“Yes, it’s the truth. And I wanted to tell you about it. But you don’t seem to feel at all angry.”
Once more Camilla glanced adoringly at Luis Cer-vantes’ radiant, clean face; at his glaucous, soft eyes, his cheeks pink and polished as a porcelain doll’s; at his tender white skin that showed below the line of his collar and on his shoulders, protruding from under a rough woolen poncho; at his hair, ever so slightly curled.
“What the devil are you waiting for, fool? If the chief likes you, what more do you want?”
Camilla felt something rise within her breast, an empty ache that became a knot when it reached her throat; she closed her eyes fast to hold back the tears that welled up in them. Then, with the back of her hand, she wiped her wet cheeks, and just as she had done three days ago, fled with all the swiftness of a young deer.
Demetrio’s wound had already healed. They be-gan to discuss various projects to go northward where, according to rumor, the rebels had beaten the Federal troops all along the line.
A certain incident came to precipitate their action. Seated on a crag of the sierra in the cool of the after-noon breeze, Luis Cervantes gazed away in the distance, dreaming and killing time. Below the narrow rock Pan-cracio and Manteca, lying like lizards between the jarales along one of the river margins, were playing cards. Anastasio Montanez, looking on indifferently, turned his black hairy face toward Luis Cervantes and, leveling his kindly gaze upon him, asked:
“Why so sad, you from the city? What are you day-dreaming about? Come on over here and let’s have a chat!”
Luis Cervantes did not move; Anastasio went over to him and sat down beside him like a friend.
“What you need is the excitement of the city. I wager you shine your shoes every day and wear a necktie. Now, I may look dirty and my clothes may be torn to shreds, but I’m not really what I seem to be. I’m not here because I’ve got to be and don’t you think so. Why, I own twenty oxen. Certainly I do; ask my friend Demetrio. I cleared ten bushels last harvest time. You see, if there’s one thing I love, that’s riling these Government fellows and making them furious. The last scrape I had—it’ll be eight months gone now, ever since I’ve joined these men—I stuck my knife into some captain. He was just a no-body, a little Government squirt. I pinked him here, see, right under the navel. And that’s why I’m here: that and because I wanted to give my mate Demetrio a hand.” “Christ! The bloody little darling of my life!” Manteca shouted, waxing enthusiastic over a winning hand. He placed a twenty-cent silver coin on the jack of spades.
“If you want my opinion, I’m not much on gam-bling. Do you want to bet? Well, come on then, I’m game. How do you like the sound of this leather snake jingling, eh?”