When Sergeant Garcia had adjusted to the fact that the little dog had decided to adopt him, he was like a new father. He sang the praises of his new little friend, declaring that this had to be the most wonderful dog in all of California. Corporal Reyes probably expressed the sentiments of most of the residents of the pueblo, by shaking his head and declaring that it was the ugliest dog that he had ever seen.
"Baboso, can you not see how smart he is? He just needs to be brushed and fed," Garcia declared and handed the dog to Reyes to do just that.
Reyes, grumbling as he brushed the animal's wiry coat, noted that the dog was of no particular breed, but had a lot of different breeds in his ancestry. After feeding the little dog, he had to admit that he did look a little better. "But it is still ugly," he declared to no one in particular. He took the dog back to the sergeant, who decided to take his new pet to the tavern with him.
It was there that he saw his good friend, Don Diego sitting alone at one of the tables, enjoying a glass of wine. The patrón had his long legs stretched out in front of him, in an attitude of languid ease. When he saw Sgt. Garcia, he raised his glass, smiled, and motioned for him to come over. Then young de la Vega saw the little dog following, and stared at it in amusement.
Garcia sat down heavily with a sigh and looked longingly at the bottle of wine sitting on the table. Diego was used to the routine and waved to the innkeeper to bring over an extra glass. "Gracias, Don Diego," Garcia said in gratitude, as he poured the wine into his glass. "Did you notice my new friend?"
"Yes, I could not help but notice him, Sergeant," Diego understated, with a slight smile. He looked askance at the homely creature curled up at the sergeant's feet. Personally, the caballero felt he had seen better-looking rats down by the wharf. He could not imagine where the dog could have come from.
Garcia interrupted his reverie. "I would bet that you have never seen a smarter or more handsome dog in all of your life, would you not say, Don Diego?" Garcia was beaming in obvious pride.
Diego, for his part did not want to hurt his friend's feelings, but was not about to agree. "I would say that this animal is very unique and as far as being smart, well, Sergeant, look with whom he has made friends." Diego sat back, thinking that he handled that quite well. Then he looked up and saw Bernardo watching with an amused look on his face. The manservant made a sign that indicated that Diego was less than imaginative in his answer. The caballero just shrugged.
It was then that Bernardo pointed down to the little dog. Diego looked and saw him sniffing around the table legs and his newly purchased boots. "Sergeant Garcia, can I assume that your little friend has not been house broken?" Diego asked in consternation as he quickly pulled his feet under his chair just before the little dog relieved himself. Garcia looked under the table, gathered the dog, and fled in embarrassment. Diego chose not to make any comments to anyone other than the innkeeper as he got up and moved to another table. Bernardo joined him, obviously enjoying the activities of the little dog. Soon Garcia returned and when the innkeeper shot him a glance of irritation from under the recently vacated table where he was cleaning up, the sergeant just apologized and sat down next to Don Diego, ignoring the fact that the hacendado had moved.
It did not take long for the acting comandante to return to his former good humor. "I have decided on a name for my little one, Don Diego," he said with great pride.
"Oh, Sergeant?" Diego said. "What did you decide on?" He was slowly sipping his wine while keeping an eye on the dog.
"Caesar," Garcia crowed. "Like that general you were telling me about."
Diego was so shocked that he choked on his wine and Bernardo pounded him on the back. When he had recovered, he asked the reasoning behind the name. Diego thought dismally that it would be appropriate for such a pitiful looking dog to have a name associated with a joke that caused him to spend a night in a vermin infested jail.
"Oh, Don Diego, I thought that such a noble dog should have a noble name and I remember in Monterey that you told me about the General named Julius Caesar. Ah, I thought to myself, what nobler name than that of a general. Do you not agree?" he asked with great pride.
"Sí, Sergeant," Diego lied. "Absolutely. Now you must excuse me. I do have other duties to attend to." He motioned to Bernardo to follow and leaving the appropriate number of pesos for the wine, quietly left the ugly dog, its proud master and the inn behind.
Without the presence of a patrón to keep him in the good graces of the innkeeper, Sergeant Garcia was soon asked to take his little dog and himself out of the inn.
The other duty that Diego had referred to was a visit to the local church where he left a donation from the de la Vega family. Bernardo waited outside with the horses. His patrón often liked to get in lengthy conversations with the padre about various strategies in chess as both were avid chess players. It was while he was waiting that he saw someone standing at a side window near the padre's little office.
When Diego came out a short while later, Bernardo related the fact to his patrón in sign. The caballero looked disturbed, and when they had ridden far enough from the pueblo, Diego explained the reason for his anxiety. "Father Miguel informed me that he and another priest are going to take some valuable artifacts to San Gabriel early this evening. They chose not to say anything except to a few people, but apparently someone heard a rumor and was listening to learn more." Bernardo looked intently at his patrón and made the sign of a "Z."
"Yes, Bernardo, I think that Zorro should make sure that nothing happens to the priests and their valuables this evening," Diego agreed with his manservant.
|Caesar Chronicles Introduction|