FURY PART II
Garcia’s friend sagged in his
chair and briefly covered his eyes with his hands as Diego grimaced
visibly. May Jesus have mercy on her soul, he prayed. Another
young lady’s life cruelly extinguished by the diabolical Glorioso.
Patience man, he reminded himself. Be calm and remember your
surroundings because the sergeant would not expect Diego to become so
distraught over a ‘barmaid‘.
“Forgive me, Don Diego. I did not
mean to upset you,” Garcia whispered.
“You neither upset nor offended
me, sergeant. Probably something I ate earlier today. But you have more to
tell me, do you not?” Young de la Vega said as he poured another mug of
wine for Garcia.
"Oh, sí. Don Diego, I must
tell you that I am very disgusted with what Capitán Glorioso is doing
here with the Posada. I do not care at all for the women in this
place," the sergeant used the term “women” as if it were a curse.
De la Vega smiled wanly. He then
tried to inject some levity into the gloomy tone of their conversation.
"I am glad that you feel exactly the same as I do. You know I heard
that Zorro is trying to do something about closing down La Casa?”
"Sí, Don Diego. El Zorro is
quite a thorn in the Commandante’s side. Glorioso is driving all of the
lancers crazy with his constant yelling and screaming about how he will
capture Zorro very soon. Glorioso is very angry with the Fox because
he tried to kidnap several of his best customers. And then the other
night, that rascal of a Zorro personally delivered a threat to the Capitán
“What happened?” Diego
encouraged Garcia, glad to see that his old friend’s mood had changed
for the better.
The sergeant began to chuckle but
quickly smothered his mirth by covering his mouth with one of his massive
hands. “El Zorro tied up some poor sailor and threw him into La Casa
for all the customers to see!”
“No, that diablo!” Diego
replied in a convincingly mocking tone, “tell me, when are you going to
capture that dastardly fellow?”
Sergeant Garcia whispered to Don
Diego. “Ha! The only reason I want to capture him would be to stop the
capitán‘s bellowing! I will tell you something else. I feel ... that I
need a bath after I leave this place!”
“Good for you, sergeant.” Diego
slapped Garcia on his back but also noticed the worried look continued to
darken Garcia’s normally jovial features. “How else can I be of
service to you, sergeant?“
Garcia swiveled his neck to see
exactly how many customers were with earshot. “One never knows,“ he
muttered conspiratorially to Don Diego. “The capitán is planning to
levy some new taxes very soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.”
Diego’s scowl returned. Somehow,
he knew Glorioso would ignore Zorro’s latest threats. It seemed that
evil never rested and the Fox always had to adapt to its many shapes and
forms, in this case, Capitán Glorioso’s Machiavellian ideas.
“Forgive me, sergeant. I suddenly
remembered I have an appointment elsewhere.” Diego turned away from the
sergeant so Garcia could not see the torment on his face as his thoughts
turned once again toward the violent end of Carlita Soto.
“Gracias, Don Diego. Buenos
tardes!” the sergeant at last somewhat mollified that he at last had
wine to drink and not that “stuff one used for bathing, water!“
“Buenos tardes, Sergeant
Garcia!” the caballero called out.
Don Diego was secretly pleased that
Zorro was having such an effect upon the Commandante’s ego. He also knew
from the gossip in the pueblo that Glorioso’s “August and September.
Since El Zorro had conducted his personal conversation with Dons Hector,
Lorenzo and Cornelio, they obviously had told their friends to stay away
from La Casa. So the Fox would continue to tighten the economic
vise around the Capitan’s most lucrative source of income, especially
with the news Garcia had just given him.
Diego casually surveyed the market
place of the Pueblo on this fine warm afternoon in October. The murder of
Carlita Soto-- and he was certain the capitán did kill her-- clouded his
mind with guilt. The wind had shifted since he had his drink with Garcia
at La Casa and it was now blowing from the north, heralding cooler
temperatures for this evening. He untied his palomino from the railing and
climbed into the saddle. To his right, two lancers were nailing up a new aviso
to the Pueblo’s bulletin post. Ai, yi yi! Better take the time to
read the latest news.
The writing was large enough for
him to read clearly from on horseback.
BE IT KNOWN THAT ON THIS TWENTIETH
DAY OF OCTOBER, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE,
THAT THE COMMANDANTE 0F THE PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES HAS DECREED THAT A
SPECIAL HARVEST AND INVENTORY TAX BE LEVIED UPON ALL PERSONS IN THE
DISTRICT, TO WIT:
PEONS SHALL PAY ONE REALE
PER PIECE OF LAND OR PLOT FARMED OR ITS EQUIVALENT VALUE IN PRODUCE.
TRADESMEN SHALL PAY AN INVENTORY OF
ONE PESO PER SHOP AND ONE PESO PER ONE THOUSAND PESOS IN VALUE OF THEIR
GOODS. VALUE OF SAID INVENTORY’S GOODS SHALL BE DETERMINED BY THE
DONS [HIDALGOS] SHALL PRESENT TO
THE TAX AUTHORITY FOUR PESOS PER FIFTY HORSES, TEN PESOS PER ONE
HUNDRED CATTLE. ANOTHER AD VALOREM TAX OF TEN PESOS PER ONE THOUSAND ACRES
OF PASTURE SHALL ALSO BE PAID SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED TAXES.
