Dameon woke up slowly. When he was fully awake, he noticed two things: he was alone, and his surroundings were so dark that he could barely make out his own feet. It was then that he noticed that he was sitting, leaning against a cold stone wall. Also, that his arms were numb; so much so that he had barely noticed that he still had arms. He attempted to bring them down from their position above his head. The attempt was met with an ominous clanking noise. Next, he tried to move his feet, one after the other. Both came slowly, as if they had been attached to heavy chains. This was true. When he realized this, Dameon let his face fall down onto one of his shoulders and said quietly “It is your will, Lord. I can not save myself. I thank you for the life I have led. Only keep the boys safe, that is all I ask.” With that, he drifted off to sleep.
It seemed like only minutes later when two Spanish guards opened the door to Dameon’s cell, slamming it loudly. This woke Dameon, startled out of a dream. Knowing that they would not answer his inquires, he remained silent as they unlocked his wrists and, each taking an arm, dragged him out of the cell.
When they finally reached the outside, Dameon looked up for the first time. He noticed that the position of the sun was nine o’clock. It had been at least six hours since he had last been awake. The next thing he noticed was that someone was calling his name. He looked up again. All of the boys were already mounted on horses which were tied to other horses being ridden by more Spanish guards. The two who were carrying Dameon hoisted him onto a waiting steed which was already tied between two others. After securing Dameon, the two guards climbed aboard the final two waiting horses and dug their heels into the mounts’ sides, leading the procession.
As they rode, Dameon could hear snatches of the boys’ conversations drifting forward to his ears. “…wish the Sponslers hadn’t left. If Mark were around, we would’ve captured these guards instead of them capturing us.”
Two other voices replied “Not to mention our fathers, who would’ve also given them more than they asked for.”
“Don’t worry. We can do without them. We’re not that stupid.”
At this point, Dameon heard one of the guards cut in. “You have no need to worry either. We will catch your friends and punish them the same way that we have in mind for you.” This caused the boys to fall silent as they began to think about everything that they had done, and were still hoping to do.
Dameon, who was feeling gloomy enough to welcome the silence of the next hour, was thinking along the same lines. He thought back to his time in America when he had first met each of his friends. He began to sigh in resignation as he remembered the places and faces he would never again see. But a moment later, he arose out of his dejection with the thought “I have lived honorably, and I have given myself up to the Lord. Why should I be miserable?” At this thought, he raised his head and began to look about with an air of expectation, as if he were expecting to meet one of those old friends of whom he had just been thinking on the path.
A short time later, the party arrived at the main gate. As it was still dark, they were stopped by a watchman, who asked “Who goes there?”
One of the boys, who had not fallen asleep yet, quickly retorted “Why do you care if anybody is leaving? They’re more dangerous inside the city!”
Dameon heard the hard slap that accompanied the guard’s reply “We have Dameon Mellino, and most of his family. We are taking them to Madrid.”
“You have who? Dameon Mellino? This is cause for a festival.”
“Later. Now let us pass.”
Passing through the gates, the party rode hard until the sun had risen. Two hours after sunrise, the guards halted and tethered their horses to the nearest trees, allowing the prisoners a short time to eat and stretch their aching legs before continuing the journey toward their doom. As Dameon was standing at the edge of the camp, leaning against a tree and watching the guards, one of the boys moved close enough t him to ask “Sir, do you think we can try to escape later?”
His mind already made up, Dameon firmly answered “No. It is no use. They refuse to hold themselves back any longer, and will shoot to kill if you try to run off. You must accept this as the case, and trust that all is as the Lord wills for you.”
A moment later, the guards rose once more, shouting “Ustedes! Estamos montar los caballos, rapidamente! ( lit: “You (plural) mount the horses, quickly!”) and hustling the boys onto the horses once more. When they came for Dameon, he, who had picked up some Spanish before this time, asked them “Porque estan todos moviendo muy rapidamente? (lit: Why is everyone moving very fast?)”
The Spanish Officers did not answer his question, merely shouting “Montar! (Mount!) repeatedly until he complied. A moment later, the whole party was once again riding hard down the trail.
Nothing more of any consequence occurred for several hours after this respite, until noon, at which time the guards halted once more observe the siesta hour, a time at which no Spaniard would be moving unless his occupation of the moment were of the greatest importance. Accordingly, as their present occupation did not fall under that definition, the Spaniards guarding Dameon and the boys dismounted and tied their horses to convenient trees, and proceeded to lay down under the trees, spread out over a large area to surround their prisoners, whom they had placed in the center of the circle. Observing this, Luke approached his uncle once more.
“Sir! We should make our escape now. We will be far ahead before they are ready to follow us!”
“No! We shall not break away now! Are you insane? We try that and they fire on us!–Where are you going?” This conclusion was prompted by Dameon’s looking up just in time to see Luke’s flaming hair disappear into the trees on the other side of the path. He could just catch the answer Luke threw back in his direction.
“You won’t leave? I can’t take this anymore! I’m following my father! He taught me to follow tracks, and to live for others!”
It was a few moments before Dameon could react, stunned as he was by Luke’s harsh rebuke. When he recovered, he saw that the remaining boys: Raphael, and his own son, John, were staring at him, waiting for orders. Nearly choking on the words, he spat out something he had privately wished that he would never have to say “He’s right. I can tell you that that your uncle did teach him as he said, and he did it well. Leave now. I order you to let me continue on as a prisoner alone. You should not have to witness the fate awaiting me. That’s an order! Leave! Your Uncles will get you home, but you will have to travel hard to catch up with them before they depart with the Sponslers and without you. You are not far off. All of us were traveling close by this place not long ago. Leeeave!”
Dameon could hear the boys retreating, abandoning him, as he fell to his knees choking on emotions he refused to show.
Nearly an hour later, after the Spaniards had dozed through the hour of high noon, and Dameon had been sitting stoically silent for nearly half an hour, the Spanish Captain rose, dusted himself off, shook his head, swept his hat up from the ground, and set about berating his men, most of whom were still sleeping. When he had succeeded in this task, he turned to Dameon, shouting at him in Spanish. “Usted! Mir hacia arriba! Usted esta una mujer! Hombres fuertes no puede estan triste!” After a pause, the Officer looked around and finally noticed that the boys had disappeared. He continued “Donde estan sus ninos? Hablar o usted esta muerte!” (lit: You! Look toward above! You are a woman! Strong men cannot be sad! Where are your boys? Speak or you are dea(d!) )
To this demand, Dameon only answered “Yo no va a hablar. Yo estoy muerte, porque yo no va a hablar que donde estan mi ninos.” (lit: I will not speak. I am dea(d), because I will not speak of where my boys are.)
At this response, the Spanish Officer leaped forward, brandishing a pistol, and exclaimed “Correctemente!” Speaking in English once more, he continued “You were, anyway, for we are taking you to the Capital to hang!”