THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK NINE: BOOK of the JAGUAR PRIEST
CHAPTER FORTY SEVEN
Lord Kin, splendid in wrath, swelled at his zenith when the Decauville's speed began slackening and the City of the Holy Cross rose from the shimmerings of the monte. First a pile of rusting junk left by the Mexicans announced the nearness of the capital, then a hut, then another, then a cluster of domiciles with white walls and palm thatched roofs sprouting like mushrooms out of the parched earth. There was a brief glimpse of the plaza, two blocks from the tracks, and the train groaned to a halt.
No people, no life. One enormous sow grunted and sniffed at the hot Decauville as though the train were some long form of a baked potato.
The first of the nameless days had arrived. "None of these people will help you," the engineer volunteered... though a Mexican, he knew the ways of the Uayab.
"Take out those boxes and leave them by the tracks," the Tatoob directed. His lips curled in a sneer. "It does not look as if the Chacs will damage them."
He had removed his overcoat with sunrise and wore only a white shirt, which he pulled up and over his neck. From one of the boxes, he removed the tunic of his Mexican uniform with its stripes and ribbons feeling, as he drew this on, a counterforce to the baleful spirits of Santa Cruz... the power of the law. His ceremonial saber was at hand, his box of photographs near; he checked the watch that Carranza had given him and positioned the spectacles over his nose.
Enveloped in the trappings of authority and progress, Silvestro marched towards his own hut, but stopped first before that next door. The occupant, a chiclero without Cruzob rank, was not there but the man's wife and children... playmates of his own... cowered inside, seeking relief from Lord Kin and the hapless days.
Heated and proud within his uniform, Silvestro kicked their door aside and raised his saber. "Depart!" he ordered. "Your Governor has returned, and has a need of this place!"
These nameless people fled into the heat of the first of the nameless days. "You will be compensated," called Silvestro after them, then laughed. He turned to Maria.
"This will be your home."
The musician contemplated her palm roof and the melted limestone walls of that which her husband had granted her and sighed, as if awakening from three days' sleep. Colonel Solis placed the box which held Pablito on the dirt floor and opened it; the little dog raced to the hearth where tortillas still baked and began to bark so furiously that the resident scorpion crept from its kingdom and retreated across the floor until, with a flourish of its tail, it ducked through a crevice in the wall.
The Tatoob, paying no further notice, proceeded to his own hut. "I am married twice now," he said to his wife, "but, according to law I shall reside here, where my family is." And he nodded to his wife and his children indifferently, like the vaquero to his cattle.
"Bring pozole," demanded Silvestro, "for I am grown weary with my journeys." But, before he could eat, he fell sound asleep.
Octaviano Solis peeked out of Maria's new hut. Santa Cruz was empty, and he scratched his head.
"Queer customs they still have here," he said to Maria. "I will try to hire a mozo to haul your baggage. If I can't, I'll bring it here myself."
"How kind you are," Maria said. The Colonel blinked and nodded and began his retreat to the palm hut which, in Santa Cruz, passed for the station.
"Soldaderas are a little better than prostitutes," he comforted himself and, wrapped in this greatcoat of virtue, contemplated which of the packages to begin with for, of course, not even a boy was to be found.
The mazehualob whom Silvestro had evicted had not had time, even, to remove their hammocks and Maria sampled the strength and comfort of the largest... the matrimonio used by the chiclero and his wife... having no understanding of the admonition that an abandoned hammock invites the Devil to occupy it. Taking her place beside that imperious spirit, she hoisted her feet upwards as she'd seen some of the soldados from the southern states do during her campaigns, and nestled by his side.
Aroused with the attentions that the invisible imp showered upon her, but tired from the journey, she stared up at the palm fronds that formed the roof. "Well the life of a Governor's wife... even his second wife... may not be so bad."
And that was when six men, all strangers to Maria, burst through the door and unslung the hammock from its beams. "This is the offering that the Tatoob has promised," directed their leader, an Oficiale who had already painted his face with red and yellow streaks. "Bring her to Chankik!" And having folded the ends of the hammock to make a net, a web in which the Governor's wife was as secured as an insect in its cocoon no matter how she thrashed or struggled, the Cruzob carried off a screaming Maria Morelos to he whom the devout acknowledged as Juan de la Cruz.
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