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Look here, Tenderfoot, I want to tell you some-
thing," Camilla called to Luis Cervantes, as he made his
way to the hut to fetch some boiling water for his foot.

For days the girl had been restless. Her coy ways and
her reticence had finally annoyed the man; stopping sud-
denly, he stood up and eyeing her squarely:

"All right. What do you want to tell me?"

Camilla's tongue clove to her mouth, heavy and damp
as a rag; she could not utter a word. A blush suffused
her cheeks, turning them red as apples; she shrugged
her shoulders and bowed her head, pressing her chin
against her naked breast. Then without moving, with the
fixity of an idiot, she glanced at the wound, and said in
a whisper:

"Look, how nicely it's healing now: it's like a red
Castille rose."

Luis Cervantes frowned and with obvious disgust con-
tinued to care for his foot, completely ignoring her as
he worked. When he had finished, Camilla had vanished.

For three days she was nowhere to be found. It was
always her mother, Agapita, who answered Cervantes'
call, and boiled the water for him and gave him rags.
He was careful to avoid questioning her. Three days
later, Camilla reappeared, more coy and eager than ever.

The more distrait and indifferent Luis Cervantes grew,
the bolder Camilla. At last, she said: "Listen to me, you
nice young fellow, I want to tell you something pleas-
ant. Please go over the words of the revolutionary song
'Adelita' with me, will you? You can guess why, eh? I
want to sing it and sing it, over again often and often,
see? Then when you're off and away and when you've
forgotten all about Camilla, it'll remind me of you."

To Luis Cervantes her words were like the noise of a
sharp steel knife drawn over the side of a glass bottle.
Blissfully unaware of the effect they had produced, she
proceeded, candid as ever:

"Well, I want to tell you something. You don't know
that your chief is a wicked man, do you? Shall I tell you
what he did to me? You know Demetrio won't let a
soul but Mamma cook for him and me take him his food.
Well, the other day I take some food over to him and
what do you think he did to me, the old fool. He grabs
hold of my wrist and he presses it tight, tight as can
be, and then he starts pinching my legs.

"'Come on, let me go,' I said. 'Keep still, lay off, you
shameless creature. You've got no manners, that's the
trouble with you.' So I wrestled with him, and shook my-
self free, like this, and ran off as fast as I could. What
do you think of that?"

Camilla had never seen Luis Cervantes laugh so

"But it is really true, all this you've told me?"

Utterly at a loss, Camilla could not answer. Then he
burst into laughter again and repeated the question. A
sense of confusion came upon her. Disturbed, troubled,
she said brokenly:

"Yes, it's the truth. And I wanted to tell you about it.
But you don't seem to feel at all angry."

Once more Camilla glanced adoringly at Luis Cer-
vantes' radiant, clean face; at his glaucous, soft eyes,
his cheeks pink and polished as a porcelain doll's; at his
tender white skin that showed below the line of his
collar and on his shoulders, protruding from under a
rough woolen poncho; at his hair, ever so slightly curled.

"What the devil are you waiting for, fool? If the chief
likes you, what more do you want?"

Camilla felt something rise within her breast, an empty
ache that became a knot when it reached her throat; she
closed her eyes fast to hold back the tears that welled up
in them. Then, with the back of her hand, she wiped her
wet cheeks, and just as she had done three days
ago, fled with all the swiftness of a young deer.

The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela
General Fiction

Mexico - History - 1910-1946
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