Ramón: a Good Samaritan Story
A week later an event occurred which dissolved any
possible lingering doubts Loreeta may have had about the new ranch-hand.
She had noticed the children becoming quite attached to Ramón, and
he seemed to open up to them in ways that he didn't to anyone else on the
ranch. She thought that
perhaps their spontaneity brought out emotions that had been suppressed by
For whatever reason, it became apparent that their
companionship was beneficial to him.
Ramón became more spontaneous himself, not needing to be
instructed in things he needed to do.
At once gratified and slightly alarmed, it seemed that this
newcomer almost elicited a form of heroic admiration from the children,
although she could understand why. The
man had the bearing of a caballero, carrying himself with a self-assurance
that even his disability couldn't diminish.
And he was marvelous with a horse.
The vaqueros had been out in the hills that day,
rounding up the horses that had spent the last twelve months running free,
bringing them in for the branding. Ramón
had accompanied them and was running his horse near the front of the herd.
As they surged into the vicinity of the hacienda, he realized with
horror that Lucinda was directly in the path of the horses, unaware of the
danger. It seemed she was
interested in something running across the road and was oblivious to
everything else around her, as sometimes children are.
distress, Ramón did something that he had been unable to do previously.
"Lucinda," he called hoarsely.
In the past few days, he had been able to recognize the names of
the children and others at the ranch, even though regular language still
escaped him. Then he spoke
louder, shouting, "LUCINDA!!"
The girl looked up and screamed in terror.
"Lucinda!" he called again as he spurred his horse to
greater speed. "Take my hand!!"
Doña Loreeta ran out from the patio at the sound
of her daughter's name and her heart almost stopped in fear. Then she saw Ramón bearing down on her daughter, snatching
the child up only seconds before the herd caught up with them.
The horses jostled his mount, making Lucinda clutch onto his shirt
even tighter, and she closed her eyes and buried her face against his
Slowly, Ramón was able to ease his horse to the
edge of the herd, just before they poured into the huge corral, which had
been constructed the day before. Reining
his lathered gelding over to the hacienda gate, he handed Lucinda down to
her mother and father. Don
Miguel, hearing the commotion, had joined his wife.
Now, gratitude showed in his eyes.
Doña Loreeta, through her tears, was examining her daughter for
any injury. Ramón dismounted
and calmly checked his horse.
Walking up to Ramón, Don Miguel said, his voice
choked with emotion, “Gracias, a thousand times gracias.”
"I could do no less," Ramon replied.
The words seemed to come very easily for a moment, surprising even
himself. Hernando had been
riding at the back of the herd, and was now listening and thanking God
silently for saving his sister. When he heard Ramón speak, he gaped at him, as did the
others in the group.
"Ramón called out to me. I heard him and that is how he was able to grab me."
The girl then gave him a great hug.
Ramón reciprocated, but looked a bit puzzled.
"Muy bien, your speech has come back!"
Don Miguel exclaimed, in great joy for the man he had come to like very
Ramón could now only pick out a little of what
was being said, he shook his head in confusion.
Finally, in frustration turned away and slapped the palm of his
hand against the adobe of the hacienda wall.
Doña Loreeta walked over to him and laid her hand
on his arm. She looked into
his anguished eyes. "Ramón, you are getting better." She made a few signs with her hands as she spoke.
"It is coming back, it will come back.
Do you understand?"
He thought for a minute and then nodded.
"Sí," he said simply, with a slight smile.
Then he took his horse to the stable.
Hernando kept filing little pieces of information
away in his very analytical brain, feeling that he was close to solving at
least part of the mystery of Ramón.
His mother had told him that when he was old enough, she and his
father wanted to send him to the university in Mexico City, believing him
to have a great propensity to be a scientist.
He could deduce anything and now he was using his deductive
reasoning on Ramón. Señora de Cordoba recognized the look and almost
felt sorry for Ramón, although if Hernando could figure out the secret of
who he was, then maybe the man could be reunited with a family, who might
even now be worrying about him.
The next morning, when Hernando gathered some
food, and set out to see Juan and Greco, he coaxed Ramón into going with
him. When they arrived, Juan
sleepily stumbled out of the cave, greeting the pair.
