CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
(Our noble caballero takes action
Selena imagined her most desired fantasy had become
reality. Her chivalrous knight, a benign specter in black satin, had
whisked her away from all danger, past, present and future. El Zorro’s
arms surrounded her, an eternal protection against all evil, and soon he
would make her his wife in the holy state of matrimony. The brilliant
light that emanated from her beloved’s hazel eyes finally vanquished
the gloom that had previously been an integral part of her life. Selena
was aware she was dreaming, for in her fantasy, El Zorro laughed when
she asked him if she could remain with him forever in this precious
cocoon of their love.
“No, querida, we both must return to our lives
and remain as faithful to the Lord and to each other as the Savior would
wish us to do. My dearest Selena I will be with you forever.“
The light surrounding them began to dissipate and he
faded from her view. Selena cried out his name three times. “Zorro,
Zorro, Zorro,” hoping this sacred number would ward the two of them
from all future evil in their lives.
“Selena, Selena! Please open up your eyes! Selena, mi
corazon!” Diego lightly stroked her face. “Darling, the
Commandante can no longer hurt you. I am here to protect you.”
“Diego. I had a.. nightmare.. G-glorioso ... he..”
Selena tried to explain.
sat on her bed and gently pulled her up to him. “Ah, querida, you need no longer fear him. Zorro and I
both will take care of that raton!” Diego then whispered his
new plans for their nuptials and was rewarded with her lips pressing
“I am going to stay with you until you fall asleep,
under Amontildar’s watchful gaze, of course,” he playfully added.
She smiled lazily at him. “Oh, but of course, beloved ...tired... sleepy.” Diego held her hand tightly between his own much stronger ones until Selena had settled down completely and no longer tossed in her sleep.
with a dilemma of his own making, Diego pondered cautiously his move on
the chess board of their lives against his deadly
He rejected numerous schemes and ideas concerning a
“Diego de la Vega” appropriate response to Glorioso’s deplorable
behavior. Just before he was ready to seek his father’s advice and
prepared to finally disclose his alter ego to Don Alejandro, something
amusing occurred to him. Diego rubbed his pencil thin moustache
playfully. Why not beard the lion in his den? Yes, the seemingly
indolent composer of song and verse would confront the commandante where
he least expected it, at the La Casa de Hospitalidad! As he
mentally pursued this new intrigue, Diego became more animated as he
considered the new possibility of how Diego and not Zorro could
undermine both Glorioso and his whole financial empire. When one of the
house maids sent word to the young caballero that Don
Alejandro was waiting to dine with him downstairs, Selena’s fiance
felt more confident in his ability to handle the capitán as Diego de la
Vega and not as alter ego, El Zorro.
The next day, Capitán Glorioso applied some ointment
over his facial scratches and then took some of Señora Soto’s
flesh-toned stage makeup to hopefully conceal the angry welts. The
bitch will certainly rue the day she cavalierly dismissed my marriage
proposal to wed beneath her class! What in the name of the three Marias
is wrong with that female? Perhaps I misread the true nature of her
character ... she must be mad ...no, on second thought she must feel
desperate. He stalked into the Casa de Hospitalidad and
ordered some luncheon.
“Chiquito, que tal? You look so angry!” Señora
Soto said attempting to cheer him up.
“Silencio!” he snarled at her. “Go away! Can you
not see that I am ravenous!” Glorioso briefly raised his head.
“Dios! And who was the unfortunate woman who left her
mark on you, Commandante?” Teresa Soto asked.
He yanked her towards him. “Not a word of this to any
do you hear? I proposed to Señorita de Rojas yesterday.”
She smiled bitterly, “I am not surprised, capitán,
and being the lady that she is, besides being Don Diego’s betrothed,
Señorita de Rojas would not have you eh?”
“I was unaware that news of my little social call to
the señorita was known in the pueblo as I was out of town in San Pedro
until the day before yesterday with those babosos Garcia and
Reyes!“ Glorioso growled as he threw her to the floor. “Damn you,
woman,” he hissed beneath his breath. When Teresa did not respond, he
asked crossly, “What is wrong? Answer me!”
Looking beyond the capitán, Soto crossed herself
several times before she got up and adjusted her clothing. To Glorioso,
who continued to glare at her, she said, “Perhaps mi capitán wishes
to retire upstairs to eat his meal?”
At his uncomprehending stare, she continued with a
smirk, “Don Diego de la Vega just came into La Casa!”
“WHAT?” Glorioso briefly considered fleeing but then, the
presence of Teresa Soto and the half dozen or so patrons in his Posada
dissuaded him from that idea. Too many witnesses. Blast that de la Vega!
I shall deal with you later, Teresa! he muttered to her.
Teresa noticed something strange regarding Don Diego‘s
mood. Knowing how much he despised this tavern and Glorioso
personally, the caballero is positively glowing with joy. I must
be going mad. Don Diego should be tearing the place down to get to the
commandante to rip out his heart. She also observed the caballero
was wearing a single red rose in the lapel of his chaqueta as he
strolled over to the bar.
