A bell tinkled and Padre José entered behind two young men wearing white cotton shirts. One carried a shiny bowl and the other a large, leather-bound book, Jaime knew to be called the Holy Bible, or holy book of the Iglacia Católico. The Robed Ones often read stories from it that sometimes did not seem so strange to him. As the ritual began, the intonation in the strange language called Latin lulled Jaime. A sharp nudge in the ribs from Josito told Jaime it was time to kneel and make the sign of the cross by touching his forehead, chest and both shoulders.
Jaime found it difficult to look upon Padre Pedro off to one side of the altar. He had removed the top portion of his gray robe to bare his back. What caused Jaime to wince was how the priest used a metal whip of some kind to beat himself about the back and shoulders. He did this during the entire time Padre José conducted the ritual. All could see the streaks of blood upon his back. How can he do that to himself? Jaime wondered.
When the ritual ended, Jaime and his friends left the church to go to the dining area. Tasty aromas arose from the huge iron kettles and Jaime watched the women expertly forming flat cakes of ground maize, cooking them over open flames. As always, the stew was hot and spicy from small pieces of dark green chilis, onions and other spices. The vegetable called a papa was Jaime’s favorite. He also enjoyed the familiar bean paste known as frijoles.
The time after the evening meal was something he looked forward to. The men took their ease as the sun lowered below the far horizon. Three of the men took out their instruments and began to play a lively tune. Dexterous fingers plucked the strings of a guitar while a flute and small drum accompanied it. Several others took up the tune, making up words as they sang
Josito nudged Jaime and Ernesto and they turned to watch the robed figure of Padre Pedro off to one side, enjoying the evening performance.
Jaime dreamed that night. Visions held great meaning to his people. Jaime had not dreamed since death had taken away his world. As he slept, he walked along the shore of a great body of water. Curling waves came ashore, sudsy foam swirling around his bare feet. Many peculiar things lay upon the fine grains of stone, some of them made of brittle substances in whites and blacks.
Many birds swirled in the air, raucous screams filling his ears. The big black and white ones the Spaniards called gaviotas were familiar as he had seen them in his home mountains. In the distance, the rolling water washed a pile of boulders swarming with creatures. They had strange flat things where their legs should have been. Whiskers spiked from their muzzles and they barked. But not like any dogs he had ever seen.
Voices told him how strange it was that a great storm had come at that time of the year. They normally came in the time before things got cooler. Los ciclónes often dropped great amounts of rain, causing floods in the arid mountains.
He saw something strange and hurried towards it. An ocelot lay on the ground, but one unlike any he had ever seen - it was white with light brown spots. He could see it lived, but was hurt. Then, the creature turned its head and stared at him - with pale blue eyes!
The next evening, after the evening meal, Jaime walked away from the compound. He found a rock and sat down, staring at the hills to the east.
“Do you miss it?”
Jaime twitched, and then controlled himself. Nobody had ever snuck up on him before. Old man Wind Talker would have shamed me in front of the village for letting that happen. He turned to look at Ernesto to see his broad grin. He knew what Jaime felt and had moved softly just to unnerve him. “They are gone and will never return.” Nodding, Jaime replied, “No. It is gone and there is nothing I can do to change that.”
It did not take long for Josito to join them. “You will never guess what I have just overheard.”
Seeing the sparkle of interest in his companion’s eyes, Josito spoke. “The rider from the city of Mexico carried orders to the fathers about the Viceroy’s demand to extend the lands claimed for His Highness King Carlos. That is one of the reasons the Black Robes left and the Gray Robes have come.”
Jaime listened, not understanding much. Who are these great jefes so far away? How can they have so much power here?
“It is said el Presidente Padre Serra is to lead a great expedition north to extend Spain’s control over land further to the north than the Black Robes did.”
“That is far away from us here. Why is this of interest to us?” Ernesto asked.
“Well, another rumor is another group of missionaries called Dominicans may come to take over this mission while los Padres José and Pedro go to join El Presidente Padre Serra.”
Jaime rarely spoke, when he did not understand all that was being said. Who is this Father President Serra? he wondered.
Ernesto chuckled. “It will probably mean nothing to us. But, one never knows what the thoughts of the High Ones will have on the lowly like us.”
Excerpts are often difficult as the reader does not have to information leading up to the scene. So, to bring you up to date, here are a few tidbits about The Sailor and The Carpenter, Book One - Father Serra's Legacy:
Jaime [pronounced Hi-may] is an Indian from the western mountains of Mexico. He and two others were the only survivors of an onslaught of Smallpox found by two Franciscan friars on their way to the town of Culiacán. He had become a little accustomed to the strange ways of the holy men.
The white ocelot has also been introduced to the reader. He is Timothy, a youth from England where he grew up on a dairy farm producing cheddar cheese. Due to financial difficulties, Timothy's father has contracted/indentures him to a ship's captain to serve as a cabin boy. The ship is on its way home from exploring the area currently known as Vancouver Island. Jaime has never before seen a European with white skin, freckles, blue eyes and blond hair.