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Chapter 14 ON BOARD THE GALLEY.

  • 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.”