Diego's Dilemma

Parte Diez

Nancy J. Smith

Victoria's stroll through the garden with Diego, seemed to bring back faint memories of her frequent visits, to the de la Vega hacienda. Diego told her about how his mother loved flowers, and how his father worked hard to keep the garden blooming, even after his mother had died. A small breeze blew the scented fragrance of the flowers in the air. As Victoria caught the scent of the fragrance, she smiled as a memory flashed in her mind.

"I know this garden, Diego." she smiled as she looked at Diego. "I remember coming here and seeing all these beautiful flowers."

Diego smiled as he felt a sense of hope, in his heart for Victoria. He looked at her thoughtfully.

"Is there anything else that you remember?" he asked in anticipation.

Victoria shook her head.

"I'm not sure, Diego. All I see are images of people and places. Some look familiar, and some don't." she sighed.

Diego put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"Don't worry, Victoria. Your memory will come back. Doctor Hernandez said that it just takes time." he said warmly.

Victoria nodded. "I guess I'm just expecting too much at one time. You and your father have been so patient. I appreciate everything that your doing to help me." she stated sincerely.

Diego smiled. "You're welcome, Victoria. We'll help you all we can." He replied, warmly.

Victoria looked at Diego earnestly.

"Diego, could you tell me about Felipe? The moment I saw him, I had this feeling that he's been a part of this family for a long time." she remarked.

Diego nodded. "You're right, he has..." he replied.

He proceeded to tell her how he had found Felipe when he was returning home from his uncle's funeral in Guadalajara. There had been a terrible revolution. It was called the August Revolution. It was one the last battles. He told her how he had found Felipe when he was only six years old, after this terrible battle. His parents had been killed, and he was all alone.

Diego told Victoria how Felipe was unable to hear or speak. He thought that maybe it was caused by an explosion. They asked Doctor Hernandez to examine him, and he was unable to find any physical causes. Diego surmised that it must have been something emotional or psychological. He told her that they had tried to find his relatives, but aside from his parents who were killed, there were no other relatives. He brought Felipe home, and he and his father raised him and gave him a home, and even taught him to read and write. They taught him other things as well; like how to ride a horse, how to play chess. They taught him whatever they thought was necessary for him to get ahead in life.

Victoria nodded. "He seems like such a sweet boy. You and your father must love him very much." she remarked warmly.

Diego nodded. "Yes we do. He has been like a member of our family. In many ways, he is like a son to me. My father took care of him, when I went away to school in Spain, and educated him while I was gone. Then when I returned, I continued his education." he replied.

Victoria nodded. "Well, he appears to be very smart."

Diego nodded. "He is."

Victoria looked at Diego thoughtfully.

"Diego, thinking of families, could you tell me more about this Devil's Fortress?" she asked.

Diego looked at her curiously.

"What more do you want to know? I told you what you wanted to know last night." he remarked.

Victoria gave Diego a discerning look.

"You told me that you were going there to help save my father, but for some reason, I don't remember you, being there. And there were other people that were there as well, that I don't remember." she stated. "I want to know everything that happened there, Diego." She replied.

Diego walked Victoria over to a bench, and they sat down. He looked at Victoria, and sighed.

"Where do I begin...?" he trailed.

Victoria smiled. "How about at the beginning."

Diego nodded and smiled. "That's always a good place."

He told Victoria that he had gone to talk to the Commandant, Seņor de la Fuente, about releasing her father. But on the way, for some reason, he got lost.

"You got lost, Diego?" Victoria asked in surprise. Somehow she didn't believe him.

Diego sighed. "Well, I never was good at directions." he stated with an abashed smile.

Victoria shook her head. "Poor Diego!" she patted his hand, and smiled sympathetically.

Diego slightly shrugged.

"Well, anyway, Zorro heard about your dilemma, and ended up going to the fortress to help save your father. He was also going there to retrieve an important document for my father. It had something to do with a deed to some property. Our former Alcalde, Luis Ramon, was going to the fortress to steal that deed, and Zorro had to go there to make sure that he didn't steal it. Ramon also took his lancer, and aid, Sergeant Mendoza to go with him." he replied.

Victoria gave Diego a discerning look, as the memory of the incident appeared in her mind. Her eyes slightly widened.

