On returning to Matt and Mark, they can be found to be walking down an isolated road alone. David and Gabriel had caught up with them earlier, but they had dropped back to follow the trail after Mark had shouted at them over what he considered Dameon’s apparent mistrust of his ability to get home.
The men could hear the twins speaking together from their position a few yards back, but could not make out anything of great importance. In fact, this was partly because they were speaking between themselves. “My, the old pal sure did raise a firebrand in that boy, you notice?”
“How could I not, being in front of you?”
“How much do you want to bet on Mark becoming a politician?”
“Stop pulling my leg. Joseph never liked politicians. Doubtless the boys are like that too.”
“Then what will they do?”
“You mean you don’t know? They’ll rise so high that before we leave this Earth we’ll hear them proclaimed the most ingenious navy captains ever to sail the waters.”
“Oh, stow it, now you’re pulling my leg. Mark will, but Matt would surprise me.”
“Surprise you, eh? Well, watch out to be sure that shot doesn’t come back to hit you, because in a few years their attitudes will be the same also.”
The pair terminated their conversation and focused on the trail the two boys were leaving behind them. They could also pick up snatches of the boys’ conversation now.
“The side is beginning to ache. Do you reckon they’re still following us?” The Mellinos noticed that Matt stared back at them as he answered “They’re still there, but they’re keeping their distance. They don’t want you exploding again, but they’ve been charged to keep us alive, and I’m sure they’ll do it.”
After Matt’s remark, all four remained silent for some time, before Mark finally called out “There’s no need to follow us any farther for a while now, Sirs. We’re resting for the night! And I am not going to go off again!” This was obviously meant to be an apology, so the two men sped up until they were even with the boys. Then all four had a cheerful, joke-filled conversation until they were swallowed up by the darkness.
The following morning was hazy, with a light rain. The said rain woke up the group, which was sleeping under the trees. The rain already mentioned also made Mark very irritable immediately. “Bother this rain!” he shouted “Just when everything was beginning to improve, too! Go home!” he concluded, as if the rain were an animal which had come at call, and he now wished to be rid of.
As an experienced campaigner, David soon raised his voice in defense of the weather. “You don’t want to understand, do you? What if enemies have found our trail?! This weather will throw them off miles behind us! Now, tell me, without it, where would we be?”
“In prison, if things had gone the way they were meant to.” said a Spaniard who had just stepped on to the road. “Oh, don’t look so surprised. We knew where you had gone, and were hard on your trail early the next day, thanks to my little helper here and his friend.” It was only then that the Americans took any notice of the silent dog sitting at the man’s side.
“Bloodhounds!” They all shouted “We were warned about your practices!”
“That may be, but you forgot them entirely, at the cost of your freedom. You also seem, if you are a veteran fighter, to have forgotten one of the simplest rules there is. If you are in a foreign country, NEVER raise your voice if you are on a journey and most especially if you are escaping. The second thing is this: Your enemies know the land; you do not. For your information, it would take you more than a week to reach the nearest port on foot from this spot. The third is that you shall NEVER, under any circumstances whatever, attempt to escape from the Coinhara clan, for their vengeance is terrible. This message has been delivered from Cristobol Coinhara to his captives by his brother, Miguel.” When it was evident that Coinhara had finished, several more men stepped out of the trees, surrounding their American captives.
When the hopelessness of the situation became evident, the Americans finally gave up the idea of fighting their way through and escaping. As they were returning their weapons to their places, however, Coinhara cut in. “No! You shall have no arms! I know what will occur if I let you keep them!” Upon his order, ten men stepped forward and confiscated all the weapons the captives were carrying.
At this measure, Mark the hothead returned in full force and grew futilely indignant. “Oh, exactly! You’re afraid of us, so you have to detail twice our number to take our weapons when we’re already surrounded! It makes me wonder exactly who’s in your family tree! But I can tell you a couple of things you might like to know! Your father didn’t defeat us, so of course you won’t either! In fact, don’t be surprised if we escape and humiliate you along the way, like I did to your brother!”
Coinhara reached over and slapped Mark to silence him. “You will learn the hard way, and without much time either, for you shall be hanged immediately upon return. Get out of that, and then you may talk.”
As they were being marched away, with their hands tied behind their backs, Mark managed a whisper to his brother. “I’ve done it again. We’re about to be killed again. I must say, I believed I had died in that sea battle with this man’s father, and so I’m not afraid of dying again, if we didn’t have a family to return to. As things stand, though, we must escape.”
Later that evening, when the march was halted, the prisoners were grouped together in the center of the camp, with no shelter and little food allotted to them. As dusk fell, the Spaniards ignited a large fire in a more open area of the camp, but refused to let any of the prisoners near it. To celebrate their capture of some of the government’s most wanted enemies, the Spaniards soon brought out a barrel of ale they had sent behind them for precisely this purpose. As they began to drink more heavily, David remarked “I hope someone stays sober enough to watch the fire. Anyone could have told them that lighting such a large fire is against the laws of sensibility, no mater where you are; We could have told them that, but of course they wouldn’t listen to us.”
As was sure to happen, though, all of the captors drank so deeply that they were soon nodding off. When the last one had fallen to the ground, David continued “All right, without the use of our hands, we won’t be able to do anything against it if this fire escapes. But be ready to jump and run. For now, just watch it.’
Everyone rolled off of their heels and sat watching the fire intently. Suddenly, about thirty minutes after the captors had fallen asleep, and the fire was just beginning to die out, a spark leaped out and caught on a branch which was hanging over the clearing. In the space of one minute, the whole branch was engulfed in flames. “That tree is gone!” David exclaimed “and soon so is this whole clearing! We have to run for our lives now!”