LE COUP DE GRACE
are just like my father, Don Alejandro; now you are old and useless!
Furthermore, Don Juan del‘Amo does not speak to me in such a
disrespectful tone and I will not tolerate it from you!” The deranged caballero
suddenly swerved around in front of Don Alejandro and barely missed
striking the elder de la Vega with his pistola butt.
WATCH OUT!” ‘Diego’ attempted to move from his patio chair but as
he rose he found one of del’Amo’s two pistolas aimed directly
between his eyes.
laughed frenziedly. “Poor Diego! Attempting to be a gallant caballero
at this late stage of your legendary aimless life! Nevertheless, I do
admire your courage, as pitiful as it is! As for you, Don Alejandro, I
see that there is still some fight in you yet!”
Don Alejandro taunted del’Amo. “You will find Señor Raton, that
this viejo is full of surprises! Besides, only a coward
would strike an unarmed man!”
by the elder de la Vega‘s nerve, Ricardo exclaimed “Don Alejandro! I
shall deal with you after I have dispatched El Zorro and your son. Do
not be so eager to die!” Del’Amo said as waved one of his pistolas
alarmingly close to Don Alejandro’s head. “But, my plans for you are
flexible, so ...“
father decided to give the obviously insane young man one more chance to
retreat from the edge of the deadly and immoral abyss that del‘Amo had
immersed himself in, unable either to save his mind from madness or his
soul from eternal damnation. “Don Ricardo, por favor, it
is still not too late to surrender to Sergeant Garcia ....“
Alejandro never finished his suggestion, because del’Amo shoved him
back down into his seat. ‘Diego’ saw his opportunity to disarm the
madman. He rushed toward Ricardo and in the ensuing struggle, one of
del’ Amo’s weapons suddenly discharged.
DE DIOS!!” ‘Diego’ yelled painfully. He held his left shoulder
gingerly with his other arm and he winced as he tried unsuccessfully to
get up from the floor.
Alejandro quickly recovered his wits and he bent down to help his son up
from the patio floor. “Let me take a look at it, ‘Diego!’” His
father gently tore aside the jaqueta’s fabric and ripped open the
shirt material. Don Alejandro whispered “Are you all right,
actor nodded. “Sí.” Joaquin also whispered. “And .. remember to
call me ‘Diego’ “Father” he said in a strained voice. “We have
been in situations far worse than this, eh?”
his vantage point just outside the patio gate, Zorro’s blood boiled as
he saw and heard everything that happened in the de la Vega Patio. Please
amigo mio, find it in your heart to forgive me! Joaquin, I
promise that Ricardo shall pay dearly for this!
in their bedroom, Doña Moneta stifled a scream. Although she longed to
rush downstairs and discover who was injured, she remained there as El
Zorro told her until either he or Ricardo came to get her. She fervently
prayed to the Blessed Virgin that the Fox would soon make his
white haired don winked at ‘Diego.’ He took a closer look at his
son’s injury. “Ah, the musket ball appears to have exited the
shoulder there ....it is a clean wound, ‘Diego!’”
Alejandro looked angrily at Ricardo. “Por favor,” please allow me to
call Jorge Paco so that my servant can help make my son comfortable!”
Ricardo sighed melodramatically “Of course. I am not a cruel man....
call for Jorge Paco, and your mozo, Felipe Lopez, to bring
some bandages, brandy, and enough rope to tie up four men.”
Paco quickly did as he was told. The tall Indian was very adept at
dressing wounds and he rubbed some native ointment on the injury.
‘Diego’ drank some brandy and soon he was no longer grimacing from
pain. Minutes later, Jorge Paco had bound and gagged the two de la
Vegas. Ricardo forced the Indian servant and Don Alejandro’s mozo
to lie on the patio floor while del’Amo tied up their hands
Let me see...There are still two guests who have not yet accepted my
invitation to this evening’s drama. I must have Señora de la Vega
join us.” Ricardo ran upstairs to Diego and Moneta’s bedroom.
"Come on out Moneta, and join our little group. You will regret it
if I am forced to come inside and drag you downstairs. Besides, it shall
be amusing to watch you hover about your beloved caballero!
opened the door almost immediately. “There is no need to be insulting,
Ricardo! I am coming." As they reached the middle of the patio,
Moneta saw the blood staining ’Diego’s’ left shoulder. Since her
vision was still somewhat blurry, Moneta stumbled through the patio
furniture towards her injured husband, yelling “Diego! Querido
mio! “ The tears she shed were real. Joaquin was almost as
dear to her heart as Diego.
ANIMAL!” Moneta aimed her fist at Don Ricardo, but with her poor
eyesight, the blow fell quite wide of its intended target.
you little ...” del’Amo had raised his arm to strike her but was
interrupted by a very familiar baritone voice.
his position just outside the patio gate Zorro had heard and seen
enough. He climbed on top of the gate and straddled it. "You have
been expecting me, have you not Señor del'Amo? " The Fox
announced. “I would not hit Señora de la Vega, if I were you. But
then I forget, you love to abuse women. And only cowards strike
looked up. "Zorro!” he exclaimed. “Do you not realize that a
gentleman does not keep his guests waiting?
But then, you are certainly no gentleman!"
Fox jumped down onto the patio floor. "Then you will pardon me for
being late. Shall we get down to business Señor? Now release Señora de
you wish.” Ricardo whirled Moneta around, ready to toss her directly
at the bound and gagged ‘Diego,’ when she lashed out with her foot
and kicked him -- hard--on his left shin.
Ricardo wailed. “Why you little hija...”
leapt toward Ricardo and pulled Doña Moneta aside.
Moneta, you had better stand back so that you will not be in any danger
from this ganallo! “ In one fluid motion El Zorro swept
off his cape and threw himself into their duel while yelling “Aayyaaahh!“
He did not even give Ricardo time to adopt a fencing stance. The Fox
immediately executed a deep lunge and his saber rapidly cut its
target--Ricardo's left wrist. Del'Amo was astonished. That particular
move was nearly always fatal when performed by such an expert swordsman
Ricardo quickly recovered his wits. "Do not expect that special
courtesy from me, El Zorro, for I mean to kill you where you stand--or
where you fall, I am not particular! "
not, Señor. I expect nothing but the worst from you because you are a
rapist and wife beater!”
ran over to where ‘Diego’ was tied up and aimed his saber at Diego.
“Another word from you, Señora de la Vega, and he dies now!”
took her cues from El Zorro, who waved her back from their very tight
me to handle Señor del’Amo, fair Señora de la Vega.“
Dark Knight swiftly initiated another complex attack, beginning with
simple feints, which at first puzzled del’Amo. Then he realized the
Hunter was taunting the Hunted. Soon del’Amo recognized Zorro’s
trademark ploys designed to trick Ricardo into lowering his saber from
defending his upper chest, so he easily parried the Fox's moves.
that is the best you can fence, my dear deluded outlaw,
then you should concede defeat now, for you are a doomed man!“ mocked
his lower lip, Zorro told himself to ignore Ricardo’s voice and
concentrate on deciphering his enemy’s tactics. Del’ Amo had always
been an excellent but reckless swordsman. He loved making bold, flashy,
and theatrical slashes to distract his opponents.
Zorro commenced a new attack of rapid, hard thrusting moves with his
saber, not permitting del‘Amo time to think, to formulate a defense.
Then he switched techniques, using ‘beating and pressing blows‘,
striking del‘Amo‘s weapon as hard as if he were a blacksmith forging
a new blade. Del‘Amo followed one of the Fox‘s elegant misdirections
and Zorro yelled triumphantly: HIYAAAHH!”
Fox had moved the tip of his saber along the inside of
Ricardo’s sword. Zorro twisted his wrist slightly and Del’Amo’s
weapon arched into the air. He snatched Ricardo’s blade in mid-orbit
and then lunged forward and rested his own saber point against
Ricardo’s chest. Needless to say, this was not the result of their
duel that Zorro’s opponent envisioned at all!
Masked Avenger slammed del’Amo’s saber on the floor and withdrew
it up, ganallo!”
me, Señor Fox!“ Ricardo said sarcastically. But we both know that you
won ‘t because you are a coward!’
a nearly invisible stroke Zorro carved a small “z” on Ricardo’s
left cheek. “There. I think my little trademark becomes you, porco!
Now pick up your weapon and fight!”
del’Amo’s earlier warning her to remain silent, Moneta chuckled
mortified, Ricardo eagerly retrieved his saber. “No more jokes, Senor
Fox! Prepare to die!” He deftly began using crossover strokes, again
and again drawing his opponent’s sword away from his original line of
defense. Del'Amo was promptly rewarded when Zorro followed one Ricardo's
tricks [which he learned in one of Monsieur Girard’s lessons], and
permitted his saber to penetrate the Fox's defense. Zorro managed to
jump aside in time to avoid del'Amo’s follow through thrust.
very well played, Señor, you nearly caught me that time! " said
the Dark Knight, sketching a small bow in his direction. " My
was livid; the man was truly insufferable! He suddenly started hurling
chairs and shoving tables at Zorro, hoping that he could deprive the Fox
of a moment’s rest.
for shame, Señor! It is such bad form to attempt to hurt one’s
opponent by throwing furniture!
Fox continued to tease Ricardo mercilessly, both verbally and with his
trusty saber. Zorro moved so quickly in using his feints that he had
del‘Amo repeatedly running up and down the patio. He did not permit
Ricardo anytime to recover from one set of his attacks to another, and
he continued to goad del’Amo into making a serious, if not fatal
Señor, you can fight better than this! Do not know how to properly
execute a deceit? Zorro laughed again. “Forgive me. But all of your
ripostes have been, dare I say it --quite transparent!”
face reddened. "I am going to kill you, cut by cut, piece by piece,
until you are begging me for mercy!” he shouted at the Fox.
that overconfidence is a path to sure death, the Fox continued mixing up
his series of classic tricks, forcing Ricardo to constantly adopt new
defenses to parry Zorro’s attacks.
the two bitter enemies fought, Doña Moneta busied herself with
releasing Diego and Alejandro’s bonds. But Ricardo saw her untying her
husband and his father. He was so infuriated that he leapt over one of
the fallen patio chairs and poised his saber to stab Señora de la Vega
in the back.
flung himself across the patio and tackled del’Amo. The caballero’s
head grazed the edge of a patio table leaving him momentarily stunned.
