Penance (by Yvonne)

Synopsis:  The friendship of two children of two different races cause trouble.

Category:  Broken Arrow
Genre:  Western
Rating:  PG
Word Count:  5,240

For Barbara, with love 


 

He rode into the stronghold at dusk when golden shadows slid among the grey columns of rock, pointing upwards like daggers, impassable to all but those who knew the tight pathways.  He called softly to acquaintances and the women hauling firewood.  Their habitual reserve softened in welcome.  But as he reined to a halt and scanned the camp, cooking fires glowing in the evening light, he sensed that peculiar, empty quality and knew Cochise was not there.  Even as he turned towards the wickiup of Telsabestinay, she ducked through the door flap and pointed steadily to Flat Rock. She looked at him warmly and smiled.  I take you into my heart because he does…..

Jeffords returned her smile, dismounted and handed his reins to a young boy, waiting courteously as was his duty, then scrambled up the steep incline towards the lookout, stopping short on the stony trail as he caught sight of his friend through the sycamore trees.  Cochise stood on the ledge above him, tall and muscular, his rugged profile impassive as he surveyed the overlapping ridges and desert plains below.  With the waning light, the heat was also lifting; the fragrance of sage and cactus flowers sweetened the cooling air.

“Welcome, my brother,” Cochise called softly.

“I did not wish to intrude,” Jeffords replied.

“You make enough noise to scatter the game,” Cochise remarked dryly, “The hunters will think bad things of you tomorrow.”

Jeffords laughed softly and climbed up beside him, impressed as always by the sheer, stronghold cliffs above the surrounding country.  From this broad pinnacle, Cochise could protect his home with a single guard and be warned of danger while it was still some hours’ ride away.  In the old days.

Stars pricked out through the amber sunset. Jeffords removed his hat, fair hair ruffling in the welcome breeze.  “I come to see you about two boys.”

Cochise folded his arms across his bare chest and watched the desert colours deepen with evening. “I know of them. Juan and Greyeyes.  They are friends for a long time now and meet on the edge of the reservation.  Greyeyes has a gift with horses.  Juan teaches him tracking.”

Jeffords stared at him in surprise. “Was I not here a few days ago?” he asked at last.

“Yes.”

“Did we not eat together and talk of many things?”

“Yes.”

“Yet you said nothing of this!  Greyeyes?  His name is Nathaniel.  You should have told me.  I am your agent.”

“We spoke of men’s business,” Cochise answered with great dignity, turning away, “Why concern you when there is no need?  Juan named his friend.  When they are together, your Nathaniel is Greyeyes.  Let the boys create their own world.  It is a good thing.  You are angry.  I am still glad to see you.”

“It was only today that Nathaniel told me, and so I come to warn you.  There is danger.  How do you know of this?”

Cochise smiled at Jeffords’ obvious annoyance, a wistfulness softening his expression as he turned to embrace the surrounding vista, arms wide. “Warn me? You are still young, my brother; there is much you do not see. All this country is as familiar to me as my own wickiup. No treaty changes that this is Apache land. I fought campaigns against the best American soldiers; for more than ten harvests I defeated them all, won every battle, until I broke the arrow.  For all their important uniforms with shiny buttons, wagons and horses and big guns that could smash hillsides, the wily, half–naked Indian, with his simple rifles and arrows, defeated these great armies, knew their every move. This is still my home, even beyond the reservation!  Did you think I would not know the whereabouts of two small boys?”

Leaping down the slope, Cochise vanished silently into the scrub. Not a single stone clattered to annoy the hunters.

*****

In the great dome of the wickiup, the small fire in its earthen well flickered dancing shadows across Cochise’s sullen face.

“We must talk of this, Cochise,” Jeffords insisted again.

“First, we eat.  Have you forgotten our custom?”

“This time we talk first, then we eat.”

“We will drink tiswin until the food is ready.”

Jeffords sighed and rose to his feet abruptly, hat grasped in his hand. “Since you ignore me, I will tell Nathaniel that he is forbidden to enter the reservation again.” He strode towards the doorway but Cochise was already there, lithe and quick, barring his way, face tight, eyes narrowed with anger.

“Do you not see us in these two boys?” the chief demanded. “They are friends; one is American, the other Apache, learning from each other, perhaps blood brothers one day.  Would that be such a bad thing?  Think on it! They follow in our footsteps! My own brother is blind, maybe.”

