CHAPTER 12 - TRIAL AND ERROR
kept watch while Zorro curled his whip around Ricardo’s balcony and
quickly climbed up and over the railing. Although the Fox knew that
neither Ricardo nor Anna Maria was home, he did not want to be seen by
any of the servants until after he had left his calling card. He
sprinted inside del’Amo’s bedroom and attached the aviso
to the bedspread. If one of the servants had not left a window open,
Zorro would have never seen something shining in a corner of the
he touched the object and held it up in the moonlight attempting to read
as much of the document as possible. It was two letters, each one sealed
with the gold, silver and red del’Amo family crest, and with the
Aragon y Castile royal seal of Spain. [No, the papers were actually
an original and one duplicate of the same document. BY THE THREE
MARIA'S!] he said to himself. [Why, that scheming and devious
worm! I shall take the duplicate for this information shall prove very
useful in the future!] Zorro quickly stashed the papers inside his
banda. Before departing he whipped out his saber and deeply slashed a
“Z” across Ricardo’s mahogany headboard.
Honorable Romero Luis Madrigal Vasca, Supremo Magistrado of Alta
California, listened with mounting distaste to Don Juan Estevan
del'Amo‘s suggestion that the Judge consider not presiding over the
trial of Don Diego de la Vega. Don Juan further hinted that he could
offer some grandes sobornas to Judge Vasca if he would
dismiss Ricardo del'Amo charges against Don Diego. Finally, he pleaded
with the Judge not to impose any harsh penalties upon Ricardo for his
son's" youthful misbehavior!"
Vasca cleared his throat before being as blunt and direct as possible
with Don Ricardo’s father. “Senor, it is my considered opinion that
the gente de razon here in California are so arrogant that
they honestly believe their class is above the law. I know Ricardo by
reputation. And although I loathe your son’s waste of money and his
future in the witless pursuits of wenching, drinking and gambling, I can
render an impartial decision regarding this matter. Remove yourself from
my presence before I incarcerate you for attempting to bribe a Royal
Agent of King Ferdinand VII! GET OUT!”
Juan’s face froze in a grimace. “Excellency, thank you for your
advice. Hasta la luego.”
Judge shrugged away his concern for Ricardo del’Amo and began to sort
through the complaint against Diego de la Vega.
Reyes and Sergeant Garcia pushed their way through the crowd surrounding
the Town Square’s bulletin board. " Oh, no!" Garcia said
aloud. “I see that Zorro has once again been very busy!”
does the poster say, Sergeant Garcia?“
If you remain quiet I can read it!” Garcia retrieved the parchment
from the post and read it aloud. “SEÑOR DEL’AMO, YOU ARE THE
ONE WHO IS GUILTY OF SLANDER AND LIBEL! I, EL ZORRO, AM THE AUTHOR OF
“Of course he posted these messages, Sergeant! See,
there is Zorro’s ‘Z’ at the bottom! Why would Don Ricardo think
squeezed his eyes shut in disbelief. “Perhaps he also thinks that Don
Diego is El Zorro, baboso! Run along now,
Corporal, and see that everything is ready for Judge Vasca!”
Diego is El Zorro! That is the stupidest thing that I have ever heard,
with Corporal Reyes makes me feel my twenty years in the King’s Army
are a prison sentence and not a career!] Garcia sighed to himself...
may I have another word with you before the proceedings begin?” Don
Valentin Posedar inquired politely.
Valentin. You look puzzled.”
mi viejo. When I asked Diego whether not he is guilty of
these crimes, he replied that ‘Zorro wrote those inflammatory remarks.
Everyone knows that!”
Alejandro shrugged. “I fail to see your point.”
is nothing tangible, my friend; I just do not think that Diego is being
completely honest with me.”
these absurd charges? I stand by my son, Valentin! Diego did not write
Valentin,” Diego’s baritone voice interrupted their conversation,
“you have the de la Vega word of honor regarding that
Posedar bowed slightly. “Of course, Don Diego! And I promise you that
between Judge Vasca’s honesty and Spanish Law, Señor del’Amo will
deeply regret ever filing his lawsuit!“
you sure that you are comfortable, mi preciosa?” he
whispered to Moneta as he helped her sit down in the Posada de Los
Angeles, which was serving as a temporary courtroom.
of them heard the crowd’s whispers and saw several hateful glances
aimed particularly at Señora de la Vega.
huge brown eyes clouded over. “Oh, Diego, I AM trying to be brave, but
people can be so cruel. And we both know how depraved Ricardo truly is!
