THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK THREE:  BOOK of the PACIFICATION

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

          General Bravo's orders, since the first day of the occupation, were those of a man in love; the honest but foolish romance of an old rake courting a young, wild and… what he believes to be… immeasurably wealthy heiress, knowing full well that his hour is late. Like a streetwalker acquired by a doddering but doting lover, the old General had adorned the indian capital in electric lighting... sustained by noxious, coughing generators... a telegraph and fruit trees, with cattle pens that remained ever spacious because so many cattle sickened and died here. He had ordered the construction of a bandshell upon which the military orchestra, with plenty of time on its hands owing to the lack of combat, inspired all Santa Cruz del Bravo with pounding German marches conducted by an eight year old prodigy. When the rains had arrived the week following last year's executions, Bravo had ordered his men to dig vegetable gardens, adopted a white cow and its calf and dedicated the opening of the general store, in which he shared interest of with several of his officers... although their manager was a Turk.

          "Huerta would have done things differently," José asserted. "I didn't much respect that old pirate at first," he admitted, "but you have to agree that he wouldn't have let himself be drawn into error by degrees the way that this old man has. All the Colonel does now is drink... and await his transfer. Look at this place! Nothing but an indian slum."

          He grimaced. Only a few days after the occupation, the animals of old Chan Santa Cruz which had not been killed began to return and, after them, came a few chicleros, then indians who swore that they were hostages of the sublevados or fugitives who had been forced to leave their homes by the rebels. These insinuated themselves into Bravo's favor by disclosing that the Cruzob had suffered much since the conquest; their food was in short supply, dissension and disease were thriving. When they told Bravo of the exodus and the last days of Felipe Yama, after which the sublevados began to fight among themselves, the new Governor was so pleased that he allowed them to return to their lands outside of the town on the condition that their village chiefs forbid the use of or the possession of arms, that they sell their crops only to the Turkish store and that they attend Padre Juliano's gloomy church.

          "Well, it's not so bad for us as for the Cruzob. After all," Dr. Rosario smiled, "Bravo did manage the application of the scientific and progressive tactics of pacification suggested by someone in Mexico City as a way of bringing the insurgents into the new century by setting their wives against them."

          "With coffee grinders," José snorted.

          "Exactly." Bravo had shown a perverse generosity by giving each returning family such a Yankee device which was also more useful in the grinding of corn. And since the wives of all Yucatan spent half their day or more grinding corn by hand over a clay metate, the offer became so popular that the village was swelled by the returning macehualob and Padre Julio's services caused the church to almost bulge with the ranks of the faithful.

          "Yes, how many fierce guerrillas, badgered by the pleadings of their wives and daughters, have given away their guns to return to the life of tenant farmers?" José asked sarcastically. "Do you wonder why they wear such baggy clothes, what's hidden under their shirts? If the sublevados had honestly given up we would have had that railroad finished by now," he added.

          "I thought the reason for the halt was don Porfirio's refusal to send any money."

          "Well the reason for that was the lack of progress because of all of those attacks upon the workers," José replied to the doctor. "And it's a matter of Bravo's going squeamish; why not use some of those idle indians, or ask for a few thousand more occupants of Mexico's jails. That worked well enough during the campaign," he sighed.

          "But now, you see, the General has a reputation to protect."

          "Yes, that's so, and that's why nobody should have cities named for them until they are dead." José had other objections but these were to go unvoiced... as a corporal who'd guessed his whereabouts entered with orders from Bravo to report to his offices.

          "You didn't hear it from me, but they've received a telegram from the capital," the corporal declared and José kicked his feet away from Dr. Rosario's table.

          "Well then I'd better go see what it's about," he said and the doctor raised his bottle by way of reply. José started to say something but only nodded and turned; he trusted Rosario implicitly but not the corporal - any such who would cultivate the favor of a Captain by betraying a General certainly would give that Captain up at the first opportunity.  But perhaps the telegram contained orders for his return to civilization – or at least a more adventuresome post.

 

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