This cavalcade was composed of fifteen individuals in all; ten of them were lancers, attired in that yellow uniform which procured them the nickname of tamarindos. These soldiers were execrated by the people, in consequence of their cruelty. They advanced in good order, commanded by a subaltern and an alférez—an old trooper who had grown gray in harness, who had long white moustachios and a disagreeable face. As he galloped on, he looked around him with the careless, wearied air of a man for whom the future reserves no hopes either of ambition, love, or fortune.
About twenty paces from this little band, and just so far ahead that their remarks reached the soldiers' ears in a completely incomprehensible fashion, three persons, two men and a woman, were riding side by side.
The first was a gentleman of about thirty years of age, of commanding stature; his harsh, haughty, and menacing features were rendered even more gloomy by a deep scar of a livid hue which commenced on his right temple and divided his face into two nearly equal parts.
This man, who was dressed in the sumptuous costume of the Mexican campesinos, which he wore with far from common grace, was named Don Aníbal de Saldibar, and was considered the richest hacendero in the province.
His companion, who kept slightly in the rear, doubtless through respect, was a civilized Indian, with a quick eye, aquiline nose, and a wide mouth lined with two rows of dazzling white teeth. His countenance indicated intelligence and bravery. He was short and robust, and the almost disproportioned development of his muscles gave an enormous width to his limbs. This individual must assuredly be endowed with extraordinary strength. His attire, not nearly so rich as that of the hacendero, displayed a certain pretension to elegance, which was an extraordinary thing in an Indian.
This man's name was Pedro Sotavento, and he was majordomo to Don Aníbal.