TROUBLE FOR THE TINTEROS
out the names of the péons, Corporal Mendoza.” Glorioso quietly
ordered while he carefully examined his nails. This should be most
amusing to watch! I will not only make a commission from the pittance of
money collected from the péons, I shall also receive kickbacks
from ship capitáns from selling them new crewmembers and from
“leasing’” peons as workers for the mine owners. He
malevolently grinned to himself. Oh, and not to mention the pleasure
I shall experience today from baptizing my new prize, the whipping post,
with blood from peons who can not pay their taxes!
Mendoza checked off each of the péons’ names in proper order.
“Pedro Alvarez?” he called out the first name. “Your tax this year
is two silver reales. Alvarez shuffled to the table and grinned as he
dug into his tattered change purse, but the péon was not fast enough
for the commandante’s taste.
up, idioso! I suppose that you do not have the money, eh? In that
case, you will serve---“ Visconde Estrada began, pleased because it
appeared his first victim had so easily fallen into his more than eager
hands, “ six months at hard labor, and ..”
no mi commandante!” the péon interrupted him, “I mean Your
Excellency. Here is my tax money. Dos reales?” Pedro Alvarez smiled
again at both Mendoza and Glorioso. “Buenos dias, Your Excellency.”
all the Saints,
the Visconde thought, that péon actually had the money to pay his
taxes. De Estrada perused a list of names of habitual delinquent tax
payers he had composed for his quick reference. There! Prior to this
recent levy, Alvarez paid only a portion of his taxes and “worked
off” the balance doing three to six months of chores for the Cuartel,
since Alvarez was too old to fetch a decent price on either a chain gang
or a ship’s crew. Strange, but perhaps Alvarez will prove to be the
checked off another name. "Juan Anderos, step forward! You are to
pay to silver reales and three centavos." The corporal announced
de Estrada placed his bullwhip down next to the péon’s hand with a
loud thud. Poor Anderos dropped his money pouch on the ground and nearly
fainted from shock.
péon! Speak when you are spoken to! “Do you pr do you not have your
tax money?” de Estrada barked at Señor Anderos.
sí, Your Excellency! Here is my money." Corporal Mendoza counted
the correct sum and marked “paid” in the tax collection ledger on
the desk. Anderos then performed his crude version of a bow to the
Visconde and disappeared into the crowd.
muttered Corporal Mendoza, looking askance at Sergeant Garcia. The good
sergeant was silently mumbling prayers of thanks to the Virgin, as each
péon who came forward today had the money to pay his taxes. Never had
Corporal Mendoza or Sergeant Garcia seen péons happy on tax
collection day! It was almost too good to be true, perhaps even a
miracle, but the Sergeant kept praying that the péons’ good luck
would last for the rest of the day. He truly did not want to see anyone
endure a flogging at the cruel hands of Glorioso.
next péon‘s name on the list was Tomás Barrero. Mendoza called out
his name and the amount of taxes owed: one silver reale. Barrero also
paid without a single word to the corporal and bowed respectfully
towards His Excellency before beating a hasty retreat home to his hut on
the outskirts of the pueblo.
de Estrada now suspected something was truly amiss, because when he
researched the pueblo’s tax records for the past decade in his quest
to fashion new avenues to make money, Tomás Barrero was one of the péons
who never had any money to pay his regular taxes. Since Barrero was over
fifty, the previous commandante, Monastario, allowed the péon to
“work off” his taxes by working for Don Alfredo as a house servant.
Don Alfredo actually paid Barrero’s tax and this arrangement was
beneficial to all concerned. Very strange, he thought, that
this péon now had money for his taxes, especially the day after
important festival such as such as the day of the dead. It would simply
defy logic if all of the péons were able to pay their taxes. Ah, but
the day is young yet and there are more than two hundred names on the
tax rolls. Patience, Visconde, patience.
Mendoza continued checking off the names of the péons who paid their
taxes on time, until he came to the name of "Ramon Gonzales."
After he had called out the name Ramon Gonzales several more times and
the péon failed to appear, Visconde de Estrada issued a warrant for his
arrest. Si, things are looking much better. The Visconde gloated
more péons, Hector Huerta, Juan Ibarra, Rafael Marianno, Enriqué
Martinez, Jaime Ramiro and Julio Tenago also failed at appear to pay
their taxes, or were noted by Sergeant Garcia to be locked inside a jail
cell for being drunk and disorderly during the Day of the Dead fiesta.
