Zorro & the Old Comandante



Eugene H. Craig





Chapter Twenty-one


Joaquín Enríquez finished counting the objects spread out before him. He had arranged them in a particular fashion and was satisfied. He had "collected" all of the items that he had been searching for, well almost all of them. As for the others, time was growing short and he had one final task in town to accomplish before leaving Los Angeles for good. He was not really sure where he was going, but he would worry about that later.

So far, the soldiers had not returned for another visit to the old shack although they had been in the vicinity just that day. Enríquez knew it was never safe to stay in one place for too long - patterns could be more easily identified, tracks discovered and he had one more problem that he had not counted on - El Zorro was on the side of those who would hunt him down or even jail him again. He thought about Capitán de las Fuentes and decided that he was just another soldier doing his duty, despite what he had told him about his demotion and exile from Spain. This comandante was different, he admitted to himself, but Enríquez almost instinctively distrusted anyone in authority regardless of their personal qualities. Even those who were well meaning never ended up doing him any good, he mused. If De las Fuentes could help him that was one thing; if he was trying to capture him, well, he would not allow that.

Tied to a tree some distance away was a horse he had stolen - temporarily, he told himself. The horse had nickered earlier that day and Joaquín had dived into the bushes expecting the worse. He had dozed off unintentionally and had been caught unawares. As he watched from the bushes, he saw a tall vaquero riding not too far from the trail. The man did not seem to notice anything, not even the sound of the horse from the woods, perhaps being preoccupied by his own thoughts. The fugitive watched him until he disappeared.

In order to make sure that the vaquero would not return and discover him, Joaquín decided he would leave the area that very afternoon. There were plenty of hideouts among the rocks, but in the chilly winter nights, he would need some protection against the elements. He already had made note of a number of hiding places he could move between on a daily basis and not even El Zorro would know where he would be at any time. He was also smart enough to try to cover up any tracks as he moved around, using the branches of a bush to obliterate his tracks.

Joaquín Enríquez pulled the sack over to where he was crouched and began to put all the objects inside. He stopped to appraise each of the items as he placed it in the sack. Soon, everything disappeared in the bundle. Enríquez felt a feeling of satisfaction sweep over him. Against incredible odds he had managed to recover all of the items and not be caught. Now he was ready to commence the last act of his plan and it was the most dangerous and daring: his return to Los Angeles.


Padre Felipe sat on the edge of the bench and crossed his sandaled feet. In the brisk winter months they were encased in light wool. While the mornings were damp and foggy, the sun generally broke out by noon and the rest of the short afternoon was warm. He listened carefully as Don Diego de la Vega explained his curiosity about the Enríquez graves. Were they related to the fugitive, Joaquín Enríquez? he asked.

"Diego, my son, their story is one that stretches far back into the history of Los Angeles," Felipe told Diego. "So far back, that I had almost forgotten." The priest paused. "It is a sad tale and a tragic one, for not all who come to California have been successful in their endeavors to find a better life."

"So, there is a connection between Joaquín and Los Angeles," Diego mused. "Were his parents poor? I notice there is not even a decent headstone for them."

"They did not start out so poor," the priest told him. "This man and his wife came from México to find a better life. The man, Juan, was a metal smith, somewhat average in his accomplishments. He worked hard and earnestly, but sadly, did not have the kind of skills or imagination of his local competitors. He lost money because his talents did not bring him the kind of business he needed to prosper. As his fortunes declined, he turned to drink, as do many men in despair of their livelihoods. As their situation worsened, a child was born to the couple."

"Joaqúin?" asked the young man.

"Yes," replied Felipe. "Joaquín. The father blamed the birth of this unwanted child for the bad turn in his fortune, for he neither wanted nor could afford a child under the circumstances. It broke his wife's heart that he rejected the child."

"Is the grave of María Enríquez that of his mother?" Diego inquired.

"Yes, it is."

"What happened to Joaquín after that? It could not have been easy for any of them," the young don asked.

"Surprisingly, the right thing was done - for the time being. As is typical, even today among the poor, Juan gave his child to his brother-in-law to raise. Maria's brother, Adrian, was my predecessor at the Mission of San Gabriel. Brother Adrian raised, educated and loved the boy as if he were his own. No kinder man could have been found, and no better father. Until the age of seven or eight, Joaquín knew no other life other than helping his guardian care for the poor, listen to the ministrations of kindness and wisdom and reading and discussing all kinds of ideas that Brother Adrian felt was important in understanding what made justice and injustice in the world."

"And yet, Joaquín has turned out to be a thief and a man of violence," exclaimed Diego. "What happened that made such a change in him?"

"This is where the tragedy begins," explained the man in the long, brown Franciscan robes. "After a tranquil life among the mission Indians and daydreaming of the saints and wonders of the natural world, the father, Juan, suddenly reappeared in his life. One day, Father Adrian asked the boy to come into his office. The boy came willingly and unafraid. In the office was a surly-looking man with tangled dark hair. 'Is that the boy?' he asked. The boy seemed to sense that something was wrong and went to the side of his guardian even though the strange man beckoned him over. 'Go to him," Adrian told him. 'Why, Father?" asked the child. 'He is not your 'Father;' the man snarled. The boy became frightened and clung to the priest's robes. The Brother knelt down and took the boys hands into his. He told them that he loved him very much as a son, but now the real father had shown up to claim him. 'I don't want to go with him,' the boy whispered. 'I know,' the priest replied, but I cannot deny you to your father. Now, let us pray.' The boy had to be dragged away.

"Why did Enríquez decide he wanted to reclaim the boy after rejecting him for so many years?" asked Diego.

"The father felt that since the boy was old enough to become an apprentice, he would help contribute the fortunes of the family. From all that we know, Joaquín was a bright boy, imaginative, willing to learn and well liked by all who knew him. These traits, his father felt, could be used to benefit the family or rather the family's business fortunes."

"Did the boy work here in Los Angeles, then?"

"Yes. He was apprenticed to become a metal smith, just like his father. The typical products in demand included candlesticks, snuffboxes, picture frames, pewter wares, and other items. Remember, the boy did not want to go, but had no choice. The life he now encountered was quite a contrast to the one he had known - one of daily beatings and hunger if he did not do the work right. Frightened and nervous, the boy did not learn as quickly as his father demanded. This resulted in savage beatings. The boy ran away repeatedly and when apprehended, was treated even worse. The father even used a club and the child was beaten into unconsciousness. Father Adrian appeared to take the boy back, but Juan beat him as well, driving him away with kicks and blows. Adrian was an elderly man and could not force the situation.

"How barbaric," commented Diego heatedly. "Now I understand more of what Señor Enríquez talked about at the hearing. Did anyone try to help him at all?"

Padre Felipe shook his head sadly. "People pitied the boy, but few lifted a finger, mainly out of fear of the father and out of the belief that it was none of their business to interfere in family matters, regardless of how bad it looked."

"How about the illness that he now manifests? Was he sickly as a child and this illness contribute to a worsening of relations between him and his father?"

"To my knowledge, the child never manifested any symptoms of his current malady," Felipe told him. "Not until his fourteenth year. Then the 'twitching illness,' as Capitán de las Fuentes calls it, began. The father accused the boy of shamming and the beatings continued. Juan's drinking became worse as the family fortune did not improve much. One evening even the neighbors had to drag him away from the boy because of the blows and kicking to the head after the child was prone on the ground."

Diego looked horrified. "Did not anyone try to put a stop to this savagery?" he asked in indignation.

Felipe nodded. "Father Adrian came back and attempted to intervene. He even asked the comandante, a Capitán Sierra, to arrest the man. Sierra did so and kept the father in jail for ten days, about the maximum he felt he could hold him without any real charges. Besides, it was not his job to oversee family problems. He did it out of genuine concern for the boy and because the neighbors were so indignant. He might have taken the boy into the army, but the affliction that he witnessed meant that the military would be no escape for a fourteen year old boy."

"What about his mother?"

Felipe looked beyond his young friend to the rows of roses near the far wall. Very few flowers were left now that the colder weather set in. He sighed. "As is the custom, María Enríquez bowed her head and did what she was told. When the beatings were over, she sought to nurse him as best she could. There was no money to take him to a proper doctor and she sought out the services of Señora Montoya, the curadora, who lived not too far from here at the time. Although she could mend the broken bones and bruised skin, she could not mend the spirit. Over time, and finding no recourse, the boy became sullen and angry with everyone. He could see the indignation and sympathy in the eyes of many, but almost no one tried to put a stop to his nightmare existence. Then, one day, Joaquín disappeared."

"Disappeared?" asked Diego. "Did he finally succeed in running away?"

"No one was sure," answered Felipe. "Many feared the father had killed his own son, for some felt there was nothing he would not do to the boy. About five years later, the father was killed in a fight outside the tavern. He had lost almost everything because most people avoided him and he got no business. Sad to say, there was no one left to mourn his death. The mother moved out of the community as soon as he was buried. No one knew where she went, but it was rumored she had been seen in San Diego. A few years ago, an old woman returned to Los Angeles to die. She was buried in the graveyard, but not next to her husband. It was felt that not even God would want to do that to her. She is, as you can see, a few graves away. After a while, almost everyone forgot about the couple that had never fit in with the community. And almost everyone forgot about the boy until about two years ago."

"My father told me that Enríquez had come to work for him two years ago while I was in Spain," Diego told the priest. "He indicated that the man had many problems and he had to dismiss him. I wonder why Enríquez sought work with my father?"

"This should come as no surprise to you, Diego," Felipe told him. "But your father was one of the people in our pueblo who tried to help Joaquín. These events happened before you were born and when you were a baby. Once in town, your father had restrained his father and so Joaquín sought him out as a protector. Don Alejandro had allowed the child to live and do small chores at the hacienda one of the times he had run away. After a few weeks, the father, suddenly showed up to claim the child. Alejandro told him that he did not deserve his son and gave him a lecture about how to treat a child. The man listened to your father but then told him to mind his own business. Even your own mother tried to persuade Alejandro not to turn the child over to the man, but Alejandro told her that, unfortunately, the law was on the side of the father, and there was little he could do other than register complaints with the authorities."

"Did Father ever complain after that incident?" Diego asked.

"Yes, he did," the priest told him emphatically. "As a matter of fact, he located a lawyer who would have helped getting the boy returned to the guardianship of the priest, but Joaquín's mother was too frightened to agree and that put an end to that. Joaquín must have remembered both your father's kindness as well as his efforts on his behalf. That is why he sought work with the Hacienda when he returned to Los Angeles, now a man."

"But something had happened to him," remarked Diego. "My father was more than willing to give him work, but told me that Joaquín had gotten into fights, began to drink, and neglected his duties."

"Your father, who is a busy man and who was in San Pedro on business, only got reports on what had occurred," Felipe told him sadly. "He was not in a position at the time to investigate what actually happened."

"What did happen?" Diego inquired, surprised that his father might have been misinformed as to the goings-on at the hacienda.

"I myself only found out recently that Joaquín's tendency to not obey authority got him into trouble with the head vaquero at your rancho, Emiliano Lorca. Lorca witnessed his illness once and decided to use it against Enríquez. He accused Joaquín of shirking his duties and drinking. He encouraged the other vaqueros to make trouble, even start fights with him. Based on these reports, Alejandro made the decision to dismiss Enríquez. At the same time, he gave him a month's wages as compensation which is customary among some of the old rancheros."

"As I understand it, Lorca was dismissed by my father only last year," Diego commented. "My father said that he discovered that he was making inaccurate reports and that he had begun to hear stories of misconduct from his neighbors." He paused. "I am sure that if he had known about what was done to Enríquez, he may have tried to rehire him in order to give him another chance." He shook his head. "No wonder Señor Enríquez feels that the world is full of falseness and treachery."

"But it still does not excuse his recent thefts or disrespectful behavior towards our current comandante," Felipe reminded him.

"No, it does not," Diego agreed. "But I wonder what is behind it all. From what I have heard, his thefts appear to be selective." He paused. "By the way, Padre, has Enríquez ever come to see you? And what ever became of Padre Adrian? Is he still alive?"

Felipe nodded. "He came once, long ago, to inquire about Padre Adrian, his uncle. I had the sad duty of informing him that my predecessor had died just before my own appointment."

"Where is his uncle buried?" asked Diego.

"I will show you," Felipe informed him, rising up from the bench and walking toward the roses. "He is buried here in the churchyard among the flowers he loved so well and among his people that he served so faithfully. He is buried by the statue of San Francisco, his own request."

"I imagine that he was greatly saddened by what happened to Joaquín," Diego remarked as he stood before the small statue carved out of white granite. Both men stood before the statue for several moments before the padre turned to the young man.

"And I am greatly saddened to tell you of a most unfortunate incident that just occurred this morning to a mutual friend of ours, Diego."

"And what is that?" the young man asked.

