Zorro - The Legend Through The Years

   Zorro Lays A Ghost
   by Johnston McCulley

Juan Reyes sits on a cart heavy with merchandise that he is bringing to Los Angeles from the port at San Pedro.  He is a poor man with very little money.  He is eating some meat and drinking some wine which he helped himself to when nobody was watching.  He hopes that the good padres will not learn of his theft.  Juan pauses the cart for a moment to let the oxen rest.  Suddenly, Juan hears a sepulchral voice call out his name and sees a figure in flowing white garments aside a white horse.  The figure in white tells Juan that he is the ghost of a man murdered by Zorro and that he warns Juan about Zorro.  Juan is to tell everybody that Zorro is sent by the Evil One and that he is pretending to help the poor in order to gain their confidence.  When the time is right, Zorro will turn on them and denounce them to the soldiers. Zorro got in a position slightly above the man on the white horse and behind him.
The ghost tells Juan that he must let everyone know that they must gather whatever information they can about Zorro and give that information to the soldiers.  If the soldiers can locate Zorro quickly enough, they can unmask him before he dematerializes.

When Juan returns to the pueblo, he immediately goes to the church to tell Fray Felipe about the ghost.  In turn, Fray Felipe visits Don Alejandro and Don Diego and tells them Juan's story and his belief that it is a trick.  Don Diego agrees but says that the real Zorro must expose the trick quickly before the people lose faith in Zorro.  Don Diego asks Fray Felipe to suggest to the peons that they must have proof that the ghost is real and that they must meet at a certain place at a certain time to wait for the ghost.  Don Diego adds that if the ghost appears that Zorro will also appear in order to unmask him.  Don Diego suspects that a recent arrival in the pueblo, Pedro Lucero, may be the fake ghost.  Don Diego and Fray Felipe ride to the pueblo together.  Fray Felipe makes his suggestion to the peons while Don Diego visits the tavern to get a look at Pedro Lucero.  Don Diego remains convinced that Lucero is the ghost.

As night falls, the peons travel in small groups to the canyon in which they plan to wait for the ghost.  Don Diego dresses as Zorro and rides to the canyon with Bernardo.  Zorro enters the canyon from the rear and waits in the shadows while Bernardo joins the other peons who are waiting to see the ghost.  After waiting for several hours, the ghost declares his presence.  While the ghost commands the peons to betray Zorro, Zorro quietly rides close to where the ghost is sitting on his white horse.  Zorro cries out to the peons that he is there to unmask the ghost.  As soon as Zorro speaks, the ghost fires a shot at Zorro.  Knowing that the ghost does not likely have another pistol nor time to reload the one he fired, Zorro charges at the ghost, forcing him down into the canyon towards the peons.  The peons scatter, and then Zorro hears Sergeant Garcia crying out to his soldiers who must have been waiting to ambush Zorro.  The ghost rider is blocked by Bernardo, and Zorro is able to come close enough to pull off his disguise, revealing Pedro Lucero.  Zorro cries out to the natives that they have been deceived and that this man is no ghost.  The natives are enraged and pull Lucero off of his horse.  Zorro prepares to escape but finds the soldiers coming at him.  Zorro's only choice is to charge at the soldiers hoping to get past them.  Zorro gallops past most off them, but Garcia is in hot pursuit.  Zorro briefly fights Garcia and finally escapes.

Zorro arrives at the hut near the Vega hacienda and changes out of his Zorro disguise.  He enters the hacienda to find his father deep in conversation with Capitan Ortega.  Don Alejandro had kept Ortega entertained all evening with stories of his youth so that Ortega would not be at the canyon.  Don Diego pretends that he was outside trying to compose a poem and recites some of it for Ortega.  Ortega tries not to laugh and takes his leave.  Once Ortega is away from the hacienda, he laughs heartily, not knowing that Don Diego and his father are laughing even harder back at the hacienda.

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