“I see trouble and distrust and great danger. I see Nathaniel tormented for having an Apache friend. The treaty does not allow Americans on the reservation. If we break this rule, there will be others broken also, and not by innocent children. I seek only to protect the Chiricahuas and Nathaniel also. I see beyond this friendship and feel the time is not yet right. It is too soon.”

“Then we must make the time right, encourage them; otherwise who will continue after you and I are dust?” Cochise demanded passionately. “I will have lost; my people will have suffered only to die under the weight of the Americans.  It would have been better then if I had not broken the arrow. This is hope. This is a small light in the darkness of my heart.”

Jeffords stepped forward and rested his hand gently on Cochise’s shoulder. “My brother must know it would gladden me also,” he said softly, “We have always spoken straight with each other.  I have a bad feeling. You must keep the light shining for both of us.”

*****

Jeffords reined in at the top of the ridge, pulling down the rim of his hat against the fierce afternoon sun, and gazed down into the dry, stony creek bed below. Juan trudged through it onto the sandy bank then ran lightly back to Nathaniel, careful not to disturb his original trail.  They talked, heads together, Juan gesturing, their communication basic words and sign language.  He began patiently by retracing his first step on the smooth stones; Nathaniel bent down and studied the small signs, the stone dislodged, the scuff mark through the dry film of mud, long undisturbed. He felt he was actually seeing for the first time; tracks and stories lay everywhere awaiting discovery. Jeffords turned away, riding slowly back towards the agency.  He hoped Nathaniel would keep a sharp eye on the angle of the sun.  His father understood he had gone for his habitual ride after school and thought nothing of it since he spent every spare moment in the saddle. Jeffords had remained anxious after his meeting with Cochise and at times found himself staring sightlessly at the hewn wall of the agency, bookwork abandoned on the desk before him, heart filled with a nagging worry, a conviction of disaster. Nathaniel deceived his father, as did Jeffords by his silence. This could not last. Greyeyes…..

One afternoon, about a week later, Jeffords arrived at his usual post.  He worried less when he actually saw them, relieved to find them safe. Juan sat in the shade, waiting, and as Nathaniel arrived, went to greet him, smiling happily as he dismounted.  The boys clasped arms in traditional Apache welcome.  Suddenly, Jeffords was distracted by a small movement on the opposite ridge and glanced up in alarm. Cochise was there, mounted on his pinto, keeping a low profile, although he had meant Jeffords to see him. He raised his arm. You see, Sheekasay, all goes well. Jeffords lifted his hand in response. Cochise had probably been there many times, watching, guarding with him. He was not alone.

Another time it was Juan who watched and learned as Nathaniel worked his horse in a tight circle, bareback, with no bridle. Juan could not see the subtle signs as the horse trotted and cantered, wheeled to a halt, backing and turning, then dropped onto its knees and rolled onto its side. Nathaniel jumped up with a flourish and his friend laughed with delight. Almost time to go home, except for one last game, a contest.  The boys mounted their ponies and drew up opposite a great boulder on the edge of the creek bed, their starting point. Jeffords leaned forward intently.  Another race.  Juan had yet to win.

The horses lunged forward together, full pelt, the ravine walls echoing with yells and hoof beats, Nathaniel once again steadily lengthening the distance between them.  They were almost at the finish when two shots cracked the air and Juan was knocked from the saddle.  He was dead before his body stopped rolling.

*****

They waited, gathered together with Cochise before them, as Jeffords rode into the stronghold with his sad burden held across his chest.  They were silent, their faces remote in grief.  He halted and Cochise walked to him and held out his arms, and Jeffords lowered Juan to him.  There was a small hole through the boy’s chest; a forefinger could cover it and it would seem that Juan only slept, except for the pallor beneath his cool, dusky skin. There was little blood as the bullet had not passed through his body.  Cochise held him and gazed into his face.  Juan’s parents approached slowly, leaning on each other, stunned.  The father rubbed his son’s hand as though to warm it.  Juan’s mother lifted his head and cradled it, the tears ran silently down her face as she pressed her cheek to his, smoothed back his hair.  Cochise turned and walked to the family wickiup with them, Juan’s arm swaying at his side. Jeffords watched for the slightest movement, although he knew it was useless.  After a little while, Cochise reappeared alone and stood staring at Jeffords, his expression pinched with bitterness and sorrow, and then the wailing started from the wickiup behind him and ran like a ripple through the camp as others took up the keening.  Cochise walked away towards Flat Rock.  Jeffords saw that he was broken and turned his horse slowly and left the stronghold.

