The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston Mcculley

The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston Mcculley

Sergeant Gonzalez was sitting in a small tavern. He was holding a glass of wine, and a storm was raging outside the windows. The end of February in California turned out to be worrying. Many other military men were sitting around the tables. Gonzalez asked for more wine from the tavern keeper, and he hurried to bring a new batch. The sergeant was famous. But he was very annoyed that the public in the tavern was discussing Zorro. This folk avenger with a sword and a black mask had been the main topic of conversation for ordinary people for a long time. Gonzalez said loudly that he was tired of talking about this man. And that soon there would be the one to put an end to his adventures. The governor offered a large sum for the murder of Zorro. The target would not be able to hide from anyone wishing to receive an award.

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The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston Mcculley

In the town of Reina de Los Angeles in south California there was a wild February storm. Inside the tavern in the town square, Sergeant Gonzales sat by the fire holding an empty wine cup. Behind him, four more soldiers sat at a table drinking.

‘I’m thirsty!’ he called to the landlord.

The man hurried over with more wine. Gonzales was famous along the Camino Real – the king’s highway that crossed the country – because he got angry very easily.

‘Senor Zorro is on the road again,’ the landlord began.

‘Why do I always hear his name?’ cried Gonzales angrily. ‘He rides along the highway wearing a black mask, and cutting the letter Z on his enemies’ faces with his sword. But never when I’m there!’

The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston Mcculley

‘They’re calling him the Curse of Capistrano now!’ the landlord said.

‘He’s the curse of all our towns, a thief who steals from rich men! The governor will pay a lot to the man who kills Zorro. But where to find him? He never comes near the fort.’

‘But he hides somewhere,’ the landlord said. ‘One day somebody will find the place.’

‘Not if friends are helping him!’ cried Gonzales. ‘You know. I’d really like him to come in here now.’

Suddenly the door opened, and a man in a wet cloak and hat hurried in from the square.

The sergeant’s hand went to his sword. But then he saw that it was only his friend Don Diego Vega, a rich young man from one of the best families in town.

All along the Camino Real people spoke of these two friends who were so different. Don Diego never wore a sword, never looked at women lovingly, nor drank much. Gonzales always spoke of fighting and women, and drank heavily.

‘Ah, Don Diego. We were just talking of Zorro.’ Gonzales explained to his friend. ‘I want to kill him.’

‘Stop there,’ said Don Diego in his thin, high voice. ‘No talk of killing, please! Zorro fights only those who take from the church or the poor, or hurt natives. Why not leave him alone?’

‘Because I want the reward money…

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