THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK FIVE: THE BOOK of STONE
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Upon the exit of the General’s son, Major Macias proceeded to the telegraph office. "A wire to the capital, by way of Merida. At once. To General Bravo care of the Minister of War."
"It shall read," José said, choosing and rejecting words as bearing implications he did not intend... "Please confirm or deny changes in policy regarding issuance of Cuban passports other than to indians for transport." He had deliberately omitted mention of slavery, for the telegraph was not secure, but the General would understand the implications of a Cuban passport.
"Send it out over my signature and notify me as soon as a reply is received."
"At once," the operator said.
"Also prepare a copy for my signature."
"As you wish, Major." The operator chewed his pencil. "There's no chance of any trouble coming of this, is there?"
"There is a certainty of trouble for you if there is a delay," José replied.
And a response was received before noon the following day.
"Policy remains unchanged. Permission for issuance of Cuban passports in other than the established circumstances is denied."
"I do believe the General thinks I intended to go into business for myself," José considered, as he carried a copy of his inquiry and the General's reply to Tomas Bravo. He dropped the notes under the Captain's nose and watched as Bravo read his father's orders. To his credit, the son did not raise his voice nor reach for his pistol. He looked up at the Major.
"You have your orders, then," said Tomas. "And I seem to have been given mine." His voice lowered to a whisper.
"But I will get you," the Captain swore. "Somehow, some way, some day. You know," he added, "the thing that still bothers me is why? You and I drink from the same cup, you have as little regard for the lives of prisoners as I do, less even, from what I have been told." His teeth were bared in a thoroughly nasty smile. "What purpose is there, Major, making enemies without cause?"
Consuela Kan was hovering behind the Captain and José rewarded her with a smile that Tomas Bravo misread as directed to him. "It's unfortunate that you resort to threats," the Major said. "Invariably those who make threats are compelled to realize them, which most fail to do. Those who truly intend harm do so without warning, unlike those who merely speculate. You have little conception of the territory, far less than you think, you do not know what I am capable of or even whether I have finished with you. Think of protecting yourself, Captain, rather than revenge. A word to the wise. Good afternoon."
"I thought you were a reasonable man," Tomas whined.
"You were mistaken," said José. A rustling behind him caused the Major to look over his shoulder at the tail of another snake disappearing between two piles of dusty forms set on the floor. The movement brought pain to him, also a warning to be quickly gone, and so it was only contempt he felt when the Captain blurted out the only epithet appropriate at the retreating figure of his foe.
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