*****

“He saw an Indian chasing a white boy and simply shot him.  Nathaniel identified him.  He is detained at Fort Bowie.  He is only fourteen, Cochise, just a boy himself, conditioned to hatred.  His name is Luke.”

Cochise rose abruptly from the chair in the agency, his tread echoing heavily as he paced the room. It seemed too small to contain him. Jeffords sighed and leaned his elbows on the table.

“What will happen to this boy?”

“He will go to Mescalero prison. He is so young; I do not know what will happen.  It is a dangerous place. He pleads it was a mistake, that he came to the aid of a fellow American.”

“What will he do in this prison?”  Cochise walked to the window restlessly and stared into the compound.  A hot, noon wind rattled the iron roof of the stalls, a clanking, mournful sound.

“I do not know.”

“You tell me this boy is not bad, that he misunderstood what he saw.  You tell me that he will go to prison with criminals. I tell you he will come out of prison a savage, filled with hatred, and will have learned nothing.”

Jeffords shook his head sadly. “This whole business has been a tragedy from the beginning.”

Cochise walked back and stood regarding him thoughtfully. He had been tormented by nightmares since Juan’s death, remembering Jeffords’ misgivings, remembering his own refusal to listen…the time is not yet right.  His broad, strong face had become gaunt. Shadows lay in the hollows of his cheeks. Despite the peace, his people still died.

“Bring the boy to the stronghold,” Cochise commanded softly, “He will serve his time with us, live with Juan’s parents. Let him learn about these Indians that can be shot down like mad dogs.”

“His father will never allow that, Cochise!” Jeffords stood up suddenly, “As much as I understand you, my brother, I cannot do this thing for you.”

Cochise faced him defiantly, his eyes hard. “Tell him to think on what this prison will do to his son. Tell him to look into the faces of Juan’s parents. Tell him I give my word the boy will not be harmed, but educated.  We teach the white man, maybe.  Tell him also an Indian might make a mistake and shoot an American if he refuses.  Arrange it, Agent Jeffords!” He snatched his rifle from beside the chair and strode out, slamming the door behind him.

*****

Jeffords sat at the table, feet propped up on a chair, routinely cleaning his gun, immersed in thoughts, when the door was wrenched open.  He started up as Nathaniel stood there aggressively, the late sun casting his shadow across the floor.  Jeffords casually replaced his feet on the opposite chair, selecting bullets from a scattered pile. “Come in,” he said, “I didn’t hear you knock.”

Nathaniel held his hostile stance.

“Dad told me Luke was taken to the stronghold instead of jail. You see, Mr. Jeffords, I just don’t get it!  Juan was my friend, but I was forbidden to go to the reservation!”

“Close the door and sit down,” Jeffords replied calmly, replacing the gun in the holster that lay out on the table.

The boy folded as though crushed. Jeffords removed the knife from its scabbard and ran his thumb along the edge. “Luke’s father agreed for him to go to the Apache camp because he was afraid of the brutality he would suffer in jail and because it is commonly accepted that Cochise is a man of his word.  We hope that Luke will learn from the Chiricahuas by living with them, that their education and discipline will straighten out a boy whose life has been influenced by the hatreds of war, however understandable. You know how it is, even if your own father is more tolerant than most.”

“I still think it’s wrong, Mr. Jeffords!” Nathaniel burst out angrily, “Where’s the punishment?  He killed my friend!”

“Luke is not a bad boy. He saw an Indian pursuing you and assumed you were in danger.  He did not stop to think and simply shot him, as his father would have done, as half the men in Tucson would have done. He assumed he saved your life. He’s in for a tough time, but will hopefully gain an insight and respect for the Apache.” Jeffords sat forward and looked earnestly into the boy’s belligerent face.

“Don’t think Cochise is doing this for Luke or that he hasn’t thought about the difficulties for Juan’s parents,” Jeffers continued. “He does this for the future of his tribe and his word is absolute law.  A favourable outcome with Luke will have a major influence on relations between Apaches and Americans. Cochise is a great strategist as well as a warrior. Have you thought how hard this will be for the Chiricahuas, to have this white boy who killed one of their own sons, living among them?”

“So where’s the punishment, Mr. Jeffords?” Nathaniel asked again.

“If this is a success, there can be other friendships like yours and Juan’s,” Jeffords said patiently.  “Punishment will not return your friend to life; however, Luke will be deprived of white society for three months to learn the ways of another culture. This will give him tolerance for those different from him. We hope he will educate others on his return. He has also been placed with Juan’s own parents. When I left him at the stronghold, he was staring up at Cochise, scared to death.”

