“Clear out. Everybody outside!” he orders darkly.
His staff obeys. Monico and the ladies kiss his hands, weeping with gratitude. The mob in the street, talking and laughing, stands waiting for the general’s permission to ransack the cacique’s house.
“I know where they’ve buried their money but I won’t tell,” says a youngster with a basket in his hands.
“Hm! I know the right place, mind you,” says an old woman carrying a burlap sack to hold whatever the good Lord will provide. “It’s on top of something . . . there’s a lot of trinkets nearby and then there’s a small bag with mother-of-pearl around it. That’s the thing to look for!”
“You ain’t talking sense, woman,” puts in a man. “They ain’t such fools as to leave silver lying loose like that. I’m thinking they’ve got it buried in the well, in a leather bag.”
The mob moves slowly; some carry ropes to tie about their bundles, others wooden trays. The women open out their aprons or shawls calculating their capacity. All give thanks to Divine Providence as they wait for their share of the booty.
When Demetrio announces that he will not allow loot-ing and orders them to disband, the mob, disconsolate, obeys him, and soon scatters; but there is a dull rumor among the soldiers and no one moves from his place.
Annoyed, Demetrio repeats this order.
A young man, a recent recruit, his head turned by drink, laughs and walks boldly toward the door. But be-fore he has reached the threshold, a shot lays him low. He falls like a bull pierced in the neck by the matador’s sword. Motionless, his smoking gun in his hand, Deme-trio waits for the soldiers to withdraw.
“Set fire to the house!” he orders Luis Cervantes when they reach their quarters.
With a curious eagerness Luis Cervantes does not trans-mit the order but undertakes the task in person.
Two hours later when the city square was black with smoke and enormous tongues of fire rose from Monico’s house, no one could account for the strange behavior of the general.
They established themselves in a large gloomy house, which likewise belonged to the cacique of Moyahua. The previous occupants had already left strong evidences in the patio, which had been converted into a manure pile. The walls, once whitewashed, were now faded and cracked, revealing the bare unbaked adobe; the floor had been torn up by the hoofs of animals; the orchard was littered with rotted branches and dead leaves. From the entrance one stumbled over broken bits of chairs and other furniture covered with dirt.
By ten o’clock, Luis Cervantes yawned with boredom, said good night to Blondie and War Paint, who were downing endless drinks on a bench in the square, and made for the barracks. The drawing room was alone fur-nished. As he entered, Demetrio, lying on the floor with his eyes wide open, trying to count the beams, gazed at him.