“I want wine. Hey, there: wine!” Demetrio cries in an imperious voice, pounding heavily on a table.
“Sit down, boys.”
A lady peeps out, another, a third; from among black skirts, the heads of frightened children. One of the women, trembling, walks toward a cupboard and, taking out some glasses and a bottle, serves wine.
“What arms have you?” Demetrio demands harshly.
“Arms, arms . . . ?” the lady answers, a taste of ashes on her tongue. “What arms do you expect us to have! We are respectable, lonely old ladies!”
“Lonely, eh! Where’s Senor Monico?”
“Oh, he’s not here, gentlemen, I assure you! We mere-ly rent the house from him, you see. We only know him by name!”
Demetrio orders his men to search the house.
“No, please don’t. We’ll bring you whatever we have ourselves, but please for God’s sake, don’t do anything cruel. We’re spinsters, lone women . . . perfectly re-spectable. . . .”
“Spinsters, hell! What about these kids here?” Pan-cracio interrupts brutally. “Did they spring from the earth?”
The women disappear hurriedly, to return with an old shotgun, covered with dust and cobwebs, and a pistol with rusty broken springs.
“All right, then, let’s see the money.”
“Money? Money? But what money do you think a couple of spinsters have? Spinsters alone in the world. . . . ?”
They glance up in supplication at the nearest soldier; but they are seized with horror. For they have just seen the Roman soldier who crucified Our Lord in the Via Crucis of the parish! They have seen Pancracio!
Demetrio repeats his order to search.
Once again the women disappear to return this time with a moth-eaten wallet containing a few Huerta bills.
Demetrio smiles and without further delay calls to his men to come in. Like hungry dogs who have sniffed their meat, the mob bursts in, trampling down the women who sought to bar the entrance with their bodies. Several faint, fall to the ground; others flee in panic. The chil-dren scream.
Pancracio is about to break the lock of a huge ward-robe when suddenly the doors open and out comes a man with a rifle in his hands.
“Senor Don Monico!” they all exclaim in surprise.
“Demetrio, please, don’t harm me! Please don’t harm me! Please don’t hurt me! You know, Senor Don Deme-trio, I’m your friend!”
Demetrio Macias smiles slyly. “Are friends,” he asked, “usually welcomed gun in hand?” Don Monico, in consternation, throws himself at Demetrio’s feet, clasps his knees, kisses his shoes: “My wife! . . . My children! . . . Please, Senor Don Demetrio, my friend!”
Demetrio with taut hand puts his gun back in the holster.
A painful silhouette crosses his mind. He sees a woman with a child in her arms walking over the rocks of the sierra in the moonlight. A house in flames. . . .