Nathaniel bowed his head.  Jeffords picked up a stone and began to hone the blade with long, patient strokes, covertly studying the boy.  He looked so vulnerable and bewildered with his tousled hair and sorrowful, freckled face.

“Luke was always like his father, like the rest of them,” Natghaniel said at last, “The only good Indian to them was a dead one.  That’s why I never told anyone about Juan.”

“Well then,” Jeffords polished the knife with a soft cloth and replaced it in its scabbard, “now you begin to understand.”

*****

They talked long into the night, as many times before, the camp asleep among the silent cliffs.  Cochise seemed to have an endless capacity for tiswin, and although his broad cheeks were flushed and his dark eyes glittered in the firelight, his head remained clear. Jeffords had long ago set aside the half-empty skin and now regarded his friend, sitting cross-legged on woven rugs, a twisted red band around his forehead, long, grey hair about his bare shoulders in the Chiricahua fashion. “How is Luke, my brother?  I must speak to the sheriff and his father again tomorrow.  It is almost two moons now.”

“The white boy learns quickly,” Cochise replied. “The parents of Juan teach him manners and courtesy. He is ashamed to have to live with them, his presence reminding them always of their son. They communicate by gestures, although he has learned a few words. It is difficult for him to live there, sleep on their son’s pallet, eat from his bowl. He is unable to tell them how he grieves for what he did. It is difficult for them also, but they understand and respect my decision.  He hears Juan’s mother crying in the night.  He shows respect and his voice is not so loud now.  The other boys are hard on him in training sessions.  He is not as fit as they, but they drive him.  It is punishment. The older ones ensure he is not harmed. He has also taken an interest in many things, such as our building methods and the making of weapons.”

Jeffords sighed. “There is still much rebellion in Tucson,” he said. “Many still argue against what they see as Luke’s sentence with the Apaches. Even the army has been involved.”

“I know of this.” Cochise’s network had brought him instant news of the skirmishes on the reservation border more than fifty miles away from where he was hunting at the time.  He had inquired about Jeffords and been told he had been dragged from his horse and set upon, but the soldiers who had accompanied him had quickly intervened and he had been able to ride away.  The troublemakers had been taken to Fort Bowie to be punished for trespassing on Apache land.  That night, Cochise had drunk too much tiswin and shouted and struck at his wives so they fled his wickiup, squealing. His younger wife, Nalikadeya, in an admirable burst of spirit, had seized his wrist and bitten him. He now wondered morosely whether it would have been better to have let Luke go to the white man’s prison; worry snapped like wolves at his mind at night so that he could not sleep, made him doubt his wisdom. Even with the demonstration of the army’s weight behind the court’s unique decision, Tucson remained a hostile place for Jeffords so he stayed alone at the agency more frequently. This concerned Cochise, to whom family involvement was of paramount importance.  He glanced at the fading bruises on his brother’s face and had noticed the awkward way he mounted his horse.  He reached across and touched Jeffords’ ribs in exactly the right place. “It hurts here,” he said.  “I wonder where the savages live, Sheekasay, in the mountains, or in Tucson. Tiswin will help you sleep.”

Jeffords smiled, but his eyes remained troubled. “My head aches with tiswin and I am already in pain, as you see.” He pointed to the puncture marks on Cochise’s wrist. “And so are you!”

Cochise grunted and stared moodily into the firelight. The horrific scars of past battles showed rigid and pale on the burnished skin of his chest and belly.  So many wounds, thought Jeffords; the fearless, brutal warrior, driven by an unrelenting hatred for so many years, always at the forefront in battle, and now the peacemaker. One and the same.

“I have thought long on this,” Cochise’s soft, deep voice scattered his thoughts, “Tell the father of Luke that he can visit his son in two days, at the old mission.”  He looked at Jeffords sadly. “It is more than the parents of Juan can do.”

*****

Jeffords was already there with Isaac Wilton when they arrived. Juan’s father came with them.  They stopped on the rise above the abandoned little church and waited as Isaac called out anxiously, starting up the hill.  “Luke!  Are you all right?”

Luke glanced at Cochise for permission to approach his father, then dismounted and ran down to embrace him tightly, barely able to speak. “I’ve missed you, Dad! I’m very sorry for all that’s happened, for shooting that boy and everything.  It seems like it was someone else who pulled the trigger and not me.” He hugged his father again.  He had never been away from home before.

“Are you being treated well?” Isaac asked, taking him by the shoulders and peering into his face.

