Diego's Dilemma

Parte Tres

Nancy J. Smith

The tavern was indeed, bustling with people, as Victoria stepped through the curtain, and observed the crowd of people sitting at their tables. Three of her girls, were already waiting on some customers, as well as, serving others. This was a great relief, to Victoria, and she was glad, that she had hired, the extra help. The pueblo, seemed to be growing, everyday, which meant more customers, for her tavern. Victoria, skirted around the tables, taking orders, and then returned to the kitchen, to fill her orders.

Alejandro and Felipe, had just finished their transaction with Don Esteban, and brought Alejandro's bull home, and safely deposited him in the de la Vega corral. Miguel, the head Vaquero, closely examined the new bull, and then turned him out, into the large acre pasture, with the rest of the de la Vega cattle. After that was done, Alejandro thanked Miguel, then he and Felipe, mounted their horses, and rode to town, for a hearty lunch, at the tavern.

Before they reached the pueblo, Alejandro, noticed two moderately dressed men, galloping their horses, toward town. The dust, from the wake of their horses, as they rode past them, drifted back, on Alejandro and Felipe. Alejandro, waved the dust, from his eyes, and shook his head, in disgust.

"I wonder what their hurry, is?" remarked Alejandro sternly, looking at Felipe.

Felipe shook his head, and shrugged. They continued on their way.

The two men reined in their horses, in front of the tavern, dismounted, then tied their horses to the post. They looked at one another, with wicked smiles, then strolled into the tavern.

One of the men, who's name was Valentino Vargas, was tall, and stocky, with dark hair, and eyes, and sported a full mustache. His features were rough, yet his complexion was fairly smooth, except for the shadow of a beard. Around his neck, he wore a red bandana, tied in the back, that hung in a loose triangle in front. His friend, Pedro Pico, was slightly shorter, and he too had dark hair and eyes, but sported a small mustache, that barely covered his upper lip.

Pedro was also slender, yet stocky, and prided himself on being able to outdo any man, in a fight. His complexion was fair, with prominent features, that gave the appearance, of someone who was not, to be easily, crossed. Vargas had a rather governing appearance, as well, and anyone who knew him, stepped aside, when he walked by. Pico's face was slightly unshaven as well.

It was evident, that they had both arrived, from a long journey, and had camped out, in lieu of staying, at a tavern. They both wore swords, on their hips, and each had a pistol, in his gunbelt. They carefully scanned the tavern, looking for a vacant place, to sit down. A twisted smile, crept across Vargas's face, as he saw Victoria, walking out of the kitchen, and up to the bar. He adjusted his bandana, then strolled over to her. As Victoria picked up her pitcher of wine, Vargas grabbed her arm, and quickly jerked her around, to face him, almost causing her to spill her wine.

"buenos días, Señorita! What do you have for two hungry travelers?" he sneered.

Victoria's face, suddenly flamed with anger, as she narrowed her eyes, and glared at Vargas.

"Let go of me, you pig!" she cursed.

Vargas, grabbed both of her arms, and pulled her towards him. He looked at her, and grinned.

"Is that any way, to speak to your guest?" he asked, with a devious smile.

Diego, quickly jumped up from the bench, upsetting the table, where he and Mendoza were sitting, raced over, and grabbed the back of Vargas's shoulders, spun him around, and forcefully shoved him, against the bar. There was a loud crash, of glass breaking, as Vargas, landed spread-eagle, backwards against the bar, knocking bottles and glasses, to the floor. Diego quickly grabbed Vargas's sword, and pressed the sharp blade, against his throat. His steel blue eyes, flamed with anger, as he gave Vargas, a threatening look. With his free hand, he grabbed the scruff of Vargas's shirt, as he issued him his warning.

"If you ever, lay a hand, on the Señorita again, Señor, you will be dead, before you hit the floor!!" he snarled, angrily.

Suddenly, Pico, reached for the hilt of his sword, preparing to defend his friend. Vargas, glanced over at Pedro, preparing to draw his sword. As their eyes met, Vargas gave Pedro an anxious look.

"Pedro, NO!" he cautioned.

Mendoza, quickly got up from his bench, and drew his sword. He raced over to Pedro, and held the point of his sword, against Pedro's neck.

"Don't even think about it, Señor!" Mendoza warned.

Pedro froze, as he felt the sharp point of the blade, against his neck. Vargas glared at Diego, as he looked him, angrily.

"If I am going to die, Señor, at least tell me who you are!" he demanded.

Diego looked at Vargas sternly. "I am Diego de la Vega! Who are you, Señor?" he asked.

Vargas stared hard at Diego. "Valentino Vargas!" he replied.

Diego, removed the blade, from Vargas's throat, and jerked him up from the bar. He grabbed Vargas's arm, and twisted it behind his back, and held the blade against the side of his neck, as he shoved him over, to where Victoria was standing.

"No Señor Vargas, you're not going to die. But you will apologize, to the Señorita!" he said sternly.

Vargas slightly chuckled.

"What?! Apologize to a tavern wench?"

Diego pressed the blade, against Vargas's throat.

"I suggest you apologize, Señor! Otherwise, I might just change my mind!" he replied angrily, twisting Vargas's arm, a little tighter.

Vargas flinched, as he felt the pain in his arm, and groaned.

"All right...I apologize, Señorita!"

Diego added. "Promise, you'll never trouble her again!"

Vargas gulped. "I promise, I'll never trouble you, again!"

Victoria looked at Vargas. "I accept your apology, Señor!"

Diego released Vargas, and looked at him sternly.

"See that you don't forget your promise, Señor! And in case you do, I'll be glad, to help you remember!"

