The Brass Bell — Chapter 3
The Brass Bell
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Chapter Three: Campfire Pizza
“Coronado’s scout, Marcos de Niza, told of a wealthy, golden city, called Cibola. So, that would become one of their first destinations.”
– Coronado and the Golden Cities
“We’ve been walking forever!” Felix moaned. “Are we almost there?”
“Quit whining,” Hector said. “We’re making good time.”
“Why don’t you tell us more about the gold?” Karol suggested, stopping to rest on a large tree stump.
“Yeah, let’s hear it,” Felix agreed, carefully sitting on the ground.
“All I’ll tell you is that I think the gold came from a king, a long time ago,” Hector began.
“What king?” Karol jumped in.
“And where is it buried?” Felix quickly asked.
“Whoa,” Hector said. “Nobody said it’s buried. And remember, the treasure is in the journey.”
“What in the world is that supposed to mean?” Felix snickered.
“That’s all I’m saying for now,” Hector answered mysteriously.
“Well, maybe we should get going on that journey,” Felix said, standing a little too quickly on his injured foot. “I’ll be happy once we get there.”
“How’s the ankle doing?” Hector asked.
“I’m fine,” Felix tapped his backpack. “Coronado and his men endured crazy stuff during their expedition. My biggest fear is running out of licorice before we get to Gallinas!”
A short time later, Hector stopped. He put one hand on his hip and pointed west with the other. “Hah! What’s that?” he barked.
Karol and Felix looked at the large orange-red glow over the approaching horizon. The color reminded Felix of his grandma’s very spicy salsa. Suddenly, he felt hungry.
“The sun is going down!” Karol said. “Not good!”
“No. Look, just beyond those trees. That’s Highway 54.” Hector said proudly, maintaining his hero stance.
The three explorers quickly headed toward the highway with renewed enthusiasm. They only paused for a moment in front of a giant sign that read ENTRADA DE CIBOLA NATIONAL FOREST.
“I hate to say it,” Karol said, “but we should start looking for a place to camp tonight.”
“She’s right,” Felix agreed.
“How about here?” Hector suggested a spot. There were a couple of large fallen trees to sit on and even some small pieces of wood for starting a fire.
“Oh man, did anyone think to bring matches?” Felix began to worry.
“I think there are some special waterproof matches in my camping pack,” Karol offered.
“Gracias,” Felix said, relieved. “OK, you two start a fire. I’ll go look for some rocks to put around the fire pit.”
Felix had been gone for only a few minutes when the most unusual smell caught his attention. It wafted through the air and made its way across the rocks and trees. It was not a smell you’d expect at the edge of a forest. It smelled like … pizza!
“Hey, you guys, save some for me!” Felix yelled, limping towards his two friends, who were now roasting slices of pizza over the open fire.
“Felix, what is that bell you’ve been wearing around your neck?” Karol asked.
“Well, it’s kind of cursed. At least that’s what my grandma thinks,” Felix began, as they all sat enjoying their warm, smoky pizza. “She tells me some pretty crazy stories sometimes.”
“Let’s hear one!” Hector coaxed, licking melted cheese from his sleeve.
“I’m not sure if you’d be interested,” Felix said, suddenly embarrassed about his family history.
“Come on, Felix, we really want to hear one,” Karol said sincerely.
“My great-great-grandfather Eduardo fought bravely in the Mexican Revolution,” Felix began. “Late one night, he fell asleep a little too close to a campfire. His weapon got hot and a bullet shot right into his chest. It probably would have killed him, but he just happened to be wearing this brass bell.” Felix took off the bell, letting each of them feel the dent in the side.
“OK, then,” Hector said. “I think it’s time to move away from the fire.”
“So is it cursed, or lucky?” Karol asked. All three considered her question, looking at each other’s faces glowing in the firelight.
While they were still deep in thought, they heard the sound of approaching footsteps.
# # #
Written by Cathy Sewell and illustrated by Blaise Sewell of The Curriculum Closet