Luck of the Irish
Chapter Four -
The Fox and the Leprechaun
"What??!!!...." Zorro’s exclamation startled Tornado, who looked over at him and snorted. "If Sergeant Garcia knows who I am, then soon the whole world will know." The outlaw stood for several minutes pondering his options and sighed when he could think of nothing. "But my mask was on when I woke up. You?"
"No, my fine highwayman. For some reason he put it back on and I have no concern to know who you are. Not being from here the knowledge would mean nothing anyway," Bran stated matter-of-factly.
Zorro sighed with relief. "But you said he thought I was dead?"
"Aye, he did. He covered you up with your cloak and tried to lay rocks around for a cairn, but he was injured and couldn’t finish the task, lucky for you," the Irishman explained. "But you know, from what I have secretly observed in your village, I get the impression that this big sergeant is somewhat superstitious. He might believe in leprechauns."
Zorro looked at the little man in astonishment and then a great smile broke out on his face. "Yes, señor, we will help each other, I think."
The first thing that Zorro did was to return home before Sergeant Garcia found the courage to make a visit to his father. Riding into the cave, he saw Bernardo cleaning up a broken lantern and other debris. "Was it very bad here?" he asked the mozo. The manservant shook his head no and then pointed to him. "I have a very large lump to show for my morning ride, but I have more important news. Where is Father?"
Bernardo signed that Don Alejandro was in the sala with Sean having lunch. "What excuse did he make for my absence?" Smiling, the mute signed that the usual apologies had been made; namely that Don Diego had stayed up late reading books and composing tunes and was still in bed. Rubbing his chin, Zorro pondered for a few moments. Bernardo cocked his head, looking at him curiously. "Find an excuse to get Father into the secret room, but do not indicate to Señor Fitzpatrick that I am here."
Nodding, the faithful manservant dashed up the stone steps. Zorro followed more sedately, removing the hat, bandanna and mask on his way upstairs. The cape followed and he was just unbuttoning his shirt when his father arrived.
"Diego, are you all right?" he asked, the concern tangible in his voice.
"Sí, Father. I was only knocked unconscious for a short while. What is alarming, though, is that while I was helpless, Sergeant Garcia found me and thinking me dead, removed my mask to find out who I am. Apparently our good sergeant does not want to publicize my identity. He tried to bury me." Somehow that sounded ludicrous and Diego began to chuckle, but then he became more serious. "But we both know that however well meaning Sergeant Garcia may be, any secret that he has, will not remain one for very long."
"What are we going to do?" his father asked, shock still evident on his face.
"I was helped by another, one who has been living a hermit’s existence for the past year and has agreed to help me," Diego said. Seeing the alarmed look on his father’s face, he hastened to add, "No, this new friend does not know who I am and seems to have no desire to. He wants to help me so I can help him return to his homeland. We are going to convince Sergeant Garcia that he was the victim of a prank by a leprechaun."
Alejandro sighed and ran his hand through his steel-gray hair. "Son, I have found over these past few years that sometimes you are very hard to understand."
Smiling, Diego undid the sword, scabbard and sash, and handed them to Bernardo, who, in return, handed Diego his robe. "I believe, Father, that we are going to enlist our house guest in this little charade, especially since he seems to believe in the existence of the little people. Right now, it would probably be advantageous if you were told by Bernardo that I had arisen early and gone to...say, San Fernando to conduct business and I will not be back until late tonight."
"Diego, what I do not understand is how you are going to conjure up a leprechaun," Alejandro said in exasperation. The whole idea of the acting comandante knowing that his son was the infamous outlaw was unsettling on his nerves and he wished that he had Diego’s confidence in the success of his plan.
"Trust me, Father," Diego said.
Two hours later, a very sad faced Sgt. Garcia knocked on the sala door. Bernardo answered and let the acting comandante into the room.
"Don Alejandro, may I see you in private, por favor?" the sergeant asked. The two men went into the library. Sean looked at the library door in curiosity. Bernardo took the empty wine glasses into the kitchen area and then slipped out to the patio where he dashed up the stairs and into the secret room off of Don Diego’s bedroom. Soon he had joined his patrón at the spy hole opening to the library. Earlier, Diego had cleaned up and enjoyed a quick meal.
"Sergeant, surely what you are saying cannot be true. Bernardo told me several hours ago that Diego had left for San Fernando to arrange the purchase of a breeding stallion. And the idea that Diego is Zorro is ludicrous. Can we not assume that with the dust and dirt flying around after the earthquake, that you were mistaken?" Diego saw his father pacing as though pondering the shocking news that Sgt. Garcia had just told him. "And are you even sure that Zorro is dead? That seems so impossible."
When Sgt. Garcia just nodded, Alejandro continued, "Much of the time, my son’s greatest expenditure of energy is playing the guitar and riding to visit his friends. This trip to San Fernando only came about because I insisted. You are most certainly mistaken, Sergeant, but I can see that you truly believe what you are saying. That speaks well of your respect for our family and I thank you for it. As soon as my son has returned, I will tell him of your concern. He will want to reassure you in person, I am sure."
"But Don Alejandro...." the confused sergeant sputtered. Alejandro patted him on the back and ushered Garcia out of the room. Diego and Bernardo went back up the stairs where Diego changed into a clean costume. Zorro had much work to do before night fell.
Sean Fitzpatrick was singing an Irish ballad quietly to himself in his room when he glanced at the mirror and saw the reflection of a black-clad figure sitting languidly on the windowsill watching him. "Zorro," he breathed in disbelief.
"You have a nice voice, Señor. I enjoyed your song immensely," the outlaw told him, smiling. "I have been told that you are familiar with leprechauns and think that one is helping me in my endeavors."
"Sí, Señor Zorro. From what I have heard, that must be so. If not a leprechaun, then one of the other little people," Sean told him earnestly. He motioned for the highwayman to enter. Zorro sat leisurely on the bed.
The smile turned into a laugh. "Señor, you are the first to find out my secret and I congratulate you on being so astute. I do indeed have help from one of the little people. However, I am in a slight quandary and I might need to enlist your help."
Abjectly curious, Sean told the outlaw to continue. "My little person wants to go back home to Ireland. He came here to find peace from gold hunters and I am afraid that this dry country does not suit him," Zorro explained. "The main reason he helped me was due to the fact that I had no interest in his gold. I have been told that you have wealthy backers and you also have no need for a pot of gold."
"I have sufficient for my needs, señor, I really do not need anymore," Sean concurred.
"Good. Then he could trust you to help him get back home, along with his gold." Zorro said. "He was most adamant, and said he would not leave without it, even if he had to spend the rest of his life in California."
The thought of meeting a real leprechaun made Sean’s head spin. That was even more exciting than meeting Zorro. "Yes, tell him that I promise not to touch his gold and I will be happy to help him get back to Eire."
"I will bring him here tomorrow night to meet you, señor." Zorro smiled, waved farewell and slipped out the window.
Next, Diego made a fast ride to San Fernando, where, a short while after his arrival, Corporal Reyes found him eating supper in the tavern. "Ah, Corporal. Join me for a cup of wine." Reyes’ eyes lit up and he pulled over a chair. "What brings you here to San Fernando, Corporal?" Diego asked him. "I have just concluded looking over some of the stock at a few of the ranchos in the area and thought I would have my supper here before going home." It was essentially a true statement. He had looked at stock most carefully as he rode to San Fernando.
"Sgt. Garcia sent me here to find you," Reyes answered as he gulped down his wine. A slight tremor caused the wine bottle to shake and Diego nonchalantly took hold of it until the after shock ended. Reyes looked in alarm at the ceiling of the establishment.
"Pesky things, these earthquakes. My gelding threw me off and it took me two hours before he would let me catch and ride him. I am very glad this was not one of the big ones my father always tells me about," Diego stated nonchalantly. "Why did Sergeant Garcia want you to find me?" His face took on a look of concern. "No one is hurt at the hacienda are they?"
"No, Don Diego. He just said to see if you were here in San Fernando. He did not want me to tell you anything. It is most strange."
"That it is. Well, Corporal, let me finish this plate and we can return to Los Angeles together. Especially since it will soon be dark," Diego told him amiably. "Are you hungry? I can order you a plate, too." Reyes nodded his thanks and soon he was relishing tortillas along with beef and corn stew. Within the hour the two men were on the road toward Los Angeles.
"Bran, are you ready for your acting debut?" Zorro asked the midget, when he had returned to the cave later that night.
"Aye, I am. Have you arranged for me to get home?"
"Indeed I have, with one of your countryman. He is most anxious to return to Eire and has no interest in taking your gold away from you. I think he is more eager to interview and write about a real leprechaun," Zorro said with a laugh. He noticed that the chest of gold was nowhere to be found, but the payroll chest was sitting against the wall in the same place it was when he had been there earlier in the day. Picking it up, he mounted Tornado and reached down to help Bran up.
Soon the two men were cantering toward Los Angeles, Bran riding in back of the outlaw, while the chest was balanced in front. As they approached the outskirts of the pueblo, Zorro slowed the stallion down and guided him to the back wall of the cuartel. "It is past midnight and Sergeant Garcia should be sound asleep by now. Now remember, the good sergeant knows very little English, so keep the conversation as simple as you can."
"Aye, that I will, Señor Zorro. You just be ready to translate," Bran stated. He gasped when the outlaw lifted him up to the roof. "Surely there is an easier way for sane men to sneak into a place," he hissed.
Visualizing what they probably looked like right now elicited a smile from the highwayman. "We are not sane, Señor Muldowney. Just climb up and wait for me," he stated.
The pair quietly padded across the rooftops, Zorro helping the ‘leprechaun’ over the most difficult parts and down from the roof near the window of Sergeant Garcia’s room. The big man’s snoring told them they were in the right place. "He would wake the banshee herself," the Irishman whispered.
"Sí, and the dead as well," Zorro quipped, slipping in the window after the midget. Taking his place near head of the sergeant’s bed, he looked to make sure that Bran was in position. He almost chuckled at the sight of the little man sitting cross-legged on a trunk at the foot of Sgt. Garcia’s bed. With the end of his sword, Zorro tickled the big man’s chin.
Garcia snorted and finally stopped snoring. Some more tickling with the sword and his eyes opened. Sitting up, he looked straight into the eyes of the little man. "Aahh," he cried. "By the Saints, what are you?"
"I am one of the little people," Bran intoned in English. "A leprechaun."
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