Colonel Cordero

Oh, seeds of rebellion and chaos born of colonization! Could we not have held firm in our Spanish conquest against the Mexicans?  We had the love of God behind us with our missions. Horses, canons, guns and swords of security to fortify us. Add to that good hearted Canary Islanders to settle a happy San Antonio to start the community off.   But what of it?

One good that came of it is I found my one and only true love in young Gertrudis.  Too late in my life perhaps, for she may have wished for children, but I left none behind. (Turns out, a shicer Italian would thus gratify her shortly after I left.) As for me, I left only fever dreams of Indians untamed, villas abandoned in all their hollow potentialities, and frustrated political ambitions for a wide and vast Spanish territory. These all lie here in the dust with me now.

I think about good, sturdy people, trusted locals like the Seguins, Castañones, and Martínezes, who helped settle vast unbridled terrain at my request.  They worked the land hard, moving about like sturdy chess pieces, improving and clearing ranch lands so that Spain could occupy, claim, and defend a feral wilderness that we hoped would eventually become and remain the great state of  Spanish controlled Texas. But the blasted Indians!  These tribes jeopardized and even severed many relationships I had forged with families as they burned jacales, corrals, and stole animals at every opportunity. My efforts with these Apaches and Comanches yielded few results. Even after negotiations, I didn’t know which of them to trust. I see now that the land was theirs long before we arrived. But our settlers refused to remain on their promised leagues and labors of land for long, and I felt powerless to protect them. I began to feel like a chess piece for the King myself.

In the end, it came down to this: I saw and began to appreciate my wife Gertrudis greatly for her ability to manage our ranches and review the soldiers when I was called away on military business. I learned to respect Andrea, our assistant, as well.  María Andrea, having learned the ways of her grandmother Ábu, a curandera, nursed me back to health on several occasions using local herbs. She helped extinguish a terrible toothache, rid me of a foot wart, and cure a dreadful fever that nearly took me to my death bed at the very moment I was needed to put down Indian raids in Nacogdoches. María Andrea’s hot chocolate trickled down my throat like a sacred ambrosia, leading me to request it to accompany my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, something she did without complaint.

Of all my life’s favorite perceptions, after Gertrudis’ soft, gratifying voice, I swear I can still smell María Andrea’s earthy, aromatic chocolate mixed with goat’s milk and sweet vanilla wafting in certain breezes from all the way down here in my grave.

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