A New Beginning
The wedding and baptism were
growing ever closer. Eagerly the final preparations were made. With
only one week before the baptism Diego, accompanied by Bernardo, left
the hacienda early that spring morning for the pueblo de Los Angeles.
Diego was to join Padre Felipe at the tavern to discuss the baptismal
service and then the two men would meet with Captain Monastario in his
office to iron out last minute details of the wedding. This was a very
exciting time for both young couples for in their own way were
beginning a new life. Anna Maria and Diego with their new family while
the commandante and Leonar their marriage.
Meanwhile at the de
la Vega hacienda the final fitting for Leonar's wedding dress was set
for early afternoon. Once the children were fed and set down for their
nap, Abuelo, would remain with the children in the nursery. With more
time available Anna Maria was free to help Leonar with her wedding
Outside the pueblo Carlotta, the seamstress, had hired
a peon to help her bring the finished wedding gown and trousseau to the
de la Vega rancho. Normally she would have managed on her own but this
was the daughter of the Governor of California and nothing could go
wrong. Carefully the hired man placed the senorita's gown and
trousseau in the wagon along with sewing supplies. Carlotta smiled to
herself pleased with her work and hopeful that this honor would lead to
Don Grigorio spent most of the morning
with Don Alejandro riding around the rancho checking on the vaqueros as
they branded newly purchased cattle. By afternoon the men sought the
comfort of Don Alejandro's library where they planned a simple lunch
over a game of chess. Later the two hoped to write a special
"grandfather toast" to the new arrivals to be given at the
celebration. Even the servants were busy in the main house; decorating
the patio with many pots filled with scented flowers and hanging
colored lanterns. In just one week the celebrations would
In the nursery Abuelo was helping the new mother
with the babies. While Anna Maria fed one child la ninera gave the
other a bath. Abuelo had become an integral part of the family caring
for the little ones and a trusted confident to Anna Maria. When the
children were finally ready for their nap Anna Maria hugged and kissed
each child before setting them down for their nap. Proudly she smiled
at Abuelo knowing her children were in safe hands then turned to head
down to the patio garden where Leonar waited for the seamstress.
dear Leonar, "Anna Maria called out as she strolled toward Leonar.
"Carlotta should be here at any moment with your trousseau. Please
have her follow you to my room and I will join you as soon as I speak
with cook regarding the week's menu."
"Very well," smiled
Leonar. "I am so excited. Everything is going perfectly. Father and
Aunt Margarita are arriving any day now. Most important Father has
finally excepted Enrique."
"Si even Don Alejandro no longer
cringes when the commandante is in the same room," laughed Anna Maria.
Oh, I hear a wagon. I am going to speak to cook and I will join you
Anna Maria walked into the main house leaving Leonar
to wait for arrival of the seamstress. Within moments the sound of
horses hooves and the wheels of a wagon stopped at the gate. Excitedly
Leonar ran to the entrance and swung open the large wooden door.
Carlotta greeted the bride as the peon carefully unloaded the wagon.
Leonar gestured to both to follow her upstairs. Opening the door to
Anna Maria's bedroom, Leonar requested the wedding items be placed on
the bed. Once this was accomplished the peon excused himself to wait
in the wagon. Slowly Carlotta uncovered the wedding gown as Leonar
sighed happily. The gown with its beautiful shear appliquéd mantilla
took Leonar's breath away. Carlotta had performed a miracle for Leonar
was to have her perfect dress. As the bride-to-be was about to change
into her dress she heard the cry of a baby. When the crys did not stop
she excused herself to check on the babies in the nursery.
"Abuelo is everything alright," asked Leonar before feeling a hand placed over her mouth and one around her waist.
"Quiet senorita if you know what is good for you and those children," snarled the mystery man.
out on the floor was la ninera. Obviously she had done her best to
protect the little ones from this violent man whose face seemed so
familiar. Frightened by the site of Abuelo lying on the floor Leonar
obeyed when the man told her to be quiet. As the man released Leonar
she ran to the fallen woman.
"Who are you and what do you want?" questioned Leonar looking up at the man..
do not remember me," said the peon . "Of course not, you are too above
one like me to take notice...I was a servant in the Verdugo household."
"You are Pablo...I remember now," Leonar said leaving Abuelo to check on the babies. "I thought you were in jail."
I was but there is not a jail that could hold me." said Pablo pulling a
knife from his sash. Now I have come for the money that is owed me."
opened the door to the nursery to let another man, who was not familiar
to Leonar, enter. Leonar ran for the door about to scream for help but
Pablo grabbed her and muffled her yell. Leonar watched fearfully as
the other man reached into one of the cribs and lifted out a baby.
Together with their hostages the men made their way down the stairs to
the waiting wagon where they disappeared unseen by the household. It
seemed like hours had gone by but in reality only minutes had passed.
Having finished her business in the kitchen Anna Maria headed to her
room. Once their she was surprised to find only Carlotta standing
among the garments.
"What has happened to our bride to-be," inquired Anna Maria.
de la Vega, your friend heard one of the babies crying and went to see
if there was something she could do to help," said the seamstress.
"She has not returned yet."
"Strange," replied Anna Maria. "I shall go see what is keeping her."
the door Anna Maria immediately saw the body of her children's nanny
laying on the floor. Kneeling by Abuelo's side Anna Maria turned her
to check on her condition. Frightened by the sight of blood oozing
from Abuelo's mouth Anna Maria ran to her children. Eduardo was
sleeping peacefully but where was Maria Isabella. Running to the door
Anna Maria screamed out for Don Alejandro and her father causing
Eduardo to cry out as he awoke. In a matter of minutes the two men and
the seamstress ran to the nursery. As Don Grigorio and Carlotta tried
to comfort the senora and started child, Don Alejandro carried Abuelo
to the bed in the nursery where she began to come around.
there was a man...an evil man," said the semi-conscious woman. "He was
threatening to take one of the babies. I tried to stop him but he hit
me. Are the little ones alright?"
"You must rest," Don
Alejandro said reassuringly. "Carlotta please tell one of the servants
to send for the doctor and the commandate immediately. Then have one
of the servants bring Benito to me at once"
"Anna Maria, you
must be brave," added Don Grigorio. "Diego will return to the hacienda
with the commandante as soon as word is received. They will find
"Si, everything will be alright," Alejandro said
patting his daughter-in-laws arm. "Come let us return to Abuelo.
Perhaps she can remember something useful."
"Abuelo," said the don. "Can you tell us anymore about the man who entered the nursery and did this to you?"
"I never saw him before," said Abuelo grabbing her head. "But he was an Indian and said the Verdugo's would pay,"
"Rest easy, the doctor will be here soon." said Don Alejandro joining the others.
outside the nursery the dons looked at one another. Don Grigorio took
the baby from Anna Maria and walked silently back to the nursery.
Alejandro took a deep breath and began the sad duty of telling Anna
Maria of Pablo and Quintana's escape from jail.
exclaimed Anna Maria raising her hand to her mouth. "Both men are
dangerous and each has a grudge against our families. What are we to
do? They have Maria Isabella and Leonar."
"Everything will be
alright daughter," Don Alejandro said embracing Anna Maria. "Diego and
the commandante will be here soon with a patrol. Pablo and Quintana
will not get away with this. Maria Isabella and Leonar will be found