lay on his side in their bed always fascinated to watch the gentle
rhythmic rise and fall of Moneta’s chest as she slept. He let his gaze
glide slowly down her lovely, curvaceous form. Dios! How tempted he
was to methodically caress every inch of Moneta’s body, guiding her
playfully back to consciousness with his tender lovemaking!
Unfortunately, there was no time. He groaned aloud and Moneta
briefly stirred, but the sedative she had taken at eight o’clock in
the evening was too strong and her head again lay back down on the goose
feather pillow. He placed the white and gold embroidered brocade
bedcover over her and kissed her goodnight. Diego rose to stretch his
long, lean muscular legs and noticed the wooden crib that Bernardo was
painstakingly carving for them resting against his dressing table.
gently tapped the fine rosewood and tried to imagine a baby..no, their
baby, their child, their son resting there, smiling up at his
dear parents. Diego would not care if his firstborn were a girl; he and
Moneta had already secretly decided to name their first daughter Teresa
Bethia Carmela. If they were blessed with a son, they reached a
compromise after their respective fathers each vigorously
requested that the newlyweds name the male heir after the
paternal grandfather or the maternal grandfather. Diego and Moneta
decided not to reveal their choice of names until the baby’s birth.
He smiled to himself yet again as recalled yesterday afternoon’s
conversation with both fathers.
Diego,” his father argued, “you are not following de la Vega family
tradition of bestowing a name on the pending male heir three months
after your announcement of your wife’s pregnancy!”
son rolled his eyes and then winked discreetly at Moneta who hid her
amusement behind one of her maternal grandmother’s silk fans.
you and Don Cornelio, the both of you already know that the baby will be
a boy, eh?”
Alejandro and Don Cornelio exchanged exasperated looks. “Certainly!”
Don Cornelio commented smugly. “Agreed!” Don Alejandro threw his
arms around Moneta’s father’s shoulder.
Diego ... Moneta. that is your final decision?” Don Cornelio asked
finished lighting up one of his favorite cubanos. “Sí.”
the Santos give me strength!” Diego’s father said in a quiet voice.
got up and gave both her father and Don Alejandro hugs.
Cornelio kissed his daughter goodnight. “Come on, Alejandro, I am
ready for a rematch regarding my loss to you last week in that chess
fine, mi viejo!” Don Alejandro hugged Moneta good night.
Diego bowed to both gentlemen as they left the sala.
before the library door closed and they heard bursts of laughter.
Cornelio. you are a betting man are you not?” Diego and Moneta
overheard Don Alejandro ask her father.
that depends, Alejandro ..”
you care to make a small wager regarding .. what time of day or night
the child will be born? A wager between two hidalgos..”
looked at Moneta and chuckled. “At least that will keep them busy for
a while anyway!” he exclaimed.
laughed until she was almost breathless. “My, my.” she said between
bouts of giggling, whatever is happening to the older generation!”
of finding something to occupy our time,” Diego
whispered to her as they reached their bedroom door. ‘”there will be
no more talking until much, much later!”
placed her fingers over his mouth. ‘Hush, Diego, and kiss me!”
was his only response.”
continued to observe Moneta as she slept. Diego thought how
extraordinarily beautiful [at least in his opinion] Moneta appeared to
be just before she miscarried. Some women were ill during their entire
period of confinement, or only during the first trimester. Not Moneta!
She had never complained about any discomfort other than a couple of
days of morning sickness since the day of their betrothal. He thought
with infinite tenderness as he watched Moneta turn on her side with her
back to him. How I truly admire her courage in deciding to keep the
child. Such a splendid woman -- to give an unwanted and innocent baby
all of her love so that the baby would not experience a lifetime of
despair and misery due the stigma of growing up without a father.
picked up some crocheting Moneta had left draped over one side of the
crib. It was a pair of almost finished booties. He held the tiny items
next to his heart as several tears meandered unchecked down his face.
Diego sighed quietly. [Ah yes, by the Blessed Virgin and the will of
God, we shall have other children!]
making certain that Moneta was resting comfortably, Diego pressed the
button on the mantelpiece above the fireplace in their bedroom that
revealed a secret room. There with Bernardo’s help he transformed
himself into the Masked Avenger. Bernardo signed to Zorro; it was a
good thing that I gave Dona Moneta the sleeping potion in her milk this
evening that you requested wasn‘t it?
Fox placed his hand on his mozo's shoulder. "Whatever
would I do without you? Bernardo, I want you to stay with Moneta constantly
throughout the night while I am gone. She is still so distraught over
losing the baby and along with the fact that Ricardo is free to harass
us mentally and physically!”
briefly detained him at the top of the staircase leading to the secret
cave. Doña Moneta feels that she is cause of all of your recent
troubles! My friend, you must reassure her that this is not so. She
loves you so much! His mozo stopped his little speech
when he saw his master’s eyes brimming with unshed tears.
me, Bernardo, I have been doing exactly that.” He shrugged his
shoulders wearily. “Time grows short. I am on my way to San Gabriel to
see our ‘friend’ Ricardo del'Amo. I’m afraid that he will be
disappointed that it will not be a social call. Remember, do not leave
Moneta’s side until I return!"
course, my master. Bernardo touched tbe Fox’s arm. Please be
winked his thanks at his faithful friend and then he and Tornado
vanished into the night. As he rode down the Camino Real, he began
praying to his favorite saint. Oh, dear St. Teresa of Avila, watch
over my beloved Moneta as you have protected
Ricardo and Anna Maria were unable to sleep. They stood on the
hacienda’s balcony together holding hands in the moonlight, absorbed
in each other, as only newlyweds could.
are you thinking about, mi corazon?”
a full moon.” Anna Maria noticed. “Look for yourself. I can see what
the Norte Americanos call the “Big Dipper!”
whispered into her ear. “No, there will not be a full moon until
Return to bed. It is getting cold and I know several wonderful ways to
warm you up!” As he caressed her face and neck, Anna Maria sighed
blissfully beneath his firm yet velvet soft touch.
the new Señora del’Amo desire more of this attention from her eager
was all Anna Maria could say. She looked up lovingly at her new husband
and sighed. Then she remembered the awful conversation between Ricardo
and her father-in-law of earlier that day.
whatever shall I do if Governor Ramirez orders you to complete your jail
sentence? Honestly, we simply cannot allow that milquetoast Diego and
that -- what was it you called Moneta de la Vega she snickered at the
word -- to interfere with our marriage! They are beneath our
snorted derisively. “Anna Maria, please stop worrying about an event
that will never happen. I, Ricardo del’Amo, do hereby solemnly
swear an oath that I shall not serve another day in jail!
Satisfied, my beloved? Oh and, regarding your assessment of Senor y
Senora de la Vega, contempt is too mild a term!”
you know how much I love you Ricardo?" she asked huskily.
about half as much as I adore you Anna Maria! Enough talk, let us retire
for the evening and I can show you exactly what I mean!"
crept through the hacienda’s courtyard and stable and was not
surprised that he failed to disturb either the animals or the soldiers
at their posts around the hacienda. Although the Governor sent more than
a half dozen soldiers from the Monterey Presidio to guard the del'Amos’
temporary residence, there were only four soldiers on duty. Like
military guards everywhere who found themselves posted to a boring
assignment they were all fast asleep!
was moving along the side of the hacienda quite rapidly when he heard
voices above him. Thank the Virgin, it was only the sound of Anna
Maria’s and Ricardo‘s idle chatter. Fortunately, I do not have to
deliver my message personally to either one of them, although I am
sorely tried! he thought. However, as he listened to their sarcastic
comments he became physically ill at the depth pf their callowness. The
Fox silently begged His Creator for the strength to keep his mind
focused on tonight’s objective. So, Moneta has a ‘moon face,’
has she? What an idiot Anna Maria is not to see how Ricardo was using
the couple left the balcony and closed the door to the bedroom. After
ten minutes or so had passed, the Fox unfurled his whip and snapped it
up towards the balcony. [Whack!] Zorro crouched behind several flour
barrels in case his whip made enough sound to awaken either the just
retired Indian servants or the del‘Amos. He heard nothing and
proceeded to vault over the balustrade without touching the wood.
the Fox reached the door to their bedroom he stood up and removed a
small piece of parchment from his pocket and slipped an envelope
underneath the door. Zorro waited awhile longer to see if anyone had
heard him and then he stealthily moved back down the balcony and leapt
onto Tornado’s back for the long ride home.
