The Forgotten Stories of Manuel Milho VIII


As soon as the invitations came out of the palace, the news of another party spread through all the mouths in the city, and so he always knew in which days to attend for the endless hustle and bustle of carriages. He positioned himself the best he could to peek on who went inside and only returned home after the last carriage to leave. Not that he cared for the identity or status of the guests of another ball or banquet. He wanted, yes, gazing at the ladies.

His hands uncontrolled, trembling, when they emerged from the ports of the carriages, the hair towers, other times wigs, ornamented with ribbons or wrapped in wire, silver or even gold structures. The eyes cleared with the smallest glimpse of the jewellery engraved with precious stones, that like stars exhibited in necklaces on corseted breasts, or earrings, bracelets and rings. In the face of the long dresses, the skirts like the summits of luxurious fabrics and colours never seen, ornamented with lace and pleats and ties and feathers, his heart grew in a pungent yearning. From hand in the chest, he dazzled with the marbling profiles of snow-white faces and rosy features, coated by dense layers of dust, and so many of them ornamented with mouches of taffeta, muslin and velvet. Of the few times the wind blew him brief notes from the perfumes that had been sprinkled behind the ears, in the line of the neck and between the breasts revealed by the cleavages, he sustained his breath to keep the scents inside his chest, as if he was protecting a treasure. He was entangled in the web of the seductive movements of the fans, used in the style of foreign courts. And he studied, eager, all gestures and poses and smiles and looks that floated at the entrance of the palace, to reproduce them repeatedly at home, where no one would see him.

Being always peeking on party days, he had not gone unnoticed. All the servants had already noticed him and said, with the censorship revolving their eyes:

‘-There he is peeking at the ladies, again.’

‘- Well, you may well covet them!’

They would never know that he did not gaze the women with malice. Observing them was the closest he would ever be from touching their clothes, their jewellery, the ornaments of their hair, their fans. It was the closest he would ever be to feel the taste of lipstick they wore on their lips and the expensive perfumes on their skin. In front of the door of the palace, in a nook on the other side of the street, he knew that observing the ladies was as close as he would ever be of dressing like them. The world could still deny him that. But not even that would have the power to destroy him at his core.


Samuel F. Pimenta