Published in anthology here: 6-9-2011
The Spanish horse patrol was on route to Bodega on the Pacific. Rumors, then reports, had come to the fort beside St. Rafael near San Francisco Bay that other Europeans had been seen in the headlands around the mountain called Tamalpais.
The five leather-coated soldiers, their priest companion and the native servant stopped awhile to stretch their legs and barter food at a poor village. The missionary, mildly drunk, was still able to talk with the village elder in Bay area pidgin. The man had apparently seen nothing.
Private Rodrigo played with the kids. They got him into line with them in the field and passed a rawhide ball from one to the next, then faster, then two lines formed and raced to see who was fastest. They laughed; he laughed; no one used words, but cheered and yelled and slapped each other’s back.
It turned into tag and racing through the woods. The Miwok kids were quick as deer and knew the paths, but Rodrigo’s heart made up the gap. Continue reading