Copyright© 2018 by Kraken
Tom, Giuseppe and I were relaxing after lunch while we waited for the ladies to arrive. A little after one o’clock, one of the cousins came into the camp telling us that wagons from Las Cruces were on their way. I thanked him, and the three of us went up to the slope, where we used our monoculars to watch the wagons. There were ten heavily laden wagons about a mile away moving slowly up the road.
With a groan I said, “My back is already starting to hurt, just thinking about unloading those wagons and moving the furniture into the house.”
They joined me in laughter, and Tom said, “We should all take this chance to relax while we can. At the rate the wagons are moving, it’s going to be another hour before they get here.”
I grinned. “That may well be, Tom; but Anna and Yolanda are on their horses, and they aren’t going to take that long to get here,” I said while pointing to where the two ladies were far ahead of the wagons, and coming rapidly towards the Hacienda at a canter.
We walked down to the edge of camp to wait. Less than five minutes later the ladies came galloping up, pulled up to a quick sliding stop, and literally leapt from their horses and into our arms. The last thing I saw before I was enveloped in arms and legs, was a huge super megawatt Anna smile. After what seemed like seconds but I’m sure was at least a minute, I put Anna down continuing to hug her to my side.
The four of us left Giuseppe to greet the wagons, and walked up to the Hacienda. Anna stopped at her first sight of the Hacienda just as I had. When she’d had her fill of looking, she almost dragged me to the Hacienda and through the courtyard door. Just inside the courtyard she stopped and stared for a long moment.
Looking at me with tears in her eyes she asked, “Are those rose bushes?”
“They are indeed rose bushes, my love,” I responded with a smile at her.
A huge super megawatt Anna smile, a long hug and kiss later, and she was dragging me inside the Hacienda.
Once inside, I dropped Anna’s hand and told her to go look at everything. She grabbed Yolanda, and they took off exploring the lower level of the house. Tom and I just stood there and grinned at each other. We walked over to the staircase, and waited for them to exhaust their wonder at everything on the lower level.
When they were done, we walked upstairs and let them loose again. Tom and I walked out to the terrace through the French doors, and stood in the sun light watching the wagons making their slow progress up the road. The girls eventually found us, and Anna was beaming me another of her huge super megawatt smiles as she saw the rose bushes scattered about the terrace. She gave me another hug and kiss and then joined me, standing side by side with our arms around each other watching the wagons.
“The wagons are starting across the river,” Tom spoke up, finally breaking the spell.
We took each other’s hand, walking downstairs out of the Hacienda to the camp. By the time we got there, Giuseppe, his wife, and kids were having a reunion of their own. I flagged down the lead wagon driver and told him I wanted one wagon at a time to drive up the slope to the Hacienda and offload everything, before another wagon took its place. I also told him I wanted the stove offloaded and installed in the kitchen, first. He nodded his understanding, and left to get things organized.
We all walked up the slope to the Hacienda with Miguel and Maco, who were interested in what was going on. We all stood out of the way as the wagon drivers and assistants unloaded the stove, taking it into the kitchen using nothing but straps and brute muscle strength. When it was in the kitchen I had them position it correctly, and then released them to Anna to unload and place everything under her direction.
Tom, Giuseppe, and I made sure the stove was level, and connected the inflow and outflow pipes to the stove’s water tank. Then we tested everything for leaks. When we were done, we started a fire in the stove, and watched the stovepipes to make sure it was drawing correctly. We stood there looking at each other knowing that we were done with the easy part. It was now all up to Anna and the ladies. We were just strong backs bent in obedience to their whims.
We finally found Anna and told her the stove was installed and working, as were all the kitchen water connections. I received my fourth huge super megawatt Anna smile in less than two hours and all was right in my world. Anna made it even better when she told me to take Tom and Giuseppe down to the camp for coffee, as we were just going to get in the way. Between her, Yolanda, Sofia, Martina, Cristina, Celia, and Carla; she was sure everything that was important would get done. I smiled, gave her a huge hug and kiss, and left her to begin her rule over her new domain.
