The Mangy Parrot: The Life and Times of Periquillo Sarniento, Written by Himself for His Children

By José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi; David Frye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 46
IN WHICH OUR AUTHOR TELLS THE ADVENTURES HE HAD IN THE
GANG OF THIEVES; THE SAD SPECTACLE PRESENTED BY THE CADAVER
OF A HANGED MAN; AND THE BEGINNINGS OF HIS CONVERSION

Though God often allows the wicked to achieve their intentions, whether to test the righteous or to punish the depraved, He does not always permit their designs to go forward. His Providence, which keeps watch over the conservation of His creatures, constantly hinders or destroys their iniquitous plans, that the righteous might not become fodder for the ferocity of the wicked.

So it happened with El Aguilucho and his companions, the morning that we came out to surprise the traveling merchants.

It was about six in the morning when, from the crest of a hill, we spied them coming down the highway. Three men went in front, with their shotguns in hand; then came four horses with empty saddles, which is to say, without riders; after them came four mules loaded down with trunks, cots, and bedrolls—we could see what the cargo was from far off, even though it was all covered with blue cloaks; and finally the three serving lads were in the rearguard.

As soon as El Aguilucho saw them, he vowed to take his revenge and a large booty, so he made us hide behind a steep slope at the foot of the hill, and he told us, “Now it’s time, companions, to show our bravery and take advantage of a lucky situation, because there’s no doubt that they’re merchants on their way to Veracruz, and their cargo’s bound to be made up of cash and fine clothes. The important thing is not to hold back, but attack them boldly, knowing that the advantage is ours, since we’re five and they’re just three; because the serving lads are hired hands and cowardly folk who have no reason to give us pause. They’ll take off running at the first shots; so you, Perico, and me and the Gobbler will jump out in front of them as soon as they come within a good distance, I mean, within a gunshot; and Lefty and Snubnose will take the rearguard so they’ll know they’re surrounded. If they give up right away, all we’ll have to do is take away their weapons, tie them up, and bring them here to this hill, where we’ll let them go after night falls; but if they resist and fire on us, don’t give them quarter: they all die.”

Between the sight of our enemies, who were coming closer second by second, and thinking about the dangers that threatened me, I was trembling like a hatter, unable to hide my fear, to the point that my terror became noticeable, because my legs were trembling so hard that the little chains on my spurs were jangling perceptibly against the stirrups; this attracted El Aguilucho’s attention, and, noting my fear and glaring at me, he said, “What are you trembling about, you shameless pansy? Do you think you’re going to go fight against an army of lions? Haven’t you noticed, you chicken, that they’re men like you, and they’re just three against five? Don’t you see that you’re not going in alone, but with four men—four real men—who are going to be exposed to the same danger, and who’ll defend you like the apple of their eyes? You think it’s so likely that you’ll perish and not one of us? And finally,

-479-

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