Part the One Hundred Forty Seventh: The Man of the Moment
Hope could not help but be transfixed by the charismatic captain striding ashore through Arecibo’s market
A woman about her age standing next to her shrieked as she gripped Hope’s hand in excitement, so caught up by the man’s energy so as to not be paying her too much dangerous attention.
Panicked, Hope tried not to speak, lest she give herself away, nor to look like she was clamping down in fear.
“¿No es él magnífico?” the woman asked Hope with a high-pitched squeal, jumping up and down.
She just nodded her chin towards the esteemed visitor, who had paused long enough to be received by what looked to be the leading citizens of the town, decked out in their finest to greet him.
“¿No sabe usted? ¡Esto es Baron De Colera!”
Despite her weak Spanish, Hope was able to recognize the name of the gentleman being received by the town’s burghers, and her heart started to slow as though immersed in icy water.
Her limbs froze, which she considered preferable to shaking uncontrollably. She willed her mouth closed lest it pop open again, before she drew unwanted attention this time.
The sound of the crowds turned into the din of a pack of animals ready to pounce in Hope’s ears. She could no longer hear human voices from them as she realized the full weight of who the man was before her.
She tried to look but not look at De Colera, and regretted that decision. The crowds that had gathered around him basked in his aura, and he bore his regal mantle well. He wielded his popularity with the people through simple gestures and a flashed smile, never needing to say a word as the people showered him with praise. Fruits were brought to him and his men willingly, the way pagans had placed sacrifices before idols, and he smiled and waved as they cheered, receiving his thanks.
The socios that greeted De Colera proclaimed his virtues in fast flowery language that Hope could barely register. She was too fixed on his simple nodding and smiling at every laurel placed before him, though his face lit up like a jungle cat’s about to feed as some of the women presented their babies to him for his favor, a kiss on their faces.
Osei’s hand gripping her wrist pulled her from the spell De Colera wove over the town as he led her away from the crowd, out of the other woman’s hand. Despite herself, like Orpheus she gave one last look to the town’s guest of honor before she was gone.
“De Colera…” she said softly. “De Colera…”
“Sí,” a man in the crowd overheard her, thinking she was addressing him, “ él sólo hizo el Puerto.”
Her eyes followed where he pointed at De Colera’s ship, at rest in the harbor. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw his ship, as she counted the gun ports she could bring to bear, and saw in detail just how much bigger all of her guns were to any of the four pounders the Gale had.
Though her sails were slack and loose, the emblem was visible on the mainsail as it fluttered in the spare breezes coming ashore…
…the emblem of the Casa del Sol…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan