Horst eyes Despina with renewed interest when she joins the campfire Monday evening. "How did Juan's day in court go?"
"We left at sunrise for Flagstaff, arriving in plenty of time. I found the lawyer, who was amenable. I got the feeling he didn't much care one way or the other. I felt my support was important, and I also wanted to ride herd on the proceedings, so I arranged to sit at the table with Juan and the lawyer. I didn't trust the impartiality of the court, judging from what little I'd overheard.
"When the judge saw how young Juan is, he started to make an objection."
Juan takes over the narrative.
"Immediately, Despina jumped unbidden to my defense. When she arched one eyebrow in that special way, I knew that something good was coming. Sure enough. Despina said, 'I thought you wanted the best translator for the job, not a stereotyped age, sex, race, and religious profile filled.'"
His chest puffs out as he glances around to see if everyone recognizes the importance of this point.
"The lawyer sputtered trying to keep a straight face. The sheriff, who was escorting the prisoner, cast a sharp glance in her direction. The lawyer mumbled that he was afraid the judge would declare her in contempt of court."
Despina continues. "Instead, he glared at me as if he could wiggle his nose and turn me into an ant, then crush me. He said, 'Are you prepared to vouch for his translation?'
"So I met his eye and said, 'Fully prepared.' When I sat back down next to the lawyer, I suggested that some of the more important terms might be provided with simple definitions. Excusing himself, he returned with a weighty law dictionary."
Juan adds, "Laughter rippled through the courtroom, and his honor's face got all red and blotchy. It was neat."
"But he had a comeback. He glared at me again and in his most pompous fashion intoned, 'I trust you realize this is NOT a classroom.'"
"Then stuff got heavy. As the charges were read, I softly translated to Mateo in Náhuatl, looking him right in the eye like Despina taught us to do when we interviewed people."
"Once he looked at me and said one English word, which I quickly found in the law book. The words used to describe it were barely in MY reading vocabulary. I tipped the volume toward Juan and prayed. After he read the entry, he spoke again, but I got distracted, so I'm not sure how well that part went."
"She got 'distracted' because Cu joined us at the lawyer's table," Juan adds, laughing.
"'Will the gentleman be translating?' old prune face asked, eyes angry again. I looked hesitantly at Cu, relaying the question in Spanish."
"Right. The judge really glowered at Juan, but he stood up to him. 'No,' comes Cu's laconic response. As always, a man of few words. But that really made Juan beam."
"The rest of it was pretty boring, but Cu did say he'll take me tomorrow. I don't know why he doesn't just DO it."
But, because he's not, you're still grinning, Despina thinks as she watches him walk home, getting drowsy herself.