Capitan Portola said. “We can use brave men like you on our expedition to provide food for our troops.”
Brother David interrupted, “We are called to share what God has provided, but our first commitment is to the Missions.” Sal never knew him to withhold Mission resources from anyone.
“Pardon me Brother, without the soldiers the Missions would not be safe,” Capitan Portola said. He stood erect but did not meet Brother David’s eyes.
“Without God the soldiers are unprotected, sir,” Brother David said. He held the crucifix hanging from his neck to emphasize his words.
“Let me explain, we represent the territorial transition, Governador Fages of México,” Portola said.
Brother David cut him off, “The Governor?”
“Yes, it is he who has commissioned us…,” Capitan Portola said.
“We are all subjects of the King of Spain here, aren’t we?” Brother David said. He would not give way. The conversation volleyed back and forth between the two commanding men. Sal watched, uncertain which man would win out, then, decided to interrupt their competition.
“Did you make a plan?” Sal said. He knew Brother David always wrote his plans. Maybe this would show Capitan Portola what a wise man he faced.
“Yes, of course,” Brother David said. He knelt to spread a parchment on the ground. “We are here, the next Mission site is here, thirty miles north,” Brother David said. He pointed to a faint line on a map of all the Alta California Missions. His marks between the sites showed the travel time needed to move on foot from one site to another.
Everyone knelt to study the map. Even Paciano appeared to understand the writing and symbols. Sal tried to negotiate an agreement. He spoke to Capitan Portola.
“Brother David asked Paciano and I to make these deliveries to the Missions. After that, we can meet your men here, and join your hunt.” Sal looked from Brother David to Paciano then to Portola. “You will not find a better guide than this man.” Sal put his hand on Paciano’s shoulder.
“Let me see this,” Capitan Portola said. “Can I count on your word and the loyalty of this native man?” He reached for the map and gave Paciano a wary glance.
“Hunt,” Paciano said. He knew one word. He jerked his shoulder away from Sal’s hand, stood, and stomped his foot. That stomp sealed the deal.
Then, Capitan Portola did a strange thing. He shook hands with Brother David and Sal, but instead of reaching out toward Paciano, he removed one of his battle ribbons and held it out as a gift. The rest of the tribe was looking on with great interest. Paciano held Portola’s gift high above his head as the onlookers cheered.
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