Toward nightfall of that day, so memorable for the killing of two bears, Valenzuela and the three men who had assisted him in guarding the camp entered the headquarters. Behind them were fifty of their comrades, belonging to the marauding companies that Joaquin had distributed through the state. The captain of each company turned over the product of his expedition to Joaquin. The total plunder amounted to about five thousand dollars. While the newcomers related their adventures, the others prepared for the feast that would follow, and end with a general fandango.
A bonfire was lighted in the center of the camp, and over it were roasted the two bears, which had been killed so opportunely. This unexpected barbecue would be the “piece de resistance” to the hungry bandits; this and the great number of provisions that the marauders had brought were the delights of the feast. Soon the camp cooks announced that the dinner was ready; conversation ceased and they all seated themselves about the glowing bonfire. Dinner did not last long, because the excitement of that day had diminished their appetites. After eating, they smoked and drank their favorite liquors, and then began to relate a thousand and one tales, each telling his own experiences, especially in love.
When everyone else had told his story, Joaquin turned to Antonio, who from the beginning had remained silent, and asked him to tell something.
“To tell the truth, my friends,” said Antonio, shaking the ashes from his cigar, “today I find myself unable to tell you my reminiscences, because my spirit seems filled with fancies. At this moment a legion of grizzly bears are dwelling in my head, and they are revolving in it in an extraordinary manner. I will confess to you that while I was meditating, I just now dreamed that one of them was torturing me, tearing my bones apart. However, if you will allow me to substitute a song for the tale which you ask, I shall take great plea-