By Bonnie J




The first day of school was a beautiful day. Billy Blue Cannon did not like to go to school. He wanted to say home and help out his pa. His ma, Annalee, wanted him to go to learn how to read and write properly.  He wanted to stay home.  To please Annalee, Billy Blue’s pa, John decided to send his son to school.


When he came up to his friend’s house, Jason Adams, he stopped to wait for him.  Jason came out of the house when he saw Billy Blue.  Both of them had a great summer.  They fished together almost every day and were best friends.  Their parents were friends too.


When they got near to the school, the bell rang.  The two boys started running for the schoolhouse.  They made it just in time before the teacher closed the doors.


The teacher went up to the front of the room.  “My name is Mr. Butler,” he said, “from now on I expect everyone sitting in their seats before I ring the bell.”


Mr. Butler was a dark haired man.  He was about 30 years old and had never been married.  He really did not like teaching, but it was the only place he could get a job in the town.  This job was different.  He had a reason why he wanted to teach here.  At this time, Billy Blue did now why, but he would soon find out.


“You two,” he pointed to Billy Blue and Jason, “next time you are late, you will get 20 swats on your behind.  Do you understand?”


Billy Blue and Jason both shook their heads yes.


“Good, now let’s get started,” he said.  He read his roster that the school board had given him to see who was absent that day.  Before the kids knew, it was time for the noon meal.  All the kids went outside to eat, while Mr. Butler went over to the diner to eat.


Joe Simms, who was bigger than the rest of them, walked over to Billy Blue and Jason.  Joe Simms father owned the store in town, Joe used that to get what he wanted from the other kids because most of their fathers owed money at the store.  Today he was going after Jason because his father owed the most money at the store.  Joe’s father did not mind that he bullied the other kids because he did the same to their fathers.


“Jason, I am still hungry,” he said, “I want your lunch.”


“Forget it, Joe,” Jason replied.


“Jason, I am going tell my father to close your father’s account if you don’t,” he threatened.


When Jason still did not give him his food, Joe grabbed it from Jason’s hands.  Jason got mad and started throwing punches at Joe.


Jason was on top of Joe when Mr. Butler came back from lunch.


“What are you two boys doing!” he shouted, “get off of him.”


The two boys quit fighting when they heard Mr. Butler.


“Both of you get inside,” Mr. Butler demanded.


“Mr. Butler, Jason was just defending himself,” Billy Blue explained.


“I want to see you inside, too,” Mr. Butler replied.


The three boys followed Mr. Butler into the schoolhouse.  Jason and Joe knew what they did was against the rules, but they could not figure why Mr. Butler wanted to pick on Billy Blue.  Later they would get their answer.


“Which of you would like to be first?” Mr. Butler asked.


“Mr. Butler, Billy Blue did not do anything,” Jason said.


“You will be first,” he pointed to Billy Blue.


Billy Blue could not understand why Mr. Butler was going to spank him.  He did not do anything wrong.


“Come here,” Mr. Butler shouted.


Billy Blue walked over to Mr. Butler who was sitting in the front of the room holding a paddle.


“Bend over the desk,” he said when Billy Blue got up to the front of the room.


He bent over the desk and Mr. Butler whacked him 15 times.  Billy Blue did not move or cry.  He did nothing, but he did decide to tell his father what happened at school that day.  When it was all over, Jason and Joe received the same punishment that he had received.


On the way home from school that day, Billy Blue told Jason that he was going tell his father what happened to him at school.


“Billy Blue, I don’t think I am,” Jason replied.


“Why not?” Billy asked


“Because my pa thinks that I should not be in any fights, especially with Joe Simms.  You know we owe his pa a lot of money from the drought we had couple of years ago,” he explained.


When they reached Jason’s farm, they said good-bye.  Billy Blue headed down the road.  He was almost to the farm when he saw his Uncle Buck, who lived with them to help out around the farm when his pa had to be the sheriff of the town.  As the sheriff, many times he would not be at home.


“Billy Blue, how was your first day of school?” Uncle Buck said.


“Awful,” he replied.


“What happened?”  Uncle Buck asked.


“Where is Pa?” Billy Blue asked, “I need to tell him something.”


“Your pa will be back tomorrow,” Uncle Buck replied.  He did not want to alarm the boy by telling him that his pa was going after some outlaws that robbed the bank in a neighboring town.  He believed they were headed in this direction.


