THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK THREE:  BOOK of the PACIFICATION

 

CHAPTER THIRTY ONE

 

          José Macias, retiring to the tent he shared after the cathedral was secured, lit the kerosene lamp that he kept upon a table that one of the prisoners had fashioned for him in return for some extra food. He kept a few books here, volumes he could read and reread, for it could be months between his journeys back to Merida to replace them. One of these he kept always, however, and after positioning the lamp picked it up, turning to the blood-spattered pages whose hold upon his fancies waxed since the loss of Padre Juliano and the dispatching of the luckless Rurale, Cedral. The language of the text was English, which he had resolved to improve his command of... being that there were not only the British, but Americans who were coming to the territory with increasing frequency... but it was not only the power of the words, nor the canvas of despair and unholiness that the author painted; feelings which impelled, in the Captain, a communion of lost souls, though the locations of the stories were cold and dank while the territory was hot and, at times, mercilessly dry. No... more than this, it was the way in which the poet seemed to peer out from beyond his grave, to reach into José Macias and hold up the evil there; without judgment, without condemnation... as if to say to him: "Here is that which I was, and that which you are, and will be forever... understand yourself, your powers, use them for your gain but never let them master you."

          He quickly turned the now-familiar pages... passing in his fingers' flight the baleful House of Usher, the raven who quoth forever "Nevermore!", the tell-tale heart, whose beating stirred the faint heart of the hesitant criminal onward to his ruin... he put down his hand and, with his eyes and soul, drank deeply of the words that had named him, that gave him power over the beast that could rise at his summons... but worse!... of its own will.

          "Nor will this overwhelming tendency to do wrong for wrong's sake admit of analysis, or resolution into ulterior elements. It is a radical, a primitive impulse - elementary."

          He picked up his pen, thinking to write Elena, whose last communication from Rotterdam, six weeks ago, told of her imminent return to Campeche. She would be back by now... but the Captain could then not help himself, but put his instrument down and resume his seance with the tormented Baltimorean...

          "The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until tomorrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle..."

          A distant bugle sounded, still the Captain indulged his sentiments with the mortifications of the abyss.

 

RETURN to HOMEPAGE – “THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ”

 

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