“Give me a nickel for those with pictures, see. I’ll give you the rest for nothing if you buy all those with pictures.”
The man returned with a large basket to carry away the books. . . .
“Come on, Demetrio, come on, you pig, get up! Look who’s here! It’s Blondie. You don’t know what a fine man he is!”
“I like you very much, General Macias, and I like the way you do things. So if it’s all right, I’d like very much to serve under you!”
“What’s your rank?” Demetrio asked him.
“I’m a captain, General.”
“All right, you can serve with me now. I’ll make you major. How’s that?”
Blondie was a round little fellow, with waxed mus-tache. When he laughed, his blue eyes disappeared mis-chievously between his forehead and his fat cheeks. He had been a waiter at “El Monico,” in Chihuahua; now he proudly wore three small brass bars, the insignia of his rank in the Northern Division.
Blondie showered eulogy after eulogy on Demetrio and his men; this proved sufficient reason for bringing out a fresh case of beer, which was finished in short order.
Suddenly War Paint reappeared in the middle of the room, wearing a beautiful silk dress covered with ex-quisite lace.
“You forgot the stockings,” Blondie shouted, shaking with laughter. Quail’s girl also burst out laughing. But War Paint did not care. She shrugged her shoulders in-differently, sat down on the floor, kicked off her white satin slippers, and wiggled her toes happily, giving their muscles a freedom welcome after their tight confinement in the slippers. She said:
“Hey, you, Pancracio, go and get me my blue stock-ings . . . they’re with the rest of my plunder.”
Soldiers and their friends, companions and veterans of other campaigns, began to enter in groups of twos and threes. Demetrio, growing excited, began to narrate in detail his most notable feats of arms.
“What the hell is that noise?” he asked in surprise as he heard string and brass instruments tuning up in the patio.
“General Demetrio Macias,” Luis Cervantes said solemnly, “it’s a banquet all of your old friends and fol-lowers are giving in your honor to celebrate your vic-tory at Zacatecas and your well-merited promotion to the rank of general!”
“General Macias, I want you to meet my future wife,” Luis Cervantes said with great emphasis as he led a beautiful girl into the dining room.
They all turned to look at her. Her large blue eyes grew wide in wonder. She was barely fourteen. Her skin was like a rose, soft, pink, fresh; her hair was very fair; the expression in her eyes was partly impish curiosity, partly a vague childish fear. Perceiving that Demetrio eyed her like a beast of prey, Luis Cervantes congratu-lated himself.
They made room for her between Luis Cervantes and Blondie, opposite Demetrio.