7 - A WEDDING FIESTA
Don Ignacio and Doña
Luisa Torres, together with their daughter, Elena, and her new spouse,
Señor Benito Julio Sanchez, were all deeply happy regarding Moneta’s
marriage to Diego. And even the normally staid and severe Don Alfredo
smiled warmly at the wedding party. After all, he was Don Diego’s padrino!
For his godson’s wedding, he discarded his usually somber dark brown
and navy colored suits and instead wore a charming gray silk jaqueta
festooned with white satin embroidered scrolls and miniature emeralds
decorating the shoulders, cuffs, and down the center of the jaqueta’s
Father Felipe from
the Franciscan mission of San Gabriel was especially pleased to perform
the marriage ceremony. He had been a close friend of Diego’s mother,
Bethia Elizabeth. After her untimely death in 1807, Father Felipe became
the ten-year old Diego’s spiritual confident and occasional surrogate
parent. Every Wednesday the friar would rise at four a.m. and, after
reading his Holy Office prayers, wait for Diego arrive for their weekly
chess game, which Diego invariably won.
As Diego danced
with his new bride, he finally conceded that Moneta looked gloriously
radiant in the shade of the palest ivory she had selected for her
wedding gown. As she told him prior to the wedding, all the women of Don
Cornelio’s family usually wore a black satin dress and mantilla.
“You should have
seen papacito’s shocked expression when I told him that
I had chosen to wear a different color! I said that the thought of
wearing black on the happiest day of my life was entirely too morbid!”
Moneta had told her fiancé. “But I reminded him that a red-faced
bride wearing a black wedding gown would be an entirely too gaudy
--besides being improper -- combination for Señora de la Vega!“
”I can imagine. But, querida mia, your father was just
trying to honor tradition. I for one am delighted with your
Don Cornelio was
thrilled beyond all imagination as he watched his daughter and new
son-in-law dance at their wedding reception. He briefly closed his eyes
and thought. Doña Carmela, my dear late wife! Moneta chose the most
charming bridal gown. She resembles you so! Her dark hair beautifully
contrasts with her smooth as silk fair skin! Carmela Añia Teresa
Esperon Valdez, you certainly can be proud of our daughter!
The bodice of
Moneta’s ivory raw satin dress’ was tightly fitted at the waist
while the skirt flared out thanks to four new silk petticoats given to
her by another madrina, Doña Sylvia Gutierrez Montero.
Both the dress and train were completely draped with the finest Alçenon
lace and were covered with tiny ivory rosettes. Her elegant mantilla was
fashioned from the same delicate lace. IF she had chosen to wear
virginal white, Moneta would certainly be subjected to nothing but more
scorn, because rumors were already reaching alarming proportions since
Don Juan Del‘Amo, father of Don Ricardo, had quietly dissolved the
engagement agreement with Don Cornelio at the end of September. Diego
guided his new wife to her seat near Don Alejandro. Moneta touched her
father-in law’s face and kissed his cheek.
“Well, my new
daughter, what prompted that delightful display of affection?“ said
Don Alejandro as he feigned surprise.
“That was a
well-deserved ‘muchas gracias’ for this lovely fiesta, Don
Alejandro. And another kiss for my beloved husband, for having the
courage to marry me and grant his name to my child!“
harrumphed. “My dearest Moneta, we are honored to have you as a
cherished member of the de la Vega family!”
Diego gently wiped
away the tears that threatened to trickle down his bride’s face.
“Now, now, Moneta, amada, we cannot have the bride upset
at her own wedding fiesta!”
Esperon heartily congratulated the bride and groom and then asked his
new son--in-law for permission to dance with the new Senora de la Vega.
Moneta gazed lovingly at her father, who had asked her if she were as
happy as she appeared to be. “Sí, papacito, I am
very happy! At least now my child will have a name and a loving
looked deep into his daughter’s eyes. “Chiquita, I
have always wanted the very best for you and now” -- he
cocked his head over toward his new son-in-law--you have achieved
your heart’s desire!”
Diego was talking
with his father when he noticed that Don Gregorio Verdugo had arrived.
