ESTELLA Nov 4, 1587- cwferguson
Estella knew she was going to die. She knew it even before the ship left
Estella had started to relax a little then; had felt a tinge of hope. And then suddenly her whole body froze when she heard the young boy bellow from the crow’s nest, "Sails, ahoy, Capitán, to the leeward, Sir, coming right at us they are, Sir, at ." She knew then, with all her heart, that she was going to die. Estella didn't bother to recite the rosary; she had lost her faith in God.
The stories they had heard in
Cavendish? Can they see the pennants?"
The elderly man looked down upon her with sad, pitiful eyes, bowed gently and replied, "I fear it is, Madam. He's flying
The bowels of the vessel were a prelude to the Hell she knew she was going to visit before the day was out. They had been at sea for nearly four months and the stench was incomprehensible. The
In a fit of fear and pique she turned to the trader and demanded, "Pray, tell me, Señor, why are we not returning their volleys?"
"I fear, Madam, that we are so overburdened with cargo that our cannon are beneath the water line. But, fear not, we have over two hundred brave fighting men aboard and Cavendish shan't set heel on these Spanish decks."
When the forward magazine exploded with a deafening roar, Estella clutched her rosary tightly. The trader looked down upon her kindly and asked, "Shall I request a Chaplain, Madam? I fear all is lost. God has elected to favor this bloody Englishman."
Directly, there was a terrible commotion on the decks above, a din of shouts and of battle cries. English heels, indeed, were spoiling the highly polished decks of the
The trader and Estella heard the iron bolt slide back from the cabin door, heard the rattle of sabers against their silver buckles, and heard the unmistakable sound of that guttural, despicable language called English.
The first through the door was a ruddy, skinny little red headed man with a day’s stubble on his chin. There was a twinkle in his deep blue eyes as he spied the elderly trader and the fashionably dressed Spanish subject. "Aye, we 'ave a catch `ere, do we not?" And then as quickly yelled out, "Captain Thomas, I've a surprise fer thee, Sir. Come take a look if it pleases thee, Sir."
Cavendish strode into the room with authority. He eyed his captives, doffed his hat, and asked, in Spanish, "My Spanish is terrible bad, My Lady. Are you able to converse in English or French?"
The trader answered promptly, "I speak English, Lord Cavendish."
"Do ye now, Sir. I grant ye that, Sir, but it was to her Princess that I was addressin'. We wouldn't be awantin' to converse in a tongue her ladyship couldn't understand now, would we? As to the, Lord, Sir, I thank thee for thy obsequy, but I'm a bloody English pirate, Sir, and will thank ye ta address me as Thomas. And what might your name be, Sir?"
"As you wish, Thomas. My name is Sebastian Vizcaíno, a poor merchant."
Cavendish smiled at the lady once again, realizing that she understood English, and continued. "I intend to do thee no harm, Madam, or you, Sir, for that matter, an honest trader that ye be. But I 'aven't time to do your bidin', either. I've toil to tend to. But if ye 'ave a note to your
Spanish court, I'll see that it's delivered soon I'm back to mine. Good day, fair lady. Good day, Sir." He bowed deeply, and was gone.
Estella was shocked. A handsome man Cavendish was not; not by Spanish standards. But that he was a man, there could be no doubt. Broad shoulders, muscled calves and thighs, a rather hawkish nose that gave him a look of overwhelming authority, and twinkling blue eyes that – she confessed this the minute she saw them - could melt the heart of even a Spanish princess. If she were to be raped, could it at least be by Thomas of Cavendish.
Soon, a terrifying looking man entered the room. He had a black patch over his right eye and from the lower part of the patch ran a terrible, deep scar all the way to the bottom of his jaw. His dirty black hair was curly but was hardly as dark as his one black, piercing eye. In his right hand, his left one sported a hook, he held a blood soaked saber. "You'll be acoming wi' me now. Bring no possessions, we're puttin' ye ashore."
The party of some 108 souls were disembarked on a pristine beach. All others aboard, an equal number, had met their Maker. They had no provisions; only the clothing on their backs. One of the boatswains had eyed the gold choker Estella wore round her neck with envy, but his mate had said, laughing loudly, "Ye don't need the Lady's gold, man, there's plenty booty aboard. Besides, Whitaker, she may need it to pay her passage back to her Spanish plains. "'Ave a good day, Madam, an' God bless."
They watched the
Estella was confused. She had forsaken God and yet she had been spared. Indeed, she had not so much as been molested by the blood thirsty pirates. Perhaps, after all, she was not going to die. And yet, how could they continue to survive on cactus plants and fresh water. There seemed nothing else to eat on this forsaken island called Calafia.
