Too far south at the end of the tour when Lent began, we had to forgo a return to El Mesón en route to Mexico City. The Gypsies were pleased with the revenues earned from showing movies in mountain villages, with fortune-telling by the Gypsy queen and, toward the end, by the new bride married in the town where Paco was born.
"She's a good judge of character and of human nature," Doña Concepción told me one afternoon as we sat on the shore of beautiful Lake Pátzcuaro and watched fishermen paddle their dugouts with lollipop oars. They cast graceful butterfly-shaped nets to catch a tiny, delicious, nearly transparent white fish ubiquitous there.
"That's what it takes," she continued. "One cannot simply be glib. There must be substance in the fortunes and always a glimmer of truth. Her husband is clever, too. He dances well and has a commanding presence. On the next tour, I shall expand the entertainment to include them regularly, and Paco will continue to sing, at least until his voice cracks!
"You have brought us luck, señor. You cannot imagine the effect on these simple people of seeing a norteamericano on such intimate terms with Gypsies! Many have spoken of it to me. You've been a drawing card."
I pooh-poohed it. "I have done nothing, but thank you anyway."
"No," she answered back, "your presence among us has counted for much. But for you, Paco might have died on Christmas Eve. You sent for the Jesuit doctor, and then took us to the clinic in Guadalajara. You set the wedding date for our new couple, you exploited my Paco's voice in a way that makes him happy, you even took him, unawares, to the midwife tree where he was born! Do you remember on the first day I met you, I read your palms? I told you that you had a lot of character, not all of it good? I meant it, and being too self-effacing is one of the bad parts. You often refuse to recognize your worth. I believe, señor, that despite your boldness and bravado, you are really quite shy!"
I blushed. "I will not argue with you. I know how well you read the heart."
In Mexico City, the Gypsies settled into a lot they rented next to an area of auto, mechanical and electrical repair shops. The forty days of Lent gave them an ideal respite from the arduous months on the road for repair of their variety of essential equipment: movie projectors, strings of lights, a neon banner and marquee, electrical generators, residential motor home buses and trucks.
The dachshunds and I moved in with them. I was made an "honorary" Gypsy in a nice ceremony at Chapultepec Park one morning, in a fragrant garden of frangipani and Mexican magnolia. It was one of the proudest days of my life.
The old priest we had brought from the village, who had buried Paco's birth mother beneath the midwife tree, was in attendance and blessed the ceremony, which made us all feel good.
Father Pedro was a surprisingly learned man. He seemed to know everything about Mexico's past. His fifty years as a parish priest in a tiny mountain town had not dulled his lively intellect. Very well read, he was a man I would like to have introduced to Father Diego, the Jesuit historian who was my special friend.
He liked his new life at a retirement home for priests in the capital. He came to visit us sometimes and on occasion spent a night or two with me in the enclosed truck where I bedded down. I had a spare cot and a sofa.
I knew Mexico City well, having visited often and having thought at one time of living there. I took Paco and his mother to see the sights, something they normally didn't do. We created a sensation wherever we appeared, usually with Gypsy pulling Paco in his wheelchair and me guiding the dachshunds on a double lead.
The denizens of the capital were sophisticates, unlike the mountain people, and had seen plenty of "sausage" dogs before, but a German shepherd tethered ahead of a wheelchair was quite another thing.
On one excursion to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco on a Sunday morning and then to the bullfights that afternoon, we caused a memorable stir. At Xochimilco, we festooned the wheelchair and the three dogs with flowers. This was not uncommon in Mexico, where people had a reverence for flowers unlike anywhere else, dating back to the ancient Maya and Aztec cultures. The wet season turned the country into a veritable horticultural paradise.
When we arrived for the bullfights, still beflowered, the manager of the bullring saw us looking for a place to sit comfortably at the foot of the stands and approached us with an offer: If we would let Gypsy pull Paco in the opening parade, he would give us an enclosed box.usually reserved for the most important people.
We went for it, of course. Paco had the time of his life, insisting that the dachshunds ride on what he had of a lap. Beautiful ladies threw more roses to him than to the toreros.
Father Pedro took us on tours of some of the beautiful old churches left from colonial times and came by one day to invite us to a special one. It was in the Churubusco area and also featured a gemlike convent. It was close to the home of a friend he wanted us to meet. The friend would be waiting at the church.
