Chapter 17:

The day passed and the day after came. Diego finally woke up; a persistent pain in his shoulder reminded him of some facts. He winced by standing up and went to run some water on his face. His balance was good. When he saw his face, he reprimanded himself.

"Diego, Diego... Don't turn your back anymore to your main opponent."

He managed to dress and went down to take his breakfast before going to the library.

A good time later, he saw Bernardo coming in, in a hurry. This latter, seeing him, stopped briskly and found again his smile.

"Well, Bernardo, what a haste in the early morning!"

Bernardo explained that he searched for him in the whole hacienda without finding him.

"You should have called me!" Diego reproached him by pulling his leg.

Sulky in front of this remark, Bernardo began laughing and asked him how he was.

"I'm fine, thank you. I have some pains, but I'm feeling rested."

Bernardo moved close to him and put his hand on his forehead which he found still a little hot.

"I'm fine, Bernardo."

But he won't hear of it, and reminded him that he just came through a day and half in bed because of fever.

"You say that I stayed in bed since our return from Los Angeles before yesterday!" Says Diego with astonishment.

Bernardo nodded a yes.

"Do you know where my father is?"

Bernardo explained him that he left on the morning to Los Angeles. He had a matter to deal with.

"Very well. I hope everything is alright for the señorita."

When Don Alejandro came back, Diego was still in the library.

"Diego!" He exclaimed joyfully by seeing him. "How are you, Son?"

"I feel rested." He admitted. "But I feel also confused. Bernardo has gestured me that I would have been sleeping since the day before yesterday."

"That's exact, Son. You had a feverish episode."

"What news from Los Angeles?" Diego asked.

Don Alejandro looked at his son, puzzled. How did he know? Diego guessed the interrogation of his father and anticipated his reaction, explaining him that Bernardo saw him leaving in the morning.

"I met Sergeant Garcia which seemed very tired. We talked a few minutes, and I learnt that like the day before, they waited for Zorro all night long, but this one didn't show up. He was very disappointed of your absence."

Diego frowned with surprise.

"Excuse me! We talked about you too. He asked me how you were. I couldn't bring him much news because you still had fever, and you were still asleep." Don Alejandro added much to his amusement in front of the questioning look of his son.

"Father, with your permission, I will go to see Padre Felipe this afternoon."

"You're not in the state."

"I'll go with the carriage and Bernardo will lead me."

"Very well, if it permits you to be in peace with yourself."

"Gracias."

The afternoon isn't young anymore when the Padre saw Diego arrive along with Bernardo. At first all smiles, his face turned to worry by discovering the don's arm in a sling and his face still a little bruised. Nonetheless, he greeted him like usual.

"Diego, my child! How are you?"

"Buenas tardes, Padre. I'm fine, thank you."

"What happened to you?" Asked Padre Felipe.

"This is part of why I'm here."

"Do you need to confess?"

"No. I simply need to talk."

"Come inside, Diego. We will be more comfortable to discuss."

Later, the Padre looked at Diego with a fresh eye, at least with an old eye which was waking up then, like he found again the 'Diego' he knew before his departure for Spain. Nonetheless, Diego's face betrayed the shame he was feeling then.

"Diego, my child, you don't have to feel shameful of your actions. Those men acted in a spiteful way. You followed your heart, even if it reacted ardently. And God punished you in return."

"Without wanting to offend you, Padre, God was a little too prompt to punish me."

The Padre smiles to the comment.

"And you said that the lancer you have knocked down was found dead on your property?"

"Precisely, but like I said, I think it's a machination."

"You are no doubt right, Diego. But if you know, or think to know the man responsible of this plot, remain self-possessed. He will fall down sooner or later, and you will be cleared. It's true it would be difficult to believe that you're a murderer." An outlaw maybe, but not to everyone's eyes. Padre kept for himself.

"I have the feeling you want to add something else."

Your intuition is sharpened, Diego.

"I was thinking that Zorro could bring the solution."

