The Promise



Gail Manfre









“WHACK!” WHACK!” The Creole servant struck the Spaniard with her makeshift weapon. She thrust the blunt end of the broom into his stomach and then continued hitting him in the head with the other end.

“DIOS!” the capitán yelped as he pushed Selena away to protect himself from this madwoman. Although he had no time to think about the damage Selena had done to his lip, the tart metallic taste of his own blood in his mouth infuriated him beyond all reason.

Amontildar added several more blows with her kitchen broom. “Bête! You leave my mistress be! “VA T’EN! A LA GARE! Go away! Hit the road!]

Commandante Glorioso ducked Amontildar’s quasi-lethal weapon as quickly as he could, and he received no more blows as his military hand-to-hand combat training enabled him to evade her best efforts. Selena continued yelling for her manservant, Teodores, as the capitán easily disarmed Amontildar and backhanded her across another patio table. However, Selena knew she could not elude this lunatic forever. Glorioso shifted his balance slightly, hoping Selena would go on the offensive and try to kick him in the shins. To his relief, the señorita reacted exactly as he hoped. As she lashed out with her foot, Glorioso sidestepped her blow and struck Selena on the right side of her face. She lost her balance as she fainted. Unfortunately for Selena, he caught the señorita before she fell down.

“Enough of your foolishness, Selena! I will not be trifled with!” he said, smoldering from both fury and desire. Glorioso pulled another clean pañuelo from his pocket and wiped the blood from his mouth. He looked at the unconscious señorita lying limply in his arms before he kissed her again and said “You will pay dearly for this insult, señorita, dearly!”

“Señor, please release my mistress!” said a deep masculine voice behind him.

The capitán did not even bother to turn around. “Whoever you are do not try to interfere!”

In one swift motion, Teodores plucked the capitán from Selena and held him up several feet from the ground. “SELVAJE!“ The huge Chumash Indian bellowed. Then he threw the commandante to the ground. Teodores looked down at his semi-conscious mistress and saw a bruise forming on her right cheek. He gingerly lifted her up and carried her into the sala where a few of the young girl servants had just came downstairs from packing Selena‘s personal items.

Teodores spoke to them in their native tongue. “Watch the mistress. I go to take care of that camaróncito, [little shrimp] the capitán!“

The huge Indian loomed over Glorioso, who still remained on the ground in a half-sitting position. “You hurt the señorita!” he roared at the commandante. “You hurt my mistress bad!“

Stunned, Glorioso simply stared at the giant and desperately tried to scramble to his feet. Again Teodores picked up the capitán, who began to yell for help. The giant shook him until the commandante stopped shouting. Teodores placed him under one arm, carried him to his horse and threw the Spanish officer over his saddle. He yanked Glorioso upright, shoved his hat on the Commandante’s head, thrust the officer’s feet into his stirrups and slapped the horse’s rear. Selena’s faithful servant watched the retreating horse long enough to see the animal heading to Los Ángeles. Then Teodores rushed back into the patio to help Amontildar.

The Creole woman had recovered enough to walk with Teodores’ assistance into the sala. Sacre bleu! Amontildar collected her wits and ordered Teodores to carry Selena upstairs to her bedroom. Once there, another maid brought a large bowl of cool water and clean cloths for Amontildar. Selena’s criada gave Manuela the key to her farmacia cabinet and told the maid to bring a bottle of ivy healing cream and a bottle of sleeping elixir to Mam’selle’s bedroom.

Ma chere, ma pauvre petite!” [My dear poor little one!]she crooned into Selena’s ear while she bathed her mistress’s fevered brow. Teodores hovered outside Selena’s bedroom until Amontildar reassured him that the señorita would recover.

“Teodores, please fetch Don Diego and his father at once! Dey must be told at once, mon ami!“ When the Indian hesitated, she reminded him once the de la Vegas arrived, there would be more than enough men to protect his mistress.

“You go now, vite, vite, mon ami. Mistress be fine with Amontildar’s help.”

The Indian nodded. “I go now, for help for the good señorita.”



Don Diego awoke the next morning at eleven o’clock after riding through the entire night and past dawn as Zorro. Satisfied that he had distributed as much money as possible to needy peons so that they could pay their taxes by the end of October, he simply fell into bed after he returned home. The young caballero was so exhausted he had slept through Bernardo’s efforts to rouse him an hour before. Diego was more than grateful that his mozo permitted him to get some much needed rest. I guess four hours sleep will suffice. he thought as he yawned. He heard Bernardo’s coded knock on his bedroom door and said “Entrar.”

Bernardo smiled at Diego as he entered his room. Good morning, my master. You need a shave, his mozo signed. Are you ready now?

Diego scratched his face. “Oh, si. I have to help Selena finish packing the remainder of her things today and I would not want to frighten my fiancee with my unkempt appearance!”

His mozo grinned at Diego’s humor and began lathering Diego’s face while the young caballero discussed his previous evening’s activities.

“Bernardo, Selena is amazing. Yesterday I learned from some péons that she had also decided to donate her money to her tenants whom she knew would be at the commandante’s mercy because they were made penniless by last month’s new round of taxes!”

See I told you that she had a good heart, Don Diego. As far I am concerned the señorita can walk on water! Bernardo mimed.

“Diego!” his father’s voice called out as he knocked on the door. “Are you awake yet?”

“Come in, father.”

“Diego!“ Don Alejandro’s face was full of confusion. “Señorita de Rojas’s Indian manservant is downstairs asking to speak with you. He insists that he has urgent news and will only speak with you. He is quite agitated and I was unable to calm him down!” Alejandro exclaimed. “You had better come down right away.”

“Say no more, father.” Diego hastily threw on a clean shirt and his rust colored calzoneros. Bernardo carried his chaqueta with him as Diego sprinted downstairs.

“Teodores, what is wrong ...” Diego stared at Teodores’ ashen face.

“Don Diego ... Commandante Glorioso, he come to mistress’s hacienda this morning. He ...” Teodores’ face was covered with tears. “He mistreat her, Señor. I threw him out! I want to kill him!” The Indian said fiercely.

Dios, mi!” was all Diego could manage to say. When he looked at his father, Don Alejandro’s visage had turned purple with outrage.

“BY ALL THE SAINTS! We will leave immediately, Teodores. I am coming with you. Diego, what are you going to do my son?” Alejandro heatedly declared.

Diego finished buttoning up his shirt as Bernardo handed him his chaqueta and sombrero.

“About Glorioso?” his son replied, somehow managing to remain calm.

“Of course I am referring to the commandante!“ Don Alejandro instantly regretted his choice of words, for Diego’s eyes became misty.

Diego bowed his head and furiously balled his fists. When he looked up again, his father was taken aback by the vengeful look in his son’s eyes. “First things first. I must take care of Selena. Capitán Glorioso will regret ever having crossed El --” He stopped himself just in time. Dios! I almost said El Zorro! Compose yourself, man!

Don Alejandro grinned to himself. “Bueno, Diego.” He had no doubt that El Zorro would properly deal with Glorioso, but he was curious to know what action Diego would take. Hmm, if I were the commandante, I would depart at once for Spain.




Amontildar bathed Selena’s bruised cheek and neck with cool water and mixed one of her ivy scented herb potions that would heal the señorita’s skin fairly quickly. She checked her mistress’ pulse regularly and was relieved to see Selena was resting comfortably.

Manuela Perez, one of Selena’s household staff, saw the de la Vegas’ arrival and ran upstairs to inform Amontildar.

“Mam’selle Perrileaux,” Manuela said to her, “Teodores has returned with Don Diego and Don Alejandro.”

“Bien, chere. Now you run back to de kitchen child and tell cook dat she should give you a sweet! Go now, vite, vite!” Amontildar said as she patted the

Don Diego knocked on Selena’s bedroom door and was grateful to see Amontildar tending to his fiancée when the Creole lady told him to enter.

“Monsieur Diego! I am tres heureuse to see you! “ the Creole lady exclaimed as she clasped her hands together in relief.

“Calm yourself, Amontildar. I am here and will make certain Selena remains safe. And I am most relieved the both of you were not seriously injured. Mam’selle, I beg you to tell me everything,” he said in a low but strangled tone. Diego watched Selena’s chest rise and fall as she rested peacefully while listening to Amontildar.

The Creole servant dropped her voice to a whisper. “Glorioso told my mistress she not to marry you, Monsieur. The señorita she told him to leave, yes! But him, dat bête, he grab and force her to kiss him! I found zee broom and me, I hit him good!”

Amontildar dramatically demonstrated her assault broom technique for him and Diego bit his lip to prevent him from bursting into laughter. “Me, I hit him in de tête, on de shoulder and on dat ugly Spanish head of his!” She hesitated and then curtsied to him. “Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur, me, I meant no offense!”

“None taken, mam’selle.” he assured her. “Please do continue.”

“Your fiancée, she den starts to yell for Teodores and he come, he done trow out dat couchon, yes! Zee whole story, Monsieur! Amontildar, she no menteur! [liar] And me, I give my mistress somezing to make zee sleep come!”

Diego led her from the bedroom. “Amontildar, you did your best and I believe you. Dieu vous bénisse, mam’selle. [God bless you]. Por favor, I want to stay with Selena a little while.” He smiled warmly at the octaroon lady and told her to get some rest as he bowed slightly.

“Monsieur if that bête had had his way with her, me, I promise you dat Teodores and I would have his head!” Amontildar added before she went downstairs to the kitchen.

Diego reentered Selena’s bedroom, closed the door and went to sit beside her bed. “Merde!” he winced. One bruise was forming on her neck but otherwise she appeared to be resting

comfortably. He gently caressed her face and kissed her sweet lips. Diego then silently expressed his thanks to the Blessed Mother. “I shall be right outside, beloved, if you need me, just say my name.” he whispered into her ear before he left.

Amontildar was waiting for Diego as he came into the sala.

“Everything is well with you, mam‘selle?” he inquired politely.

“Monsieur, I must tell you ‘bout how brave Selena was. I zee her throw zee hot chocolate all over zee commandante. Dat one,” Mam’selle Perilleaux continued, “she a lady but she be tough. You should see le capitaine’s face! Her, she scratched him all over!”

Diego’s eyes widened. So like her, to confront evil directly regardless of the personal cost. Thank the Virgin she was not seriously injured. “Stay with her mam’selle. I have to discuss some plans with my father.”

Très bien, Monsieur. Oh, me, I told the cook dat we have guests for luncheon,” Amontildar added.

“Mam’selle you are a treasure, gracias.” Diego bowed again. “If she calls for me, well, you know where I shall be.”

“But of course, Monsieur.” Amontildar sighed blissfully as she watched him stide from the sala with those long well muscled legs of his. “Wish I could find me a good Creole man from New Orleans like Don Diego!”

In the de Rojas’s sala, Don Alejandro poured some Jerez as tried to comfort his son. His father sighed. “Diego, I am sorry I did not see the commandante’s truly base desire for Selena well before today!”

Diego shook his head in disagreement. “Do not blame yourself, father.”

“We obviously can not permit Selena to remain here any longer. Also, what are you going to do about Commandante Glorioso?” Don Alejandro asked, wondering if his son would now take this opportunity to reveal the truth to his father about his secret identity as Zorro.

“Something that he would never expect Diego de la Vega to do,” his son muttered dourly. Diego brooded for several minutes longer and then shook himself from his unpleasant reverie. “Father, I agree that Selena should move into our home at once. Would you have any objection if I sent word to Father Felipe to marry us as soon as possible?”

Alejandro nodded. “No objections whatsoever. Allow me to contact Father Felipe so that you can concentrate on helping Selena to recover from this ... this ..” his father sputtered angrily. “If only I were twenty years younger... “

Diego looked grimly at his father. “I shall handle the capitán in my own way and in a very special manner.” he vowed. “I swear this before Our Holy Savior, Glorioso will live to regret he ever came to Los Angeles!” And, he thought darkly as his anger burned white hot in his veins, it will very difficult to restrain myself either as Zorro or Diego!






Chapter Twenty-three
Chapter One
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