Zorro shook his head. “No, Señora. Much as I want to
kill Glorioso, he must be brought to justice! I am no murderer, neither
are you,” he added.
“Señor, I can see the capitán has badly hurt you or
someone you love in some way,” she softly replied, “what do you want
me to do?”
“Something bold and dangerous. Tomorrow morning, you
and the other ladies are to refuse to work, and ...”
“Refuse to work, El Zorro? You must be mad to think
the patrons sleeping upstairs will cooperate with us! And what about
Glorioso?” Señora Soto’s brown eyes mocked him.” The Visconde
will not be happy when the posada does not open !”
The Fox held up his hands to stifle her protests. “I
shall keep the Visconde occupied. You will not be entertaining any new
customers since the townspeople will boycott the Posada.”
“Everyone? Including the dons?” Teresa asked
bitterly. “The dons believe that the ladies working in La Casa are
little more than so much trash. I... we ladies do not trust the dons, Señor
“Especially the dons. With a bit of luck and
careful strategy, the only patrons in the Posada Thursday morning will
be those ‘overnight guests’ currently in residence on this floor.”
the Fox responded confidently.
Teresa held her chin in her hands. “Hmm IF the dons do
their part to help get rid of that muy grand raton Glorioso and
IF the ladies believe they can trust los ricos!“
“Señora Teresa, all of you ladies can put your trust
in me, can you not?” Zorro asked gently. “Come now, do you not have
faith in the Fox?“
Teresa halted her pacing and gazed thoughtfully at him.
“This just might work, Señor Zorro. Tell me your plan. By the way,
most of our ‘guests’ are not asleep but are somewhat ..”
“... busy at the moment.” he concluded her statement
for her as he laughed in a rich baritone. “Take whatever sleeping
potions you have en casa and then....” Zorro bent down to
whisper the remainder of his instructions.
When the Fox stopped speaking, Teresa extended her hand
for him to kiss and when he tried to do so, Teresa pressed her body and
lips against his.
“That is my ‘fee’ for helping you,” Señora Soto
said as she briefly rested her head on his broad shoulder.
Baffled, he asked, “And what will you charge for
aiding Señora de la Vega?”
“Not even one centavo! Let us just say that the
Señora is a wounded sister who needs my help. I will send word to Don
Diego regarding his wife. And Señor Zorro, you know something, it feels
good to be able to help someone ... besides myself, do you
Before leaving the way he entered her room, the Dark
Angel brought her right hand up to his lips. Zorro tenderly caressed her
hand after he kissed it.
“Oh, sí, Señora Soto, I know exactly what you
mean!” he whispered as he Fox turned away, launched himself through
her window and nimbly slid down the ladder he used to gain access to her
room. Zorro leapt from the third rung of the ladder onto the patient
Tornado’s saddle and headed his mount toward the Church of the Blessed
No sooner than Zorro had departed when Glorioso’s men
burst into Teresa Soto’s room and hauled her roughly downstairs. The
Commandante was elated at the thought he would have the opportunity to
finally dispose of her.
“Because of your histrionics, puta, Señora de
la Vega is unconscious. God help your miserable hide if she dies, for
your death will! be protracted and infinitely painful!” Glorioso
shouted venomously at her. He then sent Corporal Peldar and Lancer Gomez
outside to see if any of the péons were loitering in the plaza or for
any sign that El Zorro might be nearby.
“Mi Capitán!” Peldar reported back to Glorioso.
“Everything is calm. I can not see anyone.”
The Commandante shouted up to Lancer Hugo if he could
verify the corporal’s report. Hugo stood on the special ledge Glorioso
had constructed around the inside perimeter so the soldiers could have a
clear view of the area immediately surrounding the plaza.
“Sí, mi Commandante, all clear.”
Glorioso’s men crept slowly from the cuartel and
cautiously looked around. The plaza was deserted.
Interesting, the Commandante observed to himself, that
no one is defying the martial law edict. And the barricades placed
earlier in front of the cuartel’s gate have been pulled aside. But
the ever vigilant and paranoid capitán further ordered the lancers to
thoroughly canvass the plaza and to check the nearby alleys. Soon
Corporal Peldar and Lancer Santos reported no activity in the immediate
However, one of Don Alejandro’s vaqueros, Jorge
Manuelo, and Jacinto, an Indian who worked at the Church of the Blessed
Sacrament, watched the capitán’s activities from their hiding place
atop the roof of the butcher’s shop across the plaza from the cuartel.
“Madre di Dios!” Manuelo exclaimed as he watched
the lancers drag Teresa Soto kicking and screaming to the whipping post.
“Mira, the commandante is going to whip poor Teresa! Run and
tell El Zorro. He just rode towards the church! I will come right behind
you! Hurry, Jacinto, hurry!”
Jacinto sprinted as fast as his legs could move. Zorro
was about to dismount from Tornado when the Indian called out to the
“Señor Zorro! the capitán is going to whip Señora
Soto in the middle of the plaza! Come quickly!”
“Sí, Zorro, an out of breath Manuelo echoed. “You
The Fox noticed Jacinto was carrying his bow and arrows.
“Dios! Jorge, you tell Don Alejandro to bring a small group of
vaqueros but do not interfere with Glorioso’s actions yet. Jacinto,
you come with me!!” the Masked Avenger said to the Indian.
Glorioso ordered a dozen lancers to escort him to the
whipping post in the marketplace. He grinned when he saw Teresa struggle
to free herself.
“Well, Teresa, I did warn you not to provoke me!”
Glorioso said smugly. You will soon beg for mercy but I will ignore your
Teresa screamed as one of the lancers ripped open the
back of her peasant blouse.
“NO! MI CAPITAN! POR DIOS, NO!” she cried piteously,
knowing all too well that horrible pain awaited her. And Teresa knew
Glorioso would not stop the flogging until she was dead.
Visconde de Estrada calmly removed his uniform jacket
and handed it to Corporal Peldar. He patiently cracked his bullwhip
closer and closer to his terrified victim’s back.
“CRACK!” The first blow landed squarely across
Teresa’s already scarred shoulders. She screamed even louder and this
only drove him into a greater fury. Glorioso arched the bullwhip for the
second blow, which he fully intended to strike in the exact same place
as the first stroke. Just as moved his arm forward to follow through
with the next blow, a flaming arrow sliced through the upraised whip.
“For shame, Commandante! To have such little respect
for the fairer sex! What would your mother say?” El Zorro’s mocking
baritone drifted down to Glorioso’s ears.
Capitán Glorioso spun around, drawn saber in hand as he
dropped his burning whip. “ZORRO!“ he yelled in frustration.
“Coward! Show yourself!”
“Always happy to oblige you, commandante. But business
before pleasure.” Two more flaming arrows flew through the air in
rapid succession. They both landed on the whipping post where the wood
immediately began burning. “Release Señora Soto now, or I shall bury
the next one in your chest!“ El Zorro threatened. This time the Fox
revealed himself to be standing atop the posada’s roof. He drew the
bow tighter. “I am waiting, Your Excellency!”
Reluctantly, Glorioso ordered Corporal Peldar to cut
“You will also permit Teresa to be escorted by these
men, Zorro pointed to a group of de la Vega vaqueros who had
ridden into the Capitan’s view at Zorro‘s signal, to the sanctuary
of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on the far side of the plaza!”
Zorro kept a flaming arrow aimed directly at
Glorioso’s chest until the commandante told the vaqueros to
remove her from his sight. “Excellente mi capitán! You also forgot
one useful lesson from your mother-- never play with fire!” The
Fox’s hearty laughs at his public humiliation unnerved Glorioso.
Despite the audible snickering from the lancers he had to at least
maintain the pretense of being in control of his emotions. I am a
Grandee, the Visconde de Estrada. These men are mere peasants and by the
Virgin, El Zorro will die under my whip.
Fox shot two more arrows into the wooden post. Satisfied that the Capitán’s
sadistic toy was completely afire, he disappeared from view.
to the Cuartel, lancers!” he sullenly ordered as he watched the fire
consume his cherished whipping post.
Teresa Soto argued with Benito, the de la Vegas’ head vaquero,
as he attempted to bring her to safety at the Church of the Blessed
"But I agreed to help El Zorro by closing down the
Posada! Raton! Let me go!" she screamed as she wriggled free
from his grasp, kicked him in the shins for good measure, and made her
way back to the kitchen entrance of La Casa.
“Carrumba, mujer!” Benito said as he rubbed his
right leg. “Don Alejandro and El Zorro will both have my hide
if anything happens to the señorita now. Juan, inform the patrón
that I and three of the vaqueros are remaining at the Posada to
protect Teresa Soto."
"Sí, immediamente, Benito!"
When Teresa arrived at the Posada she quickly called a
meeting of the working ladies of Comandante Glorioso's La Casa de
Hospitalidad. "I have promised the Fox that tomorrow morning we
will not be working for the commandante any longer. We will not serve
drinks and we will not prepare any food. And most important of all, WE
WILL NOT SERVICE ANY OF THE MALE CUSTOMERS! Are you with me señoras and
Juanita Montecuma Flores jumped her feet. "Of
course! I shall no longer obey that canaille Glorioso! He cannot
kill us all. Besides we shall not be acting alone will we, Teresa?"
Señora Soto nodded. "Correct. In the morning the
peons will not visit the pueblo’s marketplace to shop, as the
tradesmen will keep their shops shuttered."
Flores grasped Teresa’s arm. “What about los
hombres ricos, the dons? Why would they want to help us?”
Señorita Gonzalez frowned. "Teresa, we have no
good reason to trust the dons who think we are lower than dirt!”
Several other women at echoed her sentiment. "The
dons!" Juanita spit on the floor and shouted "One can not
trust the dons!"
Teresa yelled for order. "Estupidas! Listen
to me! I have El Zorro's promise. I trust the Fox and I am
willing to bet my life on it. He has pledged on his honor to me that the
dons are using their vaqueros to gain control of the cuartel. And
have you forgotten Don Diego's brave endurance of his flogging? He very
easily could have done nothing and permitted that animal Glorioso to
torture the Tintero brothers. Well?" The grande puta strode
up and down the length of La Casa’s main room as she scraped
her blood red painted nails against her black cotton embroidered skirt.
“I am waiting, ladies, and I have no patience as you well know!"
Flores and Gonzales grunted in unison. "Sí, what
have women like us left to lose? Our reputations? Our
Teresa pointed an index finger at Juanita Flores. "Exactemente!
We can we redeem something of our pride as females. Are you with
Maria Gonzales, Carmelita Castillo, Juanita Flores led
the rest of the women as they all yelled their agreement. "Si, Si,
Si! We will take care of those bastardos sleeping upstairs in a
way they never expected."
"Bueno. Here is what we must do,” said Teresa
Soto, “we will give our guests some drugged wine as soon as possible.
Second, after we drug the men we gag and bind them to their beds. Then
Don Alejandro's vaqueros will escort us back to the Church. Now
hurry up! We have a lot of work to do before dawn Friday!"
END OF CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE