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The village was made up of only twenty-odd wooden houses that had stone courtyards with no flowers and which were spread about on the end of a desertlike cape.
But the sea was calm and bountiful and all the men fitted into seven boats.
So when they found the drowned man they simply had to look at one another to see that they were all there. While the men went to find out if anyone was missing in neighboring villages, the women stayed behind to care for the drowned man.
Not only was he the tallest, strongest, most virile, and best built man they had ever seen, but even though they were looking at him there was no room for him in their imagination. Fascinated by his huge size and his beauty, the women then decided to make him some pants from a large piece of sail and a shirt from some bridal linen so that he could continue through his death with dignity.
As they sewed, sitting in a circle and gazing at the corpse between stitches, it seemed to them that the wind had never been so steady nor the sea restless as on that night and they supposed that the change had something to do with the dead man.
Most of them had only to take another look at him to see that he could not have any other name.
The more stubborn among them, who were the youngest, still lived for a few hours with the illusion that when they put his clothes on and he lay among the flowers in patent leather shoes his name might be Lautaro. There had not been enough canvas, the poorly cut and worse sewn pants were too tight, and the hidden strength of his heart popped the buttons on his shirt.
The women who had dressed him, who had combed his hair, had cut his nails and shaved him were unable to hold back a shudder of pity when they had to resign themselves to his being dragged along the ground.
It was then that they understood how unhappy he must have been with that huge body since it bothered him even after death.
The men thought the fuss was only womanish frivolity.
Fatigued because of the difficult nighttime inquiries, all they wanted was to get rid of the bother of the newcomer once and for all before the sun grew strong on that arid, windless day.