Saturday, July 30, 2011

 "And you have no suspicions?" a darted whisper shot in the Pinta's hold.
      "Two weeks since we left... no, abandoned half the men on that strand? Many were your friends as well as mine!"
     De Triana sighed, "The 'establishment' of that camp doesn't bother me half as much as the executions. Today was the tenth in as many days."
     The foundation of the Spanish "fortress" had been hasty at best. The large ship had been run onto the river head and consummately disassembled by nightfall. By the next dawn, the Admiral's "builders" had been brought ashore to aid in construction of La Navidad to find that the Painted Ship and the Nina had raised anchor before the area could be properly cleared.
     A return had been promised, with supplies, slaves, seeds, and women, but few on the shore or even the sea trusted such praise. The remaining two caught the eastward-blowing wind and returned again to sea.
     "Every mutineer, or even suspected sympathizer is on that shore." Alonso urged. "You have been wise to be quiet-- he grows more suspicious by the day. This morning, that wiry Ifriqiya boy was run through by the drunkard for mis-tying a rigging. Rodo, he tied the wrong knot, and that Genoan swine called it an attempt on his life... some nonsense of getting caught in the ropes."
      "If these pace continues, I doubt that any on this ship will see Seville again. The journey across took nine weeks, and the winds were with us. There will not be enough to man a ship even this size by the next full moon!"
      He spoke too loudly, above decks, they heard boots stomping the too-think planks over their heads, as if they had woken a beast. The gamble was on the quality of the wine. None of the crew knew where Colon had hidden his personal stores, but since the beginning of the return voyage, it was never far from his hand. The subtlety and guile of a tradesmen fell to the raw violence which Colon only accessed in his fits of rage through the autumn. It was possible, now that the Genoan's mind had begun to unravel-- seeking-out plots against him, talking to spirits whom only he could see. The man had become a caged, feral beast.

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