As Sparrow grew, it had become more difficult to hide herself between the shipping crates. Her hips grazed the packing ropes, and her shoulders were wedged between the boxes. She stayed still and listened for her papa’s voice. He worked with other foreign sailors, checking cargo, counting hides, and swapping the news from various ports. Papa knew many of the men from his days working with the American Scientific Expedition. He’d been working for them as a surveyor when he first met Sparrow’s mama and became impressed with her knowledge of the lands, rivers, and plants in the Mexican territory. That had been seventeen years ago.
Today, his conversation with the other sailors went on and on. The men’s voices were easy to hear because they spoke loudly, bragged often, and boasted about their trapping skills or something they were planning with Papa.
“If your men are prepared, I will show you his routines. Leave it to me.” The fellow who spoke had curly black hair and bushy eyebrows, and his voice thundered. He wore some kind of uniform jacket—not Mexican—with a red, white, and blue striped armband.
Papa looked around the dock, but Sparrow remained hidden behind the crates. “If we work together, the governor will soon be out of our way.” Then he continued, “Our troops are ready. War is certain, and when we are victorious, this dock will fly the American flag.”
Two other sailors with ruddy faces and red beards shook their fists in the air. Their shabby uniforms were a faded blue and yellow.
Sparrow tried to make sense of their conversation. What were they planning? Governor Alvarado was a friend of the Tenorio family. He had attended many of their parties. Sparrow’s hands felt wet and cold.
Out of the way? Those were the words Papa had used. He sounded like he was going to become a traitor. Sparrow squirmed to stay between the packing crates, pressing her lips together to keep herself from calling out, “You can’t do that!” Her knees were pressed together, too. She was nervous and needed to relieve herself soon.
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