Part the Two Hundred Forty Sixth: Of Remembrances and Evocations
Hope pulled Samuel in close enough to smell him.
She hoped that he’d have a few aromas that his parents lived among in Cadiz carried with him in his skin. She wanted the smells of exotic, far off luxuries under her nose, not those of dangerous seas nor fish stews brewed by suspect alchemists.
Most of all, she didn’t want to keep smelling Charity while he was with her…
The nagging thought she tried to ignore threatened to become a headache, so she brought it up: “Samuel, how did your parents escape?”
“If they were Jews, and the Inquisition was persecuting Conversos, how did they not get taken away with the rest of them?”
Samuel sighed. “I wondered about that as well, because they never told me. I had to guess that perhaps their parents had been both witty and extravagant enough to keep from joining the rest of the community in the square.”
“What makes you think that?”
“My Papa’s missing ring. He had this fancy right he’d worn since I was born, gold with an amethyst set in it. He would wear it everywhere, no matter the occasion.
“When I was ten, back in Amsterdam, there was a panic. There had been a scare because a warehouse had been broken into.”
“Whose warehouse?” Hope asked, still trying to get a good whiff of him.
“A Gentile warehouse, and the owners claimed it had been Jews who broke in. Even in Amsterdam, the worst can be thought of us with very little effort, and the men who threw that accusation were known to be bitter because they had lost opportunities to Jewish traders.
“Among my people, there is always fear that we’re just one tragedy away from disaster, that despite everything, we were going to be asked to leave Amsterdam after all, all of us. But while everyone else started to cry and pack, Papa sought out the accusers and invited them to our house for a meal.”
“Did they accept?”
“Si, they did,” he answered. “I remember the men who felt wronged coming for dinner, and the lavish feast he had lain out for them, lots of fish and birds. And wine and spirits, it never stopped flowing the whole time. It was my first time having drunk enough to make me forget myself, though as a lad of only ten I could not be as reckless as an older lad.
“I barely remember watching Papa and his guests retiring from the meal to discuss matters that night, and waking up in the morning to find he was gone. When I saw him later that day, he seemed a little shaken, and missing the ring he’d always worn. And when I asked him about it…”
“Go on,” Hope encouraged him as she drew him closer.
“He said to me, ‘Samuel, sometimes you need to unload from your ship your best cargo to stay afloat.’ I never saw the ring again, and never asked him about it.”
“Was he a good man, your father?”
“Still is. What made you think he’s-” Samuel asked, surprised.
She put her finger over his lips. “He wasn’t there when we met.”
“Oh. He is overseeing a venture on Antigua, where-”
She put a guiding finger on his lips again…
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