Ramón: a Good Samaritan Story

 

 

 

Part Two

 

 

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 his misfortune.

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.

In his 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 chest. 

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 much. 

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 where.

"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 sense.

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?" 

Hernando nodded.  Ramón pondered a bit more.  "I see faces, I hear names, but nothing together," he said, pointing to his head.

"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.  "Zorro?  Me?" 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.

Hernando laughed.  "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 outlaw."  Hernando 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 boy nodded.

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 suspicions.   Whoever 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.

 

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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 Samaritans. 

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 home."

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 reasoning.   "And the secret of Zorro you must keep."

"I will never tell anyone your secret, Ramón," Hernando said fervently.

 

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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 son. 

 

 

Chapter Three
Chapter One
The Hernando Stories Introduction
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