A Novel in Three Partsby Rick Bass
5. The Castle of Perve
We awakened at dawn haunted by the horrors of the day before.
Following breakfast, we were chained, and we filed past the outer wall of the courtyard where the victims lay piled, as William Preston Stapp was to write later from his cell at Perve, with their “stiffened and unsepulchered bodies, weltering in blood . . . their rigid countenances, pallid and distorted with agony.”
The weakest of us were allowed to ride in oxcarts, and though many of us were at death’s door, not fully recovered from our time in the mountains, the younger and stronger among us began to improve as we moved slowly across the central plateau and into the more fertile and heavily populated regions lying north of Mexico City. The villages were so frequent now that we were almost always able to spend the night under a roof, in an abandoned silo or barn, and now and again we were allowed a day of rest, as well as more frequent baths; and when we reached the city of San Luis Potosi, nearly five hundred miles from the border and a month after we had departed Salado, we were allowed to take off our chains.