A Tale of Two Outlaws

Parte Siete

Belle Book

Don Andres's hacienda, that night

Zorro sat on Tornado's back, with Carmen seated behind him. He was trying to think of a way to find out for certain if Don Luis was staying at Don Andres's hacienda.

Earlier in the day, Diego and Carmen had gone down in the cave to determine if Carmen could ride Tornado. If she could, she could go with Zorro that night.

Fortunately, Tornado behaved himself when Carmen got on the saddle. So, Carmen got to ride with Zorro that night to help stop Don Luis, if he was there. She brought along the papers she stole from Don Luis, which were hidden inside her coat pocket.

His arm was hurting much less today than it was yesterday, or even last night. The medicine Carmen gave him had worked very well. Still, he didn't want to test his arm just yet.

Suddenly, Zorro's thoughts were interrupted by a neigh. Looking through a telescope, he saw a horse leaving the hacienda of Don Andres.

The rider was Don Luis.

"Who's leaving the hacienda?" Zorro heard Carmen whisper behind him.

"Don Luis," said Zorro.

"So, Victoria was right in thinking he was staying with Don Andres," said Carmen.

Zorro nodded, then signalled Tornado to follow Don Luis. Carmen held on with her knees as the horse galloped away.

Whatever Don Luis is up to, he must be stopped, thought Zorro.

The port of San Pedro, ten minutes later

Carmen was thinking the very same thing now.

They had followed Don Luis to the port of San Pedro. There was one ship in the harbor, and it looked like a big one.

Don Luis had gotten off his horse and approached a big, fierce-looking man. The man looked like the captain of the ship.

Carmen whispered to Zorro, "Do you remember the papers I stole from Don Luis last night?"

"," said Zorro. "Do you suppose the munitions that were to be smuggled in are on that ship?"

"Well, there's only one way to find out," said Carmen.

She would've gotten off Tornado, except that Zorro said, "No, I'll go. A woman in red is more easily detected than a man in black."

Carmen recognized the logic of what Zorro said, so she said, "Okay. I'll stay here."

Zorro got off Tornado, and snuck toward the two men. Carmen watched them walking away from the dock, hoping neither one spotted Zorro -- or herself.

Outside the tavern in San Pedro

Zorro followed the men to the tavern, where they hid in the shadows.

As Zorro crept up to them, he overheard the following conversation.

"Where are those papers Señor Martinez said you had? I was told that if you were Don Luis Alvarez, you were to give me the papers as proof that I was to give the weapons to you."

"Lo siento, señor, pero I don't have the papers with me. Last night, I discovered that they were stolen from me. I didn't want to spread the alarm, not without revealing my true purpose here," Don Luis said.

(Author's notes: "Lo siento" means, "I'm sorry", and pero means "but" in Spanish.)

"You could've copied the papers from memory," said the captain.

"But my memory's not that good," Don Luis explained. "I remember most of what the papers said, but not all of it. And I don't want to risk being considered an impostor by forgetting something very vital."

"Do you know who stole those papers?"

"I think Zorro did," said Don Luis. "Only problem is, there was no 'Z' left as proof that he stole them."

"I understand your predicament, señor, but I was told to give the weapons only to the man who has the papers on his person. Since you don't have the papers, I can't give you them. I suggest you go back to where you came from, find out who stole the papers, and get them back," concluded the captain.

With that, he left Don Luis. After a moment, Don Luis left the site of the meeting.

Zorro knew he had to return to Tornado. He found all that he could here.

To Carmen's relief, Zorro returned safely and got onto Tornado.

"What happened?" she whispered.

"Looks like your theft of those papers was very good for us," he said. "The captain can't turn over the weapons to Don Luis if he doesn't have the papers that you stole with him."

"And since I have the papers, Don Luis is stumped," Carmen whispered back, smiling. "But the weapons will still be here."

Zorro sat for a minute. He appeared to be thinking.

"Zorro?" Carmen whispered.

Zorro looked at Carmen and asked, "You still have those papers?"

Carmen patted her pocket as an answer.

"First, we'll follow Don Luis back to Don Andres's hacienda. Then I want you to take the papers to the cuartel and somehow slip them to Sergeant Mendoza. Tornado will take you. You can do that, I believe," said Zorro.

"I can," said Carmen. "And I will think of a way to do so while on my way."

"Meanwhile, I'll convince Don Andres to either allow Don Luis to be captured or to throw him out," said Zorro. "If he wants to throw out Don Luis, that's fine. I can track him down."

Carmen then heard the sounds of hooves galloping their way. Don Luis passed them, unaware that they were there. He looked furious.

After a minute, Zorro and Carmen took off after him.

Carmen only hoped they could find a way to put Don Luis behind bars before more people were killed.

Don Andres's hacienda, a few minutes later

Zorro watched Don Luis enter the hacienda, an angry look clearly on his face despite the darkness.

Don Andres's hacienda, like most of the haciendas, had latch-hooks on their windows, and Zorro unlatched a lot of those. So he felt there'd be no problem getting inside.

Zorro got off Tornado, then whispered to his horse, "Take Señorita Sandiego to the cuartel. She has business to do there. Once she is done with her business, take her back here."