"Señorita Margarita was disinherited by her father and forced out of her home. Her mother is now in the chapel. She cannot be consoled at this time."


As Don Diego de la Vega crossed the plaza to the solicitor's office, Padre Felipe closed the door to his office and sat down at his desk lost in thought for the moment. It was only a few minutes later that he heard a quiet knock on the door from the corridor outside the his office that came from the chapel. He rose to answer it, calling out, "Please come in." Before he reached the door, it opened and he saw Margarita Pérez coming in with a shy but quiet smile on her face.

"Good morning, Margarita," Felipe began. "I see you are doing better than earlier this morning. Have you been in the chapel long? Can I help you with anything?"

"Well, yes, Padre," she responded. There was something in her demeanor that made the good priest wonder if the father had forgiven the daughter so soon because the young woman looked happy, even eager to see him.

"Won't you sit down?" he asked. "Tell me what is happening." He returned to his chair and she sat down in a chair opposite him quietly fidgeting for a moment. "Has the situation at home taken a turn for the better?"

Margarita looked down a minute as if searching for the right words and was solemn a moment. "No, Padre, it has not. But I am here about a different matter." She looked up at him and could not conceal her joy for long. "Do you remember when I told you a few days ago that I had met the most wonderful man in the world?" she asked. "And that I did not want to marry anyone but him?"

"I most certainly do," Felipe responded, sitting forward with anticipation. This was an unanticipated development.

"Well, I did what you told me to and now I want you to meet him," she said "He is here right now." When she saw him nod, she stood up at once.

Felipe rose with a smile as well. This was indeed good news and would probably help change the circumstances she found herself in. "Do ask him in," he told her in great expectation. He was very curious as to which man had won the heart of Margarita Pérez.

She went to the door and peered around the corner. She was smiling and said in a quiet voice, "Padre Felipe is ready to see us now, sweetheart."

Felipe heard the wooden floor creak outside and a few slow steps being taken toward the door. He was surprised to see Capitán Francisco de las Fuentes come around the corner and intertwine his arm through that of Margarita Pérez. "Your Excellency?" Felipe exclaimed in surprise.

"Good morning, Padre Felipe," the acting comandante of Los Angeles said, stepping into the room. "We have come to seek your blessing for a most auspicious event."


Benito Ávila rode into town. Normally, he would ignore situations that did not involve himself or endanger the well being of the De la Vegas, who were his employers and men he respected and liked. But this time, the vaquero felt that the passing on of information to the comandante of the pueblo was justified. As he approached the cuartel, the mestizo thought what a difference it was that Capitán de las Fuentes was in charge. If it had been Capitán Monastario, he would have never bothered to come into town or lift a finger to help out the garrison commander. Benito remembered his unpleasant encounters with Monastario, especially the cruel sword cut to the face he received at the Torres hacienda and his near hanging for trying to free the Señorita Elena and her mother from the clutches of that official.

It was early afternoon when Benito tied up his horse outside the cuartel and asked to see the comandante. The soldiers informed him that the capitán was not at the cuartel, but that he could wait. Ávila fidgeted a while, walking around the plaza and chatting with the young lady, Teresa, who sold tamales at her wooden stand. Finally, he spotted Sergeant García crossing the plaza. He politely broke off his conversation with Señorita Teresa and approached the stout soldier.

"Ah, Benito," García greeted him. "What brings you into the pueblo today?"

"I have some important information to give to the comandante," Ávila told the big man. "And I need to see him about a personal matter."

"What kind of information?" García asked. "You can tell me anything you can tell the comandante."

"Well, this is very important," the stocky vaquero told him. "I thought that Capitán de las Fuentes should be told directly. Besides the personal matter involves the comandante himself."

"The comandante is not here right now," the soldier told him. "That is why you can tell me anything that you mean to tell Capitán de las Fuentes."

"All right," the vaquero told him. "Only be sure to get this message to him right away."

"And what is the message?"

"First of all, there is the matter of the hearing the other day."

"What is so important about that? You were freed, Benito," the sergeant told him.

"Yes, I know, but there is a certain matter that pertains to this that I must see him about," the vaquero insisted. "And the second matter involves the fugitive."

García perked up at that and he became excited. "Have you seen Señor Enríquez?" he asked in some agitation. "Where is he? When did you see him?"

"I will tell all of this to the comandante," insisted Benito. He folded his hands across his chest and looked very determined.

