Word Count 38,675
This story will be Rated-R for womanizing, language, and other mischief that goes with a western. Any and all warnings, if needed, will be placed in their rightful spot. It will mostly be left for the readers imagination on the womanizing. Language will be nothing drastic. Other might be treatment received while in prison.
This story will primarily take place in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Johnny receives a letter that changes his life forever. When he reveals the content of the letter, telling Murdoch he has to leave Lancer for a year, Murdoch gets very angry, telling him his responsibility is to the ranch and his family. Harsh words are exchanged, and Johnny leaves.
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Alejandra De La Vega
Don Leandro De La Vega
Father Francisco “ Our Lady of the Refuge ”, Matamoros, Mexico
Father Vicente—Morro Coyo, California
Manuel García—Estancia foreman
Pedro Gilberto–Estancia hand
Martina Catalina Ibars
( Rurales )
Ronaldo Mendoza, Colonel
Santiago Vásquez, Major
Luciano Estrada, Captain
Carlito Vargas, Sergeant
Johnny rode Barranca along the south gully fence-line, checking for breaks in the fence. Stopping Barranca so he could get a drink from his canteen, he heard a horse nicker in the distance. Looking toward the top of the hill, a sick feeling immediately coming over him“ It can’t be!” Johnny said a few seconds before he felt the slam of the bullet hit him in the chest, knocking him off Barranca. “ Estas muerto.” ( you’re dead ) he mumbled before darkness claimed him.
“ What’s keeping Johnny. That job on the south gully shouldn’t have taken this long” Murdoch said as he looked at the grandfather clock again.
“ Listen, I can do that surveying without him. It’s no that rough a job. Tell him to forget it.” Scott said.
“ Scott, stop trying to cover for him.” Murdoch said as a hand knocked on the veranda door and came in.
“ Mister Lancer, some cattle strayed thru a hole in the fence-line down by the south gully.”
“ How many?” Murdoch asked.
“ Can’t tell for sure, but at least fifty got caught in the gully.”
“ Fifty, that’s where Johnny was supposed to be checking fence.” Murdoch said. “ Alright take the men off their jobs. Start pulling them out.”
“ Now I know what you’re thinking, but it shouldn’t take that long.” Scott said.
“ Try pulling nine hundred pounds of scared beef out of a sand gully. It’ll take days, and most of the hands we got.” Murdoch said.
“ We don’t know what happened out there.” Scott said.
Murdoch turned to face his oldest. “ Scott, maybe you better start that surveying by yourself.”
“ Mister Lancer!” a hand yelled.
Scott, and Murdoch hurried outside to find Walt holding the reins of Barranca.
“ Looks like he’s run all the way from south gully.”
“ Walt, saddle my horse, and send someone for Sam.” Murdoch ordered.
Sam came downstairs several hours later and wiped the sweat from his brow. “ Teresa, is with him.”
Murdoch poured a cup of coffee, and handed it to Sam.” How is he?”
“ He’ll live. He won’t be able to do any work or riding for some time.” Sam responded.
“ It had to have been someone he knew to get close enough to shoot him with a pistol.” Scott said. “ His gun was still in the holster.”
“ He wasn’t shot with a pistol Scott. Johnny was shot by someone using a rifle from a considerable distance away.” Sam explained.
“ A rifle. There’s only one place the shooter could have been to do it.” Scott said. “ The hill behind where he was found. It’s about a quarter mile away.”
“ There’s something else you need to know. I’m not sure if he was mumbling about the person who shot him, or just delusional. He mumbled no eres real, estás muerto..” Sam added.
“ Why would he say you’re not real, you’re dead?” Scott asked.
“ He knew who shot him is why.” Murdoch said. “ Once again that boys past……….”
“ We don’t know it was someone from his past. Like Sam said, he could be delusional.” Scott cut in.
“ Why else would he say it then?” Murdoch demanded. “ Every day it seems like someone comes gunning for that damn reputation he wanted so bad.”
“ Scott, would you excuse us for a spell? You can go up and see your brother.” Sam suggested.
Scott knew Sam was about to tear into his father. Something only he seemed able to get away with.
Murdoch walked over to the sideboard, and poured a brandy. “ I’m beginning to think it would have been better to have not found him Sam.” he said as he walked over to his desk, and sat down.
“ Surely you don’t mean that Murdoch? After all the money and years spent searching for him?” Sam asked.
“ How many more times is this going to happen? How many more nights do I have to go thru wondering if he will live or die. Or wondering if Scott will be gunned down because of him and that damn reputation he wanted so bad?” Murdoch asked with anger.
“ You know perfectly well that’s a part of being a father. That boy did what he had to do to stay alive in Mexico, so don’t you dare sit there and pass judgment on him for that. You’ve seen the scars he has from the abuse he received growing up, you’ve read those Pinkerton reports.” Sam responded.
“ Yes, and just how much of that abuse was his own fault?” Murdoch asked.
Sam took a deep breath, and shook his head. “ Murdoch, Johnny has only been home just over a year. In that time, have you ever known him to start trouble? Has anyone else, Scott included said Johnny started trouble?”
“ He may not start it Sam, but it sure as hell finds him, and I want it to stop.” Murdoch responded firmly.
Scott sat in a chair by the bed, wiping the sweat from his brothers forehead. “ Take it easy Johnny, it’s okay, you’re safe.”
“ Por favor deje de. No lo volveré a hacer. Mamá por favor haz que deje de pegarme, por favor mamá. Duele.”( Please stop. I won’t do it again. Mamma, please make him stop beating me., please mamma, it hurts.) Johnny said.
Scott picked up on just enough words to know Johnny was remembering someone giving him a beating, and pleading with his mother to make them stop. His whole life growing up in Boston, he couldn’t remember one time he had ever been struck out of punishment for something he did. The most he would be punished, would be to stay home in his room, and on Friday or Saturday nights in Boston, that was as severe a punishment one could get. He’d seen the horrible scars his brother had. The welts from being whipped, the old bullet, and knife wounds. Closing his eye’s, he remembered how his brother told him about some boys in a village chasing him down,beating him, and then cutting his hand, just to see if a half-breeds blood was red also.
“ No, estás muerto. Te he visto.” ( No, you’re dead. I seen you.) Johnny cried out.
“ Johnny, take it easy, take it easy. I won’t let nobody hurt you ever again.” Scott said as Johnny suddenly bolted upright in bed.
Johnny stared straight ahead a few seconds, breathing heavy, before looking at his brother sitting on the bed next to him. Closing his eyes, as he lay back against the pillows. “ You don’t have to babysit me Scott.”
“ I know I don’t. It’s Sunday, so I thought I would spend the day reading a good book while I kept you company.” Scott responded.
“ What did I say?” Johnny asked.
“ Well, my Spanish is not the best, but you were pleading with your mother to make someone stop beating you.” Scott said. “ Then you said No, you’re dead. That you seen them.” Scott responded. “ Who shot you brother?”
“ Nobody Scott. I didn’t see who shot me.” Johnny said.
“ Nice try brother.” Scott said as he stood up. “ I rode out there the next day. Sam said you were shot from a distance. There was somebody on that hill. I found their tracks, and a single rifle shell casing. I also seen Barranca’ tracks. You were facing that hill when you were shot, so don’t you dare lay there and lie to me little brother. I want to know who the hell shot you?”
“ Leave it Scott, please.” Johnny pleaded.
“ Alright, if that’s the way you want it.” Scott said.
“ How come the old man hasn’t come up here to see me like you do?” Johnny asked.
“ I thought he does when I’m out working?” Scott said.
“ Nope. The only person I see all day is Teresa, or Maria until you come home.” Johnny responded.
Johnny and Scott walked in the house two months later, laughing, and joking as they often did.
“ Hey Murdoch, we got all the supplies delivered.” Johnny said as he walked over to the sideboard, poured two shots of whiskey, and handed one to Scott.
“ You got a letter in the mail today John.” Murdoch said as he tossed the envelope toward Johnny. “ You mind explaining that to me?”
Johnny picked the envelope up, and looked at it. “ No.” he said before downing his shot, and setting the glass down.
“ As your father, I have a right to know who the hell is writing to you from Matamoros, Mexico!” he demanded.
“ As my father. I wouldn’t push it old man. You’ve only been my father, as you like to claim for just over a year. Who I receive a letter from is none of your business.” Johnny stated flatly. “ I’m going to go clean up now before supper.”
Scott watched his brother head upstairs. “ Why is it, when I receive a letter from Boston, you never question me about it. Yet whenever my brother gets a wire, or letter from someone, especially someone in Mexico, you feel the need to know what it’s all about?”
“ Because I have a right to know. This is still my house, and I will not have him bringing more trouble here.” Murdoch responded.
“ And just what trouble has he brought here Murdoch?” Scott demanded.
“ First he gets shot by someone with a rifle, and now he gets a letter from Mexico. Mark my words, the two are connected.” Murdoch responded.
“ You seem to be rather fast at passing judgment against Johnny, condemning him without so much as a trial for something he had nothing to do with happening.” Scott said.
“ And just how would you know he had nothing to do with what happened?” Murdoch demanded.
Scott set his shot glass down. “ Because my brother told me.” he said before turning to go upstairs. “ You know, maybe Johnny would talk to you about things if you would stop being such a hard-ass to him, and start being the father you claim to be.” he added before heading upstairs.
Johnny came downstairs two weeks later. “ I need to say something to the two of you. Something I’ve been giving a lot of thought too these past two weeks.”
“ This has to do with that damn letter you got from Mexico doesn’t it?” Murdoch cut in as he stood up.
“ Can I finish what I need to say old man?” Johnny snapped back. “ I came in here to tell you I have to leave.”
“Leave, why Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Absolutely not. You have a responsibility to this ranch. Whatever it is will have to wait.” Murdoch said flatly.
“ You don’t seem to understand old man. I’m not asking your permission. I have something I have to take care of in Mexico. I’ll be gone about a year.” Johnny responded firmly.
Murdoch walked over to Johnny. “ You have a responsibility to this ranch, and to your family. Whatever it is in Mexico can’t be more important than your responsibilities you have here. I forbid you leaving.”
Johnny glanced at Scott, then back at his father. “ You forbid me leaving. I don’t need your permission old man. My reasons for going are more important than this damn ranch you care so much about.”
“ If Johnny needs to take some time for personal business, I think he should be allowed to go.” Scott said.
“ Why do you need to go back to Mexico?” Murdoch demanded.
“ It’s none of your business why.” Johnny responded.
“ All you’ll do is go down there and get yourself killed.” Murdoch said with anger. “ Have you forgotten it was just over a year ago the Pinkerton agent saved you from a firing squad? Have you forgotten the Rurales will kill you on sight?”
“ I haven’t forgotten anything old man. If I didn’t have to go I wouldn’t. I was requested to, so I’m going.” Johnny said firmly.
“ You ungrateful………..You’re just like her, running away from responsibility.” Murdoch said.
“ Murdoch………..I think you need to cool down.” Scott said.
“ I’m not running away from nothing.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to his father. “ As for being like her, that’s a hell of a lot better than being a cold-hearted bastard like you.”
Murdoch swung and hit Johnny hard in the mouth, knocking him backwards into the sideboard, the crystal decanters shattering on the floor.
“ Murdoch!” Scott yelled as he went to his brother. “ Have you gone mad?” he demanded as he helped Johnny up.
“ You ungrateful half…………”
“ Murdoch!” Scott yelled.
“ How dare you talk to me like that?” Murdoch demanded.
Johnny spit blood at his fathers feet. “ Go ahead and say it old man………….Go ahead and tell me what an irresponsible, half-breed bastard I am.”
“ You will never be like………..I never should have brought you here.” Murdoch said. “ I should have let that firing squad kill you.”
“ And there it is. The truth is finally out. I told you Scott. I told you he would never accept me. That I would always be a bastard in his eyes.” Johnny said as he stepped closer. “ Now we know what is really wrong.”
“ The only thing wrong around here has always been you. I don’t need you, now or ever, now get off my land.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Alright.” Johnny said before turning, and heading upstairs to pack what little belongings he possessed.
“ Have you gone mad. What is wrong with you? He’s your son, Murdoch, don’t let this happen.” Scott pleaded.
“ Having him here is a danger to everyone else. I have a hundred and fifty vaqueros working for me, most of whom have a family. I don’t need them being injured or killed because of him.” Murdoch said.
“ Tell me something, was bringing me here also a mistake?” Scott demanded.
“ Of course not son.” Murdoch responded as Johnny came back downstairs.
“ I want a bill of sale for Barranca, since I broke him, he’s mine.” Johnny said.
“ Are you going to answer me?” Scott asked. “ You said bringing me here wasn’t a mistake. I want to know why?”
“ That’s pretty obvious brother.” Johnny said. “ You have an education, manners, your mother wasn’t a Mexican whore he only used used to satisfy his lust, and the main reason being Scott, you’re not a half-breed bastard child. You were created after he married your mother.”
“ Is that true. Is that why you treat me differently than you do Johnny?” Scott demanded.
“ Take your bill of sale and leave.” Murdoch ordered as he scribbled out a bill of sale.
“ Johnny, go ahead and saddle my horse too. I’ll be out in a minute.” Scott said.
“ You said you love this ground more than anything god ever created. Well guess what old man, this ranch just cost you something you will never get back. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot on Lancer land again.” Johnny said as he glared at his father. “ Scott, I’ll see you outside.”
Scott went upstairs and grabbed a few items of clothes he stuffed in his saddlebags. Coming back downstairs, he walked over to the gun rack and removed his Henry rifle. “ What my mother ever seen in you, I will never understand, but at least now I know grandfather was right about you.” he said as he walked to the veranda doors and stopped. “ He said you were a selfish man who only cared about this ranch, and that is what got my mother killed. Well tonight you proved that, and that you are like Johnny said, a cold-hearted bastard.” he said before walking out.
“ Se ha ido de la hacienda.” ( He has left the hacienda.) Manuel said.
“ Esta solo?” (Is he alone?) Don Leandro asked.
“ Sin patrón. El otro, el hijo mayor se fue con él.” (No patron. The other one, the older son left with him) Manuel responded.
“ El primogénito. El que crió su abuelo en Boston. Eso debe significar que se han vuelto cercanos para que él se aleje de una vida cómoda.” ( The first born son. The one raised by his grandfather in Boston. That must mean they have become close for him to ride away from a life of ease. ) Don Leandro said.
“ ¿ Y si viene aquí con él? ¿Afectará a lo que tienes planeado para el Madrid?” ( What if he comes here with him? Will it affect what you have planned for Madrid?) Manuel asked.
“ No veo cómo podría. No le concierne.” (I do not see how it could. It does not concern him.) Don Leandro responded.
“ ¿ Cuánto tiempo crees que le llevará llegar acquí?” ( How long do you think it will take him to get here?) Manuel asked.
“ Espero que se quede fuera de Méxicohasta que tenga que cruzar la frontera. No querrá que lo vean los Rurales. Todavía es un hombre buscado aquí. Se acerca la temporada de lluvias, los retrasará considerablemente. Quizás para Navidad estén aquí. ” ( I expect he will stay out of Mexico until he has to cross the border. He will not want the Rurales to see him. He is still a wanted man here. The rainy season is coming, it will slow him down considerably. Perhaps by Christmas, they will be here.) Don Leandro said.
“ Y Alejandra, ¿sabe que viene?” ( And Alejandra, does she know he is coming?) Manuel asked.
“No, no deseo que Alejandra lo sepa hasta que él esté aquí.” ( No, I do not wish her to know until he is here.) Don Leandro said.
“ ¿Crees que todavía hay una posibilidad?” (Do you think there is still a chance?) he asked.
“ Solo puedo esperar mi amigo. Solo puedo esperar.” ( I can only hope my friend. I can only hope.)
“ So where exactly are we going Johnny?” Scott asked two days later as he stirred their supper.
“ Scott, you sure you want to ride with me?” Johnny asked
“ Brother, don’t think you can get rid of me.” he said.
“ Matamoros, Mexico. There’s a ranch down there I have to go to.” Johnny responded as he grabbed his saddlebags, and pulled out the letter, handing it to him to read.
“ So who is this Don Leandro to you?” Scott asked as he handed the letter back to Johnny.
“ Don Leandro De La Vega, he’s a very important man in Mexico. Very wealthy.” Johnny said as he put the letter back in his saddlebag.
“ Does he have any children?” he asked.
“ A daughter, Alejandra De La Vega. The last time I seen her was almost two years ago. Just before the Rurales captured me.” Johnny explained.
“ How old is she?” Scott asked. He could tell by the way his brother acted when speaking of her, they had something in the past.
“ She’s the same age as me. Her mother sent her away to a private school in Mexico City. She didn’t like us spend so much time together.” Johnny said. “ He got me out of jail in Reynosa, three years ago. I was in pretty bad shape from the beating this guard gave me. He took me to his estancia.” Johnny explained.
“ Why do you think he wants to see you?” Scott asked.
“ I wish I knew.” Johnny said.
“ Little brother, I get the feeling there was something between you and his daughter. Am I right?” Scott asked.
“ Her mother sending her away, thought she could keep us apart.” Johnny said.
“ I take it that didn’t work?” he asked.
“ No. We were together the night before she left. She slipped me a note to meet her at the stock pond. We made love until the sun started to break on the horizon.” Johnny said.
“ Do you think there’s a remote chance that maybe you got her with child, and that is why he is beckoning you back?” Scott asked as he poured a cup of coffee.
“ I don’t think so. If she was, she would have found a way of telling me we had a child.” he said.
“ Murdoch, Maria said the boys left, and won’t be coming back.” Teresa said.
“ Yes, they left last week.” Murdoch said.
“ Why? They were both so happy here. What happened?” she asked.
“ That letter Johnny got from Mexico. He said he needed to leave for a year. I told him I can’t spare him, and…………….he left. Scott decided to go with him.” Murdoch responded.
‘ So they’ll be back then?” Teresa asked. “ They are coming back aren’t they Murdoch?”
“ No.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to pour a drink. He could hear the sobs as Teresa went to her room. Walking back over to his desk, Murdoch pulled out the file he had on Johnny, and began reading every report carefully. He wanted to know who in Matamoros would request his sons return to that country, and why Johnny would go knowing the Rurales will kill him. After an hour of reading, he finally found a possible clue as to the who. The agent mentioned a Don Leandro De La Vega having gotten Johnny out of jail once in Reynosa and taken him to his estancia in Matamoros. Tomorrow he would send a wire to the Pinkerton office in Brownsville, asking for more information on this man.
“ Johnny Madrid! Where you going Madrid?”
“ Dynamite Dan!” Johnny said.
“ Who is he Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ The friend of someone I killed four years ago in a range war in San Angelo.” Johnny responded as he stepped out into the street.
“ Took me a while, but I finally found you.” Dynamite said. “ I knew them reports of you being killed down in Mexico were lies.”
“ I got no beef with you Dynamite. There’s no reason for us to do this.” Johnny said.
“ There is for me. You cost me a lot of money Madrid.” Dan said.
“ You chose the wrong side to back Dan. I tried telling you, but you wouldn’t listen.” Johnny said.
“ I’m going to kill you Madrid!” Dynamite said as he went for his gun.
Johnny stood there, colt in hand, as he looked at yet another foolish, dead body laying fifty feet away from him. A red stain slowly spreading across Dynamite Dan’s chest.
Scott walked over to his brother, and gently placed a hand on his left arm. “ You alright?” he asked softly as the sheriff walked over to check the body.
“ Will it ever stop Scott?” Johnny asked as the sheriff waked up to them.
“ I seen the whole thing Madrid. It wasn’t your fault, but I want you out of my town………now.” the sheriff ordered.
Johnny looked at the sheriff as he slipped his colt back in the holster. “ I never want this.” he said before turning, walking to Barranca, swinging up in the saddle, and leaving.
“ Do yourself a favor son, don;t ride with Madrid. Any man who rides with him ends up dead. Mark my word, he’ll get you killed.” the sheriff suggested.
“ Not that it is any of your business sheriff, but there is nobody I am more proud to ride with than Johnny Madrid. He’s more of a man than you are wearing that tin star.” Scott said before walking to his horse, mounting up, and riding away.
Murdoch sat at his desk reading the report he got from Brownsville, on Don Leandro De La Vega. What he read somewhat shocked him. Maria had never said anything about this man.
Enclosed you will find the information I could find out about Don Leandro De La Vega of Matamoros, Mexico.
He is a very wealthy, highly respected man in Mexico. His estancia covers over three hundred miles and has many hands. From what I could learn, your son Johnny was released to the mans care from the jail in Reynosa, and taken back to his estancia to be cared for. Why Don Leandro took such concern in Madrid, nobody knows. It is rumored that while your son was at his estancia, he grew close to the mans daughter, Alejandra De La Vega, roughly of the same age. The mother, María Pascuala Caro Sureda De La Vega, was born to marqués de la Romana, Pere Caro Fontes, and Margalida Sureda de Togores of Mexico City. To keep your son and her daughter apart, she sent Alejandra to attend school in Mexico City, but I learned that the night before she left, your son and her were together in a dishonoring way for several hours that night. Last year, sadly the mother took ill and died. It was just a few months ago that Don Leandro started looking for your son, and wanting him to come to Matamoros.
Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.
Pinkerton Detective Agency
Brownsville, Texas Division.
Nothing in the report him what he really wanted to know, or did it? Reading it again, slower this time, he seen it, right there in front of him. Standing up. Murdoch walked over to look out the big bay window behind his desk. Together in a dishonoring way is what the report said. Caring only for himself, his youngest, with no regard to others, took the innocence of a very well respected mans daughter. “ Maybe this Don Leandro can make you be more responsible for your actions.” he said aloud as Teresa walked into the room.
“ Murdoch, who is Don Leandro?” Teresa asked.
Murdoch turned to face her. “ It would seem he is the man who sent the letter to Johnny.”
“ How do you know that?” she asked.
“ I had the Pinkerton’s check him out.” he responded as he walked back over to his desk, and picked up the report. “ I want no secrets between us. You’re all I have left.” he said as he handed her the report to read.
“ You think because of the daughter is why he summoned Johnny?” Teresa asked as she handed the report back to him.
“ I don’t know sweetheart. That seems to be the only logical explanation. With his wife gone, he might be wanting Johnny to owe up to what he did. To take responsibility for his actions.” Murdoch responded.
“Johnny is responsible for his actions. They were very close, and spent their last night together before she went to Mexico City. He didn’t take advantage of her. She was a willing participant.” Teresa responded.
“ Can I ask how you know that?” he asked.
“ Johnny told me about her once. We were talking in the rose garden one day, and I asked him if he had ever been in love. He told me about Alejandra. He said he has loved no other woman like he does her.” Teresa explained.
“Can I ask what else Johnny has told you about his past?” Murdoch asked.
“ No. I’m sorry Murdoch, but I won’t break Johnny’s trust. What he has told me, I promised I would not tell anyone else. Especially you.” Teresa responded before heading back into the kitchen.
“ Where’s the next town?”” Scott asked.
“ Nogales,but we’re not going into town. We’ll stay with a man I know. He’s got a ranch outside town.” Johnny responded.
“ This ranch have a name?” Scott asked.
Johnny laughed slightly as the wind started to pick up. “ Yeah, the Pete Kitchen ranch.”
“ The what ranch?” Scott asked as he stopped his horse.
Johnny stopped Barranca. “ The Pete Kitchen ranch. And before you ask, yes that’s his name.”
“ Okay, can I ask why we are going to stay there and not in Nogales?” Scott asked.
“ Because I won’t be called out at his ranch. We’re less than ten mile from the Mexican border Scott.” Johnny explained.
“ My mistake. I’m sorry Johnny. I didn’t mean to imply…………”
“ Forget it brother.” Johnny cut in. “ Look, Nogales is a rough town, full of a lot of troublemakers, and I don’t need that. The Rurales can’t touch me as long as I stay a mile or more from the border.”
“ So the Pinkerton man that day, he bought your freedom from that Rurale?” Scott asked.
“ Not really. The idiot showed how much money he had, and when he was untying my hands, they decided they wanted all his money, so I took his pistol, and killed them. They don’t take too kindly to a Rurale being killed, especially by me. There’s something else you need to know, this is Apache country, so keep your eyes peeled and be ready to ride hard.”
“ Alright. Let me ask you this Johnny, are you happy to be back down here?” Scott asked.
“ A part of me is, yeah. I grew up down here. It was my way of life on both sides of the border.” he said.
“ What do you miss most about that life?” Scott asked.
“ Hiring out to help the little guy.” Johnny said. “ Not all, but some of the big ranchers in Mexico take what they want from the little guy, and they use the Rurales to do it.”
“ And that’s what you were fighting to stop?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. I know you fought in the war and all to end slavery Scott, but in Mexico, slavery still goes on. It’s an everyday occurrence.” Johnny explained.
“ That’s far enough!” a man said. “ What’s your business here?”
Scott and Johnny stopped their horses. “ To see an old friend.” Johnny said as he looked up and seen a man with a rifle aimed right at them.
“ And what friend would that be?” the man asked.
“ The owner, Pete Kitchen.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny Madrid, I thought you were dead?” another man asked as he stepped from behind some boulders.
“ No, just been out of circulation for a while.” Johnny said as he dismounted. “ What’s an old crow bait like you doing here Dan?”
“ Well you know how it is Johnny, getting old, so I decided to stay put.” Dan said as the two shook hands. “ What brings you to Nogales?”
“ Just passing thru on our way to Brownsville.” he said.
“ Pete’s gonna be surprised to see you’re still alive. We all heard you got captured, killed by a Rurales firing squad.” Dan said as he went to his horse, and mounted up. “ Who’s that with ya?”
“ My brother. Scott this is Dan Porter.” Johnny responded.
“ Did you say your brother?” Dan asked.
“ Yeah, it’s a long story.” he said.
“ Well come on. Storm’s coming, and we don’t want to be in this ravine when the rains start.” Dan said
“ Mister Lancer, Miss Teresa, I haven’t seen your sons for some time. Is everything alright?” Father Vicente asked.
“ I’m afraid Scott and………..They won’t be attending services anymore.” Murdoch responded.
“ Oh, has something happened?” the father asked.
“ They left Father Vicente.” Teresa said. “ Johnny got a letter from a man in Matamoros, requesting he come there, and Scott went with him.”
“ I see, so they will be back.” Father Vicente asked. “ I know a Father Francisco in Matamoros. He runs Our Lady of the Refuge church there. The church was built by Father Nicolás Balli, thanks to a very generous man named Don Leandro De La Vega.”
“ That’s the man who sent Johnny the letter Father Vicente. Do you know him?” Teresa said and asked.
“ Everybody knows Don Leandro. He is a very wealthy man who has given very generously to Matamoros. His estancia is like no other. It is huge and he employs many families who without him would otherwise be poor.” Father Vicente responded.
“ How big is his ranch?” Teresa asked.
“ I am told it stretches for five hundred miles west, and five hundred miles south. He runs both sheep and cattle.” Father Vicente explained.
“ Did you say two hundred miles father?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes. The land has been in his family for many generations. I was saddened to hear his lovely wife had passed away last year though. They have a daughter, Alejandra, she is a thing of beauty. The rose of her fathers eye. I believe she is about your son Johnny’s age.” Father Vicente explained.
“ And I thought Lancer was big. How many acres is that?” Teresa asked.
“ I believe that is over three times the size of Lancer, about three hundred and twenty thousand acres.” Father Vicente explained. “ He has close to a thousand people working for him, with small ranch houses all over his land for them to live in.”
“ Now I really want to know why he requested Johnny come there.” Teresa said.
“ You know, when I heard you were killed by a firing squad two years ago. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to believe a person who cares more about others than himself could come to such a sad end.” Pete Kitchen said. “ And two years later you show up here with a brother. How did that all come about my friend?”
Johnny explained to Pete how he was rescued by the Pinkerton agent just seconds before being killed, and going home. How they had met on the stage, but didn’t know until they got to Morro Coyo, that they were brothers.
“ So then if you have a home now, why are you here?” Pete asked.
“ He threw me out. He was never happy about his son being a gunfighter, and when I got a letter from a friend in Matamoros, requesting I come there, we got into a heated argument, and I left.” Johnny said.
“ It was more than a heated argument brother. We both learned just what he felt about us.” Scott added.
“ So you grew up on Lancer then?” Pete asked.
“ No. My mother died giving birth to me. I was raised by my grandfather in Boston. It would seem he knew about Johnny, but never told me, and his mother knew about me, but never told Johnny.” Scott explained.
“ But now you have each other. You are not alone anymore.” Pete said. “ Shall we go out on the portico and have some brandy and a cigar?” Pete asked as he stood up.
“ Thank you for the fine meal ma’am. It was delicious.” Scott said as he stood up.
“ Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Mrs Kitchen said as she stood up and walked over to Johnny. “ It is so good to see you again.” she said as she gave him a hug. “ Go on out and enjoy your cigar and brandy.”
“ Did you two happen to notice any Apache?” Pete asked.
“ No, but you know how the Apache are. They could have been watching us, and we would have never seen them.” Johnny said. “ That why you got guards?”
“ They’ve hit me several times this summer. They want my horses, which is why we keep the riding stock so close to the house at night with plenty of lanterns and fires burning.” Pete responded.
“ How many men you have on guard?” Johnny asked.
“ I always have ten at night that rotate every five hours.” Pete said. “ During the day no man is to go out alone. I want at least three men together at all times.”
“ Won’t the army help?” Scott asked.
“ Fort Bowie tries, but those damn redskins seem to know when they’re not in the area. The army said it’s a renegade band of about twenty. They been hitting the ranches all along the border. I could use two extra guns if you two are looking for work.” Pete said.
“ I’d like to Pete, but like I said, I have something I have to take care of in Matamoros.” Johnny said.
“ So you going to teach this brother of yours how to shoot?” Pete asked.
“ He already knows how to shoot. He’s damn good with that Henry rifle he has. He was a soldier in the army.” Johnny responded.
“ You fight in the war Scott?” Pete asked.
“ Yes sir. I served under General Phil Sheridan.” Scott said. “ It’s beautiful here. Peaceful, and quiet.”
“ It is until those Apache strike.” Pete said.
“ Apache don’t attack at night. No Indian will. They believe it’s superstitious, and if they are killed at night, that the spirit horse won’t be able to lead them to their sacred ground.” Scott said.
“ You learn that at Harvard Boston?” Johnny asked.
“ As a matter of fact I did. Why?” Scott asked.
“ Because it’s hogwash. The white man believes to many superstitions about what the Indian will do, and won’t do. They attack at night just as easy as in the daytime. Sometimes more because it’s easier to not be seen.” Johnny explained. “ What about the Empire Ranch?”
“ Same thing. It seems our horses are what they prize the most in taking. A lot of the ranches have given up and moved to Tucson. Me and Walter are the only two ranches with enough gumption to stay and fight it out. I told that worthless General Crook, me and my men will start shooting to kill. I’m not losing my stock to those savage redskins. Without horses, this ranch can’t function.”
“ What about dogs? They would know when an Apache is near before your men.” Johnny suggested.
“ Had me three damn good stock dogs. Those damn Apache killed them two nights ago.” Pete said.
“ Pete, language please.” Martha said.“ It’s getting late and you boys must be tired. I have two of the guestrooms all made up for you.”
“ We could have slept in the bunk house.” Johnny said.
“ Nonsense. Now come with me and I will show you to your rooms.” she ordered.
“ Disculpe la interrupción Coronel Mendoza, pero que le gustaría saber que unviejo enemigo suyo ha sido visto cabalgando hacia Nogales.” ( Pardon the interruption Colonel, but I thought you would want to know and old enemy of yours has been seen riding into Nogales.) Major Santiago Vásquez said.
“ ¿Y qué enemigo sería el Mayor?” ( And what old enemy would that be Major?) Colonel Mendoza asked.
“ Señor Madrid.”( Madrid sir.) the major said.
“ ¿ Estás seguro de que fue Madrid?” ( Are you certain it was Madrid?) the colonel asked as he sat back in his chair.
“ El Capitán Estrada lo vio señor.” ( Captain Estrada seen him sir.) Vásquez responded.
“ ¿ Sabemos hacia dónde se dirige ese cerdo?” ( Do we know which way that swine is headed?) the colonel asked.
“ Todavía no señor.” ( Not yet sir.) the major said.
“ Digale al Capitán Estrada que debe seguirlo e infórmeme en cuanto Madrid cruce la frontera. No quiero que ese cerdo se me escapede nuevo. Y majot, tenga cinco hombres listos para montar en una hora. Vamos tras Madrid.” ( Tell Captain Estrada he is to follow, and report to me the minute Madrid crosses the border. I don’t want that swine getting away from me again. And Major, have five men ready to ride in an hour. We are going after Madrid.) Colonel Mendoza ordered as he stood up and walked around his desk.
“ Sí señor.” ( Yes sir.) Major Vásquez said before turning and leaving.
“ Te capturo esta vez mestizo, me enorgullece mucho hacerte daño para vengar la muerte de mi primo Héctor. Pagarás por matarlo a tiros.” ( I capture you this time mestizo, I will take great pride in hurting you to avenge my cousin Hector’s death. You will pay for gunning him down.) Colonel Mendoza said as he walked over to the window, and looked out at his troops.
“ Patrón, está en Texas.” ( Patron, he is in Texas.) Manuel said.
“ ¿ Su hermano todavía está con él?” ( Is his brother still with him?) Don Leandro asked.
“Si patrón. Hay noticias que los Rurales conocen de Madrid. Coronel Mendoza, ha jurado venganza en su contra por la muerte de su primo. Lo tiene siendo seguido.” ( Yes Patron. There is word that the Rurales also know about Madrid. Colonel Mendoza, he has sworn vengeance against him for the death of his cousin. He has him being followed.) Manuel responded.
“ Hola padre, Manuel. ¿ A quién se sigue?”( Hello father, Manuel. Who is being followed?) Alejandra said and asked.
“Hola cariño. No es nada de lo que deba preocuparse.” ( Hello darling. It is nothing you need concern yourself about.) Don Leandro said. “ ¿Qué puedo hacer por ti?” ( What can I do for you?) he asked.
“ Bueno, me preguntaba, ya que falta poco más de un mes para Navidad y todos los años organizamos una celebración en la iglesia para el Padre Francisco, pensé que tal vez este año podríamos tenerla acquí en la estancia.” ( Well, I was wondering since Christmas is just over a month away, and every year we host a celebration at the church for Father Francisco, I thought maybe this year we could have it here at the estancia?) Alejandra asked.
“ Aunque tu idea es buena, preferiría que la Nochebuena se celebre solo con nosotros aquí. El Padre Francisco y los niños esperan celebrar en la iglesia.” ( Though your idea is good, I would prefer Christmas Eve be celebrated with just us here. Father Francisco and the children look forward to celebrating at the church.) Don Leandro explained.
“ Pero padre, hay mucho más espacio aquí.” ( But father, there is so much more room here.) she said.
“Si, pero esta es una estancia en funcionamiento. No quisiera que los niños fueran lastimados, y con la temporada de lluvias sobre nosotros….Creo que es mejor que lo tengamos en Nuestra Señora del Refugio. Además, tendré un invitado muy especial aquí para Navidad este año.” ( Yes, but this is a working estancia. I would not want the children to be hurt, and with the rainy season upon us…….I think it is best we have it at Our Lady of refuge. Besides, I will be having a very special guest here for Christmas this year.) Don Leandro explained.
“ “ ¿Qué invitado especial? Por favor dígame que el Cronel Mendoza no vendrá este año. No me gusta cómohabla palabras tan malvadas sobre………No me gusta el padre hombre. La forma en que me mira me hace sentir muy incómodo.” ( What special guest? Please tell me Colonel Mendoza is not coming here this year. I do not like how he speaks such evil words about………..I do not like the man father. The way he looks at me, it makes me very uncomfortable.) Alejandra said.
“ No, no es el Coronel Mendoza.” ( No, it is not Colonel Mendoza.) he said.
“ Entonces, ¿ quién padre?” ( Then who father?) she asked.
“ Ese hijo mío, tendrás que esperar y ver. Ahora debo terminar mis asuntos con Manuel.” ( That my child, you will have to wait and see. Now I must finish my business with Manuel.) Don Leandro said.
“ Muybien. Te deio con tu trabaio.” ( Very well. I shall leave you to your work.) Alejandra said before leaving the study.
“¿Crees que escuchó algo?” ( Do you think she heard anything?) Manuel asked.
“ No, pero debemos tener más cuidado cuando pronunciamos su nombre. Quiero que su llegada sea una sorpresa que mi hija nunca olvidará.” ( No, but we must be more careful when we speak his name. I want his arrival to be a surprise my daughter will never forget.) Don Leandro said. “¿ A quién le sigue el Coronel Mendoza?” ( Who does Colonel Mendoza have following him?)
“ CapitánEstrada señor.” ( Captain Estrada sir.) Manuel responded.
“Haga que nuestro hombre se acerque al Capitán Estrada y le diga que debe dejar de seguir a Madrid.” ( Have our man approach Captain Estrada, and tell him he is to stop following Madrid.) Don Leandro ordered.
“¿Y si no señor?” ( And if he doesn’t sir?) he asked.
“Haga que nuestro hombre le haga entender.” ( Have our man make him understand.) Don Leandro ordered. “ No permitiré que mi hija sufra más por el hombre que ama.” ( I will not have my daughter hurting anymore for the man she loves.)
“ Murdoch, will we be attending the Thanksgiving day festivities tomorrow in Morro Coyo?” Teresa asked.
“ You go ahead sweetheart. I’m afraid I don’t feel much like celebrating. I don’t have too much left to be thankful for I’m afraid.” Murdoch responded.
“ Murdoch, you can’t keep doing this. Sitting around sulking is only going to make you sick. You have to accept that they are not coming back, and move on.” she said.
“ That’s the problem Teresa, I have accepted it.” Murdoch said. “ I’ve accepted how my Scottish temper has cost me both my sons.”
“ Now that is the first time I have heard you finally admit who ran who off this ranch.” Sam said “ Hello Teresa. I thought I would stop by for a visit, and some of that hot apple cider you make.”
“ Hello Sam. I’ll get you a cup.” Teresa said. “Would you talk to him? I can’t seem to get thru.” she asked before heading to the kitchen.
“ I don’t need a lecture from you Sam.” Murdoch said.
“ So you just plan on sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, is that it?” Sam asked.
“ I am not feeling sorry for myself. I know the mistake I made Sam. A mistake that I can never undo.” Murdoch said as Teresa walked back into the room with hot apple cider, and some cookies for the three of them.
“ What kind of cookies are these Teresa?” Sam asked.
“ Joe Flogger. The recipe is from a Lucretia Thomas Brown of Massachusetts, back in the late seventeen hundreds. I thought I would give them a try this year.” Teresa said.
“ Well, I must say young lady, they are quit delicious.” Sam said.
“ Thank you. Will you be here for dinner tomorrow?” she asked.
“ I’m afraid I won’t be able too. Mrs Carter is due to have her baby any time now, so I need to stay in town.” Sam said.
“ This is her first child isn’t it?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes. The girls father is scared to death something will go wrong since his daughter is only nineteen.” Sam responded.
“ That is a young age to be having a child.” Murdoch said.
“ I can’t believe her father allowed her to marry so young.” Teresa said.
“ I think he allowed it because her family was struggling, and her husband can provide for her.” Sam said. “ Well, I better be getting back. Thank you for the hot apple cider and cookies Teresa.”
“ Do you know what today is brother?” Scott asked.
“ Wednesday I think. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ It’s Thanksgiving.” Scott said. “ What are you thankful for the most Johnny?” he asked.
“ What am I thankful for the most, besides having a big brother, being alive.” Johnny said as he stopped Barranca and dismounted to check his cinch.
“ We think alike brother, because I was thinking the very same thing.” Scott said as he dismounted and untied his canteen to take a drink.
“ You ever miss all those parties you went to?” Johnny asked.
Scott handed the canteen to him. “ A little. Especially the food. You ever have lobster?”
“ What the hell is a lobster?” Johnny asked as he took a drink.
“ It’s like an overgrown crayfish. You know, the ones with pinchers, only a lobster is much bigger, and red. They come from the ocean.” Scott explained. “ Maybe we can find some to eat while in Matamoros.” he suggested.
“ What do you eat from these lobsters?” Johnny asked.
“ The tail. It’s boiled alive and then served to you on a platter, because they are big. You use a very small fork to dig the meat out of the tail, and dip it in melted butter. It’s a delicacy. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving meal?”
“ Don’t really have one. Never got to celebrate it until last year at………The only holiday they really celebrate in Mexico is Christmas, and I didn’t get in on that one either.” Johnny said.
“ Not even when you were in the orphanage?” Scott asked.
Johnny swung back up in the saddle. “ Not me. The other kids did. I remember someone brought us all an orange once. As soon as they left the padre took mine from me. Said the child of the devil doesn’t deserve such rewards as the luxury of eating an orange.”
Scott tied his canteen back on his saddle,and mounted up. “ That’s a terrible thing to say to a child. I’m sorry Johnny.”
“ For what?” Johnny asked as they started riding again.
“ For the unjustified life you were forced to live.” Scott said.
“ It wasn’t your fault., but thanks.” Johnny said.
“ You know, after a while I got to were I could block out the pain when he would beat me with a belt. When he couldn’t make me cry out in anymore, he tied knots in the belt so it would leave deep bruises and hurt like hell.” Johnny explained.
“ Jesus, and this man represented the church?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. That’s how it is still for half-breeds in Mexico unlucky enough to end up in an orphanage.” Johnny responded.
“ Let me ask you something. You said you still love Alejandra. How are you going to feel seeing her again?” Scott asked.
“ I’m nervous. I mean, I don’t know how she feels about me, or if she even has feelings for me still Scott.” he said. “ She’s a beautiful woman now. What can I offer her? Everything I own is right here. She’s used to living a life of luxury with fine clothes and food.”
“ Money isn’t everything little brother. I know you probably think that’s easy for me to say since I grew up with luxuries like her, but it’s the truth. The riches man is the one who has a good woman by his side. A woman who will see him for who he is, and not for what he can offer her.” Scott explained.
