Finally having found a cantina that his father had mentioned on occasion, Felipe went inside and ordered a glass of lemonade and some stew.
He decided to write a letter to his father while waiting for his food. Pulling out some writing material that he had been carrying in a small bag, he began:
I arrived in Madrid a few days ago. I'm sorry for not writing before this, but I wanted to study for exams. I just finished taking them. I find that I must thank you for being such a good teacher all these years. I passed with 'flying colors'. The proctor's words, not mine. I know what you're thinking. That if I hadn't been a good student, I wouldn't have been able to pass those tests no matter how good a teacher you were. But I still thank you.
I ran into an old friend of ours yesterday, your old instructor/friend from University. You know who I mean. I must say I was quite surprised to see him. I'm sure you would have been even more in shock than I was. He looks much better than he did the last time we saw him. Healthier, more active, more...alive. I also met his niece. You never told me that he had a beautiful niece. I hope to meet her again. I know what you're thinking again. You think that I am smitten with her. But I'm not. Just curious She's beautiful, yes. But intelligent as well. She reminds me of Victoria. I think she would be a very good friend.
How is everyone at home? Grandfather? Victoria? Please tell them that I plan on sending them letters as soon as I have the chance.
Your loving son,
Felipe put the letter away just as a plate of food was set in front of him. He smiled at the server, "Gracias."
"May I join you Don Felipe?" he heard a pleasant voice ask from behind him.
Perhaps my wish is about to come true, Father, he thought to himself before turning around and standing. "Lady Rachel? What a pleasure to see you again. Of course you may join me. I was hoping I would see you and your uncle again."
She grinned as she sat down. Turning to the server who was still at the table, she ordered a glass of juice and some stew before turning back to Felipe and saying, "Please, call me Rachel. Uncle has spoken highly of you and your father. I feel as if I already know you."
"Then you must call me Felipe." Felipe took a sip of lemonade before continuing. "Since you already know something of me, how about if you tell me about yourself?"
Rachel and Felipe talked for the duration of the meal, about her life and his, including the exams he had just taken earlier that day. When both of them were finished eating Felipe asked, "May I escort you home, Rachel?"
"That's not necessary, Felipe. But if you would like to, I certainly don't mind."
Felipe smiled shyly at her before saying, "I don't mind at all. I've not made any friends here in Madrid yet besides you and your uncle. And I did want to speak with him some more."
"Then let's be on our way."
Just as they were about to walk out the door, a leering drunkard grabbed Lady Rachel's arm. "Hola, Lady Rachel." he sneered. "Have you decided to take me up on my offer yet?"
Disgusted, Rachel tried to wrench her arm away, but was unsuccessful. "Let go of me, Antonio," she said angrily.
"Not until you answer my question."
Felipe was growing angry, but it looked as though Rachel wanted to handle this herself. Having known other strong women in his life, he recognized the look on her face.
Glowering, she said,"how many times do I have to tell you, Antonio? I'm not interested. Now, I'm telling you one more time to let go of my arm!"
"Wrong answer, wench!" Antonio yelled as he backhanded the lady.
That was the breaking point for Felipe. Grabbing his arm, he twirled the wretched man away from Rachel.
"I believe you need a lesson in manners, señor." Now where have I heard that before? he thought to himself.
"And just who's going to teach me? You, whelp? Ha!" The much bigger man then pulled back his arm to hit Felipe.
Felipe grabbed the other man's fist just before it made contact with his face. He could see the surprise in the man's face. Felipe was much stronger than he appeared thanks to his father's training. He gritted his teeth before saying, "Lesson number one. If you're going to fight, take it outside where you won't damage anyone else's property. It's more polite."
"Fine, outside then." Antonio wrenched his hand free then marched out the door in a huff.
Felipe glanced at Rachel. "Please, Felipe, don't do this. I'm fine."
"I won't let him get away with hitting you Rachel."
"But he'll kill you," she said worriedly.
He shook his head. "My father taught me how to fight. I'll be fine. And I am determined to teach him not to hit everyone he becomes angry with. Besides, nobody hurts a friend of mine and gets away with it." With that, Felipe followed the other man outside, Rachel close behind.
I just hope all that training with Father really will help me. Felipe thought.