STRATEGY - PART 2
sat in the patio on a cool and dry mid-November morning finishing his
breakfast. The previous night, he and Bernardo, who enjoyed accompanying
him and being masked as Zorro, distributed another of the Fox’s avisos
in the Pueblo of Los Angeles. This new one read: “SEÑORITAS OF
LOS ANGELES BEWARE! RICARDO DEL’AMO REFUSES TO FACE HIS MORAL
RESPONSIBILITY! HE IS A GANALLO AND A COWARD! As usual the Fox
left the aviso unsigned.
sipped some tea while he read a letter from Don Joaquin Alvarez, the son
of his father‘s friend, Don Alfredo Alvarez. Much to Don Alfredo’s
distress, Joaquin had decided to pursue his dream of becoming an actor,
and he was writing Diego that he and his repertory group were to arrive
in Los Angeles to perform an adaptation of the famous Cantar
del Cid in a couple of days.
chuckled. Well, Joaquin FINALLY got to play the hero after all! It
will be good to see him again! he mused. As Diego continued skimming
the lengthy letter, he heard Sergeant Garcia’s voice just outside the
Dias, Don Diego.” the Acting Comandante said half-heartedly. “I
thought that I might come to warn you about Don Ricardo.”
he been causing you problems again, sergeant?” Diego asked
sympathetically as he motioned for Garcia to sit down.
and then some, my friend.” Garcia replied gloomily. The Sergeant sat
down wearily and secretly hoped that Don Diego would offer him some
do look rather tired, Sergeant. Please stay here as long as you
like." Diego then motioned to Bernardo to bring a small bottle of
gracias, Don Diego. But about Don Ricardo ..” Sergeant Garcia
hesitated “this time he has threatened to ruin your reputation!”
nonchalantly lit his first cubano of the day. “Did he
say how he was going to accomplish this?”
began laughing. “He has petitioned Judge Vasca to investigate his
accusation that you are the person who wrote the avisos that
have been posted throughout Los Angeles for the past two weeks. In fact,
I have been instructed by the judge’s clerk to give you a copy of Don
favor, Sergeant, let me see it. Diego said as coolly as he could. He
quickly scanned the document. ”Utterly preposterous! Tell me, Comandante
of the pueblo de Los Angeles, do you believe that I would do such
a foolish thing?”
not, Don Diego! Most people in the pueblo believe that Don Ricardo has
gone a little ...you know.... loco!”
friend smiled broadly. “Sí, I believe that the poor caballero
has been indulging in far too much wine!”
indeed! I can testify to that! Ever since your wedding, Don Ricardo’s
sole purpose these days has been getting drunk! Well, adios, Don
Diego!” Sergeant Garcia said sleepily. “ I must get some rest!”
What did Sergeant Garcia want at this early hour?” Don Alejandro asked
as he strolled into the patio.
Dias, father. It seems that Don Ricardo has filed a lawsuit accusing me
of slander and libel!” Diego winked at his father. “I must remember
to speak to Zorro regarding his recent strange
Don Alejandro was livid. “What gall! Is there to be no end to his
odious deeds! If I were thirty years younger, why I would--.“ His
father shook his head in amazement. Don Ricardo is a walking
abomination! Madre di Dios!”
me; father, things will work out. However, it appears that I shall
require the services of an attorney and soon!”
Alejandro stroked his moustache and beard. “I shall send a message to
our cousin, Don Valentin Posedar. He is the finest avocato in
all of Alta California.“
shrugged his shoulders. “Then I have nothing to worry about. Everyone
knows that the Fox wrote those avisos and
everyone also knows that I can not possibly be this outlaw, Zorro!”
father exhaled noisily. “By all the Saints! I am not worried about
proving your innocence, Diego! What truly has me quite upset is HOW
del’Amo is going to demonstrate you wrote them!”
are you serious about this lawsuit regarding Diego?”
you not see, Anna Maria, that he believes that I am the father of
Moneta’s child? He is jealous that I am the one who will marry you!
Why he even told me just before his wedding to Señorita Esperon that
you are still the only true love of his life! Mark my words, Diego
married Moneta because he pitied her!”
paused to see if his thinly veiled lies had their intended effect on
Anna Maria’s pride. Surprisingly, she shook her head.
would never marry anyone he did not love, Ricardo,” she said firmly.
“And I do not believe that either Zorro or Don Diego would stoop so
low as to falsely accuse you of practically being a criminal!”
he said tenderly. “Are you certain that you do not still love either
one of those men?”
I love you Ricardo, the only person who stood by me when I broke my
engagement to Don Diego. And I have learned [in a truly serious blow to
her ego, although she would never admit this fact to Ricardo] that El
Zorro does not love me.”
Maria! Why did you not tell me this earlier? Did he break this .. sad.
news to you gently?“
looked away from him. “I met with El Zorro at his request, just before
Moneta married Don Diego.”
del’Amo grabbed her more roughly than he had intended. “Tell me
Maria set out on the Camino Real just on the outskirts of Monterrey.
Following El Zorro’s instructions, another of her cousins, Antonia
Elena Vivadores, was the only other person to accompany her. Although
they both had been riding for almost ten minutes, neither senorita saw
another horseman. But as they approached the crossroads on the Camino
Real where it branched into the smaller road toward San Pedro, Anna
Maria spotted the familiar black clad figure, the Fox himself.
tardes, Señorita Verdugo, and to you also, Señorita Vivadores.”
Zorro said in his most charming voice. Will you excuse us, por favor? Señorita
Anna Maria and I briefly require some privacy.“
Señor Zorro, I can not believe that you requested to see me! I--”
Anna Maria halted speaking, as he seemed very distant, even cool towards
her. Her beloved Dark Angel did not envelop her in his strong arms as
she had desperately hoped. She attempted to look into his eyes but he
deliberately avoided her gaze.
it is ‘Señorita Verdugo’! Why, I--”
time he did embrace her, but his was the brief, comforting touch of a friend,
not a lover...
she stiffened in his arms he released her. “Anna Maria,” he now
looked directly into her eyes. The Fox stood there, staring down at her.
She sensed a new calmness in his demeanor, yet as Anna Maria returned
his look, she found that the mask now hid more than his features. Those
wonderfully sensuous eyes were now mysteriously unreadable. Was there
another woman? she thought suddenly.
Anna Maria. Marry someone who truly loves you!”
I shall become Señora del‘Amo.” she half-heartedly replied.
Zorro exclaimed. “Anna Maria! He is the last man you should marry! He
is beneath your contempt! His actions since the end of summer have been,
well, as his betrothed, you should ask him yourself!” Without
explaining his last remark, he spurred Tornado back towards Los Angeles.
face drained of all of its color at the vehemence in his voice. “Wait,
mi caballero, tell me what you mean regarding Ricardo!
Please come back!” She cried out bitterly.
con Dios!” Zorro saluted her with the tip of his hat as he reared
Tornado on a nearby hilltop. And then he was gone from her sight and her
life, she knew, forever.
have told me everything, Anna Maria!” Ricardo looked at her, not
knowing what to believe. He grasped her shoulders more tightly. “You
are certain that there is nothing more?”
Anna Maria cried out more from shock than pain. “Ricardo! Please,
you’re bruising my arms!”
“Lo siento, querida! But are you sure--”
think that he once loved me! But, he also said the people of California
need him more. Zorro told me that he could not abandon their welfare for
his own personal happiness.” she said more bitterly than she intended.
held her chin in his hands. “And?”
Maria tried to mask the pain in her heart and soul as best she could.
She thought to herself [I am no fool, Ricardo, I will never reveal
what Zorro really said about you! You be unable to handle the truth! The
remainder of the story about her rendezvous with Zorro was largely
fiction. Zorro had never held her in his arms as she told Ricardo. In
fact, the Fox coldly informed her how deeply he cherished his promise to
the people of Alta California.] . Aloud, she told Ricardo, “I
cannot love a man who will always consider the feelings of others’
ahead of my own!”
Ricardo kissed her goodnight as ardently as possible, which was
exceedingly difficult for a man who loved no one save himself. He hoped
that his deception worked. He left soon thereafter as Don
Gregorio was scheduled to arrive from San Pedro on a business trip
within the hour.
MARIA!” Don Gregorio’s voice boomed throughout the empty hacienda.
“Where are you? There is no use hiding? I know that you have been
seeing Don Ricardo against my explicit orders!”
thrust out her chin. “And what of it, father! I love Don Ricardo
Gregorio turned his back to her. “Spare me! Just as you ‘loved’ El
Zorro or Don Diego, or anyone else who would flatter you with
silky words and expensive presents!”
Maria was truly horrified. “Father, how can you say such awful things
about your own daughter?”
father replied in a flat voice. “Anna Maria, I can no longer tolerate
your foolishness! Please leave this hacienda in the morning. I will make
certain that my brother's family near the Mission of San Gabriel will
take you in. I will no longer try to prevent you from marrying that
scoundrel, Ricardo del’Amo! I shall make arrangements for you to have
an account with my attorney so that you will not be penniless.”
