Chapter Four

Once again alone in his room Diego could not sleep.  Why had there not been more time with Anna Maria?  There was so much needed to be said.  Damn Garcia and his men for the interruption.  A loud knock on the door turned Diego's thoughts to the present..  He rose from his chair to open the door and stepped back to allow his servant to enter.  As Bernardo passed he could see that Diego had not slept and was deeply troubled.  However he would not ask any questions until his friend expressed a willingness to speak of his problems. 

In another room Anna Maria sat brushing her hair.  She was so confused.  She believed she loved Zorro as much as you could love someone you do not really know.  Now Diego had found a way into her heart.  How could she have feelings for both men?  They were so different.  Or were they?  One was a man of intellect the other of action but when they held her close, looked in her eyes, kissed her...what was it about these two men?

Diego finished dressing and together with Bernardo left his room.  As they stepped into the bright new day they met Anna Maria.  Bernardo knew he was in the way so he continued down the stairs leaving Diego and Anna Maria alone.

Hesitantly Diego said, "About last night...I am sorry if I offended you."

"No, you did not offend me.  I was just surprised by the kiss."

"Then why did you run away?" Diego asked bewildered.

"I wish I could explain my actions but I can not.  I need a little time.  I am very confused. Please do not ask me any more questions."

"All right," responded Diego taking her arm and leading her downstairs.

The conversation at breakfast was pleasant. The trio discussed the unbearable heat, the rancho and the party being planned that evening to welcome Anna Maria.  Many of the important families and most of the men who had donated money to Don Grigorio's venture had been invited.  It would be an evening of food, dance and good friends.

After breakfast Don Alejandro asked Diego to run some errands in Los Angeles and to have Anna Maria accompany him for today was market day in the pueblo.  Happily she went to her room to change.  While they wait Alejandro observed his son who seemed lost in his thoughts.  

"Diego is something the matter?" inquired Alejandro.  "Why are you acting so strangely?"

"I am sorry father but I was thinking of last night. I tried to tell Anna Maria the truth during our stroll then later in the evening as Zorro but each time I was interrupted. Father, I wonder if Anna Maria will be disappointed to find out I am Zorro."

"My son I do not think she will be disapointed.  I believe she will understand."

"Sometimes I find myself being jealous of Zorro for he is my rival," Diego said.

"He is not your rival, son, he is you."

The ride to the pueblo was an uneventful one.  Diego showed off a little of the rancho and surrounding area before entering the pueblo.   Anna Maria was surprised by the number of carriages and wagons filled with people.  There were many carts in the plaza exhibiting fine pottery, colorful material and scarves, vegetables, food and jewelry.  Diego tied up the horses and excused himself saying that he would join her shortly in the plaza.  Anna Maria walked around looking at the various wares stopping from time to time.  At one point she stopped to admire a small silver cross and chain. 

Inquiring of the peon standing at the cart she said, "What a lovely piece.  Do you have more?"

"No, señorita," he responded handing the piece to her.  "I have made but one.  There are no others."

She admired the piece for only a moment then took out a pouch filled with coins.  After paying the peon she carefully placed the cross and chain in her pocket before Diego and Sergeant Garcia approached her. 

"Buenas dias, senorita," said the Sergeant happily.  "You are looking lovely on this very warm day."

"Gracias Sergeant Garcia," she said.  "It is exceptionally warm out.  Diego would you mind stopping at the tavern for some refreshment before we return to the rancho."

"Si that is an excellent idea," he said smiling.  "Sergeant, perhaps you would like to join Anna Maria and I for some refreshment in the tavern?"

"I would like that very much," replied the soldier.

In the tavern the conversation flowed as freely as the wine.   Sergeant Garcia feeling quite good soon boasted of the large amount of tax money that had been collected and left in his care at the cuartel.  Diego tried to quiet the soldier so no one would hear but Garcia felt confident the gold was safe in the cuartel until a regiment from Monterey arrived. 

"Do not worry Diego the governor is sending troops to escort the gold to Monterey," Garcia said with assurance.  "No bandito would risk attacking this shipment."

After a bit of lunch Garcia returned to the cuartel while Diego and Anna Maria made their way back to the hacienda.  When the couple returned they found a great flourish of decorating taking place for the evening's activities.  Many of the servants were busy hanging lanterns and festive ornaments while others were preparing the meal.  Later as the sun was beginning to set Diego, Anna Maria and Don Alejandro dressed in their finest apparel met in the sala.   After a relaxing glass of wine the three prepared to greet their guests for an evening of merriment..
The Visit