“Uncle Buck, I guess I could tell you,” Billy Blue replied.  Billy Blue told his uncle what happened that day at school.


“Don’t worry about it, Billy Blue,” he said, “I will go with you tomorrow to straighten this out and there’s no need to tell your ma.  We don’t want to worry her.”


Billy Blue shook his head.


“Let’s go in and get something to eat now,” Uncle Buck said.  “You can do your chores after supper.”


Billy Blue and Uncle Buck went into the house for supper.  The next morning Uncle Buck went to school with Billy Blue to talk to Mr. Butler.  When they got there, Uncle Buck told Billy Blue to stay outside so he could talk to Mr. Butler alone.  He went into the schoolhouse.


“I am Buck Cannon,” he said, “I am Billy Blue’s uncle.”


“I am glad to meet you, Mr. Cannon,” Mr. Butler said. “Why are you here?”


“I’m here to discuss why you punished my nephew yesterday,” replied Uncle Buck.


“He was caught fighting,” said Mr. Butler.


“He told me that he was trying to break up the fight,” replied Uncle Buck.


“That may be what he told you, but I know what I saw, and your nephew was fighting,” Mr. Butler yelled, “if it makes any difference, the other two were punished, too.”


My nephew doesn’t lie,” Uncle Buck said.


“Are you calling me a liar, Mr. Cannon!” yelled Mr. Butler.


“I did not say that,” replied Uncle Buck, “but I will be watching you.”


“Do not threaten me,” replied Mr. Butler, “now, if you’ll please leave I have some work to finish.”


Uncle Buck left and went outside where Billy Blue was waiting.


“Uncle Buck did you talk to him?” asked Billy Blue.


“Yeah, Billy Blue, do not worry about it,” he said, then he left.


The rest of that day was uneventful.  Mr. Butler did not say anything to Billy Blue until the end of the day.  When the rest of the class was getting ready to leave, Mr. Butler said, “Billy Blue, I want to see you.”


Billy Blue was wondering what Mr. Butler wanted.


“Boy, you tell your Uncle to stay out of my way, because if he doesn’t then there will be trouble for you,” Mr. Butler threatened.


Billy Blue left the schoolhouse thinking what he should do.


“Billy Blue, what did he want?” Jason Adams asked.


“Jason, if I tell you something, would you promise to keep it a secret and not tell anybody?” Billy Blue asked.


“I promise,” Jason replied.


“Mr. Butler told me to tell Uncle Buck to stay out of his way or else he’ll make trouble for me,” Billy Blue answered.


“Billy Blue, are you going to tell your uncle?” Jason asked.


“No,” Billy Blue replied.


“Why not?” Jason asked.


“Because I’m afraid that if I tell him it might mean more trouble for me,” Billy Blue replied.


“But, Billy Blue,” Jason said.


“My mind is made up,” Billy Blue interrupted.


“O.K, I hope you know what you are doing,” Jason said.


They walked the rest of the way without saying one word to each other.  When they got to Jason’s place they said good-bye and parted.


When Billy Blue got to the top of the hill, he saw a buggy outside of his house.  He noticed his pa’s horse in the pasture.  He then knew his pa was home.  He went into the house and found Mr. Butler talking to his pa.


“Billy Blue, Mr. Butler told me that you were in a fight yesterday,” his pa said, “is this true?”


“No sir,” Billy Blue answered, “I was trying to break up the fight between Joe and Jason.”


“Mr. Butler here,” John Cannon said, “says he saw you punching Joe Simms.”


“PA, HE IS LYING!” Billy Blue shouted.


“Boy, you better apologize to Mr. Butler, NOW!” John shouted, “You do not talk to elders that way.”


“Pa, he is lying,” Billy Blue shouted, “I was not fighting.”


“Go to your room,” John Cannon said, “I will deal with you later.”


Billy Blue went to his room.  He could not figure why his father would not believe him.  His father had listened to what he had to say, but this was the first time in his life his father would not believe him.  He was lying on his bed in his room that he shared with his Uncle Buck, when his father came into his room.


“Boy, I want you to know why I am going to give you a spanking,” John said, “I do not like how you were speaking to Mr. Butler.”


“But Pa,” Billy Blue said.


John took off his belt and sat down on the bed.  He told Billy Blue to bend over his knees.  When it was all over he said, “Boy, you can stay in your room for the rest of night,” then he left.


