[parts of the following scene taken from "Zorro: The Legend Begins" written by Robert L McCullough]
About an hour later, Felipe drove a wagonload of loose hay through the pueblo gate. As the wagon neared the cuartel, Zorro emerged from under the straw and hopped out. He scaled the side of the building and once atop it, walked across its tile roof.
Using a conveniently located skylight, Zorro dropped down through it onto the rafters, and landed soundlessly on the floor of the Alcalde's unoccupied office. He went over to the door that led to the cells and opened it. Seeing his father and Victoria sitting on their cots, deep in conversation, he sighed with relief. They had come to no harm.
"Buenas noches," greeted Zorro as he entered the jail area. He changed the timbre of his voice, making it deeper and his Castilian accent a little less noticeable. He could tell by the way Victoria and Don Alejandro got to their feet and stared at him, they did not recognize him at all.
"Who are you?" asked his father warily.
"What are you?" Victoria queried inquisitively.
"A creature of the night. Like a fox," declared Zorro. Then he gave a little bow. "El Zorro."
"El Zorro?" Victoria's tone was full of curiosity.
The man in question walked across the front of their cells. "Perhaps you'd like to leave," he suggested.
"How do we know you don't work for the Alcalde?" challenged Don Alejandro. The elder de la Vega glanced over at Victoria. "Maybe he just wants an excuse to shoot us."
Over my dead body, Zorro thought. Aloud, he said, "Then he'll have to shoot me first." He reached out a black gloved hand and snatched a key ring from its nail.
"If it's freedom you want, follow me," said the masked man as he unlocked first Victoria's then Don Alejandro's cell doors. Zorro casually tossed the key ring back across the jail, where it landed neatly on its nail, before leading the way out of the cell block.
Victoria and the old don looked at each other in amazement for a moment. Then Don Alejandro grabbed his jacket, putting it on as he and Victoria walked out of their cells.
Zorro cautiously opened the wooden door that led outside, checking to make sure the coast was clear. He held the door so his father and Victoria could pass through it. Don Alejandro ran toward the church without a second glance.
But Victoria took her time, moving by the man in black very slowly, staring up intently at his masked face. Zorro took a deep breath and could smell the spices and peppers that lingered on her clothing and hair. The scent was warm and inviting as was the look he saw in her lovely brown eyes.
Madre de Dios, he thought as feelings he had hoped to suppress came bubbling back up to the surface. He was married, he scolded himself sternly. Ah, but the beautiful señorita does not know that, another part of his brain whispered. He was her rescuer, her hero.
Victoria stumbled a little, breaking their eye contact. With one last glance, she started running in the same direction that Don Alejandro had taken.
And without a moment to lose, thought Zorro as he spotted a shadow out of the corner of his eyes. He stepped back inside the cuartel, closing the door until just a thin crack was visible. The shadow had turned into a lancer who had his hand on the hilt of his sword and who was peering into the darkness in the direction that the two escapees had just fled.
Zorro opened the door and tapped the soldier on the shoulder. When the soldier spun around to see who had touched him, Zorro punched him in the face, knocking the lancer to the ground.
Zorro had taken about three steps to his left when he sensed presence behind him. Whirling around, he saw it was a terrified Sergeant Mendoza.
"Oh, my God, it's a demon!" shrieked the frightened sergeant. Behind him, Ramón was walking out the front door of his office. He stopped in his tracks as he saw the masked man in black standing in front of the open door of the garrison.
Zorro smiled and tipped his head politely. "I am Zorro," he announced to all present.
The Alcalde snarled at the other man and then charged at him, sword drawn. Zorro unsheathed his saber and parried Ramón's wild attack. The two exchanged blows until Zorro blocked a thrust from the Alcalde and used his sword to press down the other man's blade. Ramón struggled to lift it but could not.
Zorro's smile grew even wider as the Alcalde's anger grew deeper. "I do wish I could stay for such sport," the masked man said mockingly, "but I really must be going."
He hacked off the blade of Ramón's sword just mere inches from its hilt. The Alcalde gazed down at it in horror, no doubt feeling as emasculated as Zorro had intended him to feel.
"I look forward to our next encounter, Señor," said Zorro, raising his own blade in a salute. His cape swirling, he turned and departed, leaving the Alcalde and his lancers staring at him in disbelief.
It was nearly dawn before Zorro and Felipe arrived back at the secret cave. They had narrowly escaped being detected by the soldiers who were scouring the pueblo looking for the bold outlaw who had helped their prisoners escape and who had defeated their commandante so soundly.
After changing out of his black clothing, Diego emerged from the back panel of the fireplace, buttoning up his white linen shirt. He stepped out into the library, glancing around to make sure nobody was watching him. He then strolled across the foyer just as Don Alejandro and Victoria burst through the front door.
"Diego!" Don Alejandro called out.
"Hello, Father," said Diego nonchalantly as he kept walking past. He took a couple more steps before doing a double take and spinning around to face the old don and Victoria.
"Father! What are you doing here?" inquired Diego with false curiosity.
Victoria replied excitedly, "Your father and I escaped from the jail. It was incredible."
"But how did you. . .?" Diego pretended to be at a loss for words.
"A man in a mask came in and released us," explained Don Alejandro. "He was dressed in black with a long flowing cape. . ."
"And a whip. . ." added Victoria.
Don Alejandro raised his fist as if brandishing a weapon. "And a sword."
Diego eyed the pair skeptically. "A masked man? Really?" he questioned them in a voice full of disbelief.
"It's true," replied Victoria, a bit affronted by Diego's attitude. "How do you think we escaped?"
"What about the Alcalde?" queried Diego worriedly. "The soldiers?"
"He overpowered them all singlehanded.," Don Alejandro declared dramatically.
Diego couldn't quite suppress a smile. "That is impressive," he said. "Who is he?"
"He said his name was. . ." His father looked over at Victoria for help.
Victoria glanced over at Don Alejandro before answering, "El Zorro."
"Zorro," echoed the elder de la Vega.
"El Zorro? A fox?" Diego asked sardonically as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Yes," said Victoria, tilting her head to one side and smiling dreamily. "And like a fox, he disappeared into the night."
Diego's mind reeled at bit. Neither Victoria nor his father seemed to have any notion that he had been their masked rescuer. And the lovely innkeeper was definitely very intrigued by the alter ego he had created. He felt a heady mixture of power and temptation surge through him with that knowledge.
"Well, the Alcalde must be enraged," he said.
Don Alejandro waved his hand. "Bah!"
"If only. . ." Victoria began pensively. "If only we could find this man in black. This Zorro. Well, he could help us fight the Alcalde."
"I wouldn't count on that, Señorita," said Diego, playing devil's advocate. " The man sounds like a brigand to me."
Victoria glared at him scornfully. "I wish you could have seen him. Then you'd know what a true hero looks like," she said.
Diego looked at her with a bland expression on his face, even though her words had stung him.
Don Alejandro interrupted his thoughts. "Diego, there's going to be a meeting of the caballeros tomorrow," he stated.. "Until we can do something about this tyranny, better stay out of the Alcalde's way." He put his hand protectively on Victoria's back.
"Sounds like good advice," replied Diego.
The old don led Victoria away to one of the guest rooms. Diego watched them leave, exhaling deeply. His relief was short-lived, however.
"Who was that woman with your father?" asked Zafira. He spun around to find his wife standing behind him, dressed in her nightgown and robe.
"That was Vi. . .Señorita Escalante," he answered. "She and Father have escaped from jail."
"I thought I heard them say something about a fox," Zafira said before stifling a yawn. "How could a fox help them break out of prison?"
Diego sighed before explaining. "It wasn't an animal. It was a masked man who said his name was Zorro."
His wife giggled. "Zorro? Why would an outlaw called himself a fox?" she inquired. "That's just silly."
"What makes you so sure he is a criminal?" Diego was curious to know. Zafira seemed to have a strange sense of right and wrong sometimes.
"He helped your father and that woman escape," she said with a shrug. "What else would he be?"
"Maybe he is a man of justice who doesn't like to see people falsely accused and imprisoned." Diego didn't mean for his words to sound so hostile but he couldn't stop them.
"But they weren't wrongly accused," said Zafira. "Your father did hit the Alcalde. And this. . . this Escalante woman was spouting treason."
"You weren't even there," Diego pointed out. "What she said wasn't any different than anything you or your brother have said before about the king."
"How dare you bring up my brother?" Zafira's face grew red with ire. "His cause was just and true." She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Diego, but your father and this woman are just causing trouble. There is nothing to be gained from tangling with petty local officials."
More rhetoric from her brother and his friends, no doubt, thought Diego. Why couldn't she see what was going on here in Los Angeles was the same thing that was happening in Madrid? It made more sense to him to eliminate the tyranny at the lower levels of the government instead of trying to bring the whole system crashing down from the top. It seemed while he and his wife were aiming toward the same goals, they were at crossed purposes at how to achieve them.
All the more reason for him to keep his new identity a secret from her, he mused.
"Well, I better go get dressed," said Zafira.
Diego stared at her disheveled appearance then. Despite her mussed hair and faded flannel wrap, she did look quite desirable. Suddenly, the exhilaration he had felt earlier when he had returned from his night-time adventure came flooding through his body again. He took a step toward his wife.
"I can think of something else we could do," he drawled suggestively, "that would require getting undressed."
"Diego!" Zafira sounded shocked. "It's morning!"
"So what?" he said, casually tossing out her argument. "I want you now, Zafira. There is nothing wrong with that."
"But it's not proper," she stated a bit agitatedly.
Diego pulled her into his arms. "You are my wife," he said vehemently before crushing his mouth to hers.
His hands slid down to the swell of her bottom and he pressed her against his hardening length. It wasn't until he tasted her tears that he realized she was whimpering and struggling to get free of him. Appalled at his behavior, he thrust her an arms' length away.
"Oh, God, Zafira, I'm sorry," he apologized breathlessly. And he was. He had nearly ravished her right there in the hacienda foyer. And, if he was going to be honest with himself, it wasn't even Zafira that he really wanted. She was just down the hallway, sleeping blissfully in one of the guest rooms.
Diego turned his face away, unable to look his wife in the eye. Zafira could never know about these feelings he had for the beautiful innkeeper. He glanced at her in time to see her clutch her robe tightly against her throat.
"How dare you touch me like that," said Zafira through clenched teeth. "Never do that again, Diego. Never."
She stormed off to her bedroom. Diego stared after her for a few moments before turning and walking into the library. He pressed the spot on the mantle and the back panel opened to reveal Felipe. The slightly accusatory look at the boy's face told him that the youth had witnessed the encounter with his wife.
Diego sighed wearily. He had to get away from here, he thought. The situation with both Victoria and Zafira under the same roof was too explosive. Then an idea popped into his mind and he smiled at Felipe.
"The Alcalde must be distracted," declared Diego, hoping to do the same thing with the lad. "I think if we can get a good horse, this Zorro will be the man for the job."
At the mention of finding a horse, Felipe's
expression changed from one of disapproval to one of excitement.
Diego patted the young man's shoulder, then they both turned and went back
through the opened fireplace panel to the cave.
Z Z Z
"CADENAS DE AMOR" - CHAPTER NINE