He twists everything that is good and beautiful into --”
deliberately made a grand sweeping bow as he grasped her hand and kissed
it tenderly. “Please do not worry so!”
to look around to see if any of their friends came to offer them moral
support, Diego saw Don Nacho and Doña Luisa Torres, together with their
daughter, Elena and her husband, Benito.
will bless you both, Diego and Moneta!” Doña Luisa told her godchild.
Diego whispered “My dearest wife, remember that you will have our baby
in less than six months-”
She caressed his face. “You said.. our baby!”
grinned. “Exactly so! And I dare anyone to state otherwise!”
Valentin tugged at his client’s sleeve. “Are you ready, Don
his attorney nodded.
rise! The Honorable Judge Romero Luis Vasca is now present in the
courtroom!” Lieutenant Hernan Gonzales, the Judge’s personal
seated.” Judge Vasca said tonelessly. “The rules of these
proceedings’ decorum, which I have previously discussed with both
parties to this matter and their respective counsel, are now in force.
Señor de Sevilla, attorney for the plaintiff Señor del’Amo, please
call your first witness.”
Your Honor. We have only two individuals who will give testimony, your
Honor. The first witness I shall now present is a former servant of the
de la Vega hacienda. Will Señorita Mariana Colon come forward?”
Gonzales swore in the señorita. Don de Sevilla smiled to put her at
the only question I have for you is this: do you know who wrote these
horrible accusations regarding Ricardo del’Amo?”
sí! I saw those posters in the de la Vega library! I-I went there to
clean up the room after Don Alejandro and Don Diego asked me to do
spectators murmured their disapproval.
Diego whispered to his attorney. “She is a habitual liar and she was
caught stealing from the household accounts by Señora Crescencia, head
of our servants.”
good Diego, but we shall need to have Crescencia testify--”
for the defense will please remain quiet while a witness is
testifying!” Judge Vasca said sharply.
one more question, Señorita, if you please! Is this the poster that you
further questions, Your Honor!”
Vasca looked askance at the girl. Something disturbed him about her. The
young woman was edgy, nervous. “Señorita, I am going to remind you
that you are still under oath. You are quite certain that you are
telling the truth?”
Your Honor, I know what I saw!”
frowned slightly and told Señor Posedar to cross-examine her.
Diego quickly scribbled a note with a quill and gave it to his counsel.
Don Valentin smiled. “Señorita Colon, oh, but may I call you
I am very sad for you and do you know why?“ He saw the fright in her
green eyes and realized that she knew that she had been trapped.
‘”Did you not just lie a moment ago?”
down, counsel for the plaintiff. Judge Vasca leaned forward. “Señorita,
you must answer the question!”
Valentin scowled at the diminutive girl. “Last chance, Señorita
have said all that I am going to say.”
well. If it will please the Court, I should like to call Sergeant Garcia
to the stand.”
de Sevilla rose to object but Judge Vasca ordered him to sit down. Then
he called both lawyers to the Bench.
am inclined to rule in your favor,” he told de Sevilla, but in the
interest of justice, I shall permit defendant’s counsel to present
rebuttal evidence now rather than later, as is proper procedure.”
Your Honor! I call for Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia to step
forward!” Don Diego’s attorney told Lieutenant Gonzalez.
Your Excellency, what is it you wish to know?”
Garcia, were you called to the de la Vega hacienda almost two weeks
Posedar paced the courtroom before continuing his examination of the
good sergeant. “Why were you summoned to their hacienda?”
Don Alejandro and Don Diego wanted to bait a trap for Señorita Colon.
Their Head of the Servants, Señora Crescencia, had noticed a goodly sum
of money was missing from the household account. The Señora had earlier
seen the Señorita removing some coins from the desk in Don
he lies!” Don Ricardo yelled at Sergeant Garcia. “Your Honor, he is
a longtime friend of the de la Vegas! Garcia would say and do anything
to help them!”
looked at Judge Vasca and sighed. “I am only speaking the truth, Your