John Steinbeck
Chapter 6
John Steinbeck

The wind blew fierce and strong, and it pelted them with bits of 
sticks, sand, and little rocks. Juana and Kino gathered their clothing 
tighter about them and covered their noses and went out into the world. 
The sky was brushed clean by the wind and the stars were cold in a 
black sky. The two walked carefully, and they avoided the center of the 
town where some sleeper in a doorway might see them pass. For the town 
closed itself in against the night, and anyone who moved about in the 
darkness would be noticeable. Kino threaded his way around the edge of 
the city and turned north, north by the stars, and found the rutted 
sandy road that led through the brushy country toward Loreto where the 
miraculous Virgin has her station. 

Kino could feel the blown sand against his ankles and he was glad, for 
he knew there would be no tracks. The little light from the stars made 
out for him the narrow road through the brushy country. And Kino could 
hear the pad of Juana's feet behind him. He went quickly and quietly, 
and Juana trotted behind him to keep up. 

Some ancient thing stirred in Kino. Through his fear of dark and the 
devils that haunt the night, there came a rush of exhilaration; some 
animal thing was moving in him so that he was cautious and wary and 
dangerous; some ancient thing out of the past of his people was alive 
in him. The wind was at his back and the stars guided him. The wind 
cried and whisked in the brush, and the family went on monotonously, 
hour after hour. They passed no one and saw no one. At last, to their 
right, the waning moon arose, and when it came up the wind died down, 
and the land was still. 

Now they could see the little road ahead of them, deep cut with sand-
drifted wheel tracks. With the wind gone there would be footprints, but 
they were a good distance from the town and perhaps their tracks might 
not be noticed. Kino walked carefully in a wheel rut, and Juana 
followed in his path. One big cart, going to the town in the morning, 
could wipe out every trace of their passage. 

All night they walked and never changed their pace. Once Coyotito 
awakened, and Juana shifted him in front of her and soothed him until 
he went to sleep again. And the evils of the night were about them. The 
coyotes cried and laughed in the brush, and the owls screeched and 
hissed over their heads. And once some large animal lumbered away, 
crackling the undergrowth as it went. And Kino gripped the handle of 
the big working knife and took a sense of protection from it. 

The music of the pearl was triumphant in Kino's head, and the quiet 
melody of the family underlay it, and they wove themselves into the 
soft padding of sandaled feet in the dust. All night they walked, and 
in the first dawn Kino searched the roadside for a covert to lie in 
during the day. He found his place near to the road, a little clearing 
where deer might have lain, and it was curtained thickly with the dry 
brittle trees that lined the road. And when Juana had seated herself 
and had settled to nurse the baby, Kino went back to the road. He broke 
a branch and carefully swept the footprints where they had turned from 
the roadway. And then, in the first light, he heard the creak of a 
wagon, and he crouched beside the road and watched a heavy two-wheeled 
cart go by, drawn by slouching oxen. And when it had passed out of 
sight, he went back to the roadway and looked at the rut and found that 
the footprints were gone. And again he swept out his traces and went 
back to Juana. 

She gave him the soft corncakes Apolonia had packed for them, and after 
a while she slept a little. But Kino sat on the ground and stared at 
the earth in front of him. He watched the ants moving, a little column 
of them near to his foot, and he put his foot in their path. Then the 
column climbed over his instep and continued on its way, and Kino left 
his foot there and watched them move over it. 

The sun arose hotly. They were not near the Gulf now, and the air was 
dry and hot so that the brush cricked with heat and a good resinous 
smell came from it. And when Juana awakened, when the sun was high, 
Kino told her things she knew already. 

"Beware of that kind of tree there," he said, pointing. "Do not touch 
it, for if you do and then touch your eyes, it will blind you. And 
beware of the tree that bleeds. See, that one over there. For if you 
break it the red blood will flow from it, and it is evil luck." And she 
nodded and smiled a little at him, for she knew these things. 

