"The United States has elected a new president, a man named Polk. Señor William thinks this President Polk will take Texas into their union. Then Mexico's problems with Texas would become problems with the whole United States." Papá drew a sharp breath, and Teresita realized she hadn't been listening. "The Independent Republic of Texas! Independent Republic of thieves!" he muttered. "There are rumors of war between Mexico and the United States." Papá shook his head and looked toward the house. "The Bents are worried.""I know, Papá," Teresita rushed into the conversation. "I've heard Señor Charles and María Ignacia talk about it. The Bents know that many people don't like the Americanos here." Her words tumbled over one another. "They say los Americanos marry the women of Taos only to own land and get trade privileges. Did you know that two weeks after Kit Carson and Josefa's wedding, a mob went after Señor Charles? If he hadn't escaped to Bent's Fort, they would have killed him."Papá was staring at Teresita with a look of disbelief. "You have grown up, haven't you?" He nodded. "I talked with Señor Charles when he was at Bent's Fort. Bad times are coming, es cierto. That's for sure."Papá threw the last of his scattered gear into his saddlebag, then stood with the load draped across his shoulder, looking at Teresita, the longing in his deep brown eyes intense. "Take care of yourself, Meadow Lark, until I return," Papá said, lifting her chin with the tips of his fingers. "Never stop singing your song." Slowly he turned and walked from the silent yard, his shoulders stooped like a man defeated.