فصل 10

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فصل 10

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Chapter ten

The Trackers

The sun was so hot that Kino and Juana moved into the shade of the bushes. Small birds moved about in the shade. Kino covered his eyes with his hat and wrapped his blanket around his face to keep the flies off. Then he slept.

But Juana did not sleep. Her face was still full of pain because Kino had hit her. Big flies flew around the cut on Juana’s chin. When Coyotito woke up, Juana put him on the ground and watched the baby wave his arms and kick his feet. Coyotito smiled at Juana and Juana smiled, too. Juana played with Coyotito and gave him some water to drink.

Kino was dreaming in his sleep. He moved about and cried out in a loud voice. Kino’s hands moved as if he was fighting. Suddenly, he sat up. He was breathing deeply.

Kino listened, but he heard only the sounds of the forest.

‘What’s the matter?’ Juana asked.

‘Quiet!’ Kino answered.

‘You are only dreaming,’ Juana said.

‘Perhaps,’ Kino replied.

Kino could not sleep again. When Juana gave him a corncake, Kino stopped eating to listen. Kino was afraid. He looked over his shoulder into the trees and held his knife firmly in his hand. Coyotito made a little noise and Kino said, ‘Keep him quiet!’

‘What’s the matter?’ Juana asked again.

‘I don’t know,’ Kino answered.

Suddenly, he saw something moving. Kino bent his head down and looked through the trees. Far away, Kino could see three men. Two of the men were walking and the other man was riding a horse. Kino knew what the men were doing. Suddenly, Kino felt very frightened. The men who were walking were carefully looking at the ground. One of the men stopped and pointed at something. Kino knew that the men were trackers.

These trackers could follow the tracks of sheep in the rocky mountains. They could see a piece of broken grass or little marks in the sand. They were as clever as hunting dogs. The man on the horse had a blanket covering his nose. He was carrying a rifle in his hand.

Kino stood as still as a tree. He almost stopped breathing. His eyes looked at the place where he had swept away the tracks. The marks of the sweeping might tell the trackers something. Kino knew these men. They were very clever hunters and now they were hunting Kino.

Suddenly, the trackers saw something and they bent over to look more closely. The man on the horse waited and watched. The trackers made a noise like excited dogs. Kino slowly pulled out his knife and got ready. He knew what he must do. If the trackers found Kino, then he must jump at the horseman. He must kill the horseman quickly and take the rifle. That was Kino’s only chance. As the men came nearer, Kino got ready.

Juana could hear the horse coming. The baby made a little noise. Juana took Coyotito and put him under her shawl and fed him.

When the trackers came near, Kino could only see their legs and the legs of the horse through the trees. Kino could see the men’s dirty feet and their old clothes. The trackers came nearer and stopped again. The horseman stopped, too. The horse moved its head up and down and breathed loudly through its nose. Then the trackers turned and looked at the horse and watched the animal’s ears. They wanted to see if the horse could hear any strange noises.

Kino stopped breathing and his arms and legs were ready to fight. The trackers bent over the road for a long time. Then they moved away slowly. They looked at the ground all the time and the horseman followed behind. The trackers ran a little, stopped to look at the ground and then ran again. Kino knew that they would come back. They would look and stop and then look again until they had found Kino’s tracks.

Kino went back into the forest. He did not cover his tracks. He could not cover his tracks because he had broken too many bushes and had moved too many stones. Kino was so frightened now that he wanted to run away. He knew that the hunters would find his tracks. He must take Juana and Coyotito and run away as fast as possible. Kino went back to Juana silently and quickly. As he came near, Juana looked up.

‘Trackers,’ Kino said, ‘Come on!’

Then Kino suddenly felt that all hope had gone.

‘Perhaps I should let the trackers find me,’ he said.

Juana jumped up and put her hand on Kino’s arm.

‘You have the pearl,’ - she said. ‘Do you think that those men would take you back to the town alive?’

Kino’s hand went slowly to his pocket.

‘They will find the pearl,’ he said quietly.

‘Come on!’ Juana said, ‘Come on!’

When Kino did not move, Juana spoke again.

‘Do you think that they would not kill me, too?’ she asked. ‘Do you think that they would not kill Coyotito?’

