The Promise

by

 

Gail Manfre

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

 

SENORITA JUSTICE AT LAST

PART TWO

 

 

Don Cornelio Esperon met Gobernador Roberto Sola just outside the Pueblo’s main entrance. Although Sola was disappointed that his old friend, Don Alejandro de la Vega, was not present to greet him, Don Cornelio reassured the Gobernador he would see Don Alejandro very soon.

“Don Alejandro has the situation here fairly under control now,” Don Cornelio began to explain to the Gobernador when he was interrupted by a vaquero.

“Don Cornelio! Don Cornelio!” shouted a rider who was heading for the Gobernador’s party.

‘Why, that is Rolando Gilberto, my head vaquero! “ exclaimed Don Cornelio. “ Gilberto what is happening in the Cuartel? Have El Zorro, Don Alejandro and Don Alfredo taken Commandante Glorioso prisoner?”

Señor Gilberto removed his sombrero before greeting his patron. “Don Cornelio, Don Alejandro sent me to bring you and the Gobernador as quickly as possible to him. Zorro and the Angeliños have begun their attack on the Cuartel!”

“Zorro!” Gobernador Sola was thoroughly shocked by this news. Don Cornelio, Don Alejandro’s mozo made no mention of that outlaw being involved in this affair! This is a most disturbing development. Take me to the Cuartel immediamente!” Sola commented indignantly.

“Certainly, Your Excellency! Andalante!” Don Cornelio ordered his men.

 

ZZZZZZZZZ

 

Visconde de Estrada struggled uselessly against the combined strength of both peons and lancers who hastily bound his wrists to the Cuartel’s whipping post. He wondered what the raging mob would do to him now that he was at their mercy. Must endure the insults of these insufferable riffraff until I can argue my case before Gobernador Sola. He is a Grandee who understands the proper order of things in our society. Sola will most certainly restore command of this garrison to me and, after I have executed Zorro, I shall be rid of both that vagabond and Diego de la Vega! But truthfully, Glorioso believed that now that the true “brutish” nature of the lower classes was running amuck in the pueblo, he would be torn to pieces..........

Teresa Soto playfully tossed a couple of rotten tomatoes back and forth in her hands. “Ready, señoras and señoritas?

Juanita Montezuma Flores smiled wickedly. “Ready, Señora Soto!”

“Bueno. Remember, amigos, the ‘female employees’ of La Casa de Hospitalidad have the first shots at our esteemed Commandante Glorioso. Only after all of us, and I do mean all seven of us, have each had a shot at this porco, will the rest of you good citizens of Los Angeles be allowed a chance to teach him some manners!” Soto addressed the crowd.

“Enough talking!” Señorita Aña Gonzalez shouted. “I want to begin our fun now!”

Señora Soto glanced at Zorro who saluted her to start the festivities.

“NOW!” Soto yelled to her fellow former employees of Capitán Glorioso’s La Casa de Hospitalidad.

The seven remaining La Casa “ladies” threw their overripe produce at Glorioso with all of their strength.

“SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!”

The capitán desperately struggled for air but each time Glorioso opened his mouth, his taste buds were rewarded with the delectable bouquet of spoiled tomatoes, bits of lettuce and/or squash. His pristine white uniform tunic soon resembled an artist‘s palette of the primary colors red, green and yellow. Glorioso’s nostrils became filled the accompanying stench of rotten vegetables and he began to gag.

“Water, water, por favor! “ he painfully gasped. “I demand that you give me water! DO YOU HEAR ME?“ he to roared, “ I AM THE VISCONDE DE ESTRADA....”

Juanita Montezuma placed her fist against the Visconde’s nose. “You demand, Señor Raton? You are filth, and by the Three Marias, you will feel what is like to be slapped around like a dog!”

El Zorro grasped Señora Montezuma’s arm to prevent her from carrying out her threat. “ Give him some water, Señora. After all, we are civilized ...”

“....civilized people even though we are mere shopkeepers and peons!” Teresa Soto hastily declared.