“Yes, the Apaches have been decent to me.  Makes it all the harder. I can never apologise, and there’s no one I can tell, except Mr. Jeffords, and he only comes every few weeks.  I hope Juan’s parents can forgive me in time.”

“Just an Apache kid. Don’t you worry, son.” Isaac growled. “Still too many where they came from.”

Luke looked at him earnestly. “Listen, Dad, I killed someone!  Do you know what he was doing?  Racing his friend. That’s all he did, and I killed him.” He sighed and took off his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow for the morning was already hot. “I’ve learned a great deal in Cochise’s village, so don’t worry.  I’ll be home in a few weeks. No one would dare harm me and go against him. Come and meet him. I have him to thank for my freedom and safety.  The others must hate me being there. He is a great chief.”

Isaac’s head lifted defensively. He squinted through the bright sunlight at the big Indian on the hill, motionless on the paint horse, etched against the hard, silver sky. “Don’t you worry about a thing, boy,” he whispered then pulled roughly at Luke’s clothes, “And what are you doing in these? You ain’t no Indian brat!”

“Careful, they’re Juan’s.  We were about the same size. My own needed washing.”

Jeffords had let them talk privately and now went ahead of them to act as interpreter.  Isaac watched him resentfully.

“We have to thank Cochise and then go,” Luke explained. “He knows there’s been trouble for Mr. Jeffords in town and it has made him angry. He wanted you to see that I’m being cared for so you can tell the others and then Mr. Jeffords will be safe.”

“You mean he’s afraid we’ll shoot more of them on sight if he doesn’t prove you’re alive?” Isaac growled. Luke glanced up apprehensively at the menace in his father’s voice. “They should be wiped out so decent folks can live in peace.  What do I care for this savage?”

“Dad, we are on his land; we have to respect his wishes. Would you rather I was in prison?”

Isaac snorted softly. Cochise had dismounted and waited, holding his horse’s reins. Isaac stopped halfway up the hill towards him and spat casually to the side, disdainfully keeping his distance. Luke stood helplessly beside him, feeling ashamed.  It was an insolent act and immediately offended Cochise’s sense of good manners.  Juan’s father watched warily.

“You know, Isaac,” Jeffords said with an easy smile, “I’ve always thought you were a bastard.”

He translated Cochise’s sharp and guttural words.  The Indian’s expression exuded an intense dislike, although his resonant voice remained polite.

“Your son does well in my camp and is sorry he killed Juan. Another moon and he will be returned.  He will have much to tell the American about the Apache.  He will have much to teach about respect for others.” Cochise turned and pointed to the Indian waiting silently.  “Look at that man.   He is Juan’s father.  His son will not return.  We go now.”

It was as he prepared to mount that Isaac grabbed Luke roughly so that he almost fell and dragged him forcefully backwards along the stony ground.  He pulled out a gun from beneath his shirt and aimed it, holding Luke tightly against his chest.  Cochise spun suddenly at Jeffords’ warning cry. He faced Isaac and did not move.

“You ain’t taking my boy again!  I’ll kill you first!” Isaac shouted.

“Dad!” Luke struggled to regain his feet, “Don’t do this!  Mr. Jeffords!”

“You’re coming home with me, where you belong! Keep your hand away from your gun, Jeffords!  You wouldn’t want to risk shooting the boy now!”

Despite the rising heat, Jeffords felt the sudden, cold ache of fear.  The silver muzzle flashed in the sunlight, trained upon Cochise’s chest.  At this distance, even edging backwards dragging his son, Isaac could not miss.

Oh God, no!  Jeffords’ mind rebelled with horror.  “Isaac!” he yelled harshly, “Don’t be a fool!  Listen to me!”  Cochise caught his arm as he started down, held him in an iron grip.  Juan’s father melted unnoticed from the saddle.

Luke wrenched free of his father’s hold, deliberately knocking up his hand so the shot went wild.  He tripped and sprawled on the rough ground as he twisted and kicked away from Isaac’s grasp, grazing his face, then scrabbled up the hillside on hands and knees away from him in desperate haste until he regained his feet at last, running, stumbling towards the Indians.

“Get out of the way! Come back!”  Isaac shouted, levelling the gun once more.

Luke continued scrambling up the hillside, almost there, gasping with effort in the heat, stones sliding beneath his boots.  He wheeled around to stand directly before Cochise, spreading his arms wide protectively, shielding him, trembling with shock, facing his father defiantly. “No you don’t, Dad!” he shouted, tears of fury streaming down his cheeks, “No you don’t!”

