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Cupid Wears Black

 

 

Is the Mountain Man set of episodes the part of the series that most of us love to hate?  Are these the episodes that we are most likely to miss when they air?   Does Don Carlos annoy you as he does me?  Well, let me tell you... the other thing that annoyed me was the fact that poor Carlotta was left hanging at the altar, so to speak.  
And I will admit to a certain liking to both her character and to Joe Crane's.   (So shoot me!  I'm weird. I admit it.)  With that in mind, last Valentine's Day, I set out to change that deplorable situation and the result is
Cupid Wears Black.   I hope you enjoy it.  

Strange are the paths of true love....    Who would think that someone as sweet as dear Carlotta would want someone as uncouth as Joe Crane to steal kisses from her?

 

 

 

Diego/Zorro, Tornado, Bernardo, Joe Crane, Lobo, and all the other characters in this little story belong to Zorro Productions and/or Disney.  I thoroughly enjoyed using them and tried to be very nice to one and all, (except Don Carlos, perhaps.)  The only character that was wholly mine was the vaquero and you all can have him.  I don't want him back.

 

Now on to the story!!!

My thanks go to Wendell Vega for this wonderful picture of Zorro, and to Jill Panvini, who enhanced it for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

A stealthy figure slipped furtively from bush to rock to tree.  If one blinked, one might miss the spectral apparition, or if one didn’t blink, then one might think it was a coyote, curious to check out the human habitation sitting beyond the edge of civilization.   The wraithlike form lingered under the front window of the tiny house, and when it heard nothing suspicious, it slipped to the doorway, and almost silently worked the latch loose.  In another instant it was gone.  Suddenly there was a squealing cry of delight from inside, cut off quickly.  Señor Joe!” the voice next whispered.  

Carlotta quickly lit a candle and set it in the middle of the table.  Her father rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and pulled a chair out for their enigmatic visitor.

Señor Joe, what are you doing back here in the pueblo.  You know that Don Carlos has never forgiven you and would like nothing more than to catch you.  You must leave, por favor,” Carlotta said anxiously.

“Ah, lass,” Joe Crane said in his broken Spanish.  “You are beautiful when you are worried.  But you are the reason I am back.  I cannot sleep, eat, trap; why Señorita, I am not even interested in that frog juice you all call liquor.  I am back to ask you to marry me.”

Carlotta stepped back a pace and put her hand to her mouth in surprise.   Señor Joe, you want to marry me?" 

“Yes, ma’am, that’s what I said and that’s what I mean.  You are the woman of my dreams.”

“Oh, Señor Joe.  I do not know what to say.”  

“Say yes,” Joe told her quickly.

“Yes,” she answered without hesitation, then turned to her father.  “Oh, Papá, that is if you approve.”

“Ah, Carlotta.  You have been mooning around here for three months.  Señor Joe this and Señor Joe that.  If I arranged a marriage with Don Diego de la Vega, you would not be happy, because I know you love Señor Joe.  Of course, you have my permission.”

“Oh, Papá,” she cried, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheeks. 

“Hey, don’t the groom get a bit of huggin,’ squeezin’ and kissin’?” Joe asked in protest.  Promptly Carlotta jumped up and threw herself into Joe’s arms. 

“Your gived-away kisses are every bit as good as the stolen ones, Señorita,” Joe said with a great smile.  “Let’s go get hitched."

“Hitched?” Carlotta asked, unfamiliar with the term.  

“Hitched.  Tie the knot.  Jump the broom.  Get married,” Joe replied.  

“Oh, married.  Well, Señor Joe, I realize that we cannot have a big church wedding, and we must do this secretly, but I do want to be dressed nicely, and we must take the time to go see Father Felipe or Father Manuel.   It will be at least two days,” Carlotta explained.

“Two days!” Joe exclaimed.  “All you got to do is say ‘I do’ in front of the preacher and that’s that.  The Indians do it simpler.”

“Not here, they don’t, Señor Joe,” Carlotta said in a voice that brooked no argument.  

“Um, one day, Señorita?” he asked, looking hopeful.  

“Well, perhaps tomorrow evening would be long enough,” Carlotta said with a knowing smile.  “Papá can go into the pueblo tomorrow and talk to Padre Manuel.  I will have to go to work as usual, although I suspect that by early afternoon I can easily get a headache, so I can come home and get ready for our wedding.  When I go to the tavern in the morning, you come back here and clean up.   No one will see you, Señor Joe.”

“Hmm, well, I s’pose so, Señorita,” he acquiesced, rubbing his chin and squinting up at his intended.

“And since we are getting married, would you at least call me Señorita Carlotta, or just Carlotta?”

, if you will call me Joe.”

“Yes, Joe.  I will,” she said and gave him another quick kiss.   Suddenly the howl of a wolf echoed through the little valley, as the mountain man laid back his head and cried out in celebration.  “Tarnation, Carlotta.  That kiss would make a coyote want to step in a trap and smile doin’ it.  I surely cannot wait to see what a long kiss will do.”   Carlotta just giggled and blushed. 

Papá smiled.  While this was not exactly what he had in mind for a son-in-law, he still liked Joe Crane and felt he would take good care of his daughter.  Besides, Carlotta was fast approaching post eligibility and one couldn’t be too choosy under those circumstances. 

 

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The next day, Papá went into town to talk to the padre, also stopping to buy a few things Carlotta had asked him to pick up for her.  Some of the merchants he purchased from were curious and asked him what the happy occasion was.  In confidence, he told them the joyous news, and within the hour the whole pueblo had heard about the wedding, including the morose and taciturn Don Carlos.

“So, that animal thinks he can just prance right back into the area without any repercussion.  He will soon find out that one does not humiliate me without feeling my retribution.  That insolent Americano will pay for what he did to me,” he growled into his wine cup.   His eyes narrowed as Carlotta breezed around the room, serving wine in more than her usual cheerful manner.  She even hummed softly as she refilled the sententious hacendado’s cup. 

“Perhaps, Don Carlos, I can get some information from the cheerful señorita,” Marcos, the new head vaquero said, as Carlotta moved to the next table.

“Perhaps.  Try and see, but however we get the information, I want that dog in my grasp before tonight.”

A few minutes later, the vaquero admitted defeat.  “Well, go and get it from her father.  That seems to be where the news came from in the first place,” Don Carlos suggested. 

“A very good suggestion, patrón,” Marcos said, turning and leaving the tavern.  

“That is why I am a landowner and you are a scraper of horse dung,” Don Carlos muttered at the vaquero’s retreating back.   Leaving a few centavos on the table, the hacendado slowly got up and walked out of the tavern a few minutes after Marco.  

When she cleaned up the table, Carlotta looked at the money in surprise.  Don Carlos never left a tip.   Ah, well.  It is just another manifestation of a wonderfully beautiful day, she thought happily.  

“Congratulations, Señorita,” a voice sounded softly behind her.  Turning, Carlotta looked into the smiling face of Don Diego de la Vega.  “Would it be permissible for me to attend your wedding, or am I too presumptuous?” he asked.

“My…my wedding?” she asked, wondering where he had found out that information. 

, your wedding.  I had been told that Señor Crane has proposed to you and you have accepted,” he reiterated his information in a low voice.  “Understandably you are being wed in secret, but since I have a bit of a liking for the Americano, I thought that perhaps, I could serve in some capacity.  Every wedding needs well-wishers anyway, Señorita.”

Cold chills began climbing up and down her spine.  If the word had gotten out, then Joe might not be safe anywhere.  “Oh, Don Diego, I am afraid that Papá’s indiscretion may get Joe killed before there is any wedding.  He is at my house until we go to see Padre Manuel this evening.”

“Perhaps I should go out and check on him.  I think he trusts me as much as he trusts anybody around here,” Diego reassured her, patting her hand. 

Gracias, Don Diego.  Please hurry.” 

 

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Joe Crane was bathing quietly in the water barrel, not wanting to attract attention despite assurances from Carlotta that the house was too remote for anyone to be coming by.   But as he was emerging he heard the sound of several horses.  Lobo growled and jumped to his feet.  “Watch,” he commanded the wolf/dog, knowing that Carlotta and her papa only owned one old horse and a cart, and her papa had taken it to the pueblo this morning.   Jumping out as fast as he could, he grabbed his long underwear and had only pulled on the bottoms when the end of a musket was stuck under his chin.  Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lobo lunge for his assailant.  The faithful companion never reached his destination, another vaquero’s musket stock laid the animal out cold. 

Growling, Joe looked at the sneering man on horseback.  “That’s a lowdown, dirty trick, Don Carlos, catching a man with his pants down, and then laying into his dog, to boot. You are a yellow snake, sitting up there on that horse and lettin’ these boys of yours do your dirty work for you.  Why, you wouldn’t be sneering so much if I had my knife in my hand.”  He spat on the ground and growled again.  “I believe I just insulted a snake.”

Don Carlos pressed his lips tightly together at the slurs, and glared even harder at the American.  “You will regret ever coming back, you swine.  And you will doubly regret those words.”  Turning to Marcos, he added, “Bind him so he cannot use his arms, but I want you to leave his legs free.  I want to see how well this animal can run.”

Joe struggled against the vaqueros, but a pistol butt against the side of his head dazed him enough for them to bind him successfully.   When he had fully come back to his senses, he saw that there was no chance of escape at the moment.  He was jerked to his feet and the horses were spurred into a slow gallop.  All of his concentration was focused on staying upright, because he didn’t care for the alternative at the moment.  His mountain man existence helped him to ignore most of the pain that shot up from his feet when he stepped on stones and thorns.  However, Joe realized it would be hard to make it all the way to Don Carlos’ hacienda, if, in fact that was where they were going.   He also knew that he would rather be slowly eaten by a grizzly bear, than to show that pompous, pig-headed weasel any weakness. 

 

End part One

 

 

Chapter Two
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