“ I hope he rots in hell Scott.” Johnny said with anger. “ That sonofabitch played with my feelings. I was stupid enough to actually think he could accept me, and love me as his son. I’m just sorry I cost you everything too.”
“ You didn’t cost me anything Johnny. What happened that day showed me my grandfather was right about Murdoch. He may be our father, but that doesn’t mean he has the right to use us like he did. No man has that right.” Scott said.
“ I figure we can stay the night in Del Rio. Sleep in a bed, take a bath, and eat a decent meal.” Johnny suggested.
“ A hot bath does sound good, but aren’t you worried someone will call you out?” Scott said.
“ It could happen in any town I ride into.” Johnny said. “ Looks like a good storm coming. We should be in Del Rio before it hits.” he said.
“ Alejandra, necesito hablar contigo sobre algo.” ( Alejandra, I need to speak with you about something.) Don Leandro said as they ate supper.
“ Muy bien padre.” ( Alright father.) she said.
“El otro día en mi estudio, dijiste algo que me tiene preocupado. Dijiste que no te gusta cómo el Coronel Mendoza habla mal de aiguien. ¿ Puedo preguntar quién sería ese alguien?” ( The other day in my study, you said something that has me worried. You said you do not like how Colonel Mendoza speaks evil words about someone. Can I ask who that someone would be?)
Alejandra set her fork down, and picked up her glass of wine, taking a sip. “ Creo que sabes quién es el padre. Ojalá mamá hubiera visto lo que hice en Johnny. Era una persona tan amable, cariñosa y cariñosa.” ( I think you know who father. I wish mother could have seen what I did in Johnny. He was such a kind, loving, and caring person.)
“¿ Entonces todavía sientes algo por él?” ( So you still have feelings for him?) he asked.
“ ¿ Está mal sidigo que si?” ( Is it wrong if I say I do?) she asked.
“ No. Siempre quiero que hables desde tu corazón, niña.” ( No. I always want you to speak from your heart child. Do you still love him?)
“ Solo hay un hombre al que amo más, y ese es tu padre.” ( There is only one man I love more, and that is you father.) she responded.
“ ¿ Y si pudieras verlo de nuevo? ¿ Cuáles serín tus sentimientos entonces?” ( What if you could see him again. What would your feelings be then?) he asked.
“Si puiera volver a verlo, le diría lo mucho que lo amo, pero eso nunca puede suceder desde que fue asesinado por los Rurales hace más de dos años.” ( If I could see him again, I would tell him how much I love him, but that can never happen since he was killed by the Rurales over two years ago.) Alejandra said with sadness.
Don Leandro wanted to tell his daughter she would be seeing Johnny Madrid again. That he was not dead, but decided he would take the time before he arrived, to get to know just how his daughter really felt about Johnny Madrid better. He just hoped his next question would not anger her. “¿ Tuviste intimdad con él?” ( Where you intimate with him?)
“ Padre.”( Father.) she said with shock.
“ ¿ Es tan malo que quiero saber si el hombre que mi hija se sienta aquí y me dice que ama la ha amado intimamente? Hijo mío, tu respuesta no me avergonzará. No pensaré menos en ti. Una vez fui joven, y tu madre y yo teníamos intimidad antes de casarnos.” ( Is it so bad that I want to know if the man my daughter sits here and tells me she loves has loved her intimately? My child, your answer will not shame me. I will think no less of you. I was young once, and me and your mother were intimate before we married.)
“ Estábamos la noche antes de irme.” ( We were the night before I left.) she said.
“¿ Sabía tu madre esto?” ( Did your mother know this?) he asked.
“ No creo que lo hiceiera. Creo que me despidió para que no estuviéramos juntos. Padre, sé que estaba mal por mi parte, pero no podía soportar la idea de nunca estar con Johnny de esa manera. Por favor perdoname.” ( I don’t think she did. I think she sent me away so we wouldn’t be together. Father, I know it was wrong of me, but I could not stand the thought of never being with Johnny in that way. Please forgive me.) she responded.
“ No hay nada que perdonarle. Seguiste tu corazón hijo mío. Tu madre era una persona muy estricta. Ella creía en las viejas costumbres. Lamentablemente, cuando se trata de amor, las viejas costumbres no siempre pueden aplicarse.” ( There is nothing to forgive you for. You followed your heart my child. Your mother was a very strict person. She believed in the old ways. Sadly when it comes to love, the old ways cannot always apply.) Don Leandro said.
“ You see what I see just walked in?” Hugh Anderson asked.
‘ Yeah, I see the sonofabitch.” Mike McCluskie said.
“ He’s got a lot of nerve showing his face around here.” William Bailey said.
“ Who’s that?” Jim Riley asked.
“ It’s clear he ain’t no gunfighter.” Mike said.
“ Who ain’t a gunfighter. Those two who just came in?” Jim asked. “ Hell I could take them both down blindfolded.”
“ No gunfighter would put their gloves on their gun like he did.” Mike responded.
“ I’ll ask again, who the hell you talking about?” Jim demanded.
“ Johnny Madrid you dumb-ass.
“ Everybody knows Madrid was killed by the Rurales over two years ago, and don’t call me a dumb-ass again.” Jim said flatly.
“ I wonder what he’s doing in Del Rio?” Hugh asked.
“ Why don’t you ask him?” Mike suggested.
“ Hey Madrid, a bit out of your territory ain’t ya?” Jim yelled.
Johnny turned and looked at the four men sitting at a table to his right. “ Damn.” he said. “ Let’s have our beer and then leave Scott.”
“ Who are they?” Scott asked as he looked at the four men.
“ The big guy is Mike McCluskie. The other three are Hugh Anderson, Jim Riley, and William Bailey. Scavengers mainly.” Johnny said as the bartender walked over. “ Two beers.
“ Not in here you don’t. I don;t want you in my saloon Madrid.” the bartender said. “ Leave or I’ll have you escorted out by the sheriff.”
“ Let’s go Scott.” Johnny said as he turned to leave.
“ What’s the matter Madrid? You too good to drink with old friends?” Jim asked.
“ Let’s go Scott.” Johnny said as he started toward the door.
“ Big bad Johnny Madrid, running away like a coward.” Jim said with a smirk.
“ That will be enough from you Riley.” the sheriff ordered as he walked in with a scatter gun. “ Outside Madrid.”
Johnny and Scott walked outside, followed by the sheriff.
“ You got a lot of nerve coming back here kid.” the sheriff said. “ You know where the jail is.”
“ Jail, sheriff we’ve done nothing wrong.” Scott said.
“ Shut up Scott.” Johnny ordered as he started walking toward the jail.
“ Damn sheriff, spoiled my fun.” Jim said.
“ Your fun! Let me tell you something Riley, Johnny Madrid is the best. Ain’t no man faced him and walked away. He’s killed more men than the four of us together. So if you want to keep on breathing, you’ll keep your mouth shut from now on.” Mike ordered.
Johnny stepped inside the jail, followed by Scott, and the sheriff. Removing his hat as he turned around and found himself being slammed in the jaw by a rock solid fist, knocking him back into the wall.
“ What the hell was that for?” he yelled as he straightened up, and rubbed his jaw.
“ For taking nearly twenty years off my life when I heard you was dead.” the sheriff snapped back before hitting Johnny again, knocking him to the floor. “ And that’s for not writing and letting me know you were still alive.”
“ That’s enough sheriff!” Scott yelled as he drew his colt.
“ Sonny, you better think real hard about pulling a gun on me.” the sheriff ordered.
“ Don’t hit my brother again.” Scott ordered.
“ Put it away Scott.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ It’s alright. Put it away.”
Scott looked from his brother to the sheriff before he finally holstered his gun.
Johnny walked over to the sheriff, and glared at the man. “ I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were still sheriff here.”
“ Where the heck else would I be. I thought you was dead. I have no family.” the sheriff said.
“ That don’t give ya no call to go and hit me. Damn.” Johnny said as the two men embraced briefly. “ Scott, I want you to meet a very good friend of mine, Val Crawford. He makes the best skillet coffee around. Val Crawford, Scott Garrett, my brother.”
“ Your brother?” Val asked as he shook Scott’s hand.
“ You heard me. How come McCluskie and his dogs are here?” Johnny asked.
“ Been here for several weeks. They say they’re looking for work. You know, waiting for a range war to start or something. The one heckling you is Jim Riley, a troublemaker. Ha him in my jail a few times for disturbing the peace.” Val said.
“ So what’s with the bartender ordering me out? All we wanted was a cold beer and steak.” Johnny asked.
“ It’s not because of you. It’s because of those four.” Val said.
“ Hell, you must be getting old Val. Used to be you could handle four troublemakers, and run them out of town.” Johnny said.
“ Well lets just go on back to that there saloon, and let you two have your cold beer and steak. And while you’re eating, you can tell me how you came to be having a brother.” Val said as he walked to the door.
“Se dirige a Matamoros, Coronel mendoza.” (He is headed to Matamoros Colonel Mendoza.)
“ ¿ Estás seguro de esto?” ( You are certain of this?) the colonel asked.
“ Si, Coronel. El Capitán Estrada lo escuchó hablar con el gringo que lo acompaña. Va a la estancia de Don Leandro De La Vega.” ( Yes Colonel. Captain Estrada overheard him talking to the gringo who rides with him. He is going to the estancia of Don Leandro De La Vega.)
“ Luego nos diriguremos a Matamoros con las primeras luces.” ( Then we shall head to Matamoros at first light.) Mendoza ordered.
“Coronel Mendoza, ¿ cree que cinco hambres serán suficientes para capturar Madrid?” ( Colonel Mendoza, do you think five men will be enough to capture Madrid?) Major Vásquez asked.
“ Conseguiremos más hombres del correo en San Buenaventura. Si ese cerdo cree que puede esconderse en la estancia de Don Leandro, está muy equivocado.” ( We will get more men from the post in San Buenaventura. If that swine thinks he can hide at Don Leandro’ estancia, he is sorely mistaken.) the colonel said.
“ Está en Del Rio Patrón.” ( He is in Del Rio Patron.) Manuel said.
“ Bien, bien. Eso significa que debería llegar aproximadamente en diez días.” ( Good, good. That means he should be arriving roughly in ten days.) Don Leandro responded.
“ Sí señor, pero hay un problema. Me enteré de que el Coronel Mendoza viene aquí para capturar Madrid. Dejó el puesto de Rurales en San Buenaventura esta mañana con diez hombres.” ( Yes sir, but there is a problem. I have learned that Colonel Mendoza is coming here to capture Madrid. He left the Rurale post in San Buenaventura, this morning with ten men. )
“¿ Viene el Coronel Mendoza?” ( Colonel Mendoza is coming here?) Don Leandro asked.
“ SíPatrón.” ( Yes Patron.) Manuel responded. “ ¿Qué quieres que haga?” ( What do you want I should do?)
“Déjalo venir. No tiene jurisdicción en mi estancia. Comunique a los trabajadores que me avisen de inmediato cuando lo detecten. Mañana le enviaré un mensaje al Presidente Díaz ylo sacaré del servicio. No tiene autoridad en Matamoros.” ( Let him come. He has no jurisdiction at my estancia. Put the word out to the workers to let me know when he is spotted. Tomorrow I will send a message to President Diaz, and have this man removed from service. He has no authority in Matamoros.)
“Enviaré la palabra esta noche Patrón. ( I will send the word out tonight Patron.) Manuel said.
“ El Madrid tenía un amigo, un hombre con el que viajaba llamado Val Crawford. ¿ Sigue siendo el sheriff de Del Rio?” ( Madrid had a friend, a man he rode with named Val Crawford. Is he still the sheriff of Del Rio?)
“ Eso creo, señor.” ( I believe so sir.) Manuel responded.
“ Bueno. Esta noche visitará a un viejo amigo.” ( Good. Tonight he will visit with an old friend.) Don Leandro said as he struggled to catch his breath.
“ ¿ Estás bien Patrón?” ( Are you alright Patron?) Manuel asked. “ ¿ Debo llamar al médico?” ( Should I send for the doctor?)
“ No, no quiero asustar a mi hija. Ver la expresión de su rostro cuando ve que él todavía está vivo me traerá tanta felicidad.” ( No, I do not want to frighten my daughter. Seeing the look on her face when she sees he is still alive will bring such happiness to me.)
“ Por favor, perdóneme Patrón, pero ¿cree que lo que ha planeado es una decisión acertada?” ( Please forgive me Patron,but do you think what you have planned is a wise decision?) Manuel asked.
“ Lo haga, y tal vez con la ayuda de sus hermanos, acepte mi oerta.” ( I do, and perhaps with his brothers help, he will accept my offer.) Don Leandro responded.
“ Si todavía la como ella lo ama a él, no creo que se necesite al hermano para inluir en él. Ahora, por favor, ¿ intentarás descansar un poco?” ( If he still loves her like she does him, I do not think the brother will be needed to influence him. Now please, will you try and get some rest?) Miguel responded.
“ Si mi querido amigo, lo haré.” ( Yes my dear friend, I will.) Don Leandro said as he closed his eyes.
Val, Johnny, and Scott walked back into the saloon, and sat down at a corner table.
“ I told you I didn’t want you in my saloon Madrid.” the bartender said.
“ You want to keep this place open, I suggest you shut up, and bring us three cold beers and some steak and spuds.” Val ordered.
“ I don’t want any trouble in here Sheriff Crawford.” the bartender said when he brought them three cold beers. “ Those four are just begging to cause some.”
“ Why don;t you run them out?” Scott asked. “ It’s your establishment, you have that right.”
“ And get shot down. No thank you.” the man said before turning and walking away.
“ Don’t forget those steaks.” Val yelled.
“ Hey Madrid, you hiding behind a badge now?” Riley asked with a laugh.
“ Will you shut up.” McCluskie ordered. “ He will kill you.”
“ I ain’t afraid of no worthless half-breed.” Riley said. “ Tell me something Madrid, was it a Mexican whore putting it to a gringo man, or was it a greaser man putting it to a gringo whore?”
“ Take it easy Johnny.” Scott said softly.
“ What’s the matter Madrid, you not know who your old man was?” Riley taunted. “ I bet your mamma was a Mexican whore who probably put it to every man she could. Hell, she should have thrown your sorry ass in the river and drown ya after giving birth.”
“ Riley, shut the hell up before I arrest ya for disturbing the peace.” Val ordered.
Riley stood up, hand next to his pistol. “ I bet she was a real ugly whore too. Any man who poked her probably felt sorry for her is why they did it.”
“ Johnny, don’t.” Scott said. He could see the look in his brothers eyes. That look when Madrid was in full pay. “ He’s not worth it.”
“ Hey pretty boy. Why don’t you shut up and stay out of this?” Riley ordered.
Johnny stood up. He’d had enough heckling from the man. “ You got a big mouth Riley. Maybe you should shut it so I can eat in peace?”
“ That’s what they say. Why don’t you try and shut it?” Riley responded.
“ Now see here, I don;t want no gun play in my saloon. Riley, get on out of here and leave them be.” the bartender ordered.
“ I’ll be waiting outside to finish this Madrid.” Riley said before turning and walking out of the saloon.
“ You know you’ll have to kill him Madrid?” Bailey asked.
“ We tried to warn him, and told him to keep his mouth shut.” Hugh said.
“ Problem is, when Riley drinks, he gets stupid. I’m sorry for what he said to you Madrid.” McCluskie said.
Johnny looked hard at the man. “ Why don’t the four of you ride on out of town tonight?” he suggested.
“ That’s not a very neighborly thing to say. Riley’s the one who’s been causing he trouble, not us.” McCluskie said. “ Ain’t that right sheriff Crawford?”
“ I’ll give ya all ten minutes to get your horses, and ride out.” Val ordered.
McCluskie stood up. He knew he couldn’t take Madrid alone. Not face to face. “ Alright sheriff. We’ll leave. Let’s go boys. We done run out our welcome in this town.”
Hugh and Bailey stood up, and followed McCluskie out of the saloon. “ Now what?” Hugh asked.
“ We wait for Madrid to ride out in the morning, and kill him.” McCluskie said as Riley walked over to them. “ You stupid sonofabitch. I told you to keep your mouth shut.”
“ I told you I ain’t afraid of no half-breed. I’m going to kill him when he comes out of the saloon.” Riley said.
“ No you’re not. You’re gonna go with us and wait until Madrid and the other one rides out in the morning. We’ll kill him when he’s away from the town, and sheriff.” McCluskie ordered. “ Let’s go.”
“ To hell with you McCluskie. Come on out Madrid!………Come out and face me you half-breed bastard.” Riley yelled.
“ You know what they’re going to do right?” Val asked.
“ What will they do?” Scott asked.
“ Ambush Johnny most likely out of town tomorrow someplace.” Val said.
“ I guess Riley isn’t going to wait.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Johnny, you don;t have to do it.” Scott said.
“ He don’t do it now Scott, and he could end up with a bullet in the back.” Val said.
“ What ever happened to the code of the west?” Scott asked.
“ Well you see brother, that’s just it. You gotta do it to them, before they do it to you.” Johnny said as he started to the door. “ Val.”
“ I got your back buddy.” Val said as he stood up and walked to the door. “ Let me go out first and see where the other three are.”
“ Scott, you stay here at the door.” Johnny ordered.
“ I’m not letting you walk out there alone Johnny. There’s four of them.” Scott said.
“ Do as I say brother. I need to know where you’re at.” Johnny said.
“ Alright brother.” Scott said as he walked over to the door and stopped behind his brother. “ Johnny.”
“ I know Scott. I’ll be alright.” Johnny said.
“ The other three I don’t see.” Val said. “ No wait, Anderson and Bailey just come out of the livery leading three horses. I don’t see McCluskie anywhere.”
Johnny walked out onto the boardwalk, stopping to face Riley standing in the middle of the street.
“ I’m going to send you to hell Madrid.” Riley said as he staggered to get his balance.
“ You’re drunk, you can barely stand up. Go sleep it off Riley. Stop wasting my time.” Johnny said as he stepped down into the street, and stopped twenty feet from the man. “ Do you really want to die tonight?” he asked softly.
Riley stood there unable to move as Madrid stepped down into the street. No matter how hard he tried, for some reason he just couldn’t get his right arm, and hand to move.
“ Riley, come on. He’ll kill you!” Hugh yelled.
Bailey walked over to them, keeping his hands out away from his sides. “ Come on Riley. You don’t want to die in a place like Del Rio. Let’s go to some other town, and get us a couple good whores for a night.” he suggested.
Johnny seen Bailey’s eyes go to the rooftop behind him. Drawing his colt, he crouched, spun and fanned the hammer back as McCluskie fired his rifle, a white hot pain cut thru his upper left arm. Spinning back around as McCluskie fell from the rooftop to the street below. A small hole between his eyes.
Scott drew and fired as his brother spun around, his bullet slamming into Bailey’s chest, knocking him backwards.
Riley Drew his colt, firing as he dove behind the water trough.
Johnny fired, hitting just above were he knew Riley’s head would be, water spraying over his back. Cocking his colt, he fired again, but two inches lower than the first shot. “ Next one I put in your head.” he said.
Hugh Anderson mounted his horse, drew and fired, his bullet hitting at Madrid’s feet as a bullet slammed into his chest, knocking him from the saddle dead.
Johnny knew it was Val’s gun he just heard as he cocked his colt again. “ Throw the gun out and stand up!” he ordered.
Riley tossed his colt toward Madrid, and stood up. “ I’m unarmed. Don’t shoot.”
“ Get over here.” Val ordered. “ I’m placing you under arrest for attempted murder.”
“ No.” Johnny said. “ Let him go.”
“ Let him go. “ Johnny he tried to kill you.” Scott said as he stepped down into the street.
“ You heard me. Let him go.” Johnny ordered.
“ Get on your horse, and don’t you ever come around Del Rio again.” Val ordered. “ Git!”
Riley glared at Val, then looked at Johnny a few seconds before turning,and going to his horse, mounting up, and riding away at a full gallop.
“ How bad is that?” Val asked.
“ It’s nothing.” Johnny said as he holstered his colt.
“ Nothing huh. That why blood is dripping off your fingers? Doc, come take a look at his arm.” Val ordered.
“ I said it’s nothing Val.” Johnny said.
“ Boy, you either let the doc look at that arm, or I throw your sorry butt in jail!” Val ordered.
“ Jail. What they hell for?” Johnny demanded as the doc came over.
“ For making me have ta kill a man just after I ate a good steak. It don;t set right with my guts.” Val responded.
“ And what, you think it does with me? Jesus Val, you know I don’t like killing.” Johnny said.
“ This will need stitches I’m afraid Mister Madrid.” the doc said.
“ Can the two of you stop bickering like two old hens?” Scott asked. “ Johnny, let the doc stitch up your arm while me and Val clean up this mess.”
“ That’s the undertakers job, not mine. They don’t pay me enough to clean up .” Val said. “ There horses, and gear will pay for the burials.”
Murdoch sat on his bed, wondering about his sons out there somewhere in Texas. Standing up, he walked to the chest at the foot of his bed, and opened it. Removing the blanket on top, Murdoch took out a small wooden box, and walked back over, and sat down. Opening the box, he looked at the small treasures it held inside. Two small wooden horses he carved ll those years ago for his blue eyed baby boy. Then a memory came back to him that brought tears to his eyes. A song, an old Spanish lullaby he remembered Maria singing to Johnny.
“ Cierra los ojos pequeño y duerme.”( Close your eyes little one, and sleep.)
“ Y sueña mientras el ángel te cuida.”( And dream while the Angels watch over you.)
“Tomaré tu mano.”( I will hold your hand.)
“ Y cuando te despiertas con la mañana.”( And when you wake with the morning sun,)
“ Yo todavía estaré aquí.”( I’ll still be here.)
Picking up one of the horses, Murdoch let the tears roll down his cheeks as he set the box on the bed, laid back, and closed his eyes.
“ Why Maria? Why did you have to take my son from me?” he sobbed.
“Coronel Mendoza, se acerca un jinete por el norte.” ( Colonel Mendoza, a ride approaches from the north.) Major Vásquez said.
“ Detener.” ( Stop.) Colonel Mendoza ordered of his men.” Será mejor quetengas una razónpara correr ese caballo.” ( You better have a reason for running that horse.)
“ Por favor, perdone al Coronel. Traigo noticias de Madrid.” ( Please forgive Colonel. I bring news about Madrid.) the Rurale said.
“¿ Qué noticias?” ( What news?) he asked.
“ Madrid estuvo en un tiroteo en Del Rio. Se enfrentó a cuatro hombres, matándolos a todos.” ( Madrid was in a gunfight in Del Rio. He faced down four men, killing them all.) the man explained.
“Cuatro hombres a la vez, ¿ estás seguro de esto?” ( Four men at once, are you sure of this?) Major Vásquez demanded.
“Si Mayor. Lo oresencié con mis propios ojos.” ( Yes Major. I witnessed it with my own two eyes.) the Rurale responded.
“ No significa nada.” ( It means nothing.) the Colonel said.
“ Hay más Coronle Mendoza. No lo hagas Leandro, él sabe qe vienes. Ha escrito al presidente Pidiéndole que lo destituya del mando.” ( There is more Colonel Mendoza. Don Leandro, he knows you are coming. He has wrote the President asking that you be removed from command.)
“ ¿ Quién te dice esto?” ( Who tells you this?) Mendoza demanded.
“ Uno de los trabajadores. Se envió la voz de que cuando te descubran,deben avisarle de inmediato.” ( One of the workers. Word was sent out that when you are spotted, they are to get word to him at once.)
“ Déjalos. No me impedirá arrestr a ese cerdo. El presidente Díaz no mequitará el mando.” ( Let them. It will not stop me from arresting that swine. President Diaz will not remove me from command.)
“ Coronel,no tenemos autoridad en la estancia de Don Leandro.” ( Colonel, we have no authority at Don Leandro’ estancia.) Major Vásquez said.
“ No necesito autoridad cuando esconde a un asesino. Mudarse.” ( I do not need authority when he is hiding a murderer. Move out.) Mendoza said.
“ Need a room for me and my brother for the night.” Johnny said.
“ Certainly sir. If you would just sign the register.” the clerk said.
Johnny set his saddlebags down and picked up the pencil, signing his name.
The clerk removed a key from the slot. “ That will be five dollars. Will you be wanting a hot bath mister.?”
“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid.”
“ Oh Mister Madrid, my apologies sir. Your room is waiting. I will send someone up right away to start your baths.” the clerk said as he changed keys, and handed it to Johnny. “ Please forgive me?”
“ Our room is already paid for?” Scott asked.
“ Yes sir. Don Leandro left explicit orders to give you our finest room upon your arrival.” the clerk said. “ He also left this note for you.”
Johnny took the note and read it.
I will have my man escort you and your brother to the estancia in the morning when you are ready to depart Brownsville.
Johnny handed the note to Scott, picked up his saddlebags, and headed to the stairs.
“ Will you be wishing to eat in your room?” the clerk asked.
“ No. We’ll come down and eat in the restaurant after we clean up.” Johnny responded as he looked around, noticing a very well dressed vaquero standing by the door. Giving the man a nod before heading upstairs.
“ ¿Hay alguna palabra?” (Is there any word?) Do Leandro asked.
“ Sí Patrón. Llegaron a Brownsville a última hora de la tarde.” ( Yes Patron. They arrived in Brownsville late afternoon.) Manuel said.
“ Finalmente. Comuníquese con nuestro hombre para asegurarse de que no les pase nada a ninguno de los dos. Enviaré algunos hombres para que los escolten aquí por la mañana.” ( Finally. Get word to our man to to make sure nothing happens to either of them. I will send some men to escort them here in the morning.) Don Leandro said.
“Sí Patrón, se le dejó un mensaje en la recepción al llegar diciéndole que serían escoltados aquí.” ( Yes Patron, word was left at the front desk for him upon arrival telling him they would be escorted here.) Manuel responded.
“ Bueno. Mañana será un día de celebracíón.( Good, tomorrow will be a day of celebration.) Don Leandro said.
“ ¿ Celebración para qué padre?”( Celebration for what father?) Alejandra asked.
“ Nuestro invitado llegará mañana a media mañana.” (Our guest will be arriving tomorrow mid morning.) he said.
“ Me aseguraré de que sus habitaciones estén listas. ¿Significa esto que tendremos un almuerzo especial?” ( I will make sure their rooms are ready. Does this mean we will be having a special lunch?)
“ Creo que un almuerzo regular será suficiente. Tal vez haga que los cocineros preparen un banquete para la cena.” (I think a regular lunch will be fine. Have the cooks prepare a feast for dinner.)
“ Padre, ¿qué tipo de comida deben preparar los cocineros para la cena de su invitado?” ( Father, what kind of food should the cooks prepare for your guest for dinner?)
“Creo que le gustan los tamales y los pimientos.” ( I believe he is partial to tamales and peppers.)
Johnny noticed the same vaquero from yesterday standing by the front door again, as they walked past to the dining room to eat breakfast.
“ Good morning. Can I get you gentlemen some coffee?” a waitress asked.
“ Yes please.” Scott responded as he sat down.
“ I’ll be right back Scott.” Johnny said before walking over to the vaquero. Johnny
“ Estás vestido como para ser un vaquero normal. ¿Trabajas para Don Leandro?” ( You’re dressed to fancy to be a regular vaquero. You work for Don Leandro?) Johnny said and asked.
“ Si. Le acompañaré a la estancia cuando esté listo, señor Madrid.” ( Yes. I am to escort you to the estancia when you are ready mister Madrid.) the vaquero responded.
“ ¿ Ya comiste?” ( Have you ate yet?) Johnny asked.
“ Comeré cuando regresemos.” ( I will eat when we get back.) the vaquero said.
“ Tonterías, ¿por qué no vienes a desayunar con nosotros?” (Nonsense, why don’t you come eat breakfast with us.) Johnny asked.
“No se me permte señor. Debo estar de guardia hasta que nos vayamos.” ( I am not permitted senor. I must stand watch until we leave.)
“ Estás aquí para mi, ¿ verdad?” ( You’re here for me right?)
“Si.” ( Yes.)
“ Entonces digo que vengas a desayunar con nosotros.” ( Then I say you come join us for breakfast.)
“ Por favor señor Madrid, no puedo, Don Leandro es muy estricto con sus órdenes. Por favor.” ( Please Senor Madrid, I cannot. Don Leandro is very strict on his orders. Please.)
“ Bien. Puedo respetara un hombre leal.” ( Alright. I can respect a man who has loyalty.) Johnny said before turning and walking back over to the table, and sitting down.
“ Alejandra, estás preciosa esta mañana cariño.” (Alejandra, you look lovely this morning.) Don Leandro said.
“Gracias Padre. ¿ Cuándo llegará su invitado?” ( Thank you father. When will your guest be arriving?) she asked as she walked over and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
“ Deberían llegar en cualquier momento.” ( They should be arriving anytime.) he said.
“ ¿ Estás bien? Te ves un poco enfadada esta mañana. ¿ No dormiste bien?” ( Are you alright? You look a little peaked this morning. Did you not sleep well?) she asked.
“ Estoy bien. Supongo que estoy ansioso por a mi invitado.” ( I am fine. I guess I am anxious to see my guest.)
“¿ Por qué siempre dices tu invitado y no su nombre?” ( How come you always say your guest, and not their name?) she asked as Miguel walked into the study.
“ Disculpe, Patrón, pero su invitado ha llegado.” ( Pardon me Patron, but your guest have arrived.) Miguel said.
“ Bueno. Muéstralos.” ( Good. Show them in.) Don Leandro said as he stood up.
“ ¿Me darías algo de tiempo con mi invitado antes de honrarnos con tu presencia, querida?” ( Would you give me some time with my guest before you grace us with your presence my dear?) Don Leandro asked.
“ Ciertamente padre. Iré a ver cómo van los preparativos para la comida de esta noche.” ( Certainly father. I will go and see how the preparations for tonight’s meal are coming.) Alejandra said before kissing her father on the cheek, and leaving the room.
Johnny and Scott followed the vaquero into the the estancia yard, and dismounted. Handing off their horses
“ Mister Madrid, It is good to see you again.” Miguel said.
“ Hello Miguel, it’s good to see you again too.” Johnny responded as the two men shook hands.
“ Don Leandro, he has asked me to show you inside. Please follow me.” Miguel said.
Johnny noticed his brother was looking around the yard. “ Beautiful isn’t it?” he asked.
“ I have never seen a ranch as fine as this.” Scott said as he looked at the huge fountain in the middle of the yard. There horses shoes clicking on the cobblestone as they were led to one of the finest barns he had ever seen.
“ Let’s go. Don Leandro isn’t the kind of man who likes to be kept waiting.” Johnny said as he started toward the entrance.
“ The man sure knows luxury.” Scott said as he followed Johnny to the huge, beautifully carved double doors, and inside where Miguel stood waiting.
Miguel led them to a door across the foyer, and knocked.
“ Entrar.” (Enter.) came a voice from the other side.
Miguel opened the door, and stepped inside followed by Johnny, and Scott.
“ Gracias Miguel. Por favor, asegúrese de que no me molesten hasta el almuerzo.” ( Thank you Miguel. Please see that I am not disturbed until lunch.)
“Muy bien patrón.” ( Very well Patron.) Miguel said before leaving the room, and closing the door.
Johnny glanced around the room, his eyes stopping at a huge portrait on the wall above the fireplace of Don Leandro, his wife Maria Pascuala Caro Sureda De La Vega, and Alejandra. His stomach doing flops as he looked at the only girl he had ever really loved. Don Leandro had brought him into his home, wounded, and near death, and treated him like a son. Many times he sat in this very room talking with the man he respected more than anyone about breeding cattle, and horses.
Don Leandro stood up, and walked over to him. Extending his right hand to shake.
“ It’s good to see you again sir.” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand.
Don Leandro pulled Johnny into a hug. “ It does my heart good to see you again Juan. This must be your brother, Scott?”
“ Yes sir.” Johnny responded. “ Scott, I would like to introduce you to a man who was, and still is like a father to me, Don Leandro De La Vega.”
“ It’s a pleasure to meet you sir.” Scott said.
“ You come from Boston yes?” Don Leandro asked as they shook hands.
“ Yes sir.” Scott said.
“ Your mother died at childbirth, so you were raised by your grandfather, Harlan Garrett. You attended Harvard University, and not long after graduating, you joined the Union Army and fought to end slavery. I am curious though as to why you never returned to Lancer until three years ago. At which time you learned you have a little brother.” Don Leandro said as he walked over to a plush chair and sat down. “ Please, sit. My old bones don’t like me standing to much anymore.”
Johnny and Scott walked over ad sat down on a beautiful soft blue Victorian couch with intricately carved arm rest and along the top of the backrest.
“ You seem to know a lot about me sir.” Scott said.
“ It is my job to know about one who calls himself brother to the son I never had.” Don Leandro said. “ Please, I mean no disrespect.”
“ None taken sir. In fact, I am quit flattered that you know so much about me.” Scott said.
“ You can imagine the shock when we heard you were killed by the Rurales.” Don Leandro said. “ I was pleased to learn you are still alive. Alejandra however does not know you are still alive. I decided to let you surprise her. She took the news rather badly.”
“ She doesn’t know I’m here?” Johnny asked.
“ No. All she knows is I had two guest arrive to spend some time with us. I never told her it was you.” Don Leandro responded.
“ Is that her?” Scott asked as he looked at the portrait.
“ Yes, with her mother Maria Pascuala Caro Sureda De La Vega.” Don Leandro said.
“ She is a very beautiful young lady.” Scott said.
“ I am afraid she gets her beauty from her mother, who passed away six months ago” he said. “ It was then I decided to search for you. I refused to believe the infamous Johnny Madrid was killed by the Rurales. So I hired a Pinkerton man from Brownsville to search for you. It would seem he did not have too, because his agency already knew about Johnny Madrid, and where you were.”
“ Your letter was a surprise, but a welcomed one sir.” Johnny said. “ If the Pinkerton man had got there thirty seconds later, I would have been.” Johnny said. “ I’m sorry for your wife’s death sir.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to look up at the portrait. “ Coming here wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. I still love her. I have loved no other woman like your daughter. I mean no disrespect to Mrs De La Vega, but it was wrong of her to send Alejandra away just because I’m a mestizo. She should have seen past that, and seen how much we loved each other.”
“ John, you know my wife was of tradition, some of which go back many hundred years with her people. Yes she should have seen your love for our daughter. Alejandra told me what happened the night before she left for Mexico City. How you strengthened your love for each other.” Don Leandro said before standing up, and walking over to Johnny. “ Do you still love her?”
Johnny looked at Don Leandro. “ Yes sir, I do.” he said as the door opened and the woman he loved walked into the room.
“ Father, lunch is ready.” Alejandra said.
Scott stood up, and looked at his brother.
“ Alejandra.” Johnny said softly.
“ I think perhaps me and Scott will leave the two of you alone to speak.” Don Leandro suggested.
“ That won’t be necessary father. We can talk after lunch. You need to eat.” Alejandra said.
“ Alejandra, I did not raise you to be rude to guest.” Don Leandro said.
“ You’re right father. Please forgive me. Who is this young man?” she asked.
“ I’m Scott Garrett ma’am, Johnny’s brother.” Scott said as he walked over to her. “ I must say little brother, when you said she was gorgeous, you were not exaggerating.”
“ Why thank you Mister Garrett.” she said.
Johnny couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak. All he could do was look at the gorgeous woman standing there as plain as day. The woman his heart loved more than anything.
“ It seems your brother is unable to speak.” Don Leandro said.
“ Perhaps this will make him speak.” Alejandra said as she walked over to Johnny, and slapped him.
“ Alejandra!” Don Leandro yelled.
“ Did you forget how to write? Could you not let us know you were dead?” she demanded.
“ I’m sorry. If I had known, I would have. I thought you were still in Mexico City.” Johnny finally said. “ I didn’t even know your mother passed away until Don Leandro told me. You have every right to be angry with me.”
“ He speaks the truth my child. Your mother told him you would be there five years.” Don Leandro said. “ She also threatened if Johnny made any contact with you child. It would seem that you and Alejandra were deceived by her mother.” he added.
“ El Madrid salió de Brownsville esta mañana. Está en la estancia Coronel Mendoza.” ( Madrid left Brownsville this morning. He is at the estancia Colonel Mendoza.) Major vásquez said.
“ Bueno. Deberíamos estar allí en cuatro dís si este clima alguna vez mejora.” ( Good, we should be there in four days if this weather ever lets up.) Colonel Mendoza said.
“ Coronel,me dijeron que el Presidente Diaz está en Brownsville. Ha establecido una base temporal allí.” ( Colonel, I was told President Diaz is in Brownsville. He has set up a temporary base there.)
“ Luego iremos a Brownsville, y le hablaré directamente sobre Don Leandro que alberga a un asesino en su estancia.” ( Then we shall go to Brownsville, and I will speak to him directly about Don Leandro harboring a killer at his estancia.) the colonel said.
“ That was a very good lunch.” Scott said.
“ I’m glad you liked it Mister Garrett.” Alejandra said.
“ Mister Garrett sounds so formal. You may call me Scott if you wish.” Scott suggested.
“ Very well, Scott. So tell me, how did it come to be the two of you didn’t know about each other until three years ago?” Alejandra asked. “ I mean, you certainly don’t look like brothers.”
Scott dabbed the corners of his mouth with his napkin. “ My mother died giving birth to me, so I was raised by y grandfather in Boston. He never told me I had a little brother.”
“ Wait, I’m confused. If you are the older, and your mother died giving birth to you. Then how could you be brothers?” she responded.
“ Our father met Johnny’s mother Maria here in Matamoros. They fell in love, got married, and he took her to Morro Coyo, to Lancer.” Scott explained. He felt it wasn’t his place to tell she was with child before they married.
“ You said your mother died when you were ten. Did she know you had a brother?” she asked Johnny.
“ She knew, but she never told me. I didn’t even know my last name at birth was Lancer until I overheard the padre at the orphanage one night talking about me shortly after I arrived.” Johnny said.
“ So you will be going back to this Lancer estancia in Morro Coyo?” she asked.
“ No. After I received your letter, my……….Murdoch got angry when I requested a year off to come here. We argued, he told me what he really thought of me, and ordered me off his property.” Johnny responded.
“ What he thought of you. I don;t understand John. Are you not his son?” Don Leandro said, and asked.
“ To him I’m nothing more than a filthy half-breed killer. Sir.” Johnny said.
“ I am sorry.” Don Leandro said. “ If you don’t mind my asking, what are your plans?”
“ To tell ya the truth, I haven’t gotten any. I haven’t really thought about it.” Johnny said.
“ They could stay here as long as they wished couldn’t they father? I mean, we have more than enough room, and Johnny could help you with your breeding.” Alejandra suggested.
“ They are welcome to stay as long as they wish.” Don Leandro said. “ Since it has stopped raining, perhaps you would like to show Johnny the stallion I bought you?” he suggested.
“ I’m hardly dressed to go to the stables father. I can show him tomorrow. They have had a long journey, maybe they would like to clean up, and rest before dinner?” Alejandra suggested.
“ Murdoch, why don’t we get the Christmas decorations out of the attic, and you can go cut a tree tomorrow?” Teresa asked
“ You really want to decorate the house for Christmas even though it’s going to be just the two of us here?” he asked.
“ Sam will be here too.” Teresa responded. “ I know you miss the boys, but you can’t keep going on like this. It’s not good for your health.”
“ Have I told you lately you nag too much?” Murdoch asked.
“ Someone has to take care of you.” Teresa responded.
“ I received an invitation to the cattleman’s Christmas ball. I was wondering if perhaps you would like to attend it with me?” Murdoch asked.
“ Where are they having it this year?” she asked.
“ San Francisco.” he said.
“ Oh Murdoch, you mean it?” she asked.
“ Yes. I figure we could go to Stockton tomorrow and you can buy the prettiest dress you can find to wear.” he suggested.
Teresa wrapped her arms around Murdoch, giving him a hug. “ I will be honored to go with you.”
“ Good morning Senor Scott. I hope you slept well?” Don Leandro asked.
“ Yes sir. Your home is beautiful.” Scott responded.
“ Fine luxuries my late family gathered over the years. Some of the furniture is over three hundred years old. That bureaul in your room belong to my great grandfather. He carved it all himself, and brought it with him from Spain.” Don Leandro explained.
“ It’s a beautiful piece of furniture.” Scott said.
“ You want to know why I requested your brother to come here?” Don Leandro asked.
“ It has crossed my mind. Johnny doesn’t talk about his past much. He’s told me some about him and your daughter, and that you are a very well respected man, but he never really said anything else.” Scott responded.
“ I had you watched ever since you left Lancer. I did not know his father threw him out of the only real home he has ever had.” Don Leandro said.
“ Unfortunately our father couldn’t accept Johnny was both Johnny Madrid, and his long lost son, Johnny Lancer.” Scott said.
“ When he was fighting a fever, he said some things that troubled me. Things that happened to him as a child. Things I discussed with him when he was better. No child deserves to have done to them what was done to your brother.” Don Leandro said. “ The scars he has on his body from the whippings he received, he told me were from the padre at the orphanage. I talked to Father Francisco about that orphanage, and he said that padre had been removed from there.” Don Leandro explained.
“ Why is he here?” Scott asked.
“ I am an old man. My doctor says my heart is ill. I have no son to leave my estancia too. I am afraid our customs do not permit me to leave my estancia to Alejandra.” Don Leandro responded.
“ So you want to leave it to Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ It is already done on paper. I just need him to agree, and sign them. Your brother is very horse wise, he is what we call a encantador de caballos, horse whisperer. I have watched him gentle a stallion none of my men could touch. John has a true gift when it comes to horses. A talent he should not waste.” he said.
“ Johnny did the same thing with Barranca, the horse he rode here.” Scott said.
“ He must be a fine animal to carry Johnny so far.” Don Leandro said. “ Do you not approve of my wishes?” he asked.
“ It’s a bit extreme sir. To tell you the truth, I think it will shock my brother. I know he thinks the world of you, but I get the feeling there is more between the two of you, than either of you are saying.” Scott responded.
