The execution of the mentally-impaired man that Pedro de Alemán tried to defend has affected the lawyer gravelly.
The description of the scene is terrible, and you can’t help but feel terribly sorry for the poor young man who was not aware of his actions or what was happening to him. It is that day that Pedro is collared by another lawyer, D Luis de Salazar, who suggests they go for a drink, but Pedro declines.
When Pedro gets home, we learn how things have changed for him family-wise. Pedro is now married to Adela, and a month and half ago Adela gave birth to a baby girl who they named after Pedro’s mother, Mercedes. It is obvious that Pedro and Adela are very much in love, but there is a certain darkness in him. He is sorry that he can’t give Adela and Merceditas the comforts and luxuries that Adela was used to having while growing up, and he swears that he will do his best and work hard to give them what they deserve.
That Monday Pedro is summoned to meet D Luis de Salazar for lunch as the latter has an urgent business to discuss with him. After lunch D Luis gets down to business and tells him about a man, Eustaquio Cifuentes, who has been arrested for smuggling. The guards apprehended three carts full of goods, but only Eustaquio was arrested. D Luis tells Pedro that he doesn’t think the lawyer that was hired for this man’s defence is suitable, and when Pedro reads the document of the defence, he has to agree. What surprises Pedro is that D Luis’s eagerness is for the men who paid Eustaquio to remain anonymous, and Pedro realises that D Luis works for these powerful men. However, he agrees to take on the denfense of this man as he has a line of argument.
During the trial the accused Eustaquio changes his testimony and admits to having been driving one of the carts that were confiscated. Then Pedro argues with the witnesses that the carts must have been on the way to Cadiz and not Seville as everybody assumed. The truth was that Eustaquio and the others intended to go to Seville, where the goods could be sold at a higher price. Yet, Pedro convinces the court they were going to Cadiz, and when he delivers his statement, he claims there was no offence in his client’s behaviour as there is a law exempting the pay of tax for those going to Cadiz as the government wanted to intensify trade with America, and it was in Cadiz where the appropriate taxes should be paid. Pedro is clever and manages to get his client acquitted. Yet, I am not so impressed in this case because what he used was clearly a trick, and the truth and justice didn’t win. I have to say that Eustaquio was just a poor man who was just doing what he was told to do for some pittance, and for that reason I am glad he wasn’t condemned so harshly. Yet, it is a pity that the real perpetrators, those who paid for the goods to be smuggled into Seville went scot-free.
The next chapter of the book takes to 1742 and Isabel Ruiz Vela, the woman who abandoned the baby girl in the hospital of blood. It is seven years after Isabel left her daughter, and she is still grieving for the girl. We learn that Isabel is a servant for a noble family. Her lord is D Juan Bautista Basurto, lord of Majarromaque, whose wife is now dead, but seven years before the woman was weak and of ill health. The man noticed Isabel’s youth and healthy body, and they started an affair. Isabel was apprehensive at first, but then she longed for the master’s summons. Then she discovered she was pregnant, and even though she hid the fact for a long time, the master discovered it, and he told her to get rid of it. Yet, Isabel couldn’t, and did her best to conceal her condition. Yet, one of the other servants, Remedios, noticed and agreed to help her. What Isabel and Remedios knew was that she couldn’t keep the child, and it was Remedios, who suggested she left the baby in the hospital. Remedios helped her during labour, and then that same day Isabel left her dear daughter in the hospital. It is now seven years later and Isabel dreams of her daughter every day and wonders how she is. I really love this plot line. I also wonder what has happened to the girl, and whether Isabel will ever contact with her.