At least I will have a half dozen able-bodied men to send to the port of
San Pedro or to copper mines in Arizona! De Estrada then chuckled aloud
as he sentenced all of these péons to twenty lashes and 6 months hard
labor at his discretion. Around noon, Mendoza Garcia announced the last
names on the tax rolls, the brothers José and Miguel Tiñtero.
corporal checked the tax rolls as the two péons slowly sauntered
forward. “José, you are to pay one peso and Miguel owes one peso and
two silver reales in taxes. “
and Miguel kept their eyes on the ground. “Well?” The Visconde
asked briskly, hoping against hope that at last he was going to enjoy
this day after all. “Babosos! I do not like to be kept
Tiñteros looked sheepish. “Señor, we ...spent all of our tax money
at the Day of the Dead fiesta, Your Excellency.”
was a stroke of luck. Glorioso
cracked his whip in the air just to frighten them. “So, Señores, and
I use that term quite loosely, you are saying that you cannot pay your
"Sí, your Excellency." The forty-something year old brothers suddenly knelt before him.
spare us, Commandante!" Miguel, the eldest brother pleaded.
"We can get some more money in a few days. Everyone in Los
Angeles knows that we have been very ill and unable to work very
DOGS!“ the Visconde yelled directly into their faces.
watched with mounting horror as he realized what the Visconde was
planning. His hazel eyes darted from the chagrined Tiñtero brothers to
the sadistic Glorioso caressing his whip as if it were a lover. I
have to do something! He reached again into his chaqueta’s
money pocket. There were ten one peso silver coins and a half dozen ten
Tiñtero raised his head. “Gracias, Don Diego, but no. It was our
fault we wasted the tax money on wine. We should pay the penalty, right
José agreed. “Si, Don Diego.” Then José hung his head again; “it is my entire fault Don Diego. I .... convinced Miguel to waste every last centavo on wine. You know much ... I love vino.” he added despondently, deeply ashamed he could not face his patron.
"Señores, por favor, do you realize what you are saying? I do not think so," Diego argued. "Miguel, you have a bad heart and consumption. And you, José, have recently recovered from the fever. Much as you both hate to admit it, you are no longer young men. I ask you to reconsider."
De Estrada casually walked up the the brothers. He had to make himself appear sympathetic to their situation, if only to curry some sort of favor from the crowd. "Don Diego speaks wisely, señores. What is your answer?"
Roberto Ballarias, the pueblo's tailor and Hernan Guiterrez, Ballarias's assistant, also stepped forward to help the Tiñteros.
"Your Excellency, por favor, uno memento," begged Ballarias. Señor Guiterrez and I can pay the Tiñteros' taxes. Sí, they were unwise to spend all of their money at the festival, but they are péons and certainly far less educated then the Visconde."
willing to continue his charade of concern for a little while longer,
nodded his head. “That is true, señores, but what are you proposing
tailors handed the tax amount due to Corporal Mendoza who wrote a
receipt for the paid taxes and handed it to Señor Ballarias.
Visconde de Estrada was fuming. He had been deprived of some
much-anticipated diversion and angrily struck his bullwhip against the
top of his high boots. Temper, temper, mi capitán. Your breeding and
comportment is much more refined than men such as these could never
have! Proceed cautiously, things may yet work out for the better.
Mendoza, return everything to my office and when you have completed that
task report back to me here in the plaza!” De Estrada said angrily as
he threw on his plumed bicorn and marched towards the cuartel.
your command, Your Excellency!” the corporal saluted obediently.
and Miguel remained silent while the lancers retrieved the furniture and
revenue books from the plaza and returned everything to the Cuartel.
Slowly, the townspeople dispersed and went their respective ways. Diego
and Selena remained behind to speak with the obviously happy but
repentant Tiñtero brothers.
perhaps this time you have finally learned your lesson?” Diego
tempered his sarcasm somewhat with a little humor. “You two realize
the commandante was looking for any reason -- any excuse to flog a péon?”
brothers kept their eyes downcast. “Sí, and gracias for your help,
Don Diego. We will not waste our tax money again!”
today gentlemen, how close you came to be beaten like animals. You are
most fortunate to have wonderful friends such as Señores Ballarias and
de la Vega opened her drawstring purse and gave two pesos each to the
brothers. “Use this money to purchase food for your families, señores.”