Billy Blue lay on his bed wondering why his pa didn’t believe him.  This was the first time his pa wouldn’t listen to him.  He wanted to get back at Mr. Butler.  He thought for a while and decided that he was not going back to school until Mr. Butler left.


The next morning Billy Blue got up for school.  He went downstairs for breakfast.  He acted like he was going to school.  “Boy, I want you home right after school,” John said, “You have a lot of work to do.”


“Yes sir,” Billy Blue answered.


Billy Blue was on his way out the door when he heard John shout, “I do not want you to get into any more fights!”


Billy Blue left the house.  He followed the same path that he always took when he went to school, but before he got to Jason Adam’s house he turned and followed another path toward the lake.  He stayed at the lake all day wondering what he should do.  He never did anything like this before.  He decided that he would come here every day instead of school as long as it took to get Mr. Butler out of the school.  He did not like lying to ma and pa but he figured that if Mr. Butler could lie so could he.


In the late afternoon, before it was time for him to go, he fell asleep.  When he woke up he realized that it was past school time and that he would be late.  It was starting to get dark outside and he knew that he was in trouble with his pa.  He ran as fast as he could toward the farm until he got to top of the hill.  He proceeded toward the house when someone grabbed him from the back.  He turned around and saw a tall dark-haired man.


“Kid, are you the marshal’s kid?” the man asked.


Billy Blue nodded.  The man looked mean and acted it.  Billy Blue was scared of him.


“I have to go,” Billy Blue cried as he tried to get away.


“You’re not going anywhere,” the man said, “I bet you would like to go and see your pa?”


Billy Blue looked at the man in puzzlement.  He did not know why this person did not want him to go home.  The man carried Billy Blue off and away from the farm.  They came upon some horses and other men.


“I see you got the kid, Joe,” said the one of the men.


“That’s right Pedro,” said Joe, “Kid, you are going ride with me. Now climb up on that horse.” 


Billy Blue did what Joe wanted him to do.  He began to get very scared.  He was wondering why they were taking him away from his family and where they were going.


“Where are you taking me?” Billy Blue asked.


“I’ll tell you this, kid,” Joe said, “We are taking you with us so that your pa won’t follow us.”


“Why?” Billy Blue asked.


“Do you always ask a lot of questions, kid?” Joe asked.


Billy Blue did not say another word that night.



It was getting late and Billy Blue’s ma, Annalee, was getting worried about him.  He had never stayed out this late before.  John told her that he thought he might be upset about what happened the night before.   


Buck came in the door.


“John, I looked down at the lake,” Buck said, “you won’t like this, but I found Billy Blue’s books there.  I decided to go over to Adam’s place to see if Jason knew where he was. Jason told me that Billy Blue did not show up for school today.”


“John, I am getting awful worried.  I just know something bad has happened to Billy Blue,” Annalee said.


“Annalee, don’t worry.  The boy probably just lost track of time,” John said.  He did not want to show that he also felt that something might have happened to his son.


Suddenly there was a knock at the door.  John went over to the door and opened it.  There was nobody there except a note nailed on the door.


John took the note and read it.  “If you want to see your son alive again, bring $5,000 to Tucson by the end of the month.”


John looked at the note and went to get Buck. “What is it, John?” Annalee asked.


“Annalee, I don’t want you to worry, but Billy Blue is in some trouble,” John said, “it seems that someone is holding the boy for $5,000 ransom.”


“5,000, John, where are we going to get that kind of money?” Annalee asked.


“I don’t know,” John replied.


“What else is going on, John?” Annalee demanded.


“It seems that whoever is holding the boy is headed for Tucson,” John added.


Tucson!” Buck said, “That is a long way from here.”


“John, I’m scared,” Annalee said.


“Don’t worry, we will get the boy back,” John said, “Annalee, I want you to go into town and stay there until Buck and I come back with the boy.”


Annalee packed some food for John and Buck to last them a couple of weeks.  She packed a bag of clothes herself and went into town to stay with the Simms.  The Simms were good friends despite the fact that the boys were always fighting with each other.


John and Buck headed down the trail that night.  They would have been better off if they had waited until morning, but they both wanted to get started as soon as possible. They stopped on the other side of the lake for the night and made a fire.  Buck did not say a word.  Billy Blue was like a little bother or even a son that he never had.  They were very close.  He was Billy Blue’s Godfather.


“John, why do you think Billy Blue didn’t go to school?” Buck asked.


“Buck, I don’t know,” John replied.  He did not want to tell Buck what happened the night before.  He felt bad enough.


All night John was wondering where his son was.   He did not let himself think of the possibility that Billy Blue might be dead.


That night the kidnappers camped a few miles away from Buck and John’s camp.  Billy Blue was tied to a tree all night.  He was wondering about his pa and ma.  Wondering if he would ever see them again.  It was about midnight when a rider rode into camp.  Billy Blue was shocked to see Mr. Butler.


“Kid, you fell right into our trap,” he said, “you see, we were planning this for a long time.  Your pa took five years of my life and I am going to pay him back.”


Billy Blue just looked at him with his big blue eyes.  He could not believe that this was happening to him.


“Where are you taking me,” Billy Blue asked, “and why?”


“Kid, you are going on a little trip to the west,” he replied, “you see your pa doesn’t remember that he was the one to put me in the prison camp during the war.  When I lost my fingertip and almost died.  I told myself that when I got out I would make your pa pay and he is going to pay.  I guess $5,000 for a finger tip is justice.”


Billy Blue just looked at him.  He was thinking that Mr. Butler was crazy.  “What about if my pa doesn’t have $5,000?” he asked.



“Then he won’t see you alive again,” Mr. Butler replied.  “Let me tell you this, boy, if you cause any trouble for us, I will make you pay,” Mr. Butler said, “do you understand me?”


Billy Blue nodded his head and then Mr. Butler left him tied up to the tree. Billy Blue had a hard time sleeping, but he did.


The next day they were on the trail before the sun came up.  Billy Blue rode behind Joe.  The men did not know it, but Billy Blue took off his belt and left it behind the bushes when they untied him so he could go.  He was hoping that his pa and/or Uncle Buck would find it.


John and Buck also rose very early, hoping to find anything that would give them a clue to where the gang was heading.


They came across where they camped the night before.  The fire was still going a bit from the morning coffee.  Buck walked around the camp to see if there were any clues. He went behind some bushes and found Billy Blue’s belt on the ground.


“John, come here.  I found something,” Buck said.


“What did you find?” John asked


Buck showed him Billy Blue’s belt and where he had found it.


“We now know that he is still alive,” Buck said with relief.


“Buck, I found some tracks over there,” John said.


He and Buck climbed back on their horses and followed the tracks.  They figured that the gang was only about two hours ahead and thought that they could make up the ground quickly.


“John, what are you going to do if they won’t give up Billy Blue?” Buck asked.


“I don’t know, Buck,” John replied, “right now I am more concerned about the boy’s safety.”


“John, you might have to give them some money,” Buck said.


“I know that, Buck, but I will think about it when the times come,” he said.

John Cannon always had been a strong willed man.  When Buck and he were boys, he was the one that was the boss because he was older and stronger.  Buck at times resented that.  He and John had their arguments but mostly they were just shouting matches.  When the war started, Buck decided to fight for the South and John fought for the North.  Buck mostly fought for the South because he wanted to do the opposite of John.



The outlaws took Billy Blue through country that he had never seen before.  He realized that he was a long way from home.


He tried to slow the men down any chance he got, but it didn’t stop them.  Every time he slowed down, Mr. Butler would tell him to “hurry it up or else.”


John and Buck, meantime, had fallen further behind than they expected to be.  The outlaws knowing that they were following would split up to try to lose them.  By the end of the week John and Buck were not two hours back, but instead three days.


“John, if we keep traveling like this we will be further behind,” Buck said, “I think it could be better idea to just go ahead to Tucson and meet them there.”


“Buck, I know you are right but I…” John stopped what he was saying because he saw Billy Blue’s hat in the bushes where they had stopped.  He went over to pick it up.  “Buck, Billy’s hat,” he said.


Even though they were happy to have a sign that they were headed in the right direction, they could not help wondering if Billy Blue was still alive.


Billy Blue woke up one morning and realized that he was alone.  The outlaws had left during the night in fear that the Apaches were going to be attacking.  They felt Billy Blue would slow them down.  At this time, Billy Blue had eaten very little for the past week and his stomach felt very bad.


Billy Blue looked around and found that he was alone without a horse, food, gun, knife or most importantly, water.  He knew very little about surviving out in the wilderness.  His pa taught him the basics, but that was all.  He did not know what direction he was headed, but he knew that he should start walking and keep moving if possible.  Worse yet, the fluids he did have in this body were disappearing as he threw up.


Just than a young man came upon him.


“Kid, what are you doing out here?” he asked.


Billy Blue did not know if he should tell him or what he should do.


The young man was well dressed.  To Billy Blue he looked like someone who had money.  Billy Blue also noticed that the young man was different.  Billy Blue never met a Mexican before and this young man, who Billy Blue figured was just few years older than he, was a Mexican.


“My name is Manolito Montoya,” he said, “My father owns this land that you are on.”


Billy Blue did not answer.  He was still not sure if this person was a friend or someone that he would have to watch out for.


“Do you want some water?” he asked.  Billy Blue took the water and had a sip.


“Thanks,” Billy Blue said.


“So you do talk,” Manolito said.  “Why are out here by yourself?”


“I am out here because…” Billy Blue stopped when Manolito looked in the back of him.


“We have to go now,” Manolito said in a whisper.


“Why?” Billy Blue asked.


“Apaches,” Manolito replied, “get on my horse.  You can come home with me until we figure out how to get you back to your home.”


Manolito did not want to alarm Billy Blue because he realized that the kid must be around 12 or 13 and he probably did not know about the Apaches.


“Where do you live?” Billy Blue asked.


“In Sonora, Mexico,” replied Manolito.


Billy Blue and Manolito headed towards Mexico.  They took the long way so they could circle around the Apaches.


That night when they made camp, Billy Blue became very cold.  He was not used to being hot during the day and cold at night.  He did not have any warm clothes.  Just the clothes he wore to school a couple weeks ago.  Worse yet his stomach still felt sick.  Manolito did not have another blanket, but he did let Billy Blue have the one he had.  It helped a little bit, but the blanket was very thin and worn.


Buck and John came upon where Billy Blue had camped and where the outlaws left him.  They camped there for the night while scouting around to see if they could find any sign of Billy Blue.


“John, I have a funny feeling about this,” Buck said.


“Buck, I know what you mean.  I have the same feeling,” John replied.


They both realized that there were signs of Indians around.  They knew about the Indians, especially about the Apaches.


John was getting some wood when he came upon another sign that Billy Blue had been there.  He noticed that there were some footprints of a boy and a young man.


“Buck!” he shouted.


Buck came running toward him.


“What is it, John?” he asked.


“Look here,” he said. “Look at these footprints.  One of them is Billy’s and the other one is of a young person,” John said.


“Billy Blue was here.  Looks like he was here early this morning,” Buck replied.


“Buck, this is strange that it looks like the outlaws left him here.  And this young person, whoever he is, decided to pick him up,” John indicated.


John and Buck both knew now, that Billy Blue was headed for another place than Tucson.  They both were relieved that their decision to follow the outlaws instead of going to Tucson was right.


The next day when Billy Blue got up he fell back down.  He realized then, that he had a high fever from being hot during the day and cold at night.


“Are you all right?” Manolito asked.


“Yeah, I just lost my balance,” Billy Blue replied.  He did not want Manolito to know that he was sick.


“We should be at my papa’s ranch this afternoon,” Manolito said.


Billy Blue rode behind Manolito on his horse all day long.  Late in the afternoon, they came upon statutes of lions.  Billy Blue just looked at them.


“This is the gate to the ranch house,” Manolito said.  “My papa is known as the old lion of Sonora.  That is why he had the two statues of the lions made up.”


When they got up to the house, Billy Blue could not believe his eyes.  The house was big and beautiful.  Billy Blue had never been in such a big house before.


“This is your home?” Billy Blue asked.


“Yes,” Manolito replied, “you do not need to be afraid.”


Billy Blue walked in.


“Manolo, I see you brought a little friend home with you,” said a beautiful, dark haired woman.  “What is your name?”


“Billy Blue Cannon, I want you to meet my sister, Victoria,” Manolito said.


Billy Blue felt very tired and sick, and just then he collapsed from being exhausted by the long journey they had made.


“Manolito, put him to bed,” said Victoria.


Manolito carried Billy Blue to one of the guest-rooms.


Victoria followed Manolito to the guest-room.  When they got there Manolito laid Billy Blue on the bed.  Victoria felt his forehead and noticed that he had a very high fever.


“Manolito, I think we need a doctor,” she said.  “He is a very sick boy.”


“I know, my sister,” Manolito replied, “I will go and get the doctor right now.”


After Manolito had left to get the doctor, a man came in the house.  He was dressed elegantly.  The man’s name was Don Sebastian Montoya.  He was Victoria and Manolito’s father.  As soon as he heard that there was a boy that Manolito brought in from his hunting trip, he went up to see whom it was.  He knocked on the door and Victoria answered.  He went inside the room where he found Billy Blue Cannon laying unconscious on the bed.


Victoria was trying to get his temperature down with a wet cloth.


Victoria, how is the boy?” he asked.


“Papa, I do not know,” she replied, “Mano went for the doctor.”


“Do you know his name?” he asked.


“Mano said his name was Billy Blue Cannon,” she replied.


“He is long away from home for a boy that age,” Don Sebastian said.


Just then Mano came back with the doctor.  The doctor examined Billy Blue and found out that he had a very high fever.  He felt that this was from the hot sun and it was only heat exhaustion.


“He will be all right in a few days if he gets plenty of rest, and make him drink lots of water,” the doctor said.  “Do you know where his father is?  He looks like he has parents somewhere.”


“Doctor, no, I found him out in the desert walking,” Manolito said.  “Where he was going, I do not know and I do not think he knows either.”


“He should sleep though the night anyway,” The doctor continued, “If you have any problems, I will be back in a couple of days.”


The doctor left.


John and Buck followed the tracks of the two horses.  At this time, they both knew that whoever got Billy Blue it was not Apaches.  Both of them were relieved about that at least.  The other thing they knew now was that Billy Blue was not heading for Tucson anymore, but towards Mexico.  They both were wondering who had the boy and if the boy was all right.


Buck and John camped at the spot where Billy Blue and Manolito had camped the night before.  Both of them sat in silence with their thoughts.  Buck was still mad at John for not believing Billy Blue and John was mad at himself for not protecting him from whoever took him.


John knew Buck was still mad about what had happened at home.  He was madder at himself.  He knew Billy Blue would always tell him the truth, so why hadn’t he believed him?  He was scared that maybe he wasn’t alive and they were just following a false lead.  He could not think of that.  He did not know what he would do if Billy Blue were gone.  He was his only son, his only child, and he loved him very much.  John wished that the last time he saw Billy Blue he had not been mad at him.  He wished that he never gave Billy Blue a spanking that night.  He could not help thinking that could be the last memory he had of Billy Blue.


“John,” Buck said, “I know we went though this once before, but…”


“But what Buck?” John interrupted.


“Why did you spank Billy Blue?” Buck asked.  “Didn’t you believe him?”


“Buck, it wasn’t so much I didn’t believe him,” John continued.  He was thinking the same thing; why did he spank him.  “It was the fact that Billy Blue, at that time, I felt he wasn’t being respectful to his teacher,” John answered. “Now, I wish I hadn’t done it.  Buck, I hate myself thinking that is the last memory of him I have.”


“John, don’t think like that.  We will find him,” Buck said.  With that both of them went to sleep.


The next morning John and Buck were packing up to move on when Buck decided to go behind the bushes one last time.  When he went behind the bushes he almost stepped into the vomit that Billy Blue left there the day before.


“John, come here!” he shouted.


“What is it, did you step on a snake again?” John asked.


“No, but this is something that you might be interested in,” Buck replied.


John stepped behind the bushes where Buck was.  Buck pointed down by his feet.  When John looked down he saw the vomit.


“It is about a day old, John,” Buck said.


“We do not know if that came from Billy Blue,” John replied.  Deep down he knew that it was.  “Let’s get moving, time is wasting.”


The next day Billy Blue woke up and sat up in bed.  He did not know where he was.  He tried thinking where he was and how he got there.  He always came up with a blank.  Just then there was knock at the bedroom door and a beautiful, young, black haired woman came in.


“Well, I see you are awake,” she said.


Billy Blue did not say anything for a moment.  He was scared.


“Well, Billy Blue, you must be hungry,” she said, “I brought you something to eat.”


She lay the tray down on the night table next to Billy Blue.


“I’m more thirsty than hungry,” he replied.


“I’ll bring you some water.  Meanwhile, I did bring you a glass of milk,” she replied.


When she left the room to get the water, Billy Blue heard voices from outside of the door.  For moment he thought it was his pa or his uncle Buck.  But he was wrong.  The two male voices came into the room.  One of the persons looked familiar, but he did not know where from.


“Billy Blue, this is my father, Don Sebastian Montoya,” the younger one said.


“Where are you from, boy?” Don Sebastian asked.


