Al shaved and put on a clean shirt. Pio and Nocho washed and combed their hair, and the three of them headed for the trading post.
The room was deserted, except for the trader and one beautiful young lady.
Her long black hair was wound around the top of her head, held tight with what appeared to be diamond studded combs. The long earrings dangled to her shoulders. She wore a low-cut red dress trimmed in white lace. On her feet was a dainty pair of slippers.
Al stared in amazement. There stood the most beautiful girl in the world! Adilia!
Somehow, she looked taller, and the gentle curves of her lovely body appeared more feminine. The touch of makeup on her face seemed to make her bloom like a rose.
Al stepped up and took her in his arms. “Where in the world? How in the dickens did you get all this? Who fixed your hair?”
“Not so fast,” laughed the girl. “I bought it from the traders wife. She fixed my hair. She is very nice. Do you like this?”
“Beautiful, beautiful! Now we shall have a party. We will celebrate our wedding, that’s it! We will have a wedding party.”
“Oh, Al, that sounds so wonderful. I told the trader’s wife we were just married, and tonight we might have a little celebration. She said that would be very nice. She would like to have a word with you.”
“Did she say what she wanted to talk to me about?’
“She didn’t say. But I told her I would tell her when you came inside.”
“Where can I find her?”
Adilia pointed at a door across the room. “Just go knock on that door, she will answer.”
Al kissed her and headed for the door. The woman must have been expecting him as she opened the door on the first knock. She was a plump little woman with a merry smile. Al figured she was probably in her forties.
“Come on in. I have been expecting you.”
Al stepped through the opening. “Why did you want to see me?”
The woman motioned to a chair. “Sit down for a moment and I will tell you.”
Al sat down and looked up at her. “What can I do for you?”
The woman smiled. “She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, and she is very nice. She told me that you were married only a few days ago. Tell me, are you really married?”
Al blushed. “We would be married if we could find a preacher.”
“The girl tells me that tonight you will have a wedding party. Is that correct?”
Al was beginning to feel uncomfortable. “It sounded like a good idea. I guess we could call it off.”
“By no means,” said the plump little woman. “It is a wonderful idea. However, there is something you must have.” Her eyes twinkled. “Some people are narrow-minded, you know.”
“What is it I must have?”
“A ring, Señor. A ring!”
“And where do I get a ring?”
The woman held out her fist and opened it. Lying in her palm was a small gold band. “Take it Señor, please, take it.”
Al picked up the ring. It was a beauty; hand carved yellow gold. There was no doubt in his mind it would fit Adilia. Al drew out his wallet and opened it.
“Nonononooo.” The woman shook her head. “The ring is a present from my husband and myself. Now everything will be fine. You will have your party.”
“But I must pay you.”
The woman shook her head. “You will need your money. Shall I have the boy spread the word that there will be a wedding party?”
“You bet! And thanks a million.”
Al left the woman and returned to Adilia. This did not seem to be the proper place to present the ring. He took her by the arm.
“Want to go for a short walk?” He asked.
The girl nodded. “That would be nice.”
“And give my friends a drink,” he told the trader. “We will be back in a few minutes.”
They walked down the lakeshore. The sun was slowly sinking behind the jungle. There was a rough bench at the water’s edge, and they sat down on it.
Al slipped an arm around the girl and drew her close. “I love you,” he whispered.
Her little arms were around his neck, pulling her close. “And I love you darling.”
Al kissed her gently, and then moved back. He took the ring from his pocket and held it out between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. He took her left hand in his and slipped the ring onto the first joint.
Adilia’s eyes were big and round. On her face was a look of wonder.
“Now say this with me,” Al said softly. “With this ring…”