Esperon de la Vega awakened just before eight o‘clock am to find
Diego’s gorgeous hazel eyes engrossed in studying every detail of her
face. She reached over to return his sensuous touch as he caressed her
cheek for several minutes before he spoke.
preciosa! Did you sleep well? Concern played momentarily across
his face before he quickly composed himself. “Can you forgive my harsh
words of last night?”
husband, of course I can! I only wanted to break the monotony of sitting
here at my hacienda with practically nothing to do! Diego, I would like
mi corazon?” he responded between kisses that he began
showering on her neck and throat. “Moneta, permit me to tell you what
you were going to say. You wish to travel to Los Angeles, eh?“
laughed softly. “If you do not allow me at least one shopping trip
before our annual Posada, I shall go quite mad!”
tweaked her nose in amusement. "Moneta, I will allow you to travel
to Los Angeles under these conditions and these conditions only! Since
my father and I still have more preparations to oversee regarding our
annual Christmas Eve fiesta, El Noche Buena, we must
attend to matters that require our personal supervision. Bernardo shall
go with you and he shall remain with you at all times; two, you will
only stay in Los Angeles for a couple of hours, no more! Bernardo will
have strict orders for you to come home after that, comprende?”
Diego, Gracias! I shall be certain to obey those instructions to the
right! Tomorrow I will let Bernardo escort you into the pueblo!”
querido mio!” Diego, I have one more request and I am
afraid how you will feel about this idea!”
looked away from Diego but there was no escape from his strong arms.
de la Vega,” you have but only to ask.” He smiled at her so
intensely that Moneta wanted those lips to kiss her for all eternity.
want to have a baby---as soon as possible-- a son of your body and blood
- OUR CHILD, in every sense of those words!“ Moneta stared deeply into
hazel eyes that suddenly became incandescent with his love for her.
sat up very straight. “If you believe that you are sincerely ready my
love, than I am more than willing to .... do my share!” he grinned
mischievously. “Shall we begin mi preciosa?”
Maria accidentally tripped on the edge of their bedroom carpet and
twisted her ankle. “Oh, my goodness! My ankle hurts so!’ she
complained as she bent down to retrieve her slippers. “Ricardo?” She
picked up the white envelope that Zorro had left the night before.
“I-it is addressed to you!”
shall read it in a few minutes. Now please lay down on the bed while I
prop up your foot.”
called for his mozo, the Chiricahua Apache Jorge Paco and
sent him to fetch Dr. Raphael Raimondo. Ricardo picked up Anna Maria
from the floor and helped her back into bed. He propped up her foot on a
pillow and had one of the kitchen staff bring cool water so he could pat
her forehead with a damp washcloth. Then Ricardo sat down at his desk in
their bedroom and started to read the envelope’s contents.
“Señor Ricardo, I have you under constant observation, and should you
leave the hacienda without Governor Ramirez’ permission, I shall carve
a large “Z” on your chest right through to your back!” --EL ZORRO!
“Bastardo!” Don Ricardo yelled not caring who overheard
Paco mentally cringed when he heard his master’s shouting reverberate
throughput the hacienda. [Unless I run away from this muy rabio
caballero I shall go crazy,] he thought disgustedly. [I
wonder if the de la Vegas need any servants?]
Maria, I tried to tell you that Zorro is in league with Diego! Read
blanched as read the Fox’s threat. “I-I just don’t understand
him.... I simply cannot believe what I see before me!”
rushed to get dressed. “Dearest, I will not tolerate this
gilded cage any longer--I am going to the de la Vega hacienda and
challenge Diego to a duel until the death!”
Ricardo, if you violate your parole Governor Ramirez shall imprison you
for 20 years!“ she said while crying hysterically.
ignored her as he walked around the second floor balcony. “Bueno.
There are only four guards this morning rather than the usual ten to
twelve. I shall go downstairs, calmly eat breakfast, and then pretend to
fall ill. The rest of my plan should be easy!” he told her.
finally sat down next to his despondent wife. “Anna Maria, I cannot
allow El Zorro, your hero or not, to insult my manhood. It is a matter
I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about honor as it if it were a
hobby in which you can choose to indulge in or ignore on a whim!
