SORROW AND GRIEF
DECEMBER 7, 1821
DE LA VEGA HACIENDA
stopped Jorge Paco’s horse and told him to ride back to bring the
soldiers to the scene. After Jorge departed, Alejandro desperately tried
to pull Zorro away from the stricken Moneta de la Vega. Don Alejandro
whispered: "Señor Fox! Diego, the soldiers are
directly behind us! You must leave now! We shall take care of Senora de
la Vega. Now go! " he whispered frantically. But the Fox remained
immobile, grasping Moneta tightly in his arms as if he could will her
awake to tell her that everything would be fine.
Zorro shook his
head. “NO! I promised Don Diego that I would protect her from that ganallo
Ricardo del’Amo!” I cannot leave her! Father, do not ask me to leave
her again! Moneta ... Moneta!”
Moneta tried to
murmur something but she felt as if she had suddenly become a puppet,
with an outside force manipulating her movements, her speech, and her
thoughts. A fiery hot wall of pain prevented her from recognizing her
surroundings. She lay helpless in someone’s arms ... wait the voice..
Seemed familiar, repeatedly calling her name....
gasped, “Ricardo.. shot me.. Bernardo ..Where
is he?” then she lapsed into unconsciousness.
Fox groaned as she closed her eyes.
“No, my son, I
shall see you very soon at home. Leave now! ANDALE! PRONTO!“ Somehow,
Alejandro de le Vega pushed him away toward Tornado. The elder de la
Vega helped him into the saddle and slapped the black stallion‘s rear
Zorro ran Tornado
as far away from the wreckage as he could knowing that he was close to
breaking down. But he somehow managed to restrain himself from crying
until he heard the soldiers’ bugle sound at the top of the hill. The
Fox bent down over Tornado’s neck and wept unashamedly as he turned
his horse toward home. Just as he began to spur Tornado into a full
gallop he realized that he did not see Bernardo anywhere! [Oh, by
all the Saints!] Regardless of the consequences, Zorro circled
around and returned to the scene of Ricardo’s awful revenge. He
dismounted from Tornado and watched helplessly as the soldiers began to
examine the bloody ambush site.
surveyed the scene before him. "Madre di Dios! What happened here?
Why it is Moneta de Vega! But who could have attacked her, Don
Jorge Paco spoke
up. “It was my master, Don Ricardo, Sergeant Garcia! He swore that he
would have his revenge on the de la Vegas. I came to look for Dons
Alejandro and Diego to warn them of my master’s evil plans!“
Garcia!“ Don Alejandro exclaimed. We need to get Doña Moneta to the
doctor. I have already sent word for him to meet me at my hacienda. And
--“ he hesitated --Bernardo! Where is he?”
cried out “OVER HERE, Don Alejandro! I found Bernardo. I am afraid
that he is dead, Sergeant Garcia!“
[Oh no, not the
A now thoroughly shocked Sergeant Garcia mumbled to himself as he went
over to the carriage. He helped Corporal Reyes remove Don Diego's mozo
from under the carriage seat and laid him down next to Doña Moneta.
listened to Bernardo’s chest, shaking his head sadly, he ordered
Reyes, Lugo, Valdez and the others to place Doña Moneta in the rear of
the backboard very carefully. Then Reyes tenderly covered her up. Lugo
and Valdez hurriedly pulled a blanket over Bernard's face and then
Garcia turned around his soldiers and raced toward the de le Vega
Zorro had seen
enough. He spurred Tornado on toward the secret cave as if he were
possessed. His faithful mount sensed his master’s urgency and seemed
to transport him home quicker than a flash of a lightening bolt. He
halted the black stallion outside the de la Vegas’ gate. Zorro burst
through the gate and yelled out:
in the de la Vega hacienda! Atencion! This is El Zorro speaking! Por
favor! Everyone wake up! esta una emergencia! “
what seemed to be an eternity, a bleary eyed Crescencia opened the door
to the sala and held out a lantern before her.
“AAYI! It is Señor
Zorro!” she exclaimed. [Oh, by the Three Marias! He is even more
handsome in person]! Cresencia said to herself. Then she somehow
managed to work up her courage to speak to him! ’”W-What can we do
for you, Señor?’
and Sergeant Garcia are on their way here shortly with Doña Moneta and
Bernardo! Both of them have been shot! Dr. Perez will arrive shortly. so
go and prepare beds for them in the sala! Hurry!”
“At once, Señor
everyone would obey his orders to the letter, the Fox turned Tornado
toward the secret cave. He took care of Tornado as quickly as he could
and then bounded upstairs to change clothes.
have never allowed them to travel without my protection. It is my entire
fault that they were attacked. Moneta, mi preciosa! Bernardo
...my best friend..Oh, my God, Corporal Reyes said that he was dead! he thought angrily. So help me by the Holy
Trinity, I shall hunt down Ricardo like a dog! He suddenly heard
frantic voices in the patio and ran downstairs.
w-what in the world.... Diego sputtered.
“Don Diego, I
have been calling for you! Did you not hear, Zorro said that Don
Alejandro is bringing Doña Moneta and Bernardo home. Don Diego .” She
began to cry. “Someone has shot them both!”
Diego yelled. “Have you begun making up beds?”
She began crying.
“Oh, sí! Poor Doña Moneta and Bernardo.”
please save your tears!” He briefly squeezed her arm. “If I forget
to thank you later for all of your help, I shall say it now. Muchas
Gracias, Señora Crescencia!” His voice broke and this time, he
allowed the tears to flow unchecked.
Minutes later, Don
Alejandro arrived and shouted for help. They had just finished arranging
beds for Moneta and Bernardo when Dr. Perez arrived to treat Dona Moneta
and Bernardo’s gunshot wounds.
believe my good luck!
Ricardo smiled grimly to himself. If that foolish Bernardo had not
thrown himself in front of Doña Moneta, he would have had a much
cleaner shot. Bernardo’s unexpected bravery threw off his aim, but he
was certain he got her with his second weapon. He had waited at the
crossroads just outside the Pueblo de los Angeles just long enough to
learn that his intended victims were dead! MONETA DE LA VEGA AND
BERNARDO ARE BOTH DEAD!
MONETA DE LA
VEGA AND BERNARDO ARE DEAD!! DEAD!! How Don Diego will reproach himself for not being able to
protect them both from me! Yet his mind screamed at the
injustice that seemed to plague Ricardo regarding his ’mistreatment’
As for Jorge
Paco, I shall deal with him at my leisure. he thought bitterly. Ricardo del’Amo returned to his
hacienda just over an hour past sundown. Odd, the only lighting
visible was in the sala. Anna Maria never retires before nine o’clock.
scolding voice greeted him, “You have the gall to return here!
My...son... trust me that I am sick at heart to have such a monster who
masquerades as my son, who pretends to be a man!”
“Be careful, old
man,” Ricardo said quietly. “I would think that such a distinguished
hidalgo named del’Amo would want to protect his
family’s name and honor by spending time and money to keep his son
from serving a long prison term! I have returned to take Anna Maria with
me to Argentina.“ he lied, knowing that his father had usually
believed his lies that Ricardo had told him for almost twenty-five
years. There was no reason for his father not to believe him now.
Don Juan del’Amo
blocked his way. “She is safe with her cousin and uncle in Monterey,
you coward! Wife beater!” Veins protruded from Don
Juan’s thick neck.
packet and I never want to see you again for the short time that I have
left to live!”
son counted the gold but frowned deeply. “Only 4,000 pesos!”
“That, my dear
Ricardo, is all the money you will ever receive from me! All of the
remainder of my property, my hacienda, my import/export business,
cattle, I have placed in trust for my future grandson. YOU shall receive
NOTHING ELSE from me! You have almost half an hour before Governor
Ramirez's soldiers arrive to arrest you for violating your parole!“
hysterically. “I am to be arrested for violating my parole!
No, father, as I told you since the trial, I am not going to serve any
time in prison!”
The younger del’
Amo sat down and lit up a cubano. “My dearest father,
you have always underestimated me. I have done something far more
important than disobeying Judge Vasca’s orders!”
Don Juan trembled
at the sarcasm and coldness in his son’s voice.
Ricardo was still
grinning. “Too shy to inquire, eh? Well, I met Doña Moneta de la Vega
and Diego’s mozo, on their way home from a shopping
trip. For some odd reason, they were not pleased to see me in the
slightest sense of the word!” Ricardo paused briefly. “Where was I?
Oh. yes ...”
“What did you
do?” Don Juan hated to ask this question, but he had to know
His son propped up
his feet on one of the patio tables. “Well,” Ricardo said quietly,
you will hear the fantastic news shortly. Moneta de la Vega and
Bernardo, Diego’s manservant are dead!”
Don Juan felt his
heart leap into his throat. “H-How do you know ?”
father, surely even you can figure this out. I killed
them, of course! And now I intend to remove the remainder of de la Vega
clan from the face of this earth!” Don Ricardo laughed manically.
His father removed
a pistola from his banda. “I almost wish that you would do something
foolish to make me shoot you. GET OUT!”
Ricardo spun on
his heels and never looked back.
Earlier, Dr. Perez
had explained to Diego, Alejandro and Cornelio that the musket balls had
deeply grazed Doña Moneta’s left optic nerve. He emphasized that the
angle at which the pistol was fired was extremely important. Moneta had
regained consciousness long enough to tell Don Alejandro and Sergeant
Garcia that when Ricardo appeared almost directly in front of her and
fired his pistols, Bernardo threw himself across the carriage,
desperately trying to shield her from musket shot.
By performing this
at of heroism, Bernardo had drastically altered the trajectory of the
musket ball. Thus the shot grazed the optic nerve in her left eye rather
than ending up imbedding itself behind the eyeball. Only time would tell
if there were permanent damage to her vision. However, she was now
comatose because when the pistola ball struck her, the
impact threw Moneta from her seat and she hit her head on the side of
the carriage in the fall. Dr. Perez stressed to Diego that his wife
might awaken tomorrow or Moneta could remain unconscious for quite a
while, perhaps for the rest of her life. Diego felt as if his soul had
been ripped from his body. Life without Moneta would be sheer hell
because he would never gain seek the warmth, strength and compassion of
a woman’s love.
Don Diego sat
alone in the tiny de la Vega chapel in the rear of their hacienda
praying to the Blessed Virgin and again to his personal favorite saint,
St. Teresa of Avila. Diego had privately decided to go ahead and pray a
special novena to the patron saint of the blind, St. Raphael the
Archangel, who could intercede with God for those suffering from
diseases of the eyes. The young de la Vega recited this prayer:
Raphael, great prince of the Heavenly Court, you are illustrious for
your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by
land or sea, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners, I beg
you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life,
as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the
medicine of God, I humbly pray you to heal the infirmities of the body
of Doña Moneta de la Vega y Esperon, particularly, heal
her blindness, and all other infirmities of her eyes. And grant her the
great grace of purity to prepare her to be the temple of the Holy
St. Raphael, one
of the glorious seven Archangels who stand before the throne of Him who
lives and reigns, ANGEL OF HEALTH, the Lord has filled
your hand with balm from Heaven to soothe or cure Doña Moneta de
la Vega y Esperon’s pain. AMEN.”
And his poor brave
Bernardo lay in the sala with a pistola ball lodged next
to his heart. Dr. Perez had requested a specialist from San Gabriel to
assist him in the delicate surgery that needed to be performed to save
Bernardo’s life. Diego scratched at the stubble on his face and
again choked back tears. Bernardo would never allow him to miss a night
of shaving. What a sight I must be! The unshed tears again poured from
his bloodshot eyes.
father knelt beside him.
”Sí?“ His son
pushed himself from his knees and sat down on a pew. “Oh, my
apologies, father, I did not realize it was you.’
entire cup of tea and in a little while you shall eat some chicken
broth.” Alejandro watched sadly as Diego forced the hot liquid down
realize that is perhaps the darkest hour you have ever experienced, but
God shall give you whatever strength you need to survive. I shall return
in five minutes with the broth.“
Too numbed by
anguish to argue, Diego nodded weakly. When Don Alejandro returned with
some food he discovered his son sound asleep in his pew.
Diego, for you shall need all of your vigor to find that Bastardo
del’Amo and courage to accept whatever fate the Creator decides for
Moneta and Bernardo!” His father whispered as he tossed a blanket over
Moneta opened her
eyes the third morning after Ricardo del’Amo shot her and Bernardo.
She vainly tried to raise her head, but it was heavily bandaged and
She cried out for
Diego to tell him how Bernardo had covered her body with his when he saw
Ricardo pull out his guns. “Where is Bernardo? Diego, is he well?”
Greatly fatigued by this effort to talk, she closed her eyes again.
Her husband and
his father traded worried looks. “Querida," Diego
whispered into her ear, “Bernardo is better. Now take this medicine so
you can sleep.”
beloved ...she mumbled after Diego gave her a teaspoon of some more pain
Dr Perez called
everyone together that afternoon to introduce the surgeon who would
operate on Bernardo the next day. Dr. Manuel Poncé de Salvador was a
former physician to His Spanish Majesty, King Ferdinand VII. He was
visiting his cousin, Dr. Perez, on a two-year tour of Spain‘s colonies
in the New World. Dr Perez immediately told Dr. de Salvador who jumped
at the chance to operate on Bernardo. “Senores, I will allow Don de
Salvador to explain his technique to you!
tardes, Honorable Señores. I discovered a new procedure for sedating
patients, using judicious amounts of chloroform. This greatly alleviates
the intense pain and shock patients suffer while undergoing serious
surgeries as the patients are asleep during the entire procedure.” Dr.
de Salvador told Don Diego and his father. I have had enormous success
in saving patients who would --- and often did-- die from the shock of
undergoing an operation!”
Salvador, what are Bernardo’s chances, with or without surgery?” Don
surgery, I am 100% certain that he will die a slow, agonizing death.
With surgery, I personally give him a forty to forty-five per cent
chance of survival. I await your decision.“
All three hidalgos
permiso, senores, I must retire for the evening to prepare for
Don Diego said to
his father and to Don Cornelio, “I am returning to the chapel ‘to
pray for Bernardo until dinner and after dinner I shall stay with Moneta
for the remainder of the night.”
Dr. Perez and his
Master Associate, Enrique Ferrara, assisted Dr. de Salvador in the
operation. No one was allowed in the sala, which served as the makeshift
operating theater, because Dr. Salvador firmly believed that germs
caused infections, and he had Señor Ferrara scrub down the wooden
operation table and clean all surgical instruments with alcohol.
surgery began promptly at seven a.m. and lasted nearly three and
half-hours. When it was over, Dr. Perez sent for Don Diego and Don
Alejandro. Dr. de Salvador smiled. “I successfully removed the pistola
ball. By the Grace of God, it had not pierced the pericardium,
or the lining around the heart. Bernardo will recover fully!”
Don Diego hugged
his father. “Let us go and tell Moneta, my son!’
Diego shook his
head. “First, I believe that I have someone very important to
thank.” He left the gentlemen in the library and went to the chapel.
Jorge Paco, the de
la Vega’s new Indian servant, was the first to hear the frantic
knocking on the hacienda’s patio gate.
padrone!” Jorge exclaimed, “How can I serve you? It is
almost dawn, and everyone is still asleep!”
“By all the
Santos, who is here at this hour?” Don Alejandro angrily demanded as
he came downstairs. ‘”Why Don Juan, you are the last person I
Alejandro, I came to warn you, especially Diego and Moneta. I have just
disinherited my son, and I have sent Anna-Maria back to Monterrey after
Ricardo -- abused her. Alejandro, Ricardo shall not rest until he has
killed all of you de la Vegas. He admitted shooting Doña Moneta and
Bernardo! He has become a raving lunatic! “I-I--” the sobbing Don
Juan collapsed on a patio chair.
“It is difficult
to watch your son grow to into someone -- something so twisted and so
unlike yourself, Juan. Stay with us for a while, por favor!”
Alejandro told his friend. He looked up at Diego who was standing on the
balcony and nodded curtly.
Diego had been watching and overheard their conversation from his balcony. He silently waved to his father and ran into the secret room. It was time for the Masked Avenger to ride.