On July 20, 1714, the most beautiful bridge in Peru collapsed, dropping five travelers into the abyss. The catastrophe struck Peruvians tremendously: the bridge of King Louis of Saint saw something unshakable, existing forever. But although everything was shocked, only one man, Brother Uniiper, a red-haired Franciscan monk who happened to be a witness of a catastrophe, saw in this tragedy some Idea. Why these five? – he asked a question. Either our life is accidental and then our death is accidental, either in life or in our death the Plan is laid. And Brother UniPer made a decision: to penetrate into the mystery of the lives of these five and unravel the causes of their deaths.
The only passion of one of the victims – the Marquise de Montemayor – was her daughter, Dona Clara, whom the Marquis loved until self-oblivion. But the daughter did not inherit the mother’s ardor: she was cold and intelligent, the obsessive adoration of the Marquise tired her. Of all the applicants for her hand, Dona Clara chose the one with whom she was to go to Spain. Left alone, the Marquise became more and more isolated, leading endless dialogues with her adored daughter. The only rejoicing for her were the letters she sent monthly to Spain with her next visit. To be interesting for her daughter, the marquise exercised her eye in observation and communicated with the most brilliant interlocutors, honing the style. The daughter only glimpsed the letters of the mother,
Sometimes it occurred to the marquis that she was a sinner and that her great love was marred by tyranny, because she loved her daughter not for her sake, but for herself. But the temptation always prevailed: she wanted her daughter to belong only to her, she wanted to hear from her the words: “You are the best of mothers.” Immersed in herself, the marquise did not even notice how once in the theater, with a large crowd of people, the popular actress Perikola sang the couplets, in which she openly sneered at her. Having written the same letter to her daughter, the marquise was forgotten for several days in alcoholic intoxication.
A constant witness to these heavy hours of the marquise was her young companion Pepita – another victim of the tragedy on the bridge. This pure soul orphan, brought up at the monastery, mother Superior Maria del Pilar sent to the service of the Marquis, so that she comprehended the laws of the upper world. The Mother Superior raised this girl especially carefully, preparing herself a replacement. Mother Maria herself gave herself entirely to the service of others and, seeing in the girl an extraordinary will and strength of character, rejoiced that there was someone to convey her worldly and spiritual experience. But even brought up in irreproachable submission, Pepite was hard to live in the palace of the Marquis, who, absorbed entirely by her thoughts about her daughter, did not see either the self-interest of servants or their open theft. At the Pepita, the marquis almost did not pay attention.
The news that the daughter will soon become a mother, threw the marquise into an incredible excitement. She makes a pilgrimage to one of the Christian shrines in Peru, taking with him Pepita. There, earnestly praying in the church, the marquis returns to the inn where she accidentally reads a letter written by Pepita to the abbess. The girl tells in her how hard it is in the palace, how I want to return to the monastery for a day and stay with my dear mentor.
Simplicity of thoughts and feelings of the girl causes confusion in the soul of the marquise. She suddenly discovered that she had never been with her daughter herself – she always wanted to like. The Marquise immediately sits down to write her first real letter to her daughter, not thinking about impressing, and not caring about the sophistication of the speech, the first clumsy experience of courage. And then, rising from the table, says: “Let me now live.” Let me start all over again. ” When they started on their way back, they already suffered a certain misfortune.
The third victim, Esteban, was a pupil of the same Mary del Pilar; He, together with his twin brother Manuel, was tossed to the gates of the monastery in early infancy. When the brothers grew up, they settled in the city, but, as necessary, performed various works in the monastery. In addition, they mastered the craft of scribes. Brothers practically did not part, everyone knew the thoughts and desires of the other. The symbol of their complete identity was the language they invented, on which they spoke among themselves.
