“Look here, Tenderfoot, I want to tell you some-thing,” Camilla called to Luis Cervantes, as he made his way to the hut to fetch some boiling water for his foot.
For days the girl had been restless. Her coy ways and her reticence had finally annoyed the man; stopping sud-denly, he stood up and eyeing her squarely:
“All right. What do you want to tell me?”
Camilla’s tongue clove to her mouth, heavy and damp as a rag; she could not utter a word. A blush suffused her cheeks, turning them red as apples; she shrugged her shoulders and bowed her head, pressing her chin against her naked breast. Then without moving, with the fixity of an idiot, she glanced at the wound, and said in a whisper:
“Look, how nicely it’s healing now: it’s like a red Castille rose.”
Luis Cervantes frowned and with obvious disgust con-tinued to care for his foot, completely ignoring her as he worked. When he had finished, Camilla had vanished.
For three days she was nowhere to be found. It was always her mother, Agapita, who answered Cervantes’ call, and boiled the water for him and gave him rags. He was careful to avoid questioning her. Three days later, Camilla reappeared, more coy and eager than ever.
The more distrait and indifferent Luis Cervantes grew, the bolder Camilla. At last, she said: “Listen to me, you nice young fellow, I want to tell you something pleas-ant. Please go over the words of the revolutionary song ‘Adelita’ with me, will you? You can guess why, eh? I want to sing it and sing it, over again often and often, see? Then when you’re off and away and when you’ve forgotten all about Camilla, it’ll remind me of you.”
To Luis Cervantes her words were like the noise of a sharp steel knife drawn over the side of a glass bottle. Blissfully unaware of the effect they had produced, she proceeded, candid as ever:
“Well, I want to tell you something. You don’t know that your chief is a wicked man, do you? Shall I tell you what he did to me? You know Demetrio won’t let a soul but Mamma cook for him and me take him his food. Well, the other day I take some food over to him and what do you think he did to me, the old fool. He grabs hold of my wrist and he presses it tight, tight as can be, and then he starts pinching my legs.
“‘Come on, let me go,’ I said. ’Keep still, lay off, you shameless creature. You’ve got no manners, that’s the trouble with you.’ So I wrestled with him, and shook my-self free, like this, and ran off as fast as I could. What do you think of that?”
Camilla had never seen Luis Cervantes laugh so heartily.
“But it is really true, all this you’ve told me?”
Utterly at a loss, Camilla could not answer. Then he burst into laughter again and repeated the question. A sense of confusion came upon her. Disturbed, troubled, she said brokenly: