Chapter 8: “Two Trails To Mexico”
Rita Osorio Anderson and her Papa, Earl Wayne Anderson, own Rita’s Cantina and Cafe. Rita has a light complexion, with reddish-blonde hair. The dark-eyed beauty of Mexican and White parents, loves to flirt.
When her Papa and her Momma split up, she chose to live with her Papa, after he told her he’d build her a cantina on the border if she’d stay.
She’s the reason the cantina is filled with men from both sides of the border.
There are a few young women from Mexico who come here to party, in hopes of meeting a young American man to marry. Two of them have taken jobs. One in the kitchen at night and two more work the tables, carrying drinks and cigars to the men.
Jeremiah and Kellyanne entered the cantina, without a clue of what to expect. They were surprised that this place was so well lit. There was a long bar on their right as they walked in. The place was twice as large as the hotel next door, with twenty tables for cards, or drinking. There were only a few men sitting at the tables. No one was at the bar, so they sat on round wooden stools. They were still looking the place over when Rita came from the kitchen.
“Hi there, welcome to Rita’s Cantina, I’m Rita. Now what can I get you to drink?”
“Do you serve tea?” Jeremiah asked.
“We certainly do. My Papa drinks tea and so do I. We have the tea pot on the stove now. I’ll bring it right out,” she told him, then turned and walked through the bright red curtains.
“I’ve never been in a place like this. Back in Ireland, we had pubs, but I wasn’t allowed to visit them. From what I heard about them, I had no desire to go inside them.”
“When I was in Ellsworth, I went to all the saloons and gambling halls. There was a lot of drinking going on and fights broke out in nearly all of them each night. I’ve never drunk anything stronger than coffee and tea and from what I saw back in Kansas, I have no urge to start now.”
“Father has some wine he, Eulie and Vonda made from their grapes. Have you never sipped wine either?”
“No, never had an urge for wine either. I suppose you’ve sipped wine?”
“Back in Ireland, we would have wine with dinner at times and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t like I was going to drink so much I would get tipsy. When we return to Nevada, you’ll have to sip some wine with me one evening.”
“Well, I’ve tried tea with you, though I never had a thought about it before. I suppose I could be coaxed into having a glass of wine with my wife.”
Earl Anderson came out of the kitchen when Rita brought their tea out. Rita introduced her Papa to them and the big man pulled up a stool on the other side of the bar. They sat and talked, telling him about their horse business and why they were here. He too drank tea with the Trails as they talked.
“So, you folks are down here on the Arizona Border looking to buy some Mexican horses, are you?”
Jeremiah told him, “Yes, we were on our way to Santa Fe when we met a man who told us he’d bought two fine horses down here on the border a week ago.”
“Yeah, we do get a lot of horse folks through here looking for a deal on some really good horses. I’ve never been over there, but Rita has a Mexican friend about your age, who works on a big horse ranch west of here a few miles and across the border in Sonoyta. He is known as one of the best horse trainers in all of Mexico.”
“Would it be safe for us to cross the border and visit a place like that? We’ve heard the Mexican Rurales can be very strict. Do they patrol the border and the border towns around here?” Jeremiah asked.
“Yes they patrol the border regularly, but they do allow gringos to visit. Now and then, we have one or two Rurales stop here for a meal. Most of them are okay hombres, but like us, they have their bad hombres too.”
Kellyanne spoke up, “Mr. Anderson, tell us something good to eat from your kitchen since we’ve never eaten Mexican food.”
“I always recommend a Chile Relléno and a Burro, when someone who has never had Mexican food, asks me that. You may want to order one Burro between you, they are that big.”
“Are they spicy hot?” she asked.
“We make the Chile Relléno hot or mild, using a different pepper. The mild ones are warm, yes, but not hot.”
“Then be sure and make us the mild one. Then we will decide if we want to try the hot one later.”
Since there was nothing to do in Agua Dulce, other than visit Rita’s Cantina and Cafe, they spent most of their time there. They easily became good friends with both Earl Anderson and his daughter, Rita.
The Andersons helped spread the word about the horse breeder and his wife from Nevada staying at the Agua Dulce Hotel – visiting Rita’s Cantina daily. By noon of their third day in Agua Dulce, they were busy looking at horses. Most of the horses brought to them were either older mares or young geldings. None of them were branded. Most were not shod, and many of those had neglected hooves that were past recovery.
Jeremiah had been schooled about horses, just as he was schooled with his fists and his guns.
US Marshal Webb Hickson had joined the cavalry at age eighteen. He was a veteran of the Indian Wars on the northern plains. He knew Indians, and he knew horses. During his time spent with Jeremiah, he tried his best to teach him the skills he would need to stay alive, and the skills he would need and put to use for the rest of his life.
Jeremiah’s time spent with Outlaw has provided him with a hard earned knowledge of a stud’s actions and manners. They’ve been together for almost two years and both of them are still learning. The Sioux had gentled Outlaw to ride while letting the horse retain his spirit, yet teaching him that his owner was the boss. When Jeremiah took ownership of the big black stud, at first, there was a battle of whose will was the strongest. Now, they’ve reached an agreement of sorts, with neither giving up part of who he is, just to please the other.
Outlaw loves attention, and Jeremiah loves his horse. It’s as simple as that. His love for horses goes beyond his love for Outlaw. He hates to see any horse mistreated and he admires a well mannered horse.
The day he and Kellyanne met El Charro – The Cowboy – they met a man whose love for horses matched, or even exceeded Jeremiah’s. His ability to train horses in a way that makes horses want to please him – appealed to Jeremiah. The only problem was, the sheriff had told them the young man has a reputation of being a bandit and possibly a horse thief.
Jeremiah and Kellyanne were standing beside the hitching rail in front of Rita’s. They were checking a young black and white Paint mare over, when they looked up at the sound of another horse approaching.
El Charro rode up the dirt street on a Mouse-Gray Grulla (grew-ya, meaning gray, like a crane) Dun mare and stopped at the hitching rail in front of Rita’s. As they watched him ride in, both Jeremiah and Kellyanne agreed, the mare he rode was a pure-bred beauty.
By the time the young Mexican stepped to the ground, Rita was beside him. With a quick kiss to his cheek, she greeted him then turned to her American friends with her arm linked with his.
“Jeremiah, Kellyanne, I want you to meet a special friend of mine, El Charro...
“Charro, this is Jeremiah Trail and his wife Kellyanne, from Nevada. They are here in search of horses to take back to their ranch in Nevada and breed them. Papa and I have told them that you too, help breed horses and train them.”
Jeremiah extended his hand, telling him, “Charro, we’ve heard a lot about you from Rita and her Papa, Earl. I’m glad we finally get to meet you. This is my wife Kellyanne and we’re here to try and build our herd with more mares and possibly a good stud, if we can be so lucky.”
“It is my pleasure to meet you, Jeremiah...
“And Kellyanne, nice to meet you also.
“We have heard about the tall gringo and his beautiful wife since the day you arrived. The man I work for has sent me here to invite you to his rancho across the border in, Sonoyta. We have some of the finest horses in all of Mexico and they are very well trained, if I may blow my own horn about that.”
Jeremiah told him, “We’d like very much to visit the horse ranch where you work. When would we leave and how long do we plan to stay?”
“We can leave as soon as you pack a bag. Plan to stay at least three days, so we can show you all of our breeding stock.”
Charro turned to Rita and asked, “Rita, do you think Señor Anderson will allow you to travel with Señora Trail, to keep her company?”
“If you’ll let me keep you company too while I’m there, I’ll make sure Papa allows me to travel with you,” she told him and he laughed.
“When all of you are ready, we’ll leave. The trip will take us over one hour but we’ll still arrive a tiempo para la cena, excuse me I meant to say, in time for dinner. Rita has been schooling me in American English and sometimes I slip back to Mexican Spanish.”
“You speak both very well, Charro. I can see, you are a man of many talents,” Jeremiah told him.
“Thank you, Jeremiah. Coming from a rich American rancher such as you, that is a very high compliment to an hombre like me.”
“Kellyanne and I will go pack a bag now, then we’ll saddle up and meet you back here.”
“Yes, I have been wanting to see that big black stallion of yours. I’ve heard about him already.”
“Then we’ll return shortly.”
“Jeremiah, can you believe our luck? Truthfully, I’m excited about going across the border into Mexico and visiting a horse ranch. If we do see some horses we like, could we actually purchase them and take them home with us?”
“I don’t see why not. We have the money you gave me, and we may as well spend it on horses, since we have no other expenses ... Besides, this will help us in our investigation, if we actually buy horses while we’re here.”
“Then ask Charro about the mare he’s riding today. I love that horse already.”
“If they have the sire and dam that mare sprang from, I’d like to have both of them. If we can afford them that is. I have no idea what horses such as that Grulla Dun mare sells for here in Arizona, or in Mexico.”
