Victoria looked at Diego, slightly puzzled. "About Felipe? What do you mean, Diego?" she asked.
Diego suddenly realized, that he had forgotten to tell Victoria, about Felipe's hearing. He put his hand to his forehead, and sighed. He looked at Victoria, regretfully.
"Please forgive me, Victoria. I should have told you. I guess, it just slipped my mind. Felipe is no longer deaf." He stated, earnestly.
Victoria's eyes widened, as she smiled.
"Diego, that's wonderful! How long has been able to hear? Can he also talk?" she asked, with a hint of excitement, in her voice.
Diego smiled, and put an assuring hand on her shoulder. "Why don't you get your wrap, and I'll tell you on the way to the hacienda." He said warmly.
Victoria nodded, then quickly got her shawl. Diego escorted her out the door, and helped her into the carriage. He gave a quick slap of the reins, and they were off to the hacienda.
On the way, Diego explained, how he had found out, about Felipe's hearing, when he had returned home, from school, in Spain. He also told her, why they had decided, to keep it a secret. He told her that Felipe, was still unable to speak, but that he felt that in time, he would hopefully, find his voice.
Victoria looked at Diego, thoughtfully. "Don't worry, Diego. I too believe, that someday, Felipe will speak. Like you said, he just needs, time." She remarked warmly.
Diego nodded in agreement, and smiled.
Diego and Victoria, arrived at the hacienda, in time for dinner.
As everyone sat around the table, Maria and the other servants, brought out a variety of vegetables, some freshly baked bread, fruit salads, and a leg of lamb, for the main meal. There was also, a special sauce, to go with the lamb. The servants made sure, that everyone had plenty to eat, and drink. They even had two kinds of desserts. Diego and Alejandro, even allowed Felipe to join them, and the others for dinner.
When everyone had finished their meal, they all retired to the library. One of the servants, brought out some coffee, cream, and sugar, on a silver tray, with some china cups, and saucers. She handed out the cups, and saucers, then carried the tray to each person, so they could pour their own coffee, and cream, and, add their own sugar. When everyone was served, Alejandro, kindly dismissed her, for the evening.
"Gracias, Señor. Buenas noches." She stated.
"Buenas noches." Replied Alejandro, warmly.
After the servant left, Don Luis looked at Andres and Don José, earnestly.
"With your permission, Señores ... " he trailed. Andres and José looked at one another, insightfully, then nodded to Don Luis.
Alejandro and the others, glanced at one another with a puzzled look on their faces. They looked at Don Luis, intently.
Don Luis set his cup and saucer, on the marble table, then rose from his chair, and strolled over, to the fireplace. He turned, and looked at his attentive audience.
"There's something, that I have to tell you, Don Alejandro, and Don Diego." He stated, decidedly.
"What is it, Don Luis?" Alejandro asked, curiously.
"I have a confession to make, Señores, for reasons that are my own, and as Señor Veranos has suggested, for my safety. I'm afraid, that I have had, to deceive you." He stated, in a serious tone.
Alejandro, suddenly felt his face, become flushed. He sat his cup and saucer, on the marble table, and stood up.
"Just what are you trying to say, Señor!" he said, firmly.
Diego quickly sat his cup and saucer aside, and stepped up beside his father. He put his hand on Alejandro's shoulder, in assurance, and gave him, a decided look.
"Father, let's hear, what he has to say." He stated, earnestly.
Alejandro nodded in agreement, and sighed. "I apologize, Señor. Please continue." He stated amiably.
Don Luis shook his head. "No need to apologize, Señor. I hate deception, as much as anyone. Allow me, to introduce myself. My name is, Don Xavier Miguel Francisco Carroga. I was to be, the Alcalde, of your pueblo." He stated, resolutely.
Sully's eyes, slightly widened, as he gazed at Don Carroga, with curiosity. He wondered, if this, was the man, whom Cloud Dancing, had spoken of, in his vision. He sat back in his chair, and looked at him intently. Diego briefly glanced at Sully, then, looked at Don Carroga, with mild curiosity. He too, wondered, if this was the man, in Sully's vision.
Alejandro's eyes widened. A look of disbelief, shadowed his face, as he stared at Don Carroga. He slightly blinked, and shook his head.
"There must be some mistake, Señor. Ignacio DeSoto is our Alcalde." He stated earnestly.
Don Carroga nodded. "You're right, he is, now. However, he acquired this position by treachery, and coercion." He replied sternly.
"That sounds like, Ignacio!" stated Diego, nodding decidedly.
Alejandro gave Diego, a discerning nod, then looked at Don Carroga, anxiously.
"Señor, those are serious accusations! I hope, you are prepared, to back them, up." He remarked, earnestly.
Andres stood up, and looked at Alejandro, resolutely.
