Bad Times In LA

Parte Veinticinco

Nancy Smith

In the following days, Victoria's tavern, was beginning to return, to it's normal appearance, as more people in the tavern, began to get well. Thanks to the help of Doctor Hernandez, and Michaela, the small band of Indians, who were camped outside the pueblo, had broken camp, and began gathering their belongings, as they too, began to recover from their illness. Diego, Felipe, and Victoria, gathered some extra food, and blankets, and gave them to the Indians, in case they had run short of supplies, during the epidemic. The local Indians, were relatively self-sufficient; but during times of draught, or disease, Diego, Felipe, and his father, always helped them out, by donating extra badly needed supplies.

The day came, when the last of the patients, finally went home. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, as they watched a young couple, and their children, climb into their wagon, wave a grateful good-bye, and drive out of sight.

The people who had money, generously paid Doctor Hernandez, for his services. The ones who could not afford to pay money, paid him with food, blankets, or other material things they could afford to give, of which he generously accepted. Many of the patients, whom Michaela had treated, tried to pay her for her services, but being the compassionate person she was, she kindly bid them, to take their money, and make donations, to the poor people, of Los Angeles.

Since Doctor Hernandez, was the doctor, for the people of the pueblo, Michaela didn't feel right, about taking money, from his patients. She felt, that he could use the money, to buy more medical supplies, that would help in finding cures, for his patient's illnesses.

As they walked back into the tavern, Alejandro looked at Michaela, and smiled.

"I must say, Michaela, that was most generous of you, to turn down that money, and asking those people, to donate their money, to the poor. You are most kind, Señora." He remarked warmly.

Michaela smiled. "Gracias Alejandro. I'm sure there are people of this pueblo, who could benefit from the money. Besides, my payment was in seeing all these people get well, and return to their homes. Seeing them alive and well, was worth all the money in the world." She stated, resolutely.

Everyone smiled, and nodded in agreement. Alejandro's eyes widened, and a broad smile crept across his face.

"I have an idea. Since you would not take money, Señora, would you mind if we made a donation in your name?" Alejandro asked warmly.

Michaela smiled, and slightly blushed. "I would be honored, Alejandro. As long as you included Doctor Hernandez's name in that donation as well." She replied, as she put an amiable hand on the good doctor's shoulder, and smiled.

Alejandro nodded, and smiled. ". I will make the donations in both your names." He stated.

Sully reached into his coat pocket, and pull out a leather pouch, containing some money, that they had brought with them, on their trip, and handed it to Alejandro.

"Here Alejandro. This should be enough to help the poor." Sully stated, smiling.

Alejandro's eyes widened, as he shook his head. "Señor, I couldn't take all your money. You may need it." He stated earnestly.

Sully took Alejandro's hand, and gave him the pouch. He nodded, and smiled. "We insist, Alejandro. Besides, I have a feeling, that we won't be needing any money, until we get back home." He stated, earnestly.

Michaela smiled, and nodded. "Yes, we insist, Alejandro."

Alejandro smiled, and took the money. "Muchas gracias, Señor, and Señora. This is most generous of you!"

Michaela and Sully smiled. "De nada. It's the least we could do." Replied Michaela.

Diego shook his head. "Oh no, Señora. I beg to differ! You and Sully, have helped us, more than you'll ever know. Just helping Doctor Hernandez, and bringing the medicine, that saved our people, was truly a miracle. We will be forever in your debt." He stated, as he looked at her warmly.

Michaela slightly blushed, and shook her head. "I can't take all the credit. Doctor Hernandez, did a great deal, of the work. I just helped out." She stated modestly.

Doctor Hernandez smiled, as he looked at Michaela, amiably. "Gracias, Señora. And I might add, that I appreciate, your help. You are truly, an amazing woman, Doctor Quinn! I too, will be forever in your debt!" he stated earnestly.

Michaela looked at Doctor Hernandez, and smiled. "De nada, Doctor." She replied.

Diego's eyes brightened, as he looked at everyone, and smiled. "I have an excellent idea! We should have a big celebration tonight, at the hacienda. You will come, of course, Doctor Hernandez?" he looked at Doctor Hernandez, earnestly.

Doctor Hernandez smiled. ". I would love to come, to your hacienda. Gracias!" he replied.

Victoria looked around the tavern, and sighed, as she wearily gazed, at all the empty beds.

"Well, it looks like I have a lot of cleaning up to do, before I do any celebrating!" she remarked, earnestly.

Diego put his arm around her, and smiled. "Don't worry, Victoria. With all of us here, plus with a few extra volunteers, I'm sure we'll have your tavern cleaned up in no time!" he stated warmly.

Victoria looked at him, and smiled. "Gracias, Diego. That would be most appreciated! I'm sure it will be awhile, before my customers return." She remarked, anxiously.

Alejandro smiled, and shook his head. "Nonsense, Victoria! Once things settle down a bit, you'll be having your regular customers back, in no time. And more!" he stated earnestly.

Diego and Felipe, nodded in agreement. Diego chuckled. "In fact, you'll probably have more customers, than you'll know what to do with." He stated, warmly.

Alejandro nodded, in agreement.

Diego slipped his arm from around Victoria, walked toward the door.

Alejandro scratched his head, as he looked at Diego sternly.

"Diego, where on earth, do you think you're going?" he asked gruffly.

Diego turned, and smiled. "Don't worry father, I'll be right back." He stated, as he quickly dashed out the door.

Alejandro shook his head, and sighed. "Just like Diego! When there's work to be done, he disappears!" he stated with a disgusted look on his face.

Victoria looked at Alejandro disapprovingly.

"Don Alejandro. Don't be so hard on Diego! He does his best, to help out. He truly is a good man." She stated earnestly.

Alejandro looked at Victoria wistfully, and sighed.

"I know Victoria. I just wish, that he would do more, than he does! It's not that I'm not proud of him, because I really am! In fact, I was really proud of him, the way he helped out, during the epidemic. I guess, when I see him, not doing anything, I guess, I just get frustrated." He stated, remorsefully.

Victoria looked at Alejandro earnestly, and sighed.

"Diego, does a lot more than you think, Alejandro!" she said, with a discerning look.

"What do you mean, Victoria?" he asked, looking at her, somewhat curious.

At that moment, four lancers, came walking in, carrying buckets, and scrub brushes, with Diego, right behind.

Everyone looked around, in amazement. Diego chuckled, as he walked in.

"Well Victoria, here are your volunteers!" he remarked, smiling.

Victoria put her hands on her hips, as she looked at Diego, slightly curious.

"Diego, what are these lancers, doing in my tavern?" she asked, sternly.

Diego smiled. "Well, I thought it was the least they could do, to help out. Not only that, but I promised to pay them, double what the Alcalde pays them, if they helped out. Oh, and I also told them, that you would give them, one meal free!" he stated, amiably.

Private Sanchez looked at Victoria, and smiled. "Sí. Señor de la Vega is right! We would be glad, to help clean your tavern!" he stated, smiling.

Victoria, and Alejandro shook their heads, and smiled.

"Diego, you are truly, amazing!" replied Victoria, with a smug look on her face.

Diego slightly shrugged, and smiled. "Well, I try!" he replied, with sly wink.

Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled. "Well I suppose we should get started." She stated.

For the next few hours, everyone worked very hard, cleaning the tavern, replacing cots and beds, with tables and chairs. When they had finished, they rearranged all the furniture, and soon, Victoria's tavern, was looking like a tavern again. As Victoria had promised, she and Michaela, fixed the lancers, a large helping of tamales, and beans, and, gave them plenty of juice, to drink. Diego, of course, paid them generously, for their work.

As the lancers sat at their table eating, DeSoto, arrogantly walked into the tavern, and looked around. His eyes flashed with anger, as he saw the lancers, sitting at the table, eating. He walked over to the table, and glared at them.

"So, there you are! Slacking off as usual, I see!" He bellowed. "Do you think, you're on vacation?!! Get back to the cuartel, right now!" he commanded, sternly.

The lancers, immediately jumped from their seats, saluted, and dashed out of the tavern.

Diego walked over to DeSoto, and looked at him earnestly. "Alcalde, don't be too hard, on them. They've been working, very hard." He stated, compassionately.

DeSoto glared at Diego. "Yes, working hard, stuffing their faces!" he grumbled.

Diego shook his head, and sighed. "Actually Alcalde, I borrowed your lancers, to help us clean, the tavern. As you can see, they did a wonderful job!" he stated earnestly.

DeSoto's eyes widened, as his face became flushed, with anger.

"What?!! You mean you drug my lancers in here, to help you clean, a tavern? I should have you arrested!" he protested.

Diego held up his hands in a surrendering gesture. "Calm down, Alcalde! I didn't 'drag' your lancers in here! I promised to pay them, twice what they earn, if they would help us, clean the tavern. I also told them, that Señorita Escalante would give them a free meal when they finished. They immediately, agreed, and helped us. Of course, Victoria fed them, and I paid them. Really Alcalde, it was the least they could do, considering what this tavern, and Victoria have been through. Surely, even you, can sympathize with that! Besides, it would look very good on your record, knowing that your lancers, 'volunteered' their services, to help restore, a local establishment, back to normal." Diego stated, resolutely.

