature of his sex.Don Paeng flushed hotly: he felt that all those women had personally insulted him. He turned to his wife,to take her away—but she was watching greedily, taut and breathless, her head thrust forward and her eyes bulging, the teeth bared in the slack mouth, and the sweat gleaning on her face. Don Paeng was horrified. He grasped her arm—but just then a flash of lightning blazed and the screaming women fell silent: the Tadtarin was about to die.

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