THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ

 

BOOK EIGHT:  THE SECOND of the BOOKS of CHANGE

 

CHAPTER TWENTY

 

          Argumedo's telegram was brought to Governor Mucel in Campeche, who placed it in his pocket and gave orders for both the Federals and the Militia to proceed to the port. It was the first day of March... the French and British navies were battling Turkey in the Dardanelles. England's Lloyd-George had dismissed the Americans as "unprepared", and threatened to sink any U.S. ship attempting to break the blockade of Hamburg in the way that persons presumably acting in the cause of the Republica Sudoriental had caused a fire and explosion, sinking the Progreso with thirty lives lost.

          Zapata and Obregon battled in the streets of starving Mexico City. Don del Muerte, swollen with the souls of a million and a half Austrians, a million Prussians and many, many more Russians and English and Frenchmen still found a moment to incline his beak towards Campeche where Salvador Alvarado was disembarking.

          Joaquin Mucel had given his oath that his forces would resist the thousand or perhaps fifteen hundred Federals in the event that the naval blockade was broken, using delaying maneuvers if necessary to allow the numerous and well-armed reinforcements from Merida to reach him.

          But behind Alvarado's boat came another, and another. There were not fifteen hundred Federals, nor two thousand as the plotters had feared, nor even three.

          Colonel Mucel ordered his troops to fall back until the true strength of Carranza's force of occupation could be determined.

          Still they came, the Mexicans... so many that the plaza of Campeche could not hold them. The Governor watched these arrive through his field glasses reflecting that, after all, only one of the two gunboats had been sunk... one of Rigoberto's cigars having failed in its modest duty of self-sacrifice... and, while the blockade was being evaded, it had not been lifted; also, the First Chief had telegraphed his intent to send reinforcements to the Peninsula. For every ship the patriots sank, he would send two... for every two blown up Carranza would send four... as many as it took to continue collecting his taxes.

          Four thousand, five, finally a full six thousand troops had disembarked when Alvarado... with the glowering ex-Governor de los Santos at his side... indicated that he wished to confer with Colonel Mucel.

          The Governor of Campeche promptly lay down his binoculars, burned all of his communications with Merida and greeted Alvarado as a brother, reaffirming his oath to Carranza and to the Constitution. "Through strategy, I have allowed certain of Argumedo's agents to underestimate the Federal forces. Do you wish to take them by surprise? If you wish," Mucel smiled, unpleasantly, "I could inform Governor Argumedo that only six hundred Federals are coming up to engage him."

          "It shall not be necessary," Alvarado said, despite the angry looks from Toribio de los Santos. "What can the Yucatecans raise... a thousand Federals, a thousand more from the militia? Argumedo has no choice but surrender... unless the man is mad. Place your telegraph at my disposal and I will send him my terms."

          "What terms?" cried de los Santos. "Why not do as the Colonel says... take them by stealth and do to Merida what Rome did to the treacherous, disloyal Carthaginians."

          "Because the Revolution, at this stage, requires money, not vengeance. Colonel," Alvarado repeated, "that will occur later.  And now, your telegraph?"

          And Mucel departed, hopping like a toad, to fulfill the General's wish.

 

 

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