Zorro - The Legend Through The Years

   Zorro Strikes Again
   by Johnston McCulley

Don Diego strolls across the patio of his father's house.  It is his father's birthday, and many guests will soon be arriving for a party.  Don Diego hears Estebán Morales inside the hacienda talking to his father.  Morales explains that a dealer in hides accused him of supplying inferior hides.  Morales was brought in front of the magistrado, Pedro Ruiz, and the testimony of the dealer in hides was believed over that of Morales.  Morales was ordered to supply the dealer twice as many good hides and pay a fine as well.  Morales asks Don Alejandro for help, but Don Alejandro replies that the governor is not fond of him and if Don Alejandro were to support Morales that the fine Morales is to pay would likely be doubled.  Don Diego enters the room and pretends to very uninterested in the plight of Morales. Zorro's long whip lashed out and the man screamed.
After Morales leaves, Don Alejandro suggests that Zorro help Morales.  In response, Don Diego suggests to his father that the turmoil of that night's party will likely give him a headache and that he will need to rest for awhile during the party.  True to his word, Don Diego takes his leave during the party and goes to his room where Bernardo awaits him.  Don Diego tells Bernardo that Fray Sabio is visiting again and is sitting on a bench near Don Diego's room, as if he is watching Don Diego's room.  Don Diego has Bernardo tell the servants to make certain that Fray Sabio is given plenty of wine and meat.  Don Diego and Bernardo slip away to a nearby hut, where Don Diego changes into his Zorro disguise.

Zorro and Bernardo ride along the road until they meet up with the trader who accused Morales of supplying inferior hides.  Zorro lashes the trader and his two companions with his whip.  The men flee down the road.  Zorro rides into town, approaches the magistrado's house, and bangs on the door.  The door is opened by a servant who comes outside with Pedro Ruiz behind him.  Zorro confronts Ruiz about his judgement against Morales.  Zorro demands that Ruiz rescind his ruling the next day and resign as magistrado.  Ruiz protests and is whipped repeatedly by Zorro.  While Ruiz howls for mercy, his servant slips away to get help.  Zorro leaves and rides to the cuartel.  He enters and confronts Capitán Ortega in his quarters.  Zorro fights Ortega and cuts a 'Z' on Ortega's cheek.  Zorro leaves and rides for home with the soldiers on his heels.

Back at home, Don Diego hastily changes out of his Zorro disguise and uses a secret passage to reach his room.  Ortega arrives at the party and demands to see Don Diego, clearly suspecting that Don Diego is Zorro.  Don Diego enters the room dressed as resplendently as ever and presses his handkerchief to his face, commenting that the tumult will make his head hurt.  Ortega asks for Fray Sabio and asks Sabio when Don Diego left his room.  Sabio's eyes are red and swollen as he informs Ortega that Don Diego didn't leave his room all evening.  Ortega is furious that he wasn't able to prove that Don Diego is Zorro.  Meanwhile, Fray Sabio wonders if he told Ortega the truth, since wine always affects him so greatly.

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