Part 244

Part the Two Hundred Forty Fourth: Surprised on the Deck

“I expected you’d follow me out here,” Hope said without turning around where  she was standing, middeck starboard by the gunwale.  “I’m definitely not sleepy now, and it may well be a good long time before I get tired enough to get back in there with you.”

“I couldn’t sleep either,” he replied, “the way Charity snores.”

Hope turned, hearing a voice she didn’t expect.

“And yes,” said Samuel, “I heard everything she said in there.  And I think among some people, that they’d rather see you with her than me.”

“That’s a cruel thing to say.”

“Perhaps, though not without basis in fact.”

“Are you saying I should be with her rather than you?” Hope asked.

“If I had my choice, you mean?”

“That sounds evasive.”

Si, it is,” said Samuel.  “There are tales I grew up with, of what it was like to be Marrano back in Spain.  My parents remember with it was like, to proclaim the renunciation of their faith in public, living a lie in order to live.”

“You mean your parents claimed to have converted?”

“Many did.  It was a way to save their lives.  Even the rabbis of Cadiz would counsel that it was better to proclaim in public the opposite of what one did in private, or so Mama claimed when I was old enough to ask her what it was like back home.”

“Do you ever… think of your old home?” Hope asked as she took Samuel’s hand in her own.  “Do you ever miss Cadiz?”

“I never set eyes on it.  As far as I was concerned, the only home I had back in Europe was Amsterdam.  But the way my parents would describe it, it sounded…

“They would both talk about the smells, the scents from the cargos that came ashore.  The goods that de Flota brought back from the New World, their native plants would mingle their essences with the spices from the East brought by other vessels.  I was told that the busiest trading house on the Jodenbreestraat, after their ventures came in with cargoes far and wide, the smells lingering through the main hall were but only a small sample of the aromas filling the streets of Cadiz as the ships unloaded their wares.

And Papa, he would tell me about Iglesia de Santiago, the church they built across the square from the cathedral.  He would mention how everyone would cross themselves as they left the church and looked at the site of the cathedral, expecting that such supplication would raise it from its ashes, even though fifty years had gone by and nothing ever arose.  And he told me, he told me when you watch the people crossing themselves?”

“Yes?” Hope egged him on.

He said, the ones who delayed making the sign, you could tell on sight they were Marranos.”

That’s horrible.  And what a silly thing to say.”

That was what the Inquisition claimed, so my parents said.  They accused us of keeping the cathedral from being rebuilt, of handing the fleet to de Maillé-Brézé, of being descended of bastards fathered by Drake, of all sorts of horrible and silly things.  Silly sounding, but with deadly consequences.”

Hope clutched Samuel’s hand tighter…

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All content Copyright © 2010 James Ryan

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