“Ah, greetings muchachos and caballeros! All
refreshments are on me! I am here to celebrate my imminent nuptials!”
Don Diego gaily announced. “I wanted to inform everyone that my fiancée
and I have decided to forego our overly long six-week engagement and
marry as soon as possible!”
“Gracias, Don Diego.“ Don Stefano Alvarez saluted
his fellow hidalgo. “ I am here with my Uncle Don Alfredo and
his solicitor, Señor Mercates, to rewrite our cattle contracts with the
Spanish Viceroy. But tell me --“
“What prompted this change of plans?” Diego lazily
replied through heavy lidded eyes as he turned to face Commandante
“Si, Don Diego,” said Don Alfredo, chimed in,
“please tell us! We were just about to leave.”
“Well, as everyone knows by now, I have the good Commandante
to thank señores,” Diego stated as casually to his audience as
if he were discussing the price of beef hides, “Capitán Glorioso
suggested that Señorita de Rojas might be feeling quite lonely living
in that enormous hacienda when he visited my betrothed at her home
yesterday afternoon. And as we all know, the Commandante can be very
persuasive!” Diego’s smile was disarming as he directed his gaze
toward Glorioso. Not a word was uttered in the tavern. All eyes focused
on the capitán’s face. Despite his best efforts to conceal Selena’s
scratches and his cut lip, the injuries were quite visible to the
Posada’s customers. And the dons and their guests immediately grasped
the serious implications in Diego’s seemingly innocuous statement.
Diablo! He is deliberately toying with me. Capitán
Glorioso fidgeted in his seat as he looked around the room. And the
dons know it. Damn you de la Vega. Curse you and your weak hidalgo
ancestors to Hades!
Teresa Soto stifled a giggle. Who could have known
that the sweet Don Diego could be so bold? Rich, most handsome and brave
enough to face the Commandante here on his own territory? Wish he were
my fiancé! Ay Yi Yi!
“Tomorrow evening at Señorita de Rojas’ hacienda,
we shall become man and wife. Diego’s gaze never wavered from the
Capitán’s face as his fierce expression dared Glorioso to make
some disparaging remark. When Glorioso refused to take the bait, Diego
grinned. There was more than a hint of malice in the hidalgo’s hazel
eyes and in his voice.
“Oh Commandante, this is certainly not the time to be shy!
We all know that reticence is not your forté!” Diego said as he
chuckled at his little joke. The dons laughed with him, but only the
capitán noticed Don Diego’s humor did not extend to his eyes.
Diego placed a bag of coins on the bar. “Come, come
gentlemen! Drink up! Bartender, produce your best tapas for all
patrons!” The young caballero waved everyone toward the bar as
the bartender placed large bottles of wine and brandy on the counter.
Diego told the bartender to bring up a keg of his finest Jerez. He
waited until the keg had been opened and his small tumbler was filled
with the delicate yet formidable liquor before making a toast.
“Don Diego!” said Sergeant Garcia as he waddled
toward his friend, “To what occasion do we owe this great display of
“Why, Sergeant you are standing in the presence of a
very happy man! I am celebrating my wedding tomorrow night to the
exquisite Señorita Selena de Rojas!” Diego replied with his face
decorated with sincere joy.
“Splendid, splendid, Don Diego. And gracias for the
wine and tapas!” Garcia replied.
Corporal Reyes shook Don Diego ‘s hand. “May I offer
my congratulations Señor? Your intended is most assuredly a fine
Don Diego’s heart was stirred by Reyes’ sincerity.
“Gracias, corporal and drink up!”
Capitán Glorioso was baffled by Diego’s actions. He
swirled the wine in his tankard wondering -- and sweating -- when
Selena’s fiancé would make his move. Or would the hombre perezoso do
the intelligent thing and ignore the entire affair? He watched from his
peripheral vision as the caballero rested his tall and lean frame
on the bar, conversing with those miserable excuses for soldiers, Garcia
and Reyes. Diego abruptly drained his tumbler of Jerez and bid his
friends good afternoon. Before leaving the bar, he ordered a large
tumbler of brandy and headed for the Commandante’s table.
“Con permiso, Capitán, may I join you?” Diego asked
politely. He detected the Commandante’s discomfort immediately.
Glorioso failed to meet Diego’s sardonic gaze, and was perspiring
profusely. The Spanish officer’s hands trembled slightly as he
attempted to light his cigar. Finally, after a few seconds, Diego struck
a match and completed the capitán’s task. And before young de la Vega
settled in the chair next to Glorioso, Diego lit his own large cigar and
intentionally blew his smoke into the capitán’s face.
Diego sat quietly smoking his puro, thoroughly
enjoying Glorioso’s squirming, periodically blowing perfect blue
colored circles into the air. The capitán did not touch his drink.
Finally, Diego pushed the brandy toward the Commandante. The variable
color of de la Vega’s eyes changed from pale golden brown to dark
brown almost instantly as he drew himself closer to Glorioso’s face.
Diego reached down and laid his massive left hand on the capitán’s
thigh, increasing the pressure of his grip with each word as he spoke.
Glorioso’s face contorted as he struggled to keep his composure. He
had never felt such strength in a young hidalgo. “By the way,
Visconde de Estrada, if you ever so much as look at Selena de Rojas
again I will kill you, Señor!” This was said with such menace
that Glorioso could have sworn that he was sitting at the table with a
“Buenos tardes, mi capitan!” Diego said as he rose
and then loudly slapped Glorioso on his back. The caballero exited
La Casa de Hospitalidad without a backward glance.
As for Commandante Glorioso, he spent another hour in
the tavern watching the few patrons the posada had been able to attract
despite El Zorro’s threat whisper to each other and turn away when
Glorioso returned their
The following day, Father Felipe stood before the two
young people whom he had just married and proudly announced: “Señores
y Señoras, I proudly present to you, their honored guests, Don Diego
and Doña Selena de la Vega!”
“Bienvenidos,” said her new father-in-law, Don
Alejandro, “and welcome to our family!” Both Alejandro and Diego
chuckled as Selena blushed.
Although the wedding was planned and done on such short
notice, Don Alejandro insisted upon having in attendance Don Diego’s padrino
de boda, Don Alfredo Alvarez. His wife, Doña Monica Gonzales
Alvarez, served as Selena’s honorary madrina de boda. Selena
decided against wearing traditional black for her wedding since she had
spent the past month in mourning for her late father. Instead, she chose
a deep rose hued frock with a classically fitted bodice and demi-flared
sheath. She had purchased the dress in Paris three years ago and Diego
had never seen her in it. The gown was heavily beaded with nearly five
hundred tiny pearls at the base of the curved neckline, all around the
shoulders, sleeves and the remainder of the bodice. The sheath of the
dress was deliberately designed without ornamentation to focus the
observer’s eye upward to the cleverly embroidered bodice and of
course, on the bride’s lovely face.
“Happy?” Selena asked Diego quietly as they sipped
some of his father’s best Madeira.
“Completely sweetheart. Still nervous about your
wedding night?” he teased her. “I can not wait to have you alone in
“Terrified, mi corazon.” Careful someone
might overhear us!” Selena retorted.
“What is this? A bride who is afraid of her
bridegroom? Surely not!” Diego nudged her arm. Then he looked down at
the shadows that were beginning to form under her eyes and knew that
Selena had endured enough excitement for the day. He excused himself
from her and had a brief discussion with his father and Don Alfredo.
“Don Diego, Alejandro just informed me about the capitán’s
repugnant behavior. Surely you confronted him?” Don Alfredo asked
politely, for he had broached the subject with Diego’s father. Don
Alfredo had been there and witnessed the entire incident, but he knew
his friend Alejandro wanted to hear about the incident from his son.
Don Alejandro leaned forward eagerly, hoping that his
son did stand up to that miserable porco. Since things were in
such chaos after the commandante‘s “visit“ to the de Rojas’s
hacienda and the rush to make the marriage arrangements, Don Alejandro
had not had a chance to discuss Diego’s confrontation in detail with
Diego looked at Alejandro meaningfully. “Let me just
say that I made it clear to the commandante to mind his manners in the
future, or else he would suffer the consequences. You were there at the
Posada yesterday afternoon, eh?” he said forcefully to Don Alfredo.
Don Alfredo laughed. “I thought the commandante looked
rather peaked after your conversation with him yesterday! Very clever of
you, my boy, to deliberately emphasize that the capitán tried to force
Selena to break her engagement to you. We all have seen his scarred
face! Now all of the dons and their families know exactly what type of
dreadful man he really is. Very brave of you to threaten Glorioso with
When Diego looked puzzled, Don Alfredo explained, “the
bartender overheard the commandante repeating his conversation with you
to some of the Posada’s servants when Glorioso got roaring drunk later
that afternoon. Ah,” Don Alfredo patted Diego on his back. “do not
worry about Doña Selena’s reputation, Diego. All of our friends have
told the other hidalgos in the area about his despicable
reputation. You have no idea, Diego, how we have come to respect Selena
is here in the pueblo.”
“Bravo, my son!” Don Alejandro. “I realize how
difficult that must have been for you ...”
“Actually, I rather enjoyed the shocked expression on
Glorioso’s face! I suppose Glorioso believed all the gossip regarding
‘my-retiring lifestyle.’” Diego glanced meaningfully at his Father
who smiled slightly. “It appears that we have little concern regarding
any harm to Selena’s honor,“ Diego said.
“That is a huge relief, my son,” Don Alejandro
Changing the subject, Diego told his father, “Selena
is exhausted, so I am insisting we take our leave of everyone now.“
Don Alejandro glanced at his pocket watch. “Ay, yi yi!
It is already ten-thirty! Do not worry Diego,” he winked at his son.
Our guests were just about to depart!” Alejandro hugged him and kissed
END OF CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE