BEGINNING OF THE END
Selena awoke, surprised to find her arms free. She tried
to raise her head and immediately felt dizzy. When she touched her
forehead, Selena realized someone had bandaged it. Mon Dieu! I would
give anything for one of Amontildar’s pain remedies now. Señora
de la Vega yawned and even that small action worsened the pain, which
seemed to be centered near her left eye socket. What in the name of
the Holy Mother happened last night? I cannot recall ...wait. I
foolishly tried to confront Glorioso as he was about to strangle Teresa
Soto ... I stepped in between them ... cannot remember anything else.
She attempted to swing her legs over the side of the
commandante’s bed and fell back on the coverlet. Equilibrium shaky
... better .. remain where I am. Diego, querido, have reached the limit
of my endurance ... do not think ...that can fight Glorioso any
longer... Selena began mumbling the Hail Mary, and in her usual
fashion, alternately recited it in French and Spanish:
Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor es
contigo, bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto
de tu vientre, Jesús. Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros
pecadores ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén.
Je vous salue Marie, pleine de gracês, le Seigneur est
avec vous, vous êtes bénie entre toutes les femmes, et Jésus le fruit
de vos entrailles est béni. Sainte Marie, Mère du Dieu, priez pour
nous pauvres pécheurs, maintenant, et à l’heure de notre mort.
Selena fell insensible again and was thus oblivious to
an extremely agitated Capitán Glorioso who burst into his bedroom
following his latest altercation with El Zorro, intending to vent his
frustrations upon the nearest female, Señora de la Vega. He rushed to
his bed eager to sample her charms yet again. BY ALL THAT IS HOLY!
She is still unconscious! The capitán fumed. Rather than caress her
face as he usually did when they were alone, Juan Glorioso sat down next
to her on the bed and watched the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest as
she breathed. Dios, she is so exquisite, so beautiful. Too much of
women for that miserable excuse of a real man Diego de la Vega. It will
not be that difficult for me to persuade Selena that she married someone
who could not ......well.. when we are finally together .. you will
realize that no woman on this earth could possibly resist my
Mentally he tossed around the words Selena had uttered
yesterday. “... my baby, my child...” she had muttered after
Dr. Avila had given her a sedative. Glorioso would use this fact to
force Selena to leave Los Angeles with him. He looked down again at her
sleeping form. I guess I had better obey Dr. Avila’s instructions
regarding her recovery. You will give me strong sons for you are exactly
the type of woman I want gracing my bed, and an integral part of my new
life away from this misbegotten excuse for a Pueblo. And, if it is the
last thing I do in this life, I will kill Teresa Soto for daring to come
between Selena and myself.
Diego awoke the following morning feeling much better
than he had in the past week. When Bernardo came to help his young
friend shave he immediately noticed how rested his master seemed.
"You know, Bernardo, I think that we are prepared
for anything that Glorioso may do today. My father and Don Alfredo have
stationed their vaqueros around the Cuartel effectively isolating
the capitán from any outside help that may be forthcoming. Don Esperon
is guarding all entrances to Los Angeles with his men and he will be the
first one to greet His Excellency, the Gobernador, when he
arrives hopefully... later today."
Bernardo touched his master's arm and smiled.
Remember that you are the Fox and no one is more cunning than El Zorro.
"Gracias, Bernardo,” the tall caballero
Don Diego quickly put on the black costume and ran
downstairs toward his faithful steed, Tornado. The stallion impatiently
pawed the earth with his right front hoof anxious, to begin their
day’s work. Zorro affectionately patted Tornado's neck and fed his
four-legged companion some carrots before beginning what he knew would
be an extremely long and difficult day. The Masked Avenger would have
preferred to travel under the comforting camouflage of night, but in
order to terminate Capitán Glorioso’s reign of terror as rapidly as
possible, he must confront his evil adversary in the brilliant
California sunshine, and, with the vividly painful image of a brutalized
Selena still remaining Glorioso’s prisoner the earlier
By this afternoon, Selena, we both shall be free of that
monster named Juan Glorioso, Visconde de Estrada. Mi corazon, I am
coming. I AM COMING! Zorro mentally willed his declaration of love to his wife as he
urged Tornado on towards the Pueblo de Los Angeles.
OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
In the rear of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament,
Teresa Soto and her La Casa ladies were sharing their stories of
how they turned the tables on their male customers as El Zorro rode into
the Pueblo. Don Alejandro chuckled as he listened to Señora Soto’s
spirited version of how the prostitutes of La Casa administered
the sleeping drug to the guests late last night and when every customer
finally awoke, he would find himself bound and gagged.
By Mary Magdalena! I certainly would have paid good
money to see such a sight,” the elder de la Vega said.
El Zorro grinned in agreement. “Well, Señores, I see
that all the dons have the Pueblo quite secure--”
Tomas Ballarias led a crowd of shopkeepers and peons
whose shouting interrupted the Fox.
“El Zorro! We demand to be permitted to attack the
Cuartel! We have been patient long enough! We have the right to ...”
Ballarias began to argue.
Don Alejandro held up his right hand. “Senores, I also
am anxious to eliminate this canaille. But surely we can wait for
the Fox’s instructions!”
Zorro wheeled Tornado between the dons and the crowd.
“Agreed, Señor Ballarias. Does everyone remember what to do?”
“Sí, Señor Fox! Of course we do! Down with Glorioso!”
Alcalde Baltazar declared firmly. “The entire cabildo [town
council] is with you, El Zorro!”
“Bueno. Shall we proceed to the garrison like
gentlemen?” Zorro asked quietly. He raised himself in the saddle and
was heartened by the view. He saw a veritable horde of men, from the
haughtiest aristocratic dons, middle class town merchants, and the
poorest of mestizos and Indians, united for a common cause, to retrieve
their town from a tyrant. Perhaps at last the people of the Pueblo de
Los Angeles realize that I alone can not solve all of their problems.
Citizens of a community must take responsibility for their own
The Black Knight rode Tornado at the head of the
“Citizens Group,” as Zorro now referred to the gathering
townspeople, and again gestured for silence. He wheeled Tornado to
within thirty feet of the Cuartel’s gate and shouted at the guards
stationed in the two kiosks constructed into the brick wall. Teresa Soto
pushed her way to the front of the citizenry. When Zorro crushed
Glorioso she wanted to be in the front lines to witness the downfall of
her daughter‘s murderer.
He paused briefly to see if everyone had gathered behind
him, because he knew the bloodthirsty Visconde de Estrada would not
hesitate to shoot all of the townspeople if necessary. When the Visconde
decided to commence hostilities, the Fox wanted his enemy to focus his
fire on him and not on the populace. Zorro yelled out his message in a
loud, firm voice:
CAPITAN GLORIOSO! SURRENDER YOURSELF NOW! THE GOOD CITIZENS OF LOS
ANGELES HAVE THE CUARTEL COMPLETELY SURROUNDED! I, EL ZORRO, PROMISE YOU
A FAIR TRIAL BY JUDGE VASCA, IF, I REPEAT IF, YOU RELEASE SEÑORA DE LA
VEGA, UNHARMED AND RELINQUISH COMMAND OF YOUR POST BY 10:00 O‘CLOCK A.
M. TODAY! IT IS NOW 9:30 O’CLOCK A.M. GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER IN HALF AN
HOUR. BUT I WARN YOU, CAPITAN, IF YOU CHOOSE TO FIGHT, YOU SHALL BE
Glorioso listened to El Zorro demands with mounting
anger. I cannot and shall not acquiesce to the demands of a mob of
led by an outlaw. These people still have not learned their proper place
in society. I am, after all, the Viscount de Estrada! Then he calmed
himself down and decided to issue new orders to the soldiers in the
Cuartel. He rushed back to his office to see if Señora de la Vega had
recovered sufficiently from her accident yesterday. Much to his chagrin,
she was still unconscious although breathing normally.
Diego de la Vega, I have taken your wife to be mine, and
there was nothing you could do about it. I wonder how you will react
when I tell everyone in the Plaza how much I enjoyed her. Glorioso
bent down just to kiss Selena gently on her mouth. Señora de la
Vega, when we have escaped from this hellhole, you will not regret
becoming Señora Glorioso. I have much wealth stored in San Pedro, and I
promise you that we will be able to recover that money and return to
Spain in triumph.
Capitán Glorioso combed his silver streaked hair and
applied extra wax to his mustache. He donned his red ostrich plumed
bicorn with the golden star emblem of the de Estrada family emblazoned
on the right side and checked his appearance in his mirror one last
time. Then stepped outside into the sunshine.
"Corporal Peldar, please move the whipping post
into position directly in front of the Cuartel's gate. After you have
done so, take Lancer Gomez and fetch Señora de la Vega. Bring her to
the whipping post at once. I want the stake repositioned again so that
when I order the cuartel's gate opened, everyone in the plaza will have
a clear view of her. Once both the Fox and the peons see that she is
completely under my control, the "good citizens" of Los
Angeles will not allow the Señora to be harmed.” And, he added
to himself, Selena de la Vega and I will then be able to personally
shake the dust from this pitiful pueblo, ultimately arriving in Spain!
“Carry out your orders, Corporal!” Glorioso barked.
Ten minutes later after Corporal Peldar fastened Selena
securely to the whipping post, Glorioso yelled for the cuartel's gates
to be opened. When the gates finally swung apart, the Commandante
stepped just outside and calmly surveyed the antagonistic crowd in the
Plaza. He moved slightly to his right and smiled grimly as the crowd
finally saw who was standing behind him.
“Señora de la Vega! What has Glorioso done to her?
Tomás Ballarias shouted.
“Madre de Dios! She is muerte!” Teresa Soto
exclaimed, crossing herself and mumbling “Dios, mi!” several times.
“Attack the cuartel!” shouted Señor Ballarias.
“Avenge Señora de la Vega!”
“Alto!” Sergeant Garcia pleaded with the mob. “the
Señora lives, but the Visconde shall execute the Señora if you do not
stay back! Listen to me, please?” The visibly distraught sergeant
glanced at El Zorro.
The Fox was completely shocked at Selena’s appearance.
Large bruises were visible on both sides her face even from this
distance. She dangled listlessly from the post but Zorro thanked God
that he could see she was still breathing. Blessed Jesu!
The mob moved forward slowly and when the citizens
refused to heed Sergeant Garcia’s advice, Zorro abruptly wheeled
Tornado into the crowd. The Fox yelled for order as Don Alejandro, Don
Alfredo and their men came forward to help him restrain the people. Then
Zorro and Don Alejandro leaped from their horses and approached the
Commandante. The elder de la Vega’s face was bright red and although
the black silk mask hid most of the Fox’s reaction, Glorioso knew that
his adversary was extremely agitated.
Don Alejandro leaned next to El Zorro and whispered
"Control your temper, Señor Fox, we will rescue the Señora and
Glorioso will be brought to justice."
The Visconde de Estrada chuckled maniacally at the
obvious pain and concern etched on the masked avenger’s
features." You see, I have you, the aristocrats, the shopkeepers,
and the filthy peons checkmated." He turned slightly and then spoke
to the lancers inside the Cuartel. "New orders, my soldiers! I want
you to aim your escopetas directly at Señora de la Vega and
shoot to kill if anyone other than a soldier or myself approaches
El Zorro stepped closer to the commandante. "You
wouldn't do such a terrible thing, Glorioso. You are, after all, a Grandee."
"Normally, Señor Fox, I would agree with you.
However, I find my present situation to be intolerable. I shall leave
Los Angeles at my own discretion and with the Señora de la Vega
or I will kill her. Do I make myself perfectly clear Señor?"
Glorioso coldly added.
Zorro read the fierce determination and the chaotic
madness that raged in the Commandante's eyes. "I know that you are
a man of your word, Visconde de Estrada,” the Fox replied. There
must be another solution to this problem. Think, man, think! Appeal to
his vanity, his manhood. What does Glorioso desire above all else, even
more than his despicable lust for Selena? The Fox smiled to himself.
Of course. Just hope that I can coordinate my ruse with Gobernador
Sola’s arrival later today.
Glorioso continued in a sarcastic tone, “I also want
Don Diego present when you give me your answer to my most reasonable
The Dark Angel shook his head. “I am afraid that Señor
de la Vega is escorting Judge Vasca back from Santa Barbara we speak.
And I am certain that he will abide by any decision I make regarding the
Tense muscles rippled along the Capitán’s jaw line.
“Very well. You, Señor Fox, have ten minutes to make
your decision, or, by St. Teresa of Avila, I shall execute Selena de la
Vega myself!” The Visconde viciously replied. “Well, accursed
outlaw, what is your answer?”
Zorro reluctantly realized he had seriously
underestimated the Visconde, but he could not allow either fear or
indecision to show on his face. He just needed a little more time, and
Zorro knew he had very little of that precious commodity left. The
trapped animal known as Juan Glorioso de Estrada had unexpectedly grown
a new set of teeth and was biting back, hard.
END OF CHAPTER 41