Downstairs we heard voices in my office. Curious, I walked in and found Miguel and Maco standing in the center of the office, looking at my ‘camouflage’ muzzle loader in its deer skin scabbard hanging on the wall.
Miguel turned and curiously asked, “Where did you get that rifle?”
“The man that used to own it, along with some of his friends, tried to kill me out in the desert, almost three years ago. They didn’t succeed,” I answered.
Miguel looked me closely in the eyes for a moment, before giving me a nod. “Everyone wondered what happened to him. The man who owned that rifle was a Jicarilla Apache who went crazy. He led a small band of warriors who murdered and terrorized anyone they came across. Their only goal was to kill. Everyone will be pleased he and his group aren’t a threat anymore.”
Maco interrupted before I could say anything else. “What’s the purpose of this room?”
“Originally, this was the house I built to live in, three years ago,” I said remembering our discussion around the campfire while we ate antelope stew not so long ago. “The rest of the Hacienda was built around it.” I had to laugh as Maco looked around the room. “Take a good look, Maco, because tomorrow it will look far different, after Anna and the ladies get done with it.”
“Why will they change the room, and why will you let them?” Maco asked clearly puzzled by such a thing.
“Until now, I used this room to cook, eat, and sleep in. Now that the rest of Hacienda is done, this room will be changed into an office. From here, I’ll run the Estancia. The bed and table will be gone, and different shelves will be put in, along with a large desk and storage cabinets as well as whatever else Anna thinks is appropriate,” I replied. “As for why I would let Anna do it, I’ll simply ask you who decides what goes into your family’s wickiup, and who decides where it’s placed?”
Maco thought for a moment, and then nodded his understanding.
We started to leave the Hacienda when I had a thought and told the others I’d meet them at the camp. I went back inside and found Anna upstairs in our bedroom, looking out the French doors. Hearing me come in she turned, gave me a smile, and a hug.
“It’s truly magnificent, mi Pablo. I have to pinch myself every so often to make sure I’m not dreaming,” she said as she continued to hug me.
Pulling my head back I looked her in the eyes almost loosing myself yet again. “That’s what happens to me, every time I hold you.”
My fifth huge super megawatt Anna smile. I hugged her back to me and after a moment asked, “Did you have time to pick up everything we ordered from Mr. and Mrs. Delgado?”
Now it was her turn to give me a bemused smile. “I certainly did. As a matter of fact, I used my saddle, saddlebags, and scabbards on the ride out here. I also brought yours and the gifts for the others, thinking we’d give them to the other four tomorrow morning, after breakfast.”
“In that case I’m going to use them on a ride to the village and back. We’ll be back in a little while if you need me for anything,” I replied with a big grin.
I found the others in camp, and let them know I was taking a quick ride to the village to see how things were going. Tom and Giuseppe decided to accompany me.
The Delgados had outdone themselves as far as I was concerned. The saddle was simple, and without real decorations, but the high quality was obvious at first glance. The saddlebags and two scabbards were of matching leather, and the Dos Santos brand stood out without being ostentations. Tom and Giuseppe got their first look at my new gear as we mounted up, and admired the workmanship themselves.
We rode out to the hills overlooking the village, and watched the activity from there. Things appeared to be moving along without any real problems. I didn’t want to get in their way, so after ten minutes we turned and rode back to camp at a walk.
Riding back to the Hacienda, I suggested that Giuseppe and Sofia join Tom and Yolanda on their daily rides. That way they would not only learn the Estancia but Tom and Yolanda could teach them how to shoot my weapons. Giuseppe was all for it, and thought it was a great idea but didn’t know how Sofia would feel. Tom suggested Sofia talk to the ladies in camp about protecting the kids, and then he’d have Yolanda talk to her.