In the livery behind the hotel, Jeremiah saddled Kellyanne’s horse, then his. He tied their one bag behind his saddle and they were ready. They led their horses around the hotel to see Charro and Rita as they came out of the cantina laughing. She was carrying a travel bag.
Kellyanne told him, “I’m so glad Rita is going. I really like her and I’ll have the company of someone I know while we’re there.”
Will Tacker was riding hard on his way toward Agua Dulce. Rita had sort of halfway promised him she would spend the afternoon with him. He’d been begging her to let him spend some time alone with her. Will had made a lot of money in the past six months and he wanted to take Rita across the border, show her a good time and spend some of his money on her. He knew as well as anyone, that Rita flirts with all the young men who visit her cantina. She made them think they were actually getting somewhere with her, though none of them ever did.
Yet, she seemed to always have time for that Mexican, El Charro. Will had set Charro up once before on a stolen horse he wanted Charro to train for him. Then had him arrested by his fellow deputies. He thought he had the Mexican out of the way for good, then the man’s boss, Amando Valdonado, bailed him out and had Charro released in his custody after the owner of the stolen horse, another Mexican, refused to file charges. Now Charro was free to court Rita again.
Will rode around back to the livery and took the saddle off his Bay gelding. He flipped the boy a half dollar and told him to wipe him down, then make sure he had plenty of water and oats, that he’d be back soon to saddle up and ride again.
He turned to walk out of the livery and noticed that Rita’s horse was gone.
“Where’s Rita’s horse?” he asked the boy.
“She went to Sonoyta with the gringo horse traders this morning.”
“To Sonoyta? ... What gringo horse traders?”
“The rich man and woman from Nevada who came here to buy horses for their ranch.”
“Why would Rita go with them to Sonoyta?” He had a feeling he knew the answer before the boy told him.
“They went with El Charro to spend three days so his bossman could sell the rich horse traders some of his horses.”
“Put that saddle back on my horse and give me that half dollar back!”
Will was furious. He spurred his horse repeatedly, making him run hard back toward Tucson.
Five miles east of Agua Dulce, he rode over a hill and met Pima County Sheriff, William Oury in the middle of the trail.
The sheriff was riding slowly toward Agua Dulce when he looked up to see one of his deputies. He stopped his horse and flagged him down.
“Deputy, what are you doing over here? Your orders were to patrol the border south of Tucson near the Cochise County Line.”
“Sheriff, I had something important to take care of real fast and I asked Charlie to take my place on the border this morning.”
“This is the third time in two months I’ve caught you at this. You’re on notice as of right now – leave your assigned patrol one more time and you can just keep going!”
Horses bred and trained at The Rancho Valdonado Stables have a reputation of being the finest bred, best groomed, most well-trained trained in all of Mexico. None of them were shod and Charro kept their hooves trimmed and shaped perfectly. They never left the rancho unless they were sold, and Amando Valdonado wanted them unshod to keep their hooves shaped and strong.
Amando Cortez Valdonado has built The Rancho Valdonado into a beautiful showplace for horses. Today he welcomed the visiting Americans to his rancho with hopes of selling at least a dozen of his most prized mares. He has over forty horses he needs to sell. Business is slow in Mexico and even slower across the border. He has many debts, plus too many horses to feed and care for.
He was standing in front of his stables when Charro rode in with the visitors. His attention was quickly centered on the tall, blaze-faced black stallion the American horse breeder was riding. Amando Valdonado wanted this horse at any cost.
Charro hurried over to introduce the Trails to his boss, after catching Rita when she leaned from her saddle into his arms.
“Señor Valdonado, I would like to introduce to you, Señor Jeremiah Trail and his beautiful wife, Señora Kellyanne. They have graciously accepted your invitation to stay three days in hopes of purchasing some of our Rancho Valdonado mares and maybe even a stud.”
“Señor Trail, I am honored to have you and your beautiful wife come to our rancho and stay with us.
“Señora Trail, please accept the humble comforts of my hacienda and make this your home during your stay with us.”
“Thank you, Señor. We are already impressed with your horse ranch,” Kellyanne replied as the Mexican shook her hand.
“Please, while you are here, call me Amando. My friends call me by my name and I hope we can all become friends during your stay.”
“Then you call us by our names also. We’re not used being addressed otherwise,” Jeremiah told him as they shook hands.
“Very well, I can see that we will become friends and hopefully conduct a few horse trades while you’re here. First of all, I want to see this magnificent stallion you ride. I have never seen such a well conformed horse for his size. Did you breed him yourself?”
“No, I bought him from the Lakota Sioux nearly two years ago. They had him broken to ride and trained as one of their own. He is every bit the horse you see standing here.”
“He has to be over eighteen hands.”
“He measures exactly eighteen and one half hands, Amando.”
“Since you ride him daily, I’m sure you’d never consider selling or even trading him?”
“No, and I’m sure if he was your horse, you’d tell me the same thing.”
“You are so right. I cannot blame you. He is one of a kind in the horse world. Tell me, have you bred him?”
“No, but I’d be interested in talking to you about breeding him, that is if you have mares you’d like to see carrying his colt. If so, I’m sure there’s a way we can work out his stud fee so that both of us would come out winners.”
As Jeremiah and Amando Valdonado talked breeding and trading, Kellyanne and Rita were led to the guest quarters by a Mexican woman. As they followed the woman, the young boy who carried their bags, walked behind them.
Rita and Kellyanne had their own conversation about horses as they made their way to their guest rooms.
“Kellyanne, on your Nevada horse ranch, do you have a man who takes care of the breeding and training of your horses?”
Kellyanne was caught unprepared for her question, but she quickly answered, showing she had knowledge of horses, “No, actually we are just starting our herd and we’re traveling now to find the best horses we can, to start a breeding program.”
“Would you ever consider a young Mexican for the job?”
“Rita, are you suggesting, Charro? We thought he was in a really good position here at Rancho Valdonado Stables.”
“If I tell you the truth about him, will you at least consider him?”
“I would have to talk to Jeremiah before I told you yes, but I’m sure that if Charro wasn’t a criminal and was willing to go, he would be the first man we’d talk to.”
“Well ... Charro was arrested for stealing a horse – which he did not steal! There is a Pima County Deputy who has begged me to spend time with him. I keep putting him off because all he wants is to go to bed with me and brag about it later. He has a bad reputation with all the Mexican girls for doing that. I made the mistake of telling him that I was Charro’s girl just to make him stop bothering me. He got really mad and said some bad things about Charro that I knew were lies. Charro and I believe he was the one who had him arrested.”
“Are you Charro’s girl, Rita?”
“Kellyanne, I would kill to be his only girl, but I want him to marry me, not just be his woman in bed.”
“Then why doesn’t he want you?”
“He told me that he does want to marry me, but he cannot leave this job and Señor Amando has refused to let him have a wife here. He said a family would take too much of his time away from the horses.”
“Why can’t he leave?”
“Señor Amando paid his bail when he was arrested and had him released to his custody on one condition, and that was, if he would work here three years for no wages.”
“How long ago has it been since that happened?”
“One year and four months.”
“Would you go with him if he went to Nevada?”
“I would beg him to take me. I would also beg you to let me go with him. But Kellyanne, I love him so much, that I would not stand in his way, if he told me I could not go.”
“What about your Papa and the cantina?”
“He wants me to sell the cantina and move away from the border. He told me that I was going to get hurt if I keep flirting and teasing the men so they would come back.”
“I don’t know that we can help you, but if we can, are you sure you would you be happy living in a place where the nearest store is thirty miles and the nearest town is over sixty miles?”
“I would live in the middle of nowhere, if Charro was with me.”
“Then you would love where our new home in Nevada is being built.”
They were in their room, getting ready for dinner as Kellyanne began telling Jeremiah what she had learned from Rita.
Jeremiah told her, “The more I’m around Charro, the more I knew there was something wrong with the claims we heard made about him. I can’t blame Amando for wanting to keep Charro here to train his horses, the man has a great natural ability to control even the most unruly horses on this ranch. We’ll think of a way to get Charro out of his bondage agreement – one way or another.”
Kellyanne asked, “Have you been able to learn the prices of the horses? There are so many of them here that I would love to have back at Silver Moon Canyon. I’m excited about us getting into the horse breeding and training business.”
“From what I’ve been able to learn so far – without letting him know we’re willing to buy as many as we can – his prices are way lower than I first expected. Even Charro whispered to me that Amando would give us a much lower price than he has given any of the other buyers before. He told me that his boss was in debt and needs American dollars right away.”
“Truthfully Jeremiah, I have no pity for him. Whatever his reason was, he has no right to keep Charro here as an indentured laborer. He should pay him what he’s worth and make him want to stay, while he pays off the debt to his boss for bailing him out of jail.”
“We think alike, Kellyanne, even if we do come from different backgrounds. I don’t like people who take advantage of poor laborers and make them work off debts, setting the terms for as long as they wish, just to keep a person or even a family from leaving.”