Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintitrés-B

Nancy Smith

"By the way, I did see some of the Alcalde's men ride by here, early this morning. I gathered up my things, and hid behind some boulders, behind the cave, just in case, they decided to look, inside. Luckily, they rode right by. I waited to make sure they were gone, and then went back inside." He stated.

Zorro nodded. "Thank goodness, they didn't come back!" he remarked.

Sully nodded. He quickly made a small fire, prepared the rabbit, and skewered it on a long stick. He held the meat over the flames, slowly rotating it, as the flames blazed around it. He glanced up at Zorro, sitting on a small boulder nearby.

"Any news from Don Alejandro?" he asked.

Zorro nodded. "That's why I came here. I came to tell you that Don Alejandro's son, Don Diego, asked me to give you, the good news." He stated.

Sully smiled, as he pulled the cooked rabbit from the fire, and removed it from the stick. He spread out a cloth he had taken from the sack, and laid the rabbit, upon it.

"I could use some good news, about now!" he replied. He pulled out his knife, and began slicing off a few pieces, of meat.

Zorro watched intently, as Sully ate some of the rabbit.

"Sure you don't want some? This is pretty good." He remarked, smiling.

"Why not!" replied Zorro, smiling. Sully handed him a small piece. He took a few bites, and nodded in surprise. "You're right, this is delicious."

Sully smiled and took another bite. He wiped his mouth with his bandana, then looked at Zorro.

"What was the good news." He asked.

Zorro took a cloth from his wasteband, and wiped his mouth.

"Oh yes, Don Diego informed me, that the governor of Santa Paula, has reduced your sentence. You will only have to go to jail, for striking an officer. However, Don Diego stated, that his father, will pay your fine. It looks like your free, Amigo! I've come to take you back to town, so Alejandro, can pay your fine" he stated, smiling.

Sully smiled, and nodded. "That is good news! I don't mind spending the night in a cave, but I'd rather be sleeping, in a bed." He chuckled.

Zorro smiled. "I know what you mean, amigo!"

They ate a few more bites of the rabbit, then Sully took some dirt, that was mounded up around the fire, and smothered the flames. He made sure it was out, then he and Zorro, gathered Sully's supplies, and secured them, to Toronado's saddle. Zorro quickly mounted Toronado, then Sully hopped up behind him. Sully slightly chuckled.

"I sure hope your Alcalde, is in a good mood, today." He remarked, as he wrapped his arms around Zorro's waist.

Zorro shook his head. "When it comes to me, Señor, he's never, in a good mood!" he chuckled.

Sully smiled. "I guess you have a point, Zorro!" he remarked.

Zorro made a clicking sound, and gently pressed his heels against Toronado's flanks, as the black stallion rode off to the pueblo.

After Alejandro had finished feeding his young patient, he picked up the dishes, and started walking toward the kitchen. Suddenly, he heard the familiar outcry of the lancers, as they raced into the plaza. 'Madre de Dios!' he thought. 'What now!' He sat the dishes on the table, and quickly ran outside the tavern, to see what was going on. Victoria, Doctor Hernandez, and Michaela, soon followed.

Outside, the lancers were pouring out of the cuartel, brandishing their rifles, as one of the lancers sounded the alarm.

"Zorro is riding into the pueblo! Call the Alcalde!" Yelled Sanchez, excitedly.

Ramero quickly raced into DeSoto's office, and saluted. "Mi Alcalde! Zorro is riding into the pueblo!"

DeSoto quickly grabbed his sword and pistol, and jumped from his chair.

"Well private, don't just stand there, get going!" he snapped.

Ramero turned, and dashed out the door, with DeSoto right behind.

As Zorro and Sully neared the entrance of the pueblo, Zorro reined in Toronado. He turned to Sully.

"Sully, look in your sack, for something white!" he stated.

Sully opened the sack, and handed Zorro a white towel, that Victoria, had wrapped some bread in. Zorro pulled out his sword, and tied the towel to the end of his sword. He held it in the air, as he and Sully, rode through the gates, and into the pueblo.

DeSoto's eyes widened, as he stared in amazement, at Zorro waving his white flag.

"Buenos tardes, Alcalde! Surely, you wouldn't order your lancers, to shoot a man, bearing a flag of truce, would you? He asked, smiling. "That would truly be, bad form!" he added, with a wry grin.

"Lancers, stand down your rifles!" he ordered. "Well Zorro, I see you've decided to give yourself up!" DeSoto stated, looking at Zorro smugly.

