THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK FOUR:  THE BOOK of SCIENCE

 

CHAPTER THIRTY

 

Ignacio Bravo foreswore his recuperative excursions to the coast, his intended vacation, even the one-day inspections of the ring of villages encircling Santa Cruz and waited in his office for the inevitable arrival of a notice from the capital. Colonel Huerta's orders were to proceed directly north to meet the troops at Vigia Chico and proceed to Tuloom. Miguel Chankik was gone, not even the General knew where to. And Santa Cruz, less and less now a frontier fort and more the quiet company town, plodded along from day to day... consolidating, now, its pre-eminence over all Quintana Roo and its riches.

          Victoriano Huerta's role in this was known only to Bravo, to Chankik and to the few men under his command, all of whom equally despised the General of the South and were well satisfied at his embarrassment. Not a word of the conspiracy would ever reach the ears of Porfirio Diaz.

          Now there remained the matter of the insurgence of Tuloom. Huerta telegraphed a coded message to Bravo and then, with the seven hundred men sent to the port, marched north and, in a bloody but one-sided battle, took that village and San Muyil too. Of note was the fact that no soldiers of the cross were killed or captured and those of the macehualob who perished were either very young or very old, or included the wives and sisters of the Cruzob, angering the sublevados from Cabo Catouche to Chetumal. Quintana Roo simmered with war but did not boil over; Bravo telegraphed reports of these increasing attacks together with his requests for more men, money and supplies. He did not have Miguel Chankik to ask how it was that the sublevados made their escape from Tuloom and San Muyil, nor of the place to which they gone.

          Pretending ignorance of the affairs at Xcalak, Bravo had wired a request to the capital the day of the massacre, detailing his concerns for security in the south of Quintana Roo and urging a more vigorous prosecution of the war... concluding as he always did by asking for more troops and more supplies, a request he knew that Porfirio Diaz would grant, however Finance Minister Limantour might groan. But the silence lasted all of four days, and it was not until Colonel Huerta had already departed that news was received.

          When the operator on duty appeared in his office, Bravo knew his prayers would be answered. Negative or insubstantial messages were brought to him by an indian boy.

          The operator thrust the message at Bravo as if it were something hot. The General frowned and turned the paper over, motioning for the man to leave. It was as he'd hoped. The encampment at Xcalak had been ordered abandoned. A notice had been circulated for the capture... dead or alive... of Chelem, following which the garrison at Payo Obispo was to be reduced by nearly half. Many of the more remote villages of the south, which Vega had pacified by stationing Mexican troops there were also to be abandoned. Some half a hundred clergymen and teachers who had followed the Army also were recalled; the now surplus forces, and their equipment, were to proceed to Santa Cruz via the Bacalar road to await assignment at the pleasure of... General Bravo.

          José Maria Vega, disgraced, had been recalled to the capital. His orders were to leave Payo Obispo immediately with his senior staff, with the exception of one Colonel, who would be assigned temporary command of the fort until Bravo designated a replacement. The General remembered this man... he was brave, not particularly innovative, and seemed to lack ambition beyond service to his President, his flag and his commanding officer, whomever that might be. In short, Bravo thought, a useful fool whose loyalty might well earn him a continuity of command.

          "Send this on," he informed the operator, personally bringing a brief, nondescript reply to the telegraph station. "Be sure that it is known that I, Ignacio Bravo, territorial commander, personally offer a reward of one thousand pesos to the man who brings this so-called General Chelem here, dead or alive."

          The operator saluted and Bravo halted at the door. "Send another message to the British Governor in Belize. Advise him of this situation and include my desire for a meeting at his earliest convenience."

          Bravo returned to his office and picked up a pen with which to commit to paper his orders. But the words would not come to him and, instead, his hand proceeded from the figures of new men, arms and supplies that he wrote down to sketches, monstrous doodlings that he found himself incapable of controlling. Pressure bore down on his neck, foam drooled through his lips as his hand, quite independently now, opened a door to an underworld of snouted monsters, grinning skulls and indians with flattened foreheads grimacing in their performance of obscene rites. With a final cry he hurled the pen across the room and fell forwards, knocking the table over and breaking the hold the spirits held upon him. Consuela Kan discovered him this way; frothing, shivering and mumbling an incoherent appeal to unseen forces... while trespassing fowl clucked and skittered, prudently out of reach... and so, with a strength out of proportion to her frame, she raised him up and helped him to bed.

 

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

 

RETURN to GENERISIS HOMEPAGE