"This gentleman comes from the village where I was priest," he told us on the way. "He was a fine young man of high ideals who left early in life because of a terrible frustration of the heart. He is now a very successful man out here in the world."
The gentleman was somewhat older than I, handsomely dressed in a business suit, wearing sun glasses and looking thoroughly citified. After being introduced as Joventino, he joined us while Father Pedro led us through the church and the portion of the convent open to the public. He stayed close to Paco, whom I wheeled in his chair. We had left the dogs at home that day.
Afterward, he invited us to lunch in the garden of a marvelous hacienda-style restaurant nearby. A mariachi band played.
On a whim, I invited them to our table and asked Paco to sing. The luncheon crowd froze in place during the first number, then broke into applause, asking for more. He sang half a dozen songs before I sent the musicians away. They refused a tip.
"We should be paying HIM!" one of them joked.
Throughout this performance, our host sat staring at Paco with tears in his eyes.
Joventino finally turned to Father Pedro. "I must speak of this, Father. Do you think I dare?"
The priest nodded. "I told you when you were my altar boy always to speak from your heart. If God is in command of your thinking, you will always say what is right."
Joventino sighed and looked back at Paco. "I was in love with the lady who gave you birth. It was my hopeless love for her which drove me from the village. I begged her to run away with me to save her from the monster she had married, but she would not come. I am sure she loved me, although she never betrayed her husband by telling me so. If I had been able to convince her, Paco, you would be my son."
A barrage from Pancho Villa's cannon could have had no more stunning effect, yet there seemed nothing to say in return. Paco fell thoughtful. The Gypsy queen blanched. And Father Pedro remained benign. I stared down at my plate.
It was Paco who spoke. "If I were your son, señor, then I would be whole."
As devastating a statement as Joventino's, it closed the door to further conversation.
We finished our lunch in silence, scarcely eating at all. When the waiter cleared the last plate, Joventino rose to his feet. "I invite you all to come with me. I believe I have a surprise so pleasant you will forgive me for having spoken the naked truth."
We followed Joventino's late-model sedan through the heavy traffic of what was rapidly becoming the largest city in the world. Father Pedro traveled with him. I drove the truck. Eventually, we entered the grounds of the national university, a vast complex to the south. Joventino's car led us to a series of buildings designated by signs as centers for science and research.
We found ourselves shortly in an extraordinary room that made saucers of Paco's already enormous eyes. The Gypsy queen ohhed and ahhed as I had never seen her do, touching things and muttering to herself in what constituted an almost overwhelming state of awe. I myself developed a beaming smile I could not erase from my face. My heart raced as I realized the portent for our terribly crippled boy.
Prosthetic appliances of every sort hung from racks and hooks on the walls. There were arms and legs of stainless steel and other metals and materials I could not identify. They came in all sizes. There were crutches, canes and walkers of types I had never seen before, and items of unimaginable use.
Joventino spread out his arms to encompass the display.
"This is what I do," he said. "I design and conduct research on such as these so that the lame can walk, the toothless can dine, the armless can carry trays. This is my world. I want to make it yours, my son."
He leaned over Paco and gave him a kiss.
"When Father Pedro came to me yesterday and told me for the first time the story of Valentina's final hours and her struggle to give you life, I knew what I had to do. Father Pedro has already described your condition to one of our doctors, who wants to meet you this afternoon. If Doña Concepción gives her permission and you agree as well, we will begin fittings tomorrow. Yours is a difficult condition, but we have devised a way to get you on your feet. Paco, would you like to rise and walk?"
Dumbfounded, the boy gaped, his eyes brimming with tears.
"Yes," he said at last, "If you think I can."
His mother fell on her knees beside him and pulled him to her breast. "You can do anything you want, as long as you don't use the legs to run away from me."
"I would never leave you, Mamacita. I'll go where you go no matter where that is."
For all practical purposes, the next day became the first day of Paco's life as a man. At one point during the fittings, he was propped up on a set of artificial legs before a tall mirror with a pair of long pants hung from his waist. He took one look and burst into giggles.
He laughed until everyone joined him. Even the workers in the room clutched their stomachs in an agony of delight, doubling over from the strain. I wept tears that burned my eyes and dribbled down my chin. The Gypsy queen clung to a table to keep from collapsing on the floor. It was the most infectious session of laughter to which I have been a party in my life.
