THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED
quickly removed his jaqueta and threw on the black silks of his Zorro
costume. He had to begin his hunt for Ricardo del’Amo as soon as
possible because his former friend had gone quite mad. Now his dear wife
Moneta, and his mozo Bernardo, had both been wounded by
Ricardo del’Amo on their way home from a shopping trip to the Pueblo
for some Christmas Posada items. Whether or not his grievances with the
de la Vegas were real or imagined, Del’Amo had burned a very important
bridge behind him.
Moneta’s plea for leniency after the libel and slander trial was the
lone voice of reason amidst a community, which demanded a very public
and protracted punishment for Don Ricardo. Zorro certainly did not agree
with those few inhabitants of Los Angeles who, because it was the
Christian thing to do, wanted fair and humane treatment of Don Ricardo.
No, Don Ricardo had thrust too many painful arrows into the Fox’s
soul. Zorro had to bring del’Amo to justice his way.
They would duel to the death; regardless of what the law said was the
appropriate penalty for attempted murder.
as he was about to enter the secret cave, Don Alejandro caught Zorro at
the top of the stairwell. "El Zorro, what I have to say will
greatly disturb you but it must be said! I realize that you are being
sorely tried by the recent horrible turn of events, but remember to ask
Our Savior the strength to capture and not kill him!”
Zorro shouted. “Father, surely you must be joking! I intend to--“
Alejandro shook his head. "No, you must not take he law into your
own hands! The Masked Avenger has always stood on the side of justice.
You cannot appoint yourself judge, jury, and executioner. If you kill
Ricardo del'Amo in cold blood, the people of California will not
understand. It will appear that Don Diego de la Vega has hired you as a
mercenary to take care of his ’ problem.’ "
beyond almost all-human endurance, Zorro punched a wooden support beam
in the cavern wall. He put down the lantern on the table and turned to
his father. “But I cannot permit Ricardo to escape the consequences of
his actions again! He must pay the full price for his terrible
grabbed his son's shoulders. “And I cannot allow you to commit
Alejandro riveted his eyes on Zorro’s own hazel ones, eyes tortured by
the uncertainty that his beloved Moneta, although no longer in a coma,
might remain trapped inside a dark universe of permanent blindness.
am I going to do?" Zorro squeezed his eyes shut, unwilling to face
the truth in his father's gaze. [Dear God,] the Fox prayed, [I
must not betray the people of Alta California’s faith in me to do the
right thing, and I must remain true to my personal moral values. I
cannot take Ricardo’s life just because it is convenient thing for me
to do. I am not above the law, I enforce the law!’]
Alejandro continued his lecture. It must be having some effect as
Zorro’s entire frame relaxed somewhat. "In your heart, Señor
Zorro, you know you cannot do this awful thing. Promise me you will not
kill Ricardo del'Amo unless he gives you no choice, that you will only
use deadly force in the name of self-defense. "
father watched as a myriad of emotions struggled for dominance across El
Zorro’s face. What truly hurt his son the most was he had been unable
to protect Moneta and Bernardo from that madman del'Amo. He knew that
Diego believed that he since was the Fox, he should have foreseen all
Fox picked up the lantern. "All right, father, I hereby pledge by
my word of honor that I will not kill Ricardo del'Amo. I shall do
everything possible to bring him back to Los Angeles to face the
King’s justice. “
my son! Although this does not feel ‘right‘ to you at this moment,
you will never regret your decision.”
in the distant future.” Zorro smiled wanly. He paused again mumbling
to himself. “By the Three Marias! But there is one matter I have
is it?" asked his father.
it is going to be rather difficult to explain Don Diego's absence from
his wife's bedside. But I have just thought of an idea.” He picked up
a quill from the table and began writing out a note.
please have this message taken to Don Joaquin, the son of Don Alfredo.
He and his acting troupe have been staying in Los Angeles for the past
couple of days. Don Joaquin owes me some favors. He is a man of many
talents and of many faces, which is the perfect solution to help my
being in two places simultaneously!“
Alejandro read the note and laughed. "You are right my son! This is
a wonderful idea! Vaya con Dios !"
watched in aggrieved silence as his son embarked on perhaps the most
dangerous ride that El Zorro would ever make. Then he sent Jorge Paco to
look for Don Joaquin in Los Angeles and gave him instructions to bring
his friend's son back to the de la Vega hacienda as quickly as possible!
Maria sat dejectedly in Dr. Tomas Guerrero’s office near Los Angeles,
after he told her that she was with child.
