Robledo Mountain
Chapter 24

Copyright© 2018 by Kraken

I was up before first light the next morning. I found two of the ladies already up and quietly preparing to make breakfast for the camp. I walked down to the river and soaked my head in the water to wake me up, as well as help tame my hair. When I lifted my head from the river I found Giuseppe and Hector had joined me. After relieving ourselves we walked back up to the campfire where the ladies handed us each a cup of coffee. We sat drinking our coffee, and enjoying the quiet of the morning.

Twenty minutes later the camp was no longer quiet, with everyone up and the hustle and bustle of morning with families and kids began. I rolled up my bedroll, thanked the ladies for their hospitality, and walked up to the house with Hector and Giuseppe following close behind.

We ate a typical Mrs. Mendoza breakfast and sat drinking coffee, until we heard Heinrich coming up the slope. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for few minutes while we finished our coffee. When it appeared that everyone was ready, I put my coffee cup on the table and led them all outside to the edge of the plateau and then turned to face the house.

“Heinrich, the Hacienda is to be built around, and centered on, my house. When the Hacienda is complete, what is now my house will be my study. Did Jorge give you a copy of the plans?”

“He did, Paul,” Heinrich answered.

“Good, I’ll leave you to it, then. Please make sure your men always have their rifles or shotguns within easy reach, and keep at least one man at the camp at all times. I rarely see anyone out here, but I have seen raiding parties at a distance from time to time, and we know there are mountain lions here.”

He nodded and I took them over to the cliff face where Giuseppe and I raised the ladder. I tested the bottom lashings to make sure it was still sturdy, and then invited them all to climb the ladder to the upper plateau. Since the ladies were both wearing split riding skirts, I asked Giuseppe to go first followed by Heinrich, Hector, the ladies, Mr. Mendoza, and myself. When we got to the top I put my arm around Anna, and gave them a few minutes to look around.

“Is there another way up to this level?” Heinrich asked.

I shook my head. “Afraid not, Heinrich. Well, there is a back way in, but it’s not a trip a wagon can make and it starts out on the opposite side of the mountain so it wouldn’t be convenient to use.

When no one had any other questions, I let Heinrich know that I would be bringing back scaffolding and real ladders if I could find any tall enough. Otherwise, we’d have to use lashed ladders. I also let him know I had some lime now, but that I would be bringing back a wagon load. He nodded and after one more look around, we all climbed down the ladder.

I spent the next hour settling the new wagon teams in, while the Mendozas, Anna, and Hector relaxed in the house. After getting the wagon teams organized and trained on the shotguns, we all joined Giuseppe and his assistant for a ride to show them where the lime, quarry, and pumice areas were located.

At the quarry, we found a seep had developed where I’d blasted the last load of rocks, the previous day.

Giuseppe looked at the puddle that was forming. “If it keeps growing, we’ll probably need to find another quarry site.”

“I hope we don’t, but if we do then it shouldn’t take us too long to find another good quarry site,” I said.

I rode back to the house, while Giuseppe and his assistant rode for the village site, to begin their survey work.

Inside the house I slung my rifle over my left shoulder, and then slung the bundle of rifles and magazines over my right shoulder.

“I promised Hector that I’d show him all the weapons and let him fire them before we left for Las Cruces. We’re going back up to the upper plateau, where there is plenty of room for all of you to get familiar with the weapons, if you’d like,” I said in explanation.

They followed me up the ladder and out into the grass about three hundred yards where I unslung the bundle of weapons. I opened the bundle and laid out a shotgun, the A700, and my rifle and pistol. I arranged the magazines and shells out next to each one. I put half of the sticks from the bundle in the ground, fifteen yards from the weapons and the other half at a hundred yards out.

Back at the bundle, I had everyone sit down while I explained that each of the weapons used a different size round with special smokeless powder and all of it, including the empty brass cartridges, was irreplaceable, as no one knew who invented them or where to get more. The Mendozas and Anna knew it was really a question of ‘when’ they were invented, not where, but they remained quiet.

I picked up the pistol and showed them how it operated, how the magazine was released, how to load a magazine with new rounds, and how to put in a new magazine. I stood up, holstered the pistol, and told them to stand facing the sticks. When they were facing the sticks, I faced them then spun around drawing the pistol and started shooting the tops of the closest sticks until the slide locked back then I changed magazines and fired three more times.

I holstered the pistol and as I bent to pick up all the empty brass, said, “I can reload the empty brass casings with primer, powder, and bullets so they can be reused.”

Mr. Mendoza was smiling while Mrs. Mendoza, Anna, and especially Hector were looking at the pistol in awe. I took out the pistol, ejected the magazine and the round in the chamber, before handing the pistol with a new magazine to Mr. Mendoza. I told him to try it. He stepped up inserted the magazine, found the slide release, and then fired ten shots, missing all the sticks, before giving it back to me thanking me for letting him fire it.

I locked the slide back, catching the round that popped out, and ejected the magazine. I went to hand it to Mrs. Mendoza but she waved me off. I handed it to Anna, who was waiting impatiently.

I told her to hold it just like it was for a minute and then bent to pick up the empty brass. I turned back to Anna and she inserted the new magazine, released the slide, and started firing at the sticks. She hit on half of her ten shots! I was impressed, and so was Hector.

She handed me the pistol, beaming me a megawatt Anna smile that told me she enjoyed shooting. I holstered the pistol and picked up her brass while telling her she’d done extremely well.

I pulled the pistol, locked the slide back, ejected the magazine and handed the pistol and a new magazine to Hector. He loaded the magazine, released the slide and spun around to fire at the sticks. He hit seven of his ten shots and stood looking at the pistol. Finally, he handed it back to me. I holstered it and picked up the brass.

I drew the pistol, replaced the magazine with a fresh one, released the slide, and holstered it. We sat down around the canvas ground cloth, and I handed each of them the magazine they’d fired and 17 new rounds and had them reload the magazines.

When they were done, I put the filled magazines on the canvas and picked up the shotgun. I described why it was different, how it was loaded, gave them a demonstration, and then let them fire a complete load, making sure they picked up their own empty casings this time and putting them on the canvas. I reloaded the shotgun when they were done and laid it down on the canvas.

I repeated the entire process with the rifle which was, as expected, an even bigger hit. It took as much time to explain how it was different, how it worked, demonstrate it and then have them fire it than it did for the other two weapons combined. When I showed them the three-round burst setting, and the fully automatic setting, it was bedlam. I let them try both settings, making sure they knew the full automatic setting wasn’t very useful as the barrel climbed too much and too fast to hit anything and just ended up wasting ammunition.

After they’d reloaded the empty rifle magazines I picked up the A700.

“This is a long-range hunting and sniping rifle. Even though it has a magazine it only fires one shot at a time and has to be reloaded using the bolt.”

Looking through the scope I found the piece of wood I’d put on top of a boulder three quarters of a mile away. I handed all four of them a monocular each and then pointed to the boulder and asked them if they could see the piece of wood on top. When they all found it, I told them to keep watching it and then laid down in a classic prone position.

I found the wood in my scope again, and fired. When I got the scope back on line the piece of wood was gone. They were all looking at me like I was some kind of wizard.

“Each of these rifles has to be test fired by the user and adjustments made to the scope for the user’s way of holding a rifle and their eye sight. I’m more than happy to let you fire it but as I’m left handed and it is set for me you probably won’t even come close to hitting anything.”

When they all declined to shoot it, I picked up the brass, ejected the magazine and added a new round before replacing the magazine and putting it back on the ground cloth.

I asked if they had any questions. I was a little surprised when there were none, but I figured there would be a lot on the ride back to Las Cruces. I slung my rifle, bundled all the other weapons and magazines and we walked back to the ladder, climbed down, and went back into the house.

I was helping Mr. Mendoza load up his wagon when there was a loud uproar from the camp. I immediately ran down the slope toward the camp unslinging my M4 as I ran. The mason left to guard the camp was pointing his shotgun at an Apache who was quietly sitting on his horse with his family behind him.

