Soldiers came early to the brig in the Presidio to rouse Sal and Blas.
“Levántense, get up, you’ve got work to do,” a soldier said. He led them to the stables where they expected to see Brother David preparing for the new journey north with Father Serra.
Over one hundred horses in ten corrals snorted and stomped, poking their noses in empty hay bins. Piles of manure steamed in the morning air. Wooden buckets with rope handles hung from the rails. The soldier in charge assigned Sal and Blas to feed, water and shovel one corral—ten horses—each.
“Something’s wrong, Blas. Brother David didn’t wait here for us before he went off with Serra,” Sal said. The animals eyed him, their ears twitching.
“Take this shovel and use it,” the grubby corporeal said. “You’re not going anywhere, anytime soon. And no talking.”
After three weeks of work in the stables, Sal and Blas lost all hope. “We shovel this damn barn, feed the animals; soldiers come and go all the time. No one feeds us half as good, and we’re stuck here,” Sal said. He complained, but it didn’t change anything.
“At least we’re together. Poor Brother David, all alone now, and where?” Blas seldom talked about Brother David anymore. He patted a pony between the eyes while he talked to Sal, never looking him straight in the face.
“I don’t know where he is, and I don’t care,” Sal said. He pitched a fork of hay in the corner of the stable and wondered for the one-hundredth time if he could boil some of the grass for extra food. They knew now that the Bishop had forced Brother David to leave them behind. But he didn’t even send word to them. It hurt to think he never really cared.
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