THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR
Capitan Pedro Yoac kicked at the soil, which was thin and gray. A plume of dust arose and quickly settled, for there was no wind to carry it away. He raised his eyes to the sun. Lord Kin's rays were like azotes. Salty water stung his eyes.
"Put on your hat," advised Capitan Moises Lum. "We are not Americans, nor dogs, nor lizards. You may contact a disorder of the brain."
"Why not?" Yoac scowled. "We shall all have a disorder of the stomach, very soon. Disorders of the brain would fit very nicely with that."
"Bitter words, Pedro," said Lum, but the other kept his hat in hand and kicked at the earth once again.
"Not so bitter as the hungry season to come. Even as you speak of waiting, we are dying in this place. All the armies of Mexico could not destroy us, nor could their blood-vomit, although many of our elders and children were taken. But drought..."
The thought lay unfinished as many unpleasant matters are left to die, thence to swell and raise a fetor until avoidance is no longer possible. Drought, even above war and the plague, was an implacable enemy of the mazehualob. June was almost at its end. The rains were two weeks late. Not a cloud was to be seen.
"Patience," advised Moises Lum. "When the ceremony to the Chacs is finished, there will be rain."
"But if there is not," Yoac replied, "you will have no choice but to do that which ought to have been done a week ago."
Lum looked down. "I do not wish Miguel Chankik to come to Santa Cruz. There is an evil in the man. The winds that blow about him were those that blew in with Bravo and his many jackals. Our Halach Uinic pays homage, but distrusts him."
"General Kaak has deserted us." Pedro spat... it was an effort even to form the saliva to do so. "He has been taken to Mexico and Mexico has swallowed him, like a mamey. He should have returned days ago, weeks, but he has not even come as far as Merida, unless the Governor of Yucatan deceives us for his own purpose. Which may be. In any instance, Silvestro Kaak has gone, and he will not return."
"He will return," Moises insisted. "It is not in his nature to desert us."
Pedro rolled his tongue but could not bring forth anything to spit. "How do you claim to know his nature, after he has been to Mexico? He will not be the man we knew, even if he did come. And we shall wait and wait, and as we wait we starve. It is time Chankik was called."
"No!" the other Captain cried out vehemently. "We are wealthy from the chicle we have sold."
"Wealthy!" Pedro Yoac found this hilarious. "Oh yes, we are rich, beyond expectation! Look at the people in the plaza of Santa Cruz; has such fine American cloth ever covered so many hollow ribs and swollen, empty bellies? Fine suits we do have and gold rings too, that we may all be buried in."
"If we must," said Moises Lum, "we shall sell a little of our gold and buy food. The English have wheat and rice."
"Rice? By all means, let us eat rice, like the boxuinicob. And let us also black our skins with charcoal and when Juan de la Cruz has taken his leave, we shall sing at his back the way the English do... do you remember?"
The mocking refrain of "God Save the Queen" followed Moises Lum as he withdrew from the other captain. Yoac had always been a madman, or nearly so, and the sun, of course, had influenced him. Safe beneath the shelter of a caoba tree, Lum removed his Texas hat and fanned his face. It was a fine hat... well worth the eighteen pesos it had cost. The trouble with Yoac was that he lived in the past. Such wealthy people as the sublevados had become could purchase all the food they needed... even if the rains did not come until August. What of it, if they had to eat rice? Juan Kui, the teacher, had assured him that a man could stay alive on rice as well as on corn. Not only the boxuinicob but also the huaches... and there were many of those in the north, and even more in China.
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