Like neighing colts, playful when the rainy season begins, Demetrio’s men galloped through the sierra.
“To Moyahua, boys. Let’s go to Demetrio Macias’ country!”
“To the country of Monico the cacique!”
The landscape grew clearer; the sun margined the diaphanous sky with a fringe of crimson. Like the bony shoulders of immense sleeping monsters, the chains of mountains rose in the distance. Crags there were like heads of colossal native idols; others like giants’ faces, their grimaces awe-inspiring or grotesque, calling forth a smile or a shudder at a presentment of mystery.
Demetrio Macias rode at the head of his men; be-hind him the members of his staff: Colonel Anastasio Montanez, Lieutenant-Colonel Pancracio, Majors Luis Cervantes and Blondie. Still further behind came War Paint with Venancio, who paid her many compliments and recited the despairing verses of Antonio Plaza. As the sun’s rays began to slip from the housetops, they made their entrance into Moyahua, four abreast, to the sound of the bugle. The roosters’ chorus was deafening, dogs barked their alarm, but not a living soul stirred on the streets.
War Paint spurred her black horse and with one jump was abreast with Demetrio. They rode forward, elbow to elbow. She wore a silk dress and heavy gold earrings. Proudly her pale blue gown deepened her olive skin and the coppery spots on her face and arms. Riding astride, she had pulled her skirts up to her knees; her stockings showed, filthy and full of runs. She wore a gun at her side, a cartridge belt hung over the pommel of her saddle.
Demetrio was also dressed in his best clothes. His broad-brimmed hat was richly embroidered; his leather trousers were tight-fitting and adorned with silver but-tons; his coat was embroidered with gold thread.
There was a sound of doors being beaten down and forced open. The soldiers had already scattered through the town, to gather together ammunition and saddles from everywhere.
“We’re going to bid Monico good morning,” Deme-trio said gravely, dismounting and tossing his bridle to one of his men. “We’re going to have breakfast with Don Monico, who’s a particular friend of mine . . . .”
The general’s staff smiled . . . a sinister, malign smile. . . .
Making their spurs ring against the pavement, they walked toward a large pretentious house, obviously that of a cacique.
“It’s closed airtight,” Anastasio Montanez said, push-ing the door with all his might.
“That’s all right. I’ll open it,” Pancracio answered, lowering his rifle and pointing it at the lock.
“No, no,” Demetrio said, “knock first.”
Three blows with the butt of the rifle. Three more. No answer. Pancracio disobeys orders. He fires, smash-ing the lock. The door opens. Behind, a confusion of skirts and children’s bare legs rushing to and fro, pell-mell.