The first shadow that overshadowed their alliance was Manuel’s love for a woman. The brothers often rewritten roles for theater actors, and somehow Perikola asked Manuel to write a letter to her dictation. It turned out to be a love affair, and afterwards Pericol repeatedly resorted to the services of a young man, and the addressees, as a rule, were different. Although there was nothing to think about reciprocity, Manuel fell in love with an actress without memory. However, seeing how Esteban suffers, believing that he was replaced, Manuel decides to stop all relations with the actress and try to throw it out of memory.
After a while, Manuel injures his leg. The mediocre physician does not notice the blood infection that has begun, and, after suffering for several days, the young man dies. Before his death in fever, he talks a lot about his love for Pericola and curses Esteban for the fact that he stood between him and his love.
After the death of his brother Esteban impersonates Manuel – no one, even the closest person in the world – Mother Superior, does not disclose the truth. Mother Maria del Pilar long prayed to God that he sent peace to the soul of the young man, who after the funeral wanders around the city with insane, burning like coals eyes. Finally, it is her thought to turn to Captain Alvarado, a noble traveler, to whom the brothers have always had deep respect.
Esteban agrees to go on a voyage under one condition: the captain must pay him all the salaries in advance so that he can buy a gift from the mother-abbess on this money and from himself and the deceased brother. The captain agrees, and they go to Lima. At the bridge of St. Louis the captain descends to look after the goods, and Esteban goes along the footbridge and falls with him to the abyss.
The dead boy, Don Chaimé, was the son of the actress Perikola, who had lived with her from the relationship with the Viceroy of Peru, and Uncle Pio, who accompanied him, was her long-time friend, almost a father. Uncle Pio – everyone called him that way – came from a good Castilian family, but early ran away from home, because he possessed the character of an adventurer. During his life he changed dozens of professions, always pursuing, however, three goals – in any situation to remain independent, to be near beautiful women and to be closer to the people of art.
Perikola uncle Pio picked up in the literal sense of the word on the street, where she sang songs in a society of stray actors. Then, in the mind of Uncle Pio, the idea arose for the voice-hungry girl Pygmalion. He fumbled with her like a real father: he taught good manners, diction; read books with her, took me to the theater. Pericola wholeheartedly attached to the mentor and simply idolized him.
Over time, the long-armed, chubby teen turned into an extraordinary beauty, and this shocked Uncle Pio, how shocked him and her successes as an actress. He felt the precision and grandeur of Pericola’s game, and, after studying with her for a long time, analyzed the shades of her performance, sometimes even allowing herself criticism. And Pericola listened to him with attention, for as well as he, aspired to perfection.
The actress had many admirers and novels, and from the viceroy, with whom she had a long connection, she had three children. To the dismay of Uncle Pio, Pericola’s interest in the theater begins to fade away. She suddenly wanted to become a respectable lady, she even achieved the legalization of her children. Chaime inherited from his father susceptibility to convulsions – this son Pericola paid more attention than the rest.
Suddenly a news spread over Lima: Pericola is sick with smallpox. The former actress recovered, but the damage to beauty was inflicted irreparable. Despite the fact that Pericola retired and did not accept anyone, Uncle Pio cunningly comes to her, trying to convince that his feelings are not related to her beauty – he loves her personality, and therefore changes in her appearance do not excite him. Uncle Pio asks for the only mercy – to take for himself for a year don Chaim: the boy is completely abandoned, and he has good inclinations, he must be engaged in Latin, music. Perikola hardly lets go of her son, and soon gets a terrible news: when crossing the bridge, the two people closest to her collapsed into the abyss…
Brother Uniiper never found out the reasons for the death of these five. He saw, as it seemed to him, in one catastrophe of the wicked – punished by death – and good – early called to heaven. All his observations, reflections and conclusions he brought into the book, but he himself remained unsatisfied. The book caught the eye of the judges and was declared heretical, and its author was publicly burned in the square.
And mother Maria, thinking about what happened, thinks that already now very few people remember Esteban and Pepita, except her. Soon all witnesses of this tragedy will die, and the memory of these five will be erased from the face of the earth. But they were loved – and that’s enough. The small streams of love will again flow into the love that gave birth to them.