“There, man, calm yourself,” said Dona Perfecta kindly. “You have worked yourself into a heat like those republican orators who came here to preach free religion, free love, and I don’t know how many other free things. Let them bring you a glass of water.”
Caballuco, twisting his handkerchief into a ball, wiped with it his broad forehead and his neck, which were bathed in perspiration. A glass of water was brought to him and the worthy canon, with a humility that was in perfect keeping with his sacerdotal character, took it from the servant’s hand to give it to him himself, and held the plate while he drank. Caballuco gulped down the water noisily.
“Now bring another glass for me, Senora Librada,” said Don Inocencio. “I have a little fire inside me too.”
“With regard to the guerillas,” said Dona Perfecta, when they had finished drinking, “all I will say is—do as your conscience dictates to you.”
“I know nothing about dictations,” cried Ramos. “I will do whatever the mistress pleases!”
“I can give you no advice on so important a matter,” answered Dona Perfecta with the cautiousness and moderation which so well became her. “This is a very serious business, and I can give you no advice about it.”
“But your opinion——”
“My opinion is that you should open your eyes and see, that you should open your ears and hear. Consult your own heart—I will grant that you have a great heart. Consult that judge, that wise counsellor, and do as it bids you.”
Caballuco reflected; he meditated as much as a sword can meditate.
“We counted ourselves yesterday in Naharilla Alta,” said Vejarruco, “and we were thirteen—ready for any little undertaking. But as we were afraid the mistress might be vexed, we did nothing. It is time now for the shearing.”
“Don’t mind about the shearing,” said Dona Perfecta. “There will be time enough for it. It won’t be left undone for that.”