THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK SIX:  THE FIRST of the BOOKS of CHANGE

 

CHAPTER FORTY TWO

 

          For perhaps the last time, Major Macias and General Bravo rode to the southeast, picking up the railroad tracks and following them to Vigia Chico. They entered the port by night and José swiftly determined that Rivera's Captain had already arrived, and had given orders to seize Bravo should he show his face.

          "Orders!" Bravo wondered. "If he had put a price on my head, I could be in some trouble here. Which way is it to your Englishman with his boat?"

          The sloop had been tied up in a cove near the north mouth of the bay. It was still an hour from dawn when the officers reached it, accompanied by a creature of La Siria who would bring their horses back to Vigia Chico. "Where was this featherhead of a Rivera kept all these years?" the man still wondered. "His Captain has ordered the taverns be closed and girls all sent back to Progreso. This Rivera plans to start a temperance society and open a library for the sailors. A library! Are all of Madero's people this way."

          So impoverished by the failure of Boleaga to appear was General Bravo that it was José who paid for their passage. "Gentlemen," the skipper said, "it serves us well to leave at once for, if we're out at sea by sunrise, there isn't much that your other General can do."

          "No, then," Bravo said, "let's go. Be my eyes, Major, for I wish to take my last look at this territory here, not from a boat, for water is not land and I shall never see this land again. Rivera will make a ruin of it, he'll make it another part of Mexico with all of the intrigues and carelessness and pettiness which we mistake for progress. If nothing else, it shall remain unspoiled in my memories and, when I have gone, what it could have become shall disappear with me, and what is left behind shall enter into the mundanity - a thing of little importance. I am as it is, we understand this, the Cruzob and I, even if the government of Mexico doesn't. Even if all Madero's spirits... with their mineral water blood, and their accountants' souls... do not. Ignacio Bravo may not long survive, but Santa Cruz del Bravo shall vanish with him when I reach the end of this ramp.

          "I am looking at this town, the sands, the endlessness of the monte beyond," Bravo continued, walking backwards in erratic vagabondage. "Were I to look ahead, what would my eyes perceive?"

          "Phosphorous," replied José, "Ascension Bay is almost white tonight, white as sand, as stone..."

          "As death!" the old General laughed, "for I have heard this phosphorescence is no more than the light of don del Muerte's feet as he walks on the sea, as Jesucristo did, touching both the creatures above and those below. Now we are here," he added as the skipper guided him into the boat, "and I shall look no more, may the gods of this sky and Juan de la Cruz hear my plea and my curses and may they be added to the burden of the territory." He would say no more, nor look up... but José Macias, who had left nothing of Quintana Roo that he had not afterwards pulled down, could look back without remorse, and did so as the anchor was hauled up and the moon gently pulled the little sloop away upon its mat of tides.

 

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