voices brought him from his hazy and dream-filled state. Zorro felt he wasn't pulling enough air into his lungs, but
was unable to do anything about it. "Hernando,
I tell you it is El Zorro. He must be hurt." Tornado
backed up from the boys and snorted.
his horse will not let us approach."
The boy called out to Zorro. "Señor, can you hear us?
We only want to help you." Zorro heard the second boy try to
get closer, talking soothingly to Tornado.
Good for you, muchacho, Zorro thought dreamily. That is
the way to do it.
boy, easy," the boy murmured, as he stroked Tornado's nose.
Tornado stood still as the boy walked around him and checked on
Zorro. Putting his hand on the outlaw's neck, he exclaimed, "By the
Saints, his heart is beating so slowly! We must get him down."
what is wrong with Señor Zorro?" a third voice asked, but Hernando
was too busy to answer. He
had a small knife out and cut the rope holding Zorro on Tornado.
As he hit the ground, Zorro felt no pain. His relaxed state and the boy helping to stop his fall
prevented that. Tornado
danced to one side and then reached down to nuzzle his master.
he is like one dead. I have
never seen a living being so lifeless," Hernando said in amazement.
Zorro felt his consciousness slip in and out like gossamer bits of
clouds on a clear day. He
knew someone was administering to him, but felt himself floating away,
without being able to understand what was going on.
All conscious thought finally slipped into oblivion.
is he dying?" Greco asked quietly.
He looked fearfully at the limp outlaw.
say we find out who he is," Juan reached for the mask.
Hernando caught his friend's hand and shook his head.
Juan, if he dies, then maybe, but if Zorro wanted people to know who he
is, he would not wear a mask," Hernando reasoned. "He saved my sister from drunken vaqueros not too long
ago and I am going to do what I can to help him."
what about the robbery? They
said Zorro almost killed the hacendado, and attacked his
wife." Greco commented.
ignored the comment, even though the incident had puzzled and concerned
him. Whatever had happened,
he could simply not believe that Zorro would do such a thing. There had to be some explanation. Perhaps when Zorro was better he could explain.
"Who will help me take him to our cave?"
Both of his friends were soon helping him carry the unconscious man
to a little cave the boys called their own.
It had been Juan's home since his parents died.
His friends visited and brought small amounts of food and supplies
to him each day, usually during the early morning hours.
This night the boys had camped out together.
the young men were carrying Zorro into the cave, Bernardo was just coming
over the ridge and onto the beach. Tornado
whinnied from near the entrance of the cave.
Puzzled, Bernardo left his mare near the stallion and slowly made
his way to the entrance, where he was met by a twelve-year-old boy
brandishing Zorro's sword in his face. Putting his hands up in the
attitude of surrender, Bernardo signed his disability to the young man. ‘Zorro needs help,’ he further signed. ‘Let me help, please.’
looked in the eyes of the moon-faced deaf-mute and saw only concern.
He motioned for the man to follow him to where the outlaw lay.
Bernardo knelt down next to his patrón and checked him over,
finding no discernible wounds. The
gang of bandits had mentioned a poison in a calabash, which would explain
the limpness and weak heartbeat. In
his inspection, he found the dart that Zorro had placed in his sash and
examined it by the light of a candle, without touching the residue of
poison on the end. A dart
with poison. The manservant
felt he should remember something.
he did remember. Curare!
Don Diego had been reading a book that talked about South American
Indians, and had shown it to him. Curare
was a poison they used to hunt animals.
The Indians used blowguns and the darts to shoot animals from the
tall trees. It was reported to be deadly and quick.
of the boys reached for the dart and Bernardo slapped his hand away.
He quickly put it down and signed so the boys would understand the
It is poison. It is
what made Zorro sick.’ They
seemed to understand most of what he was trying to tell them.
Bernardo then noticed that his patrón didn't seem to be breathing
well, and deduced from what he had read in Don Diego’s book that the
muscles controlling his lungs must have been partially paralyzed.
Taking off his master's hat, he tried various positions, finally
finding one that enabled Zorro to breath a bit better.
Then he sat down next to him to wait for the poison to wear off.
He signed to the boys to take turns watching the entrance of the
cave in case anyone tried to approach.
later, as the sun was making its journey above the eastern hills, Bernardo
noticed that Don Diego's breathing seemed to be deeper, and checking, he
found that his heartbeat was stronger as well.
Sighing in relief, Bernardo signed to the boys that he thought the
poison was wearing off.
of the boys, the one named Hernando also sighed in relief. He saw how tired the deaf-mute was and made signs to indicate
sleeping. At first the
man shook his head, indicating that he would stay by Zorro.
‘I can watch him for a short while,’ Hernando insisted, using
hand signs to get his point across. ‘I
will let nothing happen to el Zorro.’
will wake me if anything happens?’ Bernardo signed.
was tired. It had been a long
and stressful night. He saw
sincerity in the boy’s eyes and acquiesced, lying down right beside his
master. Soon he had
drifted off into a light sleep.
dream of gliding through the ocean slowly changed to wakefulness in a cave
that echoed with the crashing of the surf on the shore. He smelled a fire and something being cooked.
Fish? Trying to turn
his head a bit, he felt no success. When
his double had said 'meet your worst nightmare,' he had been right.
Zorro's thoughts kept returning to the overwhelming desire to be
able to move any part of his body. It
was an agony. Yelling
mentally at his hand to move or his tongue to work was torture.
The disappointment when nothing happened was excruciating.
Sweat rolled down his face from the effort to move just one finger.
He thought what a pleasure it would be at a future time to be able
to get his fingers around the neck of his enemy and show him what they
could do. But now?
concentration. Finally he was
able to turn his head a bit, and sighing, he saw Bernardo sleeping beside
only rested for a moment. He
had to get control of his body.
Fingers move!! Sweat
rolled into his eyes and he blinked trying to clear his vision.
A boy came in his line of sight and looked into his eyes, smiling
when he saw the outlaw awake and gazing at him.
The boy whispered if he wanted something to drink.
He thought it was the same boy who had overcome Tornado’s
shyness, but as yet Zorro was unable to answer.
The boy frowned a bit, but smiled again when he looked down and saw
the outlaw moving his finger. Again
Zorro relaxed for a moment, realizing that the curare should wear off
little more than an hour later, Zorro moaned slightly in triumph.
He had finally worked his hand over to Bernardo.
Now he concentrated again and was able to curl his fingers around
the manservant's wrist. Bernardo's
eyes flew open and he looked into the exultant eyes of his patrón.
The mozo beamed. Another
hour went by and the curare had worn off enough so that Zorro could sit up
Zorro, would you like something to drink?” the boy, Hernando asked.
time, Zorro didn’t disappoint him.
“Sí, my friend. I
am very thirsty.” And he
was. Nothing had ever tasted
so good, even if the poison was still enough in his system that some of
the cool water ran down his chin.
noon, the poison was almost completely out of his system. Sitting just outside the entrance of the cave with the boys
and Bernardo, Zorro answered their questions about the imposter and then
he sighed. "Muchachos,
you cannot imagine the agony of not being able to make your body do what
you want it to do. I wish I
had that calabash and my impostor in front of me right now."
Watching Tornado run up and down the beach, Zorro suddenly
remembered what was tied to the saddle.
Whistling, he carefully walked the short distance to the stallion,
where he undid the bag and carried it back up to the cave.
"Behold, this is what is going to hang me unless I figure out
how to clear my name." He
mentally laughed at the thought that he already could be hung for his role
as the outlaw, Zorro, but this would make the punishment even more
assured. Pulling out
the jewels, he let the boys touch them before putting them back in the
if you did not do those terrible things, then why do you have the
Morento's property?" Juan asked, looking askance at the outlaw.
took them from the real thief, the one who has been impersonating me, just
after they had shot me with the dart."
Looking at Bernardo, Zorro motioned to him that it was time to go.
"My friends, you have been of great service to me.
I only ask that you wait to judge me when this is all over. I did
not steal these, nor did I attack Don Francisco and Doña Anna Marlena."
believe you, Señor Zorro," Hernando said with the simple faith of
the young. The other two boys
were silent. Zorro put the
jewels back in the bag and tied it back on the saddle horn.
Mounting, Zorro and Bernardo began their journey back toward the de
la Vega hacienda. The outlaw made a flourishing salute to the boys as he
left. It felt very good to be
able to do so.
|Hernando Chronicles Introduction|