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Chapter 11 CAPTIVE.

  • As soon as the Indian’s face appeared above the rock Pharaoh and _nstinctively moved towards him, whereupon he disappeared again with a sudde_harp cry, which was immediately answered from above.
  • “Now, we shall have the whole pack upon us,” said my companion.
  • In this prediction he was right, for within a moment the whole body of twelv_ndians had surrounded us, and stood gazing at us with faces in which I looke_n vain for any sign of compassion at our forlorn state. Behind them came th_onk, still clad in his shroud-like cowl, and moving with silent steps as i_e were a ghost rather than a living man. But as he drew near to where w_tood he threw back the hood from his head, and then we saw his face for th_irst time.
  • I will describe this man to you, because he was not only the most remarkabl_ut also the most relentlessly cruel man that I have ever come across in m_ife. As for his name, which we learnt ere long, it was Bartolomeo de lo_ios, and his one aim and passion was the hunting, torturing, and burning o_eretics. He had the faculties of a sleuth-hound and the instincts of _erpent, and when he had once set his heart on hunting a man to his death, i_as only by God’s mercy that that man escaped.
  • Nevertheless this man as he stood before us, looking steadily upon us fro_nder his cowl, did not seem so fearful a monster of cruelty as we afterward_new him to be. We saw simply a thin, dark-faced monk, whose face was pale a_archment, and whose eyes were extraordinarily bright and keen. The lines an_urrows on his brow and cheeks seemed to tell of pain or thought, and hi_ightly-pursed, thin lips betokened firmness and resolution. I think he coul_ave stood calmly by while his own father was being tortured and have change_o muscle of his face. Thus he was an object of much greater fear than th_ndians, who were certainly horrible enough to frighten anybody that had neve_een them before.
  • We stood gazing at the monk and his Indians for a moment ere either of u_poke. The Indians seemed to wait instructions from the monk, and looke_oward him with eager eyes. As for Pharaoh and myself, we waited to see wha_ould happen. I think we both realized that fortune had suddenly deserted us, but nevertheless we kept a firm grip on our cudgels, and were both resolved t_se them if necessary.
  • The monk spoke. His voice was low, sweet and gentle—there was naught o_ruelty in it.
  • “Greeting, my children,” said he, addressing us. “Be not afraid. There shal_o harm come to you.”
  • “It will be ill for the man who threatens us with any,” answered Pharaoh i_panish. “We are travelers, and have no mind to be disturbed.”
  • “You travel by strange paths,” said the monk. “To what part of the country ar_ou going?”
  • “To Acapulco,” answered Pharaoh, adding to me, in English, “there is no har_n telling him that.”
  • “There is a good road from Oaxaca to Acapulco,” said the monk. “Why not follo_t?”
  • “We are minded to take our own way,” said Pharaoh doggedly.
  • “You Englishmen are fond of that,” observed the monk with a strange smile.
  • “Who says we are English?” asked Pharaoh.
  • “Your Spanish is proof of that.”
  • “I am from Catalonia,” said Pharaoh. “We do not speak pure Castilian there.”
  • “And your companion? Is he, too, from Catalonia, or is he dumb?”
  • To that Pharaoh answered nothing. The monk turned his bright eyes on me.
  • “What is your business here?” he said, in very good English. “If you canno_peak to me in my tongue, I must talk with you in yours.”
  • “Answer him,” said Pharaoh. “There is no use in further concealment.”
  • “I see no reason why I should answer you, master,” said I, feeling somewha_ettled at the man’s peremptory tone. “What right have you to stop us in thi_ashion?”
  • He smiled again, if that could be called a smile which was simply a sudde_lash of the eyes and a tightening of the thin lips, and looked round at hi_ndians.
  • “The right of force,” said he quietly. “You are two—we are many.”
  • “Two Englishmen are worth twenty Spanish devils,” said I sulkily.
  • “If it is to come to fighting,” said Pharaoh, gripping his cudgel.
  • The monk said a word in a low tone. The Indians on the instant raised thei_ows and drew their arrows to the full extent of the string. The tips pointe_ead upon us.
  • “Englishmen,” said the monk, “look at those arrows. Every one of them i_ipped with poison. If you move I give the word, and those arrows will find _esting place in you. Let them but touch your arms, your shoulders, inflictin_ut a scratch, in a few seconds you will be as one that is paralyzed, in a fe_inutes you will lie dead.”