I told the guard to open the breech of his shotgun, as Apaches in family groups were not a threat. He looked at me dubiously, but did as I asked. I turned to the visitor and spoke to him in Apache telling him the people of the camp had been taught to fear all Apache, and did not yet understand the place of Apache families. He nodded and said he was here to speak to Thundercloud.

Mrs. Mendoza had walked up by then and heard the Apaches statement. She pointed to me and said, “This is Thundercloud, cousin.”

He looked at her and asked in a formal manner, “You are the granddaughter of Shaman Jaime?”

“I am, and you are a cousin to me, and to Thundercloud.”

The Apache turned to me and introduced himself as Miguel and his family as yet more Garcia’s. He then introduced me to them as their cousin, Thundercloud. After all the introductions, I offered them the hospitality of the surrounding area for a camp.

The ladies and children began setting up a camp to the side of the mason’s camp. I turned to the masons who’d gathered around with their families. I briefly explained that this family was part of a group who were cousins to the Apaches that had adopted and raised me. They were not to be feared or mistreated in any way. Their customs and traditions were different from what the masons were used to, but they were people nonetheless. I also told everyone that a few more Apache families may come in to talk to me while I was gone. If they had their families with them they were to be offered the hospitality of the camp. If there were any questions then Miguel would decide how to treat them. Heinrich and his wife nodded and everyone went back to what they were doing.

I asked Anna to join us and then introduced her to the Apache as Shaman Jaime’s great granddaughter. He nodded his head toward her and I asked her to go the house and put all the supplies on the table for me. She nodded and left going back up the slope. I asked Mrs. Mendoza in Apache to tell my cousin’s ladies that any supplies on the kitchen table were theirs to use while they were here if they needed them, show them the house, and warn them that Giuseppe and his assistant may be there from time to time. She nodded and left to talk with the Apache ladies.

I asked Miguel to walk with me, and we headed up the slope towards the house. As we walked I said, “Some of us are getting ready to leave to go talk to the white man’s spiritual leaders about my wedding with Anna. I can’t delay the meeting, so I’d like to ask you to stay in the area and we can talk when I return in four days’ time. If you decide to stay then I would like you to greet any others that may come in while I am gone and represent me to them as my cousin until I return.”

He thought for a few minutes as we stood on the edge of the plateau and finally agreed he could do this for his cousin.

“Thank you, cousin. Please remember that white men do not understand Apache ways at the best of times, and the white men here are new arrivals from a faraway land. Most speak no Spanish. There are also a few who speak no English, either. There are some helpers with both Spanish and English, so please use them as interpreters if the need should arise,” I said.

At his nod of understanding we walked over to where Heinrich was standing. I introduced them to each other, and explained to Heinrich that the Apaches would be setting up camp next to theirs and that other families may be coming in to talk to me. I asked him to treat them as neighbors, and to protect them from raids as he would any neighbors. The Apaches would also protect his camp as if it was their own. I also told him to use one of the wagon teams as an interpreter, as there was at least one who could speak Spanish and English, and the Apache spoke Spanish. When he nodded I turned and repeated to Miguel what I’d told Heinrich, in Apache.

I walked Miguel back down to where his family was setting up a wickiup. I told him that I was glad he was here, and pleased he was willing to wait for my return. Mrs. Mendoza came up and told us that she had explained things to the family, and that it should be alright. I thanked her and told Miguel it was time for me to leave, and I would see him on my return.

Everyone was waiting on us when we got back to the house, so I helped Mrs. Mendoza up into her wagon and climbed into mine. We rode down the slope, across the river, and turned toward Las Cruces. Anna was riding her horse next to me as I drove the team down the road, while Hector was talking with the Mendozas as he was riding his horse next to their wagon. The Mendozas had three long lead lines of mules tied to the back of their wagon. I warned Anna to pay attention to what was going on around us, as the mules were a prime target for Indian raids.

