THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK FIVE: THE BOOK of STONE
Iniguez had a sharp nose centered in a pale and fleshy face, and the corners of his lips curled when he pronounced sentences as if inviting his audience to laugh along with him. The court was nearly full... earlier in the month, when the trials were more of a novelty, people waited in line to be admitted for Iniguez' justice could be more entertaining than a night of zarzuelas at the Teatro Peon Contreras, as the San Carlos had been renamed (in honor of he whom the old guard mourned as Merida's last great poet). But, if Calliope slumbered, the city yet took their beastly offspring of Pan and Solon to its heart. Why - just the other day, when he had sentenced six men to die and ordered an equal number to the territory, Iniguez had also turned a man loose without even the customary twenty or thirty arrobas, and awarded the bewildered indian fifty pesos for his trouble besides. None of the factions of the city had a claim upon him, nor did he bend his rulings to suit any interest save that of the Molina family; even the bootmaker, Munoz Aristegui, could not do anything with him unless the Governor supplied a letter from his predecessor. "God himself has no more power than I," this Demosteneo would declare to those who questioned him in his court or any of the taverns he frequented... for here was a judge who had foresworn the Classical questing for an honest man and turned his lamp, instead, upon himself.
Don Antonio had often seen Iniguez at work, even before the rebellion at Valladolid. The judge possessed that talent for making even the unimportant cases seem as much of note to the state as to those who stood in the dock. The leaders of the rebellion had already been dispatched, the mutinous soldiers given over to General Bravo had earned a similar fate and what now remained was the debris of the uprising who, to Demosteneo Iniguez, were a blank canvas on which to work his art. Knowing that the indians would lie... even when the truth was forgotten, or irrelevant, they lied because they had been doing so for four centuries, and knew no other way of answering the dzulob... he cherished the process by which the foundation of their lie was demolished, even as they piled such edifices of chicanery ever higher, over these foundations, by attaching corollary falsehoods of increasingly preposterous origin, until the structure finally stood before him like a pyramid of twigs and chicle resting upside down on its tip. Then, with a simple question, the Judge would sweep the whole lie away and pronounce his sentence, sometimes further compounding the criminal's bewilderment with an inexplicable mercy. Men had wept after being freed with but a dozen arrobas, others had fallen to their knees, thanking Iniguez for sending them to the firing squad! Here, his word of the law was made flesh and, as Don Antonio pushed his way across a bench, excusing himself to those he passed in search of a seat, he could almost smell the tang of blood in the air.
Standing in the dock, now, was a tinsmith, a stupid, evasive man whose voice already gave every indication of irritating the Judge like a rough brush. The man had evidently been talking for some time and, as Don Antonio settled his bad leg into a seat, the Judge abruptly cut him short in the middle of his explanation with a guilty verdict and an order that he be forthwith taken away and shot. The tinsmith staggered and a rancid waft of bodily excretions settled over the courtroom, a thing which only made the Judge smile with the same self-satisfaction of a bullfighter awarded his victim's tail and both ears. His smile only faded when the next of the prisoners, Silvestro Kaak, was marched into the dock. He leaned towards his clerk, who had accepted a paper from the Marshall upon which the history of this indian was written.
"That one won't soil his pants," Iniguez whispered, "it's already been wrung out of him. Well, let us see what can be done."
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