Blas kept glancing at Esther May until she finally put down her spoon. “What is it? Do I have food on my face?”
He grinned. “No, senorita. No food. You do have dirt in your hair, but no—no food.”
Esther May leaned to one side and brushed a hand through her hair. “One of the benefits of sleeping on the ground. Is that what you want to tell me?”
“I was wondering,” Blas ate the last spoonful of mush from his bowl, “why you’re pouting like you lost your best friend?”
“First, I’m not pouting. But I was hoping to do something for Abuela. Then, she up and takes off the first time she has a choice. You’d think she’d appreciate somebody helping her.”
“Ah. Your feelings are hurt.”
“Well, yes, I suppose.”
And Why is That?
“So you are gloomy because what you wanted didn’t happen, not because Abuela did what she wants.”
“Wait a minute, Blas. You’re twisting this all around. I’m not sure what you mean.”
The Mexican flashed his white teeth and said, “When Abuela wasn’t happy, you were. Now that she’s gone to do what she wants, it makes you sad.” He grinned at her again. “Maybe you should think that she fell into a canyon or got eaten by a bear. That would cause her enough grief to make you happy again.”
“Stop it, Blas. That’s not true and you know it. I was just thinking of what was best for Abuela.”
Esther May took the remains of her bowl to the stream to wash it out.
“My mistake, senorita. I thought you were thinking of you.”
Esther May felt the heat in her ears—a sure sign of blushing. Blas’s words hurt because they scraped away the layer of goodwill Esther May had wrapped around herself. The self-serving reason she took on Abuela lay exposed. Esther May wanted to appear as a kindly, even noble, soul. If Abuela received any consideration or ease of living, it was secondary.
Her eyes stung as Esther May admitted it to herself. She would have to be a better person.
“Blas?” She tried to keep the quiver out of her voice. “Would you please tell me if you think I’m mistreating anyone?”
The wagon driver had been packing up camp for the day’s journey. He paused with a bedroll under his arm. “No. I don’t think so.”
Ignore the Question
Blas shrugged and finished loading the wagon. “Ready?”
Esther May had her comeuppance. Abuela was gone. It was time to get on with the journey and as Daddy said, “Play the cards that are dealt.”
She splashed the cold water over her face and stowed her kit in the wagon.
“Yeah, I’m ready.” Mounting her gelding, she asked, “How long until we reach the river that we follow to Arizona?”
Blas tipped his sombrero toward the stream. “The Gila? You just washed in it.”
“Doña Maria said we had to cross the western mountains to reach the Gila River. We haven’t crossed any mountains.”
“That’s because we’ve been going mostly north.”
“Hold on, Blas. What are we doing?”
“Water flows downhill, senorita. It’s easier to find the Gila and follow it through the hills rather than climb over them. Now we go southwest until we—”
“Until we what?”
“Shh. Someone’s watching us.”
Is Blas being jumpy? Leave a comment here.
Here’s a view of the hills in the Gila Wilderness.
To read the series click on the down arrow in the Archive list, start with Tales Old Roy Told and work up.
Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.
Please thank a veteran. The time to do so is precious.
Want the story to ride into your inbox? Click on the picture, or here.