A New Beginning
                                                        Chapter Twelve

The excitement at the hacienda continued following the birth of the de la Vega twins.  The nursery adjacent to Anna Maria and Diego's room was finally complete.  Both parents loved the soft warm tones, numerous toys scattered throughout the room and the sheer lace curtains that shimmered when a breeze rippled through the windows.  The heirloom carved crib given by Don Alejandro was placed in the nursery next to the one brought by Don Grigorio and the two were decorated with handmade linens in pink and blue.  How fitting that the cribs, which held Anna Maria and Diego, should be used for their precious little ones as they slept contently.  Once "la ninera" was chosen to help with the care of the children everything would be perfect. 

Shortly after the birth of his children Diego sent a note to Padre Felipe asking the priest to suggest a woman to help with the care of the babies and to come to the hacienda to discuss the forth-coming baptism.  As soon as the note was received Padre Felipe went to work finding the perfect nanny for the de la Vega children and happily the woman he chose accepted.  

Abuelo, an Indian woman, worked and lived at the San Gabriel mission for many years along with her husband, Innocente.  It was there at the mission they raised their children under the love and protection of the mission priest.   Now with the death of Innocente and her children grown, Abuelo eagerly accepted the proposal made by Padre Felipe to become la ninera to the newborns.  Taking only a few personal items the Indian woman and the priest climbed aboard a wagon and headed toward the de la Vega rancho.

"Padre Felipe," greeted Diego.  "Gracias for coming so quickly.  One baby can be difficult for a new mother but two…poor Anna Maria has not had a moment to rest."

"Do not worry my son," smiled Padre Felipe.  "This is Abuelo.   I know the children will receive excellent care in her hands."  

"Come Anna Maria is in the nursery," said Diego.  "Let us go upstairs and meet my family."

Diego proudly led the way to the nursery where Anna Maria was attending the children.  Instantly the babies took to Abuelo and she to them.  Anna Maria was delighted as she watched the care in which the Indian woman handled her little ones.  Padre's Felipe choice had been an excellent one and the new parents were extremely grateful.  Before the padre returned to the mission he blessed the babies and set a date with the elated parents for the baptism.  After arriving back at the mission the priest had the rest of Abuelo's belongings collected and sent to the rancho.

Meanwhile the plans for Leonar's rapidly approaching wedding were going smoothly.  The governor and Leonar's Aunt Margarita completed the invitations and arranged for coaches to bring guests to the wedding in Los Angeles.  Don Alejandro, acting on the governor's behalf, booked rooms at the inn nearby.  The mission at San Gabriel would soon host two very different but happy occasions;  a baptism and a wedding. 

However Leonar had become so wrapped up in helping Anna Maria in the past months she had neglected the making of her own wedding dress.  With time growing close and more time available to her thanks to Abuelo, Anna Maria prepared a surprise for her dear friend. Early one morning a carraige arrived at the hacienda bringing Anna Maria's seamstress with  a great deal of material for the women to see.  After hours of painstaking consideration Leonar chose a design and material.  Before returning to her home to begin the pattern the seastress took all measurements and promised to return for the first fitting within the week.   

"I cannot believe that everything is going so smoothly," said Leonar looking radiant.  "Father, with Don Alejandro's help, has made arrangements for the guests, the invitations are about to be sent, our living quarters are almost complete and now I will have my beautiful dress.  Oh gracias, dear friend, I feel like I am living in a dream." 

"Oh Leonar, I just new that everything would turn out.  I know you both will be very happy."

"From the moment we met I knew Enrique was a good man even though he tried not to show it.  I fell in love that moment and have never questioned my feelings."

"You are going to be a beautiful and very happy bride," said Anna Maria happily.

Deep within the dense wooded hills behind the de la Vega rancho two men continued watch for patrols of soldiers while anxiously awaiting information that would help them format a plan.  This time neither Zorro, nor Diego de la Vega or anyone would stop them from getting what they desired.

"We must be careful," snarled Quintana.  "I do not wish to end up in a filthy prison again."

"Do not worry.  Everything must be right before we strike," replied Pablo.  "These rich pigs will pay and pay well."

Until their escape from a northern prison no one had given a thought to the two men.  The first man known as Quintana had been one of the henchmen captured by Zorro and turned over to Sergeant Garcia.  Quintana originally was sent to the pueblo de Los Angeles to help "the Eagle" in his nefarious plan to take over California.  Luckily for Fuentes he ended up in jail instead of the end of Zorro's sword.  There in prison no one listened to his insane ramblings of young de la Vega disquised as Zorro except a greedy Indian named Pablo.  Pablo, the second man, had worked for the Verdugo family for many years before devising a plan to extort money from them.  Diego, as Zorro, came to the rescue of the Verdugo family only to win the heart of Anna Maria and the disgust of Pablo.  Having found a mutual interest the two men planned their escape and traveled down California to exact their revenge from the Verdugo and de la Vega families.

Meanwhile in the pueblo Capitan Monastario was busy planning an enlargement to his quarters.  Since a commandante must live within the cuartel certain adjustments would have to be made to accommodate a wife.  Monastario hoped that with all the adjustments made to his quarters his future bride, Leonar, would find the surroundings more comfortable.  Thanks to the cooperation of the weather the plans for the commandante's quarters moved along swiftly and would be ready in time for the wedding.

With the commandante occupied with renovations Sergeant Garcia took charge of the every day occurrences in the cuartel and surrounding areas.  His earlier experience as acting commandante allowed him to take on this new challenge with ease.  The first real demand of him came with the news of the escaped prisoners.  Garcia hastilly had his men inform the de la Vegas of the escape and led a search through all areas surrounding Los Angeles.  To the surprise of everyone Garcia had gone from a bumbling incompetent to a rather thorough individual.