“Ah si, Brother David, el herrero, who stutters, haha. I remember him well from our time in M-México together.” Brother Pieras mocked Brother David openly. Hearing this, Sal was ready to grab the bear meat from his mouth and walk away.
“Stay the night. Your Indian man can sleep outside. We will keep a guard on him,” Brother Pieras said. By now the other natives had picked up stones and sticks as they eyed Paciano. Sal felt he could sleep for days, but not here. Not among these unfriendly faces.
Paciano stood alone, his broad shoulders thrust back. He must have understood the insults, but his expression did not change. Sal drew his self-control from Paciano's example. He replied with false calm, “Deveras, in truth, we must move on. We are bound for this place Brother David called Mission Soledad,” Sal said. “Do you know it?”
“Ha, you would be wiser to head directly to Rancho Duran where there are civilized people. You will find none of that in Soledad,” Brother Pieras said.
Without the decency of a simple blessing, “Adios,” Sal and Paciano picked up their supplies and began to walk. They heard no word of thanks from Brother Pieras who eagerly shared their water and jerky until he sensed that Paciano was somehow different from the natives he knew.
Sal remembered San Diego, where he first witnessed one band of natives attacking others, converts and Mission Brothers, alike. This life was hard enough, just surviving.
“Why are men so ready to make new enemies?” Sal spoke to Paciano and had the feeling his words were clearly understood.
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