A Song of Joy

(A Sergeant Garcia Story)

 

 

Chapter 10

 

The wedding day dawned bright and clear.  Garcia was already awake, eagerly anticipating his marriage this beautiful Sunday morning to his dear Isadora.  The bans had been read, the civil marriage certificate taken care of, and the presentácion to the priest concluded satisfactorily.   Even his discharge papers had been completed, with Don Diego's help. 

Sitting on the edge of his bed, the sergeant gazed at the crisply clean dress uniform hanging from his wardrobe.  It pleased him greatly that the comandante had not only allowed him to stay in the Army for the three weeks before the wedding, but had arranged for a military salute at the conclusion of the wedding mass. 

Stretching, Garcia slowly pulled himself from his bed and looked around.  This had been his home for almost twenty years, but he would not miss it, not when he had the little house at the edge of  the pueblo to go to.  Several rancheros had given money to buy the ramshackle house and its accompanying bit of land and the de la Vegas had sent craftsmen to fix it up and make it livable for the new little family. 

In his spare time, Garcia had helped whitewash the adobe walls of his new home and spread pitch to seal any cracks in the walls.  There were now several glass windows in what had originally been gaping holes, and the door hung straight on new hinges.  Several pieces of furniture graced the three rooms and while it was not a great deal, it was still more than Garcia had expected.  Don Cornelio Esperón had, himself, provided a large sturdy bed and wardrobe for the couple's bedroom.  Señorita Moneta had given Isadora the cradle that she had slept in as a baby. 

Shaking his head at the overwhelming generosity of the people of the pueblo, Garcia poured water into his washbasin and began washing his face, neck and hands.  There was a knock at his door.  "Enter," he called out.  Corporal Reyes opened the door and two other lancers came in with a large tin tub.  Behind came other soldiers with buckets. 

"Comandante's orders," Reyes said, pointing to the tub. 

"Of course," Garcia said with a grin.  Soldiers continued their bucket 'brigade' until the tub was half filled.   Feeling the water with his hand, Garcia was pleased to note that it was not cold. 

Later, with Reyes' help, the sergeant donned the uniform, medals and all.  Reyes straightened Garcia's banda over the man's incredible girth.  "Sergeant," Reyes said, stepping back.  "You look splendid enough for a grand parade.  I think that you will impress the young señorita."

"Do you think so, Corporal?" Garcia asked, trying to pull in his stomach and failing. 

"Oh, sí, Sergeant," Reyes replied, straightening a medal.  The corporal made some more adjustments.  "I will miss you, Sergeant," he finally said. 

"I am not going away, Corporal," Garcia said tersely, having had a similar conversation only the day before.  He wanted to say "baboso," but he didn't.  It was too nice a morning to say anything like that to anyone.   "I will still be in the pueblo."

"It will not be the same," said Reyes, as he checked the sergeant's sash that ran from shoulder to hip.  "You will have a family and not be a soldier anymore."

"
That is true, Corporal, but we will still be able to get together sometimes," Garcia assured the shorter man.

"Sí, Sergeant," Reyes agreed with the sound of one not totally convinced. 

"And besides, you may even be promoted to sergeant."

"
Sí, and I will get your room," Reyes said, brightening. 


"That is right, Corporal," said Garcia, running his fingers through his hair.   He wasn't sure if he liked the note of happy anticipation in Reyes' voice.  

"I think that perhaps it is time to go to your wedding, Sergeant."

"Sí," agreed Garcia with a grin.   They walked out into the parade ground of the cuartel, and Garcia looked up at the bright blue sky and smiled even more broadly.   It was a perfect day for the wedding.  As they approached the gates, Garcia could just barely see Father Felipe on the threshold of the church, waiting for him.  When the priest saw him, he beckoned and smiled, but as they walked through the gate, the sergeant was surprised to see how crowded the plaza was.  There seemed to be only room for a carriage to ride through the crowd. 

He did not expect so many people and he blushed with pleasure and looked toward the ground, scuffing the dirt with the toe of his boot. 

"Sergeant Garcia, I just shined your boots," Reyes reminded him. 

"Oh."  Garcia stood near the wall of the cuartel, suddenly shy.  "Are all these people waiting for me?" he asked. 

"Sí, Sergeant," said Reyes gently. 