Guerrero, are you certain… we have been married for such a short
smiled down at her. “Sí, Doña Anna Maria! By my calculations you are
not quite three weeks pregnant. Congratulations. Now, I want to see you
every four weeks or so. You are in excellent health and you should be
able to give birth without any major problems. Buenas tardes, Señora
Maria cried all the way back to the hacienda in San Gabriel. [Already!
It is too soon for me to get pregnant! I cannot believe that I am
carrying that monster, Ricardo's baby! What in heaven's name am I going
to do? I realize that I have deceived not only Don Juan and
Ricardo but also have greatly cheated this innocent child and myself.
Juan del'Amo was waiting for Anna Maria when she returned to the rented
hacienda. "What was the doctor's diagnosis? " he asked kindly,
although he already knew the answer.
shook her head. “It was just as I suspected -- I am pregnant. "
Anna Maria began crying again.
father gathered her in his arms. "There is nothing to be ashamed
of, my dear! You ... were in love with my son at the time when you
married him, were you not?”
I managed to deceive myself -- and Ricardo -- into believing that I
could love him. I suppose the Masked Avenger shall always hold my heart
Juan nodded. “I thought as much. Nevertheless, God has seen fit to
send you a child. No human has ever had the luxury of selecting his/her
parents! You are a del’Amo now and I shall have a grandchild!” He
smiled warmly at her. “Do not worry so. I shall do everything in my
power to make the child's life as comfortable as possible. Now, get some
rest. I shall be staying in the bedroom next door and the Governor has
detailed his personal bodyguard to watch over you."
del’Amo managed to convince Father Felipe of the Mission of San
Gabriel that he was sincerely remorseful about attacking Senora de la
Vega and Bernardo, Diego de la Vega’s mozo. The fool,
unable to tell whether or not I am being truthful. I shall stay here
another day and then start out tomorrow night for the de la Vega’s
hacienda. Diego, he thought caustically, I no longer care that
you are incapable of handling a sword. You shall tremble and die at the
point of my saber!
to Ricardo del'Amo, Father Felipe had told two of his Indian
“children“ constantly watch his newest guest at all times. Shortly
after Ricardo appeared at the mission gate, the priest sent a message to
Don Juan that his son was hunting for Don Diego.
young caballero laughed in his face when Father Felipe tried to explain
to him how deep into spiritual trouble Ricardo had placed his mortal
soul by his attempted murder of Doña Moneta and Bernardo.
do not understand father; Don Diego de la Vega has insulted me for last
time! I am a member of the gente de razon! My family's
blood is richer and much older than the de la Vega clan! Therefore, we
del'Amo's are far superior to any other family in Alta California!
pity you, " said Father Felipe, "for you have finally gone
mad!” The friar bowed his head. “Of course, I shall continue to pray
for your soul."
his great surprise, Ricardo del'Amo actually looked chastened.
"Father, Diego and I have been rivals since childhood. But as I
have already explained to you, I cannot allow that inferior
blood think that he is better that I am. It is as simple as that. "
Felipe was aghast. "Señor, we're all the same in God's eyes.
Surely you cannot mean what you are saying! "
waved his pistol in the air. "This weapon, father, is the only
justice I know! At least now, it is the only justice I can trust! Turn
around!” del’Amo said as he bound and gagged the good friar.
yourself, old man, and perhaps I shall allow you to live!”
and Tornado had fruitlessly searched the countryside between San Gabriel
and Los Angeles throughout the night. Finally, they stopped at a small
stream near the Mission so that they both could satisfy their thirst.
The Masked Avenger looked up at the night sky and noticed that the moon
was in her last quarter. He prayed that his good luck charm, "the
Queen of the Heavens," as the local Indians called the moon, would
bring him luck tonight.
Celestial Majesty reigned alone in the sky above him tonight. Dull gray
white clouds began to obscure most of his view of the moon. As he
continued his night ride, the sky became even more overcast, and the
stars seemed to wink themselves out of existence. When the Masked
Avenger approached the mission at San Gabriel, he saw that the lights in
the chapel and Father Felipe's quarters were still blazing at this late
hour. Strange, he thought, for the good father to be up past
midnight. Perhaps his preparations for the Mission‘s own small Posada
on December 16 are incomplete. I wonder.
dismounted from Tornado and he instructed the stallion to wait for him
at the rear of the chapel. He noticed a large chestnut horse being
freshly saddled and loaded with blankets and supplies as he made his way
around the mission grounds toward the stables, he saw a horse
saddled with several days of provisions. “Dios! It is del’
Amo’s steed, Sky Fever. I hope that Father Felipe is unharmed!“ Zorro
silently crept up to the window of the priest’s room and heard Ricardo
arguing with the good father.
am sleeping here tonight Father and I should warn you that I am easily
awakened. Please sit down in this chair. Fine.” Ricardo said as he
tightened the priest’s restraints. “IF any of your so-called
“children” attempt to rescue you or tries to harm me, I will kill
you. Do you doubt my word?” del’Amo’s face was as cold and
lifeless as marble.