"Will they follow us?" she asked. "Do you think they will try to find 

"They will try," said Kino. "Whoever finds us will take the pearl. Oh, 
they will try." 

And Juana said, "Perhaps the dealers were right and the pearl has no 
value. Perhaps this has all been an illusion." 

Kino reached into his clothes and brought out the pearl. He let the sun 
play on it until it burned in his eyes. "No," he said, "they would not 
have tried to steal it if it had been valueless." 

"Do you know who attacked you? Was it the dealers?" 

"I do not know," he said. "I didn't see them." 

He looked into his pearl to find his vision. "When we sell it at last, 
I will have a rifle," he said, and he looked into the shining surface 
for his rifle, but he saw only a huddled dark body on the ground with 
shining blood dripping from its throat. And he said quickly, "We will 
be married in a great church." And in the pearl he saw Juana with her 
beaten face crawling home through the night. "Our son must learn to 
read," he said frantically. And there in the pearl Coyotito's face, 
thick and feverish from the medicine. 

And Kino thrust the pearl back into his clothing, and the music of the 
pearl had become sinister in his ears, and it was interwoven with the 
music of evil. 

The hot sun beat on the earth so that Kino and Juana moved into the 
lacy shade of the brush, and small gray birds scampered on the ground 
in the shade. In the heat of the day Kino relaxed and covered his eyes 
with his hat and wrapped his blanket about his face to keep the flies 
off, and he slept. 

But Juana did not sleep. She sat quiet as a stone and her face was 
quiet. Her mouth was still swollen where Kino had struck her, and big 
flies buzzed around the cut on her chin. But she sat as still as a 
sentinel, and when Coyotito awakened she placed him on the ground in 
front of her and watched him wave his arms and kick his feet, and he 
smiled and gurgled at her until she smiled too. She picked up a little 
twig from the ground and tickled him, and she gave him water from the 
gourd she carried in her bundle. 

Kino stirred in a dream, and he cried out in a guttural voice, and his 
hand moved in symbolic fighting. And then he moaned and sat up 
suddenly, his eyes wide and his nostrils flaring. He listened and heard 
only the cricking heat and the hiss of distance. 

"What is it?" Juana asked. 

"Hush," he said. 

"You were dreaming." 

"Perhaps." But he was restless, and when she gave him a corncake from 
her store he paused in his chewing to listen. He was uneasy and 
nervous; he glanced over his shoulder; he lifted the big knife and felt 
its edge. When Coyotito gurgled on the ground Kino said, "Keep him 

"What is the matter?" Juana asked. 

"I don't know." 

He listened again, an animal light in his eyes. He stood up then, 
silently; and crouched low, he threaded his way through the brush 
toward the road. But he did not step into the road; he crept into the 
cover of a thorny tree and peered out along the way he had come. 
And then he saw them moving along. His body stiffened and he drew down 
his head and peeked out from under a fallen branch. In the distance he 
could see three figures, two on foot and one on horseback. But he knew 
what they were, and a chill of fear went through him. Even in the 
distance he could see the two on foot moving slowly along, bent low to 
the ground. Here, one would pause and look at the earth, while the 
other joined him. They were the trackers, they could follow the trail 
of a big horn sheep in the stone mountains. They were as sensitive as 
hounds. Here, he and Juana might have stepped out of the wheel rut, and 
these people from the inland, these hunters, could follow, could read a 
broken straw or a little tumbled pile of dust. Behind them, on a horse, 
was a dark man, his nose covered with a blanket, and across his saddle 
a rifle gleamed in the sun. 

Kino lay as rigid as the tree limb. He barely breathed, and his eyes 
went to the place where he had swept out the track. Even the sweeping 
might be a message to the trackers. He knew these inland hunters. In a 
country where there was little game they managed to live because of 
their ability to hunt, and they were hunting him. They scuttled over 
the ground like animals and found a sign and crouched over it while the 
horseman waited. 

