“Well, what the hell is the gist of all this palaver? I’ll be damned if I can stomach a sermon,” Pancracio broke in.
“I wanted to fight for the sacred cause of the op-pressed, but you don’t understand . . . you cast me aside. . . . Very well, then, you can do as you please with me!”
“All I’m going to do now is to put this rope around your neck. Look what a pretty white neck you’ve got.”
“Yes, I know what brought you here,” Demetrio in-terrupted dryly, scratching his head. “I’m going to have you shot!”
Then, looking at Anastasio he said:
“Take him away. And . . . if he wants to confess, bring the priest to him.”
Impassive as ever, Anastasio took the prisoner gently by the arm.
“Come along this way, Tenderfoot.”
They all laughed uproariously, when a few minutes later, Quail appeared in priestly robes.
“By God, this tenderfoot certainly talks his head off,” Quail said. “You know, I’ve a notion he was having a bit of a laugh on me when I started asking him ques-tions.”
“But didn’t he have anything to say?”
“Nothing, save what he said last night.”
“I’ve a hunch he didn’t come here to shoot you at all, Compadre,” said Anastasio.
“Give him something to eat and guard him.”
On the morrow, Luis Cervantes was barely able to get up. His injured leg trailing behind him, he shuffled from hut to hut in search of a little alcohol, a kettle of boiled water and some rags. With unfailing kindness, Ca-milla provided him with all that he wanted.
As he began washing his foot, she sat beside him, and, with typical mountaineer’s curiosity, inquired:
“Tell me, who learned you how to cure people? Why did you boil that water? Why did you boil the rags? Look, look, how careful you are about everything! And what did you put on your hands? Really. . . . And why did you pour on alcohol? I just knew alcohol was good to rub on when you had a bellyache, but . . . Oh, I see! So you was going to be a doctor, huh? Ha, ha, that’s a good one! Why don’t you mix it with cold water? Well, there’s a funny sort of a trick. Oh, stop fooling me . . . the idea: little animals alive in the water unless you boil it! Ugh! Well, I can’t see nothing in it myself.”
Camilla continued to cross-question him with such fa-miliarity that she suddenly found herself addressing him intimately, in the singular tu. Absorbed in his own thoughts, Luis Cervantes had ceased listening to her. He thought:
Where are those men on Pancho Villa’s payroll, so admirably equipped and mounted, who only get paid in those pure silver pieces Villa coins at the Chihuahua mint? Bah! Barely two dozen half-naked mangy men, some of them riding decrepit mares with the coat nibbled off from neck to withers. Can the accounts given by the Government newspapers and by myself be really true and are these so-called revolutionists simply bandits grouped together, using the revolution as a won-derful pretext to glut their thirst for gold and blood? Is it all a lie, then? Were their sympathizers talking a lot of exalted nonsense?