The Mark of Zorro chapter 34 The blood of the Pulidos

The Mark of chapter 34 The blood of the Pulidos
Author McCulley, Johnston, 1883-1958
Title The Mark of Zorro
Note Published serially under the title: The curse of Capistrano.
Language English
Copyright Status Public domain in the USA.


The two troopers came back into the room. They had searched the house well, they reported, invading every corner of it, and no trace had been found of any person other than Fray ’s native servants, all of whom were too terrified to utter a falsehood, and had said they had seen nobody around the place who did not belong there.

“Ha! Hidden away well, no doubt,” Gonzales said. “Fray, what is that in the corner of the room?”

“Bales of hides,” Fray replied.

“I have been noticing it from time to time. The dealer from San Gabriel must have been right when he said the hides he purchased of you were not properly cured. Are those?”

“I think you will find them so.”

“Then why did they move?” asked. “Three times I saw the corner of a bale move. Soldiers, search there!”

Fray sprang to his feet.

“Enough of this nonsense!” he cried. “You have searched and found nothing. Search the barns next, and then go! At least let me be master in my own house. You have disturbed my rest enough as it is.”

“You will take a solemn oath, fray, that there is nothing alive behind those bales of hides?”

Fray hesitated, and grinned.

“Not ready to forswear yourself, eh?” the sergeant asked. “I had a thought you would hesitate at that, my robed Franciscan! Soldiers, search the bales!”

The two men started toward the corner. But they had not covered one-half the distance when Lolita stood up behind the bales of hides and faced them.

“Ha! Unearthed at last!” Gonzales cried. “Here is the package Zorro left in the fray’s keeping! And a pretty package it is! Back to carcel she goes! And this escape will but make her final sentence the greater!”

But there was blood in the ’s veins, and Gonzales had not taken that into account. Now the stepped to the end of the pile of hides, so that light from the candelero struck full upon her.

“One moment, señores!” she said.

One hand came from behind her back, and in it she held a long, keen knife such as sheep skinners used. She put the point of the knife against her breast, and regarded them bravely.

does not return to the foul carcel now or at any time, señores!” she said. “Rather would she plunge this knife into her heart, and so die as a woman of good blood should! If his excellency wishes for a dead prisoner, he may have one!”

uttered an exclamation of annoyance. He did not doubt that the would do as she had threatened, if the men made an attempt to seize her. And while he might have ordered the attempt in the case of an ordinary prisoner, he did not feel sure that the would say he had done right if he ordered it now. After all, was the daughter of a don, and her self-inflicted death might cause trouble for his excellency. It might prove the spark to the powder magazine.

, the person who takes his or her own life risks eternal damnation,” the sergeant said. “Ask this fray if it is not so. You are only under arrest, not convicted and sentenced. If you are innocent, no doubt you soon will be set at liberty.”

“It is no time for lying speeches, ,” the girl replied. “I realize the circumstances only too well. I have said that I will not return to carcel, and I meant it—and mean it now. One step toward me, and I take my own life!”

—” Fray began.

“It is useless for you to attempt to prevent me, good fray,” she interrupted. “I have pride left me, thank the saints! His excellency gets only my dead body, if he gets me at all.”

“Here is a pretty mess!” exclaimed. “I suppose there is nothing for us to do except retire and leave the to her freedom!”

“Ah, no, !” she cried quickly. “You are clever, but not clever enough by far. You would retire and continue to have your men surround the house? You would watch for an opportunity, and then seize me?”

Gonzales growled low in his throat, for that had been his intention, and the girl had read it.

“I shall be the one to leave,” she said. “Walk backward, and stand against the wall, señores! Do it immediately, or I plunge this knife into my bosom!”

They could do nothing except obey. The soldiers looked to the sergeant for instructions, and the sergeant was afraid to risk the señorita’s death, knowing it would call down upon his head the wrath of the , who would say that he had bungled.

Perhaps, after all, it would be better to let the girl leave the house. She might be captured afterward, for surely a girl could not escape the troopers.

She watched them closely as she darted across the room to the door. The knife was still held at her breast.

“Fray Felipe, you wish to go with me?” she asked. “You may be punished if you remain.”

“Yet I must remain, . I could not run away. May the saints protect you!”

She faced Gonzales and the soldiers once more.

“I am going through this door,” she said. “You will remain in this room. There are troopers outside, of course, and they will try to stop me. I shall tell them that I have your permission to leave. If they call and ask you, you are to say that it is so.”

“And if I do not?”

“Then I use the knife, !”

She opened the door, turned her head for an instant and glanced out.

“I trust that your horse is an excellent one, , for I intend to use it,” she told the sergeant.

She darted suddenly through the door, and slammed it shut behind her.

“After her!” Gonzales cried. “I looked into her eyes! She will not use the knife—she fears it!”

He hurled himself across the room, the two soldiers with him. But Fray had been passive long enough. He went into action now. He did not stop to consider the consequences. He threw out one leg, and tripped . The two troopers crashed into him, and all went to the floor in a tangle.

Fray had gained some time for her, and it had been enough. For the had rushed to the horse and had jumped into the saddle. She could ride like a native. Her tiny feet did not reach halfway to the sergeant’s stirrups, but she thought nothing of that.

She wheeled the horse’s head, kicked at his sides as a trooper rushed around the corner of the house. A pistol ball whistled past her head. She bent lower over the horse’s neck, and rode!

Now a cursing was on the veranda, shouting for his men to get to horse and follow her. The tricky moon was behind a bank of clouds again. They could not tell the direction the was taking except by listening for the sounds of the horse’s hoofs. And they had to stop to do that—and if they stopped they lost time and distance.

kasiaeliza

Mama dwójki Zorrątek. Trenuję jujitsu japońskie i kiedyś miałam krótką przygodę z kendo. Lubię RPGi, planszówki, geografię, historię, piłkę nożną i książki. Nie wróć, książki to kocham. :) ----------------------------------- Mother of two Zorro cubs. I train Japanese jujitsu and once had a short adventure with kendo. I like RPGs, board games, geography, history, soccer and books. Wait, come back, I love books. :)

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