New Mexico, 1821
“Will you go no matter who wins her?” Juan asked.
He saw doubt, fear, and greed on their faces.
“Will you?” Juan demanded.
“Yes,” Roberto conceded.
Juan snatched a handful of stems from a bunch of gamma grass. He kept four and snapped them into lengths. “Longest straw gets her,” he said.
“You don’t need none for me,” Kincaid said. “I don’t want no slave.”
“Suit yourself.” Juan tossed one stem away. He cupped his hand around the remaining stems and raised them up to the other Mexicans.
“Let Kincaid hold them,” Roberto demanded.He felt like he had turned another corner. Now he had two enemies, three if you counted Baptiste. Well, the damage was done. Let’s get on with it.
He offered Roberto his pick. Roberto quickly grabbed one. It was fair to middling; might be the winner.
Defeat was on Carlos’ face, as if chance never favored him. Sure enough, Carlos pulled one half the size of Roberto’s.
Without waiting, Juan pulled the last, and it beat Roberto’s.
Juan looked at each man..
The horsemen stormed off the ridge. The Navajo girl looked up at the riders thundering towards her, and her mouth opened in cries of alarm and terror. Her mouth shaped words, but he only heard the pounding hooves, wind sucked in and out of horses’ lungs, and blood surging in his ears. He could feel the power of Rico stretching out to eat up the distance and the rough rhythm of his wild gallop. The feeling was exhilarating and savage, and carried him where quiet courage might not. He began to see the girl would lose her race to safety, and the wild riders would win. Kincaid faced her hogan hoping he would not have to fight.