“That’s something I can’t explain, Tenderfoot. But I’m thinking it wouldn’t show much guts.”
“Take your choice, General,” said Luis Cervantes, pointing to the jewels which he had set in a row.
“Oh, you keep it all. . . . Certainly! . . . You know, I don’t really care for money at all. I’ll tell you the truth! I’m the happiest man in the world, so long as there’s always something to drink and a nice little wench that catches my eye. . . .”
“Ha! Ha! You make the funniest jokes, General. Why do you stand for that snake of a War Paint, then?”
“I’ll tell you, Tenderfoot, I’m fed up with her. But I’m like that: I just can’t tell her so. I’m not brave enough to tell her to go plumb to hell. That’s the way I am, see? When I like a woman, I get plain silly; and if she doesn’t start something, I’ve not got the courage to do anything myself.” He sighed. “There’s Camilla at the ranch for instance. . . . Now, she’s not much on looks, I know, but there’s a woman I’d like to have.......”
“Well, General, we’ll go and get her any day you like.”
Demetrio winked maliciously.
“I promise you I’ll do it.”
“Are you sure? Do you really mean it? Look here, if you pull that off for me, I’ll give you the watch and chain you’re hankering after.”
Luis Cervantes’ eyes shone. He took the phosphate box, heavy with its contents, and stood up smiling.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said. “Good night, Gen-eral! Sleep well.”
“I don’t know any more about it than you do. The General told me, ’Quail, saddle your horse and my black mare and follow Cervantes; he’s going on an errand for me.’ Well, that’s what happened. We left here at noon, and reached the ranch early that evening. One-eyed Maria Antonia took us in. . . . She asked after you, Pancracio. Next morning Luis Cervantes wakes me up. ’Quail, Quail, saddle the horses. Leave me mine but take the General’s mare back to Moyahua. I’ll catch up after a bit.’ The sun was high when he arrived with Camilla. She got off and we stuck her on the General’s mare.”
“Well, and her? What sort of a face did she make coming back?” one of the men inquired.
“Hum! She was so damned happy she was gabbing all the way.”
“And the tenderfoot?”
“Just as quiet as he always is, you know him.”
“I think,” Venancio expressed his opinion with great seriousness, “that if Camilla woke up in the General’s bed, it was just a mistake. We drank a lot, remember! That alcohol went to our heads; we must have lost our senses.”
“What the hell do you mean: alcohol! It was all cooked up between Cervantes and the General.”
“Certainly! That city dude’s nothing but a . . .”
“I don’t like to talk about friends behind their backs,” said Blondie, “but I can tell you this: one of the two sweethearts he had, one was mine, and the other was for the General.”