“ You are a very smart young man. There is something, but me and your brother talked, and we both decided it would be best not to let anyone know. Especially Alejandra.” Don Leandro responded as Johnny walked into the dining room.
“ Morning brother, Don Leandro.” Johnny said as he sat down. “ Alejandra not awake yet?” he asked.
“ I don’t believe so.” Don Leandro said. “ What are your plans today?” he asked.
“ To corner Alejandra after breakfast and have a talk.” Johnny said.
“ I know she is expecting three foals soon, so perhaps you could corner her in the barn across the way. I am sure she will be going there after breakfast.” Don Leandro said. “ The suggestions you made have worked out very well. My vaqueros worked very hard to build the two barns like you said they should be.”
“ What kind of horses do you breed?” Scott asked.
“ Andalusian. They date back to the 15th century. How many do you have now?” Johnny responded.
“ Sixty now, mostly mares. Your brother showed me that most people, my self included, would put most of the value of a good horse in the stallion. He showed me that it should be in the mare as well, if not more.” Don Leandro said. “ I am sorry John. I should have prepared Alejandra for your arrival. I should have told her you were still alive. Perhaps if I had, she would not be so angry with you.”
“ Good morning father, Scott.” Alejandra said as she walked into the dining room, and sat down next to Johnny. “ Okay, here’s how it’s going to be Johnny. You can stay here as long as you wish, you can also Scott, but you are going to work. I have foals that need trained to lead, Mares needing bred, and with Christmas in two weeks, I also have to help Father Francisco with the Christmas celebration at Our Lady of Refuge church. Scott, you can help if you wish, but your brother is going to whether he likes it or not.” Alejandra ordered.
“ Alejandra, ordering someone to do something is not the proper way to get it done. Your rudeness to Johnny I want to stop, and stop now.” Don Leandro said firmly. “ Do I make myself clear young lady?”
“ Yes father. With anyone else I would have asked, but with Johnny………..”
“ How long are you going to bust my…………….How long Alejandra?” Johnny said as he stood up. “ Excuse me Don Leandro, I seem to have lost my appetite.” Johnny said before turning and walking out of the dining room.
“ You young lady should be ashamed of yourself. John is a guest in my house. I will not tolerate such rude behavior from you toward him. He told you why he did not write to you yesterday. Those horses you think so highly of, he is the reason for them. It was John who talked me into breeding them. The success of this ranch is because I listened, and I asked. I did not order nor was I rude to him.” Don Leandro said with anger. “ You told me you still love him. If that is true, then I suggest you start showing it, instead of treating him like you have.”
“ Alejandra, I’ve not known you but a day, but I am going to say this anyway. Johnny doesn’t take well to being ordered around. Asking him to do something I have learned goes a lot farther than ordering him. He’s like a young horse you are trying to train, you keep treating him like you are, and he will bolt.” Scott said.
“ Please forgive my rudeness Scott, Father.” Alejandra said as she stood up.
“ I believe you will find him in whichever barn Barranca is in, grooming him. That’s what he usually does when he gets upset, or needs to think.” Scott said.
“ Thank you. Excuse me.” she said before heading outside.
“ This is pretty nice huh amigo.” Johnny said as he brushed Barranca down. “ A lot nicer than Lancer. You could get used to living like this couldn’t you boy. Yeah, maybe some day a person like me can have a horse ranch. You’d like that huh. Just stand around grazing on lush green grass waiting for the ladies to come by for some romance. Pass on those fine qualities you have.”
“ He’s a beautiful animal. Is he a mustang?” Alejandra asked as she walked over to them.
“ He’s a Capanero de Palomino, the finest horses in the San Joaquin.” Johnny said.
“ San Joaquin, is that where your estancia was in California?” she asked as she rubbed Barranca’ face.
“ It’s was never my estancia.” Johnny said as he walked over to her and leaned on the railing. “ I’ve never stopped loving you Alejandra. No other woman has meant to me what you do.”
“ I dream of that night often.” Alejandra said.
Johnny walked out of the stall, and over to her. “ So do I. Truth be told, I would love nothing more than to have you in my arms again.”
Alejandra smiled as she stepped closer to him. “ My grandfather sleeps downstairs. He would not know if we were together tonight.” she said as her heart started racing,and her breathing became deeper.
“ You’re a lady Alejandra. As much as I want you, it wouldn’t be right. Not like this.” Johnny brought his right hand up under her chin. “ It wouldn’t be right for us to be together in his house.”
“ Why do you think he brought you here? He wants us to be together. Johnny, my fathers health is failing, he thinks I do not know why he is tired so much. I heard him and his doctor one day in his study.” Alejandra responded. “ Are you at all familiar with our old ways? Our customs, and traditions?”
“ No.” Johnny said as his mind reeled from what she said about Don Leandro’ health.
“ Come with me.” Alejandra said as she took his hand and walked to a room at the back of the barn. “ I sometimes come here to think To remember that night. My father used to have his office in here, but now it’s just used for a storage room.” she said as she opened the door, and stepped inside.
Johnny followed her into the room, and closed the door. His heart beating faster as he looked at Alejandra standing there, dust particles dancing in the rays of sunlight coming thru the window above.
“ For generations my family has followed tradition. My mother as you know followed it, how do you say, religiously. There is a tradition my father can do nothing about. Back in Spain, as well as here in Mexico, a father must leave all his belongings to his first born son. Don Leandro cannot do that because he has no son. He only has me. Therefore his only option is leaving it to his son-in-law. It is forbidden for a daughter to be left everything in a will. My father brought you here for us to be together Johnny. You are his only hope of saving his estancia. He wants us to marry.” Alejandra explained. “ Do you love me enough you could do that?”
Johnny couldn’t believe what he just heard. Walking over to Alejandra, he brought his right hand up under her chin, his thumb ever so softly caressing it. “ I told you, I have never stopped loving you.” he said softly before lowering his mouth to hers.
Alejandra could feel her heart start beating faster as Johnny kissed her lips softly.
“ I love you.” Johnny whispered before he deepened the kiss, as his hands pulled her to him.
“ ¿Por qué está aquí Coronel Mendoza?” ( Why are you here Colonel Mendoza?) President Diaz demanded.
“ Estoy aquí por un hombre, un asesino que se aloja en la estancia de Don Leandro.” ( I am here because of a man, a killer is being harbored at Don Leandro’ estancia.)
“ ¿Asumo que estás hablando de Madrid?” ( By a killer I assume you mean Johnny Madrid?) Diaz asked.
“ Si señor. Es buscado en Sonora por asesinato. He traído hombres conmigo para capturarlo y llevarlo de regreso para que lo ejecuten.” ( Yes sir. He is wanted in Sonora for murder. I have brought men with me to capture him, and take him back to be executed.) Mendoza responded,
“ Sé que Madrid está en la estancia de Don Leandro.” ( I am aware of Madrid being at Don Leandro’ estancia. )
“¿Usted está?” ( You are?) he asked.
“ Si. Lo vi salir de Brownsville con otros dos hombres. Tabién recibí una carta de Don Leandro diciéndome que Madrid vendría a su estancia.” ( Yes. I seen him ride out with two other men. I also received a letter from Don Leandro telling me Madrid would be coming to his estancia.) President Diaz said. “Iré a la estancia a hablar con Madrid. Le concerdo cesar y desistir y regresar a Sonora. ¿Me explico, coronel?” ( I will be riding to the estancia, and talk to Madrid. I am granting him clemency. You will cease and desist, and go back to Sonora. Do I make myself clear Colonel?)
“ ¿Vas a permitir que ese asesino quede libre?” ( You are going to allow that killer to go free?) Mendoza asked.
“ Soy consciente de sus crímenes que cometió en Sonora, está en Tamaulipas, por lo tanto no lo pueden arrestar. Te he dado una orden. Si no sigue mi orden, lo retiraré. No tendré un oficial desobediente representándome. ¿Entender?” ( I am aware of the crimes he did in Sonora, he is in Tamaulipas, therefore you cannot arrest him. I have given you an order. If you do not follow my order, I will have you removed. I will not have a disobedient officer representing me. Understand?) President Diaz said firmly. “ Ahora te sugiero que te limpies y descanses. Tienes un largo viaje de regreso.” ( Now I suggest you go clean up and rest. You have a long journey back.)
Mendoza spun around and walked out of the tent full of anger. “ Si cree que voy a dejar a ese asesino, está muy equivocado.” ( If you think I am going to leave that killer, you are sorely mistaken.) he said as he walked to the hotel.
“ Envía un mensaje a Sonora de que tan pronto como regrese el Coronel Nendoza, será removido del mando.” ( Send word to Sonora that as soon as Colonel Mendoza returns, he is to be removed from command.) Diaz ordered.
“ John, may I speak with you in private ?” Don Leandro asked later that afternoon.
“ Well, if you will excuse me. I think I will go and find a good book to read.” Scott said as he stood up and left the room.
“ Please, sit down. Your brother is a very likable man.” Don Leandro said.
Johnny sat down on the couch across from Don Leandro. His gut telling him he was about to be told what Alejandra had told him in the barn.
“ Do you love my daughter John?” he asked.
“ I think you know the answer to that sir. I love her sincerely.” Johnny responded.
“ There is a tradition I do not like, but must follow.” Don Leandro said. “ My health is not good. My doctor says it is my heart. That is why I get tired so easily, and cannot do the things I used to do. Manuel has been a godsend to me running this ranch sometimes when I feel to ill.”
“ He’s a good man sir.” Johnny said.
“ This tradition I speak of, it is for a son I never had. Alejandra is my only child, therefore I cannot leave her the estancia when I die. I have to leave it to a male heir. Therefore.” Don Leandro said as he opened a desk drawer and pulled out some papers. “ Your brother said the two of you are third owners in Lancer. Do you ever think you will be going back there some day?” he asked.
“ Lancer was never my home sir. My………..he proved that the day I left.” Johnny responded.
“ Even if your father died, you would not return to own what is rightfully yours?” he asked as he placed the papers on his desk.
“ A cattle ranch isn’t what I want to do sir. I’ve had my fill of repairing busted fences, or pulling cows out of mud holes, or sand traps.” Johnny said.
“ What do you want then John? Your brother said Lancer is one hundred thousand acres of prime land, with a huge estancia, and ten thousand cattle.” Don Leandro said.
“ It is, but it’s not mine sir. What I want is a place where I can have horses. I have always dreamed of owning a horse ranch.” he said.
“ What if I could offer you such a place? Would you accept it?” he asked.
“ Is that why you had me come here sir? Because of your health?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes, in part. Do you love Alejandra enough that you would marry her, and take possession of my estancia?” Don Leandro asked.
Johnny stood up and walked over to look out the window. “ You should offer it to Manuel sir. He’s been with you a long time.”
“ Tradition prevents me from doing so. I have to leave it to either a son, or son-in-law. If you marry my daughter, this land that has been in my family for many generations, will be yours. My vaqueros will not have to worry about becoming homeless. I know it is a lot to consider John, but there is no one I can think of who is more qualified to run this ranch, and continue with the breeding of fine Azteca horses.”
Johnny turned around and faced the man. “ I will accept your offer sir, but on one condition.”
“ Alright. What condition?” he asked.
“ That you live to see and enjoy a grandchild.” Johnny said.
“ I would enjoy that very much John. I have spoken with Alejandra. She would like a simple wedding at Our Lady of Refuge church.” Don Leandro said.
“ Did she happen to say when we would be getting married sir?” Johnny asked.
“ As a matter of fact she did. She wishes it to be on the day of the new year.” he responded.
“ New years day. I can’t think of anything better to do to celebrate a new year.” Johnny said.
“ This is the deed to the estancia. I just need you to sign it at the bottom below your name.” he explained.
Johnny picked up the pen and signed his name as Don Leandro pulled out a book and opened it.
“ I need just one more signature John. I need you to sign into my family heritage book, so your name is recorded into history.” Don Leandro requested.
Johnny dipped the pen and signed his name below Don Leandro’ as owner of one hundred and ninety two thousand acres.
“ Tomorrow we shall go into Matamoros and file the papers with my lawyer.” Don Leandro said as he put the book and papers back in his desk drawer. “ Perhaps you would like to study the map I have of the estancia. It is very accurate in detail of every stream, wash, ravine, and gully. It also has every workers home, fence-line, and gate.”
“ I remember some from when I was here before.” Johnny said. “ But by years end, I will have every inch of your ranch memorized sir.”
“ Your ranch John.” Don Leandro said.
“ Only on paper sir. You and your family built this place up from nothing. I will do everything I can to see that it remains a successful ranch for Alejandra, our children, and in your memory.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice.
“ I have lived a good life. I have been lucky enough to love only one beautiful woman, and have a daughter just as beautiful. My estancia, is successful, thanks to you in part. I could not ask for more. Except maybe a grandchild before my time is up.” Don Leandro said.
“ I have no problem with giving you a grandchild sir. That is something I have always wanted, a son to watch grow up. To teach to my what I have learned.” Johnny said.
“ I have no doubts you will be an excellent father John.” Don Leandro said as someone knocked on the door. “ Yes.”
Manuel opened the door and walked into the room. “ I am sorry for the intrusion Patrón,but there is a message from President Diaz.” he said as he walked over and handed a note to Don Leandro.
“ Manuel, say hello to the new owner of Quinta De La Vega.” Don Leandro said as he took the note and read it. “ It would seem President Diaz is in Brownsville, and will be coming here to speak to you.”
“ Me?” Johnny said. “ How did he know I was here?”
“ Perhaps he seen you in Brownsville.” Don Leandro suggested. “ You are safe here. The Rurales cannot bother you for something that happened in Sonora.”
“ Colonel Mendoza swore he would kill me if I ever came back to Mexico.” Johnny said.
“ Why, for doing what you did during a war?” Manuel asked.
“ For killing his cousin Hector. He was the head Rurale the Pinkerton agent paid off for my freedom. He got greedy and wanted all of the money the Pinkerton man had.” Johnny responded.
“ I am afraid there are some bad Rurales, but most of them are good men who work for little pay.” Manuel said. “ Now you take Don Leandro, and this estancia, he has one hundred servants, gardeners, and farmers working around the estancia. He also has one thousand horsemen, cowpunchers, line-riders, shepherds, and hunters. All the workers homes are exactly one hundred miles apart set up as relays for the workers to use, and have a place to get out of in the event of bad weather or injury.”
“ It is an impressive ranch. One I will take great pride in running, with your help of course.” Johnny said.
“ I have been Don Leandro’ right hand man for many years on this land. I would be honored to continue and help you.” Manuel said.
“ When is he coming here?” Johnny asked.
“ It says two days.” Don Leandro responded.
“ Saturday, Manuel, please inform the workers and set up extra men to keep guard while President Diaz is here.” Johnny instructed.
“ He will have his own guards with him, but I will make sure we have plenty of men guarding the estancia while he is here.” Manuel responded before leaving the room.
“ You handled that very well. I would have ordered the same.” Don Leandro said. “ I shall now go and inform the cooks of our prestigious guest coming to visit.”
“ Okay Mister Lancer, I have you and your daughter in the suite at the end of the hall.” the hotel clerk said.
“ Is there a bath in the room?” Teresa asked.
“ Yes ma’am there is. I will have the porter start one for you right away. Will the two of you be dining with us tonight?”
“ No, I believe I will take Teresa to a fancy restaurant for dinner tonight. This is her first time in San Francisco.” Murdoch said.
“ Very well. I do hope you enjoy our city young lady. We put on quit a show at Christmas time.” the clerk said as he rang the bell, and handed Murdoch the key.
“ Can you tell me who is the best dress shop in town?” Teresa asked.
“ The best dress shop………..That would have to be Sarah’s Women’s Apparel and Fineries.” the clerk said.
“ Thank you very much.” Teresa said.
“ Murdoch Lancer, what are you doing in San Francisco?” Harlan Garrett asked as he walked into the lobby. “ Miss Teresa.”
“ Hello Mister Garrett.” Teresa said.
“ Harlan. I brought Teresa to San Francisco for Christmas. She’s never been to the city, so I thought me and her could spend some time here taking I the sights and such.” Murdoch said.
“ Will Scott be joining you?” Harlan asked.
“ Why don’t you go on up to the room with the porter Teresa. I’ll be up in a minute.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Alright. It was good to see you again Mister Garrett.” Teresa said before heading upstairs.
“ I take it Scott hasn’t wrote to you?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, I’m afraid I haven;t hear a word from my Scotty since the spring I believe.” Harlan responded.
“ Scott no longer lives at Lancer. He hasn’t for almost three months now.” Murdoch said.
“ What? Why? Where is he?” Harlan demanded.
“ He’s in Mexico with Johnny.” he said.
“ Mexico, why would………I knew that half-breed brother of his would lead him astray. Scott knows nothing of being in that filthy country.” Harlan spat.
“ Johnny got summoned back to Mexico for personal reasons, and Scott went with him. They won’t be coming back. Now if you would excuse me, it’s been a long trip.” Murdoch said before turning , and heading upstairs.
“ How does it feel knowing you are now officially the owner of Quinta De La Vega estancia?” Don Leandro asked as they sat in a cantina having a cold beer.
“ I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all.” Johnny said.
“ There is something else troubling you. I hope it is not our distinguished guest coming to visit?” he said.
“ No. It’s the wedding sir. I have no idea what wedding gift to get Alejandra. She has so much already.” Johnny responded.
“ Ah yes, they wedding gift. Do you know what she loves?” he asked.
“ Besides you,………me.” Johnny said.
“ Yes. My daughter has grown accustomed to fine things. Perhaps you could find her a piece of jewelry she would like.” he suggested. “ Do you have a wedding ring yet?”
“ No.” Johnny said.
“ There is a very nice jeweler in Brownsville. Perhaps we could go there and look.” Don Leandro suggested.
“ I’d like that.” Johnny said. “ Listen, I better get you back before we both feel Alejandra’ anger for keeping you out so long.”
“ Sometimes my daughter coddles me like a baby.” Don Leandro said with a laugh. “ I enjoy our talks, and do not worry, I will not tell my daughter I had a beer with you.” Don Leandro said as he stood up, and the two walked outside to the buggy.
“ Johnny Madrid!” a man yelled from across the square. “ Where ya going Madrid?”
Johnny looked across the courtyard. “ Sonofabitch.” he said. “ Don Leandro, please go back inside the cantina and stay until this is over.” Johnny asked.
“ John, I do not think I should leave you.” Don Leandro said.
“ I’ll be alright. I don’t want you getting hurt. Please…….go back inside.”
Don Leandro placed a hand on Johnny’ right shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze before walking back into the cantina. Silently saying a prayer he would be going home with Johnny alive.
Johnny walked out into the courtyard and stopped. “ Felipe Espinoza.”
“ So you’ve heard of me. That’s good, because I’m the man going to kill you.” Felipe said.
“ I don’t want this. I’m not a gunfighter anymore.” Johnny said.
“ As long as you’re wearing that gun, and still breathing you are Madrid.” Felipe responded as he stepped out into the courtyard.
Men on horseback stopped and watched, waiting to see who would be standing when the smoke cleared. Women hurried children inside buildings, out of harms way. Without even looking, Johnny knew there were people standing on the street watching. He hated knowing after today, if he survived, people would know who he really was, and look upon him differently. The one he hated the most seeing him kill, he knew was watching from the cantina behind him, Don Leandro, the man he had come to respect, and love as a father. A man who treated him as the man he was, and not the gunfighter he so desperately didn’t want to be anymore.
“ I heard you got yourself killed in Sonora, but I knew it was a lie Madrid.” Felipe said. “ Know how I knew that, because of the talk of you killing Day Pardee in California. You turned on your own kind. A man you rode with. You go against all standards of the gunfighter code Madrid.”
Johnny had heard enough. Usually he would try and talk his opponent out of dying, today he just wasn’t in the mood. Up until now the day spent with Don Leandro had been a special one. “ Shut up and draw Felipe, you’re boring me.” he ordered.
“ What’s the matter Madrid, am I getting on your nerves?” Felipe asked.
“I have better things to do than stand here all day facing a low life like you. You’re not worth my time. So I’ll say it one last time, shut up and draw Felipe.” he knew this could be the one. He’d heard the talk about how fast Espinoza had gotten. He knew that one day someone would come along who was just as fast, or faster than him. Today was that day.
“ See you in hell mestizo.” Felipe said as he drew and fired.
Johnny seen the sign a split second before Felipe drew and fired. Drawing his own colt, and fanning the hammer as Felipe’s bullet tore thru his left side, his bullet hitting it’s mark,tearing thru Felipe’s heart. Holstering his colt, Johnny turned and walked over to the buggy as Don Leandro came out of the cantina.
“ Martina, what a surprise.” Alejandra said. “ What brings you here?”
“ Can’t I visit a dear friend without having a reason?” Martina asked.
“ Of course. I thought you were living in Mexico City with Peter?” Alejandra asked as they sat down on the couch in the library.
“ I was,but sadly he was killed, so I thought I would come home to Brownsville.” Martina said. “ I heard a very interesting rumor.”
“ Martina, you know how rumors and gossip are.” Alejandra said.
