A New Beginning
                                                                            Chapter 10

The warm gentle breeze of spring brought renewed life to the tiny pueblo de Los Angeles and with it the eminent arrival of Diego and Anna Maria's child.  The servants at the hacienda cleaned and scrubbed the main house from top to bottom while the parents to be prepared the room next to theirs for the nursery.  In the library Leonar eagerly composed a list of things needed for the nursery while curtains and linens were sewn from the finest fabrics to be readied in time for the blessed event.         

For several months Don Alejandro managed to hold back the joy of the birth of his first grandchild.  He longed for the playful laughter of a child to fill the empty walls of the hacienda.  Now that the baby's arrival was so near he unpacked a special gift he wish to share with his children.  Gathering Diego and Anna Maria in the sala, the don with great pride presented them with a beautiful handcrafted crib. 

"Father this is the most beautiful crib I have ever seen," Anna Maria said hugging Alejandro. "Our child will sleep like an angel."

"I am so pleased that you are happy, my dear," said Don Alejandro beaming.  "This crib is a family treasure.  My parents brought only a few pieces with them from Spain; the crib was one of them.  It has been in my family for generations.   Even now I remember when Isabella and I placed our son, Diego, in the crib.  We were so proud and happy."

"Gracias, Father," said Diego.  "This is a special gift you have given us.  I believe it will find many years of use."

Anna Marie blushed at the words spoken by Diego.  How pleased she was when she looked into the faces of her husband and his proud father!  She hoped that this feeling would remain indefinitely.  A knock on the door brought Benito, the head vaquero, to the sala with a message for Don Alejandro and Diego.  Anna Maria excused herself knowing all to well that business was no place for a woman.

In the library Leonar was hard at work on the guest list for the christening and the party to follow.  She planned a wonderful celebration at the hacienda with lavish dishes prepared by the cook and served on the finest china from the de la Vega pantry.  In addition to music for dancing, Leonar hired a pair of dancers from the tavern to entertain.  This day was to be a celebration of life and everything was to be perfect.

As Anna Maria entered the room Leonar smiled and said, "I have everything under control. The items for the nursery have been ordered and should be ready by the end of the week.  Also the arrangements for the party including the invitations are ready.  All that is needed is the "guest of honor" to make his or her appearance."

"It may be anytime now," said Anna Maria sitting in Don Alejandro's big cushy leather chair.  "I am a little anxious but Diego is very calm.  I do not know what I would do without him."

"Diego is a fine man and he will make a wonderful father," added Leonar.  "There is nothing to worry about for everything will go smoothly.  Now please take a look at the lists I have put together for the party after the christening.  I do not wish to miss anything."

"The lists look perfect, Leonar," Anna Maria said returning the notes to Leonar.  "I am grateful for everything you have done. Now there is something I wish to ask you.  Diego and I have spoken and we agree that you would be the perfect godmother for our child.  Your friendship has meant so much to me, please say you will do this."           

"Oh, I am honored," Leonar said overwhelmed.  "Diego and you have done so much for me.  I truly believe I would not be this happy were it not for you both.  Si, I am happy to be the little one's godmother."   

"Wonderful," said Anna Maria taking Leonar by the hand.  "I feel so much better knowing that if something were to happen to Diego or myself you would be there.  Gracias.  You have done a wonderful job with the baptism and the celebration to follow; even the baby's room is ready.   You must see the beautiful crib Don Alejandro gave to Diego and myself.  It is so beautiful. Tell me what I may do to help you with your special day.  Remember the wedding is only three months from now." 

"Well, Father and Aunt Margarita have everything under control for the moment," laughed Leonar.  "My father and aunt will arrive two weeks before the wedding which should be enough time to finalize all arrangements.  I cannot believe that in less than three months I will be Senora Monastario."

"Well, if there is anything I can help with, please just ask," pleaded Anna Maria.  "Wait, I just thought of something.  There is something I can do.  I am going to have my seamstress call on you tomorrow.  We will pick out any material you wish and have the most beautiful dress anyone has seen in Monterey made for you."

"I accept with the greatest of pleasure," Leonar said excitedly.  "With Father and Aunt Margarita handling all the arrangements I was feeling somewhat left out, not unlike father when the Capitan proposed.  Father is old fashioned and wished for Enrique to ask him for my hand in marriage but he was satisfied that we received Don Alejandro's blessing."  

"Oh what fun that was," laughed Anna Maria.  "For a moment Diego and I thought Don Alejandro was going to deny the commandante's request for your hand in marriage. That is until we saw the twinkle in his eyes.

"I believe Don Alejandro enjoyed making the Capitan squirm,"  grinned Leonar.  "Until that moment Enrique was always in charge."

The poor commandante was so..." Anna Maria said clutching her abdomen.  "Leonar, please find Diego.  I need Diego."

"Do not move," said Leonar in a panic.  "I will get Diego and bring him right back to you."

Leonar dropped the notes that she was holding and ran to the library door calling Diego by name but no one answered.  She moved hastily to the patio where she saw Don Alejandro, Diego and Benito in conversation.  Excitedly she yelled out to Diego to hurry after her for Anna Maria was about to have the baby.

While Diego followed Leonar to the library Don Alejandro sent Benito into the pueblo to bring back Dr. Avila.  Once Benito was on his way Don Alejandro asked Bernardo to find Constancia and ready the room for Anna Maria then he hurried to the library to see if he could help. 

"Father, has the doctor been sent for?"  Diego asked picking Anna Maria up.

"Si, my son," replied Don Alejandro.

"I will take Anna Maria to our room," said Diego.  "She will be more comfortable."

"Everything will be alright, my children," Don Alejandro patted his son's arm.  "I will send the doctor to you as soon as he arrives."

Silently Don Alejandro watched his son climb the stares with Anna Maria tightly held in his arms.  Closing his eyes he said a prayer for his dear children.  This time he promised himself things would not end badly for there would be a healthy child born to this family.