Chapter 8.

Maria, Jorge and Luis.

Maria Hernandez was in hurry as Jake Pierce was to arrive in less than a week and she had not yet started buying the supplies necessary for the expedition. Immediately she went to the general stores to begin buying goods. In doing that task she was not alone as she had hired two porters, Jorge Vasquez and Luis Soro.

Jorge Vasquez was a man known in the region for being fearless. He was now in his late 40’s, but did not look a day over 30. He was a short barrel man, very muscular but with little or no education. Being poor, he had to work very young and his education was sadly lacking. He did have something that many people have in short supply; common sense. A conservative fellow, he strongly believed in loyalty to his employer and to doing his duty.

Luis Soro was a different kind of man. In his late 20’s, he was rather tall, over 5’10”, and looked athletic. He had a good education and was versed in the martial arts. A positive fellow, his main flaw was his inordinate pride in his intelligence and rather good looks. He was also very much in love with Maria but he tried to conceal it. When he heard that Maria was hiring for an expedition he seized the opportunity to join her. He was happy that Maria had hired him and waited to make his move on her. It was unfortunate for Maria to have picked these two men for it was like putting oil on a fire. There was animosity between them from day one simmering below the surface, but outward nothing could be seen. Maria had no inkling of the storm that brew below. She was walking towards the general stores along with her two helpers and in a hurry to buy all she had needed.

“Senora, we should start with the tents, as a good dwelling is important to be happy and to rest,” said Jorge.

“I would suggest that we start with the food supplies, and choose good ones at that. Maybe those that require only water, like dehydrated foods.” Luis said to Maria.

“We will, we will, but first I want to make sure I have all the money I need. Alright, let’s buy those tents first.”

At the first store, they bought tents of sturdy build along with sleeping bags as they might have to endure cold temperatures higher up in the mountains if they had to go there. Food was next on the list. A mix of dehydrated food and some cans were quickly scooped up They decided to buy the shovels and picks only when they would be closer to the main site. Compasses and hats rounded out the goods bought. But they also needed transportation and in these areas, mules were the preferred choice of locomotion. Maria sent back Jorge and Luis with the goods at her house while she went on trying to find old Pedro Coronado. She had used his mules in the past and knew what she would get for her money.

“Hello Pedro, how are you,” said Maria.

“Very well, Senora Maria, and what can I do for you,” he asked. At his ranch, he had mules and horses and he knew that Maria was coming; the news of her arrival was not a secret in the area. He knew that she was mounting an expedition and he intended to be part of it as he was the eyes and ears of Eliza Perez. He was her husband.

“I need mules, two good ones for a long voyage. They must be young and tough.”

“Of course, you know that they will cost you?”

Maria smiled, trying to put on the charm. She knew that Pedro was not insensible to her and she played that to the hilt. “Now Pedro, we are old friends after all, aren’t we?” she cooed. “I do deserve a better price than the one that most people pay you, don’t you agree?” She was heavily betting the farm that he would cave in to her beautiful smile, her lovely twins, and her firm behind.

Pedro smiled at her. Yes, he thought, she was something else. She was a potential enemy as well as a customer, and a good customer at that. After all, he had furnished her with mules and horses for years and years. “Why Senora Maria, you don’t even know the price that I want? How can you say that it will be too high?” exclaimed Pedro. “I tell you what, it will be a fair price, 500 dollars per mule, and so it comes out to 1000 dollars.”

“What!” shrieked Maria. “That is way more than you charged me for the last expedition just 6 months ago. How can you justify this?” Maria was fuming. She had to bring the price down or Pierce would not want to continue bankrolling the expedition.

“Yes, I know, I know. But inflation is eating away at my profits. The price of grains for the mules had gone way up and the ones that you want are young, they have to cost you more. It is only normal.” said Pedro, in a matter-of-fact way. He knew that he was pushing it but he also knew that she had to do business with him as he was the only one that could furnish her what she wanted close to the city. Other sellers were further away and all her experience as a buyer was with him.

“Look, bring the price down 20% and we have a deal.”

“I will bring it down only by 10%, how is that?” said Pedro.

Maria was not happy, but she also knew that she had to agree and move on. She was being gouged and she knew it. She simply hoped to recoup this extra cost to her by finding the gold. “Fine, we have a deal.” said Maria, shaking hands with Pedro. He smiles and exhibited his front teeth covered in gold.


For those who want to read the book without waiting every week, copy and paste.

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