Chapter Three

A dark silhouetted figure pressed against the cuartel wall and gradually crept toward the front gate under a clouded night sky. Hidden behind some stacked crates he observed the guards posted with their rifles at their side. It was obvious that Sergeant Garcia was not about to take a chance of having his prisoner escape. If this mysterious figure were to succeed with his plan he would need to free Ramirez. Slowly he slid back into the shadows and disappeared unnoticed.

As the sun peeked through the clouds two tired soldiers, Garcia and Reyes, galloped into the pueblo. Once again Garcia was in charge of the garrison until Capitan Monastario could return or until he died...Garcia refused to think of the later. The pueblo of Los Angeles, its soldiers and people, prospered during Garcia's command however Garcia knew he did not have the experience nor the intelligence to be a permanent commandante. Garcia dismissed Corporal Reyes after leaving their mounts at the stable and headed in the direction of the jail to check on his prisoner.

"Sergeant, have you come to release me?" asked Don Miguel seeing Garcia.

"Don Miguel, you are to be charged with the very serious crimes of murder and attempted murder. I think it would be to your advantage to notify someone of your predicament," said Garcia shaking his head. The acting commandante could not believe the callousness of this man and just walked away.

As the first rays of morning light filtered into Diego's bedroom he stirred and turned to Anna Maria who lay beside him. He looked at his sleeping wife and felt blessed that their love was about to produce a new addition to the family. Placing his hand on Anna Maria's stomach Diego leaned over to kiss her tenderly on the lips. Blinking her eyes sleepily she turned her head and gazed into Diego's smiling face.

"Everyday, my husband, it feels like the first time waking up next to you. I believe I shall never tire of this wonderful feeling."

"Soon it will not be just my smiling face that wakes you in the morning but the cries of a hungry child," he replied with a grin.

"True but for a woman this is one of the happiest moments, my husband."

"Why do you not stay in bed and rest this morning. I will ask Bernardo to have something brought to our room," he said as he rose from their bed. "I need to dress and check on Monastario. Hopefully there will be some good news."

"Diego, I cannot. I must rise and see if there is anything I can do for Leonar. She probably was up all night with the commandante."

"Very well, mi amor. We will dress and go down together."

Briefly stopping in to check on Monastario before joining Alejandro, Diego and Anna Maria found the commandante's condition was still grave but at least he was alive. Bernardo signed to the couple that Leonar, Dr. Avila, and Padre Felipe had joined Don Alejandro for breakfast. He assured Diego that he would remain with Monastario and that they should join the others.

"Gracias Bernardo. I will send someone to watch over the commandante while you get some rest. It was a very long day and night," he said patting his friend on the back. Bernardo smiled as Diego took Anna Maria by the arm and led her from the room.

Anna Maria and Diego greeted the group seated around the breakfast table. The strain of the difficult night showed upon their faces. Leonar, Dr. Avila, the padre and Bernardo had stayed by the commandante's side throughout the long night.

Taking the chair next to Leonar, Anna Maria remarked, "Leonar, were you up all night with Capitan Monastario?"

"Si. I could not bare to leave him perchance he needed me."

"Senorita, it will do no good for you to take ill," responded the doctor forcefully. "You must take nourishment and get some rest. The commandante will be well taken care of...I promise."

"The doctor is correct my child. You must take care of yourself. I assure you we will all do our best," Alejandro said holding Leonar's hand.

"You are right of course. I think I will go to my room and rest awhile. Later I will have a bite to eat and then I will spend time with Enrique. Excuse me," Leonar said as she stood. "Please let me know right away if there is any change." Leonar forced a smile then turned and left the room.

"Luis, I did not wish to bring this up in front of Leonar, but have you noticed any change in the commandante," asked Alejandro in a whisper.

"So far there has been no change. An encouraging sign would be for him to regain consciousness. Until then I am in the dark...loss of blood has made him very weak, the wound was severe and there may be unknown damage. We can only wait and see," said the doctor frankly.

"Friends, if you will excuse me," said Alejandro standing. "I must finish a letter I have begun to Don Carlos. Diego, as soon as you finish breakfast please join me in the study. Con primiso."

"Father, I will be there," Diego nodded. "Mi querida, will you be all right till I return?"

"Diego, Anna Maria will be fine. I will see to it that she rests," said the doctor.

"I will also watch over her. There is much to do before the arrival of your child," offered Padre Felipe.

"I will be well looked after, Diego, so do not worry. Go now before your father becomes impatient. I will be fine," she smiled cheerfully. Diego smiled fondly to his wife and nodded to the men before making his way to his father's study, secure in the knowledge that Anna Maria would be in capable hands.

Entering the study Diego could see the tension in Alejandro's manner. This letter was one of the hardest things his father found himself doing. Don Carlos was his oldest and dearest friend. Now Don Alejandro must explain to the older gentleman that his son, Miguel, would be sent to the gallows for the crimes he had committed.

"Son, I am glad you are here. This has been a very difficult letter to draft. Don Carlos is an old friend. He introduced me to your dear mother and now I will have to tell him the sad news of his son. He will not be able to be with him during the trial or at the end. My heart is very heavy."

"Father, it is sad but I have a feeling Don Carlos was aware of his son's faults."

Lowering his head Don Alejandro knew Diego was correct. Don Carlos must have influenced the authorities that released his son. As a father Alejandro could understand the plight in which Don Carlos found himself. After all had Alejandro not been a willing accomplice to his own son's deception. However deception was not murder. Diego was a fine young man, honest and fair, while Miguel lied and committed a series of heinous crimes.

"Son, would you accompany me into Los Angeles to post my letter then see Sergeant Garcia and Don Miguel?"

"Very well father. I will see that the horses are saddled and brought to the gate. Con primiso," he said as he made his way to the stables.

The Reformation