As Moneta was
thanking some of her guests for attending her wedding Anna Maria cast a
critical eye over Señora de la Vega’s choice of attire. A wicked grin
suddenly began animating her features. Hmm, well, there has been some
gossip about Moneta’s rushed engagement and wedding. And I would like
to needle her! I always believed her to be very snobby and aloof.
Whatever does Diego find attractive about her? Her eyes are too widely
spaced from her nose, her feet are at least twice the size of my own
dainty ones. Oh, my! The new Señora de la Vega is wearing...ivory?
What boldness! And that style is way out of fashion! She
thought tartly. Then Anna Maria noticed that Ricardo and Diego
practically ran from the reception into the garden, each man wearing a
grim look on his face.
“Señora de la
Vega, may we talk .. privately?” Anna Maria asked as politely as she
slightly. Well, Diego asked me to be pleasant to this ... human viper
and I want no trouble on this happiest day of my life! Doña Moneta
said to herself. After coolly appraising Anna Maria’s lovely lavender
mantilla and dress, she finally responded to Señorita Verdugo’s
request. “I do not think I can leave my guests!”
grinned. “Señora, oh perhaps I should call you Moneta, it is just a
briefly. Anna Maria and are only the barest of acquaintances, not
friends. And I know about her unusual sense of ‘humor’. What harm
could come from just talking with her? Surely neither Ricardo nor Anna
Maria would condescend to disrupting such a happy occasion. She
“Very well, I
suppose I can use a rest from greeting all of those people.”
Moneta!” Anna Maria touched Moneta’s arm and led her into a quiet
corner of the patio.
“How can I help
you, Señorita Verdugo? “
“You look rather
pale, Moneta! I do hope that you are not ill! I understand that
that you have been.... Ah.... Under the weather. Something about a
stomach disorder.” Anna Maria smiled, showing all of her white teeth
closed her eyes and prayed for divine help - or for Diego to magically
appear and save her from this odious woman!
Verdugo,” Señora de la Vega icily replied, “my health is none of
“Come now, Señora
de le Vega! Anna Maria said sarcastically. “Everyone in Los
Angeles knows that Diego is marrying you because he feels sorry for
you!“ She repeated the lie Ricardo had told her.
thoroughly shocked. “Indeed! This may surprise you, Señorita Verdugo,
but I care not a wit for your opinion! Considering your abominable
taste in men, choosing Ricardo del’Amo --- well, what can I say!
Only a female without common sense would settle for a third rate man
such as he!”
was stunned by Doña Moneta’s hurtful remarks. “How dare you say
such things regarding my dear Ricardo! He is gracious, kind, and has
been the model caballero especially since you were
the one who broke your engagement with him!”
Anna Maria roughly
pushed Moneta aside. The hem of Moneta’s lovely wedding dress caught
on one of Anna Maria’s shoes. When the bride tried to untangle the
gown from it, a large section ripped from the left side of the
bodice’s waist to the hem.
Doña Moneta began
to pull Anna Maria towards the patio door. “Señorita Verdugo, please
allow me to escort you from this fiesta!”
“NO! “ Anna
Maria stomped her foot.
Moneta reached out and slapped her face as hard as she could. Before
Anna Maria could try again to get a better hold of Moneta’s dress, she
leaned down and grasped Anna Maria’s ornate lavender colored mantilla.
Moneta yanked as hard as she could and was rewarded with both the
mantilla and some tufts of Señorita Verdugo’s black hair hanging from
pushed Ricardo as rapidly as possible back to his wedding fiesta. The
two men were greeted by the pleasant image --at least Diego thought so
--- of Anna Maria laying sprawled on the patio floor, looking up at
Moneta in total surprise. Perhaps Anna Maria will finally learn some
manners, but I doubt it! he chuckled to himself.
