Collecting the students for the return march to the library proves to be more difficult than releasing them had been. Several trucks have returned with their loads of stripped refrigerators, and some of her group have gone along.
Those that remain eventually run wildly through the street, whooping and shouting. As they near the building, Despina calls vainly to them, "Children, formen Uds. una linea. We don't want to enter the library as if we were a pack of wild Indians." Fortunately, she says this last bit in English, which causes Paul Peter to go into paroxysms of mirth, but does not dent the exuberance of her charges.
Alice is very curious how Despina and Paul Peter could work so well together, and quickly draws out the story of them both coming to work on the reservation from the same Iowa school, without knowing the other was going to be there.
Each student is allowed to check out one book, several of which are in Spanish. Alice likes the idea of the refrigerator storage to keep things from getting damaged.
As Despina shows the children how to locate information on the internet, Cu again enters, the sheriff with him. Sarita has a screen full of herbal lore pulled up, and he speaks to her in Náhuatl. Satisfied, he says, "Está bien que ella aprende de su herencia."
The sheriff catches Despina alone as Paul Peter helps the students select books for those who have left. "I want you to take this cell phone back to the reservation with you. I'll bring out a recharged battery later. If you insist on having adventures, I want you to be able to notify someone. I had quite a little conversation about how Alberto came to be in that arroyo. Yes, you saved his life, but Paul Peter is also right in saying you were not properly prepared to go into the desert."
"I had no intentions of walking into the desert that morning. Accidents are, well, ACCIDENTAL. Once I knew Alberto was missing, I couldn't NOT go find him and still live with myself. I was the person in charge."
"Cu offered to show me the marks the jeep left on the rocks. He seemed pretty freaked by where you drove."
"I can assure you, if I'd ever seen the area in daylight, I would NOT have driven there."
"And one more thing: Promise me, no more lone adventures out of sight of the road or the pueblo of Stone Circles."
She reluctantly agrees, accepting the cell phone. "Well, if you insist. I'll use it for emergencies only."
"You seem to have emergencies once a day," quips Paul Peter as he walks up. "Maybe that phone will help keep you out of trouble without involving the entire tribe."
They walk to the pick-up together, filling the bed and cab with book-hugging children interspersed with refrigerators.
Alice comes over as they exit, eager to get the full story. Waving good-bye to the Indian children in the bed of the truck as they drive off, Mickey fills her in.
"When I heard how she put Tex in his place, I guess I shouldn't be surprised she can find the medicine woman's cave after dark in a jeep or track Alberto through the desert. I think this is shaping up to be a pretty lively summer."
Alberto, who supposedly left with the others, has hung back, hiding in the stacks. "Sí, es un verano vivace," he says, mixing musical Italian in with his Spanish.
Mickey grabs him up and dashes outside, putting him on the front seat of his patrol car. "Of course, I have to have an emergency I can't use the base radio for as soon as I give her the cell phone!" He overtakes her pick-up, driving carefully with its load of refrigerators, before she hits the turn-off for the reservation. Letting Alberto turn on the lights, he pulls her over, turning over her most missed pupil.
Last updated 2/25/02.