With that, he signalled Tornado to leave, and Tornado left with Carmen on his back.

Once Tornado was gone, Zorro snuck to a window and listened in to Don Luis and Don Andres. It wasn't too hard to do -- Don Luis was shouting very loudly.

"I couldn't bring the weapons here," yelled Don Luis in fury. "I don't have the papers necessary to do so, thanks to Zorro."

"But you said Zorro didn't leave his mark behind," said Don Andres. "Maybe he's not the one responsible for the theft."

"But if he didn't steal the papers, who did?" cried Don Luis. "Anyway, I'm going to bed now. I'm going to find those papers tomorrow."

Zorro saw Don Luis going to bed, then snuck to a window in the kitchen area, which had a latch-hook.

He was going to get Don Luis captured or separated from support if it was the last thing he did.

The cuartel, about the same time that Zorro is ready to sneak inside

Carmen had used the time riding to the pueblo and sneaking up to the cuartel to think of a way to get the papers to Sergeant Mendoza without knowing who sent them.

By the time she arrived at the cuartel, she had a plan in mind.

Carmen took a look around the cuartel. The guard was on the other side, and was heading her way. It was time for her to get onto the roof.

With that, she got on Tornado's back and climbed on the rooftop. Once there, she moved to where the former alcalde's office was.

Looking down into the window, she saw Mendoza wasn't there. Either he's still looking for Don Luis, or more likely, he's at the tavern, she thought. The key was in the keyhole, she also noted.

She remembered how Zorro opened the door to the alcalde's office in "A Conspiracy of Blood". Using a hairpin, she forced the key out of the keyhole, then moved the mat so that she had the key. Finally, she unlocked the door and stepped inside.

Once inside, she moved to the Alcalde's desk to do some writing. It was messy, though the Alcalde had done some tidying of it before he was killed by Don Luis, she noticed.

Having found paper and a pen, she sat down to write a message to Sergeant Mendoza. It would advise him to investigate the port of San Pedro, and a ship that was there.

Once she was done, she sealed it, placed it and the papers she stole on the desk, and went to the window to see if the guard was still around.

Seeing nobody outside the door, she opened it, taking care to leave the key in the lock, then she avoided the guard, who was returning to the front.

Finally, she reached Tornado, and got on his back. She signalled to him to leave (she'd seen Zorro's signal).

He snuck into the night, and once outside the pueblo, he galloped toward Don Andres's hacienda.

Don Andres's hacienda

Don Andres was preparing to retire. It was a long night, even longer since Don Luis hadn't gotten those weapons he'd promised he'd obtain. A servant came in to accompany him to his room.

"Don't make a move, Don Andres," a voice warned.

Turning, Don Andres looked toward the dining room area. His eyes widened with fright.

There stood El Zorro, his sword pointed at Don Andres's heart and his eyes seemingly angry.

"El Zorro? What are you doing here?" Don Andres whispered.

"Don Luis is why I'm here," said Zorro. "He's a murderer."

"The Alcalde was a wicked man," Don Andres said. "Do you no longer agree on that?"

"I agree that he's a bad man," said Zorro. "But murder is a coward's solution. Besides, if he isn't stopped, more lives will be lost."

"You mean the soldiers," said Don Andres. "Why would you care about them?"

"They're just doing their duty," said Zorro. "Besides, you know I hate violent means of solving problems. I cannot approve of Don Luis's methods of freeing California either. So I'm here to convince you to turn him over to the soldiers."

"Never!" said Don Andres.

"If you don't turn him over to the soldiers, or at least get rid of him, I will let the soldiers know you are sheltering him. They'll come here to arrest him. You know the penalty for sheltering a murderer," said Zorro.

Don Andres hesitated. He was certain Zorro meant what he said. While he was unwilling to turn Don Luis in, he was equally unwilling to be arrested for sheltering a fugitive.

"Very well," said Don Andres, his eyes angry. "I'll get rid of him immediately. I don't want to be arrested for sheltering him. It'll ruin my name."

"Good," said Zorro. "As proof that I mean what I say -- "

That's when Zorro cut a "Z" on the wall, and blew out a candelabra nearby.

By the time the servant relit the candles, Zorro was gone.

Don Andres was extremely angry, but he had to do what he had to do.

He turned to the servant, and said, "Wake up Don Luis, and tell him to pack his bags and leave. If he doesn't, he'll be arrested -- and so will I."

The port of San Pedro, twenty minutes later

Don Luis had returned to the port determined to urge the captain to make preparations to leave within a day's time.

He was furious. Zorro was responsible for stealing his papers, and now he was responsible for Don Andres's throwing him out. Well, he'd try somewhere else where Zorro couldn't stop him, and then he would come back for his revenge against Zorro.

But then, he heard horses galloping toward the port, and he hid inside a barrel behind the tavern.

Once he was safe, he peeked out. He heard Sergeant Mendoza saying, "You're all under arrest on charges of attempting to smuggle weapons into Los Angeles!"

"Search our ship," the captain's voice said. "We have nothing to hide."

