por favor, please settle down so we can begin the meeting!"
announced Don Alejandro. I have asked everyone here tonight on behalf of
the citizens of Los Angeles. This is a critical time for everyone in the
community, and as the pueblo’s leaders, Don Alfredo and I have decided
to coordinate our efforts to eliminate Commandante Glorioso with ... a
señor who is also important member of this community.” Don Alejandro
said as he clasped his hands behind his back and turned away from his
friends. “This is why I have asked you, señores, to meet with ...”
Bernardo held open the library door, Zorro slipped quietly into the
room. "To meet with me, señores. Gracias, Don Alejandro,
for agreeing to have this meeting in your hacienda and gracias to
everyone for coming,” he warmly hailed the dons. “I am afraid, señores,
that I require the help of everyone in
room. Commandante Glorioso has recently imprisoned and tortured many of
our citizens because of his own personal hatred of the lower classes. In
addition, señores, I have proof that the capitán has also murdered
three innocent young women who worked for him in the posada." Total
shocked silence reigned in the de la Vega library as the Fox revealed
Alfredo stood up and exclaimed, "What exactly do you propose, Señor
Zorro? I for one believe we should take immediate action against the
here, Don Alfredo,” seconded Don Nacho Torres. “We are with you, Señor
Don Nacho, and an excellent idea, Don Alfredo, but as with all
revolutions, solid plans must be made to obtain the desired
objectives," replied Zorro in a firm voice. “First, the local
dons must select a representative to send to Governor Pablo de Sola. I
suggest that whomever you send to Monterey do not commit your strategy
to paper. Your representative must memorize our plans and repeat them in
person only to the governor himself."
am in complete agreement, El Zorro," said Don Alejandro. "May
I present my recommendation to the señores for this committee's
Cornelio, Don Alfredo and his nephew, Don Stefano, nodded their heads.
Don Carlos Caudillo said nothing and sat in his seat wearing his
customary glum expression.
course, Alejandro, you always have excellent advice." added Don
Alejandro continued, “The person whom I have selected to send to
Monterey is my mozo, Jorge Paco. Now, before some of you object
to the idea of an Indian as our official envoy to Governor de
Sola, let me state for the record, I would trust Jorge with my life!
That is all I have to say."
mozo, Don Alejandro?” Don Carlos finally spoke up in an
elder de la Vega whirled around angrily. “Don Carlos! Are we not
gentlemen, and such, better than Capitán Glorioso?” After all, it was
his enormous greed as well as his racial prejudice that has resulted in
the chaos we are experiencing today!”
Alfredo confronted Don Carlos. “Alejandro is correct, Don Carlos.”
Diego’s father said crisply, “no one would suspect an Indian to be
Zorro walked throughout the room, looking at each don in the eye.
“Excellent thinking. Gracias, Don Alejandro. Secondly,” the Dark
Avenger resumed outlining his plan, “I am going to speak with the
Alcalde of Los Angeles later night to persuade him to help control the
people of our pueblo so they will not take any action against the
Commandante until either I or Don Alejandro give the signal. I also
propose that Don Alejandro revive his ‘citizens’ army’ he had
raised against the Eagle, Señor Varga." The Fox exhaled audibly as
some of the older dons muttered among themselves.
señores, I am suggesting a carefully organized protest against
the military authority in Los Angeles. If there any objections to my
proposals, please so indicate now. There must be no dissention in our
ranks,” the Fox added somberly, "for we must present a united
front against Commandante Glorioso.“
mean a revolt, do you not?” asked Don Cornelius somberly.
no one raised a hand or said a word, El Zorro continued to speak. “No,
Don Cornelio, there is no one disloyal to Spanish rule in this hacienda,
like the Eagle!" the Fox replied in a strong voice. “The
purpose of this army is to control access to the city of Los Angeles.
Don Cornelio and his vaqueros will block all roads leading and
exiting the pueblo. Dons’ Alejandro and Alfredo will be in charge of
leading the péons and merchants in besieging the Cuartel. This is the
broad outline of my plan. I welcome your suggestions and support, señores.”
Alejendro stepped forward and announced to the entire room: "I
hereby pledge my life, my son Diego’s life and all of the resources at
Alfredo again asked for permission to speak. "Señores, I make the
same pledge as Don Alejandro and I urge everyone in the room to do so.
Yes, lives may be lost in our struggle against tyranny, but if we do not
remove Glorioso, while informing Gobernador Sola regarding our
intentions, we shall lose both our lives and our
in the room applauded Don Alfredo’s speech. Don Alejandro asked for a
vote regarding El Zorro's proposal and to the Fox's relief, his proposal
was unanimously excepted. "Gracias, señores, for your vote of
confidence. I shall take my leave of you and permit Don Alejandro and
Don Alfredo to finalize their plans for our protest to take place in
El Zorro exited the room, Don Alejandro asked him to stay for a few
minutes so that he could speak with him in private. "Let us go into
the sala Señor Fox."
outlaw gave the old don a quizzical look. “Señor...?”
Alejandro was not usually at a loss for words but here he was alone
again with El Zorro. No, the Fox is my son, Diego. And I do
not know what to say! May the Saints give me strength! he swallowed
and realized his throat was dry. “May I offer you some brandy, Señor?”
no. For me, time grows short, Don Alejandro. I must ride to see the
Alcalde. Adios!” Zorro touched his left hand to his hat’s brim and
then bounded into the patio and out into the invigorating November air.
“Oh, sí, I had forgotten ...Vaya con Dios, El Zorro.” Don Alejandro whispered. Know that my prayers are always with you.” The old man’s words were uttered both with paternal pride and concern. My dearest Bethia, there is much I have to discuss with you when I finally retire to bed later tonight...
Zorro and Tornado returned home in a long, circuitous route, he fought
back tears of joy at hearing his father’s praise for his actions as
Diego. Ah, to no longer be considered a
wastrel, a ne'er’ do well and a sloth! But seriously, I still feel
that I can not yet reveal my secret to my father. Yet, Don Alejandro is
certainly no fool for I could have sworn he knows I am Zorro. His
eyes...no, I must be mistaken. Perhaps, once I have driven Glorioso and
his house of ill repute from Los Angeles, I can tell him. We shall see
he and Tornado trotted into the cave, Bernardo was waiting for him with
some hot food for him to eat. His mozo saw several tears trickle
down Diego’s face as he donned his caballero‘s clothes.
is it, my master? Your eyes, your face are wet! Bernardo
worriedly signed as poured some wine for Diego.
are tears of happiness, my friend. Allow me to eat and later I shall
tell you about Zorro’s meeting with Don Alejandro.” Although the
mute had overheard what had transpired in the library, Bernardo joyously
clasped his hands and thanked God. Dios
mi, gracias for the three wonderful people in my life, Don Alejandro,
Don Diego and Doña Selena de la Vega.
the next evening the Fox remain troubled by Don Alejandro’s atypical
behavior when he was in the sala with his father. Dios mi, there can
be only explanation... father knows ... somehow he knows! However, my
personal problems must remain secondary because I have to consider the
needs of the unfortunate souls jailed in Glorioso’s cuartel. He
shivered, but not long enough for his steed, Tornado, to notice. The
stallion thundered on into the night, his mind totally focused on
carrying El Zorro quickly and safely to his destination. The Man in
Black was deep in thought when suddenly Tornado snorted as he halted in
the alley behind the Alcalde’s home.
in the name of the Virgin?” The Fox was jolted back to the present by
his steed’s sudden lack of movement. His faithful friend had stopped
in an alleyway directly behind the Alcalde’s residence.
gracias, my friend; I am glad someone is paying attention!” he praised
his friend as he alighted from the saddle with a practiced, graceful
ease. Hazel eyes rapidly examined the surroundings, searching the
shadows first for any hint of danger, then beyond the alleyway out into
the street. Over there, someone is coming this way. “How many,
Tornado?” Zorro whispered to his mount. The charcoal hued animal
softly pawed the ground once. One, but who, a lancer or some Angelino
trying to evade the lancers searching for curfew fugitives? the Fox
flip-flop of a man‘s sandals echoed through the plaza. “Eight
thirty o’clock in the evening and all is well!” the town crier
announced. “Eight thirty o’clock in the evening and all is well!”
chuckled to himself. Well, an outlaw can never be too cautious. Then
he hid Tornado deeper into the alley’s shadows and searched the alcalde’s
modest home for the welcome entrance of an open window. There on the
second floor, was his invitation, and luck would have it, a window with
a balcony. El Zorro unfurled his whip and quickly wrapped it around the
balustrade. In one quick move, he climbed up the wall and easily vaulted
over the balcony. After listening carefully for any sound inside the
bedroom, slipped through the window. As El Zorro crept toward the
hallway, he heard a pair of male voices outside the bedroom door. The
Dark Avenger dropped to the floor and crawled underneath the Alcalde's
please call a meeting of as many of the regidores you can notify
as soon as possible. Take extra care in contacting the other señores
because the Commandante's soldiers will be patrolling the streets to
enforce his curfew. I do not want anyone else in pueblo to end up in
Glorioso's jail. Now, Vaya con Dios!" said Alcalde Baltazar. The
alcalde then opened his bedroom door and walked inside. He suddenly felt
as if he were not alone in the room. Ridiculous, my friend, there is
no one here. Glorioso’s mad behavior even has me unusually nervous. Baltazar
noticed the open window and irritably stalked over to the balcony to
close it. When he turned around he saw a tall dark figure standing
Zorro! You made you way safely through the lancers’ patrols.
Bienvenidos, señor!” exclaimed the alcalde.
do try to keep my appointments," the Fox dryly replied, "but I
did have a bit of difficulty getting here. How many péons has the
frowned deeply. "The cuartel is nearly full of prisoners. However,
I am especially concerned about Señor Ballarias, since he has been the
most outspoken opponent of the commandante. A few péons have been
released from the cuartel, and these men have reported to me that
Glorioso is cruelly torturing Señor Ballarias. He has neither been
given food nor drink for the past two days. Señor Zorro, I can barely
restrain the people from attacking the cuartel. And you know what would
happen if they were to face Glorioso's well-equipped lancers; they would
all be massacred." The alcalde spread his hands in a gesture of
am very sorry to hear about Señor Ballarias, alcalde.” And this
news will infuriate Selena and worry her endlessly. The Fox mused as
he continued his talk with the Alcalde, “Earlier this evening, I met
with Don Alejandro and he
Carlos, Nacho and all the other dons in the area are united with me in
this cause.” El Zorro edged closer to Baltazar and dropped his voice
“It is critical to the success of this revolt that the people of Los
Angeles refrain from any contact with the lancers. They must not
take any action which might further provoke the Commandante.”
Baltazar smiled wanly. “Ah, of course, El Zorro, you have a plan. I am
eager to hear it. And I have dispatched my mozo, Juan, to convene
an informal gathering of the regidores...”
the Fox replied wryly, “I know, for I was eavesdropping on your
conversation, Alcalde. I wish I could stay for this meeting but as I
Don Alejandro, I believe there is very time left before Capitán
Glorioso does something so despicable the people of Los Angeles will
result in open rebellion and become Glorioso’s latest murder victims
if they act alone.”
rubbed his chin in thought. “Beginning tomorrow afternoon, please ask
all of the merchants not to open their shops and tell the péons to
avoid the marketplace entirely on Friday. Capitán Glorioso will
naturally become curious regarding this alteration in the pueblo’s
routine. If we can lure Glorioso away from his men, we can capture him
and hold him until Governor de Sola’s arrival.”
was impressed. “You have contacted the Gobernador?”
less details you know regarding that phase of our plans, the better,
Alcalde. Who knows, the Commandante may be plotting to arrest you on
a some false crime. I can not take that risk.” El Zorro’s forceful
gaze swept over Baltazar face as the alcalde met the Fox’s stare.
after his insane flogging of Don Diego, I agree, Señor Fox. Of course,
I shall do whatever you require of me. The regidores and I will
organize and monitor the people.” replied Baltazar. Suddenly, the
do you laugh, alcalde?” a bemused Zorro inquired.
seems that everyone in Los Angeles must now forego the skin of the lion
and put on the guise of the Fox,“ Baltazar wittily observed.
reflected on his conversation with the alcalde as Tornado galloped
toward the secret cave, where food and other creature comforts awaited
fatigue from their ride. Selena had earlier asked Diego’s mozo
about his master’s usual arrival time from a night mission because she
wanted to prepare hot soup and tortillas for him when he returned.
the ...” Selena hesitated, not at all confident about her
interpretations of Bernardo’s unique method of visual communication.
“Repeat that, por favor.”
mute brushed his hands together, meaning, ‘allow me to begin
again.’ The mozo placed his index fingers behind his ears
as he narrowed his eyes into slits. Bernardo finished his demonstration
by rapidly moving his head back and forth and sniffing the air.
Of course! How clever of you, Bernardo. Please continue, for obviously I
have a lot to learn!” Selena’s eyes were luminous with excitement.
pulled a pocket watch from his vest and dramatically shrugged his
shoulders. Then he pointed to her, meaning, now
do you understand?
you never know when Zorro shall return home, and you often wait up for
him. Oh, my,” Selena gasped, looking at a very familiar figure in
black behind Bernardo, “Zorro!”
neighing startled the Fox’s bride. When Selena reached up for him, her
beloved was beaming at her with one of his brilliant smiles. “What are
the two of you doing still awake? It must be almost ten o’clock!”
Zorro laughed. He tossed aside his mask and beckoned her into his open
arms. “Mmm. “Buenos noches, Señora de la Vega.” Diego murmured.
“Does your husband know that you are entertaining a ‘dangerous
outlaw‘ under his very own roof?”
sighed contentedly. “I shall not tell him if you do not! And I propose
...” Diego’s beloved abruptly stopped talking and he felt her body
begin to shake.
... dizzy again..” In less than two minutes the caballero rushed
upstairs and placed her in their bed. “Bernardo, wake up father and
bring him to me. I want him to write a note to Dr. Avila for you to take
to him at once. Hurry!”
wife’s complexion was as white as it had been on the first day of the
Day of the Dead fiesta. Diego rung out the facecloth he had soaked in
the basin of cool water Amontildar had earlier provided for him and
placed it over her forehead. Despite Amontildar‘s objections, Diego
had insisted on caring for Selena himself.
could possibly be wrong with my Selena? Surely it is not the dreaded
mountain fever? Too early in the season for that malady to strike, he
thought as anxiously awaited Dr. Avila’s arrival.
OF CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE