CAPITAN GLORIOSO STRIKES BACK
After taking a refreshing bath, Glorioso began writing
his latest order:
Please be advised that the Commandante of the Pueblo de
Los Angeles has declared that as of one o’clock this afternoon, this
9th day of November, in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred
and twenty one, there exists, to wit:
A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW
IN THE PUEBLO OF LOS ANGELES
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Anyone seen on the streets of the
Pueblo after one thirty o’clock p.m. TODAY, WILL BE SUBJECT TO ARREST,
IMPRISONMENT CORPORAL PUNISHMENT AND EXECUTION..
JUAN RAMON GLORIOSO
COMMANDANTE PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES
The capitán then opened his door and shouted for Garcia
and Reyes to report to him at once.
From behind the locked cuartel gates, Garcia listened to
the roar of the unruly crowd outside and thought to himself, I wish
the people would go home and try to forget about what happened to Don
Diego today in the plaza. There is nothing they can do about his
flogging, and the longer they remain in the pueblo, the more likely
Commandante Glorioso will send soldiers outside to force them to leave.
I hope he does not decide use more physical force but knowing the
commandante he would completely enjoy doing so.
“I might as well see what problems the commandante has
made for us lancers now! Garcia told Reyes as they slowly and
reluctantly climbed the stairs leading to the capitán’s office and
knocked on the door.
“Entrar," Glorioso testily ordered
"You sent for us, Capitán?" Garcia and Reyes
chorused as they saluted their superior officer.
Glorioso got up from his chair and stood toe to toe with
Garcia. Reyes stood as still as a statue, petrified beyond belief.
"Sergeant, may I ask you a personal question?"
"Of course, Commandante. What is it?" Sergeant
Garcia did his best to avoid the glacial stare in Glorioso’s eyes but
failed. The sergeant began sweating.
Glorioso tapped his bullwhip against the desk in a
familiar pattern known only to him. "Tell me sergeant, how did you
feel about Don Diego is de la Vega’s flogging in the Plaza today? Did
you feel pity for him? Or did you feel that he deserved that particular
punishment?" The capitán walked around the increasingly
uncomfortable Garcia several times, each time stepping closer and closer
to the sergeant's face. "Well, I am waiting for your answer,
Garcia tugged at the collar of his uniform which for
some strange reason had suddenly become very tight around his neck.
What do I say? I have the odd feeling that whatever I say the capitán
will twist to his advantage. Well, Demetrio, say something....
"Commandante, although Don Diego is a
good friend, he did ...ah ... volunteer to submit to the lash. As a good
soldier, I am honor bound to carry out your orders." Garcia replied
anxiously, hoping his remarks would satisfy Glorioso.
“And yourself, Corporal Reyes, you are of the same
opinion, eh?” Glorioso asked.
“Si, mi commandante!”
“Excellent response, gentlemen. Continue having that
attitude and you and I shall have a most beneficial relationship. Now
for the business at hand. Take a squadron of soldiers outside to enforce
my newly declared aviso of martial
law. Use whatever physical force necessary to clear the
street, Sergeant!” Glorioso said emphatically. “Do you understand
me, Garcia, and Corporal Reyes, use any physical force required
to fulfill your orders! If I learn of any reports of leniency on your
part, you will live to regret ever having met me!
The commandante looked disgustedly at both Reyes and
Garcia. “You two are dismissed
“At your command!” the lancers hastily replied as
Garcia and Reyes saluted and escaped from the capitán’s foul presence
as quickly as they could. Dios mi, Garcia prayed, por favor,
let the people obey my orders to go home! I honestly do not know if I
can bring myself to shoot my friends.
Tomás Ballarias struggled for breath. Although he was
bound to the whipping
In his office the Commandante grew weary of listening to
Sergeant Garcia’s pleas to be given permission to let Ballarias have
some water. Inhuman am I? he thought in amusement. Who or
rather what is a tailor to the Vizconde de Estrada? Trouble was that
people like Ballarias occasionally needed to be reminded of their proper
station in polite society. This merchant simply required more persuasion
of the physical nature. How tedious his life had become ...
Glorioso had an excellent view of Ballarias’s
discomfort from where he was sitting. After the prisoner had been
captured, the Commandante had ordered that the Cuartel’s whipping post
to be moved closer to his quarters which meant that his prisoner’s
condition would not be visible to anyone in the plaza whenever the
Cuartel’s gates were opened. He leisurely finished the tasty morning
meal, which Teresa had prepared for him, while Garcia droned on. Weary
of the sergeant’s complaints regarding the tailor, Glorioso suddenly
had an idea.
“Sergeant Garcia, perhaps I have been too harsh in my
treatment of Señor Balleras. I am going to release Tomás Ballarias
today and I shall even see that he has food and water before noon.
“Gracias, the Commandante is most generous.” the
sergeant said wondering what in the name of Heaven had changed
Glorioso’s mind. He met Corporal Peldar as he opened the door to
“Your pardon, sir. I have some information that may
prove useful to the Commandante.”
“Si? Well speak up corporal!” Glorioso replied
“Sir, one of the other péons
you arrested yesterday said something very strange before he, ah,
“Come on corporal, I am a busy man.” the commandante
said more sharply this time, without looking at Peldar.
“This half-breed told me that Señora de la Vega had
given him and the other tenants on her property money to pay the new
“SEÑORA DE LA VEGA?” he shouted. “NOT
“Oh, sí, mi Capitán. The péon
also said that some of his compadres were also given money by the
Fox and Señora de la Vega for the same purpose.”
“That is all, Peldar. You have done very well.
Dismissed!” He was completely stunned by this bit of news. Selena
de la Vega? Conspiring with El Zorro the outlaw? I am intrigued. If I
could force one or even better, two of those wretches to admit that she
working with Zorro, Señora de la Vega’s actions, despite her good
intentions, will condemn her to jail or worse. The church bell rang
loudly signaling that it was eight o’clock in the morning. Glorioso
scrutinized himself before his bedroom mirror and sucked his abdomen in.
Certainly, another visit to see the exquisite Selena was in order. But
other matters deserved his attention now and he went straight to where
Ballaras kept to question him personally. Good! Any fool could see
that Señor Ballarias was in dire straits. He should be ready to talk.
The prisoner hung limply from his wrist manacles, his dry mouth and
tongue swollen from lack of water.
“Corporal Peldar, awaken this pero at once!”
Peldar slapped Ballarias’s face several times before
the man opened his eyes.
“Señor Ballarias. I will make you a fair and
equitable trade. Your life for your signature on a certain confession.
Interested?” Glorioso casually asked.
“No water, Señor Ballarias, not until after you admit
that you received money from Señora de la Vega or El Zorro.”
“I- did not ...not from Señora de la Vega ... but El
Zorro...sí.” the prisoner forced out these last words from his
“Ah, El Zorro supplied you with pésos and reales to
pay the special taxes?” Glorioso cruelly persisted, taking a cup of
water from a lancer and deliberately drinking some in front of the
Ballarias hung his head. “S-si! The Fox gave many
people money. Water, for the love of God, commandante!”
“And,” Glorioso prodded the prisoner with the butt of
his bullwhip; “did not he also say that he and Señora de la Vega were
acting together in this plan to help the péons
meet their financial obligations?” When Ballarias did not answer him,
the Capitán slapped the merchant with his whip across his face. “If
you want to live, tailor, you will confess everything. Be quick about
revealing what you know about this conspiracy between Doña de la Vega
and that criminal vagabond, El Zorro! My patience will soon vanish!“
Ballarias looked skyward and prayed for forgiveness from
El Zorro and especially from Doña de la Vega. He truly respected Selena
de la Vega y de Rojas and he knew that in order to save his own hide he
would have to lie. Madre de Dios! he sighed inwardly.
Glorioso removed his jacket and pulled on his gloves.
“All right, I am finished with our discussion, tailor! You shall now
receive ten lashes on your back and then IF you are still uncooperative,
ten more, and then ten more after that until either you are dead or
until you decide to tell the truth!”
Horrified, Sergeant Garcia watched the Commandante’
threatening the tailor from Glorioso’s office steps.
“Your pardon, mi Capitán... but you promised to
release the prisoner, and ...” Garcia protested.
“So I did, sergeant, I just did not say exactly when.
Now move aside!” Glorioso ordered.
Lancers Peldar, Gomez and Hugo untied Ballarias and
repositioned him once again on the whipping post.
“N-no! Wait, commandante! I w-will speak, por
favor!” Señor Balleras begged.
Capitán Glorioso handed his bullwhip to Gomez. “You
will not only be doing yourself a favor by giving me the truth, but you
would also be protecting your wife and young niño! Well, I do
not like to be kept waiting, Señor!”
