“Salvador, you swore you’d tell no one what happened with La Señorita Xichete,” Brother David said. He reached for Sal’s shoulder to hold him back.
“What about Blas? He won’t believe what I saw. I’ve got to tell him,” Sal said. He shrugged out of Brother David’s reach.
“If you say anything, it could be dangerous for all of us,” Brother David said. “I’ve shown you too much. The logbook, a tally of our gold collections, even La Señorita Xichete’s tribal records. These are all secrets. Promise me, secretos.”
Why all the secrets? What did the Brother worry about? Sal reached out to wake Blas, who looked warm and comfortable in the wagon. Did he have a purple bruise on his cheek? Sal remembered the fight before he left the wagon. Only a few hours past, but it seemed like days. Everything changed.
“Please wait, I know you don’t understand,” Brother David said. “The Church fears all the native rituals and symbols. The soldiers are under orders to set fire to Indian altars.”
“Then why are you keeping these things? Will you get in trouble?” Sal said. Why did Brother David do this bad thing?
“There’s nothing to fear in these parchments or the symbols they hold,” Brother David said. “I am afraid the Bishop will destroy the history of these people.” He whispered to Sal, “I work with the Brothers who oppose the brutal treatment of the natives; we are here for their religious conversion.”
Sal didn’t understand the Bishop’s fear of the natives. “Can we make sure La Señorita got back to her village safely?” Sal said. How could anyone think of La Señorita Xichete as a dangerous heathen? He wanted to see the fascinating young woman again.
“I promise, her village will be our first stop,” Brother David said. “See the smoke curling above the hill? If we drive all night, we will be there by morning.” He took the reins.
Sal joined Blas in back, to sleep as they traveled under a clear starry sky. Brother David muttered to himself as he drove, “God forgive me, I feared for her life the f-first day I saw her.” Just before dawn, Sal awoke. They were moving so slowly he decided to jump from the wagon and run ahead toward La Señorita Xichete’s village.
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