Señora de la Vega! May the Virgin bless you with many sons!”
beaucoup,” Selena replied sincerely as she watched the brothers
back away, bowing repeatedly to the couple. “Diego, there go a pair of
basically decent men, one of whom has suffered from consumption since
birth and the other, physically and emotionally drained from caring his
entire life for his sibling, has sought his solace in alcohol.” she
added in low tones meant for his ears only.
looked up and noticed the mental malaise in Diego’s eyes and grasped
his arm before he helped her into the carriage.
coeur, qu’est-ce qu’il y’a? Le Capitaine? [ Beloved, is the
capitaine still bothering you?]
sighed heavily in answering her. “Si, beloved, the Tiñteros
were just the type of victims Glorioso finds such pleasure in
torturing.” His brow furrowed as he ruminated over the commandante’s
all too obvious delight of having some people -- no, péons -- Diego
reminded himself -- to publicly maltreat on his cherished whipping post.
“The moral degenerate masquerading as the Commandante of the Pueblo of
Los Angeles, our twisted Glorioso,” he continued, “His Excellency
certainly did not want anyone to pay the Tiñtero brothers’
taxes for them. De Estrada is even more sadistic than I ever imagined
him to be.”
Selena agreed. “I also saw the bloodlust haunting his face. He truly
desired to flog anyone to satisfy his mad urge to inflict pain.”
husband sighed again. “Zorro will have to accelerate his campaign to
shut down La Casa.”
leaned on his shoulder. “Yes, it appears that Bernardo’s opinion of
the capitán’s mental condition was right. Glorioso has crossed the
fine delicate line between eccentricity and insanity.”
caballero whistled for the two horses pulling their carriage to
begin heading for home.
Diego! Don Diego! Please come back, Don Diego!” Señor Guiterrez was
shouting. “Por favor, hurry!” Guiterrez was panting breathlessly
when he reached their carriage. “Don Diego....”
reversed the carriage at once. “Señor Guiterrez, calm yourself! What
has happened?” The young de la Vega asked worriedly. "Tell me!”
commandante, patron. After the lancers returned to the Cuartel,
the Tiñteros changed their minds abut accepting our money to pay their
taxes, and spoke with Glorioso--”
no more, Señor; I believe I know what will occur now.“ Diego leapt
down from the carriage and looked up at his wife. “Madre de Dios!
What could have changed their minds! This is folly, sheer folly!“ He
told Selena. “Stay here, querida--”
non!” Selena exclaimed as she insisted Diego helped her step down from
the carriage. “My place is beside you, my husband!”
Diego!” Ballarias said desperately, wringing his hands as he spoke,
“Please hurry! See, the lancers are tying José Tiñtero to the
whipping post now!”
long limbs easily covered the distance from their carriage to the center
of the plaza, where de Estrada stood, eager to administer corporal
punishment. The horrible sight of an ill and helpless péon’s
stick-thin limbs tied to the whipping post moved Diego to pity ... and
Your Excellency, you can not. They both will probably die under the
lash!” Diego pleaded with the Visconde with all his heart. “Show
mercy to the poor, I beg of you!” Diego reiterated, but any further
protest was halted by the menacing look on Glorioso‘s face.
rasped out his answer. “The law is the law, Don Diego.” he coldly
replied. The Tiñteros have declined Señores’ Ballarias and
Guiterrez’s generous offer. Therefore, their tax bill is still unpaid
and is immediately delinquent.”
Estrada repeatedly flexed his right arm and the whip cracked in the
still air as if it alive, sensing that it was soon going to draw human
blood. He turned toward José, whose bare back beckoned to him like some
obscene canvas upon which he was about to paint with his whip, providing
unbelievable strokes of pain.
you are no longer young men, you both will receive only ten lashes each.
Sergeant Garcia, step aside while I execute sentence upon José Tiñtero!”
OF CHAPTER TWENTY 28