DIEGO AND SELENA
LOVE’S REFINING FIRE
Diego hesitated before pressing the mantel button to
open the secret room’s door because Selena was again calling his name.
The young caballero stifled a cry of anguish. He inhaled deeply
and whispered to her, “Nothing ... can alter my love for you, Selena,
nothing.” Diego listened to the roar of the wind-driven rain against
the hacienda’s tiled roof, as he again scooped her into his
arms, just holding her gently but firmly. After twenty minutes or so, he
felt Selena’s shoulder muscles relax as she finally drifted into a
deep sleep. Diego placed her back gently on their bed. He looked at his
beloved spouse again, torn between his almost palpable urge to shake her
from the mental hell, which she had condemned herself and his need to
get away from the hacienda for just a little while. Then he
pressed the hidden button on the fireplace, rapidly threw on his black
clothing, and fled downstairs to the secret cave.
The Fox could not have selected a worse night to ride
Tornado in order to compose his thoughts. A fine mist replaced the
previous deluge, and the rain, combined with low temperatures, greatly
added to Zorro’s sense of insurmountable despair. The tired hazel
eyes, their natural sparkle dimmed from nearly a week’s lack of sleep,
vainly searched the gloomy heavens for the moon. But Zorro’s usual
Celestial Guide and Guardian was concealed by thick, dark and billowy
clouds. Shivering beneath the black wool cloak that Bernardo had
insisted he wear, Zorro had not felt this lonely since the death of his
mother fifteen years earlier. The dampness chilled his soul and he was
at his wit’s end when Tornado finally halted near one of the numerous
caves more than five miles from the de la Vega hacienda.
“Gracias, mi amigo,” Zorro said as he alighted from
his steed’s back and rushed Tornado into “their” secret place, for
now the gentle rain once more seemed to literally pour from the heavens,
perhaps in response to the brilliant jagged lightening bolts that ripped
through the sky. “Come, Tornado, I brought extra blankets for such
weather.” The stallion whinnied his thanks as Zorro removed the wet
riding gear, the small soaked riding blanket and used a large one to rub
the animal down.
He quickly started a fire and removed his own
waterlogged wool cape, squeezed out the excess moisture and draped all
of the wet items over some rocks to dry. The Fox spread out a smaller
blanket to sit on and retrieved a bottle of brandy from his saddlebag.
Zorro poured some into a tumbler and sat silently before the fire,
watching the flames dance their ancient, hypnotic rhythm as he began to
He noticed a small leather bound book laying beside the
bottle of brandy. I do not remember packing this... ah ... the New
Testament of the Bible mother gave me just before she died. He
paused to clear the lump that had strangely formed in his throat. Bernardo
... Bernardo must have believed I needed to read ... what is this?
He pulled back the purple silk bookmark where it had
been placed and found a note addressed to him:
My master who is also my dearest friend, please reflect on
the Gospel of St. Mark. Give particular thought to Chapter 5, verse 36.
Nothing more was written on the paper except for Bernardo’s signature.
Zorro then read aloud Verse 36:
“Do not ye be afraid, only have faith.”
The blessed words of the gospel became seared into his
heart. He had lost faith in himself, both as Diego and Zorro. No,
he said to himself, I could not have prevented Selena’s brutal
suffering anymore than either I could eliminate poverty forever from the
pueblo of Los Angeles.
“Jesu, dios mi! I do have faith!” Zorro exclaimed,
The Fox now knew he had to return home and fight the
memory of Selena’s violation that threatened her love for him and her
very sanity. This was a battle he could win and would. The
blankets were dry and by the time Zorro re-saddled Tornado and packed
everything the rain had ceased.
“Tornado, my friend, may you run more swifter than
ever before tonight! My beloved Selena needs me! Fly home, fly!”
The black stallion, invigorated by the both the fire’s
warmth and his master’s impassioned speech, immediately leaped into a
furious gallop. Tornado’s pace was so rapid, Zorro was certain the
stallion’s hooves never touched the damp earth.
Amontildar crept into Diego’s and Selena’s bedroom
to croon some more Creole lullabies to her beloved mistress. Ah,
grace a le Bon Dieu! Elle dorme bien. As Señora de la Vega slept
peacefully, her lifelong friend and marraine repeatedly caressed
her mistress’s forehead with loving hands. She whispered into
"Mon chere, please believe me when I tell you dat
your handsome Spanish nobleman truly love you, yes he does! When you
goin’ to realize dis chere? Oh my Selena, you must let go of ze past.
Whatever happened between you and dat commandante be nothing, nothing
compared to ze feelings you have for each other! Don Diego, dat fine
gentleman, he love you more than his own life, yes! You listen well now,
when I tell you dis!”
Diego changed into the fresh nightshirt that Bernardo
had laid out for him in the secret room and donned his blue brocaded
robe. When he turned the lock to open the way into their bedroom, he
choked back fresh tears as he listened to the Creole lady’s prayers.
“Mam’selle Amontildar, thank you for trying to help
Selena.“ He bent down and raised up the servant to her feet. Diego
placed a light kiss on her cheek and informed the maidservant that he
would take care of Selena for the rest of the night.
Amontildar’s face turned crimson. “Mais, le Monsieur
did not have to do dat. You do make dis Creole lady blush, oh yes you
He grinned. “Off to bed with you, ma jeune femme [my
"Oh yes, indeed! Dat Don Diego, he be a fine
gentleman, and he be a wonderful father, for sure! Oh, Mon Dieu, I pray
me that Mistress Selena she listen to him because he do love her,"
Amontildar murmured to herself as picked up her long skirt and fairly
danced down the stairs. Everything would be fine. Her prayers for
Selena’s complete recovery would be answered. No one could
withstand the combined power of Amontildar’s Baron Samedi, the Blessed
Virgin ... and true love.
Diego knelt beside his resting wife and kissed her lips.
“Dearest Selena, I love you with my entire being. Glorioso was an
animal who forced himself upon you. You fought him, Selena, as befits a
truly brave Spanish woman. You are my woman, Selena, and what the
commandante did to you can never alter that fact,” he
hesitated, wanting to say more but wondering how he could convince her
to return fully to him.
“Forgive me, mi corazon, for not fully
understanding how you felt after I rescued you from Glorioso. And most
importantly, forgive yourself. We made wedding vows never to
desert each other. Selena, I shall never leave you, even unto death and
beyond. That is my eternal promise to you.” Diego cradled her head in
his embrace until he fell asleep.
Two voices, one female, one male, penetrated the baleful
gloom surrounding Selena as she floated back and forth between
exhaustion and drug-fueled sleep. She clung to these sweet melodious
sounds, especially clinging to the single baritone message of comforting
love she felt emanating from it. Then she finally recognized the owner
of the voice.
Mais, oui! C’etait El Zorro, the man in black who had
overloaded her senses one night in her boudoir when she was thinking of
Diego de la Vega, who was her first real love. Yet when I gazed into the
Fox’s tender eyes, they were the wonderful hazel ones belonging to my
El Zorro had wanted to make me his then. And now that I
know the Fox and my husband are one and the same. ... Oh mon coeur,
Diego, how I had missed you when I was held captive by Glorioso. My
thoughts were only of you when he ravished me. ONLY YOU. Tell him how
you feel, woman! Selena
heard yet a third voice join the chorus in her head. Will you toss
away your happiness because of something that occurred which was beyond
“NO!” She heard herself say in her dream,
now no longer a nightmare. Selena felt herself drawn towards the light
that shone before her. The light was the source of the voices.
Awaken and seek out your beloved. He needs you. You need
each other. The voices sang. Love is stronger than evil, child. Selena
recognized a female voice as her mother’s. Child, wake up. Where is
your faith? Where is your faith?
What of our baby, Selena? Do you not care what happens to
the child? said Diego’s voice. I know you love me and our child.
Return to me, por favor, return to me ...
Then the light grew brighter than the sun itself and
began consuming the darkness that had threatened to engulf her soul. Faith
and love, child. Faith and love ...
“Oh, Diego, my love... I am coming back to you ...
coming back,” Selena muttered. “Mother Allie, Mother Bethia ... I
understand your message.” Her gray eyes found it difficult to focus in
the dark, for the candle Amontildar had placed on her night stand had
nearly burned out. Yet she was determined to get up. But where washe?
“Diego ... mi corazon ... Selena whispered.
Usually either Amontildar or Diego were supposed to be
with Selena, but Diego had gone in search of some fresh air and her
maidservant had slipped out for some hot chocolate. Selena pulled and
slid her way over to the last bedpost and she clung to it, then slowly
made her way to the door. With all her strength, she pushed it ajar ...
Although Don Alejandro de la Vega celebrated the
Christmas season the night before by attending Don Alfredo’s fiesta,
Diego remained at their hacienda, in the fervent hope that
Selena’s condition would miraculously vanish in this, the month of the
Christ child’s birth. Diego thought of the coming birth of his own
child next June and prayed all the harder that his wife would recover to
enjoy their infant’s arrival. During Dr. Avila’s visit last week,
the physician had reassured the harried young expectant father that
Selena would be fine, and the baby would, as long as Selena remained
calm and rested, was in excellent health also.
“And how is Selena, my son?” Alejandro’s eyes
searched his son’s face with fatherly concern.
“Selena seemed more relaxed while she slept last
night. “She actually smiled after I spoke to her, father,” Diego
said, his face bright with renewed hope. “I believe ...” then he
gasped, not in shock, but in wonder, as his hazel eyes were drawn
“Diego, what is the matter?” Alejandro said as he
followed Diego’s gaze, which was directed at the top of the patio’s
“SELENA!” Diego shouted, “SELENA!” he bounded up
the stairs, reaching her as she swayed against the top of the stairs.
“D-diego .. heard you calling ... mi corazon ....
love you, only you ...” she fell into her beloved husband’s
Diego slowly and carefully carried her back to bed. He
turned to Don Alejandro who had followed him into their bedroom.
“Father, can you write a note for Bernardo to fetch Dr. Avila?”
“I will go myself, Diego, for Dr. Avila was traveling
with me on his way back to the pueblo from Don Alfredo’s fiesta! Do
not worry, Dr. Avila can not be more than two miles from our hacienda.”
Dr. Avila listened closely to the tiny but strong
heartbeat with his small conical earpiece placed against Selena’s
abdomen. He lined face broke into a smile as he looked up at Diego ‘s
worried countenance. Selena had insisted on her husband being present
during the physician’s examination. When Dr. Avila protested, Diego
quietly said “wild horses could never tear me away when Selena says
she needs me, so I am staying!”
After a few more tries to reconfirm the baby’s life
signs, the doctor pronounced both patients to be in very good health.
“Praise the Virgin!” Diego exclaimed. “Gracias,
Dr. Avila, gracias.”
“Do not thank me, Don Diego, the thanks belong to
God’s love for your family to be and you and Selena’s strong love
for each other.” The doctor smiled as he turned to go downstairs.
“Before you leave, Dr. Avila, I want to ask you,”
Diego whispered to the physician as Dr. Avila stepped outside their
bedroom,“ this next question may seem somewhat ...” the young don
But the doctor had anticipated just such a query.
“Selena will let you know, Señor, she will let know when she is
ready. Give her a couple of days and then you both use the imaginations
the Creator gave to you.”
Diego smiled sheepishly. “Gracias, Dr. Avila. Vaya con
“Buenos tardes, Don Diego,” Dr. Avila gaily replied
as he walked downstairs to talk with Don Alejandro.
The expectant father immediately ran back into their
bedroom. “Did you hear what Dr. Avila said,” he asked Selena gently,
“you and our child are fine!”
The hazel color in Diego’s eyes is even more gorgeous
tonight. Selena thought dreamily. I love him so...
END OF CHAPTER 46