Another soldier, a bright young fellow, but a charlatan, at heart, who drank habitually and smoked the narcotic marihuana weed, eyeing him with vague, glassy stare, whispered in his ear, “You know, partner . . . the men on the other side ... you know, the other side . . . you understand . . . they ride the best horses up north there, and all over, see? And they harness their mounts with pure hammered silver. But us? Oh hell, we’ve got to ride plugs, that’s all, and not one of them good enough to stagger round a water well. You see, don’t you, partner? You see what I mean? You know, the men on the other side-they get shiny new silver coins while we get only lousy paper money printed in that murderer’s factory, that’s what we get, yes, that’s ours, I tell you!”
The majority of the soldiers spoke in much the same tenor. Even a top sergeant candidly confessed, “Yes, I enlisted all right. I wanted to. But, by God, I missed the right side by a long shot. What you can’t make in a life-time, sweating like a mule and breaking your back in peacetime, damn it all, you can make in a few months just running around the sierra with a gun on your back, but not with this crowd, dearie, not with this lousy outfit ....”
Luis Cervantes, who already shared this hidden, im-placably mortal hatred of the upper classes, of his offi-cers, and of his superiors, felt that a veil had been re-moved from his eyes; clearly, now, he saw the final out-come of the struggle. And yet what had happened? The first moment he was able to join his coreligionists, in-stead of welcoming him with open arms, they threw him into a pigsty with swine for company.
Day broke. The roosters crowed in the huts. The chickens perched in the huizache began to stretch their wings, shake their feathers, and fly down to the ground.
Luis Cervantes saw his guards lying on top of a dung heap, snoring. In his imagination, he reviewed the fea-tures of last night’s men. One, Pancracio, was pock-marked, blotchy, unshaven; his chin protruded, his forehead receded obliquely; his ears formed one solid piece with head and neck—a horrible man. The other, Manteca, was so much human refuse; his eyes were al-most hidden, his look sullen; his wiry straight hair fen over his ears, forehead and neck; his scrofulous lips hung eternally agape. Once more, Luis Cervantes felt his flesh quiver.
Still drowsy, Demetrio ran his hand through his ruf-fled hair, which hung over his moist forehead, pushed it back over his ears, and opened his eyes.
Distinctly he heard the woman’s melodious voice which he had already sensed in his dream. He walked toward the door.
It was broad daylight; the rays of sunlight filtered through the thatch of the hut.
The girl who had offered him water the day before, the girl of whom he had dreamed all night long, now came forward, kindly and eager as ever. This time she carried a pitcher of milk brimming over with foam.