"I think you do," said Mendoza. "I had to come back from the tavern early to help clean the former Alcalde's desk, and found a letter on my desk, along with these papers. They indicate you are smuggling weapons into Los Angeles, and that you're in league with Don Luis Alvarez."

Don Luis was even more furious. Zorro had totally ruined his plans. Obviously Zorro didn't know that when he ruined the plans of a man like Don Luis, he'd fight back.

As he hid, he allowed his anger to grow -- until he thought of a way to get rid of Zorro. If the stories were true, he was in love with Victoria Escalante.

Yes, that was it. He'd capture Victoria and use her as bait to trap Zorro. The plan began to form in his mind as he hid.

Some minutes later, he heard the soldiers leave. Only then did he come out, get his horse (which hadn't been found by the soldiers), and left.

Inside the tavern, about ten minutes later

Victoria heard a knock on the back door. She was tidying up the tavern after closing its doors.

The last thing she heard before that happened is that the soldiers had captured some sailors who were smuggling in weapons. A soldier had come back and told the crowd at the tavern. She was certain Zorro had something to do with it, and maybe Señorita Sandiego played a role as well.

So now she opened the back door, only to see -- nothing.

Stepping out further, she felt a blow to the back of her neck, and that was the last thing she remembered.

The de la Vega hacienda, the next morning

Diego and Don Alejandro were practicing fencing in the garden. Carmen was watching them. Felipe had gone into town to find out how Mendoza had fared in his search for the weapons -- and the smugglers -- had gone.

After Zorro had gotten outside Don Andres's hacienda, he whistled for Tornado. A minute later, he tried again, and this time he heard an answering nicker. Tornado and Carmen came up. He got on and rode Tornado back to the cave.

Diego noticed that his arm was doing much better today. In fact, he was beginning to think that his arm would be good enough to handle a sword in a swordfight -- if he was careful. One reason why was because he had managed to defeat his father rather easily.

"How's your arm?" Carmen asked.

"I think it's almost as good as new. Gracias," said Diego.

"De nada," said Carmen.

"We'd better put away the swords soon," said Don Alejandro."Don Esteban is coming over with a horse that I'm thinking of buying. That was before Gilberto Resendo came and caused such misery."

They then heard the sounds of a horse coming. Immediately, Don Alejandro grabbed the swords and put them away while Diego and Carmen went to see who the horseman was.

It was Felipe, looking extremely excited.

"What is it, Felipe?" asked Diego.

Felipe began signing as slowly as he could, so Diego could understand.

"Don Luis has kidnapped Victoria?" Diego cried out. "And he wants Zorro to come the bottom of Canon Perdido this afternoon?"

Felipe nodded and gave Diego a letter, which Diego read.

"I'm certain it's a trap," Carmen said.

"It is a trap," said Diego. "I know that place. I fell off my horse near there once. Everyone thought I was dead."

Carmen smiled. "I think I remember that story. There was a coffin made for you, and you hid in it. I laughed when I read how you sat up in it -- and how the sergeant fainted."

"I don't know if Don Luis knows that there's more than one way down that area," said Diego. "It's possible he thinks there's only one way down."

He fell silent, thinking for a minute while a plan came silently to mind. Finally, he looked up and saw his father approaching them.

"Oh, it's Felipe," said Don Alejandro.

"Yes, and he's brought some bad news. Victoria's been kidnapped and is most likely being held near Canon Perdido," said Diego. "This afternoon, Zorro's going to ride."

"Can I come along?" said Carmen. "He's expecting you, but not me, and if you can distract him, I can sneak up and rescue Victoria."

"That's what I was thinking of, if Don Esteban sells us his horse, and we don't brand him right away," said Diego. "Then, you can help me without others recognizing Zorro as Diego."

"Except Don Luis," said Carmen. "He'll recognize you by means of your swordfighting style."

"I'm certain he will," said Diego. "But I hope you can rescue Victoria and get her away before he discovers who I am."

Diego was certain Don Luis wanted revenge for Zorro's frustrating of his plans. But he chose the wrong person to target. This time, Zorro had to stop Don Luis for good.

Above Canon Perdido, that afternoon

Carmen watched Don Luis looking down at a bound and gagged Victoria. Then he looked up at the bluffs, as if expecting Zorro to come down that way.

Carmen hid, so he wouldn't see her, and waited for Zorro to appear.

Earlier, after Diego, Don Alejandro, and Carmen had worked out a plan to rescue Victoria, Don Esteban had come with the horse. It was perfect for Don Alejandro, so he bought it.

After Don Esteban left, they didn't brand the horse. If Carmen was spotted with Zorro, people would think Zorro was connected to Don Esteban, hopefully. Luckily, nobody saw Carmen with Zorro between the time they left the hacienda, and the time they arrived at Canon Perdido.

Immediately, Zorro had taken Tornado to the other entrance, while Carmen left her horse, currently called Estrella, above the bluffs.

Once Zorro surprised Don Luis and began to duel with him, Carmen would use her line and hook to slide down without being heard, since the clash of the swords would drown out the sound of her device. Or so she hoped.

Carmen looked down again. That's when she saw Zorro quietly approaching Don Luis. She tensed, and waited for the duel to begin.

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