by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
It's Christmas Eve, 1861 or 1862. Seventeen-year-old Nogueira, a native of the provinces living in Rio de Janeiro for his studies, has arranged with a neighbor to go to midnight mass. Into the parlor where he is waiting up alone walks Dona Conceição, the thirty-year-old wife of the man in whose house he is lodging. "Midnight Mass," perhaps Machado's most beloved tale, is a Brazilian classic.