The dock at sunset was a magical place, and Alicia sat alone there with her thoughts and memories. The crunch of the shell mound below the planks and the view of the crashing waves consumed her imagination. Finally, she had time, alone, to work out her private thoughts about the family secrets.
Who kept all the secrets in the pueblo, she wondered? Accusations of Papa and his brothers stealing Spanish gold haunted her thoughts. It could not be true. What happened when the Spanish galleon smashed into these rocks at Refugio over thirty years ago?
She remembered the stories her mother shared when she was a little girl. Mama told her daughters the romantic version of the tale where the Ortega brothers scrambled down from their lookout post and hauled many Spanish sailors to safety before their splintered ship sank. The entire pueblo celebrated their bravery and mourned the loss of those who went down with the ship. Mama’s story was always the same.
“Was the ship ever found under the ocean?” Little Alicia used to ask.
“Found? Child, you know how deep the bay is, how strong the tides are.” Mama never mentioned a word about gold. She told about the honors and the land grant. “And that land is where we sit today because of your Papa’s bravery.”
“But those are big ships. We see them at the military port. How could it disappear?” Alicia or Clara would always beg for more of the story.
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