“Excellency, you sent for us?” Doña
Moneta said in her sweet melodious voice.
in my dear and asiente aqui.” Judge Vasca smiled warmly.
Diego helped her to a seat near the Judge. However, as Diego made his
wife comfortable his gaze never wavered from Ricardo del’Amo’s hated
sullen and dejected Ricardo del’Amo and an unusually quiet Don Juan
del’Amo stood before Judge Romero Luis Vasca, who was rhythmically
tapping his spectacles against a thick leather bound volume of the Royal
Spanish Law Regarding Capital Offenses.
Vasca sighed wearily as he weighed the moral character of the two caballeros
standing before him and was sickened by what he saw. “Gentlemen, and
believe me I am doing a gross disservice to that distinguished class by
addressing you as such, I ORDER you, Don Juan del’Amo, to pay a fine
of 1,000 pesos for conspiracy to bribe a public official and for
conspiracy to and witness tampering.”
as for you, Don Ricardo del'Amo,” said Judge Vasca, his voice colored
by scorn, your offenses against the crown of Spain are for
more serious than those of your father. I hereby order you to pay a fine
of 2,000 pesos to this court regarding your conviction for the crimes of
slander and libel. Furthermore, you shall pay compensation to help
restore the de la Vega family honor! Let me think. Adequate compensation
for their pain and public humiliation, the fine shall be 5,000 pesos.
The judge steepled his fingers together and rested his elbows atop his
desk “you are also hereby sentenced to 6 months in the local cuartel.
Finally, I order you to give a public apology to this Court and to Senor
y Senora de la Vega in the Town Square of the pueblo of Los Angeles at
glared at Diego and Moneta. ”Never!” he said as he waived his hand
dismissively in the air. “A del’Amo never caters to
his or her social inferiors!”
Vasca was incredulous over Don Ricardo’s defiant attitude. “YOU DARE
to mock an official of His Majesty Ferdinand VII‘s Judiciary? Once
again I ask you, will you fully comply with the above stated order?”
I shall not! I KNOW that Diego masterminded this entire campaign of
innuendo against me and I shall not rest until I can prove it! Nor will
I serve a single hour in that despicable jail! After all, I AM A
DEL’AMO!” Ricardo yelled. “Tell him, father!”
Juan del’Amo regarded his son and heir with revulsion. “Ricardo,
what in God’s name are you doing?”
look that Ricardo gave his father was riddled with hatred and derision.
"You may bow to this woman of ill repute and to this fastidious
excuse for a gentleman, BUT I NEVER SHALL!"
well, young man, you leave me with no alternative! Lieutenant Gonzales,
prepare the whipping post for Señor Ricardo! He is to receive twenty
The anguished cry escaped from the lips of Moneta de la Vega.
I do not understand you, Señora!" a shocked Judge Vasca said.
Diego was equally amazed. “Moneta are you serious?”
favor, Your Excellency, I do not wish to see the father of my child so
publicly humiliated. I am begging you to suspend this cruel sentence!
del'Amo sneered at Moneta. "I am NOT the father of your bastard
child and I do not need your help, bruja!"
had had enough of Ricardo's insulting his wife. The few seconds
del’Amo had to fend off Don Diego’s strong left backhand were
useless. De la Vega’s reflexes were lightening quick and del’Amo
soon hit the hard wooden floor of the Judge’s office.
Juan del‘Amo shrugged disgustedly. “My son richly deserved that, Don
Diego. Thank you for doing what I should have done long ago.” The
elder del’Amo turned away from Ricardo in utter shame and revulsion.
Gonzales, remove this pathetic creature from my sight and bind him to
the whipping post!" a furious Judge Vasca ordered.
Diego glanced from Ricardo del'Amo lying unconscious on the floor to
Moneta’s sobbing form in the Judge’s armchair. He could no longer
bear the pain he heard in her emotional outburst.
mi preciosa. All will be well, you will see. Your Excellency,
may I have a word with you privately?
course, Don Diego.”
Excellency, I think that perhaps the sentence is too harsh.” He
quietly told the judge.
Vasca sighed. "Very well, I do not understand your concern, but I
am not an insensitive person. If this kind and tender soul can forgive
her attacker, then I can afford to be lenient. Lieutenant, carry out the
sentence immediately but your prisoner is only to receive six lashes!
Don Diego said as he escorted his beloved wife away from Judge Vasca’s
Don Diego and Don Alejandro were helping Moneta into their carriage they
heard the cheering roar of the crowd reacting to the sound of the first
blow of the scourge striking del' Amo's bare back.
Juan del'Amo paced back and forth and the office of his son's attorney,
Don de Sevilla. "Señor, have you already filed for the appeal of
Ricardo's sentence with the Governor in Monterey? "
I have. However, I am not all confident that Governor Geraldo Ramirez
will grant my motion to appeal the prison sentence. But I have asked the
governor to release Ricardo temporarily into your custody."
is all I can ask, Señor de Sevilla. Buenos tardes.”
had been just over a week since Ricardo del’Amo had been sentenced to
jail, and Diego felt that Moneta was finally beginning to stop worrying
about that raton. Her skin was no longer the color of
bleached parchment and her appetite was back to normal. Moneta was now
taking her daily-prescribed afternoon nap and he decided to stay with
her for a little while.
