The Mark of Zorro – Johnston McCulley – Adventure Novel

Johnston McCulley

The story narrates the adventures and misadventures of a young man from the Californian aristocracy named Don Diego De la Vega, a young nobleman, son of a Spanish landowner, who lived in the then town of Los Angeles, in the old Spanish California of the beginning of the century. XIX. De la Vega finds that the colonial government has become a tyranny that exploits and subjugates the inhabitants of those lands, both indigenous and settlers, in addition to committing all kinds of excesses and acts of corruption. Diego then decides to put on a mask to fight the criminals, transforming himself into a masked horseman with a black cape and calls himself “El Zorro”; and together with his deaf servant, Bernardo, he confronts Captain Ramón and Sergeant González; he fights against the injustices committed by the authorities and defends the oppressed.

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1 – Pedro, the conceited one

RAIN was pouring down on the roof, the wind howled like a banshee, and the smoke from the chimney was billowing with such force that sparks flew to the ground.

“What a devilish night to commit misdeeds!” roared Sergeant Pedro González, stretching his huge feet towards the fire and taking the hilt of his sword in one hand and the wine jug in the other. It seems that the devil howls in the wind and that the demons dance in the drops of water! What a gloomy night, isn’t it, sir?

-That’s how it is! agreed the innkeeper, a fat man, hastening at the same time to fill the wine jug, for Sergeant Gonzalez had a horrible temper when provoked, which always happened when his wine was not served promptly.

“One hell of a night,” repeated the sergeant, who was a tall man, draining the contents of his jar without taking a breath, a feat which had always attracted much attention and which had brought the sergeant some fame throughout the world. camino real, as they called the road that connected the missions in a long chain.

González stretched out very close to the fire, without taking into account that in this way he prevented a little heat from reaching everyone. Sergeant Pedro González often thought that everyone should seek their own comfort before that of others, and since he was a very tall and well-built man, very skilled with a sword, he ran into few who had the courage to contradict him. .

Outside, the wind roared and the rain lashed against the ground like a solid curtain. In southern California, this was a typical February storm. In the missions, the friars had already locked up their animals and were preparing to collect themselves, having closed all their doors. Huge bonfires burned on the haciendas. The indigenous people had locked themselves in their adobe houses, happy to be under a roof.

And here, in the small town of Reina de los Ángeles, which over the years would become a big city, the tavern that was located on one side of the square gave shelter in those days to men who sought the warmth of the bonfire until dawn, not to face the rain.

Sergeant Pedro González, in keeping with his rank and height, had taken over the fireplace, and a corporal and three soldiers from the prison were sitting at a table, a little behind the sergeant, drinking and playing cards. An Indian servant was squatting in a corner. He was not a neophyte who had accepted the religion of the friars, but a pagan and renegade.

All this happened in the days of the decadence of the missions; there was not much peace among the Franciscans who followed in the footsteps of Fray Junípero Serra, founder of the first mission of San Diego de Alcalá (who had already been canonized and had made an empire possible). Those who followed politicians got very high ranks in the army. The men who were drinking in the Reina de los Ángeles tavern did not want a spy near them.

At this moment the conversation had ended, which was annoying to the innkeeper and at the same time frightening him, since Sergeant Pedro González was peaceful as long as there was a discussion; but unless he was speaking, the soldier might feel compelled to provoke an altercation.

González had already done it twice, causing a lot of damage to the furniture and to the faces of the tavern patrons; the innkeeper had gone to the commandant of the prison, Captain Ramón, only to be informed by the latter that he already had enough problems and that running an inn was none of his business.

So the innkeeper was cautiously watching Gonzalez, moving to the edge of the large table and trying to start a general conversation in order to avoid any difficulties.

“There is a rumor in the town,” he said, “that Zorro is on the loose again.”

His words had an effect at once unexpected and terrible. Sergeant Pedro González suddenly straightened up on the bench, threw his jar, which still contained some wine, to the ground, and, striking a terrible blow on the table with his fist, caused the jars, cards, and coins to spill all over the place. sides.

The corporal and the three soldiers backed away in panic, and the innkeeper turned pale; The Indian who was sitting in the corner went to the door, thinking that it would be better to go out and face the storm than to stay and face the fury of the sergeant.

“So the Fox, huh?” Gonzalez shouted in a thunderous voice. Am I doomed to hear that name everywhere? “The Fox”, huh?… Mr. Fox, in other words! He imagines, I say, that he is cunning as the best. For heaven’s sake, he stinks like a skunk!

González took a drink, turned to face them all, and continued with his spiel:

The Mark of Zorro – Johnston McCulley

Johnston McCulley. (Arthur Johnston McCulley) (Ottawa, Illinois, February 2, 1883 – Los Angeles, California, November 23, 1958) was a journalist, writer and screenwriter, creator of the character El Zorro.

He began his career as a police reporter for the tabloid newspaper The Police Gazette, later serving as a US Army Public Relations officer during World War I.

Fond of the historical subject, he began to write comics, frequently using the Alta California environment as a background. His character El Zorro first appeared in his short story The Curse of Capistrano (The Mark of Zorro), published in 1919 in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly. The story was translated into 26 languages ​​and was read around the world.

He created the comic book characters The Black Star and The Crimson Clown. He wrote hundreds of short stories, 50 novels, and numerous screenplays for film and television.

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this remarkable content

The Mark of Zorro – Johnston McCulley – Adventure Novel


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