But that came soon enough. One day, when I was a trifle late in giving him a massage, he took his cane and struck me with it two or three times. That was the last straw. I told him on the spot that I was through with him and I went to pack my trunk. He came later to my room; he begged me to remain, assured me that there wasn’t anything to be angry at, that I must excuse the ill-humoredness of old age. … He insisted so much that I agreed to stay.
“I am nearing the end, Procopio,” he said to me that evening. “I can’t live much longer, I am upon the verge of the grave. You shall go to my burial, Procopio. Under no circumstances will I excuse you. You shall go, you shall pray over my tomb. And if you don’t,” he added, laughing, “my ghost will come at night and pull you by the legs. Do you believe in souls of the other world, Procopio?”
“And why don’t you, you blockhead?” he replied passionately, with distended eyes.
That is how he was in his peaceful intervals; what he was like during his raging attacks, you may well imagine!
He struck me no more with his cane, but his insults were the same, if not worse. With time I became hardened, I no longer heeded anything; I was an ignoramus, a camel, a bumpkin, an idiot, a loggerhead
Dictionary of insults
I was everything! It must further be understood that I alone was favored with these pretty names. He had no relatives; there had been a nephew, but he had died of consumption. As to friends, those who came now and then to flatter him and indulge his whims made him but a short visit, five or ten minutes at the most. I alone was always present to receive his dictionary of insults. More than once I resolved to leave him; but as the vicar would implore me not to abandon the colonel I always yielded in the end.
Not only were our relations becoming very much strained, but I was in a hurry to get back to Rio de Janeiro. At forty-two years of age one does not easily accustom oneself to perpetual seclusion with a brutal, snarling old invalid, in the depths of a remote village. Just to give you an idea of my isolation, let it suffice to inform you that I didn’t even read the newspapers; outside of some more or less important piece of news that was brought to the colonel, I knew nothing of what was doing in the world. I therefore yearned to get back to Rio at the first opportunity, even at the cost of breaking with the vicar. And I may as well add—-since I am here making a general confession—that having spent nothing of my wages, I was itching to squander them at the capital.