After the Attack
Esther May and Abuela waited by the wagon for Blas to return. He had gone into the brush for modesty to bind the arrow wound in the back of his upper thigh.
Esther May hoped the Apache boy wouldn’t put another arrow into the wagon driver. She needed Blas. Without him, she’d have to abandon the supplies he trucked.
“Do you think the kids will come back?” she asked Abuela.
Esther May studied the Indian woman’s face. “We don’t understand each other, do we? I guess we’ll have to start with the basics.” She pointed at the older woman and said, “Abuela.” Then she turned her finger to herself. “Esther May.”
“Mujer montando,” Abuela said as she nodded.
“What? No, listen. I’m—”
“Riding Woman,” Blas said as he limped around a bush. “That’s the name she’s given you. Not a bad one, either. It honors you for having your own horse.” Blas grinned as he approached. “Abuela has made you my equal. If I were you, I’d accept it.”
“I can’t even say it. I don’t know how to bounce the r’s the way you do.”
“You should learn Spanish if you’re to live in this country, senorita.”
“Are you willing to be my teacher?
“Sure. We can set up camp and get to it.”
Esther May checked the sun and said, “Let’s get as far as we can today before stopping. I want to reach Arizona before all the good homesteads are taken.”
Blas cast a glance at the brush. “Just as well. We’re in a bad spot as the boy showed us.” He touched the wound on the back of his leg. “What are you going to do with Abuela?”
“Ask her what she wants to do.”
Blas squinted his eyes at Esther May in a question. “Are you still willing to have her join us?”
Would It Be Wise
Esther May rubbed her chin and said, “Where did she go? Did she bring the children here? See what she says.”
Blas spoke to the Apache woman in Spanish. [Did you leave our camp the first night to run away?]
[I heard turkeys. I wanted one. You were gone when I returned.]
Esther May interrupted them. “What’s she saying, Blas?”
He held up a hand to halt her questions. “Let me finish.”
He turned his attention back to Abuela. [I see no turkey.]
Here’s What I Think
When Abuela didn’t answer, Blas persisted. [I think you went to fetch the children then came back to steal our supplies.]
Abuela’s dirty face remained impassive except for a narrowing of her eyes. [I’ve been tracking the children and only now found them. Had I not pledged my loyalty to Riding Woman, the young Apaches would be eating your food.]
Esther May stamped her foot. “Blas? What’s she saying?”
He exhaled a long, slow breath. “Abuela says she went hunting turkeys and we left before she got back. Then she tracked the kids here and showed up when they did.”
“Do you believe her?”
“It’s a strange chance of timing, isn’t it?” He lifted his sombrero and scratched his head. “She says she’s on your side. If she means it, you won’t have a better friend.”
“Would she lie?”
“She wouldn’t think of it as lying. If she means you harm, words would be another weapon for her.” He puckered his lips made a popping noise. “Do you want to take her or not?”
“What about the kids? Ask her if they’ll follow us.”
“Abuela,” Blas said, [What will the children do? Are they of your tribe?]
Abuela’s shoulders slumped. [I don’t know them. They are hungry and alone. They will do what they must.]
Blas nodded. [And you? Do you still want to go with Riding Woman?]
[I go with her.]
Blas explained the exchange to Esther May. “That’s what she says. She could still be planning on stealing the wagon, though.”
Esther May headed for her gelding. “Leave that sack of apples for the kids and put Abuela on the wagon seat with you. My homestead’s waiting if someone else hasn’t already put down stakes.”
Has Esther May seen the last of the Apache children? Leave your thoughts here.
The Apaches didn’t give up easily or quickly. Here’s an article that touches upon their perseverance and some of what the children suffered.
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