The mysterious fit of mass hysteria marked a turning point for Paco. From that time forward, literally overnight, he took on a different appearance. His features lost their roundness and sharpened to a manly look. His voice sloughed off its childhood soprano without passing through the "cracking" stage. It became a sturdy baritone.
On his thirteenth birthday a few days before the end of Lent, he stood beside a piano at the restaurant where we had dined with Joventino and sang in his new voice to an adoring crowd. He had suddenly become a romantically handsome, immensely appealing, inspiring young man.
He could not walk well yet, but he could stand steadily. They had strapped the jointless artificial legs to his leg stumps with a harness that he wore like a garter belt hanging from the waist.
His arm stumps offered no opportunity of arms, but floor-length crutches harnessed to his shoulders enabled him to balance as he stood and would, with enough practice, give him a sure but stiff-legged gait.
He could not wear this heavy gear for long periods of time without suffering from exhaustion and pain, but Joventino assured him that energy and power would increase with time.
It was his joy that kept him on his "feet," we thought. We wondered what ideas he might have for his future, given the new perspective of his life.
He told us on his birthday night following his performance. It was chilly. We sat around an open fire in the Gypsy encampment with the entire tribe gathered to wish him well. Fresh, steaming churros were passed around with coffee, the aroma of cinnamon sweetening the air.
"I know what you are thinking," he began, "that I'm a different person. I'm not. I belong to you. You are my family. You are my home. You are all I have of the world, and all I want. Walking is a wonderful thing, but where are these unreal feet going to take me? I could not live without my mother. She is my life. She gave it to me. Without her, I would be with Valentina under the marigolds at the midwife tree. Suddenly, I miss my little cart. I will not throw it away. Don't expect me to wear this gear all the time. I don't want to stop being Paco. I never will."
At the end of Lent, Father Pedro, who claimed he slept "like a cat," came over to spend the weekend beginning with Good Friday. On Saturday night, after we had gone to bed, he heard a tapping on the side of the truck while I remained in deep sleep.
"Wake up, señor," he said as he shook my shoulder. "Someone is outside."
As I stirred awake, he opened the back flap to find the Gypsy queen lifting a kerosene lantern to peer inside. It was still pitch dark.
"Forgive me for disturbing you, gentlemen," she apologized.
"What time is it?" I asked.
Father Pedro lifted his pocket watch from a table. "Two in the morning!"
Doña Concepción offered her apologies again. "I'm sorry, but something is happening. Come quickly, please."
The priest and I threw on our clothes. It was chilly outside. At an altitude of 7,349 feet, Mexico City could get quite cold. The Gypsy queen had returned to her motor home bus. Hard on her heels, we climbed in without formality.
Paco was sitting bolt upright in his bed, his new legs laid out neatly on the floor beside it, his arm crutches and harnesses hanging on the wall.
He had an odd look on his face, not happy, not sad, perhaps bemused. When we rushed in, he paid us no heed, continuing to stare into space. We all sat down and waited for a response. Something about his demeanor suggested we should not try to communicate until he took notice of us.
Father Pedro crossed himself and took a rosary from his pocket. "It is the look of a mystic," he whispered. "I have only seen it once, on an old Indian woman who claimed she received her healing powers from the Plumed Serpent, the ancient god, Quetzalcoatl."
We waited what seemed an eternity while Paco remained stone still. Suddenly, after twenty minutes or so, he fell back on his pillow, closed his eyes and reopened them.
He saw the semicircle of worried faces and smiled.
"Está bién, it's OK," he comforted us. "I was with Lucas. He took me to a strange place. There were many children there, every one of them an angel like him. They were glad to see me. 'Am I going to stay here with you?' I asked Lucas. He thought that was funny. 'God just gave you legs,' he said, 'and already you want wings?' I asked him who the others were. The children who bought the rains, he said. And then he told me what I must do. I have to do it now."
"What is that, my son?" his mother asked.
He threw back the covers and moved himself to the edge of the bed. "Hurry, Mamacita. We don't have much time."
"Where are we going?"
"We are going to the sun."
He would not be put off and became vigorously insistent that he knew what he was doing, that Lucas would show us the way. We were all three invited to join him. In fact, I was singled out as the one absolutely required to come.
"You will be the one to help me. Lucas said I will need you at every step."
"Why?" I asked.