At that moment, Alejandro and Felipe, walked into the tavern. Alejandro suddenly grew concerned, as he saw the angry look, on Diego's face. As he and Felipe strolled over to Diego, DeSoto entered the tavern behind them, and looked at Mendoza, still holding Pedro at swordpoint.

"What's going on here, Mendoza?!" he asked, looking concerned.

Mendoza lowered his sword, and grabbed Pedro, by the arm.

"Mi Alcalde, this man, was about to draw on his sword, on Don Diego, while he was holding a sword, on Señor Vargas!" he replied.

DeSoto slightly shook his head, and looked at Pico. "Just a minute, Sergeant! Who is this man, and who is Vargas? And why was de la Vega, holding a sword on him?"

Before Mendoza could answer, Victoria stepped up to DeSoto, and spoke.

"That is Señor Vargas, Alcalde!" she stated, pointing to Vargas. "He was trying to force his intentions, on me, and Don Diego, came to my rescue." She looked at Diego, and smiled.

Diego, managed a slight smile, for Victoria, then turned his attention, back to Vargas.

DeSoto nodded, then looked at Pico. "Señor, again, who are you?" he asked, sternly.

Pedro, looked at DeSoto, resolutely. "I am Pedro Pico, a friend of, Señor Vargas. Who are you, Señor?"

DeSoto squared his shoulders, as he looked at Pico, arrogantly. "I am Ignacio DeSoto, Alcalde of this pueblo, and this is Sergeant Mendoza, my lancer. Why were going to draw on, Señor de la Vega?" he quickly asked.

Pedro looked at Diego, then at DeSoto. "Señor de la Vega, threatened to kill my friend, Vargas, and I was about to defend him, when your Sergeant, pulled his sword on me!" he replied.

DeSoto chuckled. "De la Vega, kill your friend? You must be mistaken, Señor!" he scoffed, and shook his head.

Mendoza spoke up. "Sí mi Alcalde. It's true! Don Diego told Vargas, that if he ever touched Señorita Escalante again, he was going, to kill him!"

DeSoto, looked at the expression, on Diego's face, and noticed the sword, still in his hand.

"Is this true, Don Diego? Did you threaten to kill, Senor Vargas?"

Diego handed Vargas his sword, and looked at DeSoto, earnestly.

"I must confess Alcalde, I did threaten, Señor Vargas. As Señorita Escalante told you, Señor Vargas was getting too familiar, with the Señorita. I let my anger, get the best of me, and in defending the lady's honor, I threatened to kill Señor Vargas, if he ever, touched her, again. I apologize for the threat, but not for putting Señor Vargas, in his place!" he said, as looked at Vargas, sternly.

DeSoto eyed the two men intently, then nodded.

"I see! Well, I cannot dismiss the fact, that you did threaten, this man's life. Threatening a person's life, is a serious offense. However, considering you were defending the Señorita's honor, and this is your first offense, I will let you off, with this warning. In the future Don Diego, when you deem it necessary, to defend a lady's honor, try to temper your anger, and don't issue, threats of death! Otherwise, I'll have to arrest you. Is that clear?" he stated firmly.

Diego nodded. "Yes, I quite understand." He replied.

DeSoto looked at Vargas sternly. "As for you, Señor Vargas, I suggest that you behave like a gentleman, while you are in this pueblo, and treat our women with more respect! Otherwise, I will have you and your friend, arrested as well! Is that understood?" he warned.

Vargas nodded. "I understand." He replied, with a sharp tone, to his voice.

DeSoto gave a harsh look at Vargas, then looked at Victoria.

"Are you all right, Señorita?" he asked, looking concerned.

Victoria nodded. "I'm fine, Alcalde. Thanks to Don Diego!" she smiled.

"Would you like to press charges against Señor Vargas?" DeSoto asked, earnestly.

Victoria shook her head. "No Alcalde. I think Señor Vargas, has learned his lesson!" she replied, decidedly giving Vargas, an angry look.

DeSoto nodded. "Very well!" He turned to Vargas. "Well, Señorr, it looks like today, is your lucky day! I hope you enjoy your stay, in our pueblo. Do you and your friend, have business here?" he added.

Vargas shook his head. "No Señor, we were just, passing through." He stated resolutely.

DeSoto nodded. "I see! Well, as I said, enjoy your stay!"

Vargas nodded. "Gracias, Alcalde. I'm sure we will!" he replied, with a smirk. Pedro nodded in agreement.

DeSoto gave a nod, then walked over to a table, and sat down.

Mendoza released Pico's arm, and looked at him sternly.

"I will be watching you, Señor!" he stated, and walked over to his table, and sat down.

Diego gave Vargas a searing look, and smiled. "So will I, Señor!"

Vargas looked at Diego with contempt, and chuckled.

"You are wise, Señor!" he sneered. He shoved his way past Diego, and walked over to Pedro. They found a table in the back of the tavern, and sat down.

For a moment, you could have heard a pin drop, in the tavern, as some of the patrons stared at Diego in amazement. The only one, who had ever shown such fierceness, was Zorro. When the excitement had died down, everyone returned their attention, back to their lunches. There was still a few whispers, and low murmurs, of Diego, showing such anger, and malice, toward Vargas. It was the first time, that anyone, had ever seen him display, such emotion before. They surmised, that it was like he had told the Alcalde, that he had just lost his temper. Yet, they doubted that they would ever, forget it. Even Victoria, was completely taken, aback. She had seen Diego, become angry, but not like this. Diego's old saying, about the inside of the nut, echoed in her mind again, as she gazed at Diego in amazement. And this time, she listened.

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