“ Yes,but the person in this rumor I know.” Martina responded. “ Is it true?” she asked.
“ Is what true?”
“ Girl, stop playing games with me. Did he come back?” Martina demanded.
“ Did who come back?” Alejandra asked.
“ You are so terrible.” Martina said. “ What is his name……..the gunfighter, Johnny Madrid. The one you told me about in college. The one who took your innocence and made you a woman the night before you left.”
“ Honestly Martina, is there not anything else you think about?” Alejandra asked.
“ Yes, but you’re the one who told me about him. How he made you feel when making love to you. All Peter ever did was lay on top of me, and hump away. He never once tried to give me the satisfaction you said Madrid did to you.” Martina responded. “ They say he learned at a very young age how to pleasure a woman from whores.”
“ Yes I know. He told me.” Alejandra said. “ Yes he came back. We are getting married.”
“ Oh my goodness. When is the wedding?” she asked.
“ New years day. We are having just a small wedding at the church. Neither one of us want anything extravagant.” Alejandra explained.
“ So, have you been with him again?” she asked boldly.
“ Martina, that is a very personal question. One of which I have no intention of answering.” Alejandra said as she stood up.
“ I’m afraid you just did with that answer. I don’t know why you are being so secretive about it. He already took your innocence three years ago.” Martina said.
“ How was Peter killed?” Alejandra asked.
“ He was shot by some robber. They never have caught who did it.” Martina responded. “ I was going to divorce him anyway. The man was lousy in bed as I said, and started abusing me. He hit me so hard once, I had to stay at home for two weeks because of the black eye he gave me.”
“ That doesn’t sound like the Peter I knew.” Alejandra said.
“ Just goes to show you never know the true side of a man.” Martina said as Scott walked in to the library. “ Is this the lucky man?”
“ No, Martina, this is Johnny’s older brother Scott Garrett. Scott, this is my friend from Mexico City, Martina Catalina Ibars.” Alejandra said.
“ It’s a pleasure to meet you ma’am.” Scott said.
“ Older brother huh. You don’t look Mexican.” Martina said. “ In fact, you don’t even look like a gunfighter.”
“ No, I’m not a gunfighter.” Scott said.
“ Why don’t you join us………Mister Garrett?” she asked.
“ No, I wouldn’t want to intrude. I just came in to get a book.” Scott responded.
“ A book. You must like to read. Come, sit down with us. I’m most interested in hearing about what it’s like to have a brother who is a gunfighter.” Martina requested.
“ Johnny isn’t a gunfighter anymore ma’am. Now if you will excuse me.” Scott said before turning and walking out of the library.
“ Oh my. He is a looker isn’t he?” Martina asked.
“ Scott is a very nice person Martina. I find it very unladylike of you to speak to him like you just did. Especially with becoming a widow such a short time ago.” Alejandra said.
“ I saw nothing wrong with how I spoke to Scott. I may be a widow, but I’m still human, a woman, and trust me, he liked what he seen.” Martina said.
Johnny pulled the buggy up to the front entrance to the estancia, and climbed down. The whole trip back he ignored the white hot pain in his side as his blood seeped out, and down his side. Walking around to Don Leandro, he followed the man to the front door.
“I’m sorry you had to see that sir. I never want that to happen.” he said softly as he went to open the door, and staggered.
“ John!” Don Leandro said as he noticed the blood soaking his left side. “ Why didn’t you say you were shot?”
“ Don’t want to be a burden.” Johnny said as he slid to the ground.
“ Scott………I need help out here!” Don Leandro yelled.
Scott hurried out the front door and found his brother on the ground. “ What happened?” he asked.
“ He’s been shot. Manuel, send someone for the doctor.” Don Leandro said as Scott picked his brother up and carried him inside.
“ What happened?” Alejandra asked as she entered the foyer.
“ He’s been shot. Go get bandages and hot water.” Don Leandro ordered. “ Take him to the spare bedroom next to mine.”
Scott carried Johnny into the room and placed him on the bed. Who shot him? Why?” he demanded as he started removing his shirt to see the wound.
“ We were getting ready to leave when a man called him out.” Don Leandro responded.
“ What man?” Scott asked.
“ Someone named Felipe Espinoza. Your brother did not want to fight him, but the man would not leave. He was so fast. Their shots sounded as one.” Don Leandro said as Manuel came into the room.
“ I have sent Daniel for the doctor.” he said.
“ Can I help?” Martina asked from the doorway.
“ Go help Alejandra with the water and bandages.” Don Leandro ordered. “ I am sorry Scott. He never told me he was shot.”
“ I’m afraid my brother has gotten real good at hiding his injuries.” Scott said as Alejandra came in with water, soap and bandages.
“ Martina, I think you should leave.” she said firmly.
“ I only want to help.” Martina said.
“ We have all the help we need. Please leave.” Alejandra ordered.
“ Well, alright. It was a pleasure meeting you Scott. I do hope your brother will be alright.” Martina said before walking out of the room.
“ Ma’am.” Scott said as he started to clean the wound.
“ Can I ask why she was here?” Don Leandro asked.
“She said she wanted to see a friend. I guess she has moved back to Brownsville. She said Peter was shot and killed.” Alejandra responded sharply. “ Scott, do not trust her. She was my friend in college, but she is not good.”
“ She seemed like a nice lady, very beautiful in fact.” Scott responded. “ The bullet is still in there. I can’t tell how deep it is though.”
Martina walked outside and summoned her carriage. “ My next victim is quit handsome. I’ll give you some time before I pay you a visit Scott Garrett. I could tell you liked what you seen.”
An hour later Daniel came into the room, followed by the doctor.
“ Alright, everybody out.” the doctor ordered.
“ I’m staying doctor.” Scott said firmly.
“ I said out.” the doctor responded.
“ He’s my brother, and I’m not leaving him.” Scott said. “ Now we can stand here and argue about it, or you can get started on removing the bullet.”
“ Alright. Daniel, see that I have more hot water and bandages.” the doctor requested. “ Let me in there so I can see what we have.”
“ Come on father. We’ll wait in your study.” Alejandra said as she walked out of the room.
“ I seen the gunfight, I never knew he was shot. Why the devil didn’t he come see me after.? It would have saved him losing so much blood.” the doctor said.
“ My brother has gotten good at hiding his injuries doc. He doesn’t like to show weakness. He’s afraid it will get him killed.” Scott said.
“ Not seeing a doctor when he’s shot could just as well get him killed also.” the doctor said.
Three hours later Scott walked into the study. “ He’s going to be alright, given he doesn’t get an infection or his fever that’s started gets to bad. I know you’re worried about him Alejandra,but trust me, I have been thru this before with Johnny. He will be alright.”
“ Can I go see him now?” she asked.
“ The doctor is finishing up with the stitches now. I don’t see why you can’t.” Scott said.
“ Mister Harlan Garrett I presume?” a very well dressed man in a black suit suit and tie asked.
“ And you are sir?” Harlan asked.
“ William Pinkerton sir. My father and Uncle started the Pinkerton Detective Agency. How can I help you?”
“My grandson it would seem is in Mexico, I want to know where, and I do not want him knowing I am searching for him.” Harlan said.
“ Alright. Do you know roughly what area? Mexico is a big country.” William said.
“ If I knew that, I would not be needing your service. Try along the border. He will be with his half-breed brother named Johnny Madrid.” Harlan said with hate.
“ Matamoros sir. We already have a man who has been in contact with a Murdoch Lancer, Madrid’s father, and I am assuming your grandsons father also. They are at the estancia of a very wealthy man named Don Leandro De La Vega. It would seem the man summoned Mister Madrid to come there.” Williams explained. “ I see no reason to take your money sir, since services have already been rendered.”
“ Where is this Matamoros?” Harlan asked.
“ Just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. You can take a train almost all the way down, but will have to change several times, and the last sixty miles will have to be on a stagecoach due to the line not being finished yet.” William said.
“ Thank you. You have been more than helpful.” Harlan said before turning and leaving the man standing there.
“ You should not be out of bed yet John.” Don Leandro said.
“ I’m alright. I can only take being bedridden for so long sir.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down on the couch. “ Alejandra at the church?”
“ Yes, she is getting things ready for the wedding.”Don Leandro responded. “ President Diaz was here, but you were unconscious. He left these papers for you.” he said as he opened a desk drawer and pulled out a file, laying it on the desk.
Johnny stood up, and walked over, and opened the file. Official papers with the stamp of Mexico, signed by President Diaz granting him a full pardon for any and all actions or crimes done in the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, and Durango. Set forth this day of December 20th, 1876.
El hombre conocido como Johnny Madrid, puede aventurarse en cualquiera de estos estados de México, un hombre libre, y no puedeser perjudicado por ningún rural. Cualquier delito que cometa en coalquier estado de México después de la fecha antes mencionada, será acusado y sancionado. (The man known as Johnny Madrid, may venture into any of these states in Mexico, a free man, and not be harmed by any Rurales. Any crime he commits in any state in Mexico after the above mentioned date, he will be charged, and punished for.)
President Porfirio Diaz
December 20th, 1876.
In the file was a piece of legal paper granting him a pardon from every state in Mexico mentioned.
“ Are you alright John?” Don Leandro asked.
Johnny handed the papers to Don Leandro, and walked over to sit down. “ Did you have something to do with this happening sir?” he asked.
“ I wrote to President Diaz after I sent the letter to you. I asked him to check into all involvement you partook in to see if there were any wrongful crimes committed by you warranting the Rurales to hunt you the way they have been doing.”he explained.
“ I don’t know what to say sir.” Johnny said.
Don Leandro stood up, and walked over to Johnny, and sat down next to him. “ Marrying my daughter in three days,and continuing to make this estancia a successful breeding ranch after I am gone, that will be payment enough. Of course a grandchild would be nice too.” he said.
“ I will do everything I can to make this the best Andalusian breeding horse ranch in all of Mexico sir.” Johnny said. “ As far as grandchildren, I’ll do my best there too sir.”
“ You look lovely tonight Teresa.” Murdoch said.
“ Thank you. I’m having such a wonderful time here.” Teresa responded. “ The food is wonderful.”
“ I’m glad. Though I’m not to sure of this fruit cake. It’s rather dry compared to back home in Scotland.” Murdoch said.
“ What food do you miss the most from Inverness?” Teresa asked.
“ Desert wise I would have to say, Clootie dumpling. It’s the Scottish answer to Christmas pudding.” Murdoch responded.
“ Clootie dumpling, what’s in it?” she asked.
“ It’s packed with raisins, cinnamon, spices, and apples, but you boil it in what we called a cloot, or cloth here. It’s very tasty. My mother made it every Christmas. It was a favorite of me and my brother.” Murdoch explained.
“ It sounds delicious.” Teresa said.
“ We would have a turkey with all the trimmings if we could. Most years we had Clootie dumplings and Scotch broth. It’s a concoction made up of vegetables like turnips, leeks, carrots, and dried peas with pearl barley in lamb or mutton stock.” Murdoch added.
“ Maybe next year I can try making it for you.” Teresa suggested.
“ I would like that. I haven’t had a good meal from Scotland since I came here.” Murdoch responded. “ So, would you like to attend a play at the Baldwin Theatre tonight?”
“ If it’s alright, I thought we were walking down to see the ships?”Teresa asked.
“ “ I’m afraid not sweetheart. There’s been trouble around the wharf with men attacking the Chinese. I think it would be best if we stayed away from there.” Murdoch explained.
“ Then the theatre it is.” she said with a smile.
“ Yo Johnny Madrid te quiero a ti, Alejandra De La Vega, Como esposa, y me entrago a ti, y prometo serte fiel en las alegrias y en las penas, en la salud y en la enfermedad, todos los días de mi vida.”( I Johnny Madrid love you, Alejandra De La Vega, as a wife, and I give myself to you, and I promise to be faithful to you in joys and sorrows, in health and in sickness, every day of my life.)
“ Yo Alejandra De La Vega, te amo, a ti, Johnny Madrid como esposa, y me entrago a ti, y te prometo ser fiel en las alegrías y las tristezas, en la salud y en la enfermedad, todos los días de mi vida.” ( I Alejandra De La Vega, love you Johnny Madrid as a husband, and I give myself to you, and I promise to be faithful to you in joys and sorrows, in health, and in sickness,every day of my life.)
“ En este primer día de nuestro nuevo año de 1877, les presento al Sr. y la Sra. Johnny Madrid.” ( On this first day of our new year of 1877, I present to you Mr and Mrs Johnny Madrid.) “ Congratulations.” Father Francisco said as he shook Johnny’s hand.
Scott stood smiling at his brother. He still couldn’t believe Johnny had found someone to love, and spend the rest of his life with.
“ Congratulations brother.” he said as he shook Johnny’s hand. “ May I give the beautiful bride a kiss?”
“ You may.” Johnny said.
Scott gave Alejandra a kiss on the cheek. “ You are a beautiful bride.” he said.
“ Thank you Scott. I know I will love having you as a brother-in-law.” Alejandra said.
“ My darling daughter, you are gorgeous.” Don Leandro said.
“ Shall we?” Johnny asked as he extended his arm and they walked down the aisle, and out of the church.
“ So, how’s married life treating you little brother?” Scott asked.
“ Good. This past month has been like a dream Scott. Me Johnny Madrid married to a gorgeous woman, and the owner of a ranch twice the size of Lancer.” he said.
“ You expecting company?” Scott asked as he watched a buggy in the distance coming toward them.
“ No, maybe it’s your lady friend Martina come calling again.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ No. I don’t believe she was coming here today.” Scott responded.
“ Tell me that’s not who I think it is Scott.” Johnny said.
“ Grandfather.” Scott said.
“ How in the hell did he find you?” Johnny asked.
“ I have no idea brother.” Scott said as the buggy entered the yard. “ I haven’t wrote to him since before we left Lancer.”
“ Scotty, my boy. It’s so good to see you.” Harlan said as he stopped the buggy and climbed down.
“ Sir. How did you know I was here?” Scott asked.
“ That’s not a very proper greeting to give Scotty. No doubt your manners have escaped you being around these ruffians.” Harlan said.
“ Excuse me. You don’t come on my estancia and start being rude old man.” Johnny ordered.
“ I’ll handle this Johnny.” Scott said firmly. “ Why are you here?”
“ I was in San Francisco on business and I ran into Murdoch and that nice young lady Teresa at the Baldwin hotel. He told me you had left Lancer to come to Mexico with……… I was concerned for your safety, and I wanted to see you. Is that so wrong of an old man wanting to see his only grandson?” Harlan said and asked.
“ No, but there are some rules you will obey if and I say if, Johnny allows you to stay in his home.” Scott said firmly. “ One, my name is Scott, not Scotty. I’m not a child any longer. Two, you will be polite to every person in the house and on this estancia, especially my sister-in-law and her father. If you can not follow those two simple rules, then you can get back in that buggy, and go back to Boston sir.”
Johnny stood there shocked at hearing his brother speak to the man who raised him. “ You said you ran into Murdoch and Teresa, they tell you we were in Matamoros?” Johnny asked.
“ No. A Pinkerton agent I hired in San Francisco knew you were here, and I knew my…….I knew Scott would be with you.” Harlan responded.
“ Manuel, please take Mister Garrett’s luggage to the guestroom next to Don Leandro’” Johnny said.
“ It’s alright Manuel, I’ll get them.” Scott said as he started to untie the rope holding the bags on the back.
Harlan looked around the yard and found he was impressed with how well the grounds were kept. Roses garnished along the front portico. Stones covered the yard from the house to the buildings across the way. A fountain placed in the middle of the yard carved from marble of a man on a horse. Looking at the house, he was impressed by the stone structure, and the detail in the front doors. Even the windows, with shutters showed beauty. “ I must say, this is an impressive looking home.”
“ Thank you. The home and the land have been in Don Leandro’ family since the fifteen hundreds when they came here from Spain. The house is made from limestone. The stone you’re standing on in the courtyard is granite. The front doors, shutters, and all the inside doors are made of Quebracho, it’s the heaviest, and hardest wood there is that will hold up to a hurricane.” Johnny explained.
“ It is very impressive John.” Harlan said. “ Did I hear Scott say your wife? Are you married?”
“ You did, and I am. Her name is Alejandra De LaVega Madrid. We got married on New Years day in the big catholic church in town, Our Lady of Refuge.” Johnny responded.
“ Oh yes, I seen the place. It is quit impressive.” Harlan said.
“ It was completed in 1827.” Scott added. “ If you think it’s impressive on the outside, you should see the inside grandfather.”
“ Perhaps I can before I leave.” Harlan said as they walked inside.
“ Oh my, what a beautiful foyer. Is that marble stone for the floor?” Harlan asked.
“ Yes, all of the downstairs flooring is marble. The upstairs floor is the same wood as the front doors and shutters, Quebracho.” Johnny responded.
“ I imagine you are tired from your long journey sir. I’ll show you to your room so you can freshen up, and rest up before supper if you like.” Scott suggested.
“ I see we have a guest.” Don Leandro said as he walked out of his study.
“ Yes sir. Don Leandro, I would like you to meet my Grandfather Harlan Garrett.” Scott said.
“ The pleasure is mine señor. Welcome to Quinta De La Vega estancia.” Don Leandro said. “ This is my lovely daughter Alejandra, Johnny’s wife.”
“ My goodness, you are a thing of beauty young lady.” Harlan said.
“ Why thank you sir. Scott has told me a lot about you. I’m glad we get to meet.” Alejandra said.
“ If you will excuse me, I have to tend to one of our stallions.” Johnny said. “ I’ll see you at supper.”
“ He is a remarkable young man. It was his suggestion that I go into breeding horses.” Don Leandro said.
“ What kind of horses do you breed?” Harlan asked.
“ Andalusian. The breed dates back to the 15th century. They are a very elegant, smooth, graceful breed to ride.” Scott explained.
“ Well I’m looking forward to you showing me around” Harlan said.
“ What is it you do in Boston Mister Garrett?” Alejandra asked.
“ I have multiple shipping, freight yards along the wharf.” Harlan said.
“ So you are in the shipping business?” Don Leandro asked.
“ No,I have what is called warehouses that people pay to store their stuff in, and the ships when they come to port,and have to unload. It can’t very well sit out in the weather. I also have some other businesses I have acquired over the years from buying out or foreclosures.” Harlan explained.
“ By foreclosures he means he takes businesses from people who can’t pay back their loans or miss a payment or two. Like banks do smaller ranchers.” Johnny said.
“ I have bought out people who fell behind John, yes, but I assure you, every business I have, I have acquired legally.” Harlan stated.
“ Perhaps you would like to take a ride around the ranch after breakfast sir?” Scott asked as he glared at his brother.
“ I would like that very much, yes.” Harlan responded. “ Perhaps Don Leandro would accompany us?” he asked.
“ I would like that very much. It is a beautiful spring day.” Don Leandro said as Manuel walked into the dining room.
“ Pardon the intrusion, but it is time señora.” Manuel said.
“ Are you sure?” Alejandra asked as she stood up.
“ Si Señora. She is in labor.” Manuel said.
Johnny stood up. “ Excuse me.” he said as he followed Manuel and Alejandra out.
“ Time, time for what?” Harlan asked.
“ A very special foal to be born. He, or she is from prestigious breeding. The stallions bloodlines go back several centuries.” Don Leandro stated. “ I waited two years to breed Alejandra’ mare to him.”
“ I can take you out there if you would like to watch grandfather?” Scott asked.
“ I believe I would. I don’t think I have ever seen a horse be born.” Harlan said as he stood up.
“ Coronel Mendoza, si hace esto,el Presidente Díaz lo destituirá.” ( Colonel Mendoza, if you do this, President Diaz will have you removed.) Major Vásquez said.
“ Si cree que voy a permitir que ese asesino quede libre, está equivocado. Hice una promesa que tengo la intención de cumplir. Ahora puedes ir conmigo o continuar de regreso a Sonora.” ( If he thinks I am going to allow that killer to go free, he is wrong. I made a promise I intend to keep. Now you can go with me, or continue on back to Sonora.) Colonel Mendoza responded.
“ Lo siento señor, pero no puedo. He llegado demasiado lejos para desperdiciarlo todo por un solo hombre.” ( I am sorry sir, but I cannot. I have come to far to throw it all away for just for one man.) the major said.
“ Muy bien. Quizás nos volvamos a ver amigo mío.” ( Very well. Perhaps we will see each other again my friend.) Mendoza said before mounting up, and riding off, headed back to Matamoros.
Vásquez mounted up and left headed back to Sonora. He knew he would never see his friend of many years alive again.
Johnny dried the foal off with a burlap sack as the mother lay on her side.
“ Is she alright?” Alejandra asked.
“ She’s fine. She’ll get up in a few and start cleaning her baby.” Johnny responded.
“ Is it a colt or filly?” she asked.
Johnny looked and smiled. “ Congratulations, you have a colt.” he said as he stood up to allow the foal to try and stand up.
“ He looks just like his father.” Alejandra said.
“ I have never known a mare to give birth so fast. Especially with their first foal.” Manuel said.
“ He’s a good sized foal too.” Johnny said as he went to the mare and encouraged her to get up so the now standing on wobbly legs colt could nurse.
“ He is as black as the night.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, not a speck of white on him anywhere.” Johnny said.