  • The man’s words were gentle enough, but somehow his low, sweet voice made m_lood run cold. Why did cruelty veil itself in such a honeyed tone?
  • “What is it you want of us, master?” asked Pharaoh presently.
  • “Your names and business.”
  • “That is easily answered. This gentleman is one Master Humphrey Salkeld, o_orkshire in England, who hath many powerful friends at court; as for me, I a_ sailor, and my name is Pharaoh Nanjulian, of Marazion in Cornwall. As fo_ur business, we are shipwrecked mariners, or as good, and our hope is to fin_n English vessel at Acapulco and so return home. If you be a Christian yo_ill help us.”
  • “Christians help only Christians. I fear ye are Lutherans, enemies of God.”
  • “That we are not,” answered Pharaoh stoutly. “I will say my Paternoster i_nglish with anybody, and my Belief too, for that matter.”
  • The monk sighed. Perhaps he was disappointed to find that Pharaoh had so muc_nowledge.
  • “And you?” he said, turning to me.
  • “I am a Christian,” I answered, surlily enough, for I did not like thi_xamination.
  • “We are both Christians, master,” said Pharaoh. “Maybe we think not as you d_n some points, but ’tis naught. So help us of your charity, and assist us t_et out of this country to our own, and we will say a Paternoster for yo_ight and morning.”
  • “Verily,” answered the monk, “you speak fairly. I will help you. You shall g_ith me to Mexico, and there we will see what ships there are at Vera Cruz.”
  • “We would rather push forward to Acapulco,” answered Pharaoh. “There are mor_ikely to be English ships there.”
  • “English ships have gone there little during recent years, and you will fin_one now,” said the monk.
  • “For all that we would rather take our chance there,” said Pharaoh.
  • “It will be better for you to accompany me to Mexico. Vera Cruz is close a_and. And now, as the day waxes late, we will proceed.”
  • Now, there was no use in further argument, for the monk had every advantage o_s, and was clearly minded to have us accompany him at whatever cost.
  • Therefore we had to yield ourselves to his will but never did men give in wit_orse grace or heavier hearts than we.
  • “God help us!” said Pharaoh. “We are going into the very jaws of death i_oing to Mexico. We shall meet Nunez there, and even if we do not, we shall b_anded over to the Inquisitors. But God’s will be done. Moreover, while ther_s life there is hope. We may pull through yet.”
  • So we set out, the monk going first and taking no further notice of us fo_ome time. He would walk for hours as if absorbed in his own thoughts, an_gain for a long stretch of time he would read his book or count his beads, but to us he said little. He walked in the midst of the Indians, who for thei_art were kind and considerate to us, and indulged in no cruelties. Indeed, during our journey to the City of Mexico we had no reason to complain o_iscomfort or poor fare, for we had all that men can require, and were wel_reated, save that at night they guarded us more closely than we liked. But a_o food and drink, we were abundantly served, and so began to wax fat, i_pite of our anxiety.
  • There was no restriction placed upon our tongues at this time, and therefor_haraoh and I talked freely whenever we were out of hearing of the monk. A_or our conversation, it was all of one thing—the prospect that awaited us i_exico.
  • “What will come of this venture, Pharaoh?” I asked him one day as we drew nea_ur destination. “Shall we come off with whole skins, or what?”
  • “It will be well if we come off with our lives, master. I have been thinkin_hings over to-day, and I make no doubt that this monk will hand us over t_he Inquisition. Put no trust in what he says about finding us a ship at Ver_ruz. The only ship he will find us will be a dungeon in some of thei_risons. Well, now, what are our chances when we fall into the hands of thes_ellows?”
  • “Nay, very small I should say. I am well-nigh resigned to anything.
  • Nevertheless, Pharaoh, I shall make a fight for it.”
  • “It may not come to fighting. Can you say the Paternoster, the Ave Maria, an_he Creed?”
  • “I can say two of them, and I can learn the third. But what difference doe_hat make?”
  • “All the difference ’twixt burning at the stake and wearing a San-benito in _onastery for a year or two. Now, if we are burnt there is an end of us, bu_f they put us into a monastery with a San-benito on our backs we shall stil_ave a chance of life, and shall be poor Englishmen if we do not take it.”
  • Thus we talked, striving to comfort ourselves, until at the end of the fourt_ay we were brought by our captors to the City of Mexico.