"You too, Padre? ... Sergeant Garcia made the same comment... I admit that I wasn't very enthusiastic to this idea, and I made him understand in a way a little too much... abrupt. After all, Zorro isn't invincible."

"Neither are you, Diego!" Retorts Padre Felipe with a smile.

"Yes indeed, Padre." Diego admits.

"Diego, Zorro may be not invincible, but my heart tells me he will resolve your problem... In the future, Diego, remain self-possessed; anger and haste hinder good counsel. It could reverse against you and play a bad trick in a very dishonest and vicious way."

"I learnt it, Padre. Therefore I will heed your advice in my next discussions. Speaking with you was a great comfort to me."

"You leave already?"

"I have the impression that fever is lying in wait for me, also it would be preferable that I go home to rest."

"You don't want to stay here?"

"I don't want to abuse your hospitality, and my father will end to worry."

"Well, Diego. If ever you want to talk longer..."

"You will always be there." Completed Diego. "Gracias, Padre." He adds then.

"You're welcome my child. Go home safe and salute you father for me."

"I won't miss it." Says Diego by smiling and taking his time to rise up then to move forward.

However, the Padre goes along with him to the gate of the mission, supporting him, while Bernardo which was waiting in the carriage, went down to help him at his turn.

Diego thanked again the Padre by taking a place in the carriage, and then he made sign to Bernardo to leave.

...

The return to the hacienda was without mishap, however, Don Alejandro, which was outside, got worried by seeing his son with eyes closed and went closer to the carriage when it was stopped.

"Diego?" He interrogate by opening the door.

This one opened his eyes to the sound of his father's voice. The old don sighed inwardly.

"Father? Is everything alright?"

"Yes, what about you, Son? You were sleeping?"

"Yes, I rested a little. I'm sorry to have worried you." Explained Diego by going down of the carriage, as he had taken note of the concern in his father's voice.

Then Diego made sign to Bernardo to take care of the carriage and the horses before going to the hacienda, along with his father.

"By the way, Father, you have the greetings of Padre Felipe."

"How is he?"

"He is fine. We discussed a little about the last events, and forced the conclusion that he shares Sergeant Garcia's opinion."

"What's that?" Interrogated Don Alejandro by hiding a malicious smile for he suspects the answer.

"That Zorro could resolve my problem." Diego sighed.

"You know, Diego, I have to admit that they aren't wrong."

"Ha! You too, Father." Exclaimed Diego by stopping to walk.

"Come on, Diego, don't be so surprised."

"You maybe believe that I will stay here with folded arms waiting for the fox to get out of his den."

Well, this, my Son.

"You're not obliged to wait, Son. What I mean is that, you, you can't investigate openly because you are also; excuse me for the term, the principal suspect. You will lose all credibility with the magistrado." Explained Don Alejandro by catching his son on his left side and dragging him along to his sides.

"That's right." Diego sighed. I doubt, however, that an outlaw has more credibility.

"Thanks to have enlightened me." He added after a time of thought.

"Come on now, Diego, a father is always there for his child whatever he does with his life." Said Don Alejandro enigmatic while they arrived in the sala.

"What do you want to say, Father?"

"Well, that all parents worry about their children, even when they are adults, is simply all."

"I must be still tired. If you permit, I will have some rest until dinner."

"Of course, Diego."

No foolishness I beseech you. You're not in the state.

"You seem preoccupied, Father."

"It's your health which preoccupies me... You chain nasty blows in this time."

"You're doing wit, Father."

Don Alejandro looked at his son, puzzled, and realizing then, muffled a little laugh.

"Forgive me, Diego. It wasn't voluntary."

"I don't doubt. See you later, Father."

Diego went to his bedroom where Bernardo was waiting for him.

"Bernardo, I said to my father that I will rest, and that is what I will do... Zorro has to go out this evening; I have the feeling that it's vital." Diego explained by taking off his shirt, helped by Bernardo.