García poked a finger at the vaquero. "Benito," he ordered. "You stay right here. I will go fetch the comandante at once." The fat sergeant gestured to the soldiers at the gate. "See to it that Benito does not leave," he commanded. The soldiers nodded and approached the mestizo who stood calmly watching the sergeant hasten across the plaza toward the church. Despite the soldiers standing behind him with rifles drawn, Benito had to smile at the huge soldier's swaying form. I have never seen such a fat fellow move as fast as García does, he thought. He turned back towards the two soldiers. "I am more than happy to await the arrival of Capitán de las Fuentes," he told them.


Padre Felipe brought María Pérez into his office from the chapel. She had been in the first pew nearest the altar. Covered in black from head to foot, bowed and on her knees, not even her daughter had seen her. The priest found María still at her prayers and whispered to her that her daughter needed to see her in his office. María rose slowly and painfully, allowing Felipe to gently guide her past the wooden alter and take the small corridor that led to his office. She wore a dark veil that covered her face. Although she hurt all over from the beating she received from her husband, nothing ached more than her heart. Sebastian had not even allowed her to be present when he had the lawyer formally order Margarita from their home.

It had been mid-morning when her husband left the house for his office in the leather goods store. Shortly after that, Doctor Aguilera had arrived and insisted on examining her. At first she had resisted, but he finally convinced her to let him tend to her injuries and examine her for broken bones. He told her that Margarita had requested his visit and was very concerned. He found only extensive purple bruises and her great distress.

As she entered the office, she was surprised to see Capitán de las Fuentes standing next to Margarita. Of course, she thought. He would be one of the first to find out what happened to Margarita. She faced her daughter who gave her a very concerned gaze. As her daughter embraced her, she whispered for her to take care. She refused to lift her veil and would not let Margarita see her face. She sat down wearily, as if exhausted. Margarita held her hands.

"Mother, are you all right?" her daughter insisted. "What did he do to you?"

"I'll be better soon," the thin woman told her daughter in a tired voice. "Don't be concerned about that just now." She looked up at the army officer who approached her.

"Doña María," he began, "is there anything I can do for you?" His distress for her condition and situation was evident both in his voice as well as his manner.

She shook her head. "Thank you, Don Francisco, but no. I am most concerned about Margarita. I am sure that you understand."

Felipe joined the officer standing before her. "Doña María, we are all here to bring some good tidings to you in the midst of these terrible events. I trust you will take great hope and satisfaction in what we are about to tell you."

The thin woman looked up at the small officer who stood before her, then glanced at her daughter who sat next to her with such a hopeful smile on her face. María tried to focus on his words rather than the pain she felt all over her body. The realization came to her when Margarita showed her the ring on her left finger. María almost gasped as she gazed at the inlaid diamonds through her veil. She suddenly realized what she was being asked and felt a great sense of relief. "Oh, Margarita, I'm so happy for you." She hugged her daughter right away.

"Oh, Don Francisco," she breathed, looking up at the officer. "Of course, I approve." She put an arm around her daughter's waist. "You are the only man Margarita will marry." She almost laughed at her own words. How absurd they sounded at a time like this. She saw the bearded man smile and wink at Margarita. Then she hesitated. "There is only one thing I am concerned about."

"What is that, Mother?" her daughter asked, looking up at the Spanish officer in curiosity and then back again to her mother.

"Well, please forgive, me," the veiled woman said, addressing the officer, "but I am concerned about Margarita living in a cuartel with all those rough soldiers. You must know that my daughter has grown up in a fine home with a piano and curtains on the windows."

Francisco nodded in understanding. "I assure you, Doña María, that Margarita will be well cared for. You need not fear for her in this regard."

"Of course, I'll be all right, Mother," Margarita interjected. "I'm not worried about that at all. What matters to me is that I will be with Francisco."

"I know you aren't worried about these things," the mother insisted, "but I am. People in love rarely think about the kind of home they are going to live in or whether they have enough suitable clothes to make themselves respectable." She turned to De las Fuentes again. "I know you love Margarita, Don Francisco, it's just that I want to be certain that Margarita will not want for a good home."

The officer was very respectful of her concerns. He sat down carefully next to María and took one of her gloved hands in his. "Allow me, if I may, to describe a room in my home in Spain," he told her. "I hope it will give you an indication that you have nothing to fear in terms of Margarita's comfort and security."

