“I met my papa at the dock.” Sparrow told a little lie, loud enough for the yellow-haired girl, Helen, to hear her. “We are making big plans together.” She wished it were true. If only she had not heard Papa’s real intentions. She prayed the new girl was not who she thought.
“Tell me more at lunchtime,” Josefina said as she moved her ruler down the page. “I mean, tell me everything.” The two girls rarely had any secrets between them. Sparrow squirmed in her seat. Students could not relax on the floor, legs crossed, the way she preferred to sit.
The other girls at school were unfriendly toward Sparrow, and none of them were Native girls. They were the daughters of prosperous Mexican ranchers and dressed in starched pinafores. Sparrow was taller than all of them, and she wore the apron she’d used for collecting herbs with Mama earlier that morning. She slumped down in her seat and picked at bits of fern and willow fuzz stuck to her hem, hoping to be ignored.
The hour before lunchtime dragged on with the recitation of their new vocabulary words: forthright, scrupulous, reliable, stalwart, loyal. Sparrow clenched her jaw as every new word stabbed at her conscience. Should she keep Papa’s secret? Or should she share his plan with someone and ask for help? If she told, would Papa ever forgive her?
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