“ Is that good?” Harlan asked.
“ It means he will be just like his father. At two he’ll start losing his black, and turn white, and then gray. His hair is thick already, so he’s going to have a long mane and tail.” Johnny said.
“ I see we have a new addition already.” Don Leandro said.
“ For her first time, she had him fast.” Manuel said.
“ He looks perfect. Like his father.” Don Leandro said.
“ Manuel, would you mind hitching up the buggy?” Scott asked. “ I would like to show my grandfather around the ranch.”
Johnny came out of the stall and closed the gate. “ Pedro, make sure she has plenty of feed and grain, and add another bale of straw for bedding. Let’s keep them inside for a few days so they can bond.”
“ Si patrón.” Pedro said before heading off to get more bedding for the mare.
Johnny stood watching the foal nurse. “ You glad the wait is over?”
“ Yes. I was afraid something would go wrong and I would lose the mare. She means everything to me.” Alejandra responded.
Johnny turned and faced her, placing his right hand under her chin. “ I love you.” he said before he kissed her gently on the lips.
“ Father is going with Scott and Mister Garrett around the ranch.” Alejandra said
“ You have something in mind?” Johnny asked.
“ I think you know what it is.” she responded as she wrapped her arms around him and brought her lips up to his, moaning when his hand wandered down and touched her.
“ You are such an evil woman.” Johnny said.
“ Really Alejandra? Is that proper behavior?” Martina asked.” Kissing like that should be kept in private.”
“ Martina, what are you doing here?” Alejandra demanded.
“ I came to see Scott. I have a business offering for him. Is he here?” Martina asked.
“ He just left with his grandfather who is here visiting for a while. They won’t be back for several hours. Perhaps next time you will announce properly that you are coming, or wait to be invited.” Alejandra said.
“ Why do you have such hostility toward me?” she asked.
“ Why? You dare ask me why. Peter was a good man. I know you had something to do with his death Martina. I am not the fool you take me for.” Alejandra said.
“ Such allegations you make. You have no proof I had anything to do with his death. I wasn’t even with him when he was killed.” Martina said.
“ I want you to stay away from my brother. Please leave.” Johnny ordered.
“ Your brother is old enough to decide if he wishes to see me or not Madrid. Therefore until he tells me, you have no say in the matter.” Martina said with coldness.
Johnny walked up to her. “ As long as you are on this property I have a say. Now leave.”
Martina turned around and headed back to her buggy, laughing. “ Just remember Alejandra, I always get what I want. One way or the other, I will have Scott Garrett.”
“ You need to warn Scott about her Johnny. She is evil.” Alejandra said.
“ I’ve told him what you have said. He’s seen her a couple times. Like she said, it’s up to him to decide.” Johnny said as they watched her leave.
“ She makes me so angry.” Alejandra said.
“ I know a good way to get rid of that anger.” Johnny said as he took her hand and walked to the house.
“ Presidente Diaz, no regresará a Sonora.” ( President Diaz, he is not going back to Sonora.) Lieutenant Garcia said.
“ Tenía mis sospechas de que no lo haría. Envíe una patrulla a buscarlo. Que lo arresten y me lo traigan.” ( I had my suspicions he would not. Send out a patrol to look for him. Have them arrest him, and bring him to me.)
“ En seguida, señor.” ( Right away sir.) Garcia said.
“ Did you ever think you would be back here?” Alejandra asked as she snuggled up next to him, her head on his chest.
“ If someone had told me three years ago that we would be together again, and married, I would have probably told them they were nuts. I especially never thought I would ever get the chance to do this with you again.” Johnny responded.
“ So……….does it still feel like a dream to you?” Alejandra asked.
Johnny rolled onto his left side. “ Only one way to find out.” he said as he started making love to her again.
Alejandra dug her fingernails into Johnny’s back as wave after wave of pleasure wracked her body. Moaning as she clung to him as tightly as she could.
“ Did you hear that?” Johnny asked as he suddenly stopped moving.
“ No, just us my love.” she said. “ What is it?”
“ Somebody is in the house.” Johnny said as he rolled off her, and got out of bed, slipping his pants on. “ Stay here.” he ordered as he pulled his colt from the holster and started toward the door.
“ Perhaps it is one of the workers, or Manuel.” she suggested as she got up, and slipped on her robe.
“ I don’t think so.” Johnny said as he opened the bedroom door to peer out.
“ Hey mestizo!” Mendoza yelled.
“ It’s Mendoza.” Johnny said as he closed the door, and went to his dresser, opening the top drawer, and pulling out another pistol. “ Take this and go into the water closet.” Johnny ordered as he handed her the pistol.
“ Come on out Madrid. Nobody is going to come and help you. I made sure of that. How else do you think I got inside.” Mendoza yelled.
“ What do you want Mendoza? You can’t arrest me.” Johnny yelled.
“ I am not here to arrest you. I am here to kill you mestizo. You murdered my cousin Hectór that day you were to be executed. I am here to make you pay for that. The President, he does not know what kind of man you really are. Killing you, he will give me a promotion.” Mendoza said. “I think maybe I will have some fun with that beautiful wife of yours. She needs a real man to satisfy her. Not a mestizo like you.”
Johnny knew that Scott, Don Leandro, and Harlan would be coming back soon, and be an easy target when they walked into the house. Opening the bedroom door, he looked back at the closed door where Alejandra waited. “ I love you.” he said softly before diving out of the room to the vanity just down the hall from his door, the glass vase of flowers sitting on it shattering.
“ Why do you hide from me Madrid. I thought you faced the men who called you out?” Mendoza asked as he fired another shot.
Johnny rose up just enough to see over the vanity, when he felt a bullet tear thru his left thigh, knocking him backwards, his colt falling from his hand.
Mendoza stood up, and walked toward Johnny. “ I told you I would kill you mestizo. I thought it would be more fun killing you Madrid.” he said.
Johnny grabbed his leg. “ You won’t get away with this.” he spat as he held his hands on the wound.
“ I see nobody here to stop me. Goodbye Mestizo.” Mendoza said as he cocked the pistol, and aimed it at Madrid’s head, his finger starting to squeeze the trigger when another shot rang out, followed by a second, and then third shot.
Alejandra walked out of the bedroom, and seen Mendoza standing over her husband. Raising the pistol, she pulled the trigger three times, hitting the man square in the back.
Mendoza dropped to his knees as the pistol fell from his hand, his head slowly dropping as the life left him, and he fell onto his right side.
Alejandra hurried to her husbands side. “ Can you stand up?” she asked.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he let her help him stand up. “ I told you to stay in the room.” he said as she helped him limp back into their bedroom.
“ I wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing when that man was going to kill you.” Alejandra said as she helped Johnny to their bed, and removed the belt from her robe to tie around his leg just above the wound to slow the bleeding down. “ Why did you leave the room?”
“ Tighter.” Johnny said. “ I had to. Your father and Scott would be coming back anytime. They would have been killed when they walked in the house.” he said.
“ Johnny, Alejandra, are you alright?” Manuel yelled as he hurried up the stairs and stopped when he seen the lifeless body of Mendoza in the hallway. “ Johnny…….Alejandra!”
“ Manuel, send someone for the doctor. Johnny has been shot.” Alejandra responded.
“ I already have señora.” Manuel said. “ I will go get bandages and hot water.”
“ Have some men come up here and remove that filthy swine from my house.” she ordered as she covered the wound in Johnny’s leg with a towel.
“ I wonder why the doctor is here.” Don Leandro said as Scott pulled the buggy up, and stopped outside the front door. “ Manuel, what has happened?”
“ It is Johnny, he has been shot.” Manuel said as Scott climbed down from the buggy, and hurried inside.
“ Scott!” Alejandra called out.
“ What happened?” Scott demanded.
“ It was Mendoza, he broke in and tried to kill Johnny.” Alejandra said as Don Leandro, and Harlan came into the house. “ The doctor is with him still.”
Don Leandro went to his daughter. “ He is still alive, and that is all that matters.” he said.
“ We need to talk brother.” Johnny said a month later as he walked into the library still limping from the bullet to his left leg.
“ Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a lecture more than a talk brother?” Scott asked as he closed the book he was reading.
“ It’s about Martina.” Johnny responded as he sat down. “ You know she had her first husband Peter killed to get his money?” he asked.
“ Alejandra said as much. Look Johnny, I don’t tell you what to do, and I never lectured you about all those whores you slept with in Green river, or Spanish Wells. So I would appreciate it if you would stay out of my personal affairs.” Scott said firmly as he stood up and walked to the door. “ I know your intentions are good, and I appreciate that, but my relationship with Martina is my business. Not yours or Alejandra’.” he said as Harlan walked into the room.
“ Am I interrupting something?” Harlan asked.
“ No grandfather. Me and Johnny were just having a minor disagreement.” Scott said before walking out of the room.
Johnny stood up and walked over to Harlan. “Do you love Scott?” he asked.
“ What kind of question is that? Of course I love Scott.” Harlan responded.
“ Then I suggest you try and talk some sense into him. That woman he is seeing, Martina Catalina Ibars is dangerous. She killed her first husband to get his money and businesses. She now has her eyes set on Scott, and he won’t listen to reason.” Johnny said firmly.
“ I have met the young lady, and she presented her business offering to me. I see nothing wrong with her offer. It seems legit.” Harlan said. “ As for Scott seeing her, that is of no concern of yours, or mine.” he said.
“ So you won’t say anything, even though she could get him killed?” Johnny demanded.
“ As I said, it is of no concern of mine who Scott sees.” Harlan responded.
“ You are a fool old man. You’re choosing making money over your own grandsons life.” Johnny snapped back.
Harlan lashed out and slapped Johnny hard across the face as Don Leandro walked into the library.
“ Señor Garrett, I must request that you leave my home. You have over stayed your welcome.” Don Leandro ordered.
“ If I leave here, Scotty will be leaving with me. We have already talked about him returning to Boston where he belongs, and not here in this godforsaken country.” Harlan responded.
“ Grandfather!” Scott said firmly as he walked back into the library. “ I never said I would return to Boston with you.”
“ I am not leaving here without you.” Harlan said firmly. “ You stay here, and * he * will only get you killed.” he said as he pointed to Johnny.
“ You are leaving this ranch tomorrow grandfather. Whether you go back to Boston, that’s your decision, but I will not be joining you.” Scott said. “ Johnny, I came in here to apologize to you for the way I spoke to you. I’m sorry.”
“ No apology needed brother.” Johnny said. “ Mister Garrett, I have been as hospitable as I’m going to be with you.” he added before walking out of the room.
“ Just so you understand young lady, with my investment, I gain 52% control of the company.” Harlan said.
“ Yes, but only if Scott to marries me.” Martina responded.
“ My dear A woman with your beauty I feel will have no problem getting Scott to marry you.” Harlan said.
“ Why Mister Garrett, are you suggesting I seduce Scott?” she asked.
“ I am merely suggesting you be more persuasive to him. How you go about it is of no concern of mine.” he said.
“ I must say, I’m surprised you came to my place.” Martina said as she poured some wine, walked over, and handed him a glass.
“ I felt some things needed to be resolved.” Scott responded as he took the glass of wine from her.
“ Have you given any thought to my proposal?” she asked.
“ I have, and I need to know a little more about it.” he said.
“ Such as?” she asked.
Scott set his glass of wine down and turned to face her. “ Such as what all is in it for me?”
Martina smiled as she set her wine glass down. “ You mean besides my business? Maybe I should show you.” she said as she stood up, and started to unbutton her dress.
Scott stood up and walked over to her.“ It’s had been a long time since I have been with a real woman.” he said.
“ Then I promise to make it an afternoon you won’t forget.” Martina said as she pulled her dress down off her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor so she could step out of it.
“ I don’t doubt that for a minute.” Scott said before he kissed her.
Alejandra was sitting at her vanity, looking at herself in the mirror when Johnny came into the bedroom.
“ Good morning beautiful.” he said as he walked over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “ You feeling alright? You’ve been tired lately.”
Alejandra stood up, turned and faced him, wrapping her arms around his neck. ‘ I’m pregnant Johnny. We are going to have a baby.” she said.
Johnny stood there looking into her eyes, speechless.
“ Did you hear what I said my love?” she asked.
“ You………..we………are you sure?” he finally asked.
“ Yes I’m sure.” she said.
Johnny wrapped his arms around her, hugging her. “ Oh Alejandra, you have no idea how long I have waited to hear you say that. When?”
“ January. I have told nobody else the news yet. I thought we could tell them together tonight at supper.” she suggested.
“ I have the perfect way to celebrate the news, but just between me and you.” Johnny said as he pushed her robe off her shoulders, and guided her to their bed.
“ Are you feeling alright darling?” Don Leandro asked.
“ I’m fine father. Me and Johnny have some news we would like to share with you and Scott.” Alejandra responded. “ Do you want to tell them?” she asked Johnny.
“ You got your wish. You’re going to be a grandfather.” Johnny said.
“ A grandchild. You have no idea how happy that makes me.” Don Leandro said.
Johnny looked at his brother. “ You’re going to be an uncle, big brother.”
“ I heard you.” Scott responded as he dabbed the corner of his mouth. “ I have some news of my own to share.” he added.
“ What’s that?” Johnny asked.
“ Me and Martina are getting married.” Scott responded.
Johnny stared at his brother. He never thought a woman would come between them, but Martina Catalina Ibers had. “ Excuse me.” he said as he stood up.
“ I have asked her, and I would think you could at least show me some courtesy.” Scott responded.
“ She’s using you, and you’re too stupid to see that.” Johnny said.
Scott stood up, and tossed his napkin on his plate. “ That will be the last time you ever talk like that to me, or say anything bad about Martina. Do you hear me……….brother?”
“ Oh I hear ya………….brother. I just hope when you finally realize your grandfather and that woman are using you before they get you killed.” Johnny said before turning and walking out.
“ Do you have anything to say about this Don Leandro?” Scott asked.
“ I think perhaps your brother has said enough on the matter. It is clear to me that you do not wish to listen to reason. I wish you the best.” Don Leandro said.
“ Scott, please don’t do this.” Alejandra pleaded.
“ Congratulations on the baby.” Scott said before leaving the room.
Alejandra couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Tonight was supposed to be a special night for them all with the news. Instead it turned into brother hating brother.
“ Do not cry Alejandra. They are brothers, and always will be. He will see what a mistake he is making and come back to Johnny.” Don Leandro said. “ So when can I expect my first grandchild?” he asked.
“ January, father.” Alejandra responded.
“ If the baby came on your anniversary, that would make it an even more special day for you and Johnny.” Don Leandro said. He knew his daughter was hurting inside for what just happened. “ Do not blame yourself for the trouble between Johnny and Scott. They will work it out. You will see.”
Scott rode into the yard and dismounted. “ Have you seen Johnny?” he asked Manuel.
“ He is in the stallion barn.” Manuel said as he took his horse.
Scott walked toward the barn, but stopped when he seen his brother walking out.
“ Johnny.” Scott said with anger.
“ What’s wrong ?” Johnny asked.
“ You sonofabitch.” Scott said before hitting Johnny hard.
“ What the hell’s the matter with you?” Johnny said as he got up.
“ You stay away from her, or so help me.” Scott ordered.
“ Stay away from who? What the hell are you talking about?” Johnny demanded.
“ Martina, that’s who. She told me how you went to her home yesterday and tried to force yourself on her.” Scott spat back.
“ And you believed her? Jesus Scott, I haven’t been anywhere near that bitch.” Johnny said.
“ Don’t you ever call her that again.” Scott yelled.
“ I haven’t been anywhere near her. She’s lying to you. Open your damn eyes. She’s using you. You’re doing exactly what she wants.” Johnny spat.
Scott reached out and grabbed Johnny by his shirt, yanking him to within inches of his face.“ You half-breed bastard. If you ever go near her again………..So help me I’ll…………..” Scott spat before shoving him backwards.
“You’ll what Scott? She lied to you. I haven’t been anywhere near her.” Johnny said. “ Yesterday I was right here breeding four mares, and helping deliver two foals. I never left the ranch. Ask any of the hands, they”ll tell you. Ask Don Leandro.” Johnny said. “ If you really want to believe her, and you want to kill me, fine, kill me, but you make damn sure your reasons are the right ones brother.”
Scott glared at Johnny. “ Why would she lie to me and say you did?” he demanded.
“ I don’t have the answer to that.” Johnny said. “ Look, if you really have feeling s for her, and want to be with her, then be with her, but I suggest you do some checking on her past before you go doing something you will regret.”
“ She told me today she’s with child.” Scott said softly.
Johnny walked over to his brother. “ She seduced you?” he asked.
“ She’s tried before, but the last time when I had dinner with her at her home……….I couldn’t refuse. We were talking, and having some wine when she just all the sudden stood up and removed her dress.” Scott responded.
“ How long ago was that?” Johnny asked.
“ Two weeks. She hasn’t wanted to since.” Scott said.
“ Scott, don’t you see there are two things wrong with that? The first being she’s not letting you bed her again, and second, there is no way she would know she’s with child this soon. Trust me, I know. I’ve had that possibility happen in my past.” Johnny explained. “ I asked Sam once, and he said it would take at least two months for a woman to know. It’s only been two weeks since you were with her.”
“ Alejandra sees your black eye, she is not going to be happy with me.” Scott said.
“ Hey, wasn’t it you who told me once that a family has disagreements, that they argue?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes, but what happened between us shouldn’t have happened. It wouldn’t have happened if I had listened to you and Alejandra. You both tried warning me” Scott said.
“ Forget it. So what are you going to do?” he asked.
“ To tell the truth, I have no idea. My grandfather has already invested money into her company, and has 52% control. I can’t do anything about that.” Scott said.
“ Why don’t we catch her in her lie? ” Johnny suggested.
“ How? ” Scott asked.
“ Bait.” he said.
“ Bait, what bait Johnny? I’m not following you.” Scott said.
“ Me. What if I could prove to you it was her that came on to me. That her being pregnant is all a lie?” Johnny asked.
“ How do you plan on doing that? He asked.
“ When is she coming here again?” he asked.
“ Saturday, to have lunch with me.” Scott responded.
“ Then Saturday brother, you will learn the truth about her.” Johnny said.
“ And what if it doesn’t work? What if she doesn’t try anything?” Scott asked.
“ Trust me brother, she will. Once she knows I’m the only one in the house, she will.” Johnny responded.
“ And just how are you going to get her to admit she isn’t with child?” Scott asked.
“ I’ll think of something brother.” Johnny said.
“ Brother, I hope this works.” Scott said.
“ It will. I figure you can wait in the library. You’ll be able to hear everything said form the other side of the door.” Johnny said.
“ How are you going to explain your black eye to Alejandra and Don Leandro?” Scott asked.
“ Tell them the truth. That we settled our disagreement. They both know we’ve been at odds lately.” Johnny explained.
“ Let’s go get a steak to put on that eye.” Scott suggested. “And Johnny, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of that I said earlier. I’m sorry I called you a half-breed.”
“ I am a half-breed.” Johnny said.
“ That may be true, but I never should have called you one.” Scott said as they walked toward the house.
“ Hello Johnny. Oh my, that’s quit the black eye.” Martina said as she walked into the house. “ Is Scott here?”
“ No, he took Alejandra and Don Leandro to the church. He’ll be back in a couple hours.” Johnny said as he headed to the study.
“ Really? We were supposed to have lunch together.” Martina said as she followed him into the study. “ So it’s just you here all alone?” she asked.
“ Yeah, look, I’m busy. Maybe you could come back another time.” Johnny suggested.
“ Really, just you all alone in this big ole house.” she said as she walked over to him. “ How about I make you an offer?”
“ What offer is that Martina?” he asked as his eyes went to her breast.
“ Oh come now Johnny, am I not making it obvious enough for you?” she asked as she stepped closer. “ I know I can pleasure you better than Alejandra ever could.” she said.
“ I’m a happily married man.” he said. “ Alejandra satisfies me just fine.”
“ So you say.” Martina said as she stepped in front of him“ I have wanted you ever since she told me about you in college.” she said as she knelt down in front of him.
Johnny could understand how his brother couldn’t refuse her seduction. The woman was beautiful, but a might narrow between the eyes. She knew how to entice a man with her body.
“ I’m not wearing anything under my dress.” she said softly as she ran her hands down and touched him, feeling him respond to what she was doing to him.
Johnny leaned back in the chair, lost in the feeling of being touched. Closing his eyes as his body betrayed him, and he started moaning, and breathing faster.
“ I can feel that you want me.” Martina said softly as she brought her mouth up to his, and ran her tongue over his lips.
“ What………what about the baby?” he asked.
“ What about it?” she asked as she slid her tongue in his mouth, and moaned.
Johnny grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head back.“I like to be rough. I could cause you to lose Scott’s baby.” he said.
“ Do you really care if I do?” she asked.
“ He’s my brother.” Johnny said as his pushed her back, and stood up.“ If you want me to do this, then you have to tell me the truth. Are you pregnant?”
“ Why does it matter Johnny?” she asked before turning, and walking over to the couch.. “ Come here.” she said.