Anna Maria moaned as she landed on their bed.
you struck me! Anna Maria gasped.
reached down to pull her up “Listen to me, my ‘dearest wife’! If
you breathe a word of my escape to anyone, when I am finished with Diego
and Moneta de la Vega, not even Zorro will be able to protect you!“
Satisfied she was no longer a threat to him, he went downstairs to put
his sadistic machinations into motion. Later that morning he mounted his
favorite horse, Sky Fever, and galloped toward the de la Vega hacienda.
As Del’Amo raced towards the outskirts of Los Angeles, his timepiece
told him that it was almost three thirty and it would be dark soon. But
Sky Fever sensed his master’s impatience and Ricardo could have sworn
that his mount ran so fast that the animal’s hooves barely touched the
ground. It was almost two weeks before Christmas and he knew that Diego
and Moneta, like the rest of the local hacendados, usually spent the
daylight hours shopping for the de la Vegas’ La Noche Buena
Posada on Christmas Eve. If my luck holds, I am certain to meet Señor
and Señora de la Vega just before the last bend the road to their
to him, another rider departed from Ricardo’s ‘gilded cage’
several minutes behind him But this rider knew a little traveled short
cut to del’ Amo’s destination...
helped load another of Doña Moneta’s innumerable packages into their
carriage. They had made several previous trips to pueblo without
incident. But today Bernardo was worried since they were going to be
late arriving home. He showed his pocket watch to her.
I did not realize that it is nearly three o’clock; we should have been
home a half-hour ago. Diego will be livid!“ Bernardo wasn’t worried
about his master’s temper. Like Don Alejandro and Don Diego, he
realized that Moneta would be safe only if Ricardo del’ Amo served a
long prison term or if he were dead.
Paco pounded on the de la Vegas’ patio gate. Diego had just opened the
door to the secret room to begin his transformation into El Zorro when
he heard the noise. A sense of dread told him to personally respond.
“Who is there?” he asked as he ran down the stairs to the open the
gate. However, Crescencia reached the gate before him.
Diego! It is Jorge Paco, Don Ricardo’s mozo!”
Crescencia, I know who he is. Please fetch some water for our guest.”
once, Don Diego!”
a Dios!” An exhausted Jorge said as threw himself into a chair. “Don
Diego. Señor Ricardo. Bad news. left the hacienda. H--he is armed with
pistols...looking for you... and Doña Moneta.”
Alejandro came running into the patio as Crescencia had seen him exiting
the library while she was on her way to the kitchen. His father grabbed
Diego. “Over here,” he whispered. “You change into Zorro and I
will get Cresencia to take care of Ricardo’s mozo. Meanwhile
I shall fetch Sergeant Garcia!”
Diego soared back upstairs to the secret room, threw on his black silks
and quickly vaulted himself into Tornado’s saddle. [Blessed Virgin
please do not permit any harm to befall my beloved Moneta or my best
friend, Bernardo!] “Fly my Black Whirlwind, fly! “ He yelled.
body stiffened. He had just stopped long enough to let Sky Fever drink
some water from a nearby stream when he heard a woman’s voice singing
--no -- praise all the Saints! That is Moneta singing her
favorite Christmas carol, Adeste Fiedeles. Moneta’s
voice grew louder and stronger.
quickly hid behind some foliage and watched her carriage approach.
Dios! No Diego! But wait! Moneta was accompanied by Bernardo! How both
of their deaths will torment de le Vega for the rest of his life! Ricardo
chuckled. Oh, what a stroke of luck!
He spurred Sky Fever directly in front of the carriage, aimed both
pistolas at Moneta de la Vega and fired.
Moneta screamed as loudly as she could. Then she felt a sharp burning
sensation across her left temple. She fell from the carriage onto the
Camino Real and embraced the peaceful oblivion rushing to meet her.
as Don Ricardo fired his pistolas, Bernardo threw himself in front of Señora
de la Vega.
heart jumped in his chest as he heard the shots. “BY THE VIRGIN!
HURRY, TORNADO!” he shouted.
leapt from his saddle before Tornado completely stopped. He had arrived
too late. Moneta lay unmoving on the Camino Real, her delicate face
covered with blood. He looked up only to see Ricardo was already
disappearing over a hill. The Fox tenderly reached down to hold his
beloved wife as closely to his heart as possible. Sorrow flooded his
senses so completely he did not hear Don Alejandro and Jorge Paco
dismount from their horses and kneel beside him.