"Diego, now I remember...that young girl who I saw in my mind, who was at the castle, was the Commandant's daughter. She tried to keep me from seeing my father, but I managed to get past her, and get to my father before he died. Her name was Rosalind de la Fuente." remarked Victoria. A somber look shadowed her face as she looked at Diego. "She was going to kill Zorro, when Luis Ramon grabbed her, and tried to get the pistol from her hand. They struggled, and she fell to her death." she stated sadly.

Diego nodded sympathetically. "I remember you telling me, about it. I also remember, you telling me about the Alcalde dying." He remarked solemnly.

Victoria nodded. "Yes, I remember that too. Zorro said that Ramon fell to his death, trying to keep Zorro from getting the deed to your property. That was very sad. Evidently it was Ramon's own greed that killed him." she stated.

Diego nodded. "You're right. Luis Ramon was a very greedy, as well as a treacherous man." he said sternly. "He tried everything he could to undermine my family, as well as the people of this pueblo. I truly believe, that the people in our pueblo, were glad to see him gone." he stated earnestly.

Victoria nodded. "I remember him now. You're right. He was truly a loathsome man. He even hated Zorro." she stated. "I recall that he was always trying to capture him and hang him." she remarked shaking her head remorsefully. She looked at Diego.

"Why did Ramon hate Zorro so much?" she asked.

Diego sighed.

"Ramon tried to govern the people by tyranny and oppression, and Zorro tried to protect the people from his rule. Ramon became angry, and later obsessed with trying to capture Zorro. He hated the fact that Zorro, stood in his way, of his treacherous deeds." Stated Diego resolutely.

Victoria nodded. "Now I remember." she looked at Diego sadly. She sighed then looked at Diego earnestly.

"Diego, you said something about the Alcalde. Is there another Alcalde?" she asked.

Diego nodded somewhat disheartened. "Yes. Ignacio DeSoto. And he is no better than Ramon." He remarked, shaking his head.

Victoria sighed. "How sad. If there is one thing that the people of this pueblo don't need, is more tyranny and oppression." She stated shaking her head sadly.

Diego nodded. "You're right." He replied compassionately.

Victoria gazed at Diego for a moment, then cast a discerning look at him.

"Diego, there is something I have to ask you." she stated earnestly.

Diego looked at her somewhat surprised.

"What is it, Victoria?" he asked.

"You said that we have always been friends, but for some reason, I have this feeling that we are more than just friends." She stated as she looked at him intently.

Diego gazed at her pensively. He wished that he could tell her, that she was in love with him, instead of Zorro, but he knew that wouldn't be the truth. For that matter, he wondered if he should tell her, that she was in love with Zorro?

"What do mean, Victoria?" he asked curiously.

Victoria shook her head. "I don't know, Diego. Last night, when you came into my room, when I was upset, there was something in your eyes when you looked at me, that made me feel that you were more than just my friend." She remarked.

Diego looked at her sympathetically. "I was just concerned about you, Victoria. I wanted you to know, that I was there to help you." He replied.

Victoria shook her head. "No, Diego, it was more than that! Diego, are you in love with me?" she suddenly asked.

Diego suddenly felt his heart pounding, as he gazed into her eyes. He slightly shook his head. He wanted to say yes, yet...

"Victoria, you were feeling vulnerable last night. Maybe you were seeing something that wasn't there. You were upset, and afraid. I..." he paused.

Victoria looked at him intently. "Diego, tell me the truth. I want to know!" she stated ardently.

Diego felt a heaviness in his heart as he looked at her. How he wished he could tell her how he really felt. He looked down at his hands and shook his head.

"No Victoria, I'm not." He replied remorsefully.

Victoria put her hand under his chin, and turned his face toward hers.

"Diego, look at me when you tell me. Look into my eyes and tell me the truth!" she said sternly.

Diego took her hand in his, and sighed. "Victoria, if I said yes, it wouldn't be right. You're in love with someone else. Someone whom I can't compete with." He replied fervently.

Victoria's eyes slightly widened as she looked at him in surprise.

"Diego, what are you saying? Who am I in love with?" she asked.

Diego looked at her in amazement. "Don't you know, Victoria? Surely you must remember!" he said with a slight edge to his voice.

Victoria shook her head. "I don't know, Diego. Everything is so confusing! Every time I close my eyes, all I see is, you and..." she suddenly paused. Her eyes widened as she slightly gasped. "Zorro!" Suddenly the image of Diego fighting Vargas in the tavern and Zorro fighting Vargas, where Zorro had rescued her, flashed in her mind, as the two images suddenly merged into one. She looked at Diego in astonishment. All at once, her head began to spin, as the dizziness began to return. "Diego, you're..." suddenly, everything went black.

Diego quickly grabbed her before she fell from the bench. He picked her up in his arms, and carried her into the house. He quickly carried her over to a couch in the library, and laid her down. Alejandro came in, and suddenly saw Diego sitting on the side of the couch, attending Victoria as she lay unconscious. Diego looked up at Felipe.

"Felipe, go get a cool damp cloth, and some water." He stated worriedly.

"Madre de Dios! What happened, Diego?" Alejandro asked with concern. He walked over and stood by the couch.

Diego looked up at Alejandro, anxiously.

"We were in the garden talking, when all of sudden, she fainted." he replied.

Felipe came in with the cloth and a glass of water.

"Gracias!" replied Diego. He gently began patting her face with the cloth as he softly spoke to her.

"Victoria,...Victoria?"

Victoria slowly put her hand to her forehead, as she felt the cool cloth, against her face. She slowly opened her eyes, and blinked, as she tried to focus them on Diego. Diego lay the cloth on her forehead, and looked at her with concern.

"Victoria, are you all right?" he asked worriedly.

Victoria opened her eyes a little wider.

"Diego, you're Zorro!" she replied.

Alejandro's and Felipe's eyes widened, as they looked at Victoria in shock.

"Diego, what is she talking about?" Alejandro asked.

Diego shook his head. "I don't know, father. She's probably just confused."

Alejandro nodded. "Obviously."

Victoria slowly sat up, and Diego handed her the glass of water.

"Gracias," she said. She removed the cloth from her head, then took a drink of water. She handed the glass to Diego, and gazed steadily into his eyes.

"Diego, you're Zorro!" she said again with conviction.

Alejandro chuckled. "That's ridiculous, Victoria! Diego couldn't possibly be Zorro!" he stated assuredly.

Victoria rubbed the side her head, and nodded.

"It's true Alejandro! Everything Diego has told me, is starting to come back, now. I'm beginning to remember other things too. I remember seeing Diego fighting that man in the tavern, and seeing Zorro fighting him, when Zorro rescued me." She looked at Diego. "I could see that same fire in your eyes, as you fought him in the tavern and when you came to rescue me." She said. "I also know that you love me. And I love you too, Diego." She added passionately.

Diego sighed, and smiled. "I love you too, Victoria." he said gazing into her eyes. He looked at Alejandro and smiled.

"It's true, father. I am Zorro." he stated.

Suddenly Alejandro felt himself become a little dizzy. Felipe grabbed his arm, and helped him over to a chair. He looked at him with concern. Felipe poured another glass of water, and handed it to Alejandro.

"Gracias!" replied Alejandro. He took a drink, then looked at Diego sternly.

"Why haven't you told me this before, Diego!" he asked.

Diego slightly shrugged. "I guess it just never came up. Besides, I had a good reason for not telling anyone, except for Felipe." he stated.

Alejandro's eyes widened. "You mean Felipe knows, that you are Zorro?" he asked. Victoria looked surprised as well.

Diego nodded. "Yes. He's known from the moment I became Zorro. When you called me home from Spain, and I saw how the people of this pueblo were being treated, I knew that I had to do something, to help combat this oppression, and tyranny. That's why I became Zorro. I hid my identity to protect you and Victoria. Anyone who was linked to me, could be hung as an accomplice. The only reason that Felipe was not suspected, was because he pretended to be deaf, as well as mute." He stated.

Alejandro and Victoria looked at Diego in surprise.

"You mean Felipe can hear and speak?" Victoria asked.

Diego shook his head. "He can hear, but he still can't speak. Once he called out my name, and saved my life. After that, he was unable to speak. I feel that in time, one day, he will speak again." he replied earnestly. "Now that you and father know, you will always be in danger." he added anxiously.

Alejandro nodded. "Don't worry, Diego. Together, we can keep this a secret." He replied assuredly.

