"CUNNING, LIKE A FOX"
"Where is your father?" asked Zafira when Diego returned to the hacienda a little while later. She was seated on the settee in the library, reading a book.
"The Alcalde has thrown him in jail," he replied.
"In jail?" echoed Zafira, glancing up from her book. "Did you just leave him there?"
"I tried to get the Alcalde to see reason and release them," said Diego. "But. . ."
"Them?" Zafira cut into his explanation. "Who else was arrested?"
Diego took a deep breath before answering. "Señorita Escalante," he replied. "She was charged with sedition. My father was charged with assaulting a public official and for fomenting revolution. He punched the Alcalde in the nose."
Zafira laughed. "I wish I could have seen that."
"This is not amusing, querida," Diego asserted sternly. "The Alcalde intends to keep my father behind bars until the threat of rebellion is over. It could be months before he is released."
"You're right, Diego," she said although she was still smiling. "It's just the thought of a rebellion here in California. . . It is so ludicrous." She giggled.
"You haven't meet this Alcalde yet," he replied, trying to keep his anger in check. "He is treating the peasants with extreme cruelty. He is imprisoning anyone who speaks against him. He's. . ."
"He's just a petty tyrant," interrupted Zafira. "You and the other caballeros could easily overthrow him."
"He's threatened to put me behind bars if there is any action is taken by the caballeros," said Diego as some of his fury slipped out. "He'll know I'm behind it and he would be right." He slapped his hand against the library wall. "I have to do something."
Zafira waved her hand dismissively. "I bet your father will be home before dark," she said arrogantly. "I don't why he thinks you are going to make a difference here in Los Angeles. It's just an unimportant colonial outpost. We should be in Madrid. There we could really change things for the better."
"Change things how?" inquired Diego skeptically.
"By overthrowing King Ferdinand," stated his wife. "He is the head of a corrupt government. Only when we remove the head can we kill the body of dishonest and crooked bureaucrats who toady to him and only then can we make a better life for the rest of us."
Diego had often wondered about Zafira and how much of her brother's revolutionary rhetoric had rubbed off on her. Apparently more than he thought, although she sounded like she was just parroting words she had heard many times. How much of it did she really believe?
"But what is going on in the Spanish empire is not a concern for me nor my father at the moment," retorted Diego. "Right now, that ‘petty official' you are so flippant about has my father behind bars. That fact is more important to me more than anything else." He turned away, intending to look for Felipe.
"You're more of a fool than I thought," sneered Zafira. Diego spun around to face her again Then she realized what she had said and clamped her hand over mouth. .
"I'm sorry, Diego," she said contritely after removing her hand. "I didn't mean it." She placed one of her hands on his arm. "I was just thinking of my brother and how passionate he was for his cause. Forgive me, por favor?" She looked up at him, tears threatening to spill from her eyes.
Diego sighed, her words still reverberating through his mind. She thought he was a fool. Then why had she agreed to marry him? He shook his head. He had more pressing matters to worry over.
"We're all a little upset right now," he said diplomatically. He patted her hand that rested on his arm. "Excuse me, I have to let our foreman know of my father's absence." He turned again and this time left the hacienda.
[parts of the following scene taken from "Zorro: The Legend Begins" written by Robert L McCullough]
About an hour later, Diego had found Felipe and told him the events of earlier that day. Felipe listened wide-eyed when Diego told him of Don Alejandro's imprisonment. They were walking through the hacienda, where, thankfully, Zafira was nowhere in sight. Diego didn't think he could speak rationally to her at the moment.
"I don't know what I am going to do, Felipe," said Diego, wrapping up his story. "I need to get them out of jail in a way that won't cause me to end up joining them." He was surprised how easily the two of them had slid back into their roles as confidants. The four years apart had changed both of them, that was true, but, he thought with a smile, some things would always remain the same between them. He knew he could always trust Felipe with any secret.
Glancing over at the youngster, he could see that the lad was thinking hard about his dilemma. Then suddenly, Felipe grabbed his arm and started pointing toward the library.
"What is. . .?" Diego started to say, but since Felipe wasn't facing him, there was little point in finishing his question.
Felipe led Diego to the library's fireplace and pressed the spot under the mantle that Diego had showed to him earlier that day. The back panel swung open.
"Felipe, this is no time for games," Diego said in an exasperated tone.
Felipe shook his head in a manner that told the older man that it was no game he was playing. The young man motioned for Diego to follow him through the revealed opening. They emerged at the end of a tunnel that opened up into a large cave. Diego interpreted Felipe's gestures as they stepped into the cavern.
"There's something down here?" asked Diego. He couldn't see anything that would have Felipe getting so excited.
The lad pointed toward a fox who was walking back and forth against the far wall of the cave. The fox was whimpering as it paced.
Diego crouched down and Felipe followed suit. "A fox," stated Diego. Both of them simply watched the animal for a moment or two.
"It's amazing with everyone hunting them for such beautiful pelts," commented Diego, "how those creatures of the night manage to survive."
Felipe pointed again at the fox and made another gesture before pointing at his own head. Diego nodded.
"Yes, cunning and intelligent," he agreed. Diego smiled and patted Felipe on the shoulder. They both stood up then. Felipe had already turned to depart the cave when the fox made a loud cry. The young man quickly whipped his head around to look at the animal. He then cringed as he realized what he had just done.
Diego looked at him oddly. "Felipe, you heard that," he said, more as a statement than a question.
Felipe hung his head down. Diego touched his shoulder. "Felipe, look at me," he instructed. The boy raised his head to glance nervously at his mentor. "You can hear, can't you," inquired Diego although he already knew the answer. He smiled broadly which caused Felipe to visibly relax.
"That's wonderful" he announced before pulling Felipe into a happy embrace. His expression of gladness changed, however, when another thought came to his mind. He ended the hug, but kept his hands on Felipe's shoulders, holding him at arm's length.
"Why didn't you let us know?" he queried gently. Felipe stroked his chin, which was his sign for Don Alejandro, then mimed pushing something away.
"Because of my father?"
Felipe nodded then made some more signals. Diego shook his head. "Felipe," he said, "my father would never treat you differently if he knew you could hear. He loves you. We all do." He patted the youth on the shoulder. "We'll talk of this later," he added.
Felipe went on ahead through the tunnel but Diego paused to stare at the fox again.
Diego sighed as all the events of the day tumbled through his brain. His father and Victoria Escalante tossed in jail for treason. The Alcalde's threat to throw him behind bars if he tried to get the caballeros to help free them. Sergeant Mendoza's story about the mysterious Indians who had hidden their faces when they attacked at night. That the unknown was a soldier's greatest fear. His wife calling him a fool and how wrong she was for thinking he wasn't needed here in Los Angeles. Felipe's discovery of the cunning and intelligent fox in a secret cave.
He turned to leave the cave. A solution
to his problems was beginning to form in his mind he trudged back through
the tunnel that led to the library fireplace.
Z Z Z
Diego entered his old bedroom that he now shared with Zafira and began rummaging through the drawers of his old bureau. Accidentally, he pulled open one that he had emptied so his wife could put some of her belongings in it. It was bare.
Surely, there must be some kind of mix-up, he thought. He thought he had seen Zafira put her clothes into this drawer the day after their arrival. So where were her things now?
Pulling open more drawers, he found that all four of the ones he had given over to his wife were without contents.
"Zafira?" he called out as he walked out of his bedroom and into the hallway.
"In here, Diego," her voice trilled from the room next door to his.
Diego stopped in his tracks as he entered the room. Zafira and one of the serving girls were placing his wife's things into an armoire. Her hairbrushes and combs were already scattered on the vanity table that had been moved to his room for Zafira's use but obviously now had been transferred yet again to another room.
"What are you doing?" he asked as soon as he had gathered his wits back together.
"Didn't I tell you, Diego?" queried Zafira. "The sunrise wakes me up too early in your room. I asked your father if it would be all right if I used this room instead. Its window faces north, not east." She smiled prettily up at him.
And his father had evidently agreed, he thought. Very well. . . "Let me go get my things. . . " he began.
"Why ever would you do that?" Zafira interrupted archly.
"I thought. . . I mean we. . . " Diego sputtered bewilderedly. "You mean. . .?"
"I'm sorry, Diego," she said contritely. She set down the hat she had been about to place in the armoire. "Your bed is just too small to hold two people comfortably. I haven't had a decent night's sleep since we arrived here."
Once again Diego was stunned. The narrow, tiny beds in their ships' cabins hadn't bothered her, or at least she hadn't complained to him about them. But suddenly, beds that were over twice their size were ‘too small'. He shook his head defeatedly.