"I don't know," was his reply.
It was three o'clock by the time we left. Paco asked me to drive the truck I was living in. It had a crew cab. There was plenty of room for us and the paraphernalia that comprised his arms and legs. We were also instructed to take my dachshunds and Gypsy, who had been Lucas the Angel's dog before the twelve-year-old boy died.
On the way, Father Pedro spoke up in a somber tone, his rosary still twirling in his fingers as it had since we found Paco in a trance. "We must be prepared for anything. It would appear that your angel Lucas is connected with the pagans of our Mexican past. 'The children who bought the rains' were youngsters carried on litters of flowers to the mountaintop temples where they were stunned with marigold powder and sacrificed to the gods. Their little hearts were ripped from their living bodies at the end of the dry season to insure that the rains would come to heal the parched land. It is nearly the end of the dry season now.
"I look upon the rite that took their lives as a grotesque parody of our biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, then showing mercy by having Abraham sacrifice a ram instead. The Aztec priests had no concept of mercy."
We remained silent upon hearing this unsettling tale, except for Paco's relaying the unseen and Lucas's directions to wherever we were going.
Paco seemed to have no awareness of anything but that inner voice. Planted on his mother's lap, he sat with his head on her shoulder and looked half asleep.
We drove out of the capital on the great boulevard known as Insurgentes to a highway headed north. Several miles later we came to a sign pointing to the archaeological zone centered at Teotihuacán, an ancient temple complex built by unknown people and used by successive native conquerors, lastly the Aztecs, for purposes of worship.
We were instructed to turn off there.
"We won't be able to get in," I insisted. "I've been here before. There's an entry area where you buy tickets, and there must be guards. At this hour of the night, it's bound to be closed."
"I trust Lucas," Paco said.
The ticket area was open. We drove right through. There wasn't a guard in sight. We continued to a parking area. I started to turn in.
"No," Paco said. "We're not there yet."
I drove on to the broad Avenue of the Dead which intersects the ruins of temples and palaces and leads to the majestic Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, the New World's answer to the pyramids of the Nile.
"Stop!" cried Paco. "This is it. Help me with my legs, Mamacita. Lucas told me to walk from here."
Doña Concepción did as she was told while Father Pedro and I waited nearby. I looked down. We were standing beside a cluster of exquisitely fragrant Aztec lilies.
"I say, Padre, I'd quite forgotten in the excitement, but this is Easter Sunday morning!" I reached down to pluck a flower or two. "I'll give these to Doña Concepción. They are her favorite."
The old priest snatched my arm before I touched a bloom. "No, no," he almost shouted, "I do not think that under the circumstances it would be wise."
Mystified, I pulled away.
Father Pedro let me go. "Sorry, but in the weeks before the children who bought the rains were sacrificed, it was illegal to smell a flower, much less pick one! The penalty was extreme. Who is to say under what demonic influences you may be placing yourself by following in the wake of our Aztec Gypsy? I go with him as a servant of the true God to protect him. His mother goes with him because it is her duty. But you go with him at the behest of an entity in which you do not even believe. I shall do my best for you, but remember that as a non-Catholic, your soul is, technically speaking, outside of my jurisdiction."
I had not taken this adventure seriously until then. With some trepidation, I stood with Paco a few minutes later before the Pyramid of the Sun. Formed of five symmetrical terraces accessible from a steep stairway on the west side, it soared obliquely 210 feet into the sky.
"Paco, I do not see how you can make it up there, even with my help. It's dangerous! Are you sure this is what you have been told to do?"
He had no ears for my words. He was already crawling and jerking and pushing and shoving himself upward, using his new appendages like a pro. I moved in close behind, adopting a more positive frame of mind, and used every opportunity to lend him a hand. I reminded him of the first day I met him, when my housekeeper threw a bucket of water in his face after a passing nun had lent him a hand to lift the knocker on my door.
He started to giggle at the remembrance. His laughter lightened all our moods, and we trooped upward toward the sky in hopes of finding something wonderful at the top. The short-legged dachshunds had found the challenge of their lives in those steps of the pyramid. They had lived in five countries and traveled difficult terrain, but never had they dreamed of facing a climb like this.
