For the Soul of Rafaelby Marah Ellis Ryan
Over the valley of the Mission of the Tragedies, the grass was knee-deep in March that year. The horses galloping from the mesa trail down to Boca de la Playa (the mouth of the ocean) were fat and sleek and tricky as they ran neck and neck past the corral of the little plain, and splashed in glee through the San Juan River, where it ends its short run from the Sierras to the Pacific.
Where the west trail hugged the hill, two men sat their broncos, watching that no strays break for the mesa above; and beyond the cross on Avila's hill, other vaqueros guarded El Camino Real (the road royal), lest in the whirl and dash of the round-up rebels might break for the open and a stampede undo all the riding since dawn of day.
High above on the western cliff a giant head of cactus reared infernal arms and luminous bloom. One immense clump threw a shadow across the cliff road where it leaves the river plain and winds along the cañon to the mesa above the sea,-the road over which in the old days the Mission Indians bore hides to the ships and flung them from the cliffs to the waiting boats below.
- HardPress Publishing
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