Diego rested on his side so he could watch Moneta’s peaceful
breathing. He lay awake in their bed wondering if he really
was ready to raise a family. She stirred suddenly and awoke to see a
pair of the most fabulous hazel eyes in the world staring at her.
anything wrong, Diego?”
sí, he said with mock severity. “It has been nearly two hours since I
have kissed my wife!”
laughed despite the seriousness of his tone. “And what are your
grasped her even more tightly in his arms. “What a woman I married,
asking ‘Hanging Judge’ Vasca to spare the rod on such an overly
spoiled ‘child’ such as Ricardo del’Amo! Moneta, you have been far
too forgiving where Ricardo is concerned!”
left their bed and threw another log on the fire. Diego then sat down in
his favorite chair and lit up a cubano. Moneta wanted to
walk over to him and began lowering her legs down to touch the floor
late. Diego saw and heard the thump of Moneta’s body hitting
the floor. As he bent down to pick her up, he stepped into something wet
on the floor. It was blood.
MARIA!” Diego exclaimed repeatedly as he laid her slowly down on the
bed. He was so absorbed in trying to determine the severity of her
injuries that he did not hear that Bernardo and his father had been
pounding on their bedroom door. He rushed to unlock it.
son, I heard Moneta scream!“
please write a note to Dr. Perez and have Bernardo leave as soon as
possible to bring him here.”
nerve wrecking hours later, Diego sat in the sala with his head in his
hands. “Father if I were to lose either of them--”
Diego, you must be very strong for the three of you, and pray to the
Blessed Virgin for their quick recovery. Have some more brandy. Don
Alejandro looked up to see Dr. Perez approaching them. “Ah, see! Here
is the doctor now!”
tardes, señores. Doña Moneta has lost the baby. I am sorry, Don Diego.
Believe me that I tried everything that I could.“ He paused to allow
the pain of the shock to settle.
is Moneta all right?” her husband inquired in a choked voice.
sí, Don Diego, but this time, I insist that my orders for total bed
rest are not to be disobeyed! Had Doña Moneta listened to me
earlier, there was a better than fifty-fifty chance of her carrying the
child to term. She had been hemorrhaging for quite some time. But, what
many people do not realize, miscarriage of a first pregnancy is not at
all uncommon. It is nature’s way of balancing life and death I
suppose. I have sedated her and she should sleep until tomorrow morning.
Until then, señores, your servant.”
Alejandro sighed. “Why did you not tell me she had been that unwell,
Diego?” his father asked in a tone just as bewildered and as Diego’s
soul felt at this minute.
he gasped. “I did not know!”
to her, my son, and then get yourself some rest!” Don Alejandro said
in a gentle voice “....just be there for her now!”
watched as a normally energetic Diego slowly climbed the stairs to his
bedroom, defeat and sorrow clinging to his shoulders like an ill-fitting
jaqueta. He prayed to the Blessed Virgin that his son
would find strength enough for both he and Moneta. Things cannot
possibly get any worse! he thought worriedly.
DECEMBER 4, 1821
days later, Moneta was well enough to sit down in the patio with Don
Diego and her father-in-law, Don Alejandro. Although was early in
December, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was slightly
Alejandro excused himself from the breakfast table. "Diego, I must
travel to Los Angeles to take care of some business regarding my efforts
to start our own import/export business.” He paused to hug his
daughter-in-law. “There must surely be some new shipments of silk that
have just arrived from San Pedro. Perhaps, my dear, I shall bring home
several bolts of different colors for you to select so that our
seamstress can make you a new frock!”
Don Alejandro, I would really like that." Moneta said cheerfully.
they were alone, Don Diego grasped Moneta’s hands. "Mi
preciosa, you certainly hid the bleeding from me all too well.
you not at least suspect that something was amiss?“ she
said in an anguished voice.
please. I am a man who has never been married before... who has never
been a father before...yes, I thought you were unwell. But I sought my
father’s advice and he also believed that you only needed some rest.
What did you do? Swear Crescencia to secrecy?”
I washed the extra bed linen myself. I was going to see Dr. Perez the
day that I had the miscarried!”
cupped her chin in his hands. “Moneta, explain to me again why you
neglected to tell me?” he whispered.
have so much to worry about with the hacienda, the rancho, being Zorro
and-- Ricardo del'Amo, -- that I did not want to make matters worse for
husband sighed. “What am I going to do with you, Moneta? You are my
wife! Let us leave Ricardo del'Amo to El Zorro, for the Fox can
certainly handle him. In the meantime, I want you to get as much rest as
possible. For me, please?” To his consternation, Moneta was frowning.
are you unhappy that I lost our son? she asked suddenly.
was momentarily taken aback. “Our ...son!”
Dr. Perez said it was a boy.” Moneta huddled against him as if his
physical presence could absorb all the heartrending pain she had been
Moneta! Please stop shaking. Certainly not! You are the center of my
universe! I want you to remember that for the rest of your life. I LOVE
YOU!” Then Diego drew her to him and guided her head to rest on his
shoulder while they spent the rest of the morning in the patio, basking
in the gentle warmth of both the sun and their deepening love.