THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK FIVE: THE BOOK of STONE
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Don Antonio proceeded from the court to a cafe where he enjoyed two cups of strong Greek coffee to refresh himself. It was the hot part of the day and Merida was almost deserted and, when he got up, he began walking aimlessly... first, across the street at the south side of the plaza where new shops, few of them more than ten years old, offered merchandise also new to the peninsula. The windows were filled with tinned English foodstuffs and cloth, German and American machines. The patron had a desire to buy something, anything, but the shops were all closed. The only person about was an indian, squatting by a pyramid of melons. A stray dog sniffed at these and then trotted around the corner. Don Antonio leaned against a building. Its roof protected him from the sun and he remained there for an hour, watching the sun drop in the sky and the shadows begin their afternoon creep across the plaza until people began returning to the streets. Many things crossed his mind. He'd gone to the court and Judge had presented him with an indian who, otherwise, would probably have been shot. Well, that was forty, or perhaps fifty pesos saved, not a bad afternoon's work for an old man. By and by his leg began to ache and he stopped a pulpito to be driven to his club. He felt lucky, and, by now, there should be a game going on.
A little after this, one of the Marshals... not the cruel one but a burly fellow whose good nature had already been improved by a few cold beers... escorted Silvestro to the Macias home by driving him there in a fotingo owned by the state and constructed in imitation of a wagon. The back was sealed off, used to transport prisoners, but Silvestro was a free man and, so, allowed to ride in the front of the vehicle. The still empty streets afforded the Marshal an opportunity to drive somewhat faster than usual, and he cheerfully pointed out some of the potentialities of the machine. Silvestro remembered the prophecy of his childhood, that he would one day fly with the eagles and it seemed, for the short duration of the ride, less the fantasy most of such prophecies are or ever would be. True, the fotingo was rather more like a jaguar, racing across the ground after its prey, and true... it was another thing of the dzulob, but the wind and the dust against his face refreshed him and, when the Marshall braked the motorcar to a sudden halt before the gates of Don Antonio's house, Silvestro sat in it, breathing rapidly for some minutes. All thoughts of what he would do next had scattered as had the dust they had raised.
The Marshal guided him around to the back door, where the mozo ran for Flaco. The chino was older now, even thinner than Silvestro remembered him, and he was in a hurry... coughing while the Marshall explained the circumstances of the return.
"If he's from Idznacab, just turn around and drive him to the railroad station. Lazaro!" he called over his shoulder to the boy, "bring Armando's package. The mayordomo there has been harassing me for weeks about some package from Progreso. Now it's here, and I was going to have to send a boy, but since this fellow's here, he'll do. José Bec? Well... you do know how to reach the estanción from where the Valladolid train stops, don't you? It's only three kilometers and there's a good trail, practically a road." He pushed the package into Silvestro's arms... it was long and thin and did not weigh much... and gave him five pesos, besides, for the train. "Hurry, you," he ordered the Marshal as if speaking to one of Don Antonio's indians, "the train leaves in twenty minutes."
"Get in," the Marshal said, directing Silvestro's attention back to the fotingo. He said no more to Flaco but allowed, once they had left, that it would go badly for the butler should he ever fall into the clutches of the law. "What does he think I am, a carriage driver? No, then he'd have paid me! Well, here we are. Can't say that you've had much luck... a country fellow here, gotten caught up in that mess in Valladolid and they don't even give you a day in the big city before it's back to the farm! Anyway, good luck," and he shook Silvestro's hand after pointing out the door to the ticket counter, for he had surmised that this indian was not very bright.
Silvestro had ridden in trains a few times before, he'd once even jumped Bravo's Decauville to Vigia Chico, hiding himself in an empty car and reducing a full day's journey to two hours. But he had always stood or squatted on the floor with other peons coming or going from their estanciónes to Merida, animals too, and Flaco's coin sufficed for a first class ticket - not to Idznacab, but all the way to Valladolid, for he'd resolved to retrieve his rifle, if he could, from the house of Leon. There were few passengers and he had a whole seat to himself and he poked open the end of Armando Feliz's package, discerning the outline of another new rifle, even finer than his own. "Yes, good luck," he whispered, thinking of the friendly Marshal. He only regretted that Flaco had not provided him with a box of ammunition as the sun began dropping from the sky.
By his agreement with Don Antonio, Flaco had one full day and one night to himself and, soon, the latter had arrived. Combing and perfuming himself, draping his lean form in a milk white suit with a Panama hat, he summoned Dario, one of the cooks who attended the Macias family when he was not on duty, placing the household in his hands while he, Flaco, spent the noche libra at the house of a tailor's widow he had known for eighteen months. Thus, it was this Dario who greeted Doña Julia when she returned from her medium... who had assured her that José would soon marry and provide her with a grandchild... and, later, Don Antonio himself, when he returned from a congenial evening at his club, his pockets heavy with the money he'd won at cards.
"Has an indian been brought around here?" he asked Dario, but Flaco had not told the cook about the incident, deeming it of no importance. "Well he should be coming, sometime soon." Twice more the hacendado went to Dario, asking "Has he arrived?"... remaining by the fireplace with a book and, finally, falling asleep. This was common and, by custom, he was not disturbed, but allowed to awaken in the middle of the night. "Indio?" he called. "Are you with us, indio? Oh," he sighed, gazing into the ruins of the fire, "it must all have been another dream."
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