"He is telling the truth, Don Alejandro. When Don Carroga, told me what happened, I immediately, investigated his story." Stated Andres. "In fact, Señor, I even went as far as to question witnesses to the incident. They signed a statement, saying, that they witnessed, Ignacio DeSoto, forcing Don Carroga, to give up, his title. Don Carroga and I, went to Emissary Escanto, and told him what had happened, then showed him the statements, of the witnesses. Later, Emissary Escanto, Don Carroga, and I went to the king, and pleaded our case. He agreed, that DeSoto, was guilty, and signed this royal arrest warrant, to serve to DeSoto." He pulled out a parchment from his coat pocket, and handed it to Alejandro. "It bears the king's signature, and stamp." He added.
Diego and Alejandro unrolled the parchment, and inspected it carefully. They nodded to each other in agreement, then Alejandro handed the parchment, back to Andres. Alejandro looked at Don Carroga with a steady gaze.
"Just what did happen, Señor?" he asked, with a firm tone, to his voice.
Don Carroga spoke up. "I will be more than happy, to tell you what happened, Señor." He stated, with an angry edge to his voice.
Everyone turned their eyes on Don Carroga.
"Sí, Don Carroga, I am anxious, to hear your story!" stated Alejandro, decidedly.
"It's no story, Señor. As Andres said, it is the truth." Don Carroga stated, earnestly.
Alejandro nodded. "Please continue, Señor." He gestured to Don Carroga.
"Gracias, Señor. It all began, in Madrid. I had just been appointed, Alcalde of your pueblo. In fact, my appointment, was even ratified, by the king himself. As I was walking, across the courtyard, DeSoto, stepped in front of me, and said that, a tragedy, was going to, befall me. With that, he slapped my face, and challenged me, to a fight. When he told me, who he was, I told him, that there was a candidate, by that name. That's when, he began to insult me, and my family. He said that the only reason, that I acquired my position, was that my family's wealth, and influence, was succeeded, only by their arrogance, and stupidity. As we started to fight, I nicked him, in his wrist. He said that, his flesh wound, was sufficient enough, to justify, my death, in his self-defense. We fought, and he disarmed me. I told him that, I wasn't going to fight him, anymore, and he called me, a coward. He told me, that the king, would not send a coward, to govern, one of the most troublesome outposts, in his empire." Stated Don Carroga.
Victoria quickly stood up, with an angry look on her face.
"Troublesome! Our pueblo, is not troublesome! How dare he, say that!" she remarked, angrily. "The only thing, that has been troublesome, is our Alcaldes. First Luis Ramon, and now DeSoto! The only thing, that both of them have in common, was, and is, governing our people, with tyranny, and oppression!" she added heatedly.
Diego stepped over, and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Victoria, please. Let the man finish." He stated calmly, with a firm look in his eyes.
Victoria gave Diego, a sharp look, then looked at Don Carroga, regretfully. "Forgive me, Señor. But I would hardly call Pueblo de Los Angeles, troublesome!" She stated, earnestly.
Don Carroga shook his head. "No need to apologize, Señorita. I understand how you feel. Believe me, those are DeSoto's words, not mine." He replied, compassionately.
Victoria nodded, and sighed. "Gracias, Señor. Forgive me, for interrupting. Please continue." She said, warmly.
"Before I begin, Señorita, let me assure you, that if I do become your Alcalde, I would definitely govern this pueblo, fairly, and compassionately. Tyranny, and oppression, are not, in my opinion, standard criteria, for governing, a pueblo." He stated, earnestly.
Victoria looked at Diego, and smiled. She looked back at Don Carroga.
"Well Señor, in that case, I hope that you do become our Alcalde, and I along with Don Alejandro, and Don Diego, will hold you, to your promises." She stated, resolutely.
Don Carroga looked at her, compassionately.
"I will try best, Señorita, to uphold those promises!" he stated smiling.
"As I said, ... " He continued. "DeSoto stated, that no Alcalde, had ever succeeded, in Los Angeles. They had either been hounded out of office, or died, in disgrace. He said it was a perfect place, for a man, to make his reputation, overnight. He told me that, his family, was not well placed, at court. That he had to work hard, and fight, for everything, he had. He said that, unlike me, he would bend Los Angeles, to the will of the king, or, he would, break them. Then he would return to Madrid, a hero. As I said, Señores, this is all the truth. First he threatened my life, insulted me, and my family, then coerced me into handing over my title. DeSoto, is a very devious, man." He stated, angrily.
Diego walked up, and put a reassuring hand on Don Carroga's shoulder. "We are well aware of, the kind of man, DeSoto is, Señor. You can rest assure, however, that something will be done!" he stated, with a determined look in his eyes.
"And I will gladly help you, Señor de la Vega!" Added Andres, decidedly.
Don José stood up, and looked at Diego, and Andres, resolutely. "And I will be more than happy to help as well!"