The Fox laughed, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth. “Exactly so,” he bowed to the ladies. “Your pardon, but I promised Don Diego I would see to the Señora de la Vega’s comforts and return her safely back to him. I shall leave Sergeant Garcia in charge. Gobernador Sola should arrive shortly. Remember, Señoras, no fists, no rocks, just rotten vegetables, eh?”

 

ZZZZZZZ

 

Dr. Avila helped Selena into a sitting position and plumped several pillows behind her. “I am glad that you are better, Señora de la Vega.”

“Sí, gracias, Dr. Avila. I can not wait for Diego to take me away from this place.” she replied sadly.

“Allow me to be a reasonable substitute, but only con tu permiso, Señora.” said a voice Selena recognized belonged to he most handsome man in the entire world .. her husband.

“EL ZORRO!” Selena was overjoyed to see him at last, especially clad all in black... She looked at Dr. Avila and quietly asked him to leave.

Zorro nodded to Dr. Avila. “I made a vow to Don Diego that I would personally deliver the Señora to him as soon as possible... if the Señora is well enough to travel.”

Dr. Avila chuckled.  “Of course, Señor Fox. I shall see if Don Alejandro has a wagon ready to transport her home. Hasta la luego.” The doctor bowed to her and winked at Zorro as he closed the door to the Commandante’s bedroom.

Only when Zorro was certain they were truly alone did he crush her body against him.

Querida! Oh, Selena, Selena, forgive me for taking so long to rescue you ...” A few ears trickled down his mask.

“There is nothing to forgive mon coeur. Diego, I am so... tired...” she never completed the sentence as Selena closed her eyes and fell asleep gently against his shoulder.

Gracias a Dios, she is asleep. Time to go home. The Fox opened the bedroom door and returned to the bed to scoop Selena into his strong arms.

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

 

Gobernador Sola, and Don Cornelio entered the Pueblo de Los Angeles’s plaza as Zorro exited the Cuartel carrying the exhausted Selena de la Vega. Don Alejandro told his head vaquero, Pepito, to place her into the back of one of his rancho’s carriages. Corporal Reyes and Lancer Hugo rushed forward to assist Pepito. Don Alejandro noticed Sola’s group approaching the Cuartel and urged the Fox to leave immediately.

“No, Señor de la Vega. I promised your son I would deliver her to your hacienda. My personal safety is secondary to hers.”

Don Alejandro bit his lip to prevent himself from calling the Fox ‘Diego’ in public. “My.. dear amigo, El Zorro,” he began.

“LANCERS, SEIZE AND ARREST EL ZORRO!” Sola shouted, extremely disturbed by the sight of Capitán Glorioso bound to a stake and covered from head to foot with refuse. But as Gobernador Sola’s soldiers attempted to arrest the Fox a solid wall of Angeliños who blocked their movements. “Capitan Tameron, please execute my orders at once!”

“El Zorro is our hero! No! It is Glorioso who should be imprisoned!” Several peons in the crowd shouted. “Leave El Zorro alone!”

Teresa Soto, Tomas Ballarias and Alcalde Baltazar confronted Capitán Eduardo Tameron who was in charge of Gobernador Sola’s military escort. They refused to move when Tameron repeated Sola’s orders.

“Commandante Glorioso is the real criminal, Your Excellency.” Alcalde Baltazar assured the Gobernador. I myself will give testimony regarding the Capitán's criminal activities.”

Zorro’s shoulder muscles tensed. I pray that Sola listens to them. In his peripheral vision he saw the crowd part for Tornado who trotted up to him. But I did not summon him. How--? Then Don Alejandro spoke from behind the Alcalde.

“I hope you did not mind, El Zorro. All I said to your horse was ‘your master needs you.’ A most remarkable animal.“ Don Alejandro said quietly. Diego’s father then told Gobernador Sola. "Good to see you again, Luis. It has been almost thirty years, has it not?"

“Don Alejandro, to say that I am appalled by what I have seen here in Los Angeles today, that is a drastic understatement,” Sola testily responded.

Alejandro de la Vega scowled. "If you will step inside the Commandante's office Luis, the Alcalde and I will explain everything to your complete satisfaction."

Gobernador Sola looked at El Zorro who was mounting Tornado. "I cannot allow this thief and outlaw to leave. He must be placed under arrest."

Teresa Soto and her ladies shoved the lancers away from the Fox. “Over our dead bodies, Your Excellency. Come on, señoras, we have handled men far worse than the likes of you!“

But Sola insisted that El Zorro leave Señora de la Vega with Don Alejandro.

Don Alejandro looked into the Fox’s hazel eyes now red from fatigue. “You have done all that you possibly could, Señor Zorro. Por favor, vaya con dios.“

Zorro nodded in agreement and even managed a slight chuckle. “I believe, Your Excellency your lancers will have some difficulty in carrying out your orders. Now if you will excuse me, there is still some work I have left to do. Hasta la luego!" The Fox gently mounted Tornado, saluted his Excellency and quickly disappeared from sight.

 

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

 

As the Fox had prearranged with his mozo, he rode to a small hut at the outskirts of Los Angeles and told Tornado to wait behind the building. He knocked three times on the door and was very happy to see Bernardo waiting for him.

"Hurry my friend, I must change quickly and return to Plaza as Don Diego. His manservant signed frantically in the air. And how is Señora Señor de la Vega? Is she badly hurt?

A look of intense pain cross Diego's face as he removed his mask. "Bernardo, I know that the capitán assaulted her. “ He paused as the mozo looked deeply into his master’s eyes. “No, Bernardo, Glorioso will answer to the Spanish Crown for his crimes. I must hurry now and make an appearance as Diego in Los Angeles before we can all go home."

Bernardo nodded. I understand my friend. His manservant finished pulling his own Zorro costume and Diego helped his mozo tie on the black mask.

"Do you remember what to do?" Bernardo nodded. "Bueno. Then off you go!"

The caballero rushed into his rust colored suede suit and then quickly mounted his horse Bernardo had saddled and waiting for him. Don Diego de la Vega urged his palomino towards the Cuartel and tried his best to feign surprise at the lancers were just locking up Commandante Glorioso in one of his own cells. The péons and shopkeepers were celebrating the fact that Gobernador Sola had ordered Capitán Glorioso arrested. Teresa Soto was the first person to notice him. She waved to Don Diego and said "Señor de la Vega you just missed El Zorro!"

The younger de la Vega dismounted and walked over to her. "No, I did not, for you see there is El Zorro." He pointed toward the Church where Bernardo, disguised as Zorro, saluted him aboard Tornado and then rode off. “The Fox was very kind enough to escort me to the Cuartel just as I returned from Santa Barbara."

“Diego! Welcome back! Were you able to contact Judge Vasca?” Don Alejandro hugged his son. “Oh, where are my manners? Roberto Sola, this is my son, Diego de la Vega de la Cruz.”

“Very pleased to meet a friend of my father’s from Madrid.” Diego bowed.

Gobernador Sola acknowledged Diego ‘s respectful greeting. “Señores, and good people of Los Angeles. Do not concern yourself about His Excellency the judge. One of my own soldiers will bring him to Los Angeles tomorrow.” Sola announced solemnly. 

Don Alejandro laughed. “Excellente! He glanced at the commandante, who somehow managed to look both indignant and resigned at the same time. “I can not think of a more fitting place than the whipping post for you, cobarde,“ Don Alejandrp said derisively to Glorioso, “except at the end of a hangman’s rope!“

Teresa Soto and the citizens of Los Angeles yelled and the men threw their sombreros into the air. Once again, dons, merchants and peons alike shouted “Viva Señorita Justice! Viva Sola! VIVA EL ZORRO!”

“Father, I hate to be impolite, but where is Selena?” Diego anxiously inquired as they walked away from the Cuartel.

 

 

END OF CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

 

 

 

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