Slade stood up and folded the two pages into his pocket. “If you are dressed, we can get started then. I walked out to the courtyard when I first got up and it is cold, but not nearly as bad as last winter,” He gave her a quick hug. “I like the shawl, by the way. You look as pretty as anything!” He picked up the cape from the settee and, when she had pulled her shawl snuggly around her shoulders and folded it over in front, he swung it around her shoulders. He pulled on his heavy coat and tugged his hat down on his head. “You should have a hat. You will get cold with nothing on your head.”
“I’ll get my old muffler from the room, but there’s the hood on the cloak for my head,” Ellen said and ran to pick it up. “I had better take some cash to pay Mrs. Coulter and anything else. Maybe she will have a muffler, too. ”
Slade went to the boxes of cooking supplies and removed the case with the silver in it. He took out the equivalent of two hundred dollars. Then digging through the box again he found the little leather bag that had contained their coffee beans for the trip. He put the coins in the bag and stashed it in his inner jacket pocket. He held the case in his hand for a few minutes then removed the rest of the coins from it. He wrapped them in a cloth and put them in the bag which was holding the tortillas, folding the cloth between the soft pieces of bread.
“After last night, I don’t really trust people in this town.” He commented as they left the room. ‘Especially since we don’t have a lock on the door.
“Wait. Let’s shove the chest in front of the door inside. Then we can leave by the bedroom door down the hall. We do have a key for that!”
So they secured the room as best they could and left.
In the lobby Slade stopped and told the clerk at the desk what they had done and asked that the door be repaired before they returned.
In the cold sunshine of the street Ellen turned to Slade again. “I’ll need to talk to the Commandante to ask where Senor Gutierrez keeps his office. I forgot to ask yesterday. And I also have to find out if he knows of anyone who is traveling to
in the next few weeks.” They turned north to cross the plaza to
Ortega-Garcia’s home and office. Spain
The portero recognized them this time and took them in quickly. They were ushered right into the Commandante. He was happy to see them and even though it was mid-morning offered them coffee.
Ellen refused the coffee for them both but got right to the point. “I have a lot to do today, Comandante. I’m sorry to rush, but we only have a couple days to finish this whole business and get back to the ranch in the Jemez. So I am forced to be abrupt about visiting.
“I neglected to ask Senor Gutierrez for his office address when I talked with him yesterday. I need to find the address for Don Francisco’s brother in
. I must at least tell him of Alejandro’s
death. I feel uncomfortable accepting
the land; it was granted to the Aguilar family after all. And I’m really not an Aguilar by blood.’ Spain
“But, mi damita, you were Alejandro’s wife. You were an Aguilar; you are an Aguilar.”
“Yes, I know. But I would feel more comfortable to at least offer Alejandro’s uncle the possession of the property.”
Ortega-Garcia chuckled. “You are so honest, Elena. Most women would grab that inheritance quickly so that no one else could claim an interest.
“Nevertheless, I will send you to Hernando’s office. You are walking aren’t you? Of course, the hotel is only across the plaza. Let me call my cochecito and horse. The driver will take you to the Gutierrez office and if he is not there you can go on to his house.
“Felipe, envias a mi caballo y una cochecito, For Senora Elena and Senor Slade.
“Now that is finished. The buggy will be here in a few minutes.
“I heard of the imposter trying to kill you last night. Are you feeling recovered enough this morning to be taking care of all this?”
“I am fine, senor. Mr. Slade was there quickly and took me away from the body and the blood. The hotel cleaned up the mess and provided a maid to attend me and get me into a clean bed in the other room. Mr. Slade moved his things into the sitting room, blocked the broken door and stayed close until I was asleep.
“This morning I awoke to sunshine and no reminder of the night’s shock.” Ellen smiled, dismissing the happenings.
“I do wonder if you know of anyone who will be traveling to
in the next few weeks to carry my letter for me. I am willing to pay them if that will help. Spain
“We want to return to the
ranch tomorrow morning if we can.” Jemez Mountain
Ortega-Garcia looked up in surprise at her use of the word ‘we’; then he laughed. “I thought so! I thought so.
“Let me congratulate you sir.” He stood up and stepped across to shake hands with Slade. “I watched you yesterday while you followed Elena as such a faithful escort and body guard and I knew there was more involved than only a responsibility.” He laughed again.
