This is one of my favorite chapters. And no, this does not reflect my opinion of the real Christopher.
Having left his men behind in a vacant house, Captain Joseph had decided to see what news he could pick up at the market of the little town he had stopped in. As he strolled through the stalls, looking for cheap provisions, he chanced to hear one of the vendors nearby lean over to his neighbor and say “There’s to be an execution in Madrid very soon.” Dashing over, Joseph slipped into Spanish and asked “Who’s to be executed, and when?”
The fruit seller answered “Some good-for- nothing American Captain who calls himself Dameon Mellino. I heard from my cousin Sergio, who is a deckhand on the ship of Cristobol Coinhara, that they shall get him hanged as soon as possible after they reach the capital.” On hearing this, Joseph dashed away again towards the nearest inn. Noticing several horses tied in front, he pulled out his sword and slashed the rope holding a big black to the rail; jumped on top of it, and rode away toward the house that his men were hiding in.
Helplessly watching out of an upstairs window, Mark, whose ankle had healed fully a few days before their capture, loudly exclaimed to the others “That was our father! He just ran in, stole the Captain’s horse, and rode off with it! But it seems like a strange move to ride back into town again.” About half an hour later, Joseph rode back into view again, stopping this time and waiting until ten more men arrived on the scene. Narrating this to the others, who were leaning against the far wall, and couldn’t see out the window, Mark shouted “He’s back! Maybe he realized something. No! Why’d he stop! He’s got an angry mob chasing him now! No, wait, he’s telling them something! They’re all climbing on horses too! They’re riding away with him! They’re going toward the capital!” As the last man left, Mark collapsed on the floor and lay staring glumly at the ceiling, his gunshot wound from the day of the capture making it hard to breathe. Being familiar with his twin’s instantaneous changes of mood, Matt walked over and asked “What are you so mad about, Mark?”
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong! Those lying Spaniards!” Mark screamed, fighting for breath. “He’s misinformed, and now he thinks he’s saving us! I’m going down there to see if I can’t hit that man this time around!”
“No, you’re not, because if you go he’ll kill you. He and his men have just noticed that their horses are missing.” David said, prompted by loud yells from downstairs. A second later several Spaniards burst in on them, exclaiming “Don’t worry, Sir, these little birds haven’t flown the coop!” This brought another yell from downstairs. “Well, string ‘em together and send ‘em down, quick as you like!”
The Spaniards grabbed their prisoners and tied them together in a line, pulling them down the stairs. Captain Cristobol Coinhara was waiting for them at the foot of the stairway. “What was the plan?! What did you do to tell your friends to steal our horses?!” Mark, who was at the front of the line, took this calmly, then, quite unfazed, he replied “They aren’t our friends. They’re an American gang who captured us in Boston, but we escaped and stowed away aboard the ship you found us on. They must have been watching us pretty closely, because they knew we wanted to get to Madrid.”
“But if you stowed away, how come you were in control of the ship at the time of your capture?” Coinhara asked Dameon. Catching on to Mark’s story, Dameon quickly replied “The Captain and crew were killed by hostile natives on a trip to get fresh water. When the crew uncovered us and found that they had two former captains aboard, they accepted us quite easily.”
As Dameon concluded, Coinhara announced “This is no time for jokes or lies, as you are at my mercy. I am inclined to execute you now, without formalities, but I may put it off if you beg for mercy.” “Don’t worry,” Mark retorted “We won’t trouble you about it; since we’re sure you haven’t got any!” “Insolent rouge!” The Spaniard exclaimed “You’ll be the first to go! Take him away!” Two tall men holding cocked pistols jumped up and sliced the rope holding Mark to the rest, pulling him out the back door.
Their captor then turned to the remaining prisoners and said, his anger rising, “Now, let’s try this again. If you beg it of me, I may keep you alive until we get to the capital, and hang you there. If not, I see no reason to bring you any farther. Nothing’s happened yet? Maybe that boy’s trying to tell them he‘s changed his mind. Well, too bad. Ah, there they go.” He remarked as two shots rang out. “One down, eight to go.”
At this, Matt broke down and screamed. “You’ll die for this, you evil fiend! You never noticed when the Devil took up residence with you because you don’t care! You like the thought of Hell! You’ll never earn anything else!”
Suddenly, a bodyless voice filled the dining room, echoing off the walls: “DONT WORRY YOURSELF, MY FRIEND. YOUR BROTHER LIVES.” Startled, Coinhara shouted “Come down and show yourself, spirit!” Jumping up, he ran out the back door to ask his men what had happened. Matt and his friends could do nothing but wonder what was going to happen to them now. A minute later, a yell followed by a loud clunk was heard from just outside the door. The ensuing scuffle was narrated by loud yells coming from both fighters. Fifteen minutes later, as the prisoners sat dejectedly on the stairs, Mark walked in, with two black eyes and pinching his nose, but otherwise well and quite obviously alive, as shown by the laugh he let out when he saw the rest. “Did you think I was dead? Well, of course you did. But it was funny, hearing that man shout at me after I called down the chimney. Heeheehee.” The sight of him cracking up like this, something he rarely did or had reason to do, caused everyone else to join in. “Oh, I forgot something,” Mark added “I borrowed his knife. You do want to escape and give father some peace of mind? But we’re going to have to run, literally. Oh, and one last thing. I didn’t kill that man like I said I would, so let’s go!” He said all this as he untied his companions, and when they were ready, he ran out the door yelling “Last one to Madrid’s a cracked egg!”
Five minutes after they had left, Cristobol Coinhara stumbled inside again and shouted “You lazy bums! You let them just walk out?! Hurry and find some horses! Steal them if you have to!” His crew immediately began fighting to get out the door as he slumped over onto the nearest table and called “More brandy, Bartender, and hurry!”