Brother Pablo waved his hand toward the corral. “Señor Barros made sure Miguel treated your horses well. He didn’t have to worry, though. After Sheriff Montoya had to hang one of his kin, Miguel wasn’t about to be the next.”
Walking beside the religious man, C.J. felt eight feet tall. The morning stroll was his first exercise after being confined to a cot for several days. “Let me get the names straight,” he said. “The sheriff was related to the man he hanged—the one Esther May shot. The horseshoer was also related to them. He’s the one named Miguel?”
“That’s correct.” Pablo placed his sandaled foot next to a rock the size of a chicken’s egg and with a short kick sent it flying out of the path.
The distraction had C.J. wondering about the thickness of the calluses on the Brother’s feet, and he stared until Pablo restarted the conversation. “So, you have everyone placed now?”
“Uh, no. Who did you say made sure the horses were shod?”
“Ah, yes. Señor Barros. Julio’s father. This is his corral.” Brother Pablo pointed at the nearby adobe. “That’s his home. The young woman, Esther May, paid him.”
“I hope he didn’t take advantage of her. I don’t think she has much money.”
C.J. May Be Poorest
Brother Pablo’s brows arched before he spoke. “Señor Barros is not among the idle poor, Seegee. Like everyone in town, he works at the mine. His corral was not in use. He offered it to her free, but she insisted on payment.”
“That sounds like Esther May, but the rest doesn’t make sense. His boy, Julio, and the other kid, Roberto, are always looking for pesos.”
“And you find this surprising, why?”
“Don’t their daddies give them what they need?”
“They do. But what boys need and what they want are different things. For the wants, the papas don’t pay.” Brother Pablo puckered his lips. “At least, the good papas don’t.”
C.J. leaned on the top sliding pole of the gate and waved a squash at Skewy. The little piebald mare nickered softly and came to him. She nuzzled the squash and let it fall but remained in place to have her ears scratched.
“Look at this,” C.J. said. “Getting fat and particular now, aren’t you? Where’s the horse that ate everything but locoweed?”
Brother Pablo laughed. “Miguel might argue that she’s loco already. She kicked him three times when he set her shoes.”
C.J. bent in and put an arm over the mare’s neck. “That’s my girl. Are you ready for a little trip?”
Pablo cocked his head. “May I ask where you are going, Seegee?”
Rubbing the bony crest at the top of the horse’s head, C.J. didn’t turn around. “I reckon to find this hacienda you’ve been talking about and ask ‘em why Esther May hasn’t been allowed to come back yet.”
“I’m sure she can come back anytime she wants. The hacienda is very nice and she’s probably resting after all she’s suffered.”
It’s Not Right
“Mm-huh,” C.J. muttered. “I’ve suffered, too, but she ain’t here asking about me. I’ve taken it up in my mind that she would if she could.”
“Listen, Seegee, the hacienda is a large house with other buildings on a big ranch. It’s like a small town all by itself. Whoever doesn’t work in the mine works at the ranch. If you have to be one place or the other, the hacienda is better.”
C.J. turned to Pablo. “It’s all Mexicans out there, ain’t it?”
Pablo frowned and shrugged. “I suppose so. Why?”
“Esther May’s a white woman. She don’t belong there.”
What’s going on with C.J? He’s had friends of other races. Leave a comment now.
Not everyone has to be the same. Look how these creatures use each other’s differences to the benefit of both.
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