"But why?" the sergeant asked, incredulous.  He decided quickly that everyone was here out of respect for Isadora.  She was the daughter of a hidalgo, after all. 

"Maybe, perhaps, because they like you, Sergeant," replied Reyes, gently leading his shy superior across the plaza. 

"Me?"  Garcia nodded to all the smiling townspeople who were greeting him as he made his way to the church.

"Sí." Reyes finally got the sergeant to the threshold of the church and left him in the care of Father Felipe.   On his journey across the plaza, which had suddenly seemed to become as large as the de la Vega lands, Garcia had noted that most of the lancers were standing near the church.   The sergeant saw Tio and Clara and Maria, and he was pleased to see Don Alejandro, Don Cornelio and Don Nacho and their families.  There were many vaqueros, tradesmen, peons and servants.  Capitán Montez came out of the cuartel just as a carriage rolled into the plaza. 

Don Diego, his padrino de bodas, stepped out of the carriage first and then helped Isadora down.  Garcia's breath caught in his throat.  She looked beautiful in the dark satin wedding dress that Elena Torres had arranged to be made for his bride.  She held tightly to Don Diego's arm as she stepped gingerly up the step to stand next to him, while Señorita Torres, as the padrina de bodas, took her place nearby the couple.  Carlotta Crane held the baby, which was dressed in a fine new outfit as well.  

Father Felipe called for the arras, the coins which represented the groom's ability to care for his new bride, and then poured them through the bride's fingers onto a silver tray.  The coins were most of Garcia's severance pay, but in this small thing, the sergeant had insisted on providing it himself, even though his friend, Don Diego had offered to provide the arras for him.   Father Felipe blessed the coins, which were taken by an altar boy to be given to the poor, as was customary.   Garcia felt overwhelming gratitude to all who had helped the happy couple prepare for their new lives. 

When he was able to pull his eyes off of the face of his radiant bride, he noted Pogo and Señorita Bastinada in the crowd.  He was proud to be part of her drayage business, happy that she had seen fit to hire him to be her representative in Los Angeles. 

Father Felipe blessed the rings and the couple as Garcia placed the smaller ring on Isadora’s finger and she placed the larger one on his.   "Demetrio Lopez Garcia and Isadora Maria Perdiz, do you, with these rings, promise to love and cherish each other, with fidelity and faith, clinging to the tenets of the Holy Mother Church and letting Our Lord and Savior guide your union?" Father Felipe asked, his hand making the sign of the cross over their heads as he asked his question. 

"Sí," they both answered together. 

"Then let me welcome you both to the institution of Holy Matrimony and declare you man and wife," said Father Felipe happily.  There was applause and Garcia could only bring Isadora's hand to his lips and continue to gaze into her tear filled eyes.  

"Now, for the wedding mass," Father Felipe announced, going through the door that two altar boys were holding open for the wedding party.  Garcia and Isadora followed next, with as many people as could fit coming behind.  

Garcia paid close attention to the words of the mass, only looking aside to drink in the proximity and beauty of his bride.  He said the words of the vows with joy enough to make his heart burst and at times his throat constricted making it hard to breathe.   When the mass finished, he continued staring at Isadora, wondering how someone like him could be so very fortunate.  He continued to gaze into the large, blue-gray eyes, his vision blurred by the tears that threatened to overflow, despite his admonitions to himself to contain them. 

A nudge reluctantly took his full attention away from his wife.  "Sergeant, are you going to kiss your bride?" Diego asked softly, with a smile.

"Oh, sí!" he said and shyly leaned over and kissed Isadora, gently at first and then with more passion. 

"Congratulations, Sergeant," Diego said softly. 

 

                                 ==============================

 

A week later, Garcia sat rocking little Demetrio just as the sun was descending below the horizon to the west.  The sky, the land, the air seemed bathed in hues of red and gold, even the air seemed golden.  The baby gurgled and then cried softly and the former sergeant reached down and picked up the child, holding him in his arms and singing a lullaby.   Just inside the house, Isadora joined him, her higher pitched voice blending perfectly with his.  She had just fixed her first day's meals all by herself, having never really had the opportunity to learn before her marriage.   They were both grateful to the de la Vegas once more for sending Juanita, their cook, to help them in this need. 

