The Reformation
                                                                         Chapter Thirteen

At the de la Vega hacienda the governor waited impatiently for word of his beloved daughter.  Finally late in the afternoon the soldiers searching the countryside returned to the hacienda and reported directly to the governor.  Unfortunately there was no sign of the culprits or Leonar. The poor distraught governor could barely contain his frustration. He ordered the lancers to continue their search and sent the two soldiers assigned to the hacienda by Monastario to Los Angeles to send out another patrol. 

"Excellency, do you not think it would have been wise to have the soldiers remain at the hacienda?" inquired Don Alejandro.  "What if Pina or Ramires return?"

"No, I do not believe they would be so foolish," replied the Governor.  "Do not worry my personal guards will be able to see to our safety."

"Very well," Don Alejandro responded. 

"Alejandro, I can not believe I thought Don Miguel would be a good husband for Leonar," said the Governor.  "Thank goodness she saw through him.  Why was I so hard on her...I hope I have a chance to tell her I am sorry?"

"My dear friend," said Alejandro confidently, "You will have your chance I am sure of it."

The tension grew stronger as the hours passed taking its toll on everyone at the hacienda. Where could Ramirez and Pina be hiding?  Would they dare harm the governor's daughter?  Once supper was concluded Anna Maria went to her room to rest leaving the three men in the sala quietly sipping a glass of wine. Overcome with fatigue the men soon retired for the evening leaving the governor's guard to keep watch.  

Above the hacienda deep within the hills Licenciado Pina and Miguel Ramirez waited with their hostage until all was quiet before they descended on the main house.  Deliberately they moved avoiding the guards as they entered the residence.  Leaving Leonar bound and gagged in the sala, the two men crept up the stairs to each bedroom and woke the sleeping occupants.  With pistols at the ready they carefully led their hostages back to the sala where they lit some candles.

"Leonar," cried the Governor running toward his daughter.  Loosening her gag and the rope which bound her he said, " My child are you all right."

"Si, I am unharmed," she said exhausted.  "Don Carlos...,"

"I am well child," he answered.  "A mere flesh wound."

"Enrique, where is Enrique?" Leonar said looking to her father.

"He is out searching for you.  Do not worry once he catches these men..." began the Governor.

"Enough of this family reunion," said Miguel harshly.  "We must leave this place and with your help, Governor, we shall make our escape."

"Too bad Monastario is not here," laughed Pina.  "What a perfect end this would be, eh Don Miguel."

Smiling Don Miguel called out to Alejandro, "Don Alejandro, send the guards in to see the Governor and then have a carriage readied with two saddled horses brought to the front gate.  Remember we have your son's wife and your friends so be careful what you say."

Looking at the helpless people Don Alejandro nodded his head.  He could not warn anyone for fear that Anna Maria or one of the others might be killed.  Once he accomplished his tasks Don Alejandro hurried back to the hacienda where he was surprised by four figures surrounding him.  A closer look revealed Zorro, Monastario, Sergeant Garcia and Bernardo, who managed to escape capture.

"I am so happy you have returned," whispered Alejandro.  "You must be very careful because Pina and Ramirez are holding the others hostage in the sala.  If they suspect anything they would not think twice of murder.  I fear for their safety."

Don Alejandro continued telling the men of his concerns then listened as Zorro formulated a plan.

"We will wait until everyone leaves the hacienda and proceeds to the carriage," said Zorro.  "Commandante, do you feel well enough to take on Ramirez or Pina?"

"Si, it will be my pleasure," sneered Monastario.

"Very well, you and I will take Ramirez and Pina.  They will have pistols or swords so we must be sure to catch them off guard.  Sergeant Garcia, you will protect the women while Bernardo watches over Don Carlos.  Don Alejandro the Governor will be your responsibility."

"I better go before they come looking for me," nodded Alejandro.  "Good luck!"

Entering the sala Don Alejandro spoke to Don Miguel, "The carriage and horses are outside the main gate as you requested.  Why not leave the women and Don Carlos here?  They will only slow you down.  The Governor and I should be hostage enough for you to escape," said Don Alejandro.

"Do not be foolish old man," grinned Don Miguel.  "Do you think we would leave any witnesses behind?  No, we will all leave together and if there are any problems one of the women will be the first to suffer."

"Miguel, please Senora de la Vega is with child and Leonar has been through...," began Don Carlos.

"This is no concern of mine," Miguel said cutting off his father.  "I repeat we are all going together.  Now move toward the door."

Outside the main gate Zorro and his companions positioned themselves in the shadows thanks to the blanket of darkness that fell over the hacenda. With any luck the light from the full moon would continue to be hidden by the dense, gray clouds until after the henchman were taken.  Ramirez and his accomplice, Pina, were desperate and dangerous men and once their escape was assured they would have no need of their prisoners.  The four men remained silent knowing that they must take whatever action necessary to free the hostages.

Cautiously Pina led the group through the patio to the front entrance where he opened gate.   There just as Don Alejandro reported was the carriage and two saddled horses.   Pina smiled and raised his arm to have the others follow him.  Walking toward the carriage Ramirez stopped alongside Pina and watched as the men helped the ladies into the carriage.  As Don Alejandro, the Governor and Don Carlos were about to climb aboard Zorro and his followers struck with lightening speed.  Zorro grabbed the pistol from Pina's hand and landed a punch that knocked him to the ground.  Meanwhile Bernardo and Sergeant Garcia helped everyone in the buggy to safety while Monastario jumped Ramirez from behind knocking the pistol from his hand.  Turning swiftly Ramirez drew his sword and faced Monastario who reached for his blade.  Slowly the men circled one another while everyone looked on.