Just as Diego started walking toward Moneta, Anna Maria managed to get
up again and aimed her right fist at Moneta. But Señora de la Vega
backhanded Anna Maria ---hard --across Señorita Verdugo’s face. “ I
have had enough of you, Señorita!” Moneta stood over her tormentor.
“Leave before I throw you out myself!”
Ricardo over to his father and Don Cornelio. “Moneta, are you certain
that you are all right? DIOS!” He looked her over thoroughly. “Oh,
Moneta, your lovely wedding gown is ruined!”
Verdugo was livid over his daughter’s peevish behavior. He had
discreetly followed the two women and overheard the sarcasm and
nastiness in Anna Maria’s voice as she taunted Moneta about the origin
of her “stomach malady.“ When the fight began, he allowed Doña
Moneta to defend herself until Diego returned.
“That will be
quite enough!” Don Gregorio shouted. “Brava, Señora de la Vega,“
he muttered sotto voce, “my daughter, you richly deserved that
yanked Anna Maria away and ordered her to return to their carriage.
Finally Don Gregorio focused his attention on Señor del‘Amo.
Don Ricardo, you are responsible for bringing Anna Maria here against my
wishes! You shall publicly apologize for both of your boorish and
tasteless disruption of the de la Vegas’ wedding feast! “
“To a señorita
for whom I have no respect, I think not!” Ricardo lurched backwards as
Don Diego launched himself at del’Amo. If it were not for the efforts
of the de la Vegas’ former caporal, Benito Sanchez, and
several of Don Alejandro’s friends, Don Diego would have strangled
separated his son and Don Ricardo. “ENOUGH! Ricardo, you are the most
disrespectful caballero I know! You have not only dishonored my
family, and me but you have also insulted Spanish womanhood! I think
that I speak for everyone here that you should be held responsible for
There were murmurs
of agreement among the de la Vegas’ wedding guests. Don Alfredo
Alvarez and Don Torres approached Ricardo. “You are no longer welcome
here, Señor del’Amo!”
“Are you all
right? Diego said in a low but tight voice, as he drew Moneta close to
him so that she could rest her head against his broad shoulders. “Ah, querida
mia, please no tears on your wedding day! Everything will turn
out for the best, I promise!”
No one noticed in
the brouhaha that Bernardo had run back into the stables to fetch
“What is going
on here?” Sgt. Garcia’s rough baritone demanded, as he waddled into
the patio with a bug eyed Corporal Reyes.
related to the Acting Comandante how Anna Maria goaded Doña Moneta into
a fight. Diego then told the good sergeant the couple was not officially
invited to his wedding.
frowned at Don Ricardo. “Don Alejandro, I can jail Señor Ricardo on
charge of disturbing the peace--”
“Just you try
and do it, Sergeant Garcia!” Don Ricardo defiantly told the Acting
wagged his finger at him. “Do not threaten me, Señor del’Amo!
Although this charge requires the payment of a small fine, striking an
Officer of the Court can cost you 500 pesos and twenty lashes at the
Don Ricardo threw
up his hands. “Very well, Sergeant Garcia. If I pay the fine -- just
how much is it?”
“Fifty pesos, Señor.”
“Here you are,
‘Acting Comandante!’ Am I free to go?” Ricardo said testily as he
threw the coins at Garcia‘s boots.
face reddened. “Por favor, Don Ricardo, kindly hand me the money!”
he said sternly.
Don Diego abruptly
left Moneta with her father and pushed his way past the Sergeant and
young de la Vega’s voice was cold and biting, “you heard Comandante
Garcia! Pick up the coins and give them to him!”
angrily. “I will NOT!”
Diego pretended to
turn away. “POW!” He whirled to this right and caught del’Amo
completely off guard. Down went Don Ricardo.
silence blanketed the patio. Suddenly, Benito and Elena Sanchez burst
into applause. “Ole!” Benito shouted, and everyone began yelling
“Bueno! Ole!” to a startled Don Diego.
retrieved the money as Corporal Reyes helped him up.
