This is a story that came to me when the discussion on a Guy Williams list turned to Comandante Toledano. Did he know that Diego was Zorro, or didn’t he? And what happened to the ‘other’ comandante? Did he go quietly into that good night? I didn’t think so. I thought that as much as he loved his wife, faults and all, he would want to thank the man who saved his wife, (and himself), from dishonor and probable execution. This is my ‘return of Toledano’ story.
My thanks go to the entire GWFriendslist. They are all wonderful people, ready to discuss the best actor for the job, lend a helping hand, a shoulder to rest on, an encouraging word. Thanks, gang! And thanks for being my mass beta readers.
Diego/Zorro, Bernardo, Alejandro, Tornado, Toledano, Garcia and Reyes all belong to Disney and Zorro Productions and I use them with great gratitude, promising to put them back in good order. The various other characters other than the new governor of California are fictitious and can be borrowed by anybody, just let me know.
Additional Author’s note: All characters in this story are fiction, except for one, which is why I even mentioned this. Luis Arguello was a real person, used here liberally for the sake of the story. He really was the first Mexican governor of Alta California. If there are any descendants among my readers who take offense of my use of this real person in my little tale, I apologize right now.
My thanks also to Lois Dodson, Jill Panvini, Randi Scott, Janis and Jackie... Oh, the choices were so hard to make. What isn't used here will probably end up in the gallery.
A picture from the episode, "Adios Señor Magistrado."
"Sergeant Garcia, how does it feel to be acting comandante under both the Spanish and the Mexicans?" the voice behind the rotund soldier asked. It was a somewhat familiar one, and Garcia swiveled around in his chair and looked up at the slim, well-groomed soldier. His eyes widened and the acting comandante jumped up from his chair, sending it clattering to the floor behind him.
"Comandante Toledano, Sergeant Garcia at your service," Garcia said crisply, saluting at the same time. His napkin was still tucked under his chin and his spoon still clutched in his left hand.
"No, not comandante, Sergeant. And I have no authority over you. I am still a capitán in the King’s army. I am just passing through on the way to San Pedro to sail back to Spain. I will finally be rejoining Raquel after all this time," he explained to the befuddled sergeant. Finally Toledano could stand it no longer, he began chuckling and then burst out into full laughter. Garcia affected a puzzled look.
At a nearby table, Don Diego de la Vega shook his head and tried to hold back his laughter as well. "Poor Sgt. Garcia. Always trying to impress his superiors and always failing miserably," he commented discreetly to his manservant, Bernardo, who was sitting at the table with him. Diego got up to pay his respects to one of the few well-liked and respected comandantes that the pueblo had ever had.
In the meantime, Toledano had pointed to the napkin under the sergeant’s chin. As Garcia reached for it, the capitán held up his hand and stopped him. "Sit down, Sergeant, and finish your meal. We can talk for a while and then retire to your office. I am here for more than just idle conversation."
"Sí, Comandante," Garcia responded. "Would you like some supper? It is most excellent tonight. Beef and beans, with....."
"No, no, Sergeant, I ate at the inn south of here," Toledano replied. Looking up, he saw another familiar face. "Ah, Don Diego, how are you and how is your father, Don Alejandro? How do these changes in government suit you here in Los Angeles?"
"Very little has changed, Comandante," Diego answered with a smile.
"Then you still have corrupt magistrados, I gather?" Toledano chuckled.
"Sí, but not as bad as some we have had," Diego answered meaningfully.
"Then I suppose that Zorro still rides on occasion?" the capitán asked.
"Sí, he does, Comandante," Garcia answered, finishing his mug of wine and wiping his chin with the napkin. He got up with a sigh. "Capitán Toledano, you said you had something to tell me? We can go to my office now, if you would like."
Toledano rose, as did Diego. "I will take my leave now, señores," the caballero said. "It was very good to see you again, Capitán Toledano. I wish you a safe journey...."
"Diego, I would like you to be in attendance when I give the sergeant my news, since I believe you can help me." Diego just nodded and followed, motioning for Bernardo to wait for him at the carriage.
In the large office, Garcia motioned for Toledano to take the comandante’s chair behind the large desk. Diego leaned against the wall, musing at the serious countenance that the former comandante had affected as soon as he walked into the room.
"Have either of you heard of a man who calls himself El Desquite?" Toledano asked quietly.
Diego shook his head. "No, Capitán, I cannot say that I have, but the name itself sounds ominous; Retaliation. What is he retaliating against?"
"Anything that has to do with the new government. He is a zealous patriot of King Ferdinand. When he would not take the oath of allegiance for the new government and then when he openly defied government officials, he was stripped of his property and arrested. He escaped and has been gathering followers ever since. He contacted me after I turned over my command in San Diego. I suppose he thought that he would have a sympathetic ear, since I would not resign my commission in the Spanish Army." Toledano paused.
"May I assume that you would not have come here if this El Desquite was not planning something against the people of Los Angeles?" Diego asked, his curiosity piqued.
"Actually, I was, since I had made friends in the short time I was here. But I played along with El Desquite and found out some details of his plans. He thinks I am here to see the result of his conspiracy. El Desquite intends on assassinating the governor." He glanced up and saw the shocked look on the faces of both men. "The governor is planning surprise visits to the pueblos along the Royal Road and Los Angeles is one of them. El Desquite plans on killing the governor near Los Angeles."
"When is the Governor supposed to arrive here?" Diego asked softly, the fury in his voice barely controlled. What would happen to the people of Los Angeles if El Desquite’s plan worked was almost unimaginable to the caballero.
"Tomorrow afternoon or evening, if there were no delays from Santa Barbara. One of El Desquite’s messengers ran several horses into the ground rushing to give the report. Governor Luis Arguello will be accompanied by a small contingent of soldiers, but nothing that cannot be handled by determined men," Toledano informed them.
"Then there is no time to lose. I must alert the rancheros. If there is a show of force, then perhaps..." Diego began, but stopped when Toledano put his hand up.
"No, Diego, the governor has already had several minor attempts against his life, a show of force among the hacendados would make him think that the citizens of the pueblo were in open rebellion. No, I believe this calls for the efforts of only a couple of men," Toledano stated. Diego and Garcia both looked puzzled. "Since I know most of El Desquite’s plans, then I am one. The only other man I know of who would have any chance of succeeding against this maniac is El Zorro."
"El Zorro?" Garcia echoed.
"Sí, El Zorro. I only wish I knew how to contact him," Toledano said anxiously. Then he turned to Diego. "El Desquite is planning on killing Gov. Arguello on the road just north of Los Angeles, in the vicinity of the de la Vega rancho. Can you tell me where the most likely spots of ambush are?" he asked Diego, who now understood Toledano’s purpose for including him in the conversation.
Diego told the capitán what he wanted to know, all the while wishing he could leave. Finally, Toledano was satisfied with the descriptions. "I must go out to the area. I bid you both good night. And Sergeant, please put your lancers at ready, but do not do anything different from what you normally do, and for heaven’s sake, do not tell your men the real reason for being at ready. Tell them you are drilling them, something, anything, but not the truth. Do you understand, Sergeant?" Garcia could only nod, his mouth still open in shock, his double chins wobbling.
In the carriage, Diego outlined the capitán’s story for the manservant. Bernardo made the sign for Zorro.
"Yes, Bernardo, Zorro must ride tonight," Diego confirmed.