“Don’t do that yet, for God’s sake! Don’t do it till I find my brother,” the workman implored in anguish.
In vain an old sergeant harangued the soldiers, insult-ing them in the hope of rallying them. For they were rats, caught in a trap, no more, no less. Some of the soldiers, attempting to reach the small door by the staircase, fell to the ground pierced by Demetrio’s shots. Others fell at the feet of these twenty-odd specters, with faces and breasts dark as iron, clad in long torn trousers of white cloth which fell to their leather sandals, scattering death and destruction below them. In the belfry, a few men struggled to emerge from the pile of dead who had fallen upon them.
“It’s awful, Chief!” Luis Cervantes cried in alarm. “We’ve no more bombs left and we left our guns in the corral.”
Smiling, Demetrio drew out a large shining knife. In the twinkling of an eye, steel flashed in every hand. Some knives were large and pointed, others wide as the palm of a hand, others heavy as bayonets.
“The spy!” Luis Cervantes cried triumphantly. “Didn’t I tell you?”
“Don’t kill me, Chief, please don’t kill me,” the old ser-geant implored squirming at the feet of Demetrio, who stood over him, knife in hand. The victim raised his wrinkled Indian face; there was not a single gray hair in his head today. Demetrio recognized the spy who had lied to him the day before. Terrified, Luis Cervantes quickly averted his face. The steel blade went crack, crack, on the old man’s ribs. He toppled backward, his arms spread, his eyes ghastly.
“Don’t kill my brother, don’t kill him, he’s my brother!” the workman shouted in terror to Pancracio who was pursuing a soldier. But it was too late. With one thrust, Pancracio had cut his neck in half, and two streams of scarlet spurted from the wound.
“Kill the soldiers, kill them all!”
Pancracio and Manteca surpassed the others in the savagery of their slaughter, and finished up with the wounded. Montanez, exhausted, let his arm fall; it hung limp to his side. A gentle expression still filled his glance; his eyes shone; he was naive as a child, unmoral as a hyena.
“Here’s one who’s not dead yet,” Quail shouted.
Pancracio ran up. The little blond captain with curled mustache turned pale as wax. He stood against the door to the staircase unable to muster enough strength to take another step.
Pancracio pushed him brutally to the edge of the cor-ridor. A jab with his knee against the captain’s thigh— then a sound not unlike a bag of stones falling from the top of the steeple on the porch of the church.
“My God, you’ve got no brains!” said Quail. “If I’d known what you were doing, I’d have kept him for my-self. That was a fine pair of shoes you lost!”
Bending over them, the rebels stripped those among the soldiers who were best clad, laughing and joking as they despoiled them. Brushing back his long hair, that had fallen over his sweating forehead and covered his eyes, Demetrio said: