THE MARK OF ZORRO: Ultimate Edition [The Bold Caballeros] by Johnston McCulley

One of the most compulsively readable novels ever published!

In the opening scene, Sargent Pedro Gonzales drinks at a tavern one dark and stormy night, boasting that his superior swordsman would make quick work of the masked highwayman named Zorro—who is always taking the peon's side—when the door is flung open and Zorro strides in.

Soon the scene shifts to the hacienda of Don Carlos Pulido, where the languid fancier of poetry, Don Diego Vega, pays a tepid call on Don Carlos' daughter, the Señorita Lolita, having been ordered by his own father to seek her as a bride. Don Diego with his indifferent lovemaking, though he meets with the approval of her father, fails to make an impression on Señorita Lolita, a spirited young woman with a mind of her own. However, when the famed outlaw Señor Zorro appears in her garden later that night, his passionate, poetic lovemaking fires her imagination and captures her heart.

Meanwhile, a venal Governor and the ruthless Captain Ramon, Commander of the Pubelo of Reina de Los Angeles, are plotting to loot the churches, oppress the indigenous people, and seize the fortunes of the hidalgos who own the local ranchos. Only one man stands in their way—Zorro, who they have marked for death. When a priest is whipped publicly, Zorro knows he must ride into a sea of swords to free the Padre and punish the perpetrators though it may mean his own death—just at the moment he has found in Señorita Lolita a reason to live! What no one counts on is the bravery and daring of Señorita Lolita herself, who mounts her own horse, determined to save the man she loves—or die with him!

The chapter titles alone are as exciting and tantalizing as most book titles: "Pedro, the Boaster," "On the Heels of the Storm," "Diego Seeks a Bride," "The Clash of Blades," "Three Suitors," "Love Comes Swiftly," "The Chase that Failed," "The Whipping," "Swift Punishment," "Orders for Arrest," "Don Diego Feels Ill," "The Sign of the Fox," "The Rescue," "Close Quarters," "The Blood of the Pulidos," "All Against Them," "The Man Unmasked," "Meal Mush and Goat's Milk." No wonder The Boston Traveler hailed it as "A succession of thrills from first page to last ... original ... captivating." With a new introduction about the author and the book.