THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK TEN: THE BOOK of SKULLS
Of course, many survivors of the Territory… be they military or convict… had enjoyed only a temporary stay of judgment. Of the hundreds of thousands under arms, most were turned loose to live by their resources... usually meaning a cheap grave under one of those armies which crisscrossed Mexico for so many years or, worse, a disabling injury whose outcome was inevitably a short, penurious life. Consider the jawless Villanueva and legless Andujar... these slipped downwards along the stones of many sorrowful wells, and don del Muerte's coming must have been a blessing veiled. Some few found dangerous employment in one of the many revolutions among the republics of Central and South America, after the Republic’s lurch towards stability, places where men who knew how to kill and keep their mouths shut were at a premium. Others found an other, if not necessarily better, home in Texas, California or Mother Spain. Finally, the smallest in number were those nimble souls who navigated the labyrinthine fortunes of Mexican politics. Othon Blanco of Payo Obispo rose to command the Navy, and that soul of prudence, Pedro Gasca, was rewarded with an Ambassadorship to Belize. And Juan Kui, after some years' teaching in and supervising Yucatecan schools, was called to Mexico, becoming a bureaucratic pillar in that which had evolved into that sublime tautology which is called the Party of Revolution, Institutionalized.
Less fortunate was his erstwhile mentor, Henri Lavelle, who returned to Paris and wrote books adjudging the marvels of Yucatan and many other places to have been the work of refugees from drowned Atlantis. Mercifully, he was taken by don del Muerte at the height of his first fashionable epoch, before a deluge of counterrevolutionary science washed his theories away on a wave of derision (save for a brief respite in the short-lived Age of Aquarius, by which time his copyrights had expired!). For Yucatan, especially, the years of slavery and of the wars that followed were succeeded by years of peace and poverty, finally somewhat ameliorated by the commerce in tourism and leisure, profitable to some.
Even the remotest quarters of the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Chiapas (if not the Territory) were probed during the twenties and thirties by excavators and explorers who had rediscovered the accounts of Stephens. A Mr. Thompson began hauling jewelry from the well of Chichen Itza without undue retaliation from the Bacabs although a contemporary, Thomas Gann, visiting in 1928, excavated a tomb and brushed his hand against the sharp bones of a dead king, bringing upon himself an infection unknown to humankind for centuries. Another archaeologist, Frans Blom, was haunted by a separate plague; journalists, insisting he was the reclusive author B. Traven. Their questions seriously distracted him from his works of scholarship and reconstruction.
Quintana Roo remained the redoubt of insurgency, although visited by traders in chicle and a few ambassadors from the lands of the dzulob. Charles Lindbergh flew over the monte in 1929 and the jefes, in a moment of benevolence, even allowed the old walls of Tuloom to be explored and photographed by Prince William of Sweden. No such hospitality extended to the Mexicans, however; jefe Paulino Kamaal chased off a covey of Ingenarios, casting dark aspersions against "those who move our stars around." By this time, the price of chicle had fallen, almost as catastrophic a collapse as had overtaken the Yucatecan trade in rope. The mazehualob put aside their luxuries, venturing out into the monte only occasionally now; hunting and fishing, making milpa in secluded jungle patches, following their jefes and the words of Juan de la Cruz and humoring the Mexican government in Chetumal.
These chicle jefes were the real and true authorities in the territory after Mexico's surrender, but a series of Ladino Governors were appointed in this postwar epoch, maintaining the fiction acceptable to all parties. First among these Governors was Octaviano Solis, prisoner of Santa Cruz del Bravo and escort to Silvestro Kaak, jefe of the reconstituted Chan Santa Cruz. Serving his term without incident and, in fact, earning some grudging affection from the Maya, who designated him "Tata Solis", he is one of those honored by the tiny metal heads of Chetumal; a small distinction, but one denied his more noteworthy predecessors.
The true heads of these, and many more, have, of course, been collected by the harvester of all thought and they make, for the tzompal of don del Muerte, that railing of the skulls binding the dark road to the white. And, with the matters of the territory nearly, but not wholly, concluded, let us return to old Rosario beside his window, to don Antonio on his porch; from these, to glean a measure of the destiny of the cursed one lacking shame.
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