Although the rebel attack on Zacatecas is unsuccessful, the fighters come back "as happily as when they had marched away a few days before, pillaging every hamlet along the road, every ranch, even the poorest hut". Their plundering is pointless, and their meaningless "celebration" an orgy of destruction. The men are "a maddened mob, sunburnt, filthy, naked", and their faces, hidden by their hats, give individuals an aura of anonymity. Demetrio, in light of the outcome of the battle, does not share in the rude exultation of his men. He calls Montanez and Pancracio aside and tells them that the men "have no guts".
Demetrio begins to reminisce about Camilla, the beautiful girl who cared for him at the ranch when he was wounded. He cannot forget her, and the way she offered him fresh water when he was feeling bad, and he wants to go back to the ranch. Montanez advises him to "steer clear" of women; in his own experience, he has learned that "women...(are) the devil". Pancracio is more receptive to Demetrio's musings. He says that he left his woman on the ranch as well. The other men overhear the conversation and begin to make fun of Pancracio. The chapter ends with the motley group laughing at Pancracio and making lewd jokes, and Pancracio and Manteca "shouting oaths and obscenities" at each other" (Chapter 19).