María nodded and held her daughter's hand with her other hand while waiting to hear what the officer had to say.

Francisco thought a moment. "It is my favorite room," he began solemnly. "It is our music room."

Father Felipe smiled as he watched the two women listen intently to the description of a place he had actually seen himself.

"In order to arrive at the music hall you must first walk through the front room which has many windows and quite a few plants that give it a cheerful decor. There is a long corridor with high ceilings that runs east to west," the Spanish officer told them. "The corridor is of black speckled marble and it leads past some minor rooms. Looking ahead, one can see black iron-wrought works on the right at the entrance to the room. The motive is musical with dancers and vines. As you enter the hall you see great windows overlooking the inner courtyard down below with all its trees, flowers and fountains. The high windows fill the room with light and face southward. The windows are arched. During the winter months, drapes of matching red are pulled to keep in the warmth. On the floor is a red and gold-trimmed rug that stretches the length and breadth of the room. Standing before the tall windows is a grand piano of mahogany. Several feet away is a large Irish floor harp. The walls are covered with gold damask both for appearance as well as to guard against the chill of winter. Paintings of musicians playing and dancers reveling hang from the walls. At each end of the hall are settees and individual chairs arranged so that visitors may relax and enjoy the music played or to sit and discuss cultural matters. Through one end of the room a corridor continues. Right off the corridor one finds small compartments where other musical instruments are stored, such as violins, guitars, violas, flutes, and more. There is a great fireplace at the other end of the hall. Over the fireplace is another large painting. It is fairly old and depicts all the members of my immediate family posing with our favorite instruments." He smiled. 'I was actually in my early teens when the painting was done, so it is quite dated."

The room was silent after he finished speaking. "That's just your music room?" asked Margarita. "Oh, my." She was positively awed by the description.

María found herself wondering what the rest of the house looked like, but she took the commentary in stride. "A music hall like that should make Margarita quite happy," she said contentedly. "It sounds quite elegant and comfortable. Thank you, Don Francisco. I feel much better now."

"I want to let you know that I have seen this room myself," Padre Felipe told the two women with some enthusiasm. "I could not have described it so well as Don Francisco, but it is magnificent. Even the ceilings are painted with frescos of the angels of Heaven celebrating and playing music. I am sure that it will be a source of great inspiration and creativity in all who go there."

The priest was interrupted by a vigorous knock at the door. He went over and opened it. Standing outside was Sergeant García who looked very anxious. "Pardon me, Padre Felipe," he said. "But I have some very important news for the comandante. Is he here?"

De las Fuentes arose at once. "By your leave, Ladies," he said excusing himself. They rose with him.

Sgt Garcia watched the officer move forward from his chair. "Your pardon, Comandante," he gasped excitedly.

"What is it, Sergeant?" asked De las Fuentes. The sergeant was quite out of breath.

"It is Enríquez. He has been spotted near the Old Shack! Benito Ávila is at the cuartel! He reports that he has seen Enriquez. He is there now!"

"Very well," Francisco responded. He turned to Margarita and her mother. "Dear ladies, I regret that I must leave to attend to this most urgent matter. I will endeavor to see you again this evening."" He stepped forward to bow and kiss their hands.

"But, Francisco," objected Margarita. "You are ill. Your leg - you should tend to that first."

"Yes, Your Excellency," insisted the priest. "Let the other soldiers apprehend this man. You are limping badly."

"I’m afraid that I am the only one he will listen to," the officer replied, addressing the priest. "If Señor Enríquez is not detained now, I fear the worst for him – and for others. He turned back toward Margarita and took her hand, patting it. "As to the medical matter, I will tend to it when I return, I promise." He nodded to her mother and repeated himself. "By your leave, I will see you this evening if all goes well or perhaps on the morrow. With your permission?" He bowed again and left with the sergeant. No one but the sergeant saw him stumble over the low steps after the door closed. García caught his arm and they moved across the plaza toward the cuartel.

Margarita turned back to María and Felipe after he closed the door. "I’m very worried about him. He is in a great deal of pain from his leg." She clasped both hands together and held them near her heart.

Her mother put her arms around her daughter and hugged her. "Don Francisco is a very fine man," she said. "Putting others ahead of himself."

Felipe nodded in agreement, but he thought, This is one time I wish you would put yourself first, my prince.



Chapter 22
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