We got back to the corral just in time to help Miguel and Maco gather up pads and horse blankets before walking over to the practice area. We talked as everyone arrived over the next fifteen minutes. When it looked like everyone was there, I told Miguel and Maco to teach the class while Tom and I joined the line. Anna and Yolanda joined us in back of the group just as the warmups started. When the warmups were done, I took Anna, Tom, and Yolanda off to one side and taught them the next kata.
As they were practicing the new katas, I walked around and observed everyone else. From what I could see, everyone at practice would have been classified as a solid yellow belt. Miguel and Maco I classified as beginning orange level while Anna, Tom, and Yolanda were now starting the green level. I decided that before Anna and I left on our trip to Santa Fe, I’d teach Miguel and Maco all the orange level katas, and Tom and Yolanda the green levels. I fully expected Anna to reach the blue level while we were on our trip, as she would have daily training with me.
When practice was over, we cleaned up and joined Giuseppe and Sofia down at the table in camp with Heinrich and Anya. While we waited for dinner, I asked how the house was looking.
“Everything in today’s wagons has been unloaded and placed in the appropriate rooms, but it still looks bare,” Anna answered. “The next few days of deliveries will help a lot,” she added almost as an afterthought.
I raised an eyebrow in question as this was the first I’d heard of more wagons.
Anna, Yolanda, and the other ladies all laughed at my look.
“Pablo, things are so stacked up in grandfather’s stable from all the deliveries the last two weeks that we didn’t have any choice but to bring all we could, out. Yolanda and I decided that since we were going to be here a week, we might as well use the time to set everything up,” Anna said.
That earned a lot of laughs from around the table. When things had settled down again Anna gave me a serious look.
“Are you having second thoughts, Pablo?”
Startled at the question, I gave her a firm ‘no,’ and a song suddenly popped into my mind.
“It’s a shame I don’t have my guitar here, or I’d sing you a song that shows how I feel.”
That statement just earned me another laugh, as Anna left the table returning in less than a minute with my guitar.
Looking me directly in the eyes she commanded, “Sing.”
I patted her chair and when she sat down I started playing and sang “Every Second.” When that was done I went immediately into “Anna’s Song.”
Yolanda took the opportunity to give Tom an arm slap, and asked him if he was paying attention, which got the expected laughs.
I looked at Tom and told him this one was for him and sang “God Bless Texas.” He laughed and said he was a New Mexican now, but he did appreciate the thought.
After dinner, Tom and I walked Anna and Yolanda up to the Hacienda with Giuseppe, Sofia, their kids and the Hacienda staff. I picked up my bedroll, got my goodnight Anna smile, hug, and kiss and told them all goodnight.
The next week flew by, as we welcomed each new delivery after a morning ride and lunch. Everyone at the Hacienda raved about the hot baths and showers, although they complained about the limited hot water. Anna took me aside and said that she didn’t seem to have to worry about hot water, and she was concerned. I told her it was one of those secrets just between her and I. Our bathroom used a different system, and we would always have hot water.
At the end of the second week the first sixty-six houses in the village were done and the floors laid. I moved four teams to start working on the Finca Operations building focusing on the store. Six teams were moved to working on hauling rocks from the quarry, to the first levee sites at the north end of the Estancia on the west side of the river. The last two teams I assigned to Miguel and Maco, for them to start what was being called Apache training.
Miguel and Maco had both openly declared in camp that they were going to stay on the Estancia, and were waiting for work to do. They thought that at some future point they would want adobe houses in the village, but for now they would either stay in the camp with the masons or move to another camp somewhere else on the Estancia.
I gave both of them two sets of cammies, and asked them to try them for a month. During that time, they were to each train a team of farmers on all the areas we’d been discussing, focusing on fighting and tracking. I told them to start them on morning Tai Chi, and include them in the afternoon practices as well. I also wanted them to teach the farmers the desert and mountains of the Estancia. The first day of this training happened the day before we left for Las Cruces, and I made sure that the first two teams as well as the rest of the teams all knew that eventually everyone would be trained the same way.
