A boy learns he can speak another tongue
|The boy’s name was Rama’a. He sat cross-legged at the campfire. The man said, “Your name is Sam Nichols,” and silently watched the boy who watched him back. The campfire was a white man’s fire. The man’s eyes shone blue in its dancing light—an eye-color the boy had never seen on anyone other than himself.
“Your mother’s name was Sarah,” the man said. “Died when the Apaches took ya, Sammy…” His eyes narrowed on the boy. “I’m your father…” The boy said nothing. “Been looking a long time for you, Sam… a long time—” The man’s eyes shifted toward the base of the Huachucas where the Pine trees grew stunted and grotesque and could be seen in the thin moonlight along the mountain base. The man had heard the nighthawk and moved his Winchester on his lap, looking into the darkness.
Rama'a found that he understood the man. ”I don’t remember anything,” Rama’a lied in the Coyotero tongue. He wanted him to forget the hawk.
“I seen you in the stream and your hair like Sarah’s and I almost called to you,” the man said, his attention now back on the boy. “I—I knowed it right off it was you, and then, then I seen my chance and—”
Two thuds. The man leaned forward, his eyes dead but for the fire's reflection inside them. Rama’a watched the shape come out of the darkness and remove the two arrows from the man’s back. He pulled a knife from knee-high moccasins.
“No!” the boy said, surprised by his own use of the white man’s word.
Rama'a's father reluctantly left the white man his hair, but he took up the Winchester and led the gelding, telling Rama'a to hurry, for they were late for dinner, and their horses were high up the hill.