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BLESS ME, ULTIMA: FREE LITERATURE SUMMARY
Antonio asks Cico why he trusts him. Cico says it is because Antonio is a fisherman. He says the Indian told Samuel the story of the golden carp. Samuel told Narciso, who told Cico. Now they will tell Antonio. The gang comes upon them and calls to them. They ask Antonio if a bruja lives at his house. He answers with a simple "no." They repeat gossip they have heard about her. Cico urges Antonio to leave with him. Horse tells Antonio to do some magic. Red tells them to leave Antonio alone. Ernie shouts at him to stay out of it since he is a Protestant and does not know about brujas. They hold Antonio down and tell him to do magic or "voodoo." He finally yells, "Okay!" and they release him. He vomits a yellow froth from the juice of the carrots at their feet. He and Cico run.
When they stop to catch their breath, Antonio asks Cico why people are like that. Cico says people seem to want to hurt each other. They walk by a part of the river where Antonio has never visited. He has heard about the Hidden Lakes up in the hills. When they come to a trail, Cico examines it carefully, apparently to make sure no one has come this way. They crawl into the thicket on their hands and knees. When they emerge, they come upon a beaver dam. The spot is beautiful and lush. Cico points to the spot where the golden carp will come. Cico retrieves a spear which he uses to fish for black bass. The golden carp will scare the bass up to the surface. They whisper as if in church. They wait for a long time in the pleasant sunshine.
The golden carp comes. Antonio thinks he is dreaming at first because the carp is so large. Cico says, "Behold the golden carp, Lord of the waters--." The fish is bigger than Antonio and it is bright orange. Antonio feels as though he "could not have been more entranced if he had seen the Virgin, or God Himself." Cico tells him the carp knows he is a friend. The carp disappears. Antonio knows he has witnessed a miracle, "the appearance of a pagan god," a miracle on a par with the curing of Lucas. He thinks of how the power of God failed where Ultima's power worked, but then he has a flash of sudden illumination of beauty and understanding." He sees that it is this that he expects God to do at his first communion. Then he thinks that if God saw him witnessing the golden carp, then he has sinned. He is about to pray when the water explodes. Cico hurls his spear at a huge black bass with eyes "glazed with hate." He misses it.
Cico puts his spear away and calls Antonio to come and put his feet in the water. He says the golden carp will be returning. When Antonio asks him if he is disappointed that he missed the bass, Cico says he is not, that it is just a game. The golden carp appears at the edge of the pond. It swims close to their feet. Antonio worries about people fishing the golden carp. Cico says the other fishermen cannot see it. He thinks adults must not be able to see it. The Indian, Narciso, and Ultima are different as are Cico, Samuel, and Antonio. Cico tells Antonio that the golden carp swims upstream to the lakes of the mermaid, the Hidden Lakes.
Antonio has never heard of the mermaid. Cico tells him there are two hidden lakes in the hills which feed the creek. There is something strange about it as if some power watches those who visit. Antonio wants to know if it is like the presence of the river. Cico says what is at the lakes is stronger or that it "seems to want you more." Cico says that the time he visited, he had sat on some cliffs and considered only the good fishing. He began to hear strange music coming from far away sounding like something a sad girl would sing. The singing seemed to come from the water and seemed to be calling him. He tells Antonio the music was pulling him into the waters. He was saved by the appearance of the golden carp at whose approach the music stopped. He ran in great fear.
Antonio asks if Cico saw the mermaid. Cico says he did not. He tells Antonio that the mermaid is said to be a deserted woman or is perhaps just the wind singing around the cliffs. Last summer, the mermaid took a shepherd from Mexico. The man had made it back to town and told the story of hearing the singing. He said it was a woman resting on the water and singing, half woman and half fish. The man was not believed and he promised he would go back to the lake and bring her back. He never came back. Cico warns Antonio never to go to the Hidden Lakes alone.
Cico tells Antonio the whole land was once covered by sea. Antonio says his
name--Maréz--means sea. Antonio Maréz means "arisen
from the ocean." Cico says the land belonged to the fish before it
belonged to people. Cico says the golden carp will come and rule again.
Cico reminds Antonio about Samuel's story about the origin of the golden
carp as a god. He adds that after the golden carp came, a new people came
to the valley. They were worse than the first inhabitants. "They
sinned against the legends they knew." The golden carp sent them
a prophecy that the people's sins would be punished by a flood.
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