“What did that Spanish pirate, Tenorio, have to do with this?” Papa suspected anything to do with Tío Salvador. “Will he bother me about taxes from now on?”
“Your account in the territorial bank will cover all of that.” Padre Romo poked his finger toward baby Carlos’s tummy. “The land is secure for the life of this little one. Also, any heirs that come after him, praise the good Lord.”
“Alicia, you were right, we should write to Tío Salvador.” Mama’s apology was sincere. “It seems we have a lot to thank him for.”
There was nothing left to say. Even baby Carlos slept through that night. Papa slept in his favorite chair after reminiscing with Padre Romo, who stretched out on the couch. Alicia and Clara retired to the sleeping loft swearing they would never grow old, or doubt their children, or lose their temper, especially not in front of the padre. The rancho seemed secure, and the family was together. Another boat was approaching the dock.
Chickens squawked in the yard early the next morning. Roberto passed among them, collecting eggs. His mama Maria and Chata, his sister, dragged gunny sacks through the yard and gardens collecting trash from the party the night before. Lupita was the first one to leave the house with baby Carlos on her hip. He was ready to eat the moment he awoke.
“Is Private Valdez here? I have some family news that may help him.” Alicia watched Lupita speak to Maria from the window in the sleeping loft. Could she be trusted with all she’d heard last night?
“Good morning to little Carlos.” Manuel Valdez approached the women. Lupita filled him in on all the family news of the previous night. He used the early hours to inspect the dock and hoped to linger until he saw Alicia. She spotted him from the window and rushed to dress.
It was the day after the big party. Mama and Papa came to grips with all that had happened in their absence. Alicia did not want to give up her role on the dock. Roberto assumed Papa would be his new boss now.
“Any ships expected today? Where is your papa? Does he need my help?” Roberto said.
“I want your help. He’s sleeping off the party.” Alicia announced her agenda. “We need a new dock sign. We are now official!”
“I can make a sign. What do you mean, official?” Roberto walked around the property to find scraps of wood for a new sign.
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