Juana had made Kino think. Kino’s lips were tight over his teeth and his eyes were full of hate and anger.

‘Come on,’ he said. ‘We will go to the mountains. Perhaps we can hide in the mountains.’

Kino picked up the little bags of food and the water-bottle in his left hand. In his right hand he carried his big knife. Juana followed Kino through the bushes and they went quickly towards the high mountains. They walked quickly through the bushes. Kino was so frightened that he did not cover the tracks. They walked quickly, kicking the stones and breaking the leaves from the trees. Kino and Juana could see the high mountains rising out of the forest and standing against the sky. They ran towards the mountains like hunted animals.

This land had no water. Kino and Juana walked on broken stones and little pieces of dry grass. This desert country was burning hot. In front, the -rocky mountains looked cool and safe.

Kino walked as fast as he could. He knew what would happen. The hunters would soon find the tracks. Then they would come to the place where Kino and Juana had slept. The trackers could easily follow, because of the broken stones and fallen leaves. They would find Kino and Juana. They would not take Kino and Juana and Coyotito back to the town. The horseman had a rifle.

The little path became steeper and the stones were larger. But now Kino and his family were a long way from the trackers. Kino and Juana stopped to rest. Kino climbed onto a big rock and looked back. He could not see the trackers. Kino could not even see the tall horseman riding through the bushes.

Juana sat in the shade of the rock. She put the water-bottle to Coyotito’s lips and he drank the water quickly. Kino climbed down from the large rock and looked at Juana. He saw that her feet were cut from the stones and bushes. Juana quickly covered her feet with her skirt. Then Juana gave the water-bottle to Kino, but he shook his head. He was thirsty, but there was only a little water left.

‘Juana,’ said Kino. ‘I will go and you will hide. I will go to the mountains and the trackers will follow me. When they have gone, you will go north. Then, I will come to you.’

Juana looked into Kino’s eyes for a moment.

‘No,’ she said. ‘We will go with you.’

‘I can go faster alone,’ Kino said angrily. ‘You will put Coyotito in more danger if you go with me.’

‘No,’ Juana said.

‘You must,’ Kino answered. ‘I want you to hide.’

‘No,’ Juana said again.

Kino looked at Juana. He could see no fear or weakness in her face. Juana’s eyes were very bright and they seemed to make Kino strong. When Kino and Juana started walking again, he was no longer frightened.

Kino and Juana climbed higher towards the mountains. They were walking on flat rocks now and they were not making tracks. Kino knew that when the hunters lost his tracks, they must search until they found the tracks again. So Kino did not go straight to the mountains. He wanted to make it more difficult for the trackers to find them. Sometimes he left the rocks and made tracks in other places. Then he went back to the rocks and climbed up the mountain to Juana. The path went up and up and Kino and Juana breathed heavily as they walked.

The sun was going slowly down as Kino and Juana walked into a valley. The valley was dark and full of shadows. Kino could see some little bushes in the valley. The water-bottle was empty now and Kino thought that he might find water near the bushes. But the valley was dangerous because the trackers would also want water.

Kino was right. There was a pool near the bushes. A stream ran down from the cold snow at the top of the mountain and made a large pool. Bushes and tall grass grew beside the pool. There was a small, sandy beach which was full of the tracks of animals that had come to drink water.

The sun had gone over the mountain when Kino and Juana came at last to the water. From the pool, they could look across to the sea far away. Kino and Juana were both very tired. Juana fell to her knees and washed Coyotito’s face. Then she filled the bottle and gave the baby a drink.

Kino was very thirsty and drank for a long time from the pool. Then he lay beside the water and watched Juana feeding the baby. When Kino had rested, he stood up. From the pool, Kino looked down the side of the mountain. Kino suddenly saw something and he stood very still. He could see the trackers far down the bottom of the mountain. They were far away and looked very small.

Juana had turned to look at Kino and she saw him standing still.

‘How far?’ she asked quietly.

‘They will be here by evening,’ Kino answered.

Kino looked up the valley, where the water was coming down.

‘We must climb higher,’ he said, looking up at the rocky hill above the pool.

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