Anna and I talked about the Apaches showing up and how we were going to have to come up with a way to integrate them into the daily life of the Estancia. We had to integrate all the cultures, regardless of whether the Apache decided to live in wickiups and roam the edges of the Estancia or decided to live in the village. She nodded and said her grandfather and grandmother were teaching her Apache, but she was having more trouble than she expected.

A little later Anna asked, “Do we really have enough money to make this all work?”

“We do my love. There’s more gold and if we don’t have enough we just need to go get it.”

“Where is it, Pablo?”

“I’ll show you exactly where when we get married, as well as how to mine it and purify it.

She unexpectedly changed the subject at that point. “I’m really looking forward to learning to shoot.”

“Good, because that’s the most important thing you have to learn. We can’t leave for Santa Fe, until I’m satisfied that my Dulcinea can protect herself on the trip.”

She beamed me an Anna smile, before telling me to keep driving as she slowed her horse, transferred herself from the saddle to the wagon bed, tied her horse next to mine behind the wagon, and climbed over to take a seat next to me. Still beaming her smile she changed the subject yet again.

“What was Laura like, Pablo?” she asked as she settled herself on the bench as close to me as possible.

Startled at the question, I looked down at her askance. It only took a quick look at her face and her eyes to see there was nothing behind her request but genuine curiosity. I turned back to watch the road while I gathered my thoughts.

“Laura was much taller than you. Where you are small and petite she was tall. She was almost as tall as I am when she was wearing heels. Like you, she was of mixed descent; her family name was Sanchez, although there was no Apache that she knew of in her ancestry. She had the same long dark hair and dark brown eyes that you have. Also like you, she was smart, fun, full of life, independent, self-sufficient, and didn’t tolerate stupidity. She had a cold logical temper when angered. There was nothing more important to her than family.”

“What do you mean when say she wore heels?” Anna asked before I could go on.

“Well, in the future, footwear styles for both men and women change, as do fashions. We could spend hours talking about that, so to answer your question I’ll simply say that women’s shoes come in many different styles appropriate for specific occasions. The most common daily footwear are comfortable flat heeled shoes. Women usually wore shoes with heels of various lengths when dressing up for formal occasions or for going out on dates, like dancing or parties,” I replied.

“But why do women of the future wear these ‘heels?’” She asked curiously.

I had to think for a moment on how to answer her question without shocking her too much. “They wear them for two reasons my love. First, they wear them to make themselves taller. For one thing, it’s easier to dance together when both partners are close to the same height. It’s also easier to look into someone’s eyes when you’re talking if you’re closer to the same height. The second and far more common reason a woman chooses to wear heels has to do with what it does to their bodies. Before I go on you must understand that social standards of dress and conduct are much different in the future than they are today. Dresses are much shorter and much more abbreviated and many women’s clothes are designed to attract male attention. When a woman wears high heels it makes her leg muscles tighter, her legs slimmer, and along with the extra height from the heels make her legs appear even longer. They also make a woman stand more erect, with her shoulders back and centered over the heels which forces her chest out. The ultimate result is something that most men find very appealing. The higher the heels, the more the effect; although practically speaking, six inches is about all the heel most can or want to wear, because the higher the heels the more uncomfortable they are over the course of time. There are exceptions of course, but most women wear two to four-inch heels when they wear them.”

“Fathers and husbands allow this?” Anna asked unbelievably.

I couldn’t help myself and gave out a short laugh. “Anna, in my time of the future, men have relatively little to say about what a woman wears after a girl reaches the age of puberty. After that point young ladies consult their friends and their mothers for what’s appropriate in any given situation. For a father, watching the transition of his daughter from little girl to woman, is a traumatic time fraught with denial and disbelief as his precious innocent princess transforms into a fully grown sexual being, almost overnight. Young ladies take their cues on how young men should act around them from their fathers, but that’s about all the influence a father has on what his daughter wears. A husband has even less say about what his wife wears. Religion and a woman’s religious attitudes have much more to say about how a woman dresses than anything else. There’s a whole host of other factors, of course; but again, we just don’t have time to go into everything right now.”

We spent the next ten minutes driving in silence as Anna thought about what I had said.

There is more of this chapter...
The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.