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story of the yara.
Start of Story
The struggle had been hard, but Alonzo had his reward next day in the
joy and relief with which Julia greeted him. He assured her that having
overcome the temptation once the danger was now over; but she, knowing
better than he did the magic of the Yara's face and voice, did not fail
to make him repeat his promise when he went away.
For three nights Alonzo kept his word, not because he believed in the
Yara, for he thought that the tales about her were all nonsense, but
because he could not bear the tears with which he knew that Julia would
greet him, if he confessed that he had returned to the forest. But, in
spite of this, the song rang in his ears, and daily grew louder.
On the fourth night the attraction of the forest grew so strong that
neither the thought of Julia nor the promises he had made her could hold
him back. At eleven o'clock he plunged into the cool darkness of the
trees, and took the path that led straight to the river. Yet, for the
first time, he found that Julia's warnings, though he had laughed at her
at the moment, had remained in his memory, and he glanced at the bushes
with a certain sense of fear which was quite new to him.
When he reached the river he paused and looked round for a moment to
make sure that the strange feeling of some one watching him was fancy,
and he was really alone. But the moon shone brightly on every tree, and
nothing was to be seen but his own shadow; nothing was to be heard but
the sound of the rippling stream.
He threw off his clothes, and was just about to dive in headlong, when
something--he did not know what--suddenly caused him to look round. At
the same instant the moon passed from behind a cloud, and its rays fell
on a beautiful golden-haired woman standing half hidden by the ferns.
With one bound he caught up his mantle, and rushed headlong down the
path he had come, fearing at each step to feel a hand laid on his
shoulder. It was not till he had left the last trees behind him, and
was standing in the open plain, that he dared to look round, and then
he thought a figure in white was still standing there waving her arms
to and fro. This was enough; he ran along the road harder than ever, and
never paused till he was save in his own room.
With the earliest rays of dawn he went back to the forest to see whether
he could find any traces of the Yara, but though he searched every clump
of bushes, and looked up every tree, everything was empty, and the only
voices he heard were those of parrots, which are so ugly that they only
drive people away.
'I think I must be mad,' he said to himself, 'and have dreamt all that
folly'; and going back to the city he began his daily work. But either
that was harder than usual, or he must be ill, for he could not fix his
mind upon it, and everybody he came across during the day inquired if
anything had happened to give him that white, frightened look.
'I must be feverish,' he said to himself; 'after all, it is rather
dangerous to take a cold bath when one is feeling so hot.' Yet he knew,
while he said it, that he was counting the hours for night to come, that
he might return to the forest.
In the evening he went as usual to the creeper-covered house. But he
had better have stayed away, as his face was so pale and his manner so
strange, that the poor girl saw that something terrible had occurred.
Alonzo, however, refused to answer any of her questions, and all she
could get was a promise to hear everything the next day.
On pretence of a violent headache, he left Julia much earlier than usual
and hurried quickly home. Taking down a pistol, he loaded it and put it
in his belt, and a little before midnight he stole out on the tips of
his toes, so as to disturb nobody. Once outside he hastened down the
road which led to the forest.
He did not stop till he had reached the river pool, when holding the
pistol in his hand, he looked about him. At every little noise--the
falling of a leaf, the rustle of an animal in the bushes, the cry of a
night-bird--he sprang up and cocked his pistol in the direction of the
sound. But though the moon still shone he saw nothing, and by and by
a kind of dreamy state seemed to steal over him as he leant against a
How long he remained in this condition he could not have told, but
suddenly he awoke with a start, on hearing his name uttered softly.
'Who is that?' he cried, standing upright instantly; but only an echo
answered him. Then his eyes grew fascinated with the dark waters of the
pool close to his feet, and he looked at it as if he could never look
He gazed steadily into the depths for some minutes, when he became aware
that down in the darkness was a bright spark, which got rapidly bigger
and brighter. Again that feeling of awful fear took possession of
him, and he tried to turn his eyes from the pool. But it was no use;
something stronger than himself compelled him to keep them there.
At last the waters parted softly, and floating on the surface he saw
the beautiful woman whom he had fled from only a few nights before. He
turned to run, but his feet were glued to the spot.
She smiled at him and held out her arms, but as she did so there came
over him the remembrance of Julia, as he had seen her a few hours
earlier, and her warnings and fears for the very danger in which he now
Meanwhile the figure was always drawing nearer, nearer; but, with a
violent effort, Alonzo shook off his stupor, and taking aim at her
shoulder he pulled the trigger. The report awoke the sleeping echoes,
and was repeated all through the forest, but the figure smiled still,
and went on advancing. Again Alonzo fired, and a second time the bullet
whistled through the air, and the figure advanced nearer. A moment more,
and she would be at his side.
Then, his pistol being empty, he grasped the barrel with both hands, and
stood ready to use it as a club should the Yara approach and closer. But
now it seemed her turn to feel afraid, for she paused an instant while
he pressed forward, still holding the pistol above his head, prepared to
In his excitement he had forgotten the river, and it was not till the
cold water touched his feet that he stood still by instinct. The Yara
saw that he was wavering, and suffering herself to sway gently backwards
and forwards on the surface of the river, she began to sing. The song
floated through the trees, now far and now near; no one could tell
whence it came, the whole air seemed full of it. Alonzo felt his senses
going and his will failing. His arms dropped heavily to his side, but in
falling struck against the sea shell, which, as he had promised Julia,
he had always carried in his coat.
His dimmed mind was just clear enough to remember what she had said, and
with trembling fingers, that were almost powerless to grasp, he drew it
out. As he did so the song grew sweeter and more tender than before,
but he shut his ears to it and bent his head over the shell. Out of its
depths arose the voice of Julia singing to him as she had sung when she
gave him the shell, and though the notes sounded faint at first, they
swelled louder and louder till the mist which had gathered about him was
Then he raised his head, feeling that he had been through strange
places, where he could never wander any more; and he held himself erect
and strong, and looked about him. Nothing was to be seen but the shining
of the river, and the dark shadows of the trees; nothing was to be heard
but the hum of the insects, as they darted through the night.