Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Excerpt from "The Larger Cage," originally published in the Antioch Review, Summer 1953 (p. 10):

In such a great city it seemed to Rodolfo that one could sell birds endlessly. People might pass by all the silver vendors and the leather vendors with their wares spread temptingly under the gaze of the touristas; all the small vendedores selling pencils, chains, blouses, rebozos, kittens, puppies; all the children selling lottery tickets, all the beggars, even the armless man who wove little baskets with his toes; and still stop to watch the tame birds and thinking them no trouble and seeing that they were so cheap, only a few pesos, end by buying one or two. He saw himself with a job that went on year after year. He forgot to watch for likely purchasers.

"A well-dressed woman stopped to inquire pleasantly about Pablo. He explained that some days he left him at home. Then she asked Rodolfo his name and admired the birds on the stick he was holding. She ran a finger caressingly under the beak of one and the poor creature toppled off onto the sidewalk and sat stunned and waiting. Rodolfo quickly picked it up and placed it on the stick He was surprised by the old pain of sympathy he felt for the helpless, docile bird, and he stroked its small back.

"'He is the one!' the woman shouted, startling him out of the tenderness.

"Two policemen who accompanied her hurried through the crowd and stood near Maximiano and Rodolfo so that they dared not move.