The Gypsy queen lost none of her stately grace, carrying herself like a ballet dancer in lithe leaps from stair to stair. Old Father Pedro sang a hymn in Latin about being lifted up to heaven while he plodded with more vigor that I expected in a man of his age. Gypsy the German shepherd was already far ahead, and before long we saw his head by starlight, peering down impatiently at us from the terrace at the top.
Each of us winded to the limit of endurance, we finally attained the summit platform and looked out at a world still shrouded in pre-dawn darkness.
I shuddered at the thought of the ghastly rites conducted on that spot but a handful of centuries ago. Aztec priests, their cloaks of feathers stained and hardened with blood, stood over their victims and plunged stone knives into their chests to carve out the gory hearts. Lifting the still-throbbing organs skyward so the gods could see, they rolled the hapless bodies down the stairs we had just ascended.
But is that more horrible, I thought, than the senseless and cruelly effected massacres of the Aztecs themselves by the Spanish conquistadors? The Spaniards sacrificed lives at the altar of gold. At least the Aztecs served a higher moral purpose, the appeasement of their gods.
Alone among us, Paco still stood, leaning forward and resting on his arm crutches. It was too difficult for him to sit down without a chair. The rest of our little group, including the dogs, sat in a cluster on the stones of the terrace waiting for we knew not what. I had been to Christian sunrise services on Easter in various parts of the world, but this did not strike me as quite the same thing.
Before we left on our tour after the New Year, I thought, I stood with Father Diego on the rim of the gorge above our town, and he fancied he saw the sun fall as it had at Fatima in 1917. What will we see here today? If seeing is believing, will I believe what I see, or will I be like the pilgrims at Fatima who fled in terror from the unknown?
I vowed to keep my head, and as Father Diego had requested that day, to keep my eyes open and unprejudiced..
Suddenly, the first light of day appeared above the horizon of spectacular volcanos ringing the Valley of Mexico.
As if on cue, Gypsy got up and walked to the center of the platform. He sniffed the air and trod in a circle for several minutes, then stopped and looked expectantly toward the sky.
Paco straightened up and proceeded toward the German shepherd. We all got up, but a sense of heaviness kept my feet on the ground as I went to take a step forward. It was the echo of a similar feeling that had oppressed me at times during a supernatural adventure with a presumed ghost at the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, several years before.
I noticed that both Doña Concepción and Father Pedro seemed anchored as well. We looked at each other apprehensively. The old priest thumbed his rosary and closed his eyes in prayer. The Gypsy queen began to tremble slightly and crossed her arms on her breast as if to hold herself together.
Paco came to a lurching halt beside the German shepherd. Within minutes the sky had turned from black to dark blue to deep red at its edges. A wind came up across the valley and kissed our faces with a warm and soothing breeze.
Paco shifted and spread his feet farther apart. The sun rose in a burst of flaming orange as the Aztec Gypsy raised his crutches to either side and remained perfectly balanced on two feet, his arms outstretched, looking for all the world like the Cross of Calvary. His face turned upward with an exalted expression. His lips moved as if engaged in silent conversation.
Then Gypsy began to prance around him, leaping upward, barking, rising higher with each leap as though endeavoring to reach something or someone far above. My dogs circled with him, tremendously excited.
It was then that the wind grew swifter and swirled around us, bringing with it a flurry of unseasonal raindrops. Startled, I looked to the side. Father Pedro and Doña Concepción had fallen to their knees, their hands clasped prayerfully, their eyes turned toward heaven.
Paco's voice flew clearly to my ears: "They are with us, señor! Do you feel them? Lucas, and 'the children who bought the rain' with their lives, they are here. God took them to Him when they were sacrificed even though the Aztecs did not know His Holy Name.
"Lucas says you don't have to believe, but he wants to thank you. If you had not come into our lives when you did, nothing might today be the same. You came as an angel even if you did not know it, señor."
When the morning sun of Easter filled a suddenly calm and rainless sky, it found me, too, on my knees, beside the old Catholic priest and the Gypsy queen.
The dachshunds and I left Mexico for another country within days of our return to El Mesón. I never saw the Aztec Gypsy and his mother again. As they were constantly on the road, communication was impossible.
I ran into Felipe, Lucas's uncle, in San Francisco some years later in a Swedish bakery near Union Square. He was attending a convention. We performed the traditional Mexican abrazo, which is an elaborate embrace upon meeting a friend, and sat down for a chat over pastry and tea.
