“Don Diego do you have a moment? I would like your
advice about something,” Selena said after her father’s funeral, when
all the guests had departed. Don Alejandro and Bernardo were standing
outside in the patio. Alejandro had been vigorously trying to convince
Selena to accept her father‘s marital arrangements. Selena exhaled
wearily. I can see where Diego acquired his tenacity and stubbornness. And
Don Alejandro still clung to the belief that his son would change his mind
and offer himself to her.
“Don Diego, I require assistance in putting my
father’s estate in order for probation ... “ Selena said as she
indicated for Diego to sit down.
“Of course, señorita, I am at your service,” Diego
replied as he bent his head down to gaze into her eyes, an action that
nearly melted her soul.
No female could resist such a look unless she was utterly
without emotion. Steady, Selena. Are you willing to inspire nothing but
pity in the man by continuing to wear your heart on your sleeve where he
can tear at your self’s core with a mere glance? His touch on her arm jolted Selena
back to reality. She must have said something amiss to anger him because
he abruptly walked away from her. Oh, Santa Maria what have I done?
“Selena. Open your eyes. I will not bite you, I
promise,” he smiled and laughed at his little joke. Diego handed her a
tumbler of dark liquid. “Drink this brandy, all of it. No, do not gulp
it, señorita! Sip it!”
Diego sighed. The señorita was trembling so much her
teeth were chattering. Surely she cannot be afraid of me. he
thought suddenly. “Here let me help you.” Diego held the glass to her
mouth while he placed his arm around her back for support.
Selena stopped breathing as her universe shrank to
include just the two of them, a man trying to help a friend and a lonely
woman vainly trying to tell that man how much she wanted him. But
propriety prevented her from doing so and Selena completely abandoned
herself in Diego’s magnificent hazel eyes. The strength in his arms was
formidable yet he held her as delicately as a piece of china. Diego
forced the liquid fire down her lips as she continued
“Bueno, you managed to finish the brandy. And now your
dueña, Mam’selle Amontildar, should take you upstairs to bed,”
he said gently.
“But Diego, I have to begin sorting through father’s
things so that Señor Colón, his solicitor, can begin settling the
“No, not now, you are exhausted. I shall accept no
excuses. Wait here on the divan,” Diego said gently over his shoulder as
he went to the patio to find her dueña.
While Diego left to retrieve Mam’selle Amontildar,
Selena yawned continuously. Must stay awake. What will Diego think of
me if I let a little amount of brandy... affect ... my... senses. However,
despite her best efforts, her head drooped on her chest and Selena’s
Don Alejandro saw Diego enter the patio and approached
“How did it go?” Alejandro asked Diego gently.
“Meaning did I ask her to marry me?”
His father slapped his head. “May the saints give me
strength! What else could I possibly mean? Diego, the señorita
needs a strong man to guide and protect her. I fear if you do not take for
your wife she will have return to Spain. Selena cannot remain here alone
and unmarried! The very idea is absurd. Of course, her sister’s husband
may force her to enter a convent,” Don Alejandro added darkly.
Diego looked at the ground. “Father... she is so vulnerable
right now. It would be dishonorable for me to take advantage of her
distraught emotional state. The last thing that she needs is a marriage of
Don Alejandro shrugged. “It is said that time heals
all wounds. Let us hope for Selena’s sake that the old proverb is
Diego and Selena’s dueña returned to the sala
only to find Señorita de Rojas fast asleep.
“Mais mon cher,” Mam’selle Perrileaux whispered,
“me, I am so very glad to see you resting.” She turned to face Don
Diego. “Her, she worry herself sick dat she caused her pere to
die, Monsieur. I tell her dat not her fault, but her, she no believe
“Of course not, Selena is upset over her father’s
sudden death and is talking sheer nonsense, Mam'selle Amontildar. Selena
has to grieve for Don Martino in her own way and whenever she raises that
issue I shall endeavor to convince her she was certainly not responsible
for her father’s untimely death.” Diego gazed down at the dozing
Selena. “I will carry her upstairs, con permiso.”
Selena did not even stir as he deposited on her bed. She
is lovely and she will find a caballero who will treasure her, I know she
will. Diego thought as he kissed her gently on her cheek and drew the
coverlet over her. “Hasta la luega, señorita.”
Zorro rode later that night for personal reasons. He
needed to clear his head for his thoughts were filled with the lovely Señorita
de Rojas. Would she return to Spain and enter a convent as his father
speculated? Or would Selena remain here, ignored by polite society as a
figure of curiosity or pity as a lone female without the protection of a
husband? Women in his culture were elevated on a pedestal. Men assigned
their destiny in life to them. They were to be virgin wives or nuns or
creatures of questionable virtue. There was no middle ground - everything
in their existence was either black or white. What a waste, he
concluded, and how unfair to have your life all plotted in advance by
others without a thought given to what a woman wanted or what she might
be capable of doing with her life? At least I had a choice, and I thank
God for being allowed to shape my destiny as I saw fit. As for me I have
to determine if my attraction to Selena is just affection or the
beginnings of a deeper relationship. I must see her again, but this time
as the Fox.
