It was sunrise at Nagrebcan. The fine, bluish mist, low over the tobacco fields, was lifting and thinning moment by moment. A ragged strip of mist, pulled away by the morning breeze, had caught on the clumps of bamboo along the banks of the stream that flowed to one side of the barrio. Before long the sun would top the Katayaghan hills, but as yet no people were around. In the grey shadow of the hills, the barrio was gradually awaking. Roosters crowed and strutted on the ground while hens hesitated on their perches among the branches of the camanchile trees. Stray goats nibbled the weeds on the sides of the road, and the bull carabaos tugged restively against their stakes.

In the early morning, the puppies lay curled up together between their mother’s paws under the ladder of the house. Four puppies were all white like the mother. They had pink noses and pink eyelids and pink mouths. The skin between their toes and on the inside of their large, limp ears was pink. They had short sleek hair, for the mother licked them often. The fifth puppy lay across the mother’s neck. On the puppy’s back was a big black spot like a saddle. The tips of its ears were black and so was a pitch of hair on its chest.

The opening of the sawali door, its uneven bottom dragging noisily against the bamboo flooring, aroused the mother dog and she got up and stretched and shook herself, scattering dust and loose white hair. A rank doggy smell rose in the cool morning air. She took a quick leap forward, clearing the puppies which had begun to whine about her, wanting to suckle. She trotted away and disappeared beyond the house of a neighbor.

The puppies sat back on their rumps, whining. After a little while they lay down and went back to sleep, the black-spotted puppy on top.

Baldo stood at the treshold and rubbed his sleep-heavy eyes with his fists. He must have been about ten years old, small for his age, but compactly built, and he stood straight on his bony legs. He wore one of his father’s discarded cotton undershirts.

The boy descended the ladder, leaning heavily on the single bamboo railing that served as a banister. He sat on the lowest step of the ladder, yawning and rubbing his eyes one after the other. Bending down, he reached between his legs for the black-spotted puppy. He held it to him, stroking its soft, warm body. He blew on its nose. The puppy stuck out a small red tongue, lapping the air. It whined eagerly. Baldo laughed—a low gurgle.

He rubbed his face against that of the dog. He said softly. “My puppy. My puppy.” He said it many times. The puppy licked his ears, his cheeks. When it licked his mouth. Baldo straightened up, raised the puppy on a level with his eyes. “You are a foolish puppy” he said, laughing. “Foolish, foolish, foolish,” he said, rolling the puppy on his lap so that it howled.

The four other puppies awoke and came scrambling about Baldo’s legs. He put down the black-spotted puppy and ran to the narrow foot bridge of women split-bamboo spanning the roadside ditch. When it rained, water from the roadway flowed under the makeshift bridge, but it had not rained for a long time and the ground was dry and sandy. Baldo sat on the bridge, digging his bare feet into the sand, feeling the cool particles escaping between his toes. He whistled, a toneless whistle with a curious trilling to it produced by placing the tongue against the lower teeth and then curving it up and down. The whistle excited the puppies, they ran to the boy as fast theri unsteady legs could carry them, barking choppy little barks.

It was sunrise at Nagrebcan. The fine, bluish mist, low over the tobacco fields, was lifting and thinning moment by moment. A ragged strip of mist, pulled away by the morning breeze, had caught on the clumps of bamboo along the banks of the stream that flowed to one side of the barrio. Before long the sun would top the Katayaghan hills, but as yet no people were around. In the grey shadow of the hills, the barrio was gradually awaking. Roosters crowed and strutted on the ground while hens hesitated on theri perches among the branches of the camanchile trees. Stray goats nibbled the weeds on the sides of the road, and the bull carabaos tugged restively against their stakes.
In the early mornig the puppies lay curled up together between their mother’s paws under the ladder of the house. Four puupies were all white like the mother. They had pink noses and pink eyelids and pink mouths. The skin between their toes and on the inside of their large, limp ears was pink. They had short sleek hair, for the mother licked them often. The fifth puppy lay across the mother’s neck. On the puppy’s back was a big black spot like a saddle. The tips of its ears were black and so was a pitch of hair on its chest.

The opening of the sawali door, its uneven bottom dragging noisily against the bamboo flooring, aroused the mother dog and she got up and stretched and shook herself, scattering dust and loose white hair. A rank doggy smell rose in the cool morning air. She took a quick leap forward, clearing the puppies which had begun to whine about her, wanting to suckle. She trotted away and disappeared beyond the house of a neighbor.

The puppies sat back on their rumps, whining. After a little while they lay down and went back to sleep, the black-spotted puppy on top.
Baldo stood at the treshold and rubbed his sleep-heavy eyes with his fists. He must have been about ten years old, small for his age, but compactly built, and he stood straight on his bony legs. He wore one of his father’s discarded cotton undershirts.
The boy descended the ladder, leaning heavily on the single bamboo railing that served as a banister. He sat on the lowest step of the ladder, yawning and rubbing his eyes one after the other. Bending down, he reached between his legs for the blak-spotted puppy. He held it to him, stroking its soft, warm body. He blew on its nose. The puppy stuck out a small red tongue,lapping the air. It whined eagerly. Baldo laughed—a low gurgle.

He rubbed his face against that of the dog. He said softly. “My puppy. My puppy.” He said it many times. The puppy licked his ears, his cheeks. When it licked his mouth. Baldo straightened up, raised the puppy on a level with his eyes. “You are a foolish puppy” he said, laughing. “Foolish, foolish, foolish,” he said, rolling the puppy on his lap so that it howled.

The four other puppies awoke and came scrambling about Baldo’s legs. He put down the black-spotted puppy and ran to the narrow foot bridge of women split-bamboo spanning the roadside ditch. When it rained, water from the roadway flowed under the makeshift bridge, but it had not rained for a long time and the ground was dry and sandy. Baldo sat on the bridge, digging his bare feet into the sand, feeling the cool particles escaping between his toes. He whistled, a toneless whistle with a curious trilling to it produced by placing the tongue against the lower teeth and then curving it up and down. The whistle excited the puppies, they ran to the boy as fast there unsteady legs could carry them, barking choppy little barks.

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