"Very well," he conceded. He turned to leave but Zafira stopped him by putting her hand on his arm.
"There is a connecting door between the rooms," she said conspiratorially. "You know, for when the mood strikes us to. . . well, you know." She gazed up at him, her cheeks a rosy pink.
Diego closed his eyes. So far, ‘the mood' hadn't struck her for nearly six weeks. First she had been upset about her brother's likely demise. Then after that, it had been ‘her time of the month.' Then she had gotten seasick again during the short voyage up the Mexican coastline. Then she said she was too tired from their journey since their arrival at the hacienda. A man could only take so much frustration, he was finding out, much to his discomfort.
He decided to call her bluff. "Could tonight be the night?" he asked, trying to hide his impatience. He stepped forward, making his intention to gather her in his arms very clear.
Zafira withdrew from him like she had been burned. "I'm so sorry, Diego," she said. "Not tonight." Her face was even more flushed with embarrassment. "It's my time of the month again," she whispered. She looked up at him with innocent eyes. "I am sorry, Diego. Really."
"It's all right," said Diego. "Perhaps another time then." He bowed to her politely and left the room, returning to his own.
It was just as he thought. She had had no intention of sleeping with him that night. Diego ransacked his room for several minutes until he realized he was just making a big mess. Taking a couple of deep breaths, he willed himself to calm down. His problems with Zafira were nothing compared to his father's imprisonment.
In control of his temper once again, Diego
found the items of clothing he was searching for and lost no time in donning
Z Z Z
[parts of the following scene taken from "Zorro: The Legend Begins" written by Robert L McCullough]
A black clad figure was skulking around in the de la Vega hacienda, moving warily and trying to stay hidden in the shadows. Coming around a corner, the man with a black mask covering half his face confronted Felipe. The youth moved several steps backward as the bandito approached him. The man smiled and chuckled.
"It's me, Felipe," said the bandit who had Diego's voice. The young man was staring at him skeptically. "Really," added Diego, lifting the mask so Felipe could see it was him.
Felipe let out a sigh of relief. Diego laughed again.
"Please to see it's so effective," he said, after pulling the mask back down over the top half of his face.
Making a gesture over his eyes, Felipe shook his head as if to ask why.
"A disguise will protect our friends from any governmental retribution," explained Diego. "I'll need something to conceal myself a bit more."
He spun around and then faced Felipe again. "Perhaps a cape," he suggested, smiling excitedly.
Felipe grinned for a moment before his countenance changed to one of concern. He hung his head down, obviously bothered by something.
Diego walked toward Felipe. "What's wrong, Felipe?" he inquired gently.
Felipe pointed at Diego, then to his own lips, pointed to Diego again, then stroked his chin, then pointed to his right ear.
Diego put his black gloved hands on Felipe's shoulders. "Without knowing it, you may have done us all a great service," he said. Felipe looked up at him in confusion.
"We'll keep the cave a secret," said Diego. "And your hearing."
Felipe made a series of gestures that the other man interpreted.
"Yes, from both my father and my wife," Diego said bitterly. The fewer people that knew of what would happen tonight, the better, he thought as he drew out the sword from the sheath that hung from his belt.
"This will be our secret too," declared Diego. "Not even my father knows of this. Nor does Zafira. It was given to me by Sir Edmund Kendall, my fightmaster."
Felipe's eyes grew wide as he admired the saber. He reached out and touched the blade, pricking his finger. He pulled his hand away and put the injured finger in his mouth.
"Ah, sharp," said Diego with a chuckle. "Strong too."
Taking his finger from his mouth, Felipe then made slashing motions with his hands.
Diego turned around and walked toward a credenza where two candelabra were aglow with lit candles.
"Yes, I know," he said, deciphering the younger man's signals. He added thoughtfully, "I must convince people I am weak-willed." Spinning around, he faced Felipe again. "A bit too studious."
Felipe nodded in agreement.
"Like the fox that is timid and frail," said Diego, clenching his fist in the air as he spoke, "so do I share his instinct for survival."
He pivoted around again, brandishing his sword. With the tip of his blade, he snuffed out the flames of six candles in the nearest candelabra. Felipe looked on, very impressed. It was no longer Diego de la Vega who turned again to face the youth.
be ours," declared Zorro, a determined look on his masked face as
he saluted with his sword.
Z Z Z
"CADENAS DE AMOR" - CHAPTER EIGHT