Later, the scalp hunters stop at a cantina in Janos for drinks. In a dark corner, men are playing a confidence game with cards, called Monte. Out of the gloom, an old man shuffles toward Toadvine, Bathcat, and the kid. After some linguistic misunderstanding, the old man makes it clear that he welcomes the scalp hunters for fighting the Apaches; he also grieves for how much blood Mexico has shed, and suggests that war is like a dream you can’t wake up from forever. As the old man speaks, another man groans at the table of card players.
Throughout the novel, card games seem connected to the workings of fate. Here, the groaning man has attempted to cheat at cards, metaphorically to cheat fate, and he is severely punished. The old man talking to the gang members laments that his country is fated for nothing but nightmarish war; ironically, he is speaking to men whom he views as heroes, yet who will soon ruthlessly shed yet more Mexican blood.
As the scalp hunters leave the cantina, Bathcat tells the kid that the old man they just spoke with is the father of the man moaning among the Monte players. Apparently, he was cut with a knife while playing cards. The kid asks why the man didn’t leave the cantina—but where else would he go? The gang leaves the village, while the local watchman announces from his post that all is well.
The world of Blood Meridian is so violent and bleak that one can’t even find a refuge or quiet place to die after being mortally stabbed. Even though someone’s just been stabbed and Mexico is plagued with warfare, the watchman ironically says that all’s well; murder and carnage are nothing strange here.
The next day, the gang makes for the meat camp that the Delawares and Webster found. It has been abandoned: only sheets of meat and hide remain. They ride on. While stopping for supper, the Judge asks Toadvine what’s become of Grannyrat Chambers—Toadvine says that he’s separated from the gang, and that he can’t speak for the missing man. The Judge thinks otherwise, but leaves in silence
The meat camp is the gang’s first clue as to the whereabouts of the Apaches they’re hunting. The Judge is intent that the gang remain together in their campaign, and is disturbed that Grannyrat may have defected. Later, the Judge will also accuse the kid of defecting from the gang, not physically but in spirit.
In the morning, two of the Delawares are gone. The gang rides on, through mountain and forest. By evening they come to a mesa, from which Glanton looks out before deciding to ride on into the “problematical destruction of darkness.”
The Delawares ride off to seek Grannyrat. The decision to ride into the darkness suggests Glanton’s self-destructive nature.
That night, there are two campfires set up, without any formal or informal rules governing who can sit where. However, the Delawares and the Mexican McGill are around one fire, the whites around the other. Black Jackson sits with the whites, but the white Jackson drives him off, going so far as to draw and cock his pistol. The black Jackson leaves, only to return moments later with a knife, with which he decapitates the white Jackson, despite the ex-priest Tobin rising to intervene. In the morning, the gang rides on, while the headless body of white Jackson sits, his gun stolen but his boots still where he left them.
The gang members seem conditioned to segregate themselves by race. When the black Jackson attempts to sit with the whites, though, only his antagonistic double, the white Jackson, drives him off. After the black murders the white, none say anything, as though tacitly accepting his action, which does promote the unity of the gang above all else. Partisanship is here imagined as a willingness to wage war with a group of people, nothing more.