| Chapter VII (no illustration) |
The Tablet of the Law.
Lopez y Fuentes explains in lyrical terms how the native people fish, with prayers to the sea, with ingenuity in the use of simple, if labor intensive but effective hand made equipment, and with a deep understanding and respect for the life cycles of the animals they will kill for food. This is contrasted with how the townspeople fish, as set forth on the sign giving the chapter its title. The sign reads on one side, no dynamite is to be used when fishing, but on the other side, it reads:
"By order of the authorities, fishing with dynamite is permitted in this precinct for a half-hour. -- The Municipal President."
Even if the Indians cannot read the do-not-dynamite side, they know what it says. Therefore, in order not to set them a bad example, those fishing on behalf of the municipal president, turn the sign over.
| Chapter VIII (no illustration)
The Council of Elders
The plot now returns to the story of the tortured young guide. The village elders have to settle a domestic dispute between the boy's father, and the father of the girl he was engaged to marry, before his misadventure and injury. Now that he is crippled, he is not thought capable of working to support a wife. Another family has asked to have the girl marry their son. There is the matter of the dowry to return to the crippled boy's father if she marries someone else. Each side presents compelling arguements to the elders.
The girl and boy love one another.
But the other boy is strong and will be a good provider.
But if the elders hadn't agreed to send the boy with the white men as their guide, none of this misfortune would have occurred.
The old man renders judgement: What I am about to say will make a victim and lifelong sorrow; that is, unless my brothers, the other elders, decide in some other way. It is better that there should be one and not many victims. The girl should marry the healthy suitor, because he guarantees the family. The girl's father then returns to the boy's father the symbolic dowry items: two hens [signifying abundance], beans [food], a calabash of water [rain, rainbow and health]; handkerchief [possessions], and aguardiente, liquor, for joy.