Bernardo cleaned Brighid's wounds while she slept. He knew the pain would be immense, and she had been through too much pain as it was. Bernardo was pleased with how quickly the wounds were healing. Within a few days he wouldn't need to apply the ointment. Unfortunately, she would have the scars.
Bernardo had been upset with Diego when he spoke about rescuing Brighid. Even a little angry when he brought Brighid to their room. He tried to warn Diego about drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. Bernardo did not want any trouble. Yet when he saw Brighid's back, his attitude changed and his opinion of Diego went to a new height. Bernardo remembered the first time they met.
It was at his last owner's house. Bernardo cursed him. Because of Seņor Escabon, Bernardo lost his beautiful voice. He cried when the doctor told him he would never be able to speak again. He wanted to wish death on Seņor Escabon. But found out as much as he hated him he couldn't wish something so bad for Seņor Escabon.
The night Diego visited Seņor Escabon, he was in a bad mood. Seņor Escabon wanted to impress the young, wealthy Californian and everything had to be perfect. If it wasn't, all the servants knew the punishment. Bernardo's task was to serve them throughout the evening. His task was the most important of all servants. He practiced hours before, trying to get everything just right. Then Diego came.
All through dinner, Bernardo performed each task perfectly. Everything was going well until the after dinner drink. Bernardo was getting ready to serve Diego when somehow Seņor Escabon bumped into him, causing him to spill the wine all over Diego. Seņor Escabon became livid.
"Why you incompetent!" Seņor Escabon yelled.
"It was only an accident," Diego replied.
"That's no excuse."
"But I'm sure he didn't mean it," Diego defended.
"Your clothes," Seņor Escabon insisted.
"This?" Diego inquired. "I have plenty back at the university. Clothes can always be replaced. It is not a big deal."
"Yes, it is. Rest assured, Seņor de la Vega, Bernardo will pay dearly for his incompetence."
"What do you mean?" Diego's eyes narrowed.
"He will pay with his wages for your outfit. That should be three months worth salary, huh, Bernardo?"
Bernardo nodded, but he knew there was more to his punishment which he wasn't telling Diego.
"Nonsense. I will not accept this. It was an accident and he shouldn't have to pay for anything."
"Seņor de la Vega, pardon me for a moment, but you are from California. I'm sure in California you treat your servants well and disregard their shortcomings. However, here in Spain, we cannot afford these 'accidents.'"
"I'm afraid I don't like what you are saying," Diego's voice lowered. "In California, we treat our servants well; not because we have to, as you say, but because we want to. I had hoped the caballeros in Spain had the same consideration as the Californians. I'm sad to see it is not so."
"But, Seņor de la Vega, they are servants," Seņor Escabon explained.
"What difference does that make? They are still people and deserve to be treated with the same respect as a caballero."
"I'm afraid I disagree with you, Seņor de la Vega. Now as I was saying before - "
Diego seemed enraged that Seņor Escabon just let the matter drop. Then he said something that would change Bernardo's life.
"How much what?" Seņor Escabon asked surprised.
"Bernardo?" Seņor Escabon's eyebrows raised. "I'm afraid you would be dissatisfied with him, as your clothes would indicate."
"I've seen Bernardo perform his tasks. He's been taught well. How someone like you acquired him, I don't know."
"Well," Seņor Escabon thought for a moment. "He's not for sale."
"That's not what I asked."
"I'm not going to let you buy him from me."
"Very well," Diego stood up as if getting ready to leave. He walked over to Seņor Escabon, took off his gloves, and slapped him. "I challenge you to a duel. The prize will be Bernardo."
Seņor Escabon had a look of terror on his face. Diego's reputation with the sword was great. He knew he didn't stand a chance, however his honor was at stake. But an idea crept into his head.
"As you wish, tomorrow morning at dawn."
"I don't think so," Diego answered. "I know your reputation as well as you know mine. You'll only hire someone to get me before the duel tomorrow. Ten minutes in the town square. Bring Bernardo. If you do not show, I win by default."