I advise you to heed Don Diego’s warning -- stay away from Don Diego
and Doña Moneta!“
smoldering hazel eyes burned their gaze into Don Ricardo’s own black
and reptilian looking ones. “Remember if you as much as look at my
wife again, I shall kill you!” He told del’Amo
grabbed hat, gloves and saber and ran for the patio gate. However, he
could not resist a parting shot. “ I happily take my leave of all of
you and your boring and pathetic lives!” He winked at Anna Maria, who
casually drew her fan across her right cheek. Don Ricardo laughingly
acknowledged her message of love and stomped from the de la Vegas’
“Once again, my
dear Alejandro and Cornelio, I deeply regret the pain my caused by
daughter’s uncouth conduct.” Don Gregorio said. He took Moneta’s
right hand and kissed it. Your servant, Senora de la Vega.”
Don Gregorio,” Don Diego said, “Anna Maria is not an inherently bad
or cruel person. She needs to keep better company than the likes of
Ricardo del'Amo. You have no idea how devious and crafty he really is!
realize that now,“ said Don Gregorio sadly. “Do not worry Don Diego
and Doña Moneta, I shall make certain that Anna Maria does not bother
you again. Con permiso, adios!”
All Don Gregorio
could think about while riding home was how he was going to prevent Anna
Maria from seeing Ricardo del'Amo again! His one true dream was that
Diego would ask Anna Maria to marry his daughter. Don Gregorio’s
fondest wish now lay broken in a thousand pieces, as if someone had
tossed a stone through his mirror of dreams. His most revered wish was
that the most influential family in Northern California, the Verdugo's
of Monterrey, would be united by marriage to the wealthiest family in
all of California, the de la Vegas.
He half propelled
his recalcitrant daughter into a chair. “How dare you defy my orders
never to see that filthy del’ Amo again, and to make matters worse,
you appear, uninvited, at Diego’s and Moneta’s wedding fiesta, on
that scoundrel Ricardo del’Amo’s arm. I afraid, young lady, that I
am going to take some drastic measures regarding this disgraceful
behavior! Never forget that you are a Verdugo!”
Anna Maria turned
her herd away and closed her eyes. Finally, she did not care to remain
in his presence any longer. Anna Maria leapt up from her seat and
started to leave the sala. ‘Father, I will not listen to another word,
her father yelled as he again forced her to sit down. “Now, young
lady, you are going to listen to what your father has to say, or I shall
turn you over on my knee and give you a well-earned spanking!”
Anna Maria nodded
silently listened to his tirade for what seemed like hours, all the
while desperately hoping that Ricardo would keep his promise and take
her away from her father’s house.
“You say that
you won’t listen to me? “Very well, young lady, you will be
completely disinherited and forced into a convent IF you continue
seeing del’Amo against my express orders!
Anna Maria was
astounded. You cannot do that!”
“Watch me, my
dear daughter! I have never made an idle threat in my life!”
She finally bowed
her head, but she did not cry, “I simply cannot believe that a father
would treat his only child in such a manner! After all, Doña Moneta is
Her father grasped
Anna Maria’s shoulders and shook her thoroughly. “NO! DO NOT REPEAT
ANY MORE VICIOUS AND UNTRUE GOSSIP REGARDING ANYTHING ABOUT SEñORA
MONETA DE LA VEGA‘S‘ ‘ADVENTURES,’ IF INDEED SHE HAD ANY! AM I
MAKING MYSELF PERFECTLY CLEAR???“
remained motionless. (Late tonight I shall send my personal maid,
Serena Chavez, to bring Ricardo to me!) Her secret romantic dreams
of having a lavish and splendid wedding, of making a great important
social coup by marrying into the wealthy de la Vega family were forever
extinguished by her stubbornness to ‘save herself’ for El Zorro.
Both marital prizes were now beyond her grasp. [And I have no one
to blame but myself.]