Billy Blue did not answer.  He was confused where he was and how he got there and he wanted his ma.


“Your mama and papa must be worried about you,” Don Sebastian said.


Just then the young woman came back into the bedroom carrying a pitcher of water.


“I brought you some water,” she said, “You must drink it slowly.  Here I will pour you a cup.”  She poured him a cup of water and handed it to him.  Billy Blue took the cup of water and began to drink it remembering to drink it slowly so he would not be sick again.


“Well, at least we know that you can drink,” the young man said.


After Billy Blue drank the cup of water, he began to feel a little better.


“We know that your name is Billy Blue Cannon,” Don Sebastian continued.  “Mano here told us that.  Is that right?”


Billy Blue nodded his head yes.  “Where am I?” Billy Blue asked.


“Young man, you are at Rancho Montoya,” Don Sebastian said, “These are my children, Victoria and Manolito.”


Billy Blue started to begin remembering the last few weeks.


“Where are you from, boy?” Don Sebastian asked.


“I am from Missouri,” Billy Blue replied.


“You are a long way from home,” Mano said, “how did you get out here?”


Billy Blue did not answer that.  Instead he asked, “Can I have some more water please?” remembering his manners.


Victoria poured another cup of water for him and handed it to him.  “Remember to drink it slowly,” she replied.  Billy Blue drank the water and handed the cup back to Victoria.


“Who are your ma and pa?” Don Sebastian asked again.


“Pa’s name is John and ma’s name is Annalee,” Billy Blue answered.


“Papa, that’s enough.  The young man needs to get some rest, now,” Victoria interrupted.  “You two can talk to him later.”  All three left the room to let Billy Blue sleep.


When they got down the hallway, Victoria said, “that boy is a long way from home, sick, and I know he must be scared.”


“He is hiding something,” Don Sebastian said.


“What do you mean, papa?” asked Mano.


“I mean he did not say why he was out in the desert alone,” Don Sebastian said.


“Papa, maybe his parents were killed by the Apaches. Mano, you did say that there were some Indians around when you found him,” Victoria replied.  “Papa, he is so young and scared, you can see it in his eyes.”


Meanwhile John and Buck were just at the border.


“John, Mexico is just over there,” Buck said.


“Buck, let’s go into the first town and see if someone has heard or seen Billy Blue,” John replied.


John and Buck agreed that might be the best way.  They were in Mexico when they saw some Mexicans herding cattle.  John went up to one of them who looked like he was the boss.


“Senor, do you speak English?” John asked in Spanish.  John had learned a little Spanish when he was down in Texas for while during the war.


“Si, Senor, I speak a little English,” said the man.


“I am looking for a boy about 12 years old,” John said.


The man looked surprised, he knew that his boss’s son had brought a boy home the day before.  He saw him personally.


“Why?” he asked.


“Have you seen a boy around here?” Buck shouted.  Buck wanted an answer yes or no and especially not why.  He did not like the feeling he got with this guy.


“Senor, the boy is my son,” John said, “I have been looking for him for a long time.”


The man looked more surprised, “Senor, I know where your son is,” he said, “he is fine.  He is back at my patron’s home, Don Sebastian Montoya.”  John and Buck were relieved about that.  The man told them how to get to the Rancho and left to go back to do his job.


John and Buck got up to the entrance of the Rancho and saw the two lion statues.  At the gate, they told the guard who they were and the guard led them to the house.  The guard knocked on the door and went away.  Don Sebastian Montoya came to the front door and saw John and Buck standing there.


“Senors, can I help you?” he asked.


“Senor, I came for my boy,” John replied.  Just then John and Buck looked up the stairs and saw Victoria.  John almost fell backwards when he saw her.


“Senor, this is my daughter Victoria,” Don Sebastian said.  Victoria, this is, I would think, Billy Blue’s father.”


“You are Billy Blue’s father?” she asked.


John nodded.


“We have been looking for him for a long time,” Buck said.


“Come upstairs and you can see him for minute, he is still sleeping I think,” Victoria continued, “He has been sick from the sun.”


John followed Victoria upstairs to the room where Billy Blue was.  Victoria opened the door and John went inside and saw his son for the first time in several weeks sleeping like a little boy.  Billy Blue opened his eyes saw his pa over his bed.


“Billy Blue, it is time to get up.  You have chores to do before you leave for school,” he said.  “It is the first day of school, boy.”