Demetrio replied that he too would willingly take along a girl he had set his eye on, but that he hoped none of his men would leave bitter memories behind them as the Federals did.
“You won’t have long to wait. Everything will be ar-ranged when you return,” Luis Cervantes whispered to him.
“What do you mean?” Demetrio asked. “I thought that you and Camilla . . .”
“There’s not a word of truth in it, Chief. She likes you but she’s afraid of you, that’s all.”
“Really? Is that really true?”
“Yes. But I think you’re quite right in not wanting to leave any bitter feelings behind you as you go. When you come back as a conqueror, everything will be dif-ferent. They’ll all thank you for it even.”
“By God, you’re certainly a shrewd one,” Demetrio re-plied, patting him on the back.
At sundown, Camilla went to the river to fetch water as usual. Luis Cervantes, walking down the same trail, met her. Camilla felt her heart leap to her mouth. But, without taking the slightest notice of her, Luis Cervantes hastily took one of the turns and disappeared among the rocks.
At this hour, as usual, the calcinated rocks, the sun-burnt branches, and the dry weeds faded into the semi-obscurity of the shadows. The wind blew softly, the green lances of the young corn leaves rustling in the twilight. Nothing was changed; all nature was as she had found it before, evening upon evening; but in the stones and the dry weeds, amid the fragrance of the air and the light whir of falling leaves, Camilla sensed a new strangeness, a vast desolation in everything about her.
Rounding a huge eroded rock, suddenly Camilla found herself face to face with Luis, who was seated on a stone, hatless, his legs dangling.
“Listen, you might come down here to say good-bye.”
Luis Cervantes was obliging enough; he jumped down and joined her.
“You’re proud, ain’t you? Have I been so mean that you don’t even want to talk to me?”
“Why do you say that, Camilla? You’ve been extreme-ly kind to me; why, you’ve been more than a friend, you’ve taken care of me as if you were my sister. Now I’m about to leave, I’m very grateful to you; I’ll always remember you.”
“Liar!” Camilla said, her face transfigured with joy. “Suppose I hadn’t come after you?”
“I intended to say good-bye to you at the dance this evening.”
“What dance? If there’s a dance, I’ll not go to it.”
“Because I can’t stand that horrible man . . . Deme-trio!”
“Don’t be silly, child,” said Luis. “He’s really very fond of you. Don’t go and throw away this opportunity. You’ll never have one like it again in your life. Don’t you know that Demetrio is on the point of becoming a general, you silly girl? He’ll be a very wealthy man, with horses ga-lore; and you’ll have jewels and clothes and a fine house and a lot of money to spend. Just imagine what a life you would lead with him!”