Diego nodded. "I suppose as long as Ignacio doesn't suspect anything, then we will be safe." He looked at Victoria.

"Victoria, about your memory, do you remember anything about what happened to you? I know it must be painful, but DeSoto is anxious to get a statement from you, so that he can make his conviction." he stated.

Victoria shook her head. "I'm not sure, Diego. The only I remember is, waking up in that cave. Everything else is cloudy. Maybe I just don't want to remember it. I'm sorry, Diego." She said sadly.

Diego smiled. "Don't worry, I think I have a way of helping you. In the meantime, I think you've had enough excitement for one day. Why don't you get some rest before dinner, then we'll figure out a way to jog that memory of yours." He replied warmly.

Victoria put her arms around his neck, and hugged him.

"Oh, Diego, I knew you loved me." she said passionately.

Diego held her in a warm embrace. "I've always loved you, Victoria." He gently broke from their embrace. And looked into her eyes. "Yet, when you fell in love with me as Zorro, I realized that as Diego, I would never have a chance, to show you how much I loved you. I was so intent on keeping Zorro 's identity a secret, so that you and father would be safe, that I had to postpone what a man my age should be doing, like getting married, and having a family." he replied regretfully.

Alejandro smiled. "Well Diego, I guess you won't have to postpone your marriage any longer. You and Victoria, can get married, right away." He remarked earnestly.

Diego looked at Alejandro. "Well, first things first, father. We have to get Victoria's memory back, so that she can testify against Vargas and Pico." he stated.

Alejandro nodded. "You're right, Diego. We have to get those men off to prison. I hope they get what they deserve!" he said firmly.

Diego nodded. "So do I!"

After Victoria had rested, and dinner was over, she and Diego spent the rest of the evening sitting in the library just reminiscing about their childhood years, and about growing up together. Diego also told her about his education in Spain, and how he had studied swordsmanship under his sabermaster Sir Edmund Kendall.

"Where is Sir Edmund now?" Victoria asked. A solemn look came over Diego. "He was killed by an assassin's bullet. The king had issued a royal death warrant out on Sir Edmund because he was accused of helping some revolutionaries. There was a bounty on his head, and a bounty hunter killed him." he replied sadly.

"I'm sorry, Diego. I had forgotten about that. I remember now! The bounty hunter never claimed the bounty. The Alcalde took the money and gave it to the church." She replied.

Diego nodded. "Yes. I miss Sir Edmund. But at least I've put his sword to good use. Thank goodness, I've never killed anyone with it. Yet, there was that time, when I killed Pablo Zaragosa." he remarked remorsefully.

Victoria put her hand on his arm and looked at him, sympathetically.

"But that was an accident, Diego. He fell on his own dagger, when he tried to kill you." she replied.

Diego nodded. "I know, but I still felt responsible. As I felt responsible for the death of Luis Ramon." He remarked bitterly.

Victoria looked at him curiously. "But you said that Ramon fell to his death."

Diego nodded. "Yes, he did. He was standing on a ledge on the outside of the castle, and suddenly pulled the mask from my face. When he found out who I really was, he suddenly lost his balance, and fell." He replied.

Victoria looked at him compassionately. "But that wasn't your fault, Diego. It happened so fast, that there was nothing you could do."

Diego nodded. "I know, but father always taught me that the death of any man, diminishes us all." He remarked.

Victoria nodded. "Diego, that's all in the past now. We have to concentrate on what's going to happen now and in the future." she stated earnestly.

Diego nodded. "You're right. All we can do is just try to make things better. That's all any of us can do." he remarked.

Victoria nodded in agreement.

Diego looked at her smiled. In all the excitement, of discovering that he was Zorro, he had forgotten how beautiful she looked. He gazed into her soft brown eyes, and smiled. A soft blush colored Victoria's cheeks as she looked into Diego's eyes and smiled.

"Victoria, do you still have that ring, that I gave you?" Diego asked.

Victoria flashed a sly smile as she feigned her amnesia. "Ring? You gave me a ring? When did you do that?" she asked.

Diego looked at her and smiled. He knew that she was teasing him, but he didn't mind. He shook his head and smiled.

"Never mind." He put his arms around her and pressed a tender kiss to her lips.

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