“Then, just because I did that, he had the whole God-damned Federal Government against me. You must have heard something about that story in Mexico City— about the killing of Madero and some other fellow, Felix or Felipe Diaz, or something—I don’t know. Well, this man Monico goes in person to Zacatecas to get an army to capture me. They said that I was a Mad-erista and that I was going to rebel. But a man like me always has friends. Somebody came and warned me of what was coming to me, so when the soldiers reached Limon I was miles and miles away. Trust me! Then my compadre Anastasio who killed somebody came and joined me, and Pancracio and Quail and a lot of friends and acquaintances came after him. Since then we’ve been sort of collecting, see? You know for yourself, we get along as best we can. . . .”
For a while, both men sat meditating in silence. Then:
“Look here, Chief,” said Luis Cervantes. “You know that some of Natera’s men are at Juchipila, quite near here. I think we should join them before they capture Zacatecas. All we need do is speak to the General.”
“I’m no good at that sort of thing. And I don’t like the idea of accepting orders from anybody very much.”
“But you’ve only a handful of men down here; you’ll only be an unimportant chieftain. There’s no argument about it, the revolution is bound to win. After it’s all over they’ll talk to you just as Madero talked to all those who had helped him: ’Thank you very much, my friends, you can go home now. . . .’ "
“Well that’s all I want, to be let alone so I can go home.”
“Wait a moment, I haven’t finished. Madero said: ’You men have made me President of the Republic. You have run the risk of losing your lives and leaving your wives and children destitute; now I have what I wanted, you can go back to your picks and shovels, you can resume your hand-to-mouth existence, you can go half-naked and hungry just as you did before, while we, your superiors, will go about trying to pile up a few million pesos. . . .’” Demetrio nodded and, smiling, scratched his head.
“You said a mouthful, Louie,” Venancio the barber put in enthusiastically. “A mouthful as big as a church!”
“As I was saying,” Luis Cervantes resumed, “when the revolution is over, everything is over. Too bad that so many men have been killed, too bad there are so many widows and orphans, too bad there was so much blood-shed.
“Of course, you are not selfish; you say to yourself: ‘All I want to do is go back home.’ But I ask you, is it fair to deprive your wife and kids of a fortune which God himself places within reach of your hand? Is it fair to abandon your motherland in this solemn moment when she most needs the self-sacrifice of her sons, when she most needs her humble sons to save her from falling again in the clutches of her eternal oppressors, execu-tioners, and caciques? You must not forget that the thing a man holds most sacred on earth is his motherland.”