Mexican. by jack london
NOBODY knew his history — they of the Junta least of all. He
was their "little mystery," their "big patriot," and in his way
he worked as hard for the coming Mexican Revolution as did
they. They were tardy in recognizing this, for not one of the
Junta liked him. The day he first drifted into their crowded,
busy rooms, they all suspected him of being a spy — one of the
bought tools of the Diaz secret service. Too many of the
comrades were in civil an military prisons scattered over the
United States, and others of them, in irons, were even then
being taken across the border to be lined up against adobe
walls and shot.
At the first sight the boy did not impress them favorably. Boy
he was, not more than eighteen and not over large for his
years. He announced that he was Felipe Rivera, and that it was
his wish to work for the Revolution. That was all — not a wasted
word, no further explanation. He stood waiting. There was no
smile on his lips, no geniality in his eyes. Big dashing
Paulino Vera felt an inward shudder. Here was something
forbidding, terrible, inscrutable. There was something venomous
and snakelike in the boy's black eyes. They burned like cold
fire, as with a vast, concentrated bitterness. He flashed them
from the faces of the conspirators to the typewriter which
little Mrs. Sethby was industriously operating. His eyes rested
on hers but an instant — she had chanced to look up — and she,
too, sensed the nameless something that made her pause. She was
compelled to read back in order to regain the swing of the
letter she was writing.
Paulino Vera looked questioningly at Arrellano and Ramos, and
questioningly they looked back and to each other. The
indecision of doubt brooded in their eyes. This slender boy was
the Unknown, vested with all the menace of the Unknown. He was
unrecognizable, something quite beyond the ken of honest,
ordinary revolutionists whose fiercest hatred for Diaz and his
tyranny after all was only that of honest and ordinary
patriots. Here was something else, they knew not what. But
Vera, always the most impulsive, the quickest to act, stepped
into the breach.
"Very well," he said coldly. "You say you want to work for the
Revolution. Take off your coat. Hang it over there. I will show
you, come — where are the buckets and cloths. The floor is
dirty. You will begin by scrubbing it, and by scrubbing the
floors of the other rooms. The spittoons need to be cleaned.
Then there are the windows."
"Is it for the Revolution?" the boy asked.
"It is for the Revolution," Vera answered.
Rivera looked cold suspicion at all of them, then proceeded to
take off his coat.
"It is well," he said.
And nothing more. Day after day he came to his work — sweeping,
scrubbing, cleaning. He emptied the ashes from the stoves,
brought up the coal and kindling, and lighted the fires before
the most energetic one of them was at his desk.
"Can I sleep here?" he asked once.
Ah, ha! So that was it — the hand of Diaz showing through! To
sleep in the rooms of the Junta meant access to their secrets,
to the lists of names, to the addresses of comrades down on
Mexican soil. The request was denied, and Rivera never spoke of
it again. He slept they knew not where, and ate they knew not
where nor how. Once, Arrellano offered him a couple of dollars.
Rivera declined the money with a shake of the head. When Vera
joined in and tried to press it upon him, he said:
"I am working for the Revolution."
It takes money to raise a modern revolution.