He had given up his Guadalajara clinic in favor of entering private practice as a psychiatrist. He brought me up to date on events in the lives of mutual friends and was rising from his chair to scurry off to a meeting when I asked tentatively if he had any news of Paco and the Gypsies.
Stunned, he sat down heavily. "You don't know?"
"I haven't been in Mexico for ten years. How would I know anything?"
Felipe leaned forward on his elbows. "Let's have another cup of coffee."
"What about your meeting?"
"To hell with it," he said.
I got the coffee from the counter. Felipe seemed lost in thought.
"The Gypsies contacted me from time to time," he told me when I returned with the coffee.. "Doña Concepción wrote once that Paco was offered a lucrative recording contract, but he turned it down. It would have required personal appearances at theaters and public functions he felt himself ill-equipped to handle.
"He came to Guadalajara with some of the tribe at the age of seventeen. We had a session, and I asked him about the possibilities of his achieving fame and fortune as a ranchero singer. He frowned, saying God gave him the voice only so he could sing for his Gypsy mother in payment for her saving him at the midwife tree. He remained obdurate. All my psychiatric training would have been no match for his indomitable will. That was the last time I saw him, poor lad!"
I fidgeted with my napkin, fighting back a sense of doom at sight of the emotional pain on Felipe's face as he said the last words.
"Well," I blurted out, "what happened?"
Felipe daubed at his eyes with a napkin. "Yes, yes, you want to know. About a year later, which would be five years after you left Mexico, I got a telegram from Paco saying that his mother had died in her sleep while they were touring in the mountains of Michoacán. That was all. He did not even indicate exactly where they were."
I sank back in my chair. Doña Concepción gone! Such a twist in my heart!
"At least there was no suffering," I said quietly.
Felipe sighed again. "Yes, there was, but it was not hers. Two years later I received a letter from the Gypsy king."
"Paco?" I brightened for a fraction of a second.
"No, it was from a young man who told me that Paco had set the date for his wedding, on a Valentine's Day, and that you had shared his sleeping quarters in his truck before he married."
I remembered well.
"It seems that upon Doña Concepción's death, the tribe unanimously offered the kingship to Paco, but he refused it," Felipe went on. "He asked them instead to appoint a king and queen, the Valentine couple, who by that time had brought two babies into the world. 'They are the future of the tribe,' he told them. 'I am a shadow of the past.'"
"That sounds like him," I said.
"The suffering fell to him. The new king wrote that Paco had sunk into a fathomless state of depression after the death of his mother. He was utterly inconsolable. He set aside his walking gear and went back to Gypsy's pulling his cart. He never sang another note and barely spoke to anyone except the shade of my nephew Lucas, whom he said appeared more and more frequently in his mystical dreams. I have seen such regressive behavior in certain of my patients. After a great trauma, they retreat to the safest icons of the past."
My heart began to break. "What happened to Paco? Oh, I wish I could have been there when the Gypsy queen died. Perhaps I could have said or done something that would have made a difference!"
Felipe reached over to touch my arm. "Everyone knew how much you loved those Gypsies. All of us who were your friends understood that the day would come when you would have to go away and probably never return. Actually, there was nothing you or anyone could have done for Paco. His Gypsy mother was his life. He had to follow her, you see.
"The new Gypsy king told me in his letter that after the whole tribe performed for Paco and tried to cheer him up on the night of his nineteenth birthday, he retired early, thanking them, but without a smile. He hadn't smiled since the day he found his mother dead,
"Then, in the middle of the night, the new Gypsy queen, who was very sensitive to Paco's moods, woke up and ran outside. Her husband followed her and found her standing below the bedroom window of Paco's bus.
"'Didn't you hear him?' she cried. 'He was singing as he used to do! Then he shouted: Mamacita! I am whole! Oh, thank you! My wings! My wings!'
"Whereupon, the queen and her husband rushed into the bus.
"Paco lay dead on the floor as if he'd fallen while running or walking, but his artificial limbs were not attached. The stump of one arm was outstretched as if taking someone by the hand, but, of course, he had no hand to give. His lifeless face seemed aglow with boundless joy.
"The Gypsy king ended the letter by writing that although, in her hysteria at finding Paco dead, his wife had insisted on another explanation, Paco must surely have torn apart the pillows during his death throes. You see, when they ran inside, clouds of feathers floated down on them from everywhere."