It's never been so easy to escape from prison... People would think you were just resting in there... lol
It had been three days since Dameon and the boys he was watching over had been captured by the horse guards outside the city of San Dinola. The reader my remember that the group had been locked up in the prison within an hour of their capture, and were now awaiting the time when they would be transported back to the capital to be “punished”. Another note that may be remembered is that Raphael, unlike the others, had remained quiet until his outburst about not being able to think. Since that time he had been quiet once more, until now.
“Bother everything! There isn’t a way out of this place if you haven’t got something with you when you come in, and they searched us thoroughly!” he paused. When the others heard him again, he was standing on his cot looking through his barred, ground-level window hole. “Aha! Now if I could only reach his belt…” at this point, Raphael, who was very strong in comparison to his size, was dangling from the window bars using only one hand. He was also silent again, which caused the other prisoners to show signs of breaking under the stress.
Suddenly, Dameon and the other three boys heard a loud dull sound issue from Raphael’s cell, which was quickly followed by the occupant’s voice exclaiming “Oh! My everything! Yes! It came with me and it hasn’t killed me! We’ll be out within the day as soon as I get some rest!”
It was several hours later when Dameon was awakened out of his sleep by a loud clang which sounded oddly like a cell door shutting. Opening his eyes, he dug his knuckles into his eyeballs to wake up properly, sat up, and immediately saw that Raphael was standing beside his cot and must have caused the noise.
“I apologize for the noise, sir. As you see, I have just walked out of my own cell and proceeded to release the other prisoners.” Said Raphael in a monotone so solemn he sounded as if he were an especially boring lecture hall speaker who wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss if his audience was snoring. As he spoke he stowed a knife in his belt and rubbed his hands together as if the object was filthy.
“Why are you talking like that? Speak properly!” By this time, Dameon was standing in front of the boy and glaring.
“Very well, sir. I will follow your orders to the letter. Shall I begin releasing prisoners now?”
“Yes. Get started now.”
“Very well. I shall execute your orders beginning with you, sir.” replied Raphael to Dameon’s terse statement, striding over to hold the cell door open for him.
As Raphael attended to the release of the others in their party, Dameon made his way down the hall between the rows of cells. Hardly twenty feet from his own cell, he heard a voice shout out from the door on his immediate right. Kneeling down, he opened the sliding panel used to permit the passage of prisoners’ meals. Putting his face near the opening, he announced himself. “Captain Dameon Mellino, lately of the U.S.S. Quar –Zin. May I inquire into your nationality and object?” When the prisoner moved into view, Dameon recognized the same cropped light hair and brown robe of the man who would have led him to his death, if not for the heroic action of Joseph. At this sight, he had second thoughts. “Why should I talk to you? You nearly killed me!” As he prepared to stand once more, the man called out
“I can explain! And I need to break my friend out!”
“All right, two questions. When a man in prison claims that he ‘can explain’ why he is there in the first place, he is liable to be lying. And in any case, why should I release you, when, as I said, you nearly killed me.”
“I only translated what was said second-hand! You were the first Americans we came across!”
“Exactly! We were the only ones!”
The response to this shout was a loud crash against the door, which sounded as if the prisoner had run against it.
“Why are you doing that?” Dameon shouted through the space.
“If I can’t make you listen to reason, I’ll shock it into you!”
At that moment, two of the boys came running back down the corridor, shouting “Guards! Guards! Guards are coming down on our heels!”
Dameon immediately scrambled up. “I’ll get back to you after this. We are all threatened now.” With that, he slammed the food panel shut and ran.
Unarmed as he was, Dameon did not stop to wonder why he was running toward the guards, and not away from them to save his life, to protect the boys. Yet that was the quandary of his action. He had known instantly that he could protect the boys far better by risking his life in a direct charge, yet if he got himself killed and they escaped, they would die anyway.
With that thought, Dameon realized that he was not being as brave as he had thought. He was acting as a coward would. Or a brave man who had no one else to care for, and believed that no one else cared for him.
Upon realizing how stupid he was really being, Dameon stopped short, looking for a place to hide himself until the guards had passed, and was extremely worried to notice that there was not a space that would offer any kind of cover along the whole stretch of wall. Desperately, Dameon who could hear the stamping of the guards well ahead, but coming closer, began to throw his whole weight against the nearest cell door.
He had attacked the door with all his weight several times without success, when his ears told him that the Spanish guards were just around the bend. Immediately, he cut short his attempts to stave in the cell door and braced himself to meet the oncoming guards.
As the guards came within sight, Dameon noticed one very odd thing about them. They were running toward him with bent knees and were arguing among themselves in awful imitations of Spanish accents. Just as they were about to collide with him, Dameon shouted in his loudest quarter-deck voice “Belay, Midshipmen! Silence, and fall into line! Smartly now!” It was oddly gratifying to see the boys stop in their tracks and fall in a heap at his feet. Then one of the Sponslers scrambled up, came to attention, and gave his report.
“As you may have guessed, sir, this was Mark’s idea. By the way, this is Matt speaking. Anyway, Mark and Raphael convinced us to come down that direction and see what we could find. What we found, sir, was the guardroom. Catching the guards at their meal, we soon had them tied up as well as any good sailor can be expected to tie a knot. That is, quite tightly. We were on our way to find you.”
“A smart report, and you may relax now, Matt. I would only like to know what made you decide to send Luke and John running down the corridor after me.”
“Mark said that would bring you faster, sir.”
“It did, but now we have to retrace our steps, a waste of good time.”
A short time later, they had returned to the cell of the mysterious American personage, broken him out, and caught up with the other boys. When Dameon had collected all of the boys outside of the jail once more, twilight was beginning to fall on the city. As they were about to leave, the other prisoner walked up to Dameon and asked
“Where do you plan to go after you leave this city?”
“I am planning to take these boys in to France, from which, France being neutral, we can pay passage on a ship that will take us back to America.”
“Good luck to you, then. My friend and I will see to your Spanish nemesis.”
“I thank you. So now we may part friends? If ever you return to America, I and my brothers will be easy to find if we are alive.”
At the conclusion of this exchange, Dameon and the American man shook hands and the parties left in opposite directions, fading into the growing darkness.
“Well, dad, how are they going to ‘see to our Spanish nemesis’ as he put it?”
“Do not talk of that. That is the business of brave men, not boys like you. And now, on your life hold silent until we have left the city.”
Accordingly, Dameon and the boys began to leave the prison building as silently as they could. For the most part, their caution was unnecessary, as the streets were nearly empty after dark. They crept along for several minutes before reaching an inn which had remained open to accommodate a celebration. Skirting the light coming from the window, Dameon led the boys to the wall of the building. Soon all of them were standing with their backs flat to the wall and Dameon could hear the speech coming from the meeting room.
“I’ve heard from the best source that that American Captain we have in prison is to be brought to Madrid tomorrow, to be hanged the following day. You may have heard of him. He is the head of the clan from America known as the Mellinos, who have instigated these past two wars against our glorious nation. The boys who were captured with him are to become the servants of His Excellency the Admiral Cristobol Coinhara.”
When he heard this, Dameon said to himself “I’m to be hanged in two days? I’m still in prison, am I? I’ll prove that any Mellino could run circles around a Spanish Admiral at any time. We have waited here for too long. It is time that we were on our way.”
At this, the boys began to inch away from the wall, while Dameon followed slowly. Moments later, he heard a cry from one of the boys, which was quickly choked off, as if a heavy cloak had been thrown over his face. Dameon, knowing from the scant warning that Spanish patrols were aware of his presence, felt for a gun at his belt, then remembered that he was completely unarmed. At this discovery, he decided to step into the light, risking death by shooting rather than endure the long trip to Madrid only to be hanged. “Go on! Shoot me, you cowards! Am I or am I not in prison where you put me? If I’m still there, you can go ahead and shoot the man standing here saying all this, because you won’t be killing the man who is to be kept alive until you reach the capital.”
He had hardly finished this rash challenge before he heard the window behind him open as a hand reached out to grab the collar of his coat. An instant later, he felt a pistol butt come down on his forehead and fell into oblivion.