It has been a week since the comrades had launched themselves into the Revolution, and Pedro felt sad. He wanted to be next to those lions who, rifle in hand, were in the front of the action fighting for human freedom. He would remember the last meeting in his very humble home. It had been at night; the cold air would go through the crevices, as to cool down the excitement. Jose, the man in charge of residence of the mine, would talk enthusiastically. "Comrades," he said, "holding a glass of wine. "To die without glory, crushed by the mine, so we could make the burgess fat, as to die in the battle field in defense of our own right, as production of social wealth, I prefer the latter," and raising the glass to his lips, he drinks the wine in one draught.
The wind had a sort of lament at every crack, as if all the victims of exploitation and tyranny had congregated that very night around the hut so their complaints could be heard. The coyote sadly hauled in the nearby hill, gloomy and nervous. The owl, disquiet with his mournful notes, the little birds in their nests.
Juan, the railroad peon, corpulent, and lacking words, hugged Jose, and said, "I'm going with you," and at the same time, some plates fell from the table, shaken by the peon's effusive redness. The cat woke up frightened; in the next room a child cried; the oil lamp gave off a dense and unpleasant smell.
Jose filled his glass again. All of them seemed possessed of that fire proper of the generous hearts which beat for a great deal of time. The Manifest of the 23 of September 1911, in red binder, was shining on the proletarian table, as a red-hot coal.
"How many of us are going?" Jose asked. All of them stood up to signify all were in agreement to fight for the struggle. Only Pedro stayed sitting. The surprised looks from his comrades turned to him, who with hands on his forehead, wept.
"You are afraid, ah?" Santiago asked brutally, the shepherd making a disdaining grimace.
Everybody looks at Pedro with pity: the scene was singularly painful. There was a picture of Praxedis G. Guerrero hanging on the wall, the beautiful group of children of the state ready to follow in his glorious steps.
Pedro, moved to the point of crying, raises unstable as a drunk, even though he had not tasted wine--he was tempered--and, with a weak voice, says, "I cannot go with you; Marta, my partner, objects my going with you: she claims I have the obligation of supporting our children. I will stay."
It was getting colder as the night approached, and the whistling wind would get into every crevice. Manuel, the tobacco worker, coughed and from his pressed chest, a murmur could be heard similar to boiling water from a bottle. Everybody sat, except him. He wanted to talk, but his coughed drowned his words. Finally, he claims, "Yes, let's march to the battle, comrades." He coughed, spit a viscous bloody mass, and added, "We will die crushed in the mine; at the shop they are spying on us; our kidneys wear out in the fields; the scaffoldings are dangerous, and the digging of quarry demolishes the bones; machinery mutilates us...all for the benefit of the burgess! Why not, instead, raise firearms and grab from the hands of the infamous burghs, our natural wealth, that which we have produced ourselves?"
Praxedis, from the wall, watches that union of heroes. The freezing cold wind continues, going into all the crevices. Manuel coughed, and his cough seemed as if it came from the bottom of a pitcher. "Do you hear?" he yelled; "the wind brings us the lament of the ones who suffer the tears of the children who want bread; the anguish of the son with his old parents, dying away gradually, for lack of nutrition; the suffering of the prostitutes, forced to sell their flesh so she can bring a morsel to her children; the sigh of the prisoner, decaying in the corner of his cell; the forced breathing from the proletarians, who tame their own, sweat and blood, the fortune of their master. Let's rebel"
"To the struggle of battle!" all proclaimed, and from those suppressed chests came the heroic notes of the Anarchist Marsellesa:
To the revolt, proletarians;
The day of the redemption now shines...
Clouds turn pink, as if embarrassed to be seen asleep by the sun. Dawn comes; the owl had gone, scared by sunrise, and the brisk happy song, joyous as the hangman disappeared, by the coyote, as they go their dens, and the cat snores in his corner, shakes his skin to scare the flies.
Since then, everything has been sad to Pedro. He was the only one left behind. Since that day, his sadness multiplied. He got up early and went to the mine. He felt his heart sink. "It was my duty to go with them," he thought. "The mine can collapse one day, and then what? My family will be without bread and they will become the same as they would have had I been killed by defenders of the capitalist system on the battlefield.
The dark entrance of the mine was opening at his feet, as if it was a hungry monster yawning, impatiently waiting for his ration of human flesh. Pedro looks around, sighs, and goes down, to do his work.
Five hours later, some sad, taciturn men deposited, at the feet of Marta, the crushed body of Pedro. A huge rock had smashed him like a mouse. A death without glory!