“It’s goat’s milk, but fine just the same. Come on now: taste it.”
Demetrio smiled gratefully, straightened up, grasped the clay pitcher, and proceeded to drink the milk in little gulps, without removing his eyes from the girl. She grew self-conscious, lowered her eyes.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Ah, there’s a lovely name! And the girl that bears it, lovelier still!”
Camilla blushed. As he sought to seize her wrist, she grew frightened, and Picking up the empty pitcher, flew out the door.
“No, Demetrio,” Anastasio Montanez commented gravely, “you’ve got to break them in first. Hmm! It’s a hell of a lot of scars the women have left on my body. Yes, my friend, I’ve a heap of experience along that line.”
“I feet all right now, Compadre.” Demetrio pretended he had not heard him. “I had fever, and I sweated like a horse all night, but I feel quite fresh today. The thing that’s irking me hellishly is that Goddamn wound. Can Venancio to look after me.”
“What are we going to do with the tenderfoot we caught last night?” Pancracio asked.
“That’s right: I was forgetting all about him.”
As usual, Demetrio hesitated a while before he reached a decision.
“Here, Quail, come here. Listen: you go and find out where’s the nearest church around here. I know there’s one about six miles away. Go and steal a priest’s robe and bring it back.”
“What’s the idea?” asked Pancracio in surprise.
“Well, I’ll soon find out if this tenderfoot came here to murder me. I’ll tell him he’s to be shot, see, and Quail will put on the priest’s robes, say that he’s a priest and hear his confession. If he’s got anything up his sleeve, he’ll come out with it, and then I’ll shoot him. Otherwise I’ll let him go.”
“God, there’s a roundabout way to tackle the ques-tion. If I were you, I’d just shoot him and let it go at that,” said Pancracio contemptuously.
That night Quail returned with the priest’s robes; Demetrio ordered the prisoner to be led in. Luis Cer-vantes had not eaten or slept for two days, there were deep black circles under his eyes; his face was deathly pale, his lips dry and colorless. He spoke awkwardly, slowly: “You can do as you please with me. . . . I am convinced I was wrong to come looking for you.”
There was a prolonged silence. Then:
“I thought that you would welcome a man who comes to offer his help, with open arms, even though his help was quite worthless. After all, you might perhaps have found some use for it. What, in heaven’s name, do I stand to gain, whether the revolution wins or loses?”
Little by little he grew more animated; at times the languor in his eyes disappeared.
“The revolution benefits the poor, the ignorant, all those who have been slaves all their lives, all the un-happy people who do not even suspect they are poor be-cause the rich who stand above them, the rich who rule them, change their sweat and blood and tears into gold. . .”