Anna and I did give Tom, Yolanda, Giuseppe, and Sofia their new saddlebags and scabbards. Along with the scabbards came rifles and pistols. Sofia was a little reluctant at first, but after talking with Anya and Yolanda she agreed. Both Giuseppe and Sofia joined our morning rides and shooting lessons. Neither one would ever be a crack shot, but by the end of the week they could at least hit the target with aimed shots.
The four of us left for Las Cruces after breakfast, six days after Anna and Yolanda arrived. As we rode we talked about the wedding, the trip, and what still needed to be done at the Hacienda before we left for Santa Fe.
Tom and I dropped off the ladies at the courtyard, taking the horses over to the stable, before returning to the restaurant for lunch. Walking in the door, we received our respective smiles, hugs, and kisses before sitting down. After lunch, I asked what the plans were for the next two weeks. Anna said we’d continue our morning rides and shooting practice, while the afternoons were reserved for errands like the final fitting for my suits, dance or music practice, and anything else we needed to do.
Tom and Yolanda went off to look at his one suit, to make sure it was presentable, while Anna left to run some errands of her own. Left to my own devices, I went back over to the stable to work on the two shotguns I’d brought with me so that they could be used from horseback. I already had the stocks and barrels cut down. The only thing left was sanding and varnishing the stocks.
Back at the table behind the stables I started on one of the stocks as I talked to Mr. Mendoza. I’d been working for about fifteen minutes when Tom showed up.
“Paul, we both have appointments with the seamstress tomorrow afternoon,” he said forlornly.
Laughing, I said, “You mean ‘torture session.’” I handed him the other shotgun. “This one is yours. It will take your mind off of that for a while.”
He looked at what I was doing, and sat down to start sanding.
When I was satisfied with the shape and smoothness of the stock, I roughed up the finish on the rest of the stock, opened up the can of varnish, and stirred it up with a stick until it was well mixed. I took a piece of parachute cord, and tied the barrel to one of the rafters so it dangled free, cut off a piece of cheese cloth, dipped it into the varnish and applied an even coat, leaving it to dry right where it hung. Tom followed suit a few minutes later, finishing just as the call for dinner came.
The three of us walked over to the restaurant and watched the kitchen dance for a minute, before going into the family dining room and sitting down. Anna and Yolanda followed us in with coffee and joined us at the table. Less than two minutes later, the rest of the ladies came in with dinner. The conversation tonight was how the Hacienda and Village were doing, and what still needed to be done. Tom and I let Anna and Yolanda take the lead in the conversation. We just smiled at our partners unless we were asked something specifically.
As Tom and I were getting ready for bed in the hayloft I asked, “Has Yolanda set the date for the wedding, yet?”
“She says she wants it as soon as possible, but she also wants Anna and you there. Anna hasn’t been able to tell her when you will be back from your trip and that’s holding up setting the date,” he replied with a shrug.
Well, we’ll be back in September at the latest, so anytime in early October should be good.”
He grinned and said he’d talk to Yolanda about it at breakfast in the morning.
On our ride the next morning Yolanda was all smiles. She, Anna, and Sofia spent most of the ride side by side, talking about different dates. By the time we dropped them off at the courtyard, they had settled on the 11th of October as the wedding date. Tom was smiling a big smile when we walked into the stable, happy that the date had finally been set.
Before going over for lunch, we took the time to rough up the varnish on the shotguns a little and apply another coat. We walked into the restaurant to a couple of scowling women. Tom and I both knew we were in trouble for something. After getting a hug and kiss I told them we apologized for whatever we’d done wrong.
They both laughed and Anna said, “We have to be at the seamstress in less than forty-five minutes, so we need to hurry through lunch.”
Over lunch I discovered that today was Saturday and the seamstress closed at two, which explained our hurried lunch.