The Fox lifted Ricardo’s blade from the ground and patiently waited
for him to recover his senses. However, ‘Diego’ grabbed a small
decanter filled with Jerez and poured its contents over
del’Amo’s face. Using the toe of his boot, the Fox roughly urged
Ricardo to his feet. “Our duel is incomplete, Señor del’Amo! En
garde!” ‘Diego‘, Moneta and Don Alejandro together shouted
am ...ready, Señor Fox!” Del’Amo shakily replied, silently cursing
himself for his own ineptitude.
the better part of another half-hour the two men danced a dance of
elegantly choreographed but lethal swordplay. Their sabers repeatedly
clanged like the heavy, dark mood of a funeral dirge.
appeared all over Ricardo’s face, neck and arms as Zorro’s signature
speedy ripostes increasingly found their targets. Now Del’Amo’’s
strength waned as his cuts were bleeding profusely. Ricardo had
forgotten that a warrior should remain calm at all times during a duel.
A logical poised warrior could easily deceive his attacker and make the
warrior’s offense quickly lethal to his opponent. Ricardo was so
tired, that the only thing he saw clearly was that he must
eliminate Zorro and then Diego from his life because they were the root
of all his troubles.
fought on, but Zorro’s sword and skill were too great. The
Dark Knight continued to burst through del’Amo’s weakened defenses.
Moneta, Diego and Don Alejandro actually winced when Zorro’s blade
pierced del’Amo’s fabric and flesh.
BY ALL THE SAINTS!!” Ricardo moaned after he made one final desperate
lunge and Zorro automatically saw his chance to push his saber deep into
del’Amo’s left shoulder.
screamed in pain. ‘Diego’ bent down slowly to retrieve del’Amo’s
saber and threw it to Zorro.
‘Señor de la Vega‘.”
no,” ‘Diego’ replied, his baritone voice muffled by his head
bandage, “Thanks to you, Moneta and I shall be able to live happily
spit on the ground in front of ‘Diego.’ “Zorro, I am begging you
to kill me! I cannot bear living with the knowledge that --the point of
the Fox’s saber against his chest erased the contempt in his tone when
Ricardo nodded toward Moneta and Diego --those two live. And YOU, EL
ZORRO, have conquered me in a duel yet again, but I shall always
consider you to be a coward!”
Doña Moneta shook her head. “Señor del’Amo, you are quite mistaken
as usual. “You are the only coward here. It takes far
more courage to live rather than to die!” Moneta de la
Vega said with conviction. She held her outstretched hand up to Zorro.
Fox kissed her palm and favored her with a sweeping bow. “Señora, señores,
I truly must be going. Before coming here, I took the liberty of sending
for Sergeant Garcia. As you are aware, the good Sergeant and I well, we
are like oil and water. Hasta la luego!” Zorro yelled as he
disappeared over the hacienda’s walls.
his hatred of Ricardo del’Amo, Jorge Paco cleaned and dressed his
wounds while Don Alejandro aimed del‘ Amo‘s own weapons at him.
Sergeant Garcia and his men arrived, they were more than happy to get
rid of the still kicking, screaming and cursing Ricardo del’ Amo. It
took four soldiers besides Corporal Reyes to subdue him long enough to
shackle his limbs. And Sergeant Garcia was thrilled to transfer the
ruined man to Monterey locked and chained inside an iron bar reinforced
Garcia helped his soldiers push -- hard -- Don Ricardo into the prison
Don Diego, you are injured! Shall I send a couple of lancers to fetch
Dr. Perez? It will not take long to bring him here to the
hacienda!’” Sergeant Garcia said worriedly.
Sergeant. Jorge Paco here has done a splendid job with the wound. The
musket ball is not lodged in the shoulder. We can fetch Dr. Perez in the
and Don Alejandro noticed that the sergeant was staring at ‘Diego's’
face with a puzzled look.
order to distract him, Don Alejandro started walking the Acting
Comandante to the patio gate. “Something is bothering you, Sergeant
Garcia?” he asked.
Sergeant Garcia hesitated. ‘’About Don Diego’s face...” He
frowned, reluctant to continue.
overheard Garcia’s remark. ‘I... have a very bad ...toothache. The
pain. The swelling...”
squinted at ‘Diego’ in the semi-darkness. “Ah, of course. No
wonder your face seemed different ...how the swelling must hurt! I
sincerely hope that Dr. Perez can help you in the morning! Buenos noches!
Diego’ and Doña Moneta both bade him good night.
the Acting Comandante stopped in front of Don Ricardo.
have something to say to you, Don Ricardo. If I were not a soldier of
the King I would strangle you myself for nearly killing the Little One
and the lovely Señora de la Vega!”
cares WHAT YOU THINK, SERGEANT!" Del’Amo shouted.
Garcia ordered, gag the prisoner and drive on! "Buenas
noches again, Señores and Señora de la Vega!”