As I began typing today's date, it occurred to me that one of the most significant events in Tierra Red took place on August 4, 1899. An important clue to the puzzle surrounding the land grant scheme at the heart of this mystery is contained within Chapter Forty-Four, the chapter which reveals a glimpse into the psyche of Serena Vargas y de la Ordono de Ortega -- a major character in solving Tierra Red's crimes.
The chapter begins here . . . .
Wrapped in a thick wool shawl, Serena spent the better part of the night pacing the high-walled garden of her hacienda. Images and thoughts continued to swirl lazily through her mind as the dawn's first light filled the sky. Long after her personal maid, Maria, found her there and scurried to bring hot coffee, Serena lingered watching the day unfold. She ached for her old maja -- the gypsy in Seville who had mentored her in tapping into the unusual extrasensory skills she possessed -- for she was mystified by the sensations that had assailed her in Lily's sitting room.
The sun rose higher in the eastern sky and the perfume of morning blooms began to flood the garden. With their scent came the memories of the dreaded wedding day seventeen years ago.
Headstrong and beautiful, Serena stood in her wedding finery on the morning of her fifteenth birthday, demanding explanations from her mother. Though she had known since shortly after her thirteenth birthday that this day would come, she was filled with anger and fear.
"Mama! How does anyone expect me to be happy? He is an old man! He will be taking me so far away from everything I have ever known and loved."
Serafina Vargas y Ordono's eyes misted with tears at her daughter's outburst. She continued to fuss with the white lace mantilla covering Serena's black hair. If she tried to speak, she knew many tears would come spilling forth.
"Mama -- please tell me why must I do this today?"
"Ah, my wild one -- if it were up to me, I would keep you by my side forever," sniffled Serafina as tears rolled down her cheeks. "But you have been promised to Don Ortega since the day you were born."
"Why? Am I some pet to be given away? How can my father have such control over my life? What right does he --" Before Serena could finish her sentence the door of the church rectory was flung open.
Her father's bulky frame filled the doorway as his black eyes swiftly took in the room. His stern expression stifled any thought of disobedience from both mother and daughter. Senor Vargas stepped forward to his daughter and shoved a velvet jewel case into her hand.
. . . . and, if you continue reading on p. 198 through the rest of the chapter you will have found a tantalizing clue to solving the puzzle of TIERRA RED.
See you at COAS Bookstore on Saturday, August 7th from 10am to 12noon . . . .