A New Beginning
The short journey from the de la Vega
rancho into the Pueblo de Los Angeles was a peaceful one. It allowed
Diego the time he needed to share his thoughts and feelings with his
trusted friend and manservant. Bernardo, the loyal mozo, though unable
to speak easily made his responses known to Diego through his clever
use of pantomime. The relationship between the men was based on
trust and respect developed years before in Spain.
friend, Diego, Bernardo was abandoned as a baby and raised in a small
village orphanage run by the church outside Madrid. The padres never
let Bernardo's inability to speak affect his life and the bright lad
grew into a fine young man. The padres hoped Bernardo would remain
with the church, however he left to travel to the city of Madrid where
he first encountered the cruelty of people.
was forced to work on the streets of Madrid, living modestly,
entertaining passers-by with his magic and games of chance. It was on
one of these occasions when Bernardo was testing his skills against any
gentlemen willing to gamble a peso that Diego and he met. Several
university students, including Diego, stopped to watch as this curious
little man placed a small pea under one of three shells then twisted
and turned them about. All the men who tested their skill lost
miserably. Diego could not resist his chance to be victorious and
tossed a coin on the table. After twisting and turning the shells
about Bernardo waited for Diego to make a decision. Pointing to the
center shell Diego waited until the shell was lifted to reveal
nothing. Bernardo raised the two remaining shells to reveal the little
pea. Laughing the young Diego pulled another coin from his jacket and
tossed it on the table as a gift to the little man. Several more
students tried their luck only to lose. Each time they willingly
dropped a coin.
A rather tall sinister looking man was the
last to try his luck. He dropped his coin and waited for the shells to
be moved. Pointing to the shell on the right he was disappointed to
find it empty. Once again he tossed a peso and waited for the center
shell to be removed. Nothing. Angrily he swept the shells off the
table with the back of his hand and grabbed Bernardo by the throat.
Calling the little man a "cheat" the large man pressed his fingers
tightly around his victims neck. Gasping for breath Bernardo tried to
return the man's coins but they were slapped from his hand.
back your coins and be off," cried the young caballero placing the edge
of his cold steel sword at the man's neck. "Consider yourself lucky to
have your life."
The man let go of the poor little man, picked
up his coins and walked away. The onlookers began to disperse but
Diego remained to help Bernardo collect his belongings as the light
began to dim.
"I am sorry for that man's behavior," said
Diego with a smile. "My name is Diego de la Vega. Is there something
I can do for you?"
Bernardo gestured that he could not speak but
could hear perfectly and that he was grateful to the young man for his
help. The caballero nodded and once again remarked that if he could
ever be of assistance he could be found at the university. With a wave
of his hand he started down the street. Finding the young man of
interest, Bernardo began to follow him. Bernardo continued to watch
the young man and wondered if his family would be proud of his kindness.
was about to cross the plaza on his way to the university when Bernardo
noticed a carriage driven very fast toward the young man. He could not
call out to Diego so he dropped his belongings and ran as fast as
possible. Diego unaware of what was about to happen suddenly was
knocked out of the way of the oncoming carriage and fell to the ground
with Bernardo on top of him. Diego looked up and realized this little
man had saved his life.
"Gracias little one," said Diego.
Bernardo gestured that the man driving the carriage was the same cruel man they had encountered a short time before.
so he wanted his revenge," said Diego. "Well perhaps for the time
being we should stay together. I have been looking for someone to
help me while I attend the university. Would you consider a job as my
mozo? You will have a safe place to stay, meals and you will not have
to worry about men like that one."
Bernardo thought for a moment
and nodded happily. Running back to pick up his belongings he quickly
joined the young gentleman. The university was unlike any place that
Bernardo had ever seen. The façade of the buildings were all
handcrafted with beautiful statuary and designs. Many fountains dotted
the various open plazas. There were several buildings where the young
caballeros attended classes, a large courtyard where many were fencing,
and numerous buildings to house the students. It was like a city unto
Bernardo had never seen such a place and gazed
about. It was in one of the buildings that housed students where
Diego was assigned. Surely this young man was from a very well to do
family thought Bernardo. After walking up many steps Diego opened a
door and allowed Bernardo to enter. He stepped into a large elegant
sitting room with many books, trophies, medals, weapons and clothes
strewn around. The bedroom was as ornate as the previous room and
equally as messy. The wall of French doors led out to a balcony
overlooking the courtyard where young men were fencing. Off the large
bedroom was a small-furnished room with a window. This was the room
where Bernardo was to make his home for the next three years.
their time together Bernardo was to witness many accomplishments of his
new friend. Diego was a skilled fencer and great competitor who was
successful in everything he tried his hand. In a short time Diego
acquired many more medals and trophies to add to those he had already
won. The two men attended many celebrations at the Spanish court and
Bernardo soon realized that Diego was no ordinary young man. Diego's
family was well known in Spain and his father was one of the richest
landowners in the new world.
Bernardo continued to act as
Diego's manservant, cleaning and organizing but always a faithful
friend. Together they built a strong bond based on kindness and
courage. Now years later Bernardo found himself in a foreign land,
riding a horse and listening as his friend confided in him.
spoke of Anna Maria's belief that Sergeant Garcia was aware of Diego's
secret identity as Zorro. When Bernardo heard these words he nearly
fell off his horse laughing. Bernardo believed if the sergeant had
figured out Diego's identity it would be a first for the bumbling
soldier. Sergeant Garcia was a good man with a good heart but his head
was filled more with air than the brains needed to uncover the truth.
I felt the same way, Bernardo, when Anna Maria first broached the
subject, however she is blessed with a sharp intuition besides I must
keep my promise to her to check out Garcia. Dr. Avila has warned me of
the danger to Anna Maria if there is any tension. I must see that she
has a clear mind if she is to carry our child the full nine months."
nodded in agreement. Everything must be done to insure a safe
environment for Anna Maria. As the two men entered the pueblo all
conversation on Diego's part ended. They would maintain the
relationship of master to servant and allow Bernardo to remain the
deaf-mute. One day they would be able to show everyone their true
personalities but that day had not come, yet. Now the two men guided
their horses to the cuartel gate where they dismounted and Diego handed
the reins of his horse to Bernardo. Bernardo hitched the horses to
the post and joined Diego who was standing outside the gate requesting
entrance from the guards.