The shipping office had found a boat. A freighter. Three thousand tons. Well, perhaps two. A very fine freighter. A Captain and stewards. Cabins? Yes, cabins. And shower-baths. Food? Oh yes, much food. In fact it was a French boat, Portuguese. From Vera Cruz. Straight to Yucatan? Well not quite. Where to then? Such a good boat did not waste itself on Yucatan. Where did it go to? To Bordeaux. Bordeaux? Bordeaux-the-Other-Side-of-the-Sea. It was a thought.

The boat would leave in a month. It took five weeks, no seven. It was very inexpensive. We talked it over. Was it really necessary for me to return by way of New York? Did we really want to go to Uxmal? The great thing about this boat was that it would make no fuss about taking two small donkeys. For some time now I had been wanting to buy two Mexican baby donkeys, one grey one black, for fifteen shillings apiece. Where else in the world could one acquire two such enchanting, delicately made, silk-muzzled creatures for that sum?

In later life they tend to become sullen and coarse-grained, with me they would spend years of ease. I wanted to settle down, they would compel me to find a suitable rural home at once. Their influence on my choice would be good: a quiet place, some distance from the market ... I worked it all out. At first I would leave them with a friend who had a cottage in Normandy. I might give one to her, I might take a third. Madame Guerinier, the farmwoman who had such a way with dogs could look after them. She had never seen a donkey. E., I would put on an aeroplane that would get her to her native country before she could say San Esteban Tiaquepaque."

"And how do you propose to get those animals from Bordeaux to Normandy?" said E. The shipping clerks were finding their stride. Every day more details, all splendid, were coming to light about the desirable cargo-boat. "Are you sure it exists?" said E. "Is there such a thing as a freighter from Vera Cruz to Bordeaux?" I reminded her of a friend of ours who had actually travelled on something of that nature. "Ah, but Nancy commands freighters; they rise for her from the seas like Prospero's island. And nearly drown her, too. Such freighters are not for the likes of us."

--- From The Sudden View
A Mexican Journey

Sybille Bedford
©1953 Harper & Brothers
Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH