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106 erotic stories in the manager of the wine cellars to tell him that he was to send a half-barrel of red wine and two jeraboams of sweet wine to Pegos Verdes that day. Sagreira seemed overwhelmed.

‘Well,’ he remarked. ‘what a great party for the lads, and they deserve it too… and of course nothing is too much when we have to celebrate the arrival of the little one divine providence gave you…’

He was indeed my first son (up to then I had only had daughters) but though he was far from my thoughts at the time, I quickly grasped what Sagreira was talking about.

‘Quite right, quite right…’, I agreed hurriedly, and turned to the cellar manager: ‘Instead of a half barrel of red, make it a full one.’

It was agreed that the doll was to be life-size and would be placed in the barn, where there would be shade early in the afternoon, and where the floor was excellent for dancing. Sagreira was charged with organizing the invitations as well as hiring two of the best local harmonica players.

This all in honour of my Julia, who was so happy at the idea of the feast, though I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to celebrate it with her in smart drawing-rooms with tables laden with exotic food, washed down with champagne…

On the Tuesday I set out before sunrise (‘It’s a good idea to go early so that you miss the heat,’ my loving wife remarked), and at nine o’clock I was in the barn, checking the doll and the decorations, all of which I found most disappointing.

‘I can see that Julia hasn’t got much of a touch when it comes to rustic festivities…’ I said to myself.

In the Convent there were great goings-on, with no fewer than twelve girls working in the kitchen; my avid eyes searched in vain among them for the slender figure and beautiful face of my Julia – a fact which did not escape Emília, who, as soon as I reached my bedroom, ran to tell me that her friend was ill and was unable to be at the party.

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