The ship's repair was moving along nicely, thanks to the trader Vizcaíno. Although he was of merchant class, he seemed to be exceptionally knowledgeable about all manner of subjects. He had taken it upon himself to become her guardian; readily available when needed, paternal, courteous to the extreme and optimistic - ever optimistic. His etiquette was courtly. He was a rung above the merchant class.
On the fifth morning after their demarcation, she approached him as he was directing the caulking of the hull, "Excuse me, Señor Vizcaíno, but I have been without a bath for over a week. Do you think I would be safe to go down the beach to that lagoon and bath near the sea?"
He bowed formally, "Yes, Madame, but I would suggest you traverse the beach with two or three companions and ask one of the older men to stand nearby as a sentry. The water is safe and the aborigines seem to be peaceful. Nevertheless, it is best to be practical."
The one thing that had always distressed Estella's Mother was that she had always been stubbornly independent. "You'll not fit into any Court in Europe," her Mother had complained, "we'll send you to new Spain where the available suitors are much less demanding of proper female etiquette." Estella vividly remembered those words of her Mother as she entered the confines of the lagoon alone. She carefully perused the area and was confident that there was no one nearby.
Estella disrobed behind a growth of palms and stepped the few steps into the crystal clear lagoon. Except for the sudden shock of the cool water, the November day could not have been more beautiful. The sky was clear, the temperature was mild and a soft breeze brought odors of exotic flora to her nostrils that she had never smelled before. She swam out into the lagoon a little ways and turned over on her back to gaze at the cloudless sky above. Estella delighted at the various specie of birds she had never seen before. There was a group of ducks swimming near the edge of the shoreline that had beautiful red.... Her heart stopped and an icy chill enveloped her body. She looked again, not believing what she had seen.
Beyond the swimming ducks stood an enormous Indian. He was easily half again as tall as any man she had ever seen. And he was totally nude. In his left hand was held what looked to be a bow and quiver and his right hand was held just above his eyes, shielding them from the sun. He was light complexioned and hairless except for his long flowing light brown hair. More frightening than his size was his face, for it was painted in quadrants of four colors; the upper right was painted black, the upper left, white, the lower left, red, and the lower right, bright yellow. From his ears hung two pendants that appeared to be small lizards and from his sensual lower lip their swayed some type of token made from straw. The Indian lowered his right hand and turned in the direction of where Estella had left her clothing.
Breathlessly, Estella swam quickly toward the shore. She was so shaken that she couldn't remember for certain where she had disrobed. She willed herself to be calm and soon recognized the palms from where she had disembarked. Quickly, Estella found the familiar shoreline and stepped dripping from the lagoon. Her heart was beating frantically. As she reached down to gather one of her undergarments she heard what she thought was a footstep and froze. Trembling silently she heard the unmistakable sound of the Indian inexorably making his way toward her dressing area. Estella was paralyzed with fear. How could she have been so stubborn? The folly of her stubborn and incautious act was about to be rewarded. Having escaped rape and dismemberment at the hands of those maniacal English pirates was surly the hand of God. And just as surly, God was about to punish her for her irreverence. As the sound of the approaching warrior drew near, Estella experienced a number of peculiar sensations. She felt the nipples of her naked breasts grow taut accompanied by a warm and inexplicable sensation in her loins. She grew totally calm and felt the temperature on her uncovered skin grow appreciably warmer. Her tongue unconsciously glided over her lower lip as one might do before tasting a favorite wine.
Suddenly the sound of the approaching aborigine ceased only meters away from her. Estella waited with resignation. She knew, now, she was going to die.
The sound she heard was like no other she had ever experienced. It was guttural, but at the same time soft and lilting. And it was totally unintelligible. Slowly, ever so slowly, Estella willed her eyes to look toward the voice of her captor.
Estella's eyes widened in disbelief and she uttered a cry of shock. Standing before her was a woman, half again as tall as she and exotically beautiful in every respect; light complexioned, blue eyed, with hair the color of Spanish honey. She was covered by a soft animal hide that hung to just above her knees. Even so, Estella could see that she had a slim figure and was possessed of a robust bosom. The Indian maiden smiled, showing the white, perfect teeth she possessed, and extended her palm upward in a sign of welcome. In her other hand she carried a filigreed net filled with various fruits. The Indian maiden quickly laid the net of fruit on the ground before her and was as quickly gone.
Estella was stunned. Could it be that the tales they had heard of Calafia were true? Could it be that this island was populated by Amazons who possessed great wealth in gold and silver and in pearls? Several explorers claimed it to be true. But then, who was the painted warrior? A concubine, perhaps, to the women who ruled this land?
Suddenly, Estella laughed out loud with delight. She examined the fruit and found them to be fresh and well cleaned. With a toss of her head she glanced back at the spot where she had first spied the painted sentry and found him standing again at his post. Estella let the undergarment she had been holding drop casually to the ground, turned sensually, and Reentered the luxurious lagoon.