Zorro shook his head. "Oh, this flag is not for me, Alcalde. It's for my friend, Señor Sully." Zorro trotted Toronado over to the tavern, and reined him in. As Sully hopped off of Toronado's back, he ran over to Michaela, and hugged her.

Zorro looked at Victoria, and smiled. "Radiant as ever, Señorita!" he commented warmly.

Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled.

Michaela looked at Zorro and smiled. "Gracias, Zorro, for bringing Sully back!" she stated, amiably. "Alejandro is right. You are a man of honor!" she added, earnestly.

"De nada, Señora!" Zorro replied, smiling. He quickly turned his attention to DeSoto.

"Zorro, Señor Sully is still not out of the woods, and neither are you! Don't forget, you broke him out of jail, and helped him to escape! That automatically made him a fugitive of the law, not to mention, he assaulted an officer of the King's Army. He must be held accountable for his offenses!" DeSoto stated, with a stern look on his face.

Zorro slipped the cloth from his sword, and pitched it, to Victoria. "I think this belongs, to you, Señorita." He said with a wink.

Victoria quickly caught the towel, and smiled.

Zorro returned his sword to its scabbard, trotted Toronado over to DeSoto, and stopped.

"Alcalde, what you decide to do with me, is your business. However, I have it on good authority, that Don Alejandro, has promised to pay for, Señor Sully's release. This makes him a free man!" Stated Zorro, with a stern look, on his face.

Sully looked at Alejandro, compassionately. "Señor de la Vega, I can't allow you, to pay for what I've done. I'll give myself up, to the Alcalde, and serve my time. It's only fair." He remarked.

Alejandro shook his head. "Indeed not, Señor! Once the Alcalde gets you in his jail, there's no telling, what he'll do. You're free from your hanging. The only thing, that the governor sentenced you with, was assaulting, an officer. You either serve three days, or pay a fine. I intend to pay that fine, Señor, and free you, from jail." He stated, decidedly.

"Don Alejandro, I did escape from jail. The Alcalde is right. I must serve time for that!" replied Sully earnestly.

Alejandro looked at Sully, resolutely.

"Zorro helped you escape, because the Alcalde, was going to hang you, for a crime, that you were innocent of. Being an Indian sympathizer, is not a crime. It was just something that he devised, only because, you are an American, Señor. You can't go to jail, for something, you didn't do." He remarked, sternly.

Zorro looked at DeSoto smugly, and shook his head. "Well, well, Alcalde. It looks like Don Alejandro, has revealed, your true colors! Of course, that's nothing new. I've known all along, what kind of man, you really are!" he remarked with a firm tone to his voice. He drew his sword, and pressed the point firmly against DeSoto's chest.

"Why don't you just drop all the charges, and let Señor Sully, go free. Otherwise, I might just decide, to run you through!" he said, with a heated look in his eyes.

"How dare you, threaten me!" snarled DeSoto, angrily.

"Oh, I assure you, Alcalde. That's not a threat, it's a sincere promise!" replied Zorro sternly.

"May I inform you Zorro, that the governor himself, stated on that parchment, that Sully had to pay a fine, or spend three days in jail!" DeSoto stated, eyeing Zorro, nervously.

"A fine of which Don Alejandro will gladly pay! So be it! But trouble Señor Sully, and his wife again, and I will do more, than just leave my mark!" Zorro stated, angrily. With a quick swish of his blade, he carved a stylish 'Z,' on the lapel, of DeSoto's tunic. He quickly sheathed his sword, turned Toronado, and galloped past the guards.

"Shoot him!" ordered DeSoto, furiously.

There was a loud blast of gunfire, as the lancers fired their rifles. By then, Zorro was clearly out of range.

"I'll get you next time!" DeSoto cursed, under his breath.

Alejandro took out a small pouch, from his jacket, and walked over, to DeSoto.

"Alcalde, here is enough money to pay for Señor Sully's release, and assault charges." He stated, handing DeSoto the pouch.

DeSoto emptied some of the coins, into his hand, and looked at them, then returned, them to the pouch.

"Well, I suppose you'll be wanting a receipt!" he stated, haughtily.

"Of course!" stated Alejandro.

DeSoto glared at Alejandro. "Follow me!" he grumbled, walking back to his office. Alejandro turned and quickly winked at Sully, then followed DeSoto.

After Mendoza and Sepulveda had finished their meal, Felipe took the dishes, back to the kitchen. He waved good-bye to Maria, then headed for the library. He glanced over his shoulder, to make sure no one was around, then depressed the hidden panel, and stepped through the entrance of the cave. While Diego was away, he had decided to sweep the laboratory. With all the experiments that Diego worked on, it was often necessary to clean it on a daily basis.

