Esther May leaned on the crutch. At first, she’d objected to the prop. It wasn’t necessary. She could walk just fine while recuperating with her gunshot leg, thank you.
Abuela fetched an appropriate cottonwood branch anyway.
Without argument or justification, Abuela extended the support toward Esther May until the wounded young woman grasped it.
The old Apache was right. A thigh muscle carries a lot of weight, and a bullet hole through the mass takes away an astonishing amount of strength.
With a grunt, Esther May used the cottonwood and wagon wheel spokes as brace points to sit, right leg extended. “Is there any more coffee, Abuela?”
“Would you mind handing me a cup?”
Something Better To Talk About
“We need to leave this place.”
That had been Abuela’s urgent statement since Esther May recovered consciousness. The young cowgirl trusted the older woman’s ability to survive in this harsh desert climate along the Gila River, but, doggone it, water and shade were here.
The Reason Is?
“Is this about that coyote sighting you had, Abuela?” She’d tried to make her voice sound concerned.
Abuela stopped gathering the cooking utensils from the herders’ campsite and held up an index finger. “We need to leave this place.”
Esther May sighed. She wasn’t going to win the argument, or get coffee, from the looks of things. “All right. We’ll leave as soon as Alejandro returns.”
“Why do we wait?”
“I don’t know.” Esther May’s shoulders slumped. “I guess because he saved my life, and I want to thank him before we leave.” Esther May’s vision blurred as her eyes teared. “You saved my life, too. I love you, Abuela.”
Abuela returned to her chore, muttering, “I don’t know why Ussen made Mexicans or white people, and why he keeps them alive in their stubbornness.”
Did the use of the main god’s name mean Abuela was serious, or perhaps she didn’t want a mushy confession?
Whatever Abuela’s reason, Esther May decided to lighten the mood with teasing. “We could have been done sooner if you’d helped Alejandro.”
“Apaches leave dead vaqueros for the ants.”
“But we can use their guns and ammunition, money and spurs. Alejandro even threw their sombreros in the wagon. All that is worth something.”
“Will he take their scalps, too?”
“What? No. Of course not. That’s evil.”
Abuela frowned at Esther May. “Take nothing from the dead.”
“Oh, but it’s all right to rob them when they’re alive, huh?”
Shelve The Talk For Later
Thank goodness Alejandro returned. Abuela went back to her tasks, and Esther May relaxed. That was a discussion for another time, away from dead men, their voices forgotten.
Esther May pulled herself upright. “Abuela’s itching to go. Thanks for shooting that guy and saving me.”
“It was my pleasure, senorita. He needed killing.”
“Will you be in trouble when you get back to … wherever it is you came from?”
Not Going Back
Alejandro brushed his mustache with his fingertips. “I was thinking about that. What if I go to Camp Grant with you? I have lots of food—plenty now that there’s only three of us.” He squinted his eyes and gazed across the river to the saddle ridge on the skyline. “Of course, the Apaches could give us trouble, but that’s less certain than what awaits me if I go back to Emilio’s hacienda.”
Esther May grinned. “What if we feed the Indians—make friends?”
“I don’t have that much food.”
“We will if we round up your herd. They’ve grazed and watered, and they’re ready to trail. We’re only across the mountain from that other creek, aren’t we?”
“The Aravaipa, yes, I believe that’s true.”
“Abuela!” Esther May shouted. “Let’s round ’em up. We’re in the cattle business.”
Will Abuela and Esther May be able to drive the cattle across the Gila River and over the mountain? Leave your thoughts now.
Will cattle swim willingly? Check out the Matagorda Cattle Drive.
To read the series, click here for the first post. This will be Tales Old Roy Told. Tap the down arrow in the Archive box to open the list. After Tales Old Roy Told, work upward.
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