A Tale of Two Outlaws

Parte Seis

Belle Book

(Author's notes: in this part, there will be a duel and the end result will involve a death. However, I plan on keeping the death a clean one, with minimal violence. Also, I am introducing another character I created -- Don Andres de la Cruz.)

Los Angeles, the following day

Don Alejandro, Diego, Felipe, and Carmen arrive in town. They were going to keep an eye on Don Luis, since they knew he was dangerous.

As they arrived at Victoria's Tavern, they saw Don Luis leaving the tavern.

"Felipe, why don't you follow Don Luis," said Diego. "See what he's up to."

Carmen said, "I'll go with the boy. I want to keep an eye on Don Luis as well. , I'll miss breakfast, but I'll have some as soon as I find out what he's up to."

"Will you promise to stay with Felipe and not wander off?" Diego asked.

Carmen said, "I promise, Don Diego."

So, Diego and Don Alejandro went into the tavern while Felipe and Carmen followed Don Luis.

Inside the tavern, Victoria greeted them and served them breakfast.

"Gracias, Victoria," said Don Alejandro.

"Where is Felipe? And Señorita Carmen?" asked Victoria.

"They'll be along," said Don Alejandro.

"We saw Don Luis leaving the tavern as we arrived," said Diego.

"," said Victoria. "He said he wanted to look around the pueblo."

At that moment, Sergeant Mendoza arrived at the tavern.

"buenos días, Sergeant," said Victoria.

"buenos días," said Mendoza.

"I'm here for breakfast. What do you have?"

"Frijoles," said Victoria.

"I'll have some," said Mendoza. "Are there any tamales as well?"

"For lunch," said Victoria.

"Is Inez Resendo on her way to Monterey?" asked Don Alejandro.

"Two soldiers left early this morning with her," Mendoza said.

At that moment, all of them heard sounds of commotion outside.

"What's going on outside?" Don Alejandro asked.

"I don't know, but I think we should find out," said Diego.

In fact, the few people in the tavern for breakfast were getting up to see what the commotion was all about. Don Alejandro, Diego, Victoria, and Mendoza joined them.

Outside the tavern

The commotion was being caused by Don Luis. He was speaking to a crowd of people, which included Felipe and Carmen.

"People of Los Angeles, listen to me," he said. "In Mexico, the winds of change are occurring. The head of the military, Iturbide, and the revolutionary leader, Vincente Guerrero, have agreed to make Mexico independent.

"People are deserting Ferdinand VII and supporting him. I have left Mexico, but I am certain that they are still doing so there. I've come to bring to California what is coming to Mexico -- freedom from Spain and Spanish tyranny!"

That's when Alcalde DeSoto, who'd come out to listen to the commotion, spoke.

"How dare you attempt to incite rebellion?"

"I dare because it's inevitable," said Don Luis.

Carmen was worried. Alcalde DeSoto was a peninsulare, a person born in Spain, and a very proud man, from what she'd learned from Diego and Don Alejandro.

And she knew well what Don Luis was like. One of them might well insult the other, leading to a duel. She hoped that wouldn't happen.

"Maybe in Mexico, it's inevitable, but not in California," said Alcalde DeSoto.

"Mexico will gain its independence, and when it does, California will join it," said Don Luis.

"That will never happen, I am certain," said DeSoto.

"Señores," a voice from the crowd interrupted. It was Diego. "Señores, let's be reasonable, por favor. Even if independence from Spain is inevitable, surely bloodshed isn't inevitable."

Don Luis turned to face Diego. So did the Alcalde.

"So. Don Diego de la Vega. You were always trying to stop me in the University," Don Luis said.

"Only because you were trying to provoke fights," Diego explained.

"And you still hate bloodshed and violence," said DeSoto. "You'd rather be reading books or playing music or writing poetry."

Carmen knew that was not true, but she knew better than to say that.

She looked at Don Luis, and saw a slightly confused look come across his face before he returned his attention to DeSoto and said, "You always were proud of being a peninsulare, one born in Spain. But you're nothing more than a coward."

"A coward?" DeSoto cried.

"Gentlemen," Diego began, but Don Luis continued.

", a coward. You can't face the truth about California. California will be free, and I will help make it free, one way or the other."

"You will never make California free as long as I'm here," the Alcalde yelled. "And for your insolent words, I challenge you to a duel."

He slapped Don Luis in the face with a glove. Don Luis took a glove of his own and slapped the Alcalde with it.

The people moved back to give the combatants space as they proceeded to draw their swords.

Carmen cried out, "Señores, stop this duel! There is still time to settle your differences!"

Neither of them paid any attention to her. There was trouble coming, and there was nothing Carmen could do to stop it.

Diego heard Carmen try to stop the fight. He understood why, but he knew these two better than Carmen, and he knew that at this point, nothing could stop the duel.

But if Don Luis won and killed DeSoto, Zorro would pay Don Luis a visit to prevent further trouble.

He watched as Don Luis and DeSoto began the duel. Don Luis attacked, but DeSoto neatly parried his thrust. Then DeSoto attacked, but his blade was neatly parried as well. The two seemed to be evenly matched.

However, Don Luis had more skill than DeSoto and soon began to gain the upper hand, pressing the attack strongly. DeSoto defended himself as best he could, but he was fighting a losing battle, and becoming very tired as well.

Finally, DeSoto called up his last ounce of strength, but his thrust left him vulnerable to Don Luis's blade. And Don Luis stabbed DeSoto right in the heart.

DeSoto fell to the ground, as Victoria and Carmen ran to him.

Don Luis said, "With one stroke, the path to independence has begun!"

"Not by bloodshed," Diego said. He went to Victoria and Carmen, who were busy examining the body.

"Victoria, how is he?" he asked.

"It's too late," Victoria said, trying to fight back tears. "He's dead. I didn't like him, but I didn't want him to die like this."

After a moment's hesitation, Diego held Victoria and soothed her as she began to cry.

Carmen looked up from the body of DeSoto, and asked, "Who's in charge of the garrison now?"

Mendoza, looking pale, stepped forward, and said, "I am, now. And Don Luis, you are under arrest for killing a man."

Don Luis laughed and ran into the crowd.

Mendoza ran to get the soldiers, as everyone else just stared at DeSoto's body.

"I hope Zorro stops him," said Victoria, as Diego let her go.

"Don't worry, he will," said Diego. "I'm certain about that."

They then heard a horse gallping away from the back of the tavern.

Mendoza and the soldiers ran past, but nobody who heard the sounds believed they'd find Don Luis.

A few minutes later

Carmen was glad Ivy and Zack had agreed to remain inside the church. This was proof of how dangerous Don Luis was.

The doctor, a Dr. Hernandez, had come to examine the body. He confirmed the terrible fact to all the people present.

Mendoza said that Don Luis had gotten away, but that the soldiers would be on his trail soon enough.

All but one, that is. Corporal Sepuleveda would be galloping to Monterey as fast as possible to alert the Governor to the death of Alcalde DeSoto. He had a letter asking permission for fresh horses at every mission and pueblo in the name of the Governor.

Carmen was glad all these steps were being taken, but she knew the soldiers wouldn't be very successful in capturing Don Luis. After all, they had had no luck in capturing Diego/Zorro.

However, Zorro would be successful in capturing Don Luis, if he knew where Don Luis would be hiding.

Maybe I should help him find Don Luis, thought Carmen. And the best way to begin is to ask Victoria.

But as she turned to ask Victoria where Don Luis might try to hide, she saw Diego talking quietly to Victoria.

Looks like he's thought of asking Victoria before I did, thought Carmen. That didn't really surprise her.

"So you think he might have gone there, Victoria?"

"I don't know for certain, Diego," said Victoria. "I think so, but I'm not positive."

"Gracias anyway, Victoria," Diego said. He then turned to Don Alejandro and asked, "Do you think we should stay here or go back to the hacienda and have breakfast there?"

"Under the circumstances, I don't have the desire to have breakfast here," said Don Alejandro.

"Nor do I," said Carmen.

Diego then asked Felipe if he wished to stay in the area, or if he wished to return to the hacienda. Felipe signalled that he wished to go back.

"Victoria, we must return to the hacienda," said Don Alejandro. "It has nothing to do with you."

"I understand," said Victoria. "I just hope Zorro can find Don Luis."

Diego said, "He's a very good tracker, from what I hear, so I believe he'll find Don Luis. The problem will be bringing him to justice."

With that, all four said goodbye to Victoria and left for the de la Vega hacienda.

Inside the de la Vega hacienda, an hour later

After breakfast, Carmen said, "I saw you talking to Victoria. I suppose you were trying to find out where Don Luis might have gone?"

"How did you know?" asked Diego.

"I planned to ask her the same question," Carmen explained.

"To help me," said Diego. "Or to be more precise, to help Zorro. You're correct. I did ask Victoria where Don Luis might have gone."

"Did she have any idea where he might have gone?" asked Don Alejandro.

"She doesn't know for certain, but she thinks he might have gone to the hacienda of Don Andres de la Cruz to the west, on the road to San Pedro," said Diego.

"Why does she believe he went there?" asked Carmen.

"About an hour before we both arrived at the tavern, he left the tavern and galloped away from the tavern," Diego explained.

"He was gone for a couple of hours, and when he returned, she asked him where he went. He told her he went to see Don Andres, whom he said he had met on the way to Los Angeles."

"Does Don Andres support violent revolution?" asked Carmen. "Or is he violent?"

"He supports revolution," said Don Alejandro. "I fear he doesn't care much whether it is gradual or violent."

Diego turned to Felipe, who made the sign of Z.

"Yes, Felipe," said Diego. "Saddle Tornado. Zorro will be riding tonight."

"May I accompany you?" asked Carmen.

"That may be a problem," said Diego. "I don't want you riding a de la Vega horse near where I am. You might be seen and that might lead the trail back to me. But you might be able to ride on Tornado -- if he'll let you. If he does, you can come with us."

Carmen nodded. Don Luis had to be stopped. And she felt Diego/Zorro could use all the help he could get with Don Luis.

And to think, my reason for coming here was just to witness history, thought Carmen.

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