Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary
The priest rests on the veranda of the home of Mr. Lehr and his sister, two German-American Lutherans who now reside in Mexico. Although they have made him welcome, they do not approve of Catholicism, seeing it as compromised by the “inessentials,” the rituals and ceremonies that are foreign to their own beliefs.
Mr. Lehr and the priest go to the stream to bathe. The priest tells his host that he intends to celebrate the mass at the local church because a priest has not been this way for several years. He is willing to leave Mr. Lehr’s home if he finds this offensive, but Mr. Lehr assures him that he is free to stay.
Back at the house, the men stay in the back while Miss Lehr bathes. The priest finds a Gideon Bible, which Miss Lehr had taken from the hotel she owned before she came to live with her widowed brother. He finds the suggested Scripture verses simplistic answers to life’s most difficult questions.
The priest prepares for the Mass and is interrupted by a woman who wants to know if he will hear confession and baptizes the babies born since the last priest’s visit. The priest says that he will be glad, mentioning that the price for baptism is two pesos. The woman haggles him down to one peso and fifty centavos. The priest calculates that he will have enough to go to Las Casas, the city where he now wants to be.
The priest drinks brandy, becoming a bit drunk for the Mass. He decides that he will be kind and charge only one peso for baptism and sends a man with the message.
As the priest leaves the church, he finds the half-caste mestizo once again. The mestizo says that he has come to take him to the gringo, the American outlaw, who has been shot and is now dying. The priest assumes that this is a trap, but he agrees to go anyway, even though the gringo is back over the border where the priest is still a wanted man.
On the way out of town, the schoolmaster cynically asks him if he made a lot of money from all the baptisms. The priest decides to give the money to the schoolmaster for books, knowing that he will most likely not need money where he is going.