The trackers whined a little, like excited dogs on a warming trail. 
Kino slowly drew his big knife to his hand and made it ready. He knew 
what he must do. If the trackers found the swept place, he must leap 
for the horseman, kill him quickly and take the rifle. That was his 
only chance in the world. And as the three drew nearer on the road, 
Kino dug little pits with his sandaled toes so that he could leap 
without warning, so that his feet would not slip. He had only a little 
vision under the fallen limb. 

Now Juana, back in her hidden place, heard the pad of the horse's 
hoofs, and Coyotito gurgled. She took him up quickly and put him under 
her shawl and gave him her breast and he was silent. 

When the trackers came near, Kino could see only their legs and only 
the legs of the horse from under the fallen branch. He saw the dark 
horny feet of the men and their ragged white clothes, and he heard the 
creak of leather of the saddle and the clink of spurs. The trackers 
stopped at the swept place and studied it, and the horseman stopped. 
The horse flung his head up against the bit and the bit-roller clicked 
under his tongue and the horse snorted. Then the dark trackers turned 
and studied the horse and watched his ears. 

Kino was not breathing, but his back arched a little and the muscles of 
his arms and legs stood out with tension and a line of sweat formed on 
his upper lip. For a long moment the trackers bent over the road, and 
then they moved on slowly, studying the ground ahead of them, and the 
horseman moved after them. The trackers scuttled along, stopping, 
looking, and hurrying on. They would be back, Kino knew. They would be 
circling and searching, peeping, stopping, and they would come back 
sooner or later to his covered track. 

He slid backward and did not bother to cover his tracks. He could not; 
too many little signs were there, too many broken twigs and scuffed 
places and displaced stones. And there was a panic in Kino now, a panic 
of flight. The trackers would find his trail, he knew it. There was no 
escape, except in flight. He edged away from the road and went quickly 
and silently to the hidden place where Juana was. She looked up at him 
in question. 

"Trackers," he said. "Come!" 

And then a helplessness and a hopelessness swept over him, and his face 
went black and his eyes were sad. "Perhaps I should let them take me." 
Instantly Juana was on her feet and her hand lay on his arm. "You have 
the pearl," she cried hoarsely. "Do you think they would take you back 
alive to say they had stolen it?" 

His hand strayed limply to the place where the pearl was hidden under 
his clothes. "They will find it," he said weakly. 

"Come," she said. "Come!" 

And when he did not respond. "Do you think they would let me live? Do 
you think they would let the little one here live?" 

Her goading struck into his brain; his lips snarled and his eyes were 
fierce again. "Come," he said. "We will go into the mountains. Maybe we 
can lose them in the mountains." 

Frantically he gathered the gourds and the little bags that were their 
property. Kino carried a bundle in his left hand, but the big knife 
swung free in his right hand. He parted the brush for Juana and they 
hurried to the west, toward the high stone mountains. They trotted 
quickly through the tangle of the undergrowth. This was panic flight. 
Kino did not try to conceal his passage he trotted, kicking the stones, 
knocking the telltale leaves from the little trees. The high sun 
streamed down on the dry creaking earth so that even the vegetation 
ticked in protest. But ahead were the naked granite mountains, rising 
out of erosion rubble and standing monolithic against the sky. And Kino 
ran for the high place, as nearly all animals do when they are pursued. 
This land was waterless, furred with the cacti which could store water 
and with the great-rooted brush which could reach deep into the earth 
for a little moisture and get along on very little. And underfoot was 
not soil but broken rock, split into small cubes, great slabs, but none 
of it water-rounded. Little tufts of sad dry grass grew between the 
stones, grass that had sprouted with one single rain and headed, 
dropped its seed, and died. Horned toads watched the family go by and 
turned their little pivoting dragon heads. And now and then a great 
jackrabbit, disturbed in his shade, bumped away and hid behind the 
nearest rock. The singing heat lay over this desert country, and ahead 
the stone mountains looked cool and welcoming. 

And Kino fled. He knew what would happen. A little way along the road 
the trackers would become aware that they had missed the path, and they 
would come back, searching and judging, and in a little while they 
would find the place where Kino and Juana had rested. From there it 
would be easy for them- these little stones, the fallen leaves and the 
whipped branches, the scuffed places where a foot had slipped. Kino 
could see them in his mind, slipping along the track, whining a little 
with eagerness, and behind them, dark and half disinterested, the 
horseman with the rifle. His work would come last, for he would not 
take them back. Oh, the music of evil sang loud in Kino's head now, it 
sang with the whine of heat and with the dry ringing of snake rattles. 
It was not large and overwhelming now, but secret and poisonous, and 
the pounding of his heart gave it undertone and rhythm. 

The way began to rise, and as it did the rocks grew larger. But now 
Kino had put a little distance between his family and the trackers. 
Now, on the first rise, he rested. He climbed a great boulder and 
looked back over the shimmering country, but he could not see his 
enemies, not even the tall horseman riding through the brush. Juana had 
squatted in the shade of the boulder. She raised her bottle of water to 
Coyotito's lips; his little dried tongue sucked greedily at it. She 
looked up at Kino when he came back; she saw him examine her ankles, 
cut and scratched from the stones and brush, and she covered them 
quickly with her skirt. Then she handed the bottle to him, but he shook 
his head. Her eyes were bright in her tired face. Kino moistened his 
cracked lips with his tongue. 

"Juana," he said, "I will go on and you will hide. I will lead them 
into the mountains, and when they have gone past, you will go north to 
Loreto or to Santa Rosalia. Then, if I can escape them, I will come to 
you. It is the only safe way." 

She looked full into his eyes for a moment. "No," she said. "We go with 

"I can go faster alone," he said harshly. "You will put the little one 
in more danger if you go with me." 

"No," said Juana. 

"You must. It is the wise thing and it is my wish," he said. 

"No," said Juana. 

He looked then for weakness in her face, for fear or irresolution, and 
there was none. Her eyes were very bright. He shrugged his shoulders 
helplessly then, but he had taken strength from her. When they moved on 
it was no longer panic flight. 

The country, as it rose toward the mountains, changed rapidly. Now 
there were long outcroppings of granite with deep crevices between, and 
Kino walked on bare unmarkable stone when he could and leaped from 
ledge to ledge. He knew that wherever the trackers lost his path they 
must circle and lose time before they found it again. And so he did not 
go straight for the mountains any more; he moved in zigzags, and 
sometimes he cut back to the south and left a sign and then went toward 
the mountains over bare stone again. And the path rose steeply now, so 
that he panted a little as he went. 

The sun moved downward toward the bare stone teeth of the mountains, 
and Kino set his direction for a dark and shadowy cleft in the range. 
If there were any water at all, it would be there where he could see, 
even in the distance, a hint of foliage. And if there were any passage 
through the smooth stone range, it would be by this same deep cleft. It 
had its danger, for the trackers would think of it too, but the empty 
water bottle did not let that consideration enter. And as the sun 
lowered, Kino and Juana struggled wearily up the steep slope toward the 