Johnny stood there a few seconds trying to stay in control of his body. He knew he could take her, and his brother would never know. That’s how close he was to committing the ultimate sin on his wife. Walking over to the couch, he glared down at her. “ I’m not killing no baby just to satisfy you.” he said with anger.
Martina stood up, and started unbuttoning her dress. “ We’re wasting time. You can take me as rough as you want. Peter liked doing it rough.”
Johnny grabbed her by her arms and pushed her back. “ I need to know.”
“ After.” Martina said.
Johnny grabbed her arms to stop her from undressing. “ Either you tell me, or it goes no further.” he demanded.
“ Fine, fine. No, I’m not pregnant with his kid okay. ” Martina said. “ If you tell Scott, it will just be your word against mine.”
Johnny pushed her back away from him.“ You’re right about that. It would be your word against mine. There’s just one little problem with that though.” Johnny said.
“ Yeah, and what would that be?” she asked.
“ Me.” Scott said from behind her.
Martina spun around, shock on her face. “ Scott……….I told you he…………….”
“ Save it Martina. I heard everything you said.” Scott said as he walked into the room.
Johnny stepped away from her. He was glad it was over. Though he would never admit it, he came real close to giving in, and probably would have if not for his brother being on the other side of the door listening to them.
“ You, you ruined everything.” Martina said with anger as she walked over to Johnny. “ I wonder what Alejandra will say when I tell her you fucked me?”
Johnny shook his head in disbelief. “ You’re a real piece of work lady. Get the hell out of my house. I don’t ever want to see you on my property again.” Johnny ordered.
Martina lashed out and slapped Johnny hard across the face. “ Bastard. You bastard. I’ll kill you.” she yelled as she started hitting him with her fist. “ I’ll kill you for this!”
Scott grabbed her arms and pulled her away from Johnny, spinning her around. “ I know you had something to do with your husbands death, and I wish to god I could prove it. A person like you deserves to be locked up.”
“ You can’t prove anything.” She snapped back as she struggled to get free from his hold.
“ The Pinkerton’s can. I suggest you be gone from Brownsville tomorrow. I don’t ever want to see you around here again.” Johnny ordered.
“ Let’s go!” Scott ordered as he forced her out of the study, and to the front door as Johnny opened it.
“ Manuel, escort this woman off my property. She’s not allowed to set foot on this land, or come anywhere near this house again.” Johnny ordered. “ If she does………..shoot her.”
“ Señor?” Manuel asked.
“ You heard me. Escort her back to Brownsville.” Johnny responded.
“ And don’t trust anything she says.” Scott said as he released her arms.
“ Teresa, there’s a letter for you.”Murdoch said as he walked into the grand room.
“ A letter for me?” she asked as she stood up, and walked over to him,. Taking the letter, she opened it, and began to read. “ It’s from Johnny.” she said.
Murdoch walked over, poured a drink, and went to his desk to sit down.
“ Oh my,” Teresa said as she walked over to the desk.
“ Is something wrong?” he asked.
“ No, he says him and Scott are fine.” she responded. “ It seems he is now the proud owner of a ranch twice the size of Lancer. He says he raises fine Andalusian horses, and…………”
“ And what?” he asked.
“ He’s married, and expecting their first child in January. That’s just over a month away. He says her name in Alejandra De La Vega.” she responded. “ He says he would like us to come and visit after the baby is born next year. Could we go?”
“ Matamoros is a long ways away. I can’t take that much time away from the ranch.” Murdoch said.
“ Not even to see your first born grandchild?” she asked. “ Are you still that angry with Johnny? He invited us to come there Murdoch, and I would like to see him and Scott again.”
Murdoch stood up, and walked around his desk. “ I’ll see what I can do. If I can’t get away, I’ll see about finding someone to escort you there.”
“ I don’t understand you sometimes Murdoch Lancer.” Teresa said. “ Clearly Johnny is making an offer to forget what has happened. You care more about this ranch than your own two sons, and that’s just wrong.” she said before turning and walking away.
Murdoch walked over and looked out the big window behind his desk, remembering how he had told both his sons he loved this land more than anything god had ever created. Could Teresa be right? Did he love Lancer more than his two sons? His youngest was now the proud owner of a ranch twice the size of Lancer, raising fine Andalusian horses. He had heard of the breed, and seen one once when in Mexico. A fine, noble breed, but not suitable for ranch work to him. Surely with that much land, his son had to have cattle also. Turning around, he walked back over to his desk, sat down, and started writing a letter. Like Teresa had said, Johnny had made the first move at making amends.
“ Manuel, where’s Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ He’s out at the stock tank. The pump stopped working.” Manuel said.
“ Send someone for the doctor, and to get him back here. Alejandra is in labor.” Scott ordered before turning and going back inside, and upstairs.
“ Did you find him?’ Don Leandro asked.
“ He’ll be here soon.” Scott said. “ He’s out at the stock tank working on the pump.”
“ I’m scared father.” Alejandra said.
“ It will be alright. The doctor will be here shortly, and so will Johnny.” Scott said.
“ Your mother was afraid also when she was having you. It will be alright.”
“ Alejandra!” Johnny yelled as he bolted up the stairs, and hurried into the room.
“ The doctor is on his way.” Scott said.
Johnny sat down next to her on the bed, and took her left hand in his. “Can I get you anything?” he asked.
“ Just for our son to be born.” she said as another sharp pain made her press her head back into the pillow as she squeeze his hand.
“ I love you.” Johnny said as the doctor came in the room. “ Okay, everyone out, I have a baby to deliver.” the doctor ordered. “ That means you also John.”
“ No……please, I want him to stay with me.” Alejandra pleaded.
“ It’s against my better judgment to have the father in the room, but alright, he can stay.”
“ We will be downstairs darling.” Don Leandro said as he walked to the door.
“ Okay, lets see if we can get this baby born.” doc said as he washed his hands.
“ I guess my grandchild did not wish to be born on their anniversary.” Don Leandro said.
“ I have a feeling it’s going to be a boy, and just as stubborn as his father is.” Scott responded.
“ You know he wrote to your father a few months ago?” Don Leandro asked.
“ Yes, he told me he had invited him and Teresa to come for a visit to see his grandchild.” Scott responded. “ Johnny and Teresa were always close. She’s like a sister to us both.”
“ He misses her, but more than that, I think he misses his father.” Don Leandro said. “ I have a brother who had a falling out with our father a year before he died. He never got to see him alive again. To say he was sorry for the words spoken that last time between them. Words can haunt a man, and hurt him more than any physical injury ever could. Johnny has had a lot of pain in his life, but none of that is as bad as the hurt he has over what has happened between him and his father.”
“ Do you know if our father wrote back to him?” Scott asked.
“ Yes, he said he would bring Teresa here to visit in the spring.” Don Leandro said as a baby crying could be heard coming from upstairs.
“ Sounds like you are a grandfather, and me an uncle now.” Scott said.
“ Indeed it does. With lungs like that, it has got to be a boy.” Don Leandro responded.
“ Would you like to hold your son John?” the doc asked.
“ You hear that sweetheart, we have a son.” Johnny said as he kissed her hand.
“ Why don’t you take this little man down to meet his grandfather and uncle while I finish up here.” the doctor suggested as he handed the baby to Johnny.
“ Is he alright?” Alejandra asked.
Johnny walked over and sat down on the bed next to her so she could see their son.
“ He is fine young lady. He has all ten fingers and toes.” the doctor said.
“ He needs a name.” she said as she held his tiny hand.
“ I thought you wanted to name him after your grandfather, Ernesto?” Johnny asked.
“ Is that an alright name for him?” she asked.
“ It’s a proud name, I think your father will love.” Johnny responded as he stood up. “ I’ll be back later. You get some rest.” Johnny said as he started walking to the door.
Scott sat on the couch patiently waiting for the grand entrance of his brand new nephew or niece. He didn’t have to wait long before the door opened, and Johnny walked in carrying the baby.
“ Don Leandro, Scott, I would like to present Ernesto Madrid.” he said with a smile.
Don Leandro stood up, and walked over to see his grandson. “ A boy. I told you it was a boy with lungs like that.” he said.
“ Is Alejandra alright?’ Scott asked.
“ She’s tired, but everything went fine doc said.” Johnny responded. “ Would you like to hold your grandson?”
“ I would love too.” Don Leandro said as he took the baby.
“ Congratulations brother. I’m happy for you both.” Scott said.
“ Thanks. I can;’ believe he is finally here.” Johnny responded.
“ Think of how your father will feel when he sees his grandson.” Don Leandro said.
Johnny at Scott. “ I wrote to Teresa, and invited them here. He wrote back saying they would come.”
“ Murdoch is going to come here?” Scott asked.
“ He said they would in the spring.” Johnny responded.
Murdoch stepped of the stage and helped Teresa down. “ So this is Brownsville?” she asked.
“ Yes. Matamoros is about ten miles across the border.” Murdoch said as he reached up to retrieve their luggage as the driver handed it down.
“ Scott.” Teresa yelled as she ran to him, and wrapped her arms around him, tears streaming down her face. “ Oh I missed you so much.”
Murdoch turned and looked at his oldest son.
“ I missed you too Teresa.” Scott said as he hugged her back. “ Hello sir.”
“ Son, It’s good to see you again. You look good.” Murdoch said as they shook hands.
“ Thank you. I have a buggy waiting to take you to the estancia.” Scott said.
“ Johnny not with you?” Teresa asked.
“ No, he couldn’t come. We have two mares delivering today, and he likes to be there in case they have problems.” Scott responded as he grabbed some of their luggage, and started to the carriage.
“ You look like you’ve put on some weight.” Murdoch said.
“ A little. The cooks at the ranch are very traditional, and they insist on trying to fatten me, and Johnny up.” Scott said as he secured the luggage. “ Shall we.”
“ That’s two new additions.” Manuel said.
“ Yeah, it seems to be the year for colts. These two make seven so far.” Johnny said. “ Make sure they’re entered in to book for me.”
“ Si patrón. Did you still want to work Saturno?” Manuel asked.
“ Yeah, he needs to start learning reining. Go ahead and get him cleaned up. I’ll go put these two new births in the book.” Johnny said.
“ But what about your father? Isn’t he coming to visit today?” Manuel asked.
“ He is. Scott went to pick them up early this morning. I can’t neglect work that needs done just because he comes here. The person buying Saturno expects him to be trained.” Johnny said.
“ Very well patrón. I will get him ready for you.” Manuel said.
“ Manuel, you’re a good person. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ Oh my Murdoch, look at this place. It’s beautiful.” Teresa said as Scott stopped the buggy in front of the house. “ A stone drive. That cuts down on mud in the house.”
“ The estancia has been in the De La Vega family since the 15th century when they came here from Spain.” Scott said.
“ It’s very impressive son.” Murdoch said as he climbed down, and looked around.
“ If you think the outside is impressive, wait until you see the inside sir. The downstairs floors are all marble, all the doors and shutters are made from a wood called Quebracho, the heaviest, and hardest wood found. It holds up against hurricanes very well.” Scott explained as the front door opened and Don Leandro walked out.
“ This must be your father and the lovely Miss Teresa?” Don Leandro asked.
“ Yes sir. Don Leandro, I would like you to meet Miss Teresa O’Brian, and my father, Murdoch Lancer.” Scott said.
“ Miss Teresa, you are as beautiful as Johnny, and Scott have told me.” Don Leandro said. “ Mister Lancer, I have been told about your estancia in California sir.”
“ It’s no where near as beautiful as this.” Murdoch responded. “ John’s letter said this is twice the size of Lancer.”
“ Yes, we have one hundred and ninety two thousand acres.” Don Leandro said.
“ Do you just have the horses?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, we run sheep and cattle also. I have many families working here.” Don Leandro responded. “ Johnny handles the breeding and births of our foals.”
“ The roses are gorgeous.” Teresa said.
“ Ah, Johnny said you are fond of roses.” Don Leandro said.
“ I look forward to seeing your estancia Don Leandro.” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll show you too your rooms.” Scott said. “ I’m sure you want to freshen up before dinner.”
Scott walked out to the barn and stopped as he watched his brother work the stallion Saturno. It always amazed him watching his brother work a horse. How he could get the horse to respond, and do things no other man could teach the horse to do.
“ He is a true encantador de caballos.” Manuel said as he walked up to stand next to Scott. ( Horse Whisperer )
“ He does have a special way with them.” Scott said.
“ The buyer will be very pleased with how well trained Saturno will be.” Manuel said.
“ So he is buying him?” Scott asked.
“ Si. He has paid much money for the stallion. Much more than Don Leandro expected. Johnny says he has a strong personality, and will take a strong hand to control him.” Manuel explained as Johnny rode over to them.
“ Hey brother. Glad you made it back.” Johnny said as he dismounted. “ Manuel, go ahead and cool him off, and give him a good brushing.”
“ You never cease to amaze me brother. The way you can train a horse.” Scott said as Johnny opened the gate and walked out.
“ It’s nothing. They’re here I take it?” he asked.
“ Yes. They’re freshening up before dinner.” Scott said. “ I should warn you though, Teresa about broke my neck when she seen me. So be ready.”
Johnny laughed. “ They see the baby yet?” he asked.
“ No, Alejandra hadn’t come down from her afternoon nap yet when I came out to get you.” Scott responded.
“ Well, I guess I better get the hard part over with.” Johnny said as they walked toward the house.
Alejandra picked up Ernesto and cradled him to her breast. “ You are about to meet your other grandfather young man.” she said as she took hold of his tiny hand. “ He is your papa’s father. A man I am not to pleased with meeting for the way he has treated Johnny.”
“ You teaching our son bad habits already?” Johnny asked as he came into the bedroom. “ I thought that was my job?”
“ It is. I was just telling him he is about to meet his other abuelo.” Alejandra said. “ Have you seen him yet?”
“ No, I came up to get cleaned up for dinner. We have two more colts, and after they were delivered, I worked Saturno. I think the buyer will be really happy with him. He’s a smart horse, and coming along really good with the reining.” Johnny responded as he took his shirt off. “ Scott warned me I could get my neck broke when I see Teresa. I guess she hugged him like no other.”
“ She sounds like a wonderful girl. I’m sure we will get along fine, but I am worried about your father Johnny. I don’t want you to be hurt again by him.” Alejandra said.
“ I’ll be alright, but I do love how you worry about me.” Johnny said as he tucked his shirt in.
“ I am your wife. It is my duty to worry about you.” she said.
Johnny walked over, and kissed his son on the forehead. “ I am the luckiest man there is to have such a beautiful,caring, loving wife as you Alejandra.” he said before kissing her.
“ Oh my, perhaps you should not kiss me like that when we have guest waiting for us.” she said with a smile.
“ I’m going to do more than kiss you tonight after everyone is in bed my darling.” Johnny said.
“ Did you find your rooms alright?” Don Leandro asked.
“ Yes. The furniture is beautiful.” Teresa said.
“ Ah, my late wife took great pride in furnishing the rooms. She said she wanted our guest to be as comfortable as we are.” Don Leandro explained.
“ The vanity in the hallway looks very old. Did it make the journey from Spain?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes. My great grandfather made that as a wedding present for his bride. The desk in the study is five hundred years old.” Don Leandro responded as Johnny and Alejandra walked into the dinning room.
“ Johnny!” Teresa said as she stood up and went to him, wrapping her arms around him tightly. “ I have missed you so much.”
Johnny hugged Teresa back. “ I’ve missed you too querido.” he said as he looked at Murdoch.
“ I warned you brother.” Scott said with a smile.
“ Murdoch.” Johnny said as Teresa stepped away.
“ John, it’s good to see you son.” Murdoch said as they shook hands.
“ Murdoch, Teresa, I would like you to meet my wife Alejandra, and our son, Ernesto Madrid.” Johnny said.
Murdoch was a little sad that his son chose to keep Madrid as his last name, and not Lancer. “ Ma’am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“ Johnny and Scott have told me many things about you Mister Lancer. Some of which I will not pretend to like.” Alejandra said. “ I am very protective of my husband, and his brother. I am trusting that while you are here, you will make all efforts to not hurt him any more than you already have.”
“ Alejandra, Mister Lancer here to make amends with his sons, especially Johnny.” Don Leandro said.
“ As it should be.” she said. “ Would you like to hold your grandson?”
“ I would love to hold him.” Murdoch responded. He admired how she spoke up in a protective manner toward Johnny.
“ I must say you are a beautiful woman Mrs Madrid.” Murdoch said as he took the bay in his arms. “ You should be proud son.”
“ I’m very proud of them both.” Johnny responded.
“ You understand I want the dark haired one dead?” Martina asked.
“ Killing Madrid won’t be easy lady.” the man said. “ How come you want him dead?”
“ My reasons are mine. You do not need to know why. You just need to do what I am paying you to do.” Martina snapped back.
“ I got no problem killing him,but it’s going to cost you extra.” the man said.
“ I paid you well enough for the job.” she said.
“ That was before you told me it was Johnny Madrid you wanted me to kill.” he aid as he stepped closer. “ It’s been a long time since I had me a woman as good looking as you.”
“ I think you should leave now.” Martina ordered as she turned around.
“ I’ll leave,but not before I collect the rest of my pay.” the man said as he grabbed her from behind. “ It would seem Harlan Garrett doesn’t like being used, or made a fool. He paid me a lot more to make sure you don’t hurt his grandson.”
Martina tried to scream as the man spun her around and hit her hard in the mouth. “ Yes sir, it’s been a long time.” the man said as he started tearing her dress off her.
“ It’s done?” Harlan asked.
“ She won’t bother your grandson, or anyone else ever again. You want me to kill Madrid?” the man asked.
“ I paid you to get rid of the woman. Leave him alone. Killing him will not make Scott come home to Boston. Good day.” Harlan said before getting back in his buggy, and leaving.
“ You have a beautiful home son. I’m happy for you.” Murdoch said as they stood looking at one of the newborn foals. “ Do you still have Barranca?”
“ Yeah, he’s in the stud barn.” Johnny said as Miguel walked in.
“ Johnny, can I speak to you in private?” Manuel asked.
“ Excuse me Murdoch.” Johnny said as he walked a short distance away. “ What’s wrong?”
“ The woman, Martina, she was found in a hotel room dead. She had been raped and beaten to death by a man seen going to her room. The same man was seen later talking to the older man who was here.” Manuel said.
“ Harlan Garrett, Scott’s grandfather?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes.” Manuel said.
“ Does Scott know?” Johnny asked.
“ No patrón. I just learned of her death while in Matamoros. You are the first person I have told.” Manuel responded.
“ Okay, don’t. I’ll tell him.” Johnny said. “ Saddle up Narciso, Pequeño and Nebulosa for me.”
“ Is everything alright son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. How about going for a ride with me and Scott.” Johnny suggested.
“ Alright. I’d like that.” Murdoch said.
“ Johnny tells me you used to bake sweet things for him?” Alejandra asked.
“ Johnny has a weakness for sweets. I would make him a chocolate cake once a week, and I don;t know how many cookies.” Teresa said. “ Maria, our cook back home, she raised Johnny before his mother left in the middle of the night. She would always scold him. Saying he is to skinny. He can eat, but he never gains any weight.”
“ She sounds like our cook Consuela. She has tried to fatten him up too.” she said with a laugh as Johnny walked into the library.
“ I’m going to take Murdoch around the ranch. Scott is going with us.” Johnny said.
“ Alright. What horse are you having him ride?” she asked.
“ Nebulosa. He’s a good gentle horse for him.” Johnny said before giving her a kiss and leaving.
“ I have never seen him so happy.” Teresa said as she watched Johnny walk out.
“ Do they know who killed her?” Scott asked.
“ They’re looking for the man seen going to her room.” Johnny said. “ Scott, he was seen talking with another man later that night. It was your grandfather.”
Murdoch stood looking at the stallion he rode. Admiring his strong features. He could tell whatever Johnny was telling his brother was not good. He could see the sadness in his face. Both his sons have changed since last seeing them. Both stronger, and more mature than the first time they walked into the grand room over three years ago.
“ So what do you think of him?” Johnny asked.
“ He’s a fine animal son. Very smooth to ride.” Murdoch responded as he watched his oldest son. “ Is he alright?” he asked.
“ He will be with time.” Johnny said as he checked his cinch.
“ It is good he went peacefully in his sleep.” Alejandra said as she stood with Johnny looking at the grave of Don Leandro.
“ He told me he didn’t think he would get to live long enough to see his first grandchild be born.” Johnny said wit a crack to his voice. “ The man has done so much for me. I could never thank him enough.”
“ He loved you Johnny. He knew you would continue what he has started with the horses.” she said. “ It also made him happy that you were able to reconcile with your father.”
“ So am I. I will continue to do everything I can to keep making this a successful breeding ranch of fine Andalusian horses.
“ Are you sad that Scott went back to California with them?” she asked.
“ I am, but I don’t blame him. Too many bad memories here for him.” Johnny said. “ I never thought his grandfather would resort to hiring a killer.”
“ I do not think I will ever forget the look on his face when he learned his abuelo had died shortly after arriving back in Boston.” she said.
“ He’s were he belongs now. Lancer was good for him.” Johnny said.
“ Lancer was also your home was it not?” Alejandra asked.
“ Lancer was never my inheritance.” Johnny said as they turned to walk back to the house.
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