The Brass Bell — Chapter 2
The Brass Bell
Chapter Two: The Expedition Begins
Click HERE to read this chapter en espanol
“Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was a Spanish conquistador who explored the southwestern United States in 1540-1542, in search of the Seven Cities of Gold. He had with him hundreds of Spaniards, natives, monks and slaves.”
– Coronado and the Golden Cities
The next morning, Felix jumped out of bed and quickly got dressed.
“I’m going over to Hector’s house for the day,” he told Grandma. “I might just stay the night, too,” he added, with his mouth full of cinnamon churros.
“All right, Felix, but be careful,” Grandma said. Felix wondered if she had noticed his overstuffed backpack sitting by the door. “Here are a few snacks … just in case,” she said with a wink. Yes, she was definitely on to him!
He walked out the door, searching through his goodie bag. There were several sandwiches, fruit snacks and Felix’s favorite: licorice.
Karol was waiting on the steps of the school with an equally full backpack. “Hey Felix, are you ready?”
“Hey, you two!” Hector startled them both as he jumped onto the concrete wall beside the steps.
Unfurling his map, Hector excitedly showed them places where they would stop to eat and rest. A big X marked the spot of the treasure, located in the nearby town of Gallinas.
“OK – which way, then?” Felix asked anxiously.
“My cousins live in Gallinas and we always drive down Highway 54 to visit them,” Karol suggested.
“That’s the long way!” Hector interrupted. “Let’s just go down Main Street to where it meets the county road. The county road is a straight shot to Gallinas and we’ll save hours of time!” Both Hector and Karol looked over at Felix to make the decision.
“Saving time does sound good,” Felix considered, not completely sure he should listen to Hector. The three explorers began walking through town, passing the few shops that lined Main Street. When they reached the intersection of Main Street and the county road, they all hesitated.
“Here we are – the point of no return.” Felix said softly.
“Quit being such a baby,” Hector said, giving Felix a shove.
Felix lunged forward onto the county road. He felt a surge of excitement as he imagined himself traveling through the untamed wilderness that Coronado had explored. Karol and Hector immediately joined him on the rough, unpaved road.
After several quiet miles, Karol finally broke the silence. “I brought beef jerky and some trail mix with chocolate pieces!”
“I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, licorice and fruit snacks,” Felix said proudly. But anyone who knew Felix would have guessed there would be licorice in his bag, because of his long obsession with the twisted treat.
“And I brought a frozen pizza!” Hector reached in his bag to show the partially thawed box.
“Exactly where do you plan on finding an oven out here, Hector?” Felix laughed.
“Laugh now, Felix, but you’ll be asking me for a slice soon enough!” Hector said, putting his soggy snack away as they continued walking.
Suddenly, the dirt road ended: no stop sign, no turn, no intersection. The three stood at the edge of rocks, sand and grass.
“Oh, great – now we’re lost!” Karol tried to sound more angry than scared.
“Hey, no worries!” Hector said, pointing west. “If we just head across here, we’ll eventually run into Highway 54.”
“Fine, let’s go,” Felix mumbled, walking across the rocky surface. “It’s starting to get hot out here.”
“Let’s aim for those big rocks and take a lunch break there,” Hector suggested.
“Some of those rocks look a little dangerous,” Karol started to say, but she only got out part of her sentence before Felix slipped.
“Hey, you OK?” Hector stumbled over to Felix, who was now flat on his back.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Felix winced. But he wasn’t fine. His ankle hurt and immediately began to swell.
“Wh … what’s that?” Hector started to sway back and forth.
“Sit down, Hector, before you faint.” Karol ordered. “I’ve got a bandage in my first-aid kit. Let me wrap that up for you, Felix.”
“Thanks, Karol. I think we should go ahead and eat lunch right here,” Felix said, sharing his rations with his friends.
After they inhaled lunch, Hector was ready to get going. They picked up their trash and prepared to continue their hike.
“Should we take a siesta?” Karol asked.
“Nope, explorers must push through the pain, vámanos!” Felix stood up to show he was strong enough to walk.
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Written by Cathy Sewell and illustrated by Blaise Sewell of The Curriculum Closet