Chapter Four

A beautiful clear blue sky was revealed once the hot morning sun burned off the dense fog that blanketed the pueblo. Already the plaza was beginning to fill with carts filled with fresh vegetables, fruit and grains. Other peons would soon join with their materials of fine silk, assorted homemade foods and handicrafts. Fighting his way through the crowded area a feeble old man led a mule pulling a rickety cart brimming with barrels and shovels. Slowly he hobbled toward the front gates of the cuartel where he was stopped by one of the sentries.

"Old one, what do you want?" asked the lancer with his rifle in both hands.

"Oh senor, I am here to clean the stable and pick up the trash," he said his face partially covered by his hat. "My brother is ill and I will be taking his place until he is well."

"You may enter," said the guard.

Stepping aside the two guards allowed the old man to lead his mule into the cuartel toward the stable. With a sly grin the old one looked about the garrison. The soldiers went about their daily duties and the jail was empty except for one prisoner who peered out from behind the bars of his cell. After tying his mule to a post, the peon began to empty his cart. A few barrels, some shovels and a broom were placed behind the cart and others were carried to the stable. Without a glance to the poor old peasant at work, the soldiers continued to move lazily about the garrison. Sweeping out the stables and filling the barrels with trash took the old peasant most of the morning. While carrying one of the barrels of trash toward the cart, the old man made sure some of the rubbish fell in the direction of the jail. After emptying the trash into the cart he went back to pick up the rest which lay near the cells.

"Senor, one should not be locked up on such a lovely day," said the old man.

"Sometimes we have no choice old one," said Miguel.

"Perhaps I can help you to leave this place before it is too late."

"How could you free me from this jail and why?" inquired Miguel surprised.

"Let us say things are not always what they seem. People are not what they appear. We have a mutual 'friend' that needs to be taken care of and your help is needed," said the old one his eyes narrowing.

"Who are you?" asked Miguel suspiciously.

"Someone that can help you," he said with a smirk. "I will return. You may count on it." Picking up the trash the peon emptied it into the cart, untied the mule and headed for the gate.  With Don Miguel's help he felt sure his plan would have a successful end. Then he would begin his life anew and his enemy would get all that he deserved.

Don Alejandro and Diego took their time arriving in the pueblo. The older gentleman was anxious to spend sometime alone with his son and discuss the events that had taken place over the last few days. Don Alejandro found his life had suddenly taken a strange direction. He had been overjoyed with the prospect of his first grandchild but to have Monastario as a member of his household and his dearest friend's son a murderer was almost unbearable. What more could the future hold for this family?

"Father, this has been an unusual time for all of us. It will take a while to process all we have discovered but I am confident that all will turn out well."

"My son, you are very optimistic and right of course. I must not dwell on things I have no control over. We must do what we can and accept that which is not in our hands."

Entering the plaza the two dons made their way toward the cuartel where Alejandro was anxious to speak to young Ramirez and Sergeant Garcia.Tying their horses outside the garrison the two men headed toward the gate and the sentries on duty. Before entering they allowed an old peasant to pass with his cart. As their paths met the peon raised his head to Don Diego and for a moment their eyes met. A sudden flash of recognition seemed to pass between the two but before Diego could say anything his father called out to him. Walking toward Garcia's office to join his father, Diego found it hard to shake the strange feeling that had come over him when seeing the old man.

"Is there something wrong my son?" asked Alejandro bewildered.

"I am not sure.  For a moment I was probably nothing," he said shaking off the
odd feeling as he continued walking toward the commandante's office.

Later that afternoon found Leonar sitting at the bedside of the man she loved with his hand tenderly held in hers. There had been no improvement in the commandante's condition and Leonar was becoming disheartened. With her eyes tightly closed, she folded her hands in her lap and prayed for a miracle. Padre Felipe tightly grasped her by the shoulders as he recited a pray for the commandante's recovery.

"My dear child, Capitan Monastario is not the only victim in this sad situation," he said trying to lend comfort. "You have been through a great deal. Why do you not join me in some lunch and then a stroll in the garden?"

"Oh padre I cannot bare to leave him. What if he wakes and needs me?  It is very kind of you to think of me but I must remain."

"Very well child. I promised Diego that I would keep an eye on Anna Maria, so if you will excuse me. I will return in a little while. Try not to worry," he said with a smile and left the room.

Once alone Leonar rose and stood by the window watching the men hard at work in the vineyards. She thought to herself how strange life could be continuing on even at the unhappiest times. Turning from the window Leonar glanced over to the bed where the still form of the ailing soldier lay. Sadly she made her way to the commandante's side. Unable to hold back tears she wept openly as her fingers lightly touched Monastario's face. Leonar felt as though her world had fallen apart.

"Enrique, please you must wake. I cannot bare to lose you now," her voice quivered. "Our lives have become entwined. I am nothing without you."

Lowering her head, Leonar continued to weep as she sat down in a chair alongside the bed.  From the first moment Leonar saw Captitan Monastario at the wedding of Diego and Anna Maria she lost her heart to the handsome officer. Each day she became more infatuated and love bloomed. Monastario was nothing of the monster he appeared to others. Leonar found him to be a kind, sincere and a sensitive man.

Leonar's eyes remained firmly fixed on Monastario's face when suddenly the slow movement of the capitans's head and a soft moaning sound surprised her. Quickly she ran toward the door and swung it open calling to the doctor and Padre Felipe. The two men rushed to the bedroom and stopped beside Leonar. Anna Maria and Bernardo followed behind and stood at the foot of the bed waiting for word from the doctor.

"Dr. Avila, I believe the capitan is waking up," she said excitedly.

"Anna Maria, please take the senorita into the sala," said the doctor picking up his bag. "I will be with you as soon as I have a chance to examine the patient."

Padre Felipe and Anna Maria ushered Leonar from the room and showed her to the sala. There she paced back and forth nervously in front of the fireplace as Anna Maria and Padre Felipe watched waiting for news from the doctor.

"Oh Anna Maria, this is a good sign I am sure of it," said Leonar. "I know that you have not been too enthusiastic about my relationship with Enrique but I love him."

"I know and he loves you. Leonar, please you must sit. Everything is going to be all right. The doctor will be with us as soon as he can," said Anna Maria extending a hand to Leonar.

"Of course you are right," she said taking Anna Maria by the hand. "Enrique is going to be fine. I am sure of it."

Don Alejandro and Diego returned to the hacienda shortly. Entering the gate they met Bernardo who in his own way told them of the present condition of the commandante. The men hurriedly made their way to the sala where they found the two women and Padre Felipe waiting.

"I am so happy you both have returned," said Anna Maria running to Diego."Capitan Monastario is beginning to awake. The doctor is with him now."

"My dear," said Alejandro taking Leonar's hand, "I am sure the doctor will have good news for us."

All eyes focused on the grandfather's clock, which struck the hour. Only a short time had passed but for those in wait it seemed an eternity. Suddenly the doctor appeared and joined the others in the sala.

"With your permission, I have news of the capitan's condition," said the doctor somberly.

"Doctor, what has happened," asked Leonar standing. "Is he..."

"No child, he is weak but he will live."

Everyone sighed in relief until the doctor added, "There remains a problem.  As you know the bullet was lodged in  the capitan's back and it was necessary to remove it. It may have caused damage to his spine.  We must wait until the swelling goes down"

"What does that mean," asked Leonar.

"I am afraid the commandante may have lost the use of his legs. Only time will tell."

"No," cried Leonar as she sobbed uncontrollably in Alejandro's arms.

The Reformation