High in the gray stone mountains, under a frowning peak, a little 
spring bubbled out of a rupture in the stone. It was fed by shade-
preserved snow in the summer, and now and then it died completely and 
bare rocks and dry algae were on its bottom. But nearly always it 
gushed out, cold and clean and lovely. In the times when the quick 
rains fell, it might become a freshet and send its column of white 
water crashing down the mountain cleft, but nearly always it was a lean 
little spring. It bubbled out into a pool and then fell a hundred feet 
to another pool, and this one, overflowing, dropped again, so that it 
continued, down and down, until it came to the rubble of the upland, 
and there it disappeared altogether. There wasn't much left of it then 
anyway, for every time it fell over an escarpment the thirsty air drank 
it, and it splashed from the pools to the dry vegetation. The animals 
from miles around came to drink from the little pools, and the wild 
sheep and the deer, the pumas and raccoons, and the mice- all came to 
drink. And the birds which spent the day in the brushland came at night 
to the little pools that were like steps in the mountain cleft. Beside 
this tiny stream, wherever enough earth collected for root-hold, 
colonies of plants grew, wild grape and little palms, maidenhair fern, 
hibiscus, and tall pampas grass with feathery rods raised above the 
spike leaves. And in the pool lived frogs and water-skaters, and 
waterworms crawled on the bottom of the pool. Everything that loved 
water came to these few shallow places. The cats took their prey there, 
and strewed feathers and lapped water through their bloody teeth. The 
little pools were places of life because of the water, and places of 
killing because of the water, too. 

The lowest step, where the stream collected before it tumbled down a 
hundred feet and disappeared into the rubbly desert, was a little 
platform of stone and sand. Only a pencil of water fell into the pool, 
but it was enough to keep the pool full and to keep the ferns green in 
the underhang of the cliff, and wild grape climbed the stone mountain 
and all manner of little plants found comfort here. The freshets had 
made a small sandy beach through which the pool flowed, and bright 
green watercress grew in the damp sand. The beach was cut and scarred 
and padded by the feet of animals that had come to drink and to hunt. 
The sun had passed over the stone mountains when Kino and Juana 
struggled up the steep broken slope and came at last to the water. From 
this step they could look out over the sunbeaten desert to the blue 
Gulf in the distance. They came utterly weary to the pool, and Juana 
slumped to her knees and first washed Coyotito's face and then filled 
her bottle and gave him a drink. And the baby was weary and petulant, 
and he cried softly until Juana gave him her breast, and then he 
gurgled and clucked against her. Kino drank long and thirstily at the 
pool. For a moment, then, he stretched out beside the water and relaxed 
all his muscles and watched Juana feeding the baby, and then he got to 
his feet and went to the edge of the step where the water slipped over, 
and he searched the distance carefully. His eyes set on a point and he 
became rigid. Far down the slope he could see the two trackers; they 
were little more than dots or scurrying ants and behind them a larger 

Juana had turned to look at him and she saw his back stiffen. 

"How far?" she asked quietly. 

"They will be here by evening," said Kino. He looked up the long steep 
chimney of the cleft where the water came down. "We must go west," he 
said, and his eyes searched the stone shoulder behind the cleft. And 
thirty feet up on the gray shoulder he saw a series of little erosion 
caves. He slipped off his sandals and clambered up to them, gripping 
the bare stone with his toes, and he looked into the shallow caves. 
They were only a few feet deep, wind-hollowed scoops, but they sloped 
slightly downward and back. Kino crawled into the largest one and lay 
down and knew that he could not be seen from the outside. Quickly he 
went back to Juana. 

"You must go up there. Perhaps they will not find us there," he said. 
Without question she filled her water bottle to the top, and then Kino 
helped her up to the shallow cave and brought up the packages of food 
and passed them to her. And Juana sat in the cave entrance and watched 
him. She saw that he did not try to erase their tracks in the sand. 

Instead, he climbed up the brush cliff beside the water, clawing and 
tearing at the ferns and wild grape as he went. And when he had climbed 
a hundred feet to the next bench, he came down again. He looked 
carefully at the smooth rock shoulder toward the cave to see that there 
was no trace of passage, and last he climbed up and crept into the cave 
beside Juana. 

"When they go up," he said, "we will slip away, down to the lowlands 
again. I am afraid only that the baby may cry. You must see that he 
does not cry." 

"He will not cry," she said, and she raised the baby's face to her own 
and looked into his eyes and he stared solemnly back at her. 

"He knows," said Juana. 

Now Kino lay in the cave entrance, his chin braced on his crossed arms, 
and he watched the blue shadow of the mountain move out across the 
brushy desert below until it reached the Gulf, and the long twilight of 
the shadow was over the land. 