Garcia continued to sing as the baby cooed and smiled in his arms.  He rocked back and forth, further soothing the babe.  He stopped a moment to gaze into the little round face.   "Ah, little one, what a life, eh?" he asked little Demetrio.  The golden hues in the sky deepened until a soft twilight gathered around them.  The muted grays of the night suited him, too.  The baby's eyes continued to focus on his face as Garcia began singing again.   As Garcia finished that lullaby and was gathering breath for another one, a deep voice interrupted him. 

"It is my understanding that you wanted to see me, Sergeant," the voice said.  In the deepening darkness, a black figure appeared and stood before Garcia and the baby.  A sudden and bright smile confirmed the identity of the speaker.

"Señor Zorro!" Garcia said, happily. 

"At your service, Sergeant."

"I . . . uh, I wanted to . . . um, thank you for bringing Isadora and me together," Garcia stammered, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. 

"I only speeded up what was happening already, Sergeant," Zorro replied.  "Time was not a commodity that you and the Señora had."  He looked over Garcia's shoulder and saw Isadora standing in the doorway, gazing at him meaningfully. 

"And I thank you as well, Señor Zorro.  I can never fully express my gratitude," she said, stepping out to stand by her husband.  "Would you like something to drink? We still have some wine from the wedding feasts." 

"Ah, Sergeant, seriously?  You have leftover wine?" Zorro teased. 

"Sí," Garcia said, clearly embarrassed.  "It has been . . . a little . . . busy."

Zorro laughed merrily.  Isadora and Garcia joined in and the happy sounds added to the night sounds of crickets and night birds.    "If you are happy, then that is thanks enough, Sergeant, Señora Garcia." 

"I could not be happier, Señor Zorro."  Garcia smiled. 

Isadora gingerly walked up to the outlaw, and, motioning for him to bend toward her a bit, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.  Then she stepped back a pace. 

He chuckled.  "Señora, I am most honored.  That is bonus thanks."  He paused, tilting his head.  "You are walking much more easily," he added. 

"Sí, Señor Zorro.  First, I am not carrying a baby and second, I have been helped by the curandera and by Demetrio.  The herbs, salves and massage have made my foot less sore and stiff." 

"That is wonderful news, Señora," Zorro said, smiling once more.  "By the way, I have a present for you that I think you will be able to use to improve your house."  He whistled and the three heard a large horse trotting toward them.   Turning, Zorro pulled a large saddlebag from behind the saddle.  "It is a bit heavy.  I can carry it into the house for you." 

She stood staring at the object in his hands and then she looked up into Zorro’s eyes.  "What?  Who is this from?" 

"I am delivering it for Don Diego.  You might want to take it into your house to see what it is," Zorro suggested.   Since it was fairly heavy and Garcia had the baby, he carried the saddlebag in the house, laying it on a table.   The newlyweds followed and Isadora lit two lanterns, setting them in such a way to best illuminate the gift. 

Isadora opened the bag and pulled out the contents.  There were a half dozen pieces of very expensive-looking jewelry, along with silver and gold coins.   She gasped when she recognized some of the jewelry.  "How did Don Diego get this?" she asked.

"What is it?" Garcia asked. 

Looking up, her eyes glistening, she said, “It is my dowry, or what was left of it," she answered.   "How did he....?"

Z
orro shrugged.   "You will have to ask him.  But I can only suppose that Don Diego simply reminded your father of his parental duty." 

Isadora started crying.  "How do I deserve such generosity?" she asked through her tears. 

Garcia put the baby in the basket and enveloped her in his arms.    "Maybe because you are such a good woman," he murmured.  He looked up at Zorro.  "I have wondered the same thing myself.  So many people have been so good to us.  This house, this land, so many kind things that the people have done....” He leaned down and softly kissed his wife.

Zorro stood silently for a moment.  "Maybe it is because you are both such good people.  Sergeant, you have a good heart,” he said.  “You risked your life and your position to help so many here in this pueblo, including me.   Your kindness is just coming back to you.  God knows your heart and is rewarding you." 

Garcia looked up to thank the outlaw once more and saw that Zorro had left as silently as he had come.  The sound of hooves quickly faded and the couple was left holding each other in the warmth of their love, basking in gratitude for what God had granted to them.  And they were content. 

 

The End

 

 

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