Read Time: 5 mins | Historical Fiction | Romance | Drama | Part 7
They had been chasing us for several hours. Twice now, the winds had just died, and in the stillness of what seemed to be listless drifting, the anxiety and fear had reached a level where grown men, hardened to this life, were preparing to die. The trailing vessel, which had apparently been following us for nearly a day, would appear closer, gaining an advantage every time the winds faded. It was imperative that we kept moving, as momentum gave us hope. Each time the sails would be adjusted, as the captain would yell orders, and experienced hands would scamper around the deck, obeying his commands. Tahiris and I felt helpless, watching, yearning, willing the vessel to move forward. Then the winds would shift again, and we, like the ship, would breathe a collective sigh of relief. This felt very much like my life. Subject to the will of men; of unseen hands that would intervene and direct my fate, according to their designs… but worse, according to their convenience.
according to their designs, but worse, according to their convenience.
“We have sailed these parts many times. The winds are very reliable. Unfortunately, it will be for them as well.” Arturo shared this information with Vasco.
Vasco seemed calm. Assessing things in his young mind. His eyes did not betray the slightest hint of concern or trepidation. Perhaps, inside he was afraid like the rest of us.
“The captain says that the currents will change soon enough, then we will be able to make our escape.” Vasco had seen the look on my face and was offering hope. But he was a child, what could he know?
“Yes, it will. It only appears as though they are gaining on us. This is the concertina effect. Soon, the conditions will become more predictable, and favorable. Nevertheless, we stay alert as always.” Arturo squeezed his shoulders and walked away.
Vasco came over and held our hands. He had a look of pride, of being emboldened. This was something that he had relished from the very first day he set foot on the ship. He had been a stray all his life, and here among men, who lived and died on the ocean, Vasco was finally at home.
“The captain says, that when we begin to see long, rolling waves, it will be to our advantage. We will no longer be headed to Hispaniola. If pirates are this close to the island, then it is too dangerous to stay here. We will head south.
“Why to the south?” I asked.
“It is where your parents are, Sister Laura. Come with me.”
Vasco led us both to the captains’ quarters and showed us the charts. Remarkable how many days I had rested here and had never once taken the opportunity to understand the strange maps and charts that were spread across the large table.
“This is where we are at present, Senora Tahiris.” His fingers pointed to a spot on the chart. “Hispaniola is this blot.” He circled the island.
“And where is home? Where are her parents?” Tahiris asked, leaning closer to the map.
Vasco ran his fingers south, along several little specks on the map, then settled next to a huge land mass. “Here.” He tapped a spot.
“This is larger than Spain. Perhaps all of Europe. We will never find my family there.”
“No-no-no, sister Laura. Here.” He adjusted his finger slightly to the east, and now, I too was forced to press my face closer to the map.
“Are you absolutely certain, Vasco?” I asked him.
“Si. Sister Laura.”
Trinidad was but a mere dot on the charts. Why on earth would my father go here?
“Where is Rio de La Plata?” I asked him.
He ran his finger even further south along the large land mass. My family had made a very long journey in fleeing for their lives. They would have travelled even further than we had to reach there safely.
“How long would that voyage have taken them?” I inquired, as I imagined, what the journey must have been like for them. If it was anything like ours, my mother and sisters would not have fared well.
Vasco began counting, and consulting the little scribbles that were on the charts. Counting numbers on his fingers, and then measuring again.
“If I am correct, for I am not very good at this as yet, it would have taken them over a month to get to Trinidad.”
Tahiris and I shared a quick but knowing look. Maybe we had romanticized the idea of being with our family, and returning home, while ignoring the fact that we were giving up civilization. This was an unknown part of the world. Where savages ruled, and there were no laws.
The ship was turning, as we felt a sudden lurch starboard. We were beginning to head south, which could only mean that the winds had shifted. Running back to the deck, we found the men in a jubilant mood. Another vessel was coming from the west, much larger than ours. It was a Spanish naval vessel.
“She is turning around.” Arturo pointed at the ship that had been chasing us. “They won’t catch her though, as the galleon is too slow for a chase.” He pumped his fists in celebration.
I wanted to celebrate, but now my mind was being assaulted by a new fear, a much deeper concern. What strange fate had now been determined for my life? What was to become of me? I was not called to be a missionary like my father. I wanted a life and a family. I wanted to live a life of prosperity. Hasty decisions and impetuous behavior had been the hallmarks of my life. The temperament of a bull, as my father would always remind me. I was now cast adrift on a vessel of free-spirited men, with a brothel madame, a boy with pretensions of becoming a Corsair, and at no point had I been consulted about any of these decisions. Yes, I wanted to be with my family, but had I been told that this was how it would have to transpire, heaven be damned. This was not who or where I desired to be. Regret came in waves, and each thought was more violating than the memory of the assassin’s attack. Being here, in the middle of nowhere, was a mistake. I was tired of men determining my life. Henceforth, I would be charting my own course.
To be continued…
YOU CAN READ THE PREVIOUS ENTRIES IN THE SERIES:
PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE | PART FOUR | PART FIVE
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