Esther May held her breath awaiting Tsúyé’s decision. Would he allow Esther May, who Abuela insisted on calling Riding Woman, and her companions, safe travel?
Tsúyé finished breakfast at Esther May’s campsite.
Abuela asked his permission for Riding Woman, Alejandro, and herself to move their wagons and cattle down Aravaipa Canyon.
When Tsúyé mentioned the obvious, that he could take whatever he wanted, Abuela had met him with a reply full of starch. Riding Woman would kill many of his people if he tried.
How About …
Then, Abuela smoothed the edges of the rough talk with an offer. Tsúyé could have a horse.
Tsúyé arose with a grace belying a feebleness of years his wrinkled face and gray hair indicated and crossed his arms.
He never looked at Abuela during breakfast when she spoke, but now he stared at Esther May. “I don’t believe her. Whites lie. She is too skinny. A baby wind would knock her down.”
“If Tsúyé would hear me,” Abuela said, “it is my words that tell of her bravery. It is Riding Woman’s words that say you will gain a horse. She speaks the truth.”
Wisdom With Age
The two, old Apaches, Tsúyé, the leader of The Black Rock People, and Abuela, a Mimbreño woman, stood immobile as boulders. Only strands of hair from each gray head occasionallly moved with the shy wind spirits.
Still staring at Esther May, Tsúyé said, “Two horses, three more cattle,” he pointed up at the high chuck wagon seat, “and I’ll ride there. The Mexican will drive me.”
Abuela rose and ducked her chin. “I’ll tell Riding Woman.”
When she approached Esther May, Abuela asked in Spanish, “You understood?”
Sweeten The Deal?
“Si. You are mighty in words and thought, Abuela. But why don’t we give him all the extra horses and most of the cattle? That’s what we brought them for.”
“No, Riding Woman. To give too much when he can’t give in return is not good. He has shown his worth to The People by getting more than was offered, and he gets much honor by riding on the wagon. Mexicans and Apaches are blood enemies. Now, a Mexican will drive him on a high seat. It is a good trade.”
“Hmm. Would it be all right if I offered him one of the vaquero’s sombreros? We have no need for those hats other than barter. It might make him look like he’s conquered enemy spoils.”
“I think that would be allowed. Look Tsúyé in the eyes and say it’s a gift from Riding Woman.”
“I’ll hand it to him and say it in Spanish. I don’t want The People to know I speak Apache. If he responds, we’ll find out how many languages he speaks.”
Esther May rummaged in the buckboard for Emilio’s sombrero. The hat, dusty, with a sizable sweat-stained band darkening the brown felt, was the best of the collection.
Tsúyé signaled for a warrior to come across the stream. It was the same Apache that had watched Esther May so intently. The men were in quiet conversation when Esther May and Abuela joined them.
At a slight tilt of Tsúyé’s head, Abuela said, “Say now.”
Esther May walked directly in front of Tsúyé and extended the hat. In Spanish, she said, “Two horses, three cattle, and you will have a sombrero as big as the Mexican’s.”
Tsúyé didn’t respond. Abuela repeated the words in Apache.
A slight crinkling around Tsúyé’s eyes was his reply as he took the hat.
Abuela went on to add, “Riding Woman shot the owner out from under it. He was a Mexican.”
Tsúyé grinned with a “Hah” and plopped the hat on his head.
Esther May couldn’t tell from the suddenly squinted eyes of the other Apache what he thought.
What will the trip down the canyon bring? Leave your comments here.
Here’s a little history of Apaches acquiring horses.
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