Felipe had already dusted the bookshelves, desk, and lab table. He was about to sweep the floor, when he heard the grinding sound of the lever, as the door to the back entrance of the cave, slowly opened. He looked over, and saw Diego trotting Toronado, into the cave, and over to the stable. He lay the broom against the table, and walked over to greet Diego, as he hopped off, of Toronado.

"Buenos Tardes, Felipe. Good to see you too!" remarked Diego, amiably. "Are Mendoza, and Sepulveda still here?" he asked.

Felipe nodded, with a look of slight exasperation, on his face.

Diego patted him on the shoulder, and smiled.

"Well, don't worry amigo. We'll soon fix that!" he said, with a smug look on his face.

Diego quickly changed into his caballero attire, then hung his black silk clothes on the brass coat rack. He walked over, and retrieved a frame-like structure, which consisted of two poles lashed together in a cross formation, and mounted on a small wooden base. He and Felipe, firmly secured it to Toronado's saddle, then took Zorro's cape, draped it over the frame, and tied it. Diego took his hat, tied it to the verticle pole, then tied a black scarf, around it. He turned Toronado around, and walked him over to the door of the cave. He firmly pressed his foot on the hidden pad, opening the door, then gave Toronado a firm slap on his back.

"Give the lancers a good chase, Toronado!" Diego chuckled. Toronado bounded out of the cave, as the door slowly closed behind him.

"Let's have some fun, with Mendoza, and Sepulveda, Felipe." Diego remarked, with a wry smile.

He and Felipe stepped through the secret door in the fireplace, then walked out the front door. Diego looked around, and saw Mendoza, and Sepulveda, standing guard, at the front gate.

"Sergeant Mendoza!" Diego called out.

Mendoza turned, and smiled. "Buenos tardes, Don Diego, Felipe." He replied amiably.

"Any sign of Zorro, yet?" Diego asked, smugly.

Mendoza shook his head. "Not yet, Don Diego. But we're keeping a vigilant eye out, for him!" he stated proudly.

Diego looked over Mendoza's shoulder, and smiled, as he saw Toronado, galloping across the land in the distance.

"Pardon me, Sergeant, but isn't that Zorro I see, out there?" he pointed in the direction of Toronado.

Mendoza looked around, and gasped. "Madre de Dios! Sepulveda, get the horses! There goes Zorro!" he cried out. He and Sepulveda, quickly mounted their horses, and rode off, to catch their "would be" bandito.

Diego and Felipe shook their heads, and laughed. Diego looked at Felipe, and smiled. "To coin a phrase; you can fool some of the people, some of the time, but you can always fool Mendoza, all of the time!" he chuckled. Felipe laughed, and shook his head.

"Well, I guess we should get to town, before father misses us." He stated, patting Felipe on the shoulder. Suddenly, he remembered what Sully had told him, at the cave.

"Felipe, tell Miguel to saddle our horses. I need to write a letter before we go." Stated Diego earnestly.

Felipe nodded, and darted off to the stables.

Diego walked back into the house, and walked into the library. He walked over to his desk, and sat down. As he took out some paper, and his quill pen, he began to write his letter.

To Señor Andres Veranos, Representative, of King Ferdinand's, Royal Constabulary.

Dear Señor Veranos.

Some very important information has come to my attention. This information was give to me, by the masked bandit, named Zorro. You have met him once before, when he aided you, in the capture, of our former Alcalde, Luis Ramon's cousin, Señorita Hermalinda, alias, The Whistling Bandit. Zorro, is a close personal friend, of mine as well.

This information that I speak of, concerns our present Alcalde, Don Ignacio DeSoto. I was informed by Zorro, that DeSoto, was not, our intended Alcalde. Another man, was chosen to be our Alcalde. Zorro stated, that DeSoto, disgraced him in public, and took his place.

Señor Veranos, I would appreciate it very much, if you would investigate, this information, for me. It would mean the difference in our people, having an Alcalde, who is just and fair, and who has the people's best interest at heart; rather than one who is intent on oppression and tyranny.

Señor, whatever information you can find, would be greatly, appreciated.

Sincerely,

Don Diego de la Vega

Diego made sure the ink on his letter was dry, then folded it, and slid it into the envelope. He addressed it to Señor Andres Veranos, Representative of King Ferdinand's Royal Constabulary, in Madrid, Spain. He put his letter in his jacket pocket, then met Felipe at the front door, just as he was coming in. Felipe signed that the horses were ready.

"Good, let's go." Replied Diego.

Diego and Felipe mounted their horses, then rode to town.

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