THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK TWO:  BOOK of the CAMPAÑA

 

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

 

 

          The telegraph, that thread of Mercury which had been lain as far as Tabi, could transmit, in half an hour, messages to Peto, then Merida and Mexico City beyond. The capitals of Yucatan and the Republic thus learned the news that the capital of the rebels would come again into the possession of the Republic.

          The daily newspapers of the first week of May celebrated this glorious occasion, leaving the more contentious issue of the destiny of the East as part of Yucatan or as a Federal possession for future digestion. All but the most implacable of the anti-territorialists had welcomed this victory, for 1847 still resonated, and prospects of another indian attack, combining with several intermittent peasant insurrection in the years since had preyed upon the peace of Yucatecans. Thus don Antonio Macias, seated in the patio of his estate by the Paseo de Montejo, reading the essay of the educated and esteemed attorney Ynigo Oliva, welcomed the refutation that worthy party made to a British contention that compared the war against the Cruzob with that being waged against the Boers in Southern Africa.

          "How typical of England," Oliva accused, "to thus demean the efforts of the valiant forces of the Republic by attributing the slightest legitimacy to the opposition. These Maya are not patriots, but rebels. They are without learning, without reason, without even a flag. To compare them with the Boers is preposterous."

          Don Antonio noted that the essay would continue, and he let the paper fall. He was happy only that the long campaign was over, and José would soon be home. He had earned his measure of youthful valor and adventure; soon, the routine of occupation would prove tiresome and without remuneration, so don Antonio believed, for he was a henequero who dismissed the possibility that a man could find either fiscal or spiritual fulfillment milking the excretions of tree sap for people to put in their mouths. José would return having done his duty, and even with a scar as evidence of his patriotism. Among the dissipated Merida youth, he would stand out as the ceiba among shrubs. Anything was possible, perhaps even a political career. That was Rigoberto's dream, which he had partially realized by taking up the study of law... which fact somewhat disturbed don Antonio, who had seen more than one henequero neglect his estanción as a consequence of being sucked into the political intrigues of Merida. Well, if his older son capitulated to the siren of political intriguing, José, perhaps, could run the estanción of Idznacab. A military education was perhaps most suitable for managing a plantation, and his engineering aptitudes could as well be put to use in the maintenance of the new machinery as with artillery.

          Don Antonio had finally capitulated to the Molina agency by ordering, on credit, devices which, as the American manufacturers swore, would halve the time in baling henequen for shipment. The hacendado was ignorant of, and distrusted machinery, but, unlike some of his contemporaries, acknowledged the future domination of the steam engine over the horse; he willingly had mortgaged his properties once more to keep pace with his competitors.

          The young century, wide-eyed and pampered by circumstance, almost seemed a tangible creature in these hours, dozing like a cat in the warm afternoon on the Macias patio, dreaming of horns of plenty that never lacked for the cream which bubbles ever upwards from the bounteous font of science.

 

 

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