THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER THIRTY TWO
It had been decided, among them, that Silvestro's final evening in the capital would be passed at the opera, for enough of the Corporal's petty deception had come out that Solis determined the Tatoob's stay still lacked this important cultural episode, a mountain as resolutely to be crossed as Orizaba. Two hours remained before Maria would join them, yet, when Silvestro asked where they would dine, the Colonel shook his head. There was a knock and the bellman appeared with a bland supper that Solis had ordered. He nodded to Silvestro and filled his glass with wine, then picked up the papers that Carranza had entrusted to him.
"You have made a bargain with the Republic," Solis said gravely, "and it is my duty to see this carried out through its end. Our treaty will ensure a peace, in perpetuity, between the people of the territory and the Republic under its lawful Chief, don Venus. The conditions, as I understand them, are generous, perhaps to a fault! The commission that officials of the Territory are entitled to collect from chicle companies... these are your own revenues... are exempted from Federal control except, of course, in the unforeseeable event that, by their lack of reason, they impede the whole of trade. Public works mandated by the treaty, security, schools, a road, all will be financed out of the national treasury... I could not conceive of terms more favorable to your interest."
"When I became of age," Silvestro said, "I was informed that the patron of my birth was the eagle. Eagles, it is said, are solitary... curious, but apart from the affairs of the world. Those old words were right, Colonel, otherwise I would undoubtedly have remained in bondage at the hacienda Idznacab, a peon like those whom I left behind."
"Destiny can take many forms," the Colonel sighed impatiently. "Now, upon the matter of bureaucratic order..."
"No man is more ill-suited to the life of the Jefe Politico than an eagle," Silvestro again broke in. "A Jefe Militar... conceivably. One who respects, but does not hide in fear from don del Muerte can accomplish much in times of war. But of the intricacies of politics and the law... I have no interest in these things. I have never had..."
The Colonel's face grew hard. "You say you have no interest in statesmanship... only behold yourself, as others do. You wear the clothes of a gentleman," he smiled, "you even carry a gold watch. Your presence is noted at the theater and the opera, and you spend on your wedding frivolities what it would take ten hard-working Mexican laborers ten years each to accumulate. You have already spent the Federal bonus given you but, when the treaties are signed, you will have a pension for life... and this does not even begin to cover the benefits that a sharp man can turn from his office.
"One who professes no interest in politics," Solis warned, "should not take such a pleasure in its benefits."
Silvestro sighed and reached into the pocket of his overcoat, placing on the table, before Solis, the blue spectacles Maria had bought for him.
"I understand now," he said, "why it is this President conceals the eyes. The eyes betray the untruthful man and these... these are a part of the mask."
"Nothing is more dangerous," Octaviano Solis persisted, "than an overly virtuous fellow in a position of the public trust. Shall I begin?"
Silvestro's hand shrank from the spectacles as though their frames were cast of silver that had crossed the palm of Judas. From his window he could see the setting sun and imagined, for a moment, the eagle passing before it. He raised the glasses to his face and nodded.
"There are five elements to this agreement," the Colonel said. "The first treats the exploitation of the forests of the Territory, a provision governing both chicle and hardwoods. This privilege of exploitation is granted to each of the Maya Jefes Regional, to be assigned as such sees fit, but subject to the approval of the Governor."
"And if the Governor does not approve?"
Solis opened his hands. "For their part, the Jefes will respect the dictates of this provision of the treaty and will maintain a climate of contentment and tranquility as regards these labors."
"How?" Silvestro asked.
The Colonel shook his head. "This matter is dealt with further in the treaty. It is otherwise agreeable?" Silvestro nodded.
"Done," the Colonel said. "The second matter concerns those lands reserved for agriculture which are to become... property of the Republic." A frown crossed the face of Solis and he scanned the document further, even flipping over to the next page. The face of the Tatoob was expressionless, behind its spectacles. "In actuality," he explained, "this is a revolutionary concession which the First Chief adopted as an alternative to the Zapatista foolishness - that use of the land be reserved to the villages, but subject to determination by the people's leaders. After all, there has to be some distinction between Constitutionalism and mere anarchy; as Halach Uinic, you'll be the beneficiary. If the village jefes dispute, you have authority to judge them."
"And the thirteen dzulob grants?"
"Cancelled," Solis replied. "Now do you approve?"
"Sometimes it is easier to handle thirteen absent Mexicans than harmonize the petty jefes of the mazehualob. Nonetheless, I hold no objection. The people must make milpa and, if prohibited by government... by any government... then they will fight. And as before," said the Tatoob, lifting a warning finger, "they shall prevail."
"Naturally," Solis agreed, and cleared his throat. "The third provision concerns the establishment of schools."
"That matter has been resolved. Juan Kui shall be held responsible for the education of the youth of Chan Santa Cruz, according to the sciences of Mexico, but the particulars of their ancestors. The schools of other villages shall be established on his orders. Now, where is the matter of the military defense of this territory treated? Where is my rank made official?"
"It is coming," said the Colonel, "coming. All things in their places, General. First, let me read this educational provision, that there be no misunderstanding between us."
"Juan Kui shall be my superintendent of education. I do not intend to accept some unknown spy from Mexico. If the treaty does not honor this, I shall not sign."
Solis furiously scanned the document. "It seems only to be written that obligatory public education shall be instituted in the pueblos and... that teachers are to be treated with respect, attention and the appreciation that is in accordance with the laws of education."
The Tatoob laughed, but behind his spectacles his eyes were not the merry, blue windows of the First Chief but doors to a very bad place, glittering with icy humor. "There is no law in all of Mexico," he said, "nor in Hell nor Gloria, nor even in Jerusalem which can compel respect for undeserving teachers. Twelve armies the size of Bravo's, and with flying machines, too, these can only enforce compliance, not respect. I am growing disgusted with this treaty... it is filled with worthless things. It asks of the mazehualob that they give, by law, what every man gives freely if he is well treated."
"This is Carranza's purpose," the Colonel said, his vexation showing by the raised pitch of voice. "He has no wish to be a dictator like Huerta or Diaz... what appears vagueness is, in fact, deliberate, yet flexible. It is inducement that men settle such conflicts as shall inevitably rise by reason and good faith and by the rule of law which you would represent, rather than with bullets. This treaty," he added, "was drafted in a manner specifically oriented to the needs of indians."
"By indians?" asked the Tatoob.
Solis frowned. "That matter is unimportant. The President's treaty is what it is."
"Then sign it yourself!"
"As you should know by now," the Colonel persisted, "it asks nothing save policies which should be obvious and reasonable."
"Nonetheless," Silvestro objected, "I will hear the rest of it."
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