Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thirty Eight

Diana sat on the floor fumbling through the contents of her bag. She knew she must look ridiculous, but the floor was more comfortable than any chair today. She frowned in annoyance as she tried to work around her belly. "Don't you know you're not wanted?" she muttered, and got a hard kick in the gut for answer.

The canvas bag didn't contain much these days. Amalia had cleaned her riding clothes and hung them in the closet after drying them in the summer sun until they smelled like the wind. Diana looked forward to wearing them again. In the meantime, her bag contained only odds and ends— her canteen, the book of poetry she had received in Adelaide, some yucca twine, scissors, a work knife, a spoon, an old hat, and a pair of socks she had deliberately kept out of the laundry. Diana squeezed them, reassured that the two gold pieces Robert had given her were still there. She had other money—a few silver coins and some old federal dollars that were still useful in the larger towns. If she wanted to, she could also claim half the silver she and Will had received at their wedding.

But the gold was different. If she didn't hire a guard as Robert had instructed, those two coins could get her pretty far. She looked at the map he had given her. Castaño appeared to be only a few days' ride away, but that didn't take terrain into account. Some of those mountain passes were tricky. It could take as much a week to get there, depending on road and weather conditions.

Diana closed her eyes, seeing the entire region in her mind. A week of riding in any other direction would put her where, exactly? She searched the map of her memory and was pleasantly surprised at the answer. She was a good hunter and forager, so she wouldn't need to buy much. The gold would go a long way. A lot farther than Castaño.

A sound at the door startled her, but it was only Kitta, large-eyed and serious. "Can you come read with me?"

"I guess so." Diana began putting things back in the bag.

The girl came over to watch. "What's that book?"

"This?" She pulled out the book of poetry. "You can have it if you like. It's a little advanced for you, but you learn so fast, you'll be able to read it soon enough."

"Thank you." Kitta took the slim leather-bound volume as if it were riches. "What's that?" She pointed to the map.

"Just a drawing." Diana folded it and tucked it away.

"It has words on it."

"Yes. Sometimes drawings also have words."

"What was it a picture of?"

Diana looked at her in exasperation. "You sure ask a lot of questions." Seeing that Kitta wouldn't be deterred, she said, "It's a picture of a place, and how to get there. It's called a map, and it's how people find their way around. They look at maps."

"Me and James had no map. He put me on his horse and then we were here."

"No map at all?"

Kitta shook her head.

"I guess riding off and seeing where you end up can work out pretty good, can't it?"


Alice Audrey said...

It certainly seemed to work for Kitta. Not so sure how it's going to work for Diana.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

You'll have to read Diana's Diary for the answer to that one. I think it's a more entertaining read. It was also more fun to write. I wrote it on the fly with a strict day-to-day correlation between Diana's story and my writing of it. Often I was no more aware of what would happen next than she was, which was a big part of the fun. I think that's what I most relate to in your writing of Suzie's House.

Alice Audrey said...

LOL. I was just thinking of Suzie's House when you mentioned it, though I gave up trying to stay in the same time/season in the story as in real life. As soon as I'm done with this Diana, I'll hunt that Diana down.