It was spring in the valley of the eagles, which meant it had been raining off and on for three weeks and the usually adobe-hard clay soil was soft enough to be dug. Once Old Bill had selected a likely spot for caching the packs of beaver fur, Pepe set to work. Old Bill stood farther up the hillside, chanting in a mixture of Osage and Ute. The prayers would help keep varmints away, Bill had said: both the two-footed and four-footed kind.
It was a good location for a cache, Pepe reflected: tucked under the hillside pines and marked by a massive sandstone boulder that would be easy to identify when they returned. After the Taos alcalde had decided that the few beaver plews they’d set aside to show him were truly Old Bill’s entire winter haul, Pepe and Old Bill would slip back into the valley with a Taos trader to turn the cached furs into coin. Then Pepe would have a nice amount to take home to his wife while Old Bill gambled his own portion away.
Pepe chuckled and paused his digging to wipe his forehead with his cotton sleeve. He was always surprised at how warm it could get in this valley, as high up in the mountains as it was.
Small stones rattled past him and Old Bill came down the hillside. “War’s th’ other shovel?” he demanded in his nasal twang. “We ain’t got th’ rest o’ eternity!”
Copyright © 2016 Loretta Miles Tollefson