“They’re coming back!”
The rebels were a maddened mob, sunburnt, filthy, naked. Their high wide-brimmed straw hats hid their faces. The “high hats” came back as happily as they had marched forth a few days before, pillaging every hamlet along the road, every ranch, even the poorest hut.
“Who’ll buy this thing?” one of them asked. He had carried his spoils long: he was tired. The sheen of the nickel on the typewriter, a new machine, attracted every glance. Five times that morning the Oliver had changed hands. The first sale netted the owner ten pesos; pres-ently it had sold for eight; each time it changed hands, it was two pesos cheaper. To be sure, it was a heavy bur-den; nobody could carry it for more than a half-hour.
“I’ll give you a quarter for it!” Quail said.
“Yours!” cried the owner, handing it over quickly, as though he feared Quail might change his mind. Thus for the sum of twenty-five cents, Quail was afforded the pleas-ure of taking it in his hands and throwing it with all his might against the wall.
It struck with a crash. This gave the signal to all who carried any cumbersome objects to get rid of them by smashing them against the rocks. Objects of all sorts, crystal, china, faience, porcelain, flew through the air. Heavy, plated mirrors, brass candlesticks, fragile, delicate statues, Chinese vases, any object not readily convertible into cash fell by the wayside in fragments.
Demetrio did not share the untoward exaltation. After all, they were retreating defeated. He called Montanez and Pancracio aside and said:
“These fellows have no guts. It’s not so hard to take a town. It’s like this. First, you open up, this way. . . .” He sketched a vast gesture, spreading his powerful arms. “Then you get close to them, like this. . . .” He brought his arms together, slowly. “Then slam! Bang! Whack! Crash!” He beat his hands against his chest.
Anastasio and Pancracio, convinced by this simple, lucid explanation answered:
“That’s God’s truth! They’ve no guts! That’s the trouble with them!”
Demetrio’s men camped in a corral.
“Do you remember Camilla?” Demetrio asked with a sigh as he settled on his back on the manure pile where the rest were already stretched out. “Camilla? What girl do you mean, Demetrio?” “The girl that used to feed me up there at the ranch!”
Anastasio made a gesture implying: “I don’t care a damn about the women ... Camilla or anyone else....”
“I’ve not forgotten,” Demetrio went on, drawing on his cigarette. “Yes, I was feeling like hell! I’d just finished drinking a glass of water. God, but it was cool. . . . ’Don’t you want any more?’ she asked me. I was half dead with fever . . . and all the time I saw that glass of water, blue . . . so blue . . . and I heard her little voice, ’Don’t you want any more?’ That voice tinkled in my ears like a silver hurdy-gurdy! Well, Pancracio, what about it? Shall we go back to the ranch?”