DeSoto sighed, as his face returned to its normal color. "All right, de la Vega. You're off the hook, this time! But in the future, the next time you want to 'borrow' my lancers, you come and ask me first! Is that clear?" he stated, sternly.

Diego nodded. "Absolutely!" he replied, earnestly.

"Good!" he stated firmly. His eyes softened, as he looked at Victoria, and smiled. "By the way, Señorita, it's good to see this place, looking like a tavern again!" replied Ignacio, amiably.

Victoria looked at Alejandro in amazement. Alejandro slightly shrugged, and shook his head. She looked at DeSoto, and smiled.

"Gracias, Alcalde. I'm glad to have it back." She replied, nodding in agreement.

Ignacio made a slight bow. "Good day, Señorita, Señora, and Señores!" As he started toward the door, he briefly paused, and turned.

"Oh yes, now that the threat of the epidemic, is over, I'm lifting, the quarantine, on this tavern, and the entire pueblo. So Señorita Escalante, you should be getting your customers back, in no time!" he stated, decidedly.

Everyone looked at each other, and smiled. Victoria sighed in relief, and smiled. "Muchas Gracias, Alcalde!" she replied, trying to hide the excitement, that was stirring inside her.

"Good day!" stated DeSoto. He nodded, and walked out.

After DeSoto left, Diego walked up to Victoria, and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"See, what did I tell you. Soon everything will be back to normal." He stated amiably.

Victoria couldn't contain her excitement any longer, as she wrapped her arms around Diego's neck and hugged him. She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, and smiled as she gazed into his eyes.

Diego wrapped his arms around her, and smiled, as he looked into her eyes. He slowly parted from their embrace, as he looked at Alejandro, and slightly blushed.

"Well ... I suppose we should be going. We need to get ready for our celebration tonight." He stated, putting on his jacket.

Alejandro tried to suppress a chuckle, as he flashed a discerning look, at Diego. "You're right Diego. I think a celebration, is definitely, in order!" he stated, with a smug look on his face. He quickly winked at Victoria, and smiled.

Diego looked at Victoria, and smiled. "Felipe and I will pick you up at 8:00" he stated.

Victoria nodded. "I will be ready."

"Hasta luego!" stated Diego

"Hasta luego!" Victoria replied.

Michaela, Sully, and Doctor Hernandez said good-bye, and followed the de la Vegas out the door.

Doctor Hernandez climbed into his wagon, gave a quick slap of the reins to his horse, and headed home, to get ready for his invitation, to the de la Vega, hacienda. He smiled, as he rode out of town, knowing that this time, he wouldn't be needing his medical bag. After all, they had a lot to celebrate.

Michaela and Sully mounted their horses, and followed Alejandro, Felipe, and Diego, to the hacienda. As they rode past the gates of the pueblo, Alejandro trotted his horse, up beside Diego's. He noticed that he had been rather quiet, after they had left the tavern. He looked at Diego, and smiled.

"Diego, by the way, are you sure, that there's nothing going on, between you and Victoria?" he asked, giving Diego, a concentrated look.

Diego shifted his gaze up at the sky, and smiled. "Have you ever noticed those cloud formations? They seem to take on, these unusual shapes, at certain times, of the day." He stated, curiously.

Alejandro's brows furrowed as he sighed impatiently. He looked at Diego sternly.

"Diego, don't change the subject! Are you in love with Victoria?" he asked with a probing look.

"What gave you that idea?" Diego asked, turning his attention to his father, with a sober look on his face.

Alejandro slightly chuckled. "Diego, I'm your father! I notice things, like that! I saw the way, you were looking at Victoria, in the tavern today. Not to mention, that little incident in the kitchen the other day. And the way she looks at you ... .I know there's something, going on, between you two. I know love, when I see it! I'm not blind!" he remarked earnestly.

A slight smirk crossed Diego's lips, as he looked at Alejandro. "It's quite obvious, that your vision, has improved with age, father." He replied smugly. "Well, it looks like we're home!" he remarked. He galloped his horse up to the front gate, and quickly dismounted. He handed Miguel the reins, and strolled into the house.

Alejandro shook his head, and sighed. 'Was that a yes?' he thought. He rode up the front gate, and dismounted. Sully and Michaela quickly followed.

As they walked into the front hall, Alejandro could hear Diego in the kitchen, giving Maria, and the servants a menu for their dinner tonight. 'Well, maybe he'll tell me later!" he sighed, as he walked back to his room.

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