Clara slept late, but the commotion at the front door with Captain Harris woke her up. Clara found the cast-off letter from Dolores and rushed down to the sala.
“You know,” she said, “I’m taking over Dolores’s things. It’s all mine now.” She stood behind Alicia, hands planted on her hips, in a taffeta skirt and a lacy blouse, instead of the work clothes she usually wore for a day at home. Clara wrapped herself in one of Dolores’s old shawls and swished the fringe in Nina’s face.
“Did you iron my dress like I asked, you lazy girl?” she said to Nina. “I am going to the fiesta at the Mission. Captain Charles Harris invited me.” She said it loudly, so that Harris heard her and stopped pushing on the door. Alicia hated to see Nina bossed around by Clara, who obviously wanted to take charge of the rancho while Mama and Papa were gone. Clara always got her way; attending the Mission fiesta with Captain Harris would be no exception.
“But you can’t; he is Dolores’s fiancé! I know things.” Alicia stepped back from the door. Did others know why Mama and Papa took her sister away?
“You think you are the only one who knows about our careless big sister? No wonder she wanted her privacy in that sleeping loft.” Clara waved out the door, chattering to Captain Harris.
“Let’s do something before she starts more trouble.” Alicia searched Nina’s expression to see if she understood what was going on. “It’s up to us to protect Rancho Refugio.” One sister had already given in to Harris. Alicia would not let him ruin the whole family, but how could she stop him? She watched Clara slip out the front door to flirt with the captain.
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