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Hispanic Heritage
A Home for El Gaucho, Part 3

A Home for El Gaucho, Part 3
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.41

     challenging words:    cocooned, fracas, rickety, tracer, woofing, unbearable, sagebrush, shaggy, scrubby, snarling, stiffen, white-tailed, knots, crossing, universe, easily
     content words:    El Gaucho, Now Luis, In Montana, Rocky Mountains, But Gaucho

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A Home for El Gaucho, Part 3
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     Luis sat for a long while, his head against the cat's fur. It'd been dumb to think this school might be different. He decided never to let that kind of hope fool him again. Much better to expect the worst. It didn't hurt quite as much that way.
2     Life would be so much easier without school. No more tight knots of dread in his belly every morning. No more stupid kids. Who needed them, anyway? He had El Gaucho. He scratched under the cat's chin. Gaucho purred and rolled over on his back, his feet in the air. He didn't seem to care that he looked silly. Luis laughed and went to do his chores.
3     A few weeks later they'd packed up and driven away from that town. Luis was glad to leave. Not that it'd be any better in the next place, he thought. But for a day or two they'd be on the road. He wouldn't have to face school for a while.
4     He was worried, though. This time was different. Mamá and Papá had told him they'd decided to stop traveling. In the newspaper, Papá had seen an ad. Far away in Montana, a man wanted help on his cattle ranch. He needed a family man who would be reliable and could work outdoors. Besides wages, the rancher would provide a home for the worker and his family. Papá had written a letter to the ranch owner. Now Luis and his family were headed for the cattle country of eastern Montana.
5     "Just think," Mamá had said. "We will have a home!" Her dark eyes sparkled. "Next year, 'Berto will start school. Having a real home will make school much easier for both of you," she said to Luis. "You'll be able to stay in the same school all year."
6     Luis felt his stomach clench. The same school all year? He thought of spending all year with the kids who had called him funny in the head. It would have been unbearable. In Montana, he was sure the kids would be just the same. Except now, he wouldn't be leaving after a couple of weeks. He'd be trapped there.
7     The thought went round and round in Luis's head. What was he going to do? He had a wild thought. He could grab Gaucho and sneak away at the next gas station. It was the middle of the night. They were crossing the Rocky Mountains. He could hide in the thick trees that were all around.
8     The next thing Luis knew, he was shaken awake. The car clattered and banged something awful. It was the drive shaft, Papá said. He stopped the car and crawled underneath. When he was done working, the car ran a little better. Luis wondered if the old car would make it all the way.
9     Now that he was awake, Luis opened his eyes wide at what he saw out the window. Yesterday they drove through oceans of tall trees. The road had seemed cocooned in green. Now, they might have been driving on the moon. The green had become a dry brown. The ground was bare except for clumps of spiky grass and scrubby brush. Sagebrush, like he had seen in Texas. "Are we still in Montana?" Luis asked, puzzled.

Paragraphs 10 to 18:
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