The trails their fathers had ridden were shut off. They had to follow the wire to find a gate. Well-bred stallions took too much of modern time to breed and train. Horses dropped to ponies. Men were seen riding mares. The boliche grew a fourth wall and a bar that sold soft drinks. The sons of el gaucho went to work for a monthly wage. Instead of a poncho they wore a leather jacket and a cap or a beret instead of el gaucho's hat, and the fac�n became no larger than a jackknife that rarely disemboweled anything more than cans of condensed milk and soup.
El gaucho went the way of the Model T Ford. Some are still on the road as freaks of time and chance, and the rest are remembered in three-day bouts of nostalgia at rallies where sons wear their fathers" dress and sing the old songs, drink as much wine and tell the same stories in language that has been to school, perhaps, but still retains the salt, and sometimes can even be translated.
For example, the one about the hungry puma. For two days he searched the mountain looking for the sheep, but all he found was a plump goat. Goat meat has no appeal for the puma. "Horrible creature," he grunted. "However, sheep'll follow you, so you follow me." Nightfall came, and no sheep. The puma was hungry, tired, fretful. "Lie close," he growled. "At least keep me warm." Next morning, the puma woke red-eyed and ravenous. The goat trembled, but the puma hardly looked at her. All day passed with not a trace of sheep. The puma screamed with fury. The goat, of course, ate anything. She was now very plump. Another long day and night passed. No sheep. On the second night the puma was too hungry to be furious. But going into their sleeping place, the goat was startled to see the puma looking at her in a most affable manner. "Tell me, m'dear," said he, picking long, dripping fangs with a talon, "Anybody ever mention that you have the face of a most beautiful sheep?"
Even today, when el gaucho's son meets a china along the way, he greets her with open arms. "Ah, but Se�orita!" he calls. "Anybody ever tell you? You have the face of a most beautiful sheep!"
She knows just what he means.