Although Diego had vigorously opposed inviting Don Gregorio, Don
Alejandro pointed out that he and Don Gregorio had been friends for
decades when they both lived in Spain.
He and his father
had just greeted Don Gregorio when they saw Don Cornelio waiving for
them to come over to him. He was holding tightly onto his daughter’s
shoulders. Diego noticed that Moneta’s face had turned as pale as her
“What is wrong,
dearest?“ Diego worriedly asked Moneta.
“I feel dizzy,
just a little, mind you. Diego and her father together led a very
stubborn bride to the nearest chair. “You look very uncomfortable,
Moneta, are you sure you want to stay until the end of the fiesta? “
Diego muttered sotto voce.
“Why on earth
would I want to desert the guests at my own wedding celebration?” I
cannot allow a little thing like morning sickness to ruin the happiest
day of my life!“ They both laughed together.
Diego leaned down
to whisper in her ear how beautiful she looked and to reassert his love
for her. He had just finished his little speech when he saw Ricardo
del'Amo and Anna Maria enter the patio.
He waved to
Bernardo to warn his father and Don Cornelio, who were discussing the
depressed price of hides this season with Don Gregorio, about Don
Ricardo del' Amo’s arrival.
face became dark with anger. “Alejandro, Cornelio, I told them both
not to attend this wedding!“
Don Alejandro put
his hands on Gregorio’s arm. “Do not worry so! You and Anna Maria
are welcome at our hacienda anytime. As for Don Ricardo, he is an
entirely different matter!”
nodded in agreement. “Gracias, mi viejo! I have
repeatedly ordered Anna Maria to stay away from him!”
All three men
watched closely as Ricardo and Anna-Maria walked through the crowd of
guests toward the newly wed couple to offer their congratulations
Diego's father and
Don Cornelio stood behind their children. “Now, Diego, promise me
you're going to behave yourself!” Don Alejandro muttered under his
breath. Diego looked down at Moneta and squeezed her hands tightly.
“Not not to worry, dearest, because nothing is going to ruin our
wedding fiesta!” he vowed.
Ricardo del'Amo said tersely to the newly married couple. Anna Maria
leaned forward to kiss Moneta on her cheek. “Congratulations, she told
‘Moneta and Diego. I am very happy for the both of you!”
noticed that her eyes were cold and devoid of all emotion. He mentally
shivered. How could I have honestly believed that I loved someone as
superficial and soulless as her? As for Ricardo del’Amo, the
caballero wisely avoided looking at Moneta and concentrated on talking
solely with Don Diego.
this, and she deliberately extended her hand to Ricardo del'Amo and
said, “Don Ricardo, I am so happy that you are able to attend my
wedding celebration! “
Don Ricardo was
about to take Moneta’s right hand and kiss it when he noticed Diego,
Alejandro and Cornelio all glaring at him. He nervously dropped her hand
and bowed in her direction.
Señora de la Vega, the pleasure is all mine.” he replied in a
tone colored with sarcasm. "Come Anna Maria, I suppose we can stay
long enough to have some refreshment, so I shall find a chair for
The bride and
groom did detect his ill humor but kept silent. Moneta could see Diego
struggle for some measure of self-control. The arrogant ass! Diego
thought angrily. Ricardo and Anna Maria started to walk away when Diego
excused himself from his bride’s company, and suggested to Ricardo
that Bernardo would bring them some refreshment in the garden where the
two men could talk privately.
could give him an answer, Don Diego firmly grabbed Ricardo‘s arm and
half dragged him from the patio into the far side of the garden.
“You have some
kind of nerve Ricardo, to appear at our nuptial fiesta, especially after
what you have done to my wife. I want you to leave at once and without
causing a scene!”
I am very surprised at you -- putting your faith in a female‘s
del’Amo up directly against his face so that Ricardo would not
misinterpret his warning. “Ricardo, if you so much as even think about
contacting Moneta for any reason, I will kill you!
