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Talking to Haitian workers in Dominican landowner Don Ignacio's sugar cane fields, Amabelle, a young Haitian housemaid to the Don, learns that the Dominican dictator Trujillo is against them, and that their lives are worthless.
The roundup and killing of Haitians begins.
Amabelle, along with many others, are pursued as they flee toward Haiti over the mountains. Many are killed before they can reach the border.
By the Massacre River, which marks the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Amabelle and other refugees are herded together, attacked, and choked with parsley. The attackers identify the Haitians by their inability to say the word "perejil", which means "parsley", with a Dominican pronunciation.
The attackers are distracted by the arrival of Trujillo, allowing Amabelle and others to get away.
As they swim across the river, a refugee is shot; Amabelle covers the mouth and nose of his wife to keep her from screaming and giving them away, inadvertently smothering her.
The Dominican government offers to pay off survivors of the massacre, and Amabelle goes to the city only to find there will be no compensation after all.
Amabelle returns to the Domincan region where she used to live, but everything has changed, and things are unfamiliar.
Amabelle returns to the river and, surrendering to fate with the river's forward flow, finds faith for a new life.
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