cool, crisp day met the residents of the de la Vega household as they
walked toward the main gate to the waiting carriage. Both Leonar and
Anna Maria were looking forward to a carefree day in Los Angeles. Diego
accompanied the two women and helped them into the buggy. Poor Diego
was still haunted by the deep, gray eyes of the peon he encountered
within the cuartel walls. What was it that he found so disturbing in
the eyes of the old man? Unwilling to cause unnecessary alarm Diego had
kept his feelings to himself but now as Anna Maria prepared to leave
for Los Angeles Diego became uneasy and offered to ride along with the
"Diego we will be fine," Anna Maria stated. "Please do
not worry. There is no danger and the day will do both Leonar and
myself a world of good. Besides we will return early and Bernardo will
be with us."
"Forgive me but is it not an expectant father's
right to be anxious," smiled Diego as he gently brushed his lips
against her delicate hand. "I wonder what is keeping Bernardo. I will
go check on him."
Diego returned to the patio to find Bernardo
leaving the hacienda. Before allowing Bernardo to continue Diego
offered some words to his trusted friend.
"Something is not as it should be. I cannot explain but be very careful," he whispered.
the carriage slowly rolled toward Los Angeles Bernardo kept a watchful
eye for any danger that might arise. In the seat behind Anna Maria and
Leonar spoke freely while contemplating the wares to be found in the
plaza. The market was the heart of the community with its abundance of
products and local traditions. Anna Maria hoped that a pleasant day
would ease the tension and pain experienced by Leonar the past few
days. However, she could sense the sadness in Leonar.
"Leonar, what is troubling you so?" Anna Maria inquired.
has been very quiet," confided Leonar. "As you know his recovery has
not gone as we hoped. I do not know what to say or do."
"The capitan will work things out in his own way. Just be there for him. He needs time to readjust."
but if he is not able to walk he does not see a future for us. I love
him," added Leonar. "I do not wish to lose him," she said wiping away
At the hacienda Diego watched as the carriage drew
further away but suddenly came to a halt when met by a groups of
soldiers. Curiously Diego remained watching as Sergeant Garcia
dismounted and walked over to speak with the occupants of the buggy.
dias Sergeant," greeted Anna Maria. Sergeant Garcia appeared flustered
as he removed his hat. Anna Maria quickly added, "Is there a problem?"
a way...I have some news that you will find most unpleasant," uttered
Garcia. "This morning it was discovered that the prisoner, Miguel
Ramirez, escaped." The women looked at one another stunned. "We have
been searching since daylight but have found nothing. We have notified
all the outlying ranchero's except that of Don Alejandro."
"Sergeant you must bring this news to the commandante at once," said Leonar.
"Si, we are on our way there now but first I would have some of my men ride along with you,"
will not be necessary Sergeant," said Anna Maria. "I think we would
prefer to return to the hacienda." Leonar nodded in agreement.
Corporal Reyes take three men and ride back to the cuartel. The rest of
us will join you once I speak with the commandante and Don Alejandro,"
"Si...right away," said the corporal. "Should I send out another patrol to look for Don Miguel."
"Of course stupid one, we must find the escaped prisoner before he causes more trouble."
the soldiers were on their way, Garcia and the carriage turned in the
direction of the hacienda. Garcia tried to practice answering the
questions he anticipated would be asked of him once they reached the
hacienda but the thought that he had failed those that depended on him
made it difficult to concentrate. Who could have helped Ramirez to
escape and why?
Just above the hacienda in the hills two men lay
hidden watching as the carriage returned with the soldier. How they
wished they could see the look on Monastario's face as he was told of
the escaped prisoner. Soon their plans would go forward and all that
they desired would come true.
"Our plan is a good one. We shall
both get the revenge we seek but first we must let everyone think you
have fled from this place, Don Miguel. Then we can sneak into the
hacienda and…" grinned the stranger.
Don Alejandro sat quietly
at his desk in the sala going over some papers when he heard the door
open. Quickly he stood and greeted the sergeant.
Sergeant. It is good to see you. Surprised by the appearance of the
others Alejandro said, "Anna Maria, Leonar. Why have you returned?
Diego, has something happened?"
"Father," interrupted Diego, "I
think the sergeant would prefer to tell us his news with Capitan
Monastario present. Let us join the commandante." Diego extended his
arm to allow his father, the sergeant, and the women to pass. Bernardo
placed his hand on Diego's arm and gave him a sullen look,which meant
there was much danger ahead.
In the bedroom Dr. Avila was just
finishing his examination when Don Alejandro knocked at the door. The
commandante leaned back against his pillows while the doctor went to
open the door.
"Oh, I am sorry to intrude but Sergeant Garcia has some important news to share with us."
"Please have the sergeant come in Don Alejandro," said the commandante as Alejandro motioned for the others to come forth.
"Sergeant, what is so important that you have to tell me?
capitan there has been an unfortunate series of events," said Garcia
meekly. Leonar moved toward Monastario knowing that he must remain calm.
"What 'events' do you mean?" asked the commandante raising his voice.
the prisoner, Miguel Ramirez, has escaped jail and is missing. The
lancers and I have searched everywhere but we have found nothing."
yelled Monastario. "How is it possible for a man to get out of his cell
when you have guards posted around the cuartel?"
think someone may have helped him...I am sorry. The lancers and I will
continue to search the area around Los Angeles. Also, I will send
soldiers to see if the prisoner boarded any of the ships leaving
"He should have never been allowed to escape in
the first place. I want guards posted here at the hacienda. The
senorita and the others must be protected. Do you understand sergeant,"
said Monastario his face red with anger.
"Capitan at once. Con
promiso," said Garcia saluting and bounding from the room. The others
followed closely behind the sergeant.
"Don Alejandro, I will
have sentries posted at the entrance and some men will patrol the area
around the hacienda," said Garcia ruffled by the commandante's words.
"I don't know how the prisoner escaped but I assure you that you will
be safe here."
"Gracias Sergeant," nodded Don Alejandro as
Garcia turned and left. "Diego, I know Sergeant Garcia will do his best
but I do not have a good feeling about any of this."
"Nor do I,"
he said looking at Bernardo who made a "Z" with his finger. "Si, I
think Zorro will help our good sergeant." All three men nodded in