WRITTEN AND DECREED ON THIS
TWENTIETH DAY OF EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY ONE. GOD BLESS KING FERDINAND
VII, THE IMPERIAL RULER OF THE COLONY OF ALTA CALIFORNIA.
ALL TAXES ARE DUE AND SHALL
BE COLLECTED ON NOVEMBER 3RD, 1821 AND BECOME DELINQUENT AFTER 12 NOON ON
NOVEMBER 3RD. PENALTIES FOR FAILURE
SIGNED THIS 20TH DAY OF OCTOBER,
THE COMMANDANTE OF THE PUEBLO
DE LOS ANGELES
CAPITÁN JUAN GLORIOSO
VISCONDE DE ESTRADA
MADRE DE DIOS! Diego was livid. As always, the poorest of the poor would suffer
the most and he, El Zorro, was at least partly to blame for this latest
turn of events. No, Bernardo is right. The Commandante is responsible
for this chaos, not me. Diego prodded his palomino into a full gallop
and headed home.
Señorita Selena de Rojas and her dueña/criada,
Amontildar, were doing their usual weekly shopping in the Pueblo de Los Ángeles
when the soldiers were affixing Capitán Glorioso’s latest Aviso to the
town plaza message post. Selena had just alighted from her carriage when
she heard Don Diego de la Vega reading the message aloud. She clenched her
fists as he continued to read the Aviso to the small crowd of
people who had gathered around him. Don Diego was so blinded by anger that
he did not even hear Selena call out to him. He sharply wheeled the
palomino around, kicked the horse in its side and galloped from the
Selena decided to pay the
Commandante a surprise visit. I have grown tired of Glorioso’s
sadistic tactics in dealing with our people. Perhaps, for one last time, I
can appeal to his honor and as an officer and a gentleman. The problem
was that Selena knew Capitán Glorioso was an extremely haughty and
sadistic pig, but she felt compelled to speak on behalf of those pobrecitos
whom the Commandante so utterly despised. She walked up to the gates of
the Cuartel and asked Corporal Reyes, who was on duty for permission to
see the Comandante.
Corporal Reyes bowed slightly to
her. “Buenos dias, Señorita. May I extend my regrets regarding the
death of your father?“
“Gracias, Corporal Reyes.“
Selena gave him one of her warmest smiles.
But the lancer was struck dumb by
her kindness and forgot the lady’s request. Ai, yi yi! Such a fine
“What goes on here, corporal?”
Sergeant Garcia’s baritone voice boomed, thoroughly startling poor
Reyes. Then he turned quickly to face Selena. “Oh,
“Gracias, Sergeant Garcia, but
Corporal Reyes was just about to inquire if I could see the Commandante
for a few minutes.”
“Come with me señorita and I
will personally forward your request to the Capitán myself.”
She curtsied slightly, an action
that caused Sergeant Garcia to remove his hat. As for the Corporal, he
remained frozen in place, completely transfixed by her smile.
Garcia knocked on the door of
"Well, what is it?"
shouted the Commandante.
Sergeant Garcia entered and focused
his attention at a spot on the wall above and behind Glorioso. “With
your kind permission, Capitán, Señorita Selena de Rojas would like to
speak with you, sir."
"Oh, would she? What is the
nature of her business?"
"I am sorry Commandante, but I
forgot to ask her."
“Idioso, estupido!” Glorioso yelled at him. “Can you not do anything right?"
The capitán shrugged his shoulders. "Very well then, permission is
granted for the señorita to enter the Cuartel."
Señorita Selena de Rojas answered
Capitán Glorioso's order to enter his office and waited for him to stop
reading the documents that were spread across his desk. However, he
refused to raise his head and acknowledge her presence. Selena sighed to
herself. Very well, Commandante, two people can play the same game. I
shall not let your insolent attitude rattle me.
"Buenos dias, Capitán
Glorioso. Thank you for agreeing to see me today. I realize that you are
"Then why are you here, señorita?
A lady of your breeding and background does not belong in a military
cuartel. I assume that this matter you wish to discuss with me is of vital
importance?" Capitán Glorioso finally made eye contact with Señorita
Rojas, but not before he raked his gaze over her voluptuous form several
“Commandante, may I please sit
"Of course, Señorita, but
please get to the point."
"I noticed your Aviso in
the Plaza regarding the levying of new taxes. Commandante, I can
understand the government’s need for increased revenue, but surely you
cannot wring any more money from the peons in Los
the poor people. Surely, the dons
and tradesmen can afford to pay more taxes. I know that I can." She
waited calmly for what seemed like an eternity for the Commandante's
Capitán Glorioso shook his head.
"Señorita, you should confine yourself to matters of your household
which is befitting a lady of the Grandee class. You
must leave military and civil
matters to the Administrado, namely, me, who is qualified to handle
such affairs.” Glorioso leaned back in his chair and then added. “I am
afraid that as a woman, you simply do not understand either politics or
economics! Now, if you please, Señorita de Rojas, I have important
military business that I must attend to. Buenos tardes,” the Commandante
said, without looking up from the mound of paperwork on his desk.
“I see,” Selena tersely replied. And this ‘mere woman’ will continue to aid El Zorro in his quest to eliminate both you and your filthy business, mon capitaine ... she thought acidly.
END OF CHAPTER TWELVE