Tornado suddenly drew to a halt and snorted. “I hear
them, my friend.” The Fox patted his horse’s head affectionately. Hmm
... riders from the pueblo, singing loudly and most probably drunk. Zorro
pulled his mount into some
The Masked Avenger pulled his own pistola and wheeled
Tornado directly into the drunken men’s path, causing one rider’s
horse to rear and throw the caballero to the dirt. “Hola, señores! And
may I hazard a guess as to where you have spent your evening’s
Don Hector gasped “Zorro!”
“Ai! ‘Tis The Fox!” Don Cornelio exclaimed as he
fumbled for his pistola.
“Oh. NOOOOOOOOO,” wailed Don Lorenzo.
“Be quiet, Hector, Zorro is no ordinary bandito.
Sí, he will not rob us!” said Don Cornelio Sanchez as he held onto his
mount while trying to get up from his undignified fall.
“Do not presume to know what I am thinking, señor.
Now throw your weapons on the ground, pronto!“ The Fox said as he
motioned for them to throw down their sabers and any pistolas they may be
“Hurry up, señores, “ the Fox said as he
“Señor Zorro, I am Don Hector ...”
“I know who you and your compadres are and
where you have been celebrating tonight. At La Casa, eh?”
“Sí. Sí. S-Sí!” the three inebriated hacendados
chorused between noisy hiccups.
“For shame!” Zorro said disgustedly. “By day you
brave gentlemen decry the onerous taxes that Commandante Glorioso imposes
upon you and yet by night you gladly pay him enormous sums of money
for food, drink and female companionship!”
“How wrong you are, Don Hector! Do you not realize
that no man is an island? Your patronage of that sordid place demeans both
the young unfortunate women in question and yourselves! Are you blind to
the evil you are encouraging in this community by favoring that
establishment?” Zorro asked quietly. “When the Commandante has amassed
enough wealth he will try to steal your estates, my fine hidalgos.”
The trio said nothing and the Fox could not tell whether
the dons’ silence resulted from the truth of his lecture or their
advanced state of inebriation.
“Now tell me Dons Hector, Cornelio, and Lorenzo do you
have any pesos remaining in your wallets? Come, come, gentlemen! My finger
grows weary on this pistola’s trigger!” The Fox wiggled his and
Don Hector’s own weapon at them.
Very reluctantly, they threw their money on the ground.
Don Lorenzo Videras was upset. “Cornelio, I thought
you said Zorro was not going to rob us?”
“Shut up!” Don Cornelio retorted, “and do as the
“Excellent advice, Don Cornelio,” Zorro grinned.
“Now the rest of you dismount and remove your boots. QUICKLY!” he
shouted. “ I have other urgent affairs to conclude this night!”
“W-hat are you going to do to us?” Don Lorenzo asked
“Simply this, gentlemen. First, you are going to walk
home in your stocking feet and I shall release your horses later so they
can return to their respective stables. Secondly,” Zorro said as he
waved his pistola in the air, “I am going to leave each of you with a
memento of our meeting this evening!”
With rapid flicks of his wrist he carved three “Z’’s”
one on each of their chaquetas.
“Thirdly, I shall make a donation to Father Felipe in
your names with these lovely pesos you have generously entrusted to me.
And lastly, if I ever hear or see any of you in Capitán Glorioso’s
place of business again, I shall
Zorro remounted Tornado and yelled after them. “Señores,
in the future please quote Shakespeare correctly. After all, his sense of
rhyme and meter is far superior to yours! Buenos noches!”
Don Hector Armando sighed resignedly as they began their
long journey on foot. “‘Ay, yi, yi!”
“What are you worried about Hector?” Don Lorenzo
said as they stopped to rub their aching feet. “Surely you are not
concerned about losing five pesos?”
“Of course not!” Don Cornelio snapped. “But if
Zorro should tell Doña Armando----”
Don Hector nodded, nervously contemplating the fury of
Doña Cecilia’s anger, and any soothing of her dismay would be extremely
expensive and therefore the most painful of all punishments. “By all
that is holy, querida Cecelia,” he imagined himself saying to his
wife when she learned the truth regarding his ‘business appointments’
in the Pueblo during the past two months, “I did not mean any harm
... I shall never visit La Casa again. I swear an oath on my mother’s
“You are afraid of your wife?” Don Lorenzo
was aghast. “Surely not!”
“Lorenzo, have you ever seen Doña Armando?” Don
“Lucky man!” Both of his companions chorused.
END OF CHAPTER TEN