Chapter Seven

The tavern was busy, as usual, filled with the regular customers playing "bruha", several travelers waiting for the morning coach to arrive and others who simply wished to stay out of the hot sun.  Don Diego acknowledged an acquaintance or two as Sergeant Garcia and he strolled over to a table near the bar.  Bernardo, the ever-faithful servant of Don Diego, had already taken a place standing at the bar where offered a peso for a glass of wine.

"Maria," Diego called out.  "Please bring some wine for my guest and myself." 

"A pleasure Don Diego," Maria smiled sweetly.  "I shall be but a moment."

"Sergeant, how are things going now that Capitan Monastario has returned to the cuartel?" questioned Diego as he turned to face Garcia.

"Not so good, Don Diego," replied Garcia sadly.  "For me that is.  I was hoping that I would be made permanent commandante.  I believed the Capitan would marry the Senorita Leonar and return to Monterey with the Governor but now it does not seem likely."

"Well Sergeant things are not over yet," grinned Diego.  "The senorita has not left the rancho to return to Monterey with her father so perhaps your dream is still possible."

"Oh I hope so Don Diego," sighed Garcia.  "I believe I have done a good job and have proven myself capable of being commandante.  You know I always feel better after we talk.  Don Diego...there is another small matter I wish to discuss with is about Zorro."

"Of course I would be happy to help," responded Diego.  "However, I have never met the gentleman."

"Si...I understand, at least I think so...," hesitated Garcia.  "I am sorry Don Diego but I must ask...are you Zorro?"

Bernardo nearly choked on the wine he was swallowing after hearing the Sergeant's inquiry.  With eyes opened wide Bernardo turned to look into the face of the young caballero he called friend.  Anna Maria had made Diego aware of the Sergeant's feelings but still it came as a surprise to hear Garcia ask so bluntly.  Holding his breath Bernardo waited for Diego to answer.

Demetrio Lopez Garcia spent most of his adult life as a soldier in the army of the King of Spain.   Try as he might Garcia's good nature could not make up for his bungling and inept ways.   Poor Garcia never reached the heights he had envisioned for himself.   One day purely by accident Garcia found himself hastily promoted and shipped off to the New World.  There in the small pueblo de Los Angeles the story surrounding Garcia's years in Spain faded away.  Garcia, himself, never spoke of his duties in Spain nor finding his superior officer in the arms of the Spanish magistrado's wife.  In the years that followed Garcia saw the comings and goings of many a superior officer.   Yet it was not until Capitan Monastario was caught in political disfavor that Garcia found himself in reach of his goal as commandante of the tiny pueblo.   The Viceroy had appointed the Sergeant acting commandante.  Garcia's hopes for permanent assignment  seemed all but fulfilled.  The pueblo thrived under the honesty and justice Garcia brought to his leadership of the tiny pueblo.   However his dreams were ended when the governor assigned a new commandante and Garcia was returned to rank of sergeant.  Time and time again Garcia only tasted brief moments of leadership until new commandantes could be assigned.

Leaning back in his chair Garcia waited for Don Diego's explanation to begin.  He knew that a revelation regarding the identity of Zorro would catch the attention of both the viceroy and governor.  Surely he would receive a promotion to permanent commandante as a reward.  Yet Don Diego was his could he accept a promotion this way?  Poor Garcia so torn between his desires and friendship.

"Sergeant after all this time why would you believe that I could be Zorro?" Diego said looking puzzled.  "I am your friend and you know me so well.  Have I ever shown any interest in politics, swordplay or any type of violence?"

"Oh no Don Diego," said Garcia.  "But you are the same height and build as Zorro."

"Sergeant, can you think of no one in the pueblo who might also resemble Zorro?  The commandante has many of the same attributes."

"Si, he is as tall as Zorro, a fine swordsman but no he could not possibly be," Garcia said confused.  "Don Diego, it is just that the Senora de la Vega...the looks she shared with Zorro during the fight between the Capitan and Ramirez...well it was personal."

"You know very well that Anna Maria and Zorro were close friends," responded Diego.  "It was thought by some in Monterey that they might marry but of course this was not so.  Anna Maria is my wife and soon we are to have a child.  Do you believe Zorro would have time for a wife and child?"

"Well no, Zorro has so much to do and the life he leads...," Garcia said embarrassed. "My friend, I am sorry.  Please forgive me?"

"Sergeant, there is nothing to forgive," Diego patted Garcia on the hand.  "It was an honest mistake.  Sometimes I wish I had the skills of Zorro for it would make my father proud."

"You are a fine man, one your father can be proud of to be sure," added Garcia.

"Gracias Sergeant, I am glad we had this talk for I would want nothing to come between our friendship."

"Oh nothing shall," Garcia said lifting his glass for a toast.  "To friendship."

"To friendship," said Diego with a quick nod to Bernardo.

Later on Diego and Bernardo rode back to the hacienda satisfied that Garcia would not press the issue of Zorro's identity.  However would something else arise that would bring harm to the de la Vega family.  Only time held the answer to this and other unanswered questions.

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A New Beginning