Maria’s face went pale. " You simply cannot do this father!
the contrary, I can do whatever I want! Although you are still legally
my daughter, you have shown complete irresponsibility by refusing my
desire for you to marry Don Diego and instead socializing with Don
Ricardo. “The man is an animal! Why can you not believe Moneta’s
story that he is the father of her baby!”
Maria covered her ears. “NO! SHE IS LYING--”
my poor daughter. Moneta has never publicly acknowledged the name of her
child’s father. NEVER, Anna Maria! So Don Ricardo must have--. He
stopped speaking since Anna Maria tried to leave the sala.
will not listen to another untruth spoken about my future husband!”
Gregorio sighed. “You have become a vain and shallow young woman, my
daughter. Del’Amo will cause you great harm. Nevertheless, I wish you
well. He kissed Anna Maria on her cheek and then he shut the door to his
after dawn, she sent a note to Don Ricardo and he quickly came to pick
her up from her father's house. "Marry me Anna Maria, today! We can
ride to San Gabriel and Fray Felipe will ask no questions! Por favor, I
Maria sighed. “Sí, Ricardo! I wish nothing more than to be Senora
We shall be man and wife by tomorrow afternoon.“
Maria’s heart felt as if whatever love for another human being that
had existed in her had been obliterated by the day’s cruel events. Am
I too self-absorbed not to recognize true love when I see it? Diego
loved me once! Maybe my father is right after all. Perhaps marriage with
the flamboyant and devious Don Ricardo is all that I deserve! she
said sotto voce as she cried herself to sleep the night of her wedding.
thoroughly read the lawsuit later upstairs in their bedroom as Diego was
preparing to ride as Zorro. “But Diego, you did write
he said his voice muffled by the black silk mask he was adjusting over
“EL ZORRO!” she exclaimed as the Dark Knight swept her
into his embrace.
Moneta dearest!” He kissed her into silence. “Señora de la Vega,
have you, of all people no faith in Zorro?”
looked up into his hazel eyes, which in the candlelight had become
aflame with desire. “But--”
“Zorro orders you to be quiet. Oh! Moneta, do not do
playfully pulled away his mask and then hurriedly stuffed it down her
frock’s bodice. “Come and get it!” she said huskily.
[Knock! Knock! ] “Dios! Querida, it
is just as well. I must be going!”
sharp ones followed the first two knocks on their bedroom door. Santa
Maria... it was his mozo’s secret code. He opened the door
had better be important!” Bernardo nodded and then twisted his hands
in the air as he gave his young master the message. “Señor del’Amo
is not staying in his leased hacienda? Where did he go?”
[He and Señorita Verdugo eloped to Father Felipe’s mission. Her father
ordered her to leave home!]
could scarcely believe his ears. “Bernardo, you are an eternal font of
information! You have done well. Gracias!“ Meet me in the secret room
in one hour! Diego winked at his mozo.
turned up his palms and shrugged. ‘Por nada. Buenos noches, Señor
y Señora de la Vega.’ He smiled as he walked back to his living
quarters. Hmm, this past year I spent flirting with Don Ricardo’s
chief housekeeper has finally paid off. I wonder what sort of magic my
master shall perform tonight?
Señora Fox, can you refresh my memory regarding what I
was doing five minutes earlier?” Diego teased his wife.
Fox, as I said, you must retrieve your mask. I warn you, I shall
not surrender easily! And--oh, Diego!” she giggled as he scooped her
up in his arms and laid her gently down their bed. With one strong hand
he pinned Moneta’s arms above her head and caressed her slightly
child, I anxiously await your arrival and as much as I love you, I love
your madre even more.” Moneta started to speak but soon
Diego’s kisses made her forget time itself.
you are Bernardo! We haven’t much time. Judge Vasca arrives tomorrow
afternoon and the trial is set for the following morning. I want a new aviso
posted as quickly as possible. Do not worry, four copies are all
that we shall need to ruffle our prey’s feathers!”
me see them.“
mute friend handed Zorro the newest poster.
Bernardo! SEÑOR DEL’AMO YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS GUILTY OF
LIBEL AND SLANDER! I, EL ZORRO, AM THE AUTHOR OF THESE NOTICES! he
read aloud. “Excellente, Bernardo. Put on your black
silks! We are riding as a team again tonight! His mozo
clapped his hands together excitedly as he and Zorro left the secret
cave heading to their respective destinations.