TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES
enters the picture. .........
Diego and Selena rode together in silence as they went
down to the little lake just a few miles from the de la Vega hacienda. She
sensed the sober change in his mood and several times she tried to
initiate some conversation but he pointedly ignored her.
He must be more nervous and upset than I am. Selena
opened her fan and surreptitiously studied Diego’s profile. How
handsome Don Diego is ... those enormous shoulders, those muscular
legs...those full lips descending on mine ...
“Would you like to walk down by the water, Señorita
de Rojas?” he asked cordially but he held himself stiffly. “We have
arrived at the lake.”
Diego‘s light baritone interrupted her daydream.
“S-si, Don Diego. That would be most pleasant!”
Selena flitted her ebony and ivory ribbed fan quickly across her
face and then left it dangling from her right hand.
Diego’s face flushed.
Such a maneuver made by a señorita meant only one thing. She
was ready to become engaged - a rather strange thing for her to do unless
-- Selena was giving a performance for her dueña Amontildar’s benefit,
but why? He had wanted very badly to complement Selena on her brave
attempt to save Maria Suarez, but the only person
besides Selena and her vaqueros who knew of her brave deed was El
Zorro. Diego quickly discarded that idea.
he helped Selena exit the carriage he inhaled her lavender scented hair.
It surprised him she used that particular subtle scent. Diego would have
guessed Selena favored more rich and mysterious perfumes such as musk or
lily of the valley. Indeed Selena was far more exotic than Diego could
have ever imagined. He pulled her as gently as he could [and also he hoped
without arousing suspicion from the dueña] behind a large scrub
“Señorita, your gesture well, it has ... confused me.
I must reiterate that I am simply not prepared to enter the blessed state
of matrimony with you,” Diego stated rather sharply. He instantly
regretted the brusqueness of his
tone of voice when he again saw the melancholy in her eyes. Despite his
true feelings, Diego covered her delicately shaped hands with his strong
masculine ones. “Selena,
you deserve someone who is ready to devote himself completely to you.
I am not the man for you.”
Meanwhile Selena clung to him, lost in a private
reverie, intoxicated by the strong maleness of the man holding her.
Oh, Diego if you only knew how long I have wanted and waited for
this moment ...
Then, to his surprise, she gingerly pushed his arms
away. “Do not fear,
I will not marry a caballero who does not desire me.” Selena
placed the half-opened fan over her face, subtly informing him that
‘they were being carefully watched’ by the dueña. In reality
she was desperate to prevent Diego from realizing how upset she was. She
could not permit him to learn how much she loved him, for Selena suspected
that if she did tell Diego, then he would probably want to marry her out
of pity. Señorita de Rojas lowered her head, hoping that he would be
unable to see the burning desire in her eyes. The fan, at least for the
moment, concealed more than it revealed.
Diego, ever the careful observer of people’s body
language, winced visibly. “I apologize for the poor choice of words,
Selena. But I had to tell you
what is in my heart.”
“Don Diego,” Selena was astonished by the evenness
of her voice, “your secret is safe with me,” she said as she smiled up
at him, an expression tinged with misery yet full of infinite
understanding. “We still have a pair of large problems to contend with.
My father and yours.”
What do I find so pleasant about this señorita I want
to protect her from any and all harm? He was deeply touched by Selena’s response.
Diego began to grasp her right hand when she abruptly turned away
“Please, Diego. I am fatigued. I believe we should return to the hacienda.”
She laughed then, breaking the gloomy spell of the moment.
“Your wish is my command, Señorita de Rojas!” Diego
gaily said as he executed a formal bow of the Spanish Court before her.
“Diego, you have a singular wit! Not many men possess the ability to make me laugh as much as
“Really? I must inform my father.
He thinks that I am slow, lazy, and--”
“A ne’er do well?” she coquettishly replied.
Diego roared with laughter and kissed her hands again. They
continued the friendly banter all the back to the de le Vega hacienda.
“When are you going to give the bad news to your
padre?” Selena said as he whisked her down from the carriage.
He shrugged helplessly.
“Right now, the sooner the better!” Diego then spotted Don
Alejandro exiting the hacienda. Oh
no, my father is positively
beaming from excitement. His
smile can only mean that we
are betrothed. Dios, mi. Diego’s
facial muscles tensed. Refusing
to marry Selena is going to be practically impossible for my father to
accept. The young caballero thought anxiously.
“Diego, Selena, you have returned at the best possible
moment! Ah, I can see from
your faces that you enjoyed your ride!” Don Alejandro’s voice boomed
throughout the patio. “Come into the sala!
“Señor de Rojas has decided that you may have his ...beauti--
ah, lovely, daughter‘s hand in marriage!“ Don
Alejandro announced cheerfully.
Diego glanced nervously at Señorita de Rojas, hoping
that she did not hear the slip of his tongue. But he knew from the sudden
tenseness in her upper body that she had.
