Last Reviewed on February 13, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1196
Demetrio is out drinking with old comrades when Cervantes arrives to deliver a message: the general has received orders to pursue the Orozquistas. Everyone is excited at the news, and Demetrio is “so happy he could barely speak” at the idea of killing “real men” and not the...
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Demetrio is out drinking with old comrades when Cervantes arrives to deliver a message: the general has received orders to pursue the Orozquistas. Everyone is excited at the news, and Demetrio is “so happy he could barely speak” at the idea of killing “real men” and not the easy targets of the Federales.
Demetrio gives the orders to leave, and War Paint says that Camila cannot travel, as she isn’t feeling well. Camila, however, confesses that she has begun to like Demetrio, a change of heart that angers War Paint.
Demetrio and his army ride through the desert. Demetrio is in a bad mood because there were no Orozquistas and there was no battle, just a few Federales and a priest and his followers. The rebels murdered them and looted the parish house.
Towhead Margarito has taken a prisoner because he is curious about “the expression on the face of a man up close when a rope is tied tight around his neck.” The prisoner, walking next to Towhead’s horse, is a Federale. Towhead announces that he will kill the prisoner and puts his gun to the prisoner’s temple. After several prolonged moments, however, he reholsters his weapon, telling the prisoner he won’t kill him just yet.
Camila witnesses the scene and tells Demetrio about Towhead’s cruelty; he does not respond. War Paint is angry that Camila has spread gossip about Towhead, because War Paint loves him “more than anybody in the whole wide world.”
The rebels make camp, and Demetrio and Camila approach three lone houses. They spot two men and ask for lodging for the night. The owner is happy to shelter Demetrio, as he is such a distinguished military figure.
The laborer who works the owner’s land has a crippled leg and is dressed in rags. Demetrio sees the laborer as an example of “others worse off” who need the revolution to succeed.
The next morning, Demetrio walks back to the place where his troops have camped. He thinks about his wife and his land back home, but he cannot conjure the face of his son. When he asks Anastasio Montañés how far they are from Limón, he learns it’s a trip of three days. “I really wanna see my wife!” Demetrio confesses.
War Paint hears Demetrio’s words and seeks out Camila to tell her that Demetrio is going to leave her. When Demetrio returns, Camila confronts him, and he assures her that War Paint is a “madwoman” and that he is not going to Limón to fetch his wife.
The troops begin their march to Tepatitlán. Cervantes is worried about money, as five hundred more men have joined Demetrio’s army in the last week alone, but Demetrio ignores him and plans to travel directly to the Sierra.
Towhead’s prisoner collapses from exhaustion, unable to walk any farther. Towhead repeatedly hits the prisoner with his saber, and the prisoner dies.
Arriving in Little Guadalajara, the troops make their quarters in the schools, and Demetrio settles into an abandoned chapel. The rebels move through town looting the houses under the pretext of taking weapons and horses for their cause.
A man asks to speak with Demetrio and tells him that Demetrio’s soldiers took everything the man owned, leaving him without food to feed his nine children. Demetrio is apathetic, but Camila urges him not to be cruel and to give the man back some food. Cervantes writes a note giving the man permission to receive ten bushels of corn, and the man cries with gratitude.
The next day, on their march to Cuquío, Anastasio Montañés tells Demetrio what happened with the old man and the corn. Towhead Margarito invited the man into the quarters to claim his bushels of corn. But as the man began counting out the food, Towhead began hitting him with his sword until the man begged for mercy.
War Paint laughs at the story, but Camila is horrified and calls Towhead a “bastard.” War Paint grabs Camila’s braid and pulls. Camila falls off her horse and hits her head on a rock.
In Cuquío, Demetrio receives an order to go back to Tepatitlán, where he will leave his troops so that he can travel onward to Aguascalientes.
Camila weeps all night long, and the next morning, she asks Demetrio if he will let her go home because of how horribly War Paint treats her. Demetrio assures Camila that he will get rid of War Paint, and as everyone is saddling up, he tells War Paint that she cannot travel with him any longer. War Paint vents her rage until Demetrio gives the order to “throw this drunk woman outta here.” War Paint appeals to Towhead, but he agrees with Demetrio that it is time for her to go.
War Paint looks at all the soldiers who are laughing at her. Then she unsheaths a knife and stabs Camila, killing her. Demetrio, enraged, orders his men to kill her, but War Paint insists that Demetrio murder her himself and offers him her knife. He holds it over her but ultimately cannot kill her; instead, he tells her to “get outta here.” She walks away.
Demetrio mourns Camila as they ride to Lagos, and Towhead Margarito vows to make Demetrio laugh. When they arrive in town, they go to a tavern, where the townsfolk respectfully greet the general and his men. Towhead claims that he can shoot a bottle of tequila from thirty steps away. He takes a waiter by the hand and leads him onto the patio, then balances a bottle of tequila on the waiter’s head.
His first shot flies true, and the bottle shatters. Wanting to do it again, he puts a new bottle of tequila on the waiter’s head, but this time he shoots off one of the waiter’s ears. Towhead laughs hysterically at his own antics.
On their way out, they encounter a tailor. He is a small man, and Towhead calls him a “midget.” Towhead orders the tailor to do the “midget dance,” then begins firing his gun at the tailor’s feet so that the tailor, jumping to avoid each shot, appears to be dancing. Towhead walks toward the red light district while Demetrio goes to bed.
The rebels take the crowded train to Aguascalientes to consult with General Natera. A woman complains that someone has stolen her suitcase, prompting Demetrio’s men to debate whether stealing or killing is worse. The men enthusiastically share stories of their own thievery.
When they arrive, they find that Aguascalientes has become “a veritable trash heap.” Villa and Carranza, who once were allies, are now enemies. Demetrio seems to take in this news with indifference; his only response is, “So it means, apparently, that we’ll just keep on fightin.’”
Natera asks Demetrio which side he will fight for. Demetrio doesn’t know how to choose and says that the insignia he wears on his uniform means he will carry out whatever orders Natera gives him.