The trackers were long in coming, as though they had trouble with the 
trail Kino had left. It was dusk when they came at last to the 
little pool. And all three were on foot now, for a horse could not 
climb the last steep slope. From above they were thin figures in the 
evening. The two trackers scurried about on the little beach, and they 
saw Kino's progress up the cliff before they drank. The man with the 
rifle sat down and rested himself, and the trackers squatted near him, 
and in the evening the points of their cigarettes glowed and receded. 
And then Kino could see that they were eating, and the soft murmur of 
their voices came to him. 

Then darkness fell, deep and black in the mountain cleft. The animals 
that used the pool came near and smelled men there and drifted away 
again into the darkness. 

He heard a murmur behind him. Juana was whispering, "Coyotito." She was 
begging him to be quiet. Kino heard the baby whimper, and he knew from 
the muffled sounds that Juana had covered his head with her shawl. 

Down on the beach a match flared, and in its momentary light Kino saw 
that two of the men were sleeping, curled up like dogs, while the third 
watched, and he saw the glint of the rifle in the match light. And then 
the match died, but it left a picture on Kino's eyes. He could see it, 
just how each man was, two sleeping curled up and the third squatting 
in the sand with the rifle between his knees. 

Kino moved silently back into the cave. Juana's eyes were two sparks 
reflecting a low star. Kino crawled quietly close to her and he put his 
lips near to her cheek. 

"There is a way," he said. 

"But they will kill you." 

"If I get first to the one with the rifle," Kino said, "I must get to 
him first, then I will be all right. Two are sleeping." 

Her hand crept out from under her shawl and gripped his arm. "They will 
see your white clothes in the starlight." 

"No," he said. "And I must go before moonrise." 

He searched for a soft word and then gave it up. "If they kill me," he 
said, "lie quietly. And when they are gone away, go to Loreto." 

Her hand shook a little, holding his wrist. 

"There is no choice," he said. "It is the only way. They will find us 
in the morning." 

Her voice trembled a little. "Go with God," she said. 

He peered closely at her and he could see her large eyes. His hand 
fumbled out and found the baby, and for a moment his palm lay on 
Coyotito's head. And then Kino raised his hand and touched Juana's 
cheek, and she held her breath. 

Against the sky in the cave entrance Juana could see that Kino was 
taking off his white clothes, for dirty and ragged though they were 
they would show up against the dark night. His own brown skin was a 
better protection for him. And then she saw how he hooked his amulet 
neck-string about the horn handle of his great knife, so that it hung 
down in front of him and left both hands free. He did not come back to 
her. For a moment his body was black in the cave entrance, crouched and 
silent, and then he was gone. 

Juana moved to the entrance and looked out. She peered like an owl from 
the hole in the mountain, and the baby slept under the blanket on her 
back, his face turned sideways against her neck and shoulder. She could 
feel his warm breath against her skin, and Juana whispered her 
combination of prayer and magic, her Hail Marys and her ancient 
intercession, against the black unhuman things. 

The night seemed a little less dark when she looked out, and to the 
east there was a lightening in the sky, down near the horizon where the 
moon would show. And, looking down, she could see the cigarette of the 
man on watch. 

Kino edged like a slow lizard down the smooth rock shoulder. He had 
turned his neck-string so that the great knife hung down from his back 
and could not clash against the stone. His spread fingers gripped the 
mountain, and his bare toes found support through contact, and even his 
chest lay against the stone so that he would not slip. For any sound, a 
rolling pebble or a sigh, a little slip of flesh on rock, would rouse 
the watchers below. Any sound that was not germane to the night would 
make them alert. But the night was not silent; the little tree frogs 
that lived near the stream twittered like birds, and the high metallic 
ringing of the cicadas filled the mountain cleft. And Kino's own music 
was in his head, the music of the enemy, low and pulsing, nearly 
asleep. But the Song of the Family had become as fierce and sharp and 
feline as the snarl of a female puma. The family song was alive now and 
driving him down on the dark enemy. The harsh cicada seemed to take up 
its melody, and the twittering tree frogs called little phrases of it. 

