Being led back to the prison, Pharaoh and I found to our unspeakable joy an_stonishment that we were to be placed in one cell and not separated a_eretofore. This consideration on the part of our jailers was exceedingl_leasant to us, because it afforded us the opportunity of conversing one wit_he other. Therefore, in spite of our bruises and strains, caused by the rac_nd not yet forgotten, and of the sad sights which we had that day seen, w_ade an effort to pluck up our spirits, and to be cheerful and even hopeful.
We were further assisted in this laudable desire by a visit from the ol_entleman whom we had rescued from highwaymen on the road to Oaxaca. Abou_even o’clock that evening he was admitted to our cell, and left alone wit_s. This latter fact at once assured us that our friend was a man of rank an_osition, otherwise he would not have been permitted to see and speak with us,
save in the presence of witnesses.
“I trust all is well with you, friends,” said he, as he entered our presence,
and set down a basket which the jailer had carried to the door. “I come to se_ou at a sad time, doubtless, but ’tis indeed with feelings of friendship.”
“We have so few friends in this country, Senor,” answered Pharaoh, “that w_re glad to see any of them. Nay, indeed, so far as we know, your honor is th_nly friend we have. Therefore, Senor, you are something more than welcome.”
Now the jailer being gone, the old gentleman took our hands in his own, an_as like to weep over us, at which we marveled, for we did not know that hi_ratitude was so hearty, seeing that we had done such a small thing for him.
“Alas, friends,” said he. “I grieve for you more than I can say, for I hat_nd abominate these murderous Inquisitors, whose hearts are filled with naugh_ut torment and murder. Nevertheless I have saved you somewhat, for it wa_hrough my efforts and bribes that you came off with such light sentences.”
“I thought we had your honor to thank for that,” said Pharaoh. “Aye, ’tis wel_o have a friend at court when need arises.”
“I labored hard,” said the old gentleman, “to secure your freedom, but thes_loody-minded Inquisitors are without bowels of mercy, and ye are fortunate t_ave escaped death or torture. But now I have brought you a little matter o_ine and fruit, so fall-to and refresh yourselves, and after that we will tal_f what is to come.”
So he unpacked his basket and set food and wine and delightful fruit befor_s, and we ate and drank and were vastly comforted thereby, for our common_uring the past week or two had been of the very shortest. And when we ha_hus refreshed ourselves, we began to discuss our situation anew.
“That you have escaped with your lives and without the torture of the lash,”
said our friend, “is due to my continued exertions on your behalf. But now,
gentlemen, I am powerless to do more for you.”
Then we once more thanked him for doing so much, saying that we should alway_old his kindness in remembrance, and should ever pray for his happiness an_rosperity.
“And if,” continued I, “your honor can suggest any means by which we ca_scape from these galleys and regain our own country, we shall be furthe_eholden to you. For, indeed, we have friends in England who must be anxiou_bout us, if they be not already in despair of ever seeing us again.”
“I fear there is small chance of your escape,” said he, shaking his head. “Me_hat are chained to the oar cannot well escape. I pray God that you ma_urvive your two years of that work—it is not all that do.”
“Sir,” said Pharaoh, “do you know where we shall be taken?”
“Nay,” answered he, “that I cannot say. Most men who lie under your sentenc_re shipped to Spain, and are there placed in the galleys. The same fate i_robably in store for you.”
“God help us if they take us to Spain!” said Pharaoh. “We shall have to g_hrough it all over again.”
However, it seemed almost certain that this would be our fate, and as nothin_hat we could say or do could alter it, there was naught for it but to submi_urselves with such cheerfulness as we could muster. But here the old Seno_ave us some additional comfort, for it seemed that his special purpose i_oming to us that night was to give us the names of friends of his in certai_owns and ports of Spain, to whom we might apply in case of our being in thei_eighborhood.
“You are something more than likely to be finally dismissed at Cadiz or a_eville,” said he, “and it will be none the worse if you know where to tur_or a friend;” and with that he gave us the names of certain Spanish gentleme_f rank, his friends, assuring us that they would help us to escape t_ngland. And these names he made us learn by heart, and then, having no mor_ime to spend with us, he bade us farewell, and we saw him no more. But in hi_e found one Spaniard at least who hated the horrible practices of th_nquisitors, and had a heart within him which was not insensible to the woe_f others.
After we had remained in the prison five days longer, we were one mornin_rought forth and stripped of our San-benitos and given rough clothing suite_o galley slaves. And that being done we were mounted on stout horses, i_ompany with the other prisoners who had been sentenced to serve in th_alleys, and being guarded by a great number of soldiers, well armed, we wer_ent off across country to the port of Acapulco. But ere we left Mexico ever_an of us had fastened to his left wrist and ankle a heavily-weighted chain,
which would have made it impossible for us to attempt an escape even if w_ould have eluded the vigilance of our escort.
We were somewhat surprised to find that our first destination was Acapulco,
for we had fancied that we should be sent to Vera Cruz, which is much neare_o the city of Mexico, and from which we expected to be sent across seas t_pain. We found, however, that at Acapulco there lay at that time a grea_reasure-galleon, the Santa Filomena, which the Spaniards were minded to tak_ome by way of the Pacific islands and Africa, it being their belief that b_his route there would be less chance of meeting Hawkins, or Drake, o_robisher, or any of the great English sea-captains, of whom they wer_ortally afraid. In this galleon, then, we were to be shipped, with th_rospect of a long and tedious voyage, which, according to Pharaoh’_alculations, might cover the best part of a year even with fair winds.
Our overland journey to Acapulco was not wholly unpleasant, for our guard_eing soldiers, and free from the encouragement of those murderous fanatic_he Inquisitors and Familiars, treated us with as much consideration as wa_ossible, and forbore to taunt us with our misfortunes. Moreover, we wer_requently lodged for the night in the neighborhood of some convent o_onastery, and then we did exceeding well, the friars feeding us with thei_est, and compassionating us for our many sorrows. And at that time it wa_lain to us that the Inquisition was heartily hated by the friars—black,
white, and gray,—and met with no favor from any but such as had long sinc_orgotten all that they had ever known of mercy and compassion.
Having reached Acapulco, after many days’ journeying over mountains an_lains, we were immediately conveyed on board the Santa Filomena, which was _reat galleon of full rig, having a high poop and a double bank of oars, an_here our chains were knocked off by the armorer. This relief, however, di_ot long benefit us, for we were presently conducted below to a great dec_illed with long wooden benches, parallel with the mighty oars which cam_hrough the ports. To one of these benches Pharaoh and I were immediatel_hained and padlocked, our companions suffering a like treatment. In anothe_art of the deck the benches were filled by negroes, stark naked, whose back_nd shoulders were covered by scars, and who yelled and grinned at us lik_iends or madmen.
“God help us!” said Pharaoh; “they will not release us from these benches til_e make Seville or Cadiz.”
And at that awful prospect I half-regretted that we had not died in Mexico.
For simply to think of being chained to the oar all those weary months amids_hat foul and unclean mass of humanity, sleeping where we labored, and eatin_midst dirt and filth, was more than I could stomach, and at that moment blac_espair seemed to settle upon my heart. But Pharaoh once more came to my ai_nd strove to cheer me.
“Heart up, master!” said he. “All is not yet over. We are going through sor_rials, but what then? Are we not Englishmen? At any rate let us show a ster_ront to these villains. Cowards we will never be.”