“I am glad, Senor Slade. Our senora needs a strong man to care for her. This is a rough country for a woman alone, especially one who has unexpectedly acquired a large hacienda, a rancho. It can be much for a woman to manage—as you found to your suffering.” He smiled and shook Slade’s hand again.
“When is the wedding? Today?”
“Mrs. Ag—Ellen would like to ask the padre where Tia Margarita went to mass.” Slade said. “I’m afraid I don’t know his name--We will visit him as soon as we are finished with everything we have to accomplish today.” He glanced at Ellen for the name.
‘Padre Nazario at la Iglesia de los Robles Sagradas. He also married Alejandro and me. He’s a good man. The church—well you know where the church is.
“At any rate, do you know any one going to
“You cannot be put off from your purpose, can you, mi damita? I do, indeed, know someone who is traveling to
. My nephew is leaving in two weeks to take his
wife home for a while. I will instruct
him to deliver your letter and find someone reliable to bring a return as soon
as possible. With any luck you should
have an answer before the year is out.” Spain
Felipe returned while the Comandante was speaking to inform them that the buggy was ready. As he ushered them out to courtyard, he encouraged Ellen, “Elena,” to use the buggy for all of her errands, “especially the last one.” He chuckled knowingly then instructed the driver to convey them to Senor Gutierrez’s office or residence `whichever was appropriate, and then to follow Ellen’s instructions for the remainder of the day.
At the Gutierrez law offices, Ellen spoke with the attorney. After trying to discourage her from giving her inheritance away, he relented and dictated a letter in Spanish for her to write. Ellen’s Spanish was good enough for everyday usage, but she wanted the letter to Alejandro’s one remaining uncle to be precise and correct in its wording.
With Senor Gutierrez’ instruction the letter was phrased to inform the old man that the property had been left to her by Alejandro, but in a desire for honesty, she was offering to consider any claim he felt he might have first. And if he desired, she would gladly turn over the holdings to him.
When that letter was signed and sealed with the necessary addresses, Ellen went on to explain that she needed the letter of instruction to the Bank they had prepared yesterday. As soon as she had contacted
his name could be
added in the appropriate places. Santos
On her further request Senor Gutierrez also drafted a contract for her between the two of them in which she authorized him to carry out transactions in her behalf. It dealt with the actions to be carried out and the appropriate fees for his services—to be paid upon her return. Meantime, the attorney had authority to make any necessary decisions for the repair of the property.
Finally she asked if there would be any difficulty with the legalities involved when she and Mr. Slade were married. The senor was happy to congratulate them and say that if she brought him their marriage certificate from the padre, he would make a record of it and make sure there would be no problem at the bank when she stopped to sign for the Aguilar account.
Taking all the paperwork with them they left the office for the Bank where Mr. Ellington was unhappily ready to accommodate her. From there they returned to the commandant’s residence and sent the letter to Esteban Aguilar y Garcia in to Ortega-Garcia for forwarding by way of the portero.
Ellen asked the driver if he had any knowledge of the whereabouts of Santos Ramirez, the second foreman on her husband’s ranch. After some thought he said perhaps, the Padre would know.
“Of course,” Ellen cried! “We need to go there anyway!”
What would have been a long walk was a pleasant ride in the buggy. They left the horse and driver comfortably ensconced in the shade while the two of them went into the chilly dimness of the Church to find Padre Navario. He thought carefully and then was able to give them precise directions to Santos Ramiriez’s house with his in-laws.
“We have a second request for you, padre,” Slade spoke, “We are anxious to be married. Ellen has the most respect for you, sir, but we wish only a simple marriage without any of the ceremonies of the Church. We both have a close friendship with the Lord; we speak with Him personally every day. We have no need to make a confession because we know that Christ gives us power not to sin and so we have committed none. What sins were committed long ago we have already confessed directly to God.
“Is it possible for you to marry us under those conditions?”
The old man nodded. “I will be glad to perform the ceremony you ask. I’ve found it better myself to commune with the Savior on a one to one basis rather than to employ the ceremonious prayers ordained by the Church.
“I read the writings of a member of our clergy named Martin Luther. He wrote of salvation through grace and his concerns teach that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge
“I have by no means abandoned the
, but I can comprehend other more
biblical teachings. Mother Church
“Do you wish to be married now?”
Ellen’s eyes were shining and Slade emphatically answered, “Yes!”