Ricardo was amazed
by the transformation that love had caused in Diego. Never had he seen
his former friend care more than a wit about a female. That little
wanton girl Moneta had obviously told Diego about his ‘alleged
ravishment ‘ of the señorita, undoubtedly a biased, one-sided account
of he and Moneta’s last ride into the woods bordering the
Esperons’ estates. Bitch! he silently fumed.
When Diego finally
released him and he recovered his voice and wits, Ricardo could not
depart without tossing a barbed remark at the newlyweds.
you two deserve each other, Señor ’Dilettante’ and I am
relieved to say a final goodbye to Señorita - I mean Señora
Moonface!” I now have my beloved Anna Maria, and we shall be
married as soon as possible!”
Diego clenched his
fists. ”Please take your Zorro-obsessed, immature bride-to-be with you
and let neither one of you ever enter the de la Vega hacienda again!”
fool,” Ricardo said in mock sympathy. "Am I ever glad that she
trapped you rather than me into marriage with the likes of
are leaving NOW!” Diego’s hazel eyes were ablaze with fury. “Silencio,
or I shall physically toss your miserable hide over the garden
wall!” He said between clenched teeth.
“I SHALL NOT
KEEP QUIET, I--UHHHHHHHH!”
Ricardo had just
shredded Diego’s last iota of patience. Diego slapped him hard enough
so that del’Amo’s ears rang.
“Well, well, the
milquetoast Don Diego has suddenly developed some backbone and dignity
after all! Who could have guessed?”
Diego responded by
pinning both of del’Amo’s arms behind his back. As Ricardo struggled
to free himself, Diego slammed him against the garden wall. Momentarily
stunned, Ricardo slid down to the grass. As the young de la Vega was
just about to tie del’Amo up with his own banda, Ricardo regained
“I warned you to
behave yourself. Ricardo. If I never see or speak to either you or Anna
Maria, again, it shall be too soon!“
“Tsk, tsk, my
dear Diego. The entire pueblo knows that you married poor Moneta Esperon
out of pity!”
“And how would
you know that? Is that the lie you told Anna Maria so
that she would agree to marry you?” The young de la Vega taunted
him. “Did you also tell Señorita Verdugo the lie that I still love
The surprised look
on del’Amo’s face told Diego that his remarks stung Ricardo’s
if you release me, I would thrash you so soundly ...”
They both heard a
scream, and then another one. The new bridegroom recognized the first
yell as Moneta’s voice. Diego dropped the banda, but kept a tight hold
on Ricardo as he half-dragged del’Amo back to the wedding fiesta. As
they entered the patio, both men were astounded by what they saw.
Diego yelled as he ran toward her. “Are you all right?”
Moneta was holding
Anna Maria’s lavender colored mantilla tightly in her right hand. Then
she threw the lovely headpiece in Señorita Verdugo’s face just as
Anna Maria was getting up from the floor.
“Get up, Señorita
Verdugo. You and Ricardo are leaving at once!”
are you? Help me!” Anna Maria wailed.
Del’Amo made a
futile attempt to evade Diego’s strong grip. He continued to wriggle
until the young de la Vega grabbed him by his shirt collar.
del’Amo mumbled helplessly.
tightened his hold on del’Amo. “On, no, Ricardo, you are staying
right here with me, ganallo!”
“Let me go!”
Ricardo yelled, “or I shall ..”
will you do?” inquired the mature voice of Don Gregorio Verdugo. “Be
quiet, or by all that is holy I shall retrieve the whip from my carriage
and give you a taste of it!”
Diego started towards her.
stopped him. “Moneta is acquitting herself rather nicely.” The
barest trace of a smile appeared on his face.
Gregorio ...Moneta has obviously struck your daughter.”
Señor Verdugo said wistfully, “ as you grow older, you will learn
never to interfere in ‘women’s affairs!’”
chuckled. “Message received and understood, Don Gregorio!”
squirmed uselessly in Diego’s grasp. Diego, I swear by all the
Saints that I will never forget our little ‘garden discussion as long
as I live! I shall make you pay dearly for this public humiliation! Ricardo
thought acidly. “You and especially that hija, Moneta
Esperon, merit special attention!”