And Kino crept silently as a shadow down the smooth mountain face. One 
bare foot moved a few inches and the toes touched the stone and 
gripped, and the other foot a few inches, and then the palm of one hand 
a little downward, and then the other hand, until the whole body, 
without seeming to move, had moved. Kino's mouth was open so that even 
his breath would make no sound, for he knew that he was not invisible. 
If the watcher, sensing movement, looked at the dark place against the 
stone which was his body, he could see him. Kino must move so slowly he 
would not draw the watcher's eyes. It took him a long time to reach the 
bottom and to crouch behind a little dwarf palm. His heart thundered in 
his chest and his hands and face were wet with sweat. He crouched and 
took great slow long breaths to calm himself. 

Only twenty feet separated him from the enemy now, and he tried to 
remember the ground between. Was there any stone which might trip him 
in his rush? He kneaded his legs against cramp and found that his 
muscles were jerking after their long tension. And then he looked 
apprehensively to the east. The moon would rise in a few moments now, 
and he must attack before it rose. He could see the outline of the 
watcher, but the sleeping men were below his vision. It was the watcher 
Kino must find- must find quickly and without hesitation. Silently he 
drew the amulet string over his shoulder and loosened the loop from the 
horn handle of his great knife. 

He was too late, for as he rose from his crouch the silver edge of the 
moon slipped above the eastern horizon, and Kino sank back behind his 

It was an old and ragged moon, but it threw hard light and hard shadow 
into the mountain cleft, and now Kino could see the seated figure of 
the watcher on the little beach beside the pool. The watcher gazed full 
at the moon, and then he lighted another cigarette, and the match 
illumined his dark face for a moment. There could be no waiting now; 
when the watcher turned his head, Kino must leap. His legs were as 
tight as wound springs. 

And then from above came a little murmuring cry. The watcher turned his 
head to listen and then he stood up, and one of the sleepers stirred on 
the ground and awakened and asked quietly, "What is it?" 

"I don't know," said the watcher. "It sounded like a cry, almost like a 
human- like a baby." 

The man who had been sleeping said, "You can't tell. Some coyote bitch 
with a litter. I've heard a coyote pup cry like a baby." 

The sweat rolled in drops down Kino's forehead and fell into his eyes 
and burned them. The little cry came again and the watcher looked up 
the side of the hill to the dark cave. 

"Coyote maybe," he said, and Kino heard the harsh click as he cocked 
the rifle. 

"If it's a coyote, this will stop it," the watcher said as he raised 
the gun. 

Kino was in mid-leap when the gun crashed and the barrel-flash made a 
picture on his eyes. The great knife swung and crunched hollowly. It 
bit through neck and deep into chest, and Kino was a terrible machine 
now. He grasped the rifle even as he wrenched free his knife. His 
strength and his movement and his speed were a machine. He whirled and 
struck the head of the seated man like a melon. The third man scrabbled 
away like a crab, slipped into the pool, and then he began to climb 
frantically, to climb up the cliff where the water penciled down. His 
hands and feet threshed in the tangle of the wild grapevine, and he 
whimpered and gibbered as he tried to get up. But Kino had become as 
cold and deadly as steel. Deliberately he threw the lever of the rifle, 
and then he raised the gun and aimed deliberately and fired. He saw his 
enemy tumble backward into the pool, and Kino strode to the water. In 
the moonlight he could see the frantic eyes, and Kino aimed and fired 
between the eyes. 

And then Kino stood uncertainly. Something was wrong, some signal was 
trying to get through to his brain. Tree frogs and cicadas were silent 
now. And then Kino's brain cleared from its red concentration and he 
knew the sound- the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the 
little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death.  


