A New Beginning
                                                                           Chapter Fourteen

Miles from the de la Vega hacienda Pablo and Quintana hid the wagon among the dense growth of trees.  There two men waited with fresh horses and supplies along with the young wife and child of one of the men.  For the most part the kidnapping of the de la Vega child had gone smoothly but the additional hostage was something the men did not expect.  However there was no time to stop to discuss the woman's presence for the men must move quickly so not to be discovered.  Leaving the two hired men behind to eliminate any sign that they were there Pablo and Quintana forged on with the women and children.

"Keep that screaming brat quiet," snarled Pablo looking at Leonar.

"Let us go and I promise I will see that you get your money," Leonar replied.

"Of course once you are free the de la Vega's will pay," laughed Pablo.   "You must think I am a fool.  Now quiet that kid."

"Or what?" Leonar answered defiantly.  "Will you kill us?  Then where would you be?  My father and the commandante would hunt you down like the animals you are."

"If they want their loved ones returned to them they will obey or that brat and you will just vanish," grinned Pablo.  "Once they pay the money we will disappear and they can have you and that brat but they must find you first.  We will have them running in circles.  There will be no time to look for us until it is too late"

"It seems as though you have thought of everything or have you?  I have not heard you mention Zorro."

"Do not speak that name again or you will be very sorry," spoke Pablo with anger.  "Remember no one says you have to be returned unharmed just returned."

For the first time since she was taken from the hacienda Leonar knew fear.  These man were not crazy like Don Miguel or Pina but they were every bit as dangerous.  It was not just the money they wanted but also revenge.  Who was to say once the ransom was paid that these evil men would release the child and she unharmed.  Tears filled Leonar's eyes as she looked down upon Maria Isabella's angelic face.  Leonar knew she must do nothing to anger these men but she prayed that someone would find them soon.  Riding alongside Leonar the young wife of one of the men smiled.  

"Your child is hungry," she said in a whisper.  "Should you not nurse your baby?"

"Maria Isabella is not my child," said Leonar.  "They took me not her mother."

"Stop your horse,"said the young wife moving close.  "Take my child and I will nurse the little one.  Once she is fed she will settle down."

"Gracias," Leonar said exchanging children.  Leonar wondered if this woman could be the key to helping her escape or was this only a momentary kindness?

At the hacienda Don Alejandro was waiting in the sala with Anna Maria and Don Grigorio.  A couple hours had passed since Pablo had taken his prisoners and fled.  Don Alejandro had sent a servant into the pueblo to bring back Don Diego and the commandante while sending Benito and the other vaqueros to follow the tracks left by the wagon.  Unfortunately Don Alejandro's men had lost the trail.  Hopefully once Diego and the commandante returned to the hacienda they would have more luck.  From what Don Alejandro remembered Pablo and Quintana were very clever and dangerous men.  Diego and the commandante would have to use caution and skill to outwit these culprits.  Don Alejandro was proud of how his son, as Zorro, had handled criminals before yet would his personal feelings get in the way this time.  With the life of Diego's baby daughter and Leonar at stake would his judgment be impaired?  Would the commandante's reaction be any different?  This should have been a happy time for both men instead they must fight to find the people they loved.                                                                                                            
"Dear Anna Maria," said Don Alejandro compassionately.  "Diego and the commandante should be here at any moment.  They will find Maria Isabella and Leonar and bring those scoundrels to justice."

"I hope so," said Anna Maria looking pale.  "Father and I know how dangerous Pablo can be.  I don't trust him."

"Then trust Diego," said Don Alejandro.  "Diego will leave no rock unturned until he finds his daughter and Leonar.  You must believe."

"I will try but," began Anna Maria as Diego and the commandante entered with Padre Felipe.

"Diego," yelled Anna Maria running into her husband's arms.  "Pablo, the servant who tried to blackmail my family, has kidnapped Maria Isabella and taken Leonar, too.  Oh Diego what shall we do?"

"Mi querido it will be alright," Diego said looking deeply into his wife's distressed face.  "The commandante brought a patrol and Sergeant Garcia has already begun the search.  We will join them once we speak with Abuelo and the seamstress again."

"Diego, you must find them," pleaded Anna Maria.  "You know how dangerous these men can be.  I don't believe they would give a thought to killing the daughter of the governor or a baby.  Also the baby will need nourishment soon…"

"My child, let us say a pray," comforted the priest.   "Diego and the commandante know what  must be done.  I do not believe these men are foolish.  They planned this very carefully.  I am sure they have made arrangements for the babies nourishment until an exchange is made."

"Come Anna Maria," said Don Grigorio.  "Padre Felipe is right.  These men want the money and know they must not harm their hostages.  Maria Isabella will be fine until Diego and the commandante find them."

Trying to be brave Anna Maria turned her face to her husband then returned to her seat followed by the priest and Don Grigorio.  Still in deep pain himself, Diego joined his father and the commandante in the nursery where la ninera was recovering from the blow to her head.  After giving a brief description of the man and the events that took place the three men stepped out onto the balcony to plan what must be done.