Felipe nodded. “No.”
Then Ricardo pushed down his hat over his face and proceeded to snore
the night away.
stealthily moved to where Tornado was waiting and made camp nearby. He
slept without the warmth of a fire because he did not want Ricardo to
see any smoke in the morning as he left the Mission. The Fox’s prey
mounted his horse just after sunup and turned his steed south towards
[First things first]. Zorro thought angrily. He must
check to see whether or not Father Felipe was still unharmed.
Thank the Blessed Virgin that you are finally here!” Father Felipe
cried out joyfully after the Fox released him. “Ricardo del’Amo--”
padre, I know what he has done. I am going to capture him today. That is
my solemn promise!” He quickly freed the priest and brought him some
you. El Zorro!”
Father. Are you certain that you and the Indians are not hurt?” The
Fox asked in a worried tone.
for Innocente’s brother, Pasqual. Señor del’Amo struck him with his
whip because he tried to defend me from that poor lost soul!“ Then
Father Felipe saw the hate and contempt aflame in the Fox’s eyes
whenever he mentioned del’Amo’s name.
my son, wait! Listen to me, por favor! I know that you have been
severely tried these past few months. I will tell you the same thing
that I told Ricardo del’Amo. ‘Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.”
Padre.” Zorro knelt before the priest. “Father, I beseech your
blessing. I need the strength only God can provide me to conquer my
desire to kill Ricardo del’Amo.”
Felipe was only too happy to oblige him. “Vaya con Dios, El Zorro!“
Joaquin Sanchez, eldest son of Don Alejandro de la Vega’s friend, Don
Alfredo Sanchez, knocked on the de la Vega’s sala door. Don Joaquin
had not seen either Diego or Don Alejandro since Joaquin left the
University in Madrid to pursue acting career nearly five years ago.
instructed Jorge Paco to please admit his guest.
father Don Alejandro was immediately struck by Joaquin’s uncanny
physical resemblance to Diego.
Alvarez bowed to Don Alejandro, and then Diego’s father slapped him on
his back. “Good to see you, Joaquin. You are looking splendid.
Apparently, the nomadic life of an actor agrees with you!”
gracias, Don Alejandro! And how are Doña Moneta and Bernardo doing?“
Genuine concern wrinkled his forehead.
most beautiful addition to the de la Vega family continues to improve
daily. However, we still do not know when or if Moneta will regain her
full vision. Since she is so sensitive to sunlight Moneta can no longer
enjoy her daily knitting sessions in the patio. She fatigues easily, so
I only permit her to sit up in the sala thirty minutes or so, in the
late afternoon. As for Bernardo, he was the beneficiary of a wonderful
surgical technique and is doing splendidly. Dr. Perez still has confined
him to bed for a while longer.”
Joaquin sincerely replied.
Joaquin, were you able to follow Diego’s instructions to the
letter?” Don Alejandro asked.
Diego and I are almost exactly the same height, weight and have dark
hazel eyes. I just have to trim my mustache to get it perfect. Of
course, there is really no doubt as to who is the better looking
Alejandro chuckled. “You have not lost your sense of humor, Joaquin!
Por favor, I do not know how much time we have, so why don’t you try
on some of Diego’s suits?“
permiso?” he nodded to Don Alejandro and stepped into Diego’s
bedroom to change his clothes.
than thirty minutes later, Don Alejandro shook his head in amazement as
he reentered his son’s room.
Joaquin was wearing Diego’s buckskin outfit and admiring his handiwork
in the mirror.
father,” ’Don Diego’ said as he bowed deeply to Don Alejandro.
Don Joaquin! We can go see Doña Moneta shortly, as she is the perfect
person upon whom to practice your impersonation of Diego.”
withdrew a cubano from inside his jaqueta and lit it.
“Father,” ’Diego’ said between puffs of cigar smoke, “I have
heard that this ’Don Joaquin’ fellow is an actor! What
a disappointment to his father he must be!” Joaquin said in an almost
letter perfect imitation of his son’s Diego’s voice.
yi yi, carrumba!” Don Alejandro roared.