The ranch hand looked curiously at Juan, because he seemed to
recognize the boy from somewhere, but his brain wouldn't let him remember
"Buenas dias, Juan," Ramón said,
surprised at how easily the phrase slipped out.
Juan stared at him.
"How did you know my name?"
Able to understand the question, Ramón really didn't know the
answer to it, because he just saw flashes of memory, but was still having
trouble putting them together coherently, just as he was still having
trouble putting words together. To
avoid trying to explain, Ramón just pointed to Hernando.
For his part, Hernando didn't recall ever telling
Ramón Juan's name.
Ramón let his horse roam the beach free, and he
and the boys sat near the mouth of the cave for awhile, the boys bantering
and Ramón watching the surf roll in and out.
Musing, he started seeing this same beach at night, and three boys,
the cave and a great black horse. Seeing
these things made him believe that he had been here before.
At the very least he was grateful that his memories were beginning
to return, even though they still, for the most part, were making no
When it was time to leave, Ramón whistled for his
horse, which wheeled and raced down the beach toward him. For Hernando, everything fell into place, and he now felt he
knew who Ramón was.
Both riders were very quiet on the way back to the
hacienda. That night, in the
privacy of his room, Hernando quizzed Ramón.
"Do you have any idea who you are?"
His roommate pondered a bit and asked in
confirmation of the question. "Me?"
Ramón pondered a bit more. "I
see faces, I hear names, but nothing together," he said, pointing to
"Do you see a big black horse and yourself
dressed in a black outfit?" Hernando queried, using signs to
supplement the words. Ramón
gazed incredulously at Hernando, wondering how he knew.
From the look on Ramón's face, the boy felt he was on the right
track. "Does the name Zorro come to mind?"
Ramón drew in his breath.
he asked. Yes, his mind had
supplied that name, but it had meant nothing before.
"I believe so, but do not tell anyone, for
Zorro is an outlaw and you would be arrested," Hernando admonished
him in sign as well as words. Ramón
pondered the words, asking for clarification on some.
"Why is Zorro an outlaw?" he asked.
It somehow bothered him in his partially put together memories that
he might have done something to hurt someone.
"Zorro only fights those who are unjust, wicked people, and he
never hurts anyone who is good. Those who are doing wrong call him an
produced a homemade mask and handed it to Ramón to try on. When Ramón did so, he was amazed. It was the same man that he and his friends had found on the
beach when Zorro had been poisoned. "You
saved my sister, not too long ago," the boy added softly.
Ramón looked into the mirror and recognized the
face looking back at him. "Zorro,"
he said simply. Pulling the
mask away, he looked at Hernando. "I
am Zorro. You helped
me...on the beach," he added. The
Hernando pulled out some other pieces of clothing
confiscated from his father's wardrobe, which he thought Ramón might be
able to wear. A pair of black
calzoneros, a dark shirt, dark cloak, and a black hat.
Ramón already had black boots that he wore when he was out with
the vaqueros. While not as
nice looking as Zorro's own wardrobe, it was enough to totally confirm his
else he was, this man was also Zorro.
It was of no surprise to Hernando that he heard Ramón slip out in the middle of the night. Peering through half closed eyelids, he saw that his friend had on the dark clothing he had tried on earlier. Silently, Zorro slipped over the balustrade and landing lightly on the patio, made his way to the corral, where he quietly saddled the horse he had been training.
After walking a short distance from the hacienda,
Zorro vaulted onto his horse and rode through the dark night, just for the
sheer pleasure of doing so. As the horse galloped, the cool wind whistled
across his body and the cloak billowed out behind him.
More and more his memories strung themselves together in logical
sequence. His wonder of
finally knowing who it was who had been left beaten by the side of a road
several weeks ago, became a full-hearted joy.
Zorro realized that a weight was missing from his
left hip and that the horse under him was not the great black stallion,
which had been racing through his memories, but still he was happy. At one point, he let the gelding rest, while he lay back on a
boulder, watching the blanket of stars stretched across the sky.
Occasionally a meteor shot across the blackness.
Riding toward the King's Highway, Zorro paused at
the crest of a hill overlooking the road.
A distant campfire aroused his curiosity, and he guided the gelding
in that direction. Leaving
the horse at a safe distance, he stealthily approached the perimeter of
the campsite. There he saw
several men dividing a bag of money, laughing at their good fortune in
getting the payroll before the soldiers in Los Angeles did.
Three men in uniform were bound and gagged near
his position. With a smile,
the outlaw realized his first night out was going to be a busy one.
Unfortunately, he was unarmed, except for a small knife hidden in
his boot. Creeping close to
the prisoner’s, he lightly tapped the first on the shoulder.
"Shh," he said softly.
Not yet trusting his slowly returning skills at communicating, he
ventured to say no more for now. Quietly, he went from soldier to soldier
cutting their bonds. "Wait," was all he told the last one.
Gathering two fist-sized rocks, Zorro took aim and
hurled them, one right after the other.
Two of the bandits slumped over, unconscious, the other jumped up
with his pistol ready. Zorro
leaped on him from behind, knocking the pistol from his hand.
The soldiers immediately scrambled up, grabbing the loose pistols
and their other weapons. The
bandit fought like a bull in the bullring, but Zorro, much like a matador,
just sidestepped his foe, kicking him behind the knee.
The bandit fell heavily, and the soldiers quickly grabbed him.
The outlaw slipped silently into the night, and
mounting the gelding, raced back in the direction of the hacienda, joyful
in the activities of the night. His
mind was clearer than it had been at anytime since waking up in the
doctor's office in Santa Barbara.
It was only when the sun began to manifest itself
in the east that he took thought of returning to the hacienda.
He put the horse into a full gallop, racing back to the rancho that
had been his home for two weeks, and to the people who had been his good
Hernando was a bit worried as he saw the sun begin
to edge over the eastern mountains, but relaxed when he saw Ramón slip
into his room through the door. They
looked at each other, and as he removed the disguise, Ramón favored
Hernando with a broad grin.
"Did you enjoy yourself?" the boy asked.
Ramón hid the clothing in the bottom of the boy's wardrobe, while
he pondered Hernando's words to make sure he understood them correctly.
"Sí, it is a great joy to know," he
finally said. "But soon
I must leave. I must go
Hernando knew this would happen and had been
trying to prepare himself for the event, but the duality of emotions
confused him. He was happy
for Ramón, but would be sad to see him go.
"What is your real name?" he asked, while trying to
straighten out his feelings.
Ramón, who knew he was Diego de la Vega, just
smiled enigmatically. "Some
secrets I must keep to protect you."
Diego was still having trouble finding the words to explain his
the secret of Zorro you must keep."
"I will never tell anyone your secret, Ramón," Hernando said fervently.
In Santa Barbara, Alejandro de la Vega had spent
three fruitless days and nights trying to find out what happened to his
son. When the vaqueros who had driven the cattle to the auction had
returned home and reported that Don Diego had decided to stay for an extra
few days to negotiate the purchase of a new stallion for stud, Alejandro
was not worried. He and his
son had talked about that very thing before Diego left.
But when a week had passed and Diego had still not returned or sent
him word, Alejandro began to fret. Finally,
he had taken the stage to Santa Barbara, himself to investigate.
Frustrated, he returned to the place of the
auction and checked with some of the old vaqueros, even though he had
already talked to most of them.
"Señor de la Vega, I do seem to remember a young man matching
that description being here three weeks ago," one of them said.
"He sold many cattle and received a good price.
An excellent reason to come all that way to Santa Barbara,
no?" Alejandro nodded
and wished the man would get to the point. "His pouch was well filled, perhaps he found a lovely señorita
or lost the money gambling on the cards in a monte game?"
"No, señor," Alejandro said acidly.
"He was representing the de la Vega Rancho.
He would never use the money for personal pleasure.
My son is not like that."
The old vaquero saw the look on the caballero's
face. "Pardon me, patrón,
no insult was intended."
"He was interested in the purchase of
Andalusian breeding stock. Did
you see him here during the sale of horses?" Alejandro asked
anxiously. All of the
vaqueros shook their heads. He
asked again, but they were emphatic that Diego had never been to the horse
sale. Dejected, Alejandro
realized that there was nothing else he could think of to do.
So the next morning, he boarded the stage for the return to Los
Angeles. He left his head vaquero in case there was any word of his
|The Hernando Stories Introduction|