THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
Through Friday and Saturday, the unsigned documents remained the Colonel's unwelcome burden, like a lump of gum stuck to his heel. The closest that he came to their resolution was Friday afternoon, when he succeeded in seating Silvestro at his table with a pen, and with Carranza's treaty between them. On the bed lounged Maria, brushing her hair. It was no longer possible for the Colonel to conceal his hostility towards her and he was thankful that Silvestro's insistence on pretending ignorance of Spanish... however futile and annoying it now seemed... served to exclude her from the proceedings.
"Now," the Colonel said, "I'll tell you what each section means, more or less, and if you have no questions we'll go on to the next part. The terms, as I understand them, are quite generous."
"Let me see," said the Tatoob, but Solis held the papers out of reach. Angry words followed and Maria went to them.
The Colonel, despite his contempt for Silvestro's intended, felt obligated both to justify himself and to gain an ally, or at least prevent the General from taking refuge behind some whim of his chanteuse. "Everything's in order," he averred. "If either of you knew the subtleties of law, you would understand Carranza's generosity."
"Well I don't understand," Maria replied crossly, "and neither does he. Nobody could." And she snatched one of the papers from the Colonel's possession.
"How can any normal person read this tiny print?" she asked, crossing her eyes. "It is a trick these lawyers have, to get their way and ruin people's vision. I had a position in Monterrey a few years ago... a good place. Was that when Villa came to town and the Federals left... or maybe the other way around? Anyway, some soldier came to Pepe with a paper just like that. Pepe was the patrón."
"I would never have imagined that," the Colonel said.
"A good man... if you can believe that too... although dead, now. They came with papers full of little writing and they took his place away and gave it to one of their Generals. Pepe could read the writing on a whiskey bottle, he could tell the difference between Cuban rum and aguardiente, but why did they have to give him such tiny words to take away his bar? They said it was to preserve his life, but then they shot him anyway because he'd signed what they called a confession. Can you read this?" she asked, turning the document towards the Tatoob who squinted, then frowned, shaking his head.
"You see? He needs a pair of spectacles, just like the President."
"Why?" Solis asked. "He cannot understand Spanish and cannot read nor write in any language."
"That's bad enough," Maria affirmed, "and to have to do so without spectacles is all the more intolerable. We must get them at once. Vamonos!" And she yanked the Tatoob from his seat, leaving the Colonel with his treaty still unsigned.
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