The magician scans the faces of the children for another helper while Rosaura’s heart trembles. He points at Rosaura and says, “You, with the Spanish eyes.” Rosaura isn’t afraid to hold the monkey, nor is she scared when the monkey vanishes or when the magician covers her head in the cape and the monkey reappears in her arms.
The children clap and the magician thanks Rosaura, calling her “my little countess.” Rosaura is so pleased with the compliment that it is the first thing she relates to her mother when her mother picks her up. Rosaura is surprised to hear herself say this, because she had thought she was angry with her mother and had intended to focus on how the monkey hadn’t been a lie. Instead, Rosaura is so happy that she tells her mother about the magician. Her mother taps her head and says, “So now we’re a countess!” but she herself is beaming.
Rosaura and her mother stand in the entrance because Señora Ines asks them to wait. Rosaura’s mother appears to worry, but Rosaura reassures her mother that Señora Ines just wants to get the presents for children who are leaving. Rosaura has seen others receive gifts on their way out: yo-yos for boys and bracelets for girls.
Rosaura privately hopes for a yo-yo because of the way they sparkle. Rosaura doesn’t mention her desire to her mother because she expects her mother will tell her to ask for a yo-yo. Rosaura doesn’t want to have to explain to her mother that she would feel horribly ashamed to be the odd one out.
Señora Ines returns with a pink bag of bracelets and a blue bag of yo-yos. She gives the fat boy a yo-yo and a girl with pigtails a bracelet before they both leave with their mothers. She smiles at Rosaura and her mother. Rosaura is proud to hear Señora Ines tell Rosaura’s mother what a marvelous daughter she has. Rosaura thinks she will maybe receive two presents. Señora Ines bends down and Rosaura stretches out her arm.
Señora Ines doesn’t look in the pink or blue bag. Instead, she removes two bills from her purse and offers them to Rosaura. Señora Ines tells Rosaura she truly earned the money, and thanks Rosaura for all her help. Rosaura’s arm stiffens and stays close to her body. Rosaura notices her mother’s hand on her shoulder. She presses herself against her mother’s body. Rosaura’s eyes stay fixed on Señora Ines’s face, giving the woman a cold, clear look.
The story ends with Señora Ines standing motionless with her hand outstretched, as if she wouldn’t dare draw the money back. Señora Ines maintains this frozen posture, “as if the slightest change might shatter an infinitely delicate balance.”
When her mother comes to pick her up, Rosaura discovers—to her surprise—that the anger she held is gone. Despite having planned to tell her mother that she had been right about the monkey, Rosaura finds herself so pleased with the experience that she only tells her mother about how great the party has been. Rosaura repeats what the magician said when he called her a countess—a term for women of noble rank. Her mother teases her for bragging, but Herminia’s broad smile conveys that the teasing is good-natured; Herminia is also happy Rosaura enjoyed the party.
The buoyant mood is jeopardized when Señora Ines asks Rosaura and her mother to wait. Rosaura detects her mother’s sudden worry. In her innocence, Rosaura assures her mother that Señora Ines is probably getting her a parting gift, as she has seen the other children receive. But Rosaura’s mother’s worry foreshadows the climactic exchange about to come.
The theme of merit arises as Rosaura fantasizes about receiving both a yo-yo and a bracelet. Señora Ines’s compliments and Rosaura’s helpfulness suggest to Rosaura that she will be rewarded for her exceptional behavior at the party. But, in an instance of situational irony, Señora Ines undermines Rosaura’s expectations by withdrawing cash from her purse and holding it out to Rosaura. The seemingly generous gesture insults Rosaura and her mother, both of whom make no move to reach for the money but instead stand with their arms at their sides. In a symbolic gesture, Rosaura presses in close to her mother for protection and in an implicit admission that her mother’s hesitation about socializing with rich people should have been heeded.
The story ends on the image of the characters stuck in a kind of tableau vivant. Rosaura’s and her mother’s body language suggests they are not going to take the money, yet Señora Ines won’t withdraw her hand and the cash it holds. The power dynamic between these characters of different classes and socioeconomic statuses has been at play throughout the story, but until this moment, Rosaura has been unaware of it, or at least unwilling to recognize it.
Heker’s choice of words in the last lines—“as if she wouldn’t dare” and “might shatter an infinitely delicate balance”—describes the nuanced dynamic at play in the image. Heker’s words suggest that Señora Ines, despite her apparent kindness, needs Rosaura to take the money not so much for Rosaura’s benefit but for Señora Ines to uphold her sense of social segregation. She cannot see Rosaura as an actual friend of her daughter and a regular guest at the party. She needs to give Rosaura the money to maintain the “delicate balance” that keeps her in a position of power of people who have less money and privilege than herself.