THE CAPITAN’S VISIT
mistress of the hacienda de Rojas dipped her head slightly to
Glorioso and raised her right hand for the capitán to kiss. The
commandante squeezed it so tightly that the señorita flinched at the
physical contact. He smiled at her like a predator who had finally
cornered its prey and is anxious to toy with its meal before satiating
would not allow him the pleasure of seeing her becoming upset with his
boorish behavior. Simply because this brute great pleasure in acting
superior, I can not allow him to nettle me. Mon Capitaine foolishly
believes I am a naive ingenue, clueless in the art of deception. Trés
bien. Selena said to herself. I shall permit him to labor under
welcome to my father’s home, Commandante Glorioso. And
greetings to you, Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes.”
deep blue eyes scrutinized her face for any hint of artifice. Her
warmth appears to be genuine he mused to himself.
Señorita de Rojas,” the capitán replied stiffly as he reluctantly
released her hand.
thanks for welcoming me into your hacienda, Señorita de
Rojas.” Garcia said before removing his hat and simultaneously nudging
Reyes to do the same.
Corporal Reyes echoed. “It is an honor to be invited here again.”
are quite the gentleman, Corporal,” she purred softly. “Now Capitán
Glorioso what can I do for you? Refreshments perhaps?” Selena then
directed Glorioso’s attention to her other two guests. “Of course,
you remember one of the Pueblo de Los Angeles’ premier citizens, Don
Alejandro de la Vega?”
commandante turned to glare at Don Alejandro. “A surprise to see you
here, de la Vega.”
Alejandro bristled at his insolence but decorum decreed that he return
the capitán‘s bow. “I have come to pay my respects to the Señorita
as her father and I were old friends. And your business here, sir?”
smile was as false and frigid as a blizzard in the Sierra Madre
Mountains. His glacial blue eyes darted around the sala, mentally
cataloging all of the objects in the tastefully furnished room. The
barely concealed look of avarice on the capitán’s face reminded Señorita
de Rojas of a ferret.
business, de la Vega,” the commandante retorted acidly. He continued
his visual examination of the de Rojas’s hacienda while he dismissed
Don Alejandro’s presence with a wave of his hand. Diego’s father
turned away slightly from Glorioso so he could hide his revulsion for
Amontildar,” Senorita ordered, “please serve some refreshments, some
hot chocolate for Bernardo and myself, and some jerez, perhaps the
vintage from the year 1799, for our gallant capitán and Don
Alejandro. Is jerez acceptable, gentlemen?”
certainly, senorita,” Don Alejandro said with a twinkle in his eye,
his admiration of Señorita de Rojas growing stronger as he watched her
deftly handle the commandante’s ill manners and the superficiality of
his charm. Was Glorioso really so obtuse that he did not recognize
sarcasm when he heard it? The elder de la Vega wondered to himself.
acceptable, Señorita,” Glorioso replied formally, “with one
exception. He pointed his riding crop at Bernardo. I do not drink with
servants,” he tilted his head towards Don Diego’s mozo.
Alejandro clenched his fists and Selena stepped between Glorioso and
Diego’s father to prevent a confrontation.
gracias, mi capitán. You must forgive me,” Señorita de Rojas said
softly. “I fear I have been a very poor hostess, ignoring the Spanish
Court’s Rules of Etiquette.” She waved her fan at Don Alejandro.
“Señor, if you will dismiss Don Diego’s valet?” Selena hoped that
her eyes conveyed the desperation that she dare not reveal in her voice.
my dear.” Don Alejandro responded affably. He stepped closer to
Bernardo and made a sign for him to leave. Bernardo, playing his part
perfectly in this charade, bowed to the señorita and then to the
commandante before retreating to the kitchen.
triumphant look on Glorioso’s face completely disgusted Selena.
Nevertheless, she remained calm. Remember that you have El Zorro,
correction, Diego, the man you love, hidden in your hacienda. She
somehow forced herself to smile at this viper of a man.
perhaps you will permit me to serve all the lancers some vino de casa
and some sandwiches? Oh, and where are my manners?” Selena
speculated aloud, as she pulled the sala’s cord for requesting her
servants. Chetta Yellow Flower, an Apache from the San Gabriel mission,
immediately answered Selena’s summons.
my mistress?” Yellow Flower asked.
the cook and Amontildar to prepare more sandwiches for the remainder of
the commandante’s lancers. And please bring some hot chocolate for me,
por favor,” Señorita de Rojas ordered.
de Rojas and Don Alejandro saw the internal struggle between impatience
and common courtesy skirt over the capitán’s features. Fortunately
for everyone involved the latter emotion was victorious.
you wish, Señorita de Rojas,” he bowed fractionally in her direction.
are certainly most gracious, Capitán Glorioso.“ Selena replied and
told the lancers to follow one of her Indian maids to the kitchen.
Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes thanked her and practically fell over
each other to reach the promised refreshments.
then, señor, to the purpose of your visit here. Did you find El
Zorro?” She looked at her odious guest through half lidded eyes.
but he is wounded.” Capitán Glorioso warily observed Selena and
Diego’s father for any sympathetic reactions to this statement.
you wish my permission to search this hacienda. Understandable. Por
favor, indulge yourself, but would the capitán permit a
pretended to study his meticulously manicured fingernails. “What is
the lovely señorita’s helpful hint?”
grasped the servants’ bell summons and pulled three times. Amontildar
Glorioso. This is Amontildar Perrileaux, a Creole from New Orleans and
the head of my servants, Amontildar, you are to obey my guest’s every
order until he is satisfied that I am safe from El Zorro’s chicanery.”
Madame, Avec plaisir. Would you follow me por favor, Mon
Capitaine?” the Creole said politely.
raked Amontildar’s form with a contemptuous look before replying to
the señorita. “Sergeant Garcia will carry out the inspection after he
and the lancers have eaten, ah, with your kind permission. And Señorita?”
mi capitán?” Selena kept her voice neutral despite his obvious
contempt for Amontildar.
you do not mind, Señorita de Rojas, but I not accustomed to dealing
with servants!” he said in a voice laced with contempt as his gaze
never wavered from Selena’s face.
acquiesced with a nod of her head. Oho, commandante, you almost
cornered me there. You, sir, are a Grandée in name only , but you do
not care how you treat others not of your social class. “If I have
offended, Commandante Glorioso, you must forgive me. You are dismissed,
Amontildar. Some more Jerez, gentlemen?”
sipped his Jerez as he walked around the sala and commented upon
her father’s good taste. “This is a magnificent hacienda.
Surely, Señorita Selena, you must feel somewhat isolated and lonely
living in such a large home as this, without the benefit of ... male
Alejandro sputtered into his glass of Jerez. Such audacity! Ai! If
mere thoughts could strike someone dead, then the commandante would have
died just now from the disdain on the señorita’s face!
fluttered her silk fan back and forth across her face. “I have
wonderful memories of growing up here, Senor.” Changing such a
personal subject, she asked “you said that dreadful rogue El Zorro was
wounded?” she responded casually.
yes, señorita. And I found something very interesting at the Rica Luna
waterfall. He retrieved a large white kerchief from his waistcoat pocket
and unwrapped it. Glorioso held up a piece of black cloth soiled by
capitán! Is that blood?” Her gray eyes were huge. “By the
Virgin!” Selena feigned shock and held her hand to her forehead. “Dios,
mi!” She began rapidly working her fan to and fro across her face
as if she were about to faint.
crave your forgiveness, Señorita. This is part of Zorro’s mask.”
He watched Don Alejandro for any sign of sympathy. The elder de la
Vega’s face paled. Then the commandante asked smugly, “Why are you
so shocked, Don Alejandro?”
you not see that you have upset Señorita de Rojas?” The elder de la
Vega rushed to her side. “There, there, señorita, calm yourself.”
Don Alejandro, mais Mon Dieu! That is real blood.”
Selena desperately hoped she could convince Glorioso she about to faint,
and he would take the hint and eave the hacienda. “Oh my, Don
Alejandro, would you hand me that glass of water please?”
Alejandro continued to make a big fuss over Glorioso’s social gaffe,
although he knew that the Commandante had deliberately shown her
Zorro’s blood-caked mask. A clever trick, capitán, and excellent
acting, Selena. Don Alejandro smiled inwardly. “Put that thing
away, Capitán Glorioso. Here, Señorita, drink my jerez. Bueno.
Is that better?” Don Alejandro patted her arm.
gracias señor,” she rearranged her mantilla and pointed her fan at
Glorioso. “Now I am relieved, Capitán!”
I do not understand,” he frowned at her. “Please enlighten me, señorita!”
You have shown me proof that the Fox is wounded. Surely he will be much
easier to capture? And El Zorro will then be unable to rob this
hacienda; my belongings and I will be safe?” Selena fluttered her
eyelashes up at Glorioso.
Glorioso held himself perfectly erect. “To be sure.”
Garcia reporting as ordered Commandante,” The sergeant told Glorioso
as he saluted his superior officer.
the capitán replied again riveting his eyes on Señorita de Rojas’s
now ashen face. Well she appears to be genuinely shaken up by seeing
the mask, but my instincts tell me for the wrong reason. Glorioso
thought as he contemplated his next move.
have thoroughly searched the hacienda, sir. And the stable, the
garden, and the chapel, and the cellar, and the two storehouses.
pounded his armchair in frustration. “Very well, order the lancers to
return to the Cuartel.”
once, Commandante,” Sergeant Garcia replied with his usual sloppy
you for the refreshments, señorita.” Glorioso pulled up her hand and
kissed it before she could move it away from him. “ Adios.”
I accompany you to your mount, Capitan?” she inquired quietly.
“After all, I am glad that we have a member of the Grandées in
our pueblo to remind us of our proper manners.”
non-plussed by her offer, Glorioso bowed, looking very confused.
“Certainly,” he offered her his arm, which she graciously accepted.
he had mounted his horse, Glorioso decided one last time to rattle her
composure. “May I call upon the señorita in a week to formally offer
my condolences on the death of Don Martino?”
course, Your Excellency Visconde de Estrada,” Selena replied,
deliberately using his royal title.
bien and gracias, Señorita de Rojas. Next Wednesday, perhaps?”
Excellency.” Selena curtsied. She remained outside making certain
Glorioso did indeed take the road leading back to the pueblo.
all the Saints! That Diablo!” Don Alejandro later fumed. Then he sat
down in one of the sala’s Roman x-shaped mahogany chairs. “Señorita
de Rojas, I think you will regret accepting Glorioso’s pending social
may be right, señor, but I had to get him to leave. Selena
wordlessly replied by positioning her closed fan against her lips and
then pointing it toward her feet. “Chetta, please leave us alone.”
elder de la Vega bowed, indicating he understood her unspoken message.
He handed his glass of jerez to the Indian servant girl and
waited until the servant departed before discussing the health of his
I am most relieved that Diego is alive and not sitting in one of
Glorioso’s cells. “Lead on, Señorita de Rojas,” Don Alejandro
said as he extended his arm to her.
curtsied deeply to Don Alejandro and began walking toward the far
wall’s hidden doorway. “This way, señor. “
after that magnificent performance, señorita, after you!” Don
Alejandro said, his voice again filled with admiration.
propped his feet atop his office desk and sipped some Madeira and
allowed his fantasies regarding Selena de Rojas to have full reign. Well,
my military instinct tells me Señorita de Rojas was not being
completely truthful regarding her denial of harboring the Fox. If she
has given shelter to El Zorro, I shall imprison and then execute her for
high treason. If not, Selena is still unmarried and living alone in that
splendid hacienda. I know I can win her heart. And, with the de Rojas
fortune, I can finally restore my family to the Grandee class. That
milquetoast Diego de la Vega was stupid to reject her father’s
betrothal agreement. Selena de Rojas was also attractive and an
accomplished, competent social hostess. And Rubenesque! How I adore
voluptuous women! The thought of her lying beneath him, where he
could control her, absolutely intensified his lust. Like all the others
of her sex, Selena was arrogant but he was expert in teaching women how
to appreciate him as their lord and master.
OF CHAPTER EIGHTEEN