In the late afternoon, the group made camp on the edge of a meadow where the setting sun cast round shadows on the earth. The men and women spoke to one another in low tones as they laid their mats and prepared their clay cook pots. “Why do the natives keep muttering those words, los osos?” Sal said.
“Los osos, they fear the bears,” Brother David said. “Many dangers lurk here after dark. The bears come out each night. They claw big holes to gorge on the tule roots.” Sal listened as he helped Salina’s boys gather pine needles to cushion the sleeping mats. Determined to get her attention, he entertained her sons and pretended to be a lumbering bear. The three of them acted out a hunt. Everyone laughed except their father, Paciano.
Salina stayed busy passing lengths of rope to the men who strung bows, while others sharpened arrowheads. Sal tried to keep his eyes off her fine young body. He couldn’t allow himself to get distracted by a good looking female, especially one who belonged to such a big man.
Paciano spoke to his men in their native language. He handed Sal the first bow and arrow ready to use. The arrowhead felt sharp but too small for a big bear. For the first time Salina spoke to Sal, her words sounded soft and urgent, “Los osos,” she said. The men made a small circle around Sal and Brother David. Paciano stepped forward and grabbed Sal by his shirt.
“Does he want to fight?” Sal said. Were his desires for Paciano’s wife so obvious? He turned to Brother David, ready to make an apology.
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