“That tenderfoot has the softest hand in the world!” he said.
Quickly Venancio cut in:
“All right; just as you say. But don’t forget that ten-derfoots are like moisture, they seep in everywhere. It’s the tenderfoots who stopped us reaping the harvest of the revolution.”
Since Demetrio believed in the barber’s knowledge implicitly, when Luis Cervantes came to treat him on the next day he said:
“Look here, do your best, see. I want to recover soon and then you can go home or anywhere else you damn well please.”
Discreetly, Luis Cervantes made no reply.
A week, ten days, a fortnight elapsed. The Federal troops seemed to have vanished. There was an abun-dance of corn and beans, too, in the neighboring ranches. The people hated the Government so bitterly that they were overjoyed to furnish assistance to the rebels. De-metrio’s men, therefore, were peacefully waiting for the complete recovery of their chief.
Day after day, Luis Cervantes remained humble and silent.
“By God, I actually believe you’re in love,” De-metrio said jokingly one morning after the daily treat-ment. He had begun to like this tenderfoot. From then on, Demetrio began gradually to show an increasing in-terest in Cervantes’ comfort. One day he asked him if the soldiers gave him his daily ration of meat and milk; Luis Cervantes was forced to answer that his sole nour-ishment was whatever the old ranch women happened to give him and that everyone still considered him an in-truder.
“Look here, Tenderfoot, they’re all good boys, really,” Demetrio answered. “You’ve got to know how to handle them, that’s all. You mark my words; from tomorrow on, there won’t be a thing you’ll lack.”
In effect, things began to change that very afternoon. Some of Demetrio’s men lay in the quarry, glancing at the sunset that turned the clouds into huge clots of congealed blood and listening to Venancio’s amusing stories culled from The Wandering Jew. Some of them, lulled by the narrator’s mellifluous voice, began to snore. But Luis Cervantes listened avidly and as soon as Venancio topped off his talk with a storm of anticlerical denunciations he said emphatically: “Wonderful, wonder-ful! What intelligence! You’re a most gifted man!”
“Well, I reckon it’s not so bad,” Venancio answered, warming to the flattery, “but my parents died and I didn’t have a chance to study for a profession.”
“That’s easy to remedy, I’m sure. Once our cause is victorious, you can easily get a degree. A matter of two or three weeks’ assistant’s work at some hospital and a letter of recommendation from our chief and you’ll be a full-fledged doctor, all right. The thing is child’s play.”
From that night onward Venancio, unlike the others, ceased calling him Tenderfoot. He addressed him as Louie.
It was Louie, this, and Louie, that, right and left, all the time.