The sun waits off to one side, barely noticed in the unpleasant and already dismissed sky. A bird flies overhead, the sun throws its shadow into the eyes of an onlooker. He salutes the sun automatically, as a veteran would the flag, and shades his eyes. The man watches the bird as it dips and flaps loudly into the recesses of a low concrete arcade. He is on his way to work, but the office holds little attraction for him on a day like this, so he decides to show up late. He calculates everything perfectly, and now finds himself in this beautiful old square, among very few other passersby, most of whom are tourists, admiring the architecture. "What a beautiful bird", he thinks, "and [looking closely at the engraving on the concrete] it appears that she has flown under an equally marvelous little bird, albeit a bit faded from age". He kneels close to the small stone and begins to rub its course surface expertly with his thumb, moss and other debris fall away and scatter. "There", he speaks aloud, "Now we can see you!" "Quite marvelous, really," comes a voice from behind. Startled, he stands up and turns around all at once, almost falling over himself as he does. A smiling, middle-aged gentleman stands before him, apparently admiring the carving. "What do you think?" the latter asks. "Oh, yes", stammers the first, already out of breath, "you took the words right out of my mouth." The old man finally looked at Carl for the first time. "Oh", he said, his bright eyes widening, "My dear! Are you by chance that man Herminias?" After a short pause, Carl lowered his eyes and raised his hands as though to avoid a blow, but the movement was too fast and the other, perhaps a little afraid, jumped back as if fearing attack. "Oh, I'm sorry", said Carl, head raised and facing the old man, "I wasn't going to hit you." "never mind", said the old man quickly, "I understand, I didn't mean to bother you." It was his turn then to lower his eyes. "So you know who I am now?" asked Carl. "Yeah, sure I do, I know you, at least your face is familiar to me." "Well then", began Carl.
At that moment, somewhere far off, a bell was about to be rung.