After having his say, Diego left. Seņor Escabon scowled. Not only would he lose his best servant, but Diego might ruin him one way or another. He had no choice but to partake in the duel. He told Bernardo to pack his suitcase. When Bernardo returned, he grabbed a sword and they left.
Diego was already waiting, practicing with his sword. Seņor Escabon sighed, then walked up to Diego.
"Are you ready?" Diego asked.
"You may have Bernardo," Seņor Escabon told him. Diego looked at him questioningly. "I know of your swordsman ship, Seņor de la Vega, I'd rather suffer humiliation than death."
"Very well," Diego nodded to Bernardo. Bernardo eagerly joined him.
As they were leaving, Seņor Escabon called out to Diego. Diego turned to see Seņor Escabon run at him, sword in hand. Diego quickly stepped aside and pushed Bernardo out of the way. When Seņor Escabon turned around after his attack, he saw Diego had already drawn his sword.
"You don't seemed surprised," Seņor Escabon said.
"As I said earlier, I know your reputation."
Diego waved his sword in front of Seņor Escabon, as if taunting him. Seņor Escabon took the bait and rushed him again. Diego easily blocked Seņor Escabon's blade and turned him into another direction. Seņor Escabon stumbled and fell into the mud. Diego laughed, then smiled as Seņor Escabon readied for another attack.
This time he approached Diego warily. He jabbed at Diego, looking for an opportunity to catch him off guard. He lunged one more time, but Diego was prepared. As he rushed by Diego, he felt something touch his cheek. He grabbed the left side of his face and when he took his hand away, he saw blood. His face burned with anger.
"Now let's stop this nonsense," Diego said.
"No!" Seņor Escabon screamed and rushed again.
Diego met him this time and their swords clashed. Every thrust Seņor Escabon gave him, Diego blocked easily. They circled the square and when Seņor Escabon thought he had the advantage over Diego he made the realization that Diego had the true advantage and was just toying with him. He got even angrier and lunged once more at Diego. He dropped his sword and pulled his hand back in pain as the blade sliced through his right hand. He was now useless as a swordsman.
"You've ruined me," he told Diego.
"You ruined Bernardo," Diego replied, sheathing his sword. "I think it's only fair. Your hand for Bernardo's life."
Diego walked to Bernardo. "Let's go," he held out his hand to him. Bernardo took it and knew at once, Diego would not mistreat him. After all, how many people fought over a servant. Bernardo bent down to pick up his suitcase, but Diego stopped him. "Not tonight, my friend. Tonight you rest."
Bernardo had hoped Diego's kindness would continue and was pleased when it did. He began to grow fond of the young man. Diego hardly ever treated Bernardo rudely or as though Diego was his superior. Diego often confided in Bernardo and the line between master and servant quickly became very thin.
Brighid stirred and whispered the name Kelley again. This was a puzzle for both of them. She would mention the name often and wake up screaming sometimes. Yet when Diego asked her about Kelley, she would say no more.
Her body jerked and he knew she was awake. She turned her head back and looked at Bernardo.
"Ya can hear, but ya cannea speak," she said.
"'Tis sad," Brighid sighed. "Why are thare so many sad thin's in tha world? Sometimes I wonda why God exists an yet bad thin's still happ'n. An, yet, I know without God in me life, I'd hae no life. Do ya undestand what I'm sayin'?"
Bernardo nodded solemnly. He too asked himself the same questions many nights.
"Of course Bernardo understands," Diego answered from the doorway. "He can't speak, but I imagine the things he would say if he could. He's quite smart and thoughtful."
He looked at Brighid's back. "Very good, Bernardo. In a few days, she'll be up and around."
"Wha's goin' happ'n ta me?" Brighid asked.
He cupped her head. "That depends on you, seņorita. You're free. I can take you back to where you grew up or let you go where you want."
Brighid was silent. "Can ya leave me for a while. I need ta ba alone for a bit."
"As you wish," Diego and Bernardo left Brighid alone with her thoughts.