Mary Peace Finley
Award-winning author of books for young people
The redheaded man set the pipes down. "I’ll see what he wants. Come on in," he
called to Julio.
Julio stepped from the passageway into a large courtyard. Sunshine beat down
and reflected from the light colored dirt. Squinting as his eyes adjusted to the
brightness, Julio focused on rows of doors. So many doors! Doors all around the ground
floor, doors off the second floor catwalk, and wide passageways that led farther back off the
courtyard. Bent’s Fort was as big as all of Taos! From the wonderful aroma of roasting meat
and boiling coffee, Julio knew someone was cooking behind one door back there, and his stomach
rumbled. Through another doorway, he saw the glow of coals and heard the hiss of bellows and the
clanging of a hammer against metal and, from another, the sound of a saw cutting wood.
The man with bright red hair and a nose covered with rusty red freckles and flaking white skin
stepped from inside the trade room.
"Hello," Julio said.
The redhead frowned, looking him over from the tips of his moccasins to the top of
his head. "Well, where did you come from?"
"From Taos. I need to talk with Mr. Bent."
Red chuckled lightly and shook his head. "Mr. Bent is a busy man. A very busy
man, especially today."
© Mary Peace Finley 2012