The Reformation
                                                                          Chapter Eight
                                                          "Good Intentions Often Go Amiss"

It had been a long, exhausting night for Don Alejandro as he explained to his dear friend the hideous crimes committed by his son, Miguel. The elder gentleman had been shocked and filled with remorse as he listened solemnly. In the past Don Carlos had always made excuses for his son but now it was time to confront the truth. All the love and good intentions fostered by the don had not helped his son or the innocent people killed or injured.

"I wish I did not have to share this news with you, dear friend. I understand what a hard decision you faced in Spain and the pain you felt. Diego is my only child and I would give my life to keep him safe."

"Gracias Alejandro," sighed Carlos, "but I feel I am to blame for all this. What have I done? El dios me perdona!"

"Carlos, this is not your fault," declared Alejandro. "You did only what you thought was right."

"Oh but it is, my friend. Long ago I should not have interfered with justice. So many have suffered," said Don Carlos his hands covering his face.

A sharp knock on the door of the study brought Alejandro to his feet. Hopefully this would be the interruption that was needed to change the melancholy that hung over the room thought Alejandro.

"Enter," said Alejandro loudly.

"Ah, Alejandro, pardon us," said the governor looking upon Don Carlos. "Leonar and I did not know you were still engaged in conversation."

"Your Excellency, senorita, I insist you join us," Don Carlos said rising to his feet. "We were already finished besides this does concern you both."

Standing behind Leonar, the governor listened and remained silent as Don Carlos continued to speak. Both father and daughter saw the deep sadness in the don's face.  Why had the Spanish authorities not taken the necessary action years ago to prevent all the horrible crimes committed? All this unfortunate pain and suffering.

"Don Carlos, I understand your love for your son however he committed so many crimes. So many people have suffered and died. I, myself, was one of his victims along with Captain Monastario. Don Miguel must be punished," Leonar said forcefully.

"Everything you say is true. I should not have interfered in my son's punishment in Spain. I do regret my part. It probably does not help but I shall pay everyday for the rest of my life with the knowledge of what my son has done."

In another part of the hacienda, Bernardo helped Diego get the commandante to bed before leaving the two men alone. Sitting in a chair beside Monastario's bed, Diego rested his hands on the thigh of his crossed leg and watched the tension in the commandante's jaw.

"De la Vega, you do not have to guard me. I can not leave this room to do harm to your illustrious houseguest," the soldier said sarcastically.

"That is not the reason I remained behind. I thought you could use a friend."

"A friend...," Monastario repeated. "I do not know the meaning of that word."

"I believe you do. Let me help your friend," said Diego ardently.

"No one can help me. I have lost everything that made life worth living."

"I felt that same way. I almost lost Anna Maria for good because I thought I was doing what was best for everyone. Leonar loves you. Do not be a fool and let her go."

"Why do you care what becomes of me? You know the man I am. Given the opportunity I could expose you as Zorro and send you to the gallows."

"You had the opportunity, my friend, and you did nothing. I repeat, let me try to help," Diego said extending his hand.

Gradually the commandante stretched out his arm until his hand clasped that of Diego. Would this be only a temporary truce between respected enemies or would it turn out to be the beginning of a new friendship?

Grinning Diego stood and exclaimed, "Come, we have much work to do."

Hidden in the hills over looking the de la Vega rancho, Miguel waited impatiently for his accomplice to return with information regarding the visitors at the hacienda. The scheme of revenge was a good one but could Miguel afford to stay in the area much longer. His vindictive desire to get back at the commandante was very strong and then there was Leonar. Leonar, who was beautiful and desirable, but had chosen the commandante over him. She would have to be punished for this insult...just as the commandante's wife so long ago. Si, he would stay until his thirst for revenge was met. It was dark when the second man returned with some startling news. He sat quietly for a moment before speaking as he caught his breath from the long climb.

"The Governor and his guards are among the guests at the hacienda. I do not know how long they plan to stay but we must make sure they leave the hacienda before we make are move. Young de la Vega and his father always check on the stock in the morning, therefore we will work on a plan accordingly. We must fabricate some story to get the governor and guards out of the way. Perhaps a note from Sergeant Garcia would be in order. There is just one problem."

"What is that?" Miguel queried.

"Your father is the man who arrived with the Governor," blurted out the sly little man.

Opening his bedroom door as quietly as possible, Diego walked into the bedroom and tossed his jacket over the wooden screen. After removing his tie Diego opened the buttons of his shirt and slipped it off. Once his boots were removed he picked up his dressing gown.  Placing the robe over his bare shoulders he slipped his arms through the sleeves. With a slow stride he moved toward the balcony doors stopping only to glance at his wife sleeping peacefully. Opening the doors he stepped out onto the balcony and lit a cigar as a cool breeze ruffled through his hair. Leaning on the rail Diego recalled his life since returning from Spain. The suppression of the people of Los Angeles due to the commandante's sadistic ways, his own transformation to Zorro, and the disappointment captured in his father face before the elder don learned the truth. This was not exactly what he dreamed before coming to Los Angeles but it had become his life. Of course there was Anna Maria...their marriage and unborn child.

In the bedroom the fluttering of the drapes woke Anna Maria from sleep. Looking about the dark room she noticed the open balcony doors and rose from the bed. Standing in the doorway she spoke sleepily.

"My husband, is everything all right?"

"I did not mean to wake you, mi querido," said Diego reaching for her hand.

"You did not," she replied. "Diego, you seem troubled. Is it all this business with Don Carlos and his son?"

"Only a small part. I spent some time with the commandante this evening. We came to an understanding...a temporary truce. For the next month he will remain at the hacienda.  At the end of that time if he has shown no improvement he will return to Spain...alone. Each day we will work on strengthening his legs. With any luck he will improve."

"I pray that he will be given another chance, my husband. I cannot say that I understand the path he chose after his wife's death but I do believe he is a different man now."

"Come, you must rest," he said putting out the lit cigar and leading Anna Maria back inside to their bed.

Laying her head on Diego's chest Anna Maria closed her eyes thankful to have a husband such as Diego. He was caring, trustworthy, and confident. Safely wrapped in each other's arms they drifted off to sleep with the child created from their love growing safely within its mother's womb.