The Mark of Zorro: Editor's Cut
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by Johnston McCulley, Anne Wingate
Category: Historical Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
Description: This new edition of THE MARK OF ZORRO removes the errors that have crept in over 90+ years of too-rapid typesetting, and adds a few small things McCulley would have written if he'd been allowed a little more space. Zorro as McCulley conceived him, better than ever for you to read!
eBook Publisher: Live Oak House,
eBookwise Release Date: May 2006
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [289 KB]
Reading time: 198-278 min.
He clasped her to him and bent his head again, and again she closed her eyes and took his kiss, only this time the kiss was longer. She made no effort to see his face.
"I may be ugly," he said.
"But I love you."
"Still I love you."
"What hope can we have?"
"Go, Señor, before my parents return. I shall say nothing except that you saved me from insult and then went your way again. They will think that you came to rob Don Diego. And turn honest, Señor, for my sake. Turn honest, I say, and claim me. No man knows your face, and if you take off your mask forever, none ever will know your guilt. It is not as if you were an ordinary thief. I know why you have stolen--to avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians, to aid the oppressed. I know that you have given what you have stolen to the poor. Oh, Señor!"
"But my task is not yet done, Señorita, and I feel called upon to finish it."
"Then finish it, and may the saints guard you, as I feel sure they will. And when it is finished, come back to me. I shall know you in whatever garb you come."
"Nor shall I wait that long, Señorita. I shall see you often. I could not exist else."
"I shall in truth, now, since I have double reason. Life never was so sweet as now. But--I fear now that I must ask your aid, unless you prefer that I go elsewhere for help."
He backed away from her slowly, and then she saw that the corner of his cloak was wrapped tightly around his left forearm. The cloak was slowly soaking up blood. "The captain has a strong backstroke with his left hand. Let the despensero think I have gone. I could not wait for the wine. Make an excuse to go to your chamber, and then come to me in Don Diego's chamber. I think you know where it is."
"The wine was but a subterfuge so that we could be alone," she confessed.
He nodded, and retreated silently. Moments later, but to her it felt like ages, she opened Don Diego's heavy door only enough to slip inside. Señor Zorro was sitting at a table, a washbowl under his left arm. His cape was off, the left sleeve of his shirt was rolled up, and several thick linen towels lay beside the washbowl. The cut, though long, was shallow, but it was gaping open and clearly could not go undressed. He looked up. "Are you able to get blood on your hands without sickening?"
"Blood that was shed in my defense? What kind of woman do you think I am, Señor?"
"I know what kind of woman you are, but some people, no matter how good their hearts are, cannot help but be overcome by disgust. You, I see, are not like that. Do you believe that I speak the truth?"
She nodded. "Always."
"This is truth: the caballero I am when I do not wear this mask knows this house, and Don Diego, well. He would not grudge me anything of which I have need. I will tell him what I have taken when I have the chance. Open the chest there. On the top shelf--can you reach it?--you will find a bottle of strong wine, a long needle, a ball of waxed thread, and materials for bandages. Bring them here. Now pour the wine over the wound."
"Won't you drink some of it first, to dull the pain?"
"I need my wits about me."
With his right hand, he spread the wound open, so that the wine would wash it thoroughly.
He did not move; he made no sound.
"Now I will hold the wound closed. I assume you know how to sew?"
She glanced at him. "Of course."
"Dry your hands. Thread the needle. Then you must sew the edges of this cut together. Use--do it as if it were blanket stitch, but make a knot at the end of each stitch, as you do sometimes in embroidery."
"I have never heard of such a thing as sewing a cut together. And how do you know the names of stitches?"
"I had a mother. I have an aunt. And I have enough curiosity for a wilderness of cats. As to the sewing, Señorita, if you desire one edge to stay in place beside another edge, do you not sew it together?" Sensing her worry, he added, "This is not so bad as to hamper my strength, Señorita. It is an annoyance, little more."
He managed--she would never know how--to keep the muscle along the cut relaxed, to make it easier to sew. Then carefully, lovingly, she bandaged his arm. Afterwards he said, "Thank you. Your hands are very gentle. Would that I had the right to claim them."
"They are yours already, Señor. I have said it: A Pulido loves but once."
"Ah, but that must wait longer. You must leave me now, for I must put on a clean shirt. Fortunately Don Diego and I are much of a size."
"I will turn my back," she said with dignity.
"You may look now," he said finally, and she turned. He had soaked the blood out of the cloak; thrown the mixed blood, water, and wine out the window into a flowerbed and rinsed the washbasin; gathered the bloody shirt, towels, and bandaging material into one neat bundle, put on a clean white shirt and dropped the cloak back over it; and now he was standing. "One more kiss," he said, and she went to him and closed her eyes.
He held her tightly, kissed her, and then reluctantly backed away from her. "Until the next time, Señorita, and may it not be long."
"On guard, Señor!"
"Always, loved one. Señorita, adios!"
Again their eyes met, and then he waved his hand at her, gathered his cloak and the tight-wound bundle close about his body, darted to the window, and went through it. The darkness outside swallowed him.