Isaac looked at him in disbelief, hand gripped tight on the gun, squeezing the trigger.  He did not seem to realise he was aiming at his own son. Cochise darted forward and knocked Luke down, winding him. Juan’s father was ready and held him tightly. Then Cochise turned to fix Isaac with a forbidding stare.

“You stay away, Indian!” Isaac’s voice rose with desperation. He gripped the gun now with both hands, beginning to shake.

“Shoot him and I swear I’ll kill you!” Jeffords shouted desperately, “Put the gun down or you’re a dead man!”  He drew his own weapon.

Isaac began to edge away, looking uncertainly from one to the other, realising he had lost control. Cochise walked steadily towards him down the hill, closing in on him relentlessly, ignoring the weapon trained upon him.  At last he halted, close enough to touch Isaac, to hear his ragged breathing.  He stood staring down into the other’s face, then struck the gun away, his dark eyes flat with contempt. It clattered at his feet as Isaac dropped his arms in humiliation.  Cochise turned and walked back towards the horses as calmly as he had descended.

Juan’s father released Luke, gently brushing the tears and dirt from his face. “Over now, finished, finished,” he murmured.

*****

“Again you annoy the hunters,” Cochise said as Jeffords climbed up to Flat Rock, deliberately kicking stones, stamping about, rustling bushes.

“I am just a white man!” Jeffords laughed at his friend’s good-natured frown.  “You are always here!  Will this ledge float away if you do not stand upon it?”  He stood beside Cochise and gazed over the great, sprawling desert and canyons.  “What do you see?”

Cochise stood in habitual stance in the late afternoon, arms folded, polished amulets about his neck, his fine, dark eyes sombre. “Home,” he said softly.

Jeffords glanced at him.  “Again, he asks to see you.”

“No.”

“What will I tell this boy who protected you with his own life?”

“Tell him it is done. He no longer has need of the Chiricahuas.”

“He wants to help. He wants better understanding between Apaches and Americans.  He is young and keen.”

“Let him talk to the boys in Tucson, tell them how he came here stupid and ignorant and mouthing his father’s words and returned a man of his own mind, with respect for the Apache and his way of life.  Our future lies in the understanding of our young ones.  Let them think on it.”

Jeffords took off his hat and sighed gratefully as the evening breeze swept up the rocky walls.  They stood together for a while in silence as the shadows stole across the broken land.  “One day I will come and you will not be here. Where do I look for my brother then?”

Cochise pointed up towards the dusking sky. “There, with the great spirits, as you will be.”

“Maybe they will not take me,” Jeffords suggested, pulling a folded newspaper from his jacket.

“They must. You are my brother.” Cochise dismissed the suggestion and turned with interest, recognising the newspaper.  “Ah!” He sat down cross-legged on the ledge, leaning forward intently as Jeffords handed it to him.

“From the young writer in the east,” Jeffords smiled, always charmed by Cochise’s obvious pleasure, “Samuel.  He sends another article about the Chiricahuas.  I will read it to you now while there is still light.”  He settled beside his friend in the gentle peacefulness of the desert evening.

Cochise carefully spread the pages before him on the rock, smoothing them with his broad, brown hand, then ran his finger along each line of print until he found his name, just as Samuel had written it for him so long ago. “There!” he exclaimed, “and there, and there!”

Jeffords laughed, his eyes alight with affection. “You can look later,” he said, “now I will translate it.”  Cochise never forgot the content of Samuel’s articles, knew the subject matter of every one.  There was a small, neat pile of newspapers from the East, tied with leather thong, in the war chest of the most notorious of Apache chiefs in history.

Cochise listened carefully, eyes bright with intelligence, occasionally interrupting to ensure he understood every word.

Jeffords patiently explained. “You must learn to speak English,” he said at last, “then you can learn to read it.”

“My brother knows I already speak some of his language.”

“Only the bad words,” Jeffords chided, “now, where was I?  One more line. He will return to Arizona before Ghost Face.”

“Ah!”

“I wish to arrange for him to meet Luke. They both lived here in your camp for a while.  One boy protected your grain, the other your life.”

“Ah!”

“It is almost dark,” Jeffords stood and stretched his long legs, “The cooking pots of your wives beckon.”  He started down the slope towards the welcoming sounds and smells of the Indian camp, lazy curls of fragrant smoke drifting upwards along the rocky walls.

“Quietly now,” Cochise warned, “do not annoy the hunters.”

*****End*****

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