He saw the rosy tide of embarrassment flow south from the tops of
Selena’s ears to where her pink satin frock touched her rather
substantial bosom. Madre de Dios!
Here comes an example of that cutting sarcastic wit that he heard
the other caballeros ... at least from the ones who were willing to
discuss their defeat at verbal sparring with Selena de Rojas...
She ran her thin, femininely shaped finger over the ribs
of her silk fan. ‘And I wish to speak with you also,’ was the
unspoken message she displayed to the elder de la Vega. Aloud, she replied:
“Don Alejandro. I
find that I must apologize to you and Diego.
You see it is quite impossible for me to marry your most handsome
and charming son.”
“SELENA!” Her father’s temper exploded.
“What in the name of Heaven are you saying?”
She coolly appraised her father. “Simply this. I am
too old for Señor de la Vega. He
should marry someone much younger, say Elena Torres, or Moneta Esperon,
after all I am twenty-four.”
Then she turned to face both Diego and Don Alejandro.
“Do not blame Diego,” Selena told his father.
“You have done an excellent job with him, Don Alejandro.”
Don Alejandro was sincerely dejected. “S-señorita ...
Selena... you are not a spinster ... by any stretch of the imagination!”
he said truly bewildered by this strange turn of events.
“YOU SHALL MARRY DIEGO DE LA VEGA!”
Don Martino de Rojas was livid. “I SHALL .... SUCH A DISOBEDIENT
DAUGHTER!” Then he plunged
toward her, with an upraised hand.
Diego leaped to thrust himself between the raging de
Rojas and Selena. Such a gallant effort was wasted, for to everyone’s
shock, Don de Rojas gasped in mid-stride and then fell to the patio floor.
Don Alejandro stared in open-mouthed alarm, but he
quickly recovered his senses and knelt down beside Don de Rojas.
Martino de Rojas’s ashen face told Diego’s father that his old
friend’s soul was already in the hands of his Maker.
shouted as she bent over the stricken Don Martino. Her father’s lifeless eyes ignored her tearful pleas for
him to speak to her. Selena
threw her arms around her father and refused to leave him. Finally, Don
Diego managed to disentangle her embrace.
“Come, señorita, your father is gone,” Diego
whispered gently. He motioned for Bernardo to fetch the de la Vega’s
longtime servant, Cresencia. Don
Diego easily scooped up the señorita’s lithe frame and quickly brought
her upstairs to one of the guest bedrooms.
When Cresencia met Don Diego, he instructed her to make
Selena comfortable while Don Alejandro sent for Dr. Avila.
“This is a most unfortunate development, Diego.” Don
Alejandro muttered to his son over late night glasses of jerez in
Diego’s face turned scarlet. “’Unfortunate’? Is
that not too mild a phrase regarding one of your friends from Seville?
What about Selena ? Her
sister back in Spain is the señorita’s only other blood relative.
What is to become of Selena?”
Don Alejandro was taken aback by the forcefulness in
Diego’s voice. “My
son,” his father gently said as he placed his hands on Diego’s
shoulders, “are you certain that Señorita de Rojas means nothing
Diego closed his weary eyes. Madre de Dios ...
what a stressful day this has been. “Father, I do not love Selena
and she does not love me. Yes, she is very pretty and charming. I
reiterate what I have I said many times before.
I shall not marry someone whom I do not love and who does not have
same affection for me!”
Don Alejandro sighed. “I see. Diego I feel sorrier for
Señorita Selena than I do for Don Martino de Rojas.”
Diego narrowed his eyes.
“No, Diego. Give me some credit as your sire.
I shall not order you to marry Señorita Selena de Rojas.”
Diego sighed audibly.
“Gracias, my father. I
know you mean well. Buenos noches.”
Yet when Diego attempted to rest later that night he
discovered Señorita Selena’s mournful face haunted his dreams. Well,
are you sure you do not feel something besides pity for Selena, man? Even
after you discovered that she is sweet, gentle, pretty and has boldly
decided to defy Glorioso in her own way? Come, Diego, there is much more
to Selena than you ever imagined. Is she not worthy of further interest? He discovered he had no easy answers to these queries and
it was quite a while before Diego could close his eyes and sleep.
Since her arrival home three hours ago Selena could not
keep herself from roaming the empty halls of her father’s hacienda.
Don Martino’s death left her practically alone in this life, and
she missed him already. Selena did love her father. True, his legendary
volcanic temper had more often than not been directed at her decisions to
reject his candidates for her wedded bliss, but
Don Martino was the only stable male presence in
Selena’s life. Despite his
Amontildar watched her mistress walk downstairs in the
sala throughout the night until almost dawn. Finally the Creole servant
persuaded Selena to drink some hot milk with Amontildar’s sleeping
potion. Only then did the señorita rest.
END OF CHAPTER NINE