The Return
                                                                      Chapter Two

The days passed lazily for all those at the hacienda.  Soon it was time for the wedding guests to pack and return home that is except for Leonar.  She had convinced her father to allow her to remain at the de la Vega rancho a while longer.  The governor assumed that his daughter desired to spend more time with Anna Maria and the family.  In truth Leonar wished to stay and become more acquainted with the commandante.  Strolling into the sala Leonar was surprised to find Don Alejandro sitting in a comfortable chair reading.

"Excuse me, Don Alejandro, may I take a few minutes of your time," she said pleasantly.

"Of course child, please be seated," he said placing the book on the table by his side.

"I feel very bad about the reason I gave my father for remaining at the hacienda," she said. "I led him to believe I wanted to spend more time with Anna Maria and Diego.  This is not all together true.  I wish to spend more time getting to know the commandante."

"Leonar, you cannot be serious," he said surprised by her words. "This man is a worthless fellow who has brought much hardship to the good people of Los Angeles."

"Don Alejandro, I have heard that and more from my father but when I met him the other day in the pueblo he seemed different.  Do you think that these past months in Spain have changed him?"

"No, Leonar, I do not. I believe he has come back for a reason.  That reason is revenge. Long ago he went way beyond what was right and reasonable.  A leopard does not change his spots.  I am sorry."

"Thank you, Don Alejandro," she said looking away sadly.

"Leonar, you must not see this man.  I do not trust him," he said concerned. "Your father has left you in my care. I feel a responsibility to you."

"I will think upon your words but I cannot promise that I will not see him again," she said as Don Alejandro embraced her.

Bernardo entered the sala as Leonar walked out to the patio.  She had a very serious look upon her face.  Don Alejandro was pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace.  Whatever Leonar and Don Alejandro discussed had upset the elder gentleman.

"Bernardo, I did not think things could be much worse than Monastario's return," he said deeply concerned. "Now I am not sure." Shaking his head Don Alejandro continued, "It seems Leonar is taken with the commandante and plans to see him." There was not too much they could do to stop her but clearly Bernardo understood the displeasure the don felt.

Diego and Anna Maria happily made themselves ready in their room.  The last few days had been filled with joy.  The news of the new commandante had not made its way to Diego and his bride thanks to Don Alejandro,but they would have to be told soon.  Diego's father and Bernardo knew Monastario had come back with one thing on his mind...revenge against Diego and the family.  What price would have to be paid to satisfy Monastario?

After dressing and coming downstairs Diego and Anna Maria approached the sala.  There they found Don Alejandro and Bernardo in very low spirits.  Curiously Diego and Anna Maria looked at each other.  Surely their marriage had not brought about this melancholy.

"Father, is there a problem?" inquired Diego unaware of the reason for his father's despondent appearance.

"Sí Diego," said Don Alejandro. "Please be seated. I t is important that I speak with you and Anna Maria."

"Father, if there is a serious problem why have you not told me sooner?" he asked.

"Diego, I did not want to take away from the happiness that you and Anna Maria were sharing but it just cannot wait any longer.  The night of the wedding celebration we had a visitor at the hacienda. You had both retired for the night..."

"Who could have affected you and Bernardo in such a way?" interrupted Diego.

"The new commandante has arrived," said Don Alejandro turning his glance to Bernardo.

Looking surprised Diego said, "You should have mentioned this right away."

"The new commandante is Capitan Monastario," he said looking at Diego and Anna Maria. "The Spanish courts have found him innocent of all crimes and returned him to the cuartel in Los Angeles."

"Who is this new commandante?" Anna Maria asked Diego turning to him. "Is he a man you were acquainted with in Spain?"

"I did not know him in Spain.  He was the commandante in Los Angeles when I returned home from school.  Monastario is the reason I became Zorro.  He has done many things but the last was trying to prove I was Zorro," Diego said almost without feeling.  "I thought he would remain in Spain for good."

"There must be something we can do?" she said clenching her hand to her chest.

Diego took her hand in his and said, "I defeated Monastario once and I will do it again."

"Diego, what about the time Monastario spent in Spain?  Could he not have learned of your fencing ability and life there," she said, standing in front of him.

"Sí, he may have all the proof he needs to prove that I am Zorro but for some reason he has not used it.  I will ride to the cuartel with Bernardo and speak to Monastario," said Diego standing.  Perhaps he will provide me with some answers." 

"Diego, this man sounds dangerous," said Anna Maria.

Taking her in his arms Diego said, "I promise I will be careful."  He kissed her on the cheek and nodded to his father and Bernardo.  Quickly Diego's faithful servant went ahead to bring the horses to the entrance.

Diego understood he was playing a dangerous game.  He could be walking into a trap at the cuartel but he could not take Anna Maria and run. This was his home and he would protect it at all costs.  Whatever had to be done he was prepared. Kissing Anna Maria once again, Diego walked to the entrance accompanied by his father.

Placing his hand on Diego's shoulder Don Alejandro said, "My son, do what you must. Monastario is driven by hate.  There is no telling what he might do."

"Sí, I understand. Please keep Anna Maria safe," said Diego.

"I will do my best. Vaya con Dios, my son."

Smiling at his father Diego mounted his horse and galloped toward the pueblo with Bernardo by his side.