Everyone in La Paz remembers the return of the family; there may be 
some old ones who saw it, but those whose fathers and whose 
grandfathers told it to them remember it nevertheless. It is an event 
that happened to everyone. 

It was late in the golden afternoon when the first little boys ran 
hysterically in the town and spread the word that Kino and Juana were 
coming back. And everyone hurried to see them. The sun was settling 
toward the western mountains and the shadows on the ground were long. 
And perhaps that was what left the deep impression on those who saw 

The two came from the rutted country road into the city, and they were 
not walking in single file, Kino ahead and Juana behind, as usual, but 
side by side. The sun was behind them and their long shadows stalked 
ahead, and they seemed to carry two towers of darkness with them. Kino 
had a rifle across his arm and Juana carried her shawl like a sack over 
her shoulder. And in it was a small limp heavy bundle. The shawl was 
crusted with dried blood, and the bundle swayed a little as she walked. 
Her face was hard and lined and leathery with fatigue and with the 
tightness with which she fought fatigue. And her wide eyes stared 
inward on herself. She was as remote and as removed as Heaven. Kino's 
lips were thin and his jaws tight, and the people say that he carried 
fear with him, that he was as dangerous as a rising storm. The people 
say that the two seemed to be removed from human experience; that they 
had gone through pain and had come out on the other side; that there 
was almost a magical protection about them. And those people who had 
rushed to see them crowded back and let them pass and did not speak to 

Kino and Juana walked through the city as though it were not there. 
Their eyes glanced neither right nor left nor up nor down, but stared 
only straight ahead. Their legs moved a little jerkily, like well-made 
wooden dolls, and they carried pillars of black fear about them. And as 
they walked through the stone and plaster city brokers peered at them 
from barred windows and servants put one eye to a slitted gate and 
mothers turned the faces of their youngest children inward against 
their skirts. Kino and Juana strode side by side through the stone and 
plaster city and down among the brush houses, and the neighbors stood 
back and let them pass. Juan Tomas raised his hand in greeting and did 
not say the greeting and left his hand in the air for a moment 

In Kino's ears the Song of the Family was as fierce as a cry. He was 
immune and terrible, and his song had become a battle cry. They trudged 
past the burned square where their house had been without even looking 
at it. They cleared the brush that edged the beach and picked their way 
down the shore toward the water. And they did not look toward Kino's 
broken canoe. 

And when they came to the water's edge they stopped and stared out over 
the Gulf. And then Kino laid the rifle down, and he dug among his 
clothes, and then he held the great pearl in his hand. He looked into 
its surface and it was gray and ulcerous. Evil faces peered from it 
into his eyes, and he saw the light of burning. And in the surface of 
the pearl he saw the frantic eyes of the man in the pool. And in the 
surface of the pearl he saw Coyotito lying in the little cave with the 
top of his head shot away. And the pearl was ugly; it was gray, like a 
malignant growth. And Kino heard the music of the pearl, distorted and 
insane. Kino's hand shook a little, and he turned slowly to Juana and 
held the pearl out to her. She stood beside him, still holding her dead 
bundle over her shoulder. She looked at the pearl in his hand for a 
moment and then she looked into Kino's eyes and said softly, "No, you." 
And Kino drew back his arm and flung the pearl with all his might. Kino 
and Juana watched it go, winking and glimmering under the setting sun. 
They saw the little splash in the distance, and they stood side by side 
watching the place for a long time. 

And the pearl settled into the lovely green water and dropped toward 
the bottom. The waving branches of the algae called to it and beckoned 
to it. The lights on its surface were green and lovely. It settled down 
to the sand bottom among the fern-like plants. Above, the surface of 
the water was a green mirror. And the pearl lay on the floor of the 
sea. A crab scampering over the bottom raised a little cloud of sand, 
and when it settled the pearl was gone. 

And the music of the pearl drifted to a whisper and disappeared.



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