“I myself.... did not receive money from the Señora de
la Vega, but heard some péons...talking. They took money
from her and El Zorro. Everyone said. ‘They must have planned this
together.’ I swear on my mother’s grave, commandante!” Ballarias
“You are willing to sign this document --- Lancer
Gomez handed him a blank piece of parchment with the seal of the Spanish
Crown government in the lower right hand corner---immediately, then?”
“Si, Capitán,” Ballarias mournfully replied, not
even glancing at what he was about to sign. The tailor hung his head. Santa
Maria, I already regret what I have done ...forgive me, Doña Selena,
“Release the prisoner’s hands Corporal Peldar.”
The Commandante placed a quill already dipped in ink and placed the
document atop a leather binder within Tomás Ballarias’s reach.
“Sign here, Señor.”
Ballarias did as he was told and felt that he just made
a pact with El Diablo himself.
“Give the prisoner all the water he desires,”
Glorioso ordered Lancer Gomez before he walked back to his office to
draft the complaint against Señora de la Vega. “Peldar, come here at
“Si, mi Capitán!”
“Corporal, after you are satisfied that Tómas
Ballarias has refreshed himself adequately, return him to the whipping
post and give him ten lashes, understood?”
“Perfectly.” Peldar smiled at him.
“Peldar, continue your excellent work and soon you
will become a sergeant and perhaps take Garcia’s place!” Glorioso
Don Alejandro called to order the long delayed meeting
of all the local dons. Dons Alfredo Alvarez, Cornelio Esperon, Nacho
Torres, Miguelito Suarez, Romero Perez y Salazar and his nineteen year
old son, Rodolfo, Eugenio Doloros, Carlos Caudillo and Roberto Gomez y
Battelas, answered Don Alejandro de la Vega’s summons eager to find
any means of removing Commandante Glorioso from his post at the Pueblo
de Los Angeles.
El Zorro watched from behind the wall in the library, as
all of the invited dons arrived at the de la Vega hacienda. He
counted to fifty as he raced through the secret passageways to the
stable and reentered the hacienda, waiting for the signal that he
had prearranged with Don Alejandro.
Zorro had been puzzled by the strange look on his
father’s face when he visited him yesterday in his bedroom. There was
a welcome change in Don Alejandro’s attitude towards him that the Fox
could not understand. Since Diego had conversed with his father many
times in the library, Don Alejandro had never been so.. respectful to
him. As he stood before his father, Don Alejandro spoke to him tenderly
as if he knew it was Diego behind the mask. Dios, mi! Had I slipped
up, let down my guard, thus leading him to guess my secret? Zorro
“Don Alejandro, are you unwell sir?” he had asked
his father last night, after the elder de la Vega just silently stared
at Zorro’s masked face for quite a while before answering the Fox’s
“No. You must excuse an old man’s feelings, Señor
Zorro. You have, of course, heard about the Commandante’s sadistic
treatment of my son, Diego.”
“Si.” was all the Fox replied, growing very uneasy
regarding what direction this conversation was heading.
“Zorro, do you remember the dream I had after you
rescued me from a trap set by Commandante Monastario? In that dream, I
longed to remove the mask and hoped to find that you were in reality, my
dear son, Diego.”
The Masked Avenger’s body tensed. Forcing himself to
keep his voice calm, he replied, “Of course, Don Alejandro. Please
continue, I am most ... interested in what you have to say.”
“Gracias, El Zorro. Diego’s noble unselfishness that
he displayed earlier his week made me realize how ... badly I misjudged
him. He is not like you, Zorro, and he never will be. Diego prefers to
wage war behind the scenes and cares little for glory. Whereas you, my
young caballero, you thrive on the excitement and danger of the
hunt. You are above all else a man of action. Si, I have learned an
important lesson from my son.”
“And that is?” the Fox prompted him, hoping he
adequately concealed the anxiety in his voice from his father.
Don Alejandro’s dark eyes grew misty and he found that
he could not bear to look at El Zorro. He would lose all emotional
control and reveal his knowledge of his son’s secret identity.
“Every man must find his own way, chose his own destiny, “ he said
softly over his shoulder, “and I pray that Diego will find it in his
heart to forgive me.”
The man in black silk smiled. “Excellente, Don
Alejandro. Don Diego is a lucky indeed to have you as his father. Until
the meeting, adios!” He bowed slightly from the waist and gave Don
Alejandro a brief salute. Zorro